Archive for July, 2013

Jul
31

Paging Dr. Paganini

Posted by: | Comments (8)

 

This is the Palazzo del Bo', the 16th-century heart of the University of Padua, where many of the examinations are held.

This is the Palazzo del Bo’, the 16th-century heart of the University of Padua, where many of the examinations are held. The winged lion of San Marco  was placed over the door after Venice  conquered Padua in 1509.

Exactly one week ago today we had what, for me (and for its starring participant, not to mention said participant’s parents) was one of the more extraordinary experiences of my eventful life.

The scene: The University of Padua, founded 1222.

Protagonist: Matteo Paganini, once a student at the Morosini Naval College where Lino taught him Venetian rowing, and till June 24 an aspiring M.D.

Occasion: Defending his thesis and being awarded (he hoped) his degree, diploma, laurel wreath, and future.

University students here don’t graduate en masse, as they do in the U.S.; they are hatched one by one, though in some periods, such as now, they seem to come out on an assembly line.

I’d seen plenty of these festivities  in Venice, particularly around Dorsoduro, the sestiere where the two Venetian universities are located.  Bunches of roaming students accompany the newly-minted graduate to some spot where they can celebrate by throwing eggs, flour, and other substances on him or her, and occasionally break into a doggerel ditty which I’m not going to translate, not because it’s blue, but because it’s stupid.  Its purpose is to take the graduate down a peg.  Many pegs.

In fact, having only seen the partying all these years caused me to lose sight of the fundamental reason for the carrying-on.  Our day in Padua changed that, because before the fun there had to come the cross-examination. And when the person who has spent six (6) years studying in order to reach this moment of running across the intellectual bed of incandescent burning coals, the academic version of running the gantlet, it’s a pretty intense experience not only for him, but for everyone who cares about him.

His script -- I mean, his thesis.

His script — I mean, his thesis. “Integrated Ecographic Protocol for Acute Respiratory Insufficiency in the Emergency Room An Observational Study.” He wants to specialize in emergency medicine, so this makes sense.

It didn’t appear to be so intense for the board of examiners, partly because they’ve done it 157,000 times; partly because they have no stake in the outcome (at last they’re not supposed to!); partly because it was possibly the 20th such session they’d held that morning; and partly (how many parts am I up to?) because it was hotter than the hinges of hell and they were all caparisoned in heavy academic robes.

To my surprise, I was awash in pride and joy, and if little me could feel so much, I can’t even imagine how proud he must have been, to say nothing of his long-suffering and -paying parents, who didn’t give any sign that they were experiencing what had to have been Olympic-level kvelling.

The images below depict the outlines of this enterprise. But I’ll give away the ending: He was awarded his degree as Doctor of Medicine summa cum laude.  When he finished his presentation, he was told he had earned 110 e lode, which corresponds to magna cum laude, but then he was given a stunning bonus: a “menzione di eccellenza,” literally “mention of excellence,” which put him at the summit of Everest, the absolute peak of academic achievement.

And all this from a university whose alumni include Nicolaus Copernicus, Torquato Tasso, St. Francis de Sales, Galileo Galilei, and William Harvey. Not to forget Elena Lucrezia Piscopia Corner, the first woman in the world to be awarded a university diploma (1678). And Federico Faggin, designer of the first commercial microprocessor.  Age has done nothing to dim this academy’s luster.

Keep it shiny, Matteo.

Matteo's family, plus Lino, sat against the wall of City Hall, facing the Palazzo, until the sun rose so high that the shadow disappeared.  Then we went inside to wait.

Matteo’s family, plus Lino, sat against the wall of City Hall, facing the Palazzo — two crucial elements: somewhere to sit, and a shadow — until the sun rose so high that it destroyed the shadow. Then we went inside to wait.

The entrance to the building, like the walls and ceilings inside, is covered with the escutcheons of students and faculty going back centuries.

The entrance to the building, like the walls and ceilings inside, is covered with the escutcheons of students and faculty going back centuries.

The group of his faithful followers and family, bunched together with him inside the Palazzo, as he waited to be called.

The group of his faithful followers and family, bunched together with him inside the Palazzo, as he waited to be called. It was hot, and there was nowhere to sit, and if we were keyed-up, I don’t know how he managed to stand it.

He had spent an hour or so standing around with his friends, most of them from the medical school, but as the time drew near, he went into his own little bubble.

Matteo had spent an hour or so wandering to and fro with his friends, most of them from the medical school, but as the time drew near, he went into his own little bubble. His mother and father were never far away.

At long last, he's up next.  The previous candidate is leaving the examination hall with his entourage, and Matteo is taking his last few breaths before the plunge.

At long last, he’s up next. The previous candidate is leaving the examination hall with his entourage, and Matteo is taking his last few breaths before the plunge.

The judges line up, the prisoner -- I mean, candidate -- is in the dock.

The judges line up, the prisoner — I mean, candidate — is in the dock.

And in he plunged.  He spoke rapidly, explaining his study in phenomenal detail, explaining various aspects shown on the screen. I understood nothing, but I was fascinated by how secure he was. Not only did he not hesitate even once, I'm not sure he breathed.

And away he went. He spoke rapidly, reviewing his study in phenomenal detail, explaining various aspects shown on the screen. I understood nothing, but I was fascinated by how secure he was. Not only did he not hesitate even once, I’m not sure he breathed.

If there was one person who was really paying attention, it was his thesis professor (left).

If there was one person who was really paying attention, it was his thesis professor (left).

I take that back -- I think his parents were listening even harder.  Closely followed by his platoon of friends.

I take that back — I think his parents were listening even harder. Closely followed by his platoon of friends.

End of presentation. The prisoner will rise and face the jury.

End of presentation. The prisoner will rise and face the jury.

As soon as the decision was announced -- 100 e lode, with the mention of excellence -- everyone began to applaud, including the professors. Handshakes.  Smiles. Incredulity.  Elation.  And so on.

As soon as the decision was announced — 110 e lode, with the mention of excellence — everyone began to applaud, including the professors. Handshakes. Smiles. Incredulity. Elation. And so on.

And let the wild picture-taking begin -- especially some shots with his professor.

And let the wild picture-taking begin — especially some shots with his professor.  The traditional wreath is indeed of laurel.

I'll spare you the unabridged version of what came next, but the first phase of the celebration outside involved his male friends pounding him on the back with their open hands.

I’ll spare you the unabridged version of what came next, but the first phase of the celebration outside involved his male friends pounding him on his back with their open hands.

 

The area for his hazing is prepared. The two indispensable items are the poster, describing his life and career in painful detail, and the heavy plastic sheeting to protect the street from what comes next.

The area for his hazing is prepared. The two indispensable items are the poster, describing his life and career in painful detail, and the heavy plastic sheeting to protect the street from what comes next.

By this point, his friends have cut his trousers and rearranged them, put on a curious hat, managed to drape a live (well, dead, by now) octopus across his shoulders. Meanwhile, he has to read the poster aloud. Every word. It was long.

By this point, his friends have cut his trousers and rearranged them, put on a curious hat, and managed to drape a live (well, dead, by now) octopus across his shoulders. Meanwhile, he has to read the poster aloud. Every word. It was long.

The fact that it took so long to read the poster gave plenty of time for his friends to slime him with mustard, mayonnaise, yogurt, ketchup, flour, eggs, and I don't know what else. Yells and shouts from all sides, especially "Bevi!" (drink!) at which point he was required to take a swig from the bottle of prosecco. It went on like this for a long time, but we went to the restaurant long before it ended. You see a little of this, you've seen a lot of it.

The fact that it took so long to read the poster gave his friends plenty of time to slime him with mustard, mayonnaise, yogurt, tomato sauce, flour, eggs, and I don’t know what else. Yells and shouts came from all sides, especially “Bevi!” (drink!) at which point he was required to take a swig from the bottle of prosecco. It went on like this for quite a while, but we went to the restaurant long before it ended. You see a little of this, you’ve seen a lot of it.

Let's talk about real food.  The refreshments were great, the buffet setup highly practical, and there was air conditioning.  (and nobody yelling Bevi!).  Matteo got a shower somewhere -- maybe the firehouse, with a hose -- and showed up looking as if nothing had been happening the past two hours.  Or six years.

Let’s talk about real food. The refreshments were great, the buffet setup highly practical, and there was air conditioning (and nobody yelling Bevi!).  We started without the guest of honor, who was off somewhere getting a major shower  — maybe at the firehouse, with a hose.

Matteo was still full of energy, but his mom and dad (and uncle) were definitely downshifting.  It's been a long six years for everybody.

Matteo was still full of energy, but his mom and dad (and uncle) were definitely downshifting. It’s been a long six years for everybody.

The laurel wreath may not be on his brow anymore, but it's definitely in the bag.

The laurel wreath may not be on his brow anymore, but it’s definitely in the bag.

He may hate me for this, but this is how I remember him, out with other boys from the Naval College, on the 8-oar gondola. It was Palm Sunday, 2006, and he was affixing the traditional olive branch. Guess I'm getting old and sentimental.

He may hate me for this, but this is how I remember him, out with other boys from the Naval College, on the 8-oar gondola. It was Palm Sunday, 2006, and he was affixing the traditional olive branch. Guess I’m getting old and sentimental.

 

Categories : Events
Comments (8)
Jul
28

Racy ideas

Posted by: | Comments (0)

 

The prizes this year are sponsored by the Graspo de Ua, a restaurant which is in the process of becoming a small empire.  Their innovations are the podium, the T-shirts with logo and colored to match the corresponding pennant, and the bottle of bubbly to spray everywhere.  So somebody's trying to think outside the traditional box, if only a little.

The prize ceremony at the regata of SS. Giovanni e Paolo, and all the races this year, is sponsored by the Graspo de Ua, a restaurant which is in the process of becoming a small empire. Their sponsorship covers innovations such as the podium, the logo-laden T-shirts, each colored to match the corresponding pennant, and the bottle of bubbly to spray everywhere.  Prize money?  Not so much.

I have been brooding on the struggle between the Venetian rowing racers and the Comune, and I think some numbers might be illuminating.

I know I said in my last post that the racers don’t need the money, but the laborer is worthy of his hire, and the payments this year hover somewhere between risible and offensive. If I were a racer, I would indeed be angered by a city office named “Tutela Tradizioni” (protection of traditions) which does so little to keep this tradition going.

This year the city looked under the cushions of the divan and found some loose change, which permits them to offer prizes which would not be enough to pay for a fill-up at a gas station in Correctionville, Iowa.

The winner of the race pictured above — SS. Giovanni e Paolo, young men rowing gondolas solo — took home 221.20 euros ($293.67).  The man who won the Regata di Murano, which is arguably the most important race of the year, scored 347.20 euros ($460.95).

The woman who won the Regata di Murano earned 221.20 euros ($293.67).  The boy who won the same race took home 66 euros ($87.62).  The boy who finished last got 33 euros ($43.81). And there are people in the city government who say they’re  worried about the future of the races because so few boys show up to try out.

It gets better.  The first four women to cross the finish line of the Regata de la Sensa got a pennant and a gold medal, which I think is nice, though money has a more immediate appeal.  The other five women in the nine-boat field got zip.  Niente.  Zero. Same thing for the Regata di Malamocco.

And so it goes.  The city manages to scrape up more for the Regata Storica, usually around 2,000 euros per man for the winning pair on the gondolinos, and downward from there for the other finishers.

This is so stupid that I can’t decide who to yell at first.  It’s like inviting somebody to dinner and telling them to bring their own food.

But comes a ray of light glinting from a chest of gold doubloons, so to speak, from a faithful reader and friend (full disclosure).

This friend is American, by the way, which may explain why he sees ways to make money that the tired Old-World city government hasn’t yet considered. Evidently, what’s doable out in the big old vulgar tradition-free world beyond the bridge doesn’t seem so simple in our little tin-cup-rattling economy.

Let me say that I’m all in favor of the races being pure — whatever we think that means.  But I don’t like them being poor. And I especially don’t like them not being, period.  In case there was any doubt about that.

So here are some possible solutions:

He writes:

“It seems to me that an infusion of crass commercialism could get things back on track.  E.g.:

1.  All boats will bear corporate logos like Nike, Taco Bell, Trojans, Depend Diapers, whatever … and thus a ton of ad revenue will get directed into the “Rowers’ Pot.”

2.  All rowers will be adorned with shirts and caps similarly garnished and bearing internet addresses of the race sponsors = more ad revenue for the RP.

3.  TV rights will be sold for live distribution around the world on the Nat Geo channel, thus tapping Rupert Murdoch for the RP.

4.  Buxom cheerleaders for the various teams, scantily clad, no doubt, will cheer and bounce around in unison on the waterfront.

5.  Observers will be barraged with logo items for sale by shoreside vendors who’ll remit 20% to the RP.

6.  There will be time-outs between races to run commercials for said products – so more RP dough.

7.  Travel agents throughout Europe will be tithed on airline ticket sales to Venice during June each year to create yet more moolah for the RP.

8.  Racers will be paid the same amount in cash by divvying up the RP (estimated at about 4.5 million euros per rower annually); trophies made of various precious metals and gems will signify winners, losers, etc.  (Here I balk: The four pennants — red, white, blue and green — have to be maintained.  IT’S TRADITION.)

9.  Racers will get lifetime supplies of all products advertised during the regata.

10. UNESCO will declare the race a World Heritage Event, thus assuring it United Nations funding in perpetuity.”

I cannot think of one reason why not to do any or all of the above.  The one thing everybody agrees on, racers and city, is that they all want more money.  So if the city can’t seem to discover any way to get more money for the races (though they were pretty clever at getting 5 billion euros and counting for MOSE), then we should just face it and play the game the way it’s supposed to be played.

or the podium (arguably unnecessary, though I understand that the company's logo has to go somewhere); paid for the T-shirts (ditto), paid for the bubbly, which is nice, but everybody's been fine without for about a hundred years, and paid for the pennants.  The Graspo does not cover the prize money, which is what everybody really needs.

So the Graspo de Ua has paid for the podium (arguably unnecessary, though I understand that the company’s logo has to go somewhere); paid for the T-shirts (ditto), paid for the bubbly, which is nice, but everybody’s been fine without for about a hundred years, and paid for the pennants. What’s missing here is cash for the racers, which the Graspo, no less than the Comune, does not feel able to provide. Impressive sponsorship.

 

Categories : Boatworld
Comments (0)
The church of the Redentore on the Giudecca, on Sunday evening, when its mission has been completed and its vow to the past and future has been fulfilled.

The church of the Redentore on the Giudecca, on Sunday evening, when its annual mission has been completed, its vow to the past and future fulfilled.

Anyone who has lived longer than 25 minutes has discovered the Law of Unintended Consequences.  It’s not that you are deprived of  the consequence you wanted — though you might well be — but discover that you’re stuck with five that you didn’t want and can’t escape.

Last Sunday (July 21) was the day of the Feast of the Most Holy Redeemer (Santissimo Redentore), about which I have written many times.  And for an event which has been held every year since 1577, hence qualifying as a genuine tradition, this tradition’s components have gone through many, many revisions.  In fact, I never knew that a tradition could be so pliable.

For example: Fireworks over the Bacino of San Marco.  When Lino was a lad, nobody bothered about the Bacino. Everybody (99 percent Venetians) came in their boats (and there were many — no, a hundred times more than many — all propelled by oars) and tied them up in the Giudecca Canal in the area between the votive bridge and the Molino Stucky.  Far from the Bacino. Uptown.  Washington Heights, practically.

And the races on Sunday afternoon.  We’ve always had them, hence, we always will have them.

Or maybe not.

The week preceding the festa saw a fearsome struggle between the racers and the Comune, and after a series of meetings and reports on meetings, which occurred up until race time, the racers enacted a protest and decided not to race. In a word, they went on strike.

Their issues, as reported by the Racers’ Association, are the increasing neglect (“profound abandonment”) of the races by the city over the past few years. I’m not clear on what “neglect” means here, because their press releases were not especially specific, though I know that the prizes have been dwindling and, in some cases, disappearing, which indeed is disturbing.

The votive bridge opened at 7:00 PM on a sweltering Saturday evening -- the procession led by the usual authorities such as mayor, patriarch, various people in uniforms, marching across the Giudecca Canal to the church.

The votive bridge opened at 7:00 PM on a sweltering Saturday evening — at least this tradition held firm. The procession is led by the usual authorities such as the mayor, the patriarch, various people in uniforms, and a batch of photographers, all marching across the Giudecca Canal to the church.

Followed by a mighty host of the faithful and the curious,

Followed by a mighty host of the faithful and the curious.

At the foot of the steps to the church, the crush has reached several atmospheres, which is also part of the tradition, I guess.

At the foot of the steps to the church, the crush has reached several atmospheres, which is also part of the tradition, I guess.

A digression: Unlike the racers in the old days — up to about 50 years ago — I don’t believe that any racers today need the money. While it’s true that they have, as they put it, “spent months of training, sacrificing work and family” (they sacrificed WORK?), none of them races because otherwise the gas company is going to interrupt service for lack of payment. The men have jobs ranging from acceptable to spectacularly lucrative (a fancy way of saying “gondolier”), and most of the women racers are married to them.

But racing for nothing does have a depressing sort of parish-benefit vibe, and last year some of the races began to be put on for free.

Did I mention depressing? I had no idea how dejected one could feel on a so-called feast day when the big event is canceled.  Some hardy souls might maintain that the big solemn mass and the blessing of the city are the most important elements of the weekend, and there are thousands upon thousands who come only for the big fireworks party the night before.  But a Redentore afternoon with no races made me feel as if we were the ones who had been abandoned.

Naturally the racers hope and intend that this dramatic gesture will bear the fruit they desire, which is to wake everybody up, city and citizens, to the imminent demise of one of the last — or last — truly Venetian elements still barely surviving in the most beautiful city in the world.

I hope it all works out for them, but I have some mini-doubts. One is based on the suspicion that if they try this again, somebody in the city government is going to wonder why go through all the tsuris with the big-league racers when there are plenty of bush-league rowers around who could do the same thing, for nothing, without complaining.  Tourists don’t know the difference. I agree that it’s an ugly thought, but I have thought it.

Or what about this idea: If the tsuris continues, the city could start canceling races.  Another possible unintended consequence, almost as unpleasant as racing for free.

Or the city might even make the racers pay to race. Or at least make them pay for the race they didn’t do last Sunday. Because when you sign up to enter the eliminations, you sign a document that says you agree to the terms of the enterprise. I have no idea if the city, which did incur expenses for an event which didn’t take place through no fault of its own, would regard this as breach of contract and consider legal recourse against the racers. If I were a city, I would think so.

Let me conclude with another disagreeable little idea that has come to my mind via other people who have said it out loud.  Why is all this happening now?  Some people think that the Racers’ Association got all het up because two of the biggest rock-star racers (Giampaolo D’Este and Igor Vignotto) were punished for serious offenses committed during the regata at Murano on July 7.  Their punishment was to be forbidden to participate in the next race, i.e. the Redentore.

Apart from the right or wrong of this decision, it is objectionable for two reasons.  One: Their partners, who hadn’t done anything wrong, were also, by extension, also excluded from the race of the Redentore. Two: There is an undercurrent of doubt among some participants that the Racers’ Association would have gotten so all-fired mad if, say, Irving B. Potash and Melvin Bluebonnet or anybody else had been so punished.  Perhaps righteous anger based entirely on principles (deterioration of tradition, say) isn’t quite so righteous after all?  Or does it strike only me as odd that the people who claim to be the last defenders of tradition were the first to break it to bits?

And you thought that parties were supposed to make you forget your troubles?  This one just delivered a whole new batch. Some assembly required.

 

Saturday afternoon sees what I regard as the gathering of the clans: the big fishing boats from Chioggia and Pellestrina loaded with lagoon people who party hard. Their boats are big, but nobody seems to object to their tying up at the fondamenta.

Saturday afternoon sees what I regard as the gathering of the clans: the big fishing boats from Chioggia and Pellestrina loaded with lagoon people who party hard. Their boats are big, but nobody seems to object to their tying up at the fondamenta.

While plenty of people complained about boats of the same, or somewhat larger, size, which come from the land of you-can't-afford-to-even-look-at-me. and which made it impossible to set up the picnic tables on the edge of the lagoon to watch the fireworks because the view is blocked by kilometers of expensive boatage.

Although plenty of people complain about boats of the same, or somewhat larger, size, which come from the land of you-can’t-afford-to-even-look-at-me. These boats make it impossible to set up your picnic tables on the edge of the fondamenta to watch the fireworks because all you see is a wall of high-priced boatage.  This didn’t used to be a problem, but now it too has become a tradition.

One solution: Have your party inland, preferably in front of your house.  Put up the flags, light the citronella candles, and live it up.  You can go watch the fireworks from the bridge -- let the boats work it out for themselves.

One solution: Have your party inland, preferably in front of your house. Put up the flags, light the citronella candles, and live it up. You can go watch the fireworks from the bridge — let the boats work it out for themselves.

Plenty of people are perfectly  happy on land.  As are we -- this is the fourth year we haven't gone out in a boat.

Plenty of people are perfectly happy on land. As are we — this is the fourth year we haven’t gone out in a boat.

The swimmers from the fishing boats have recently become a tradition for me. If I'd watched them jumping in for five more minutes, I'd have done it too. It was suffocatingly hot.

The swimmers from the fishing boats have recently become a tradition for me. If I’d watched them jumping in for five more minutes, I’d have gone in too. It was suffocatingly hot.

The girls, the boys, the girls and boys -- they were tireless.

The girls, the boys, the girls and boys — they were tireless.

IMG_3354 red 2013 use

IMG_3391 red 2013 use

But then the party was over.  On Sunday afternoon, the Giudecca Canal is supposed to look like this.

But then the party was over. On Sunday afternoon, the Giudecca Canal is supposed to look like this.

It looked like this.

It looked like this.  The barge was there, ready to draw the starting-line cord from the piling to make sure all the boats were lined up just right.  But no boats.

The judges' dock was in its prescribed position, too, complete with judges.

The judges’ dock was in its prescribed position, too, complete with judges.

The starting time for each of the three races came and went, duly noted by the president of the judges on duty. Then a deputation of racers came aboard to unburden themselves, once again, of their distress and indignation. This, however, was not noted.  The only thing that mattered was to indicate that "the race was suspended because no racers presented themselves at the starting line."  Somebody else is responsible for figuring out what to do next.

The starting time for each of the three races came and went, duly noted by the president of the judges on duty. Then a deputation of racers came aboard to unburden themselves, once again, of their distress and indignation. This, however, was not noted. The only thing that was necessary was to indicate that “the race was suspended because no racers presented themselves at the starting line.” Somebody else is responsible for figuring out what to do next.

And a good time was had by nobody.

And a good time was had by nobody.

Categories : Venetian Events
Comments (2)
Jul
19

Frankfurter reporten

Posted by: | Comments (0)
Rowing  from the boat-launching area up the Main River toward Frankfurt.  It's not a bad combination, one of the oldest forms of boat in the world and a city which lives and breathes the future.

We joined Richard Winckler to row his gondola from the boat-launching area up the Main River toward Frankfurt. It’s not a bad combination: one of the oldest forms of boat in the world in a certified “alpha world city” which lives and breathes the future. Not only is Frankfurt a mere 40 kilometers (24 miles) west of the geographical center of Europe, it is the largest financial center in continental Europe, and the home of DE-CIX, the largest internet traffic exchange point on the planet. It’s also the tenth most expensive city in the world, though maybe that’s not something to be so proud of.

That title doesn’t actually mean “report on the hot dog,” though it would be easy to misconstrue.

Anyway, I made it up; I don’t know German.  I studied it for a year, but it rejected me, as if I were a foreign body somebody had tried to transplant into the corpus of what is, in fact, a hugely expressive language.

However, you might be interested to know that “Frankfurt” means “the ford of the Franks,” therefore the various people who named their town Frankford, who I used to think were embarrassingly ignorant, totally nailed it.

There was a mixture of rowers who came for the three-day “Days of Venetian Rowing” on the Main River, organized by the Comitato Internazionale di Voga Veneta (CIVV).  Some from France, some from Venice, some from Treviso and Padova, and some individuals from here and there around Germany, a few of whom brought their own boats. The rowing club at which the CIVV is based, the Germania Frankfurter Ruder Gesellschaft, provided a very glamorous and historic base of operations.

We went, we rowed, we ate, we basked in what we were assured was spectacularly unusually beautiful weather, and we saw some interesting things. Lino drank beer, I drank enough apfelsaft (apple juice) to drain all of upstate New York. It was the simplest non-alcoholic option: cheap, ubiquitous, easy to pronounce.

Here are a few snaps of what went on, and who went on with it.  I’d have made many more, but that would have cut into my eating, drinking, and seeing-interesting-things time. Choices have to be made, and they were.

Soon I will return to your regularly scheduled Venice.

The Canottieri Sile from Treviso brought a gondolino and this unusual craft, a four-oar s'ciopon.

The Canottieri Sile from Treviso brought a gondolino and this unusual craft, a four-oar s’ciopon.

Launching and pulling the boats out of the water was simplified by the roller on the dock.  Unfortunately, then we had to pull the boat across the park, up a ramp, and across a two-way street.

Launching and pulling the boats out of the water was simplified by the roller on the dock. Unfortunately, then we had to pull the boat across the park, up a ramp, and across a two-way street.

This view from the terrace of the Germania Ruder club ought to give some glimpse of the distance we had to cover taking the boats to the river every day.  It's not that it was so far, it was just more complicated than one normally expects.  Even if one normally expects things to be complicated.

This view from the terrace of the Germania Frankfurter Ruder Gesellschaft club, our home base, ought to give some glimpse of the distance we had to cover taking the boats to the river every day. It’s not that it was so far, it was just more complicated than one normally expects. Even if one normally expects things to be complicated.
We were also earnestly urged to keep our ears open for the sinuous sound of one of these barges which might very well be coming up behind us; their braking capacity is measured in miles.

We were also earnestly urged to keep our ears open for the sinuous sound of one of these barges which might very well be coming up behind us; their braking capacity is measured in miles. This picture shows the first half of the vehicle.

This is the second half. This would be the nautical version of the 500-pound gorilla: Wherever it wants to sit...

This is the second half. This would be the nautical version of the 500-pound gorilla: Wherever it wants to sit…

We had a surprising three gondolinos, perfect for a race.  Getting the boats lined up takes time, though.

We had a surprising three gondolinos, perfect for a race. Getting the boats lined up takes time, though.

Two minutes after the start, we could see how the boats were going to finish.  Rowing upstream means that the boat closer to the shore will almost certain do better than the others.  Victory to the white gondolino of the Canottieri Sile; the red was second, and the blue was third.

Two minutes after the start, we could see how the boats were going to finish. Rowing upstream means that the boat closer to the shore will almost certainly do better than the others. Victory to the white gondolino of the Canottieri Sile; the red was second, and the blue was third.

Having only two mascaretas meant holding a series of quarter-finals, semi-finals and the final.  Here the rule about being closer to the shore also applies, added to the fact that the boats were not equal.  The longer boat would have gone faster in any case.  Luck of the draw was taken to new height out here.

Having only two mascaretas meant holding a series of quarter-finals, semi-finals and the final. Here the rule about being closer to the shore also applies, added to the fact that the boats were not equal. The longer boat would have gone faster in any case. Luck of the draw was taken to new heights out here.

This jaunty little coracle took the serious edge off the proceedings.  It's a floating barbecue.

This jaunty little coracle took the serious edge off the proceedings. It’s a floating barbecue, the food being cooked in the middle.

Comment would be superfluous.  Or however you say it in German.

Comment would be superfluous. Or however you say it in German.

We rowed up the river to another rowing club where we sat and rehydrated.  This  young woman told me the flowers weren't for any particular event; just prettying up the place.  I'd certainly say so.

We rowed up the river to another rowing club where we sat and rehydrated. This young woman told me the flowers weren’t for any particular event; just prettying up the place. I’d certainly say so.

The locks at Greisheim handle 60 honking big barges every day. They made room for our jaunty little fleet, rowing down to Hochst for lunch.

The locks at Griesheim handle 60 honking big barges every day. They made room for our jaunty little fleet, rowing down to Hochst for lunch on Sunday morning.

Just to show the comparative length, beam, and tonnage of our respective vessels. I was told that the lock-keeper (automated, somewhere else) was going to empty our lock verrry slooooowly, so that the force of the outrushing water wouldn't hurl the boats to kingdom come. I freely translated from the German, which I don't speak but which looking at the lock I could completely understand.

Just to show the comparative length, beam, and tonnage of our respective vessels. I was told that the lock-keeper (automated, somewhere else) was going to empty our lock verrry slooooowly, so that the force of the outrushing water wouldn’t hurl the boats to kingdom come. I freely translate from the German, which I don’t speak but which looking at the lock I could completely understand.

And as you see, it worked.

And as you see, it worked.

Hochst is like a three-dimensional postcard.

Hochst is like a three-dimensional postcard.

Jurgen Hoh, a geography teacher from Bamberg and a good rower, as well, explained that one amazing thing about the slate roofs (and even walls) of many houses is that this stone isn't local; historically, that has all sorts of importance.  Me, I just kept thinking about how much the whole thing weighs.

Jurgen Hoh, a geography teacher from Bamberg and a good rower, as well, explained that one amazing thing about the slate roofs (and even walls) of many houses is that this stone isn’t local; historically, that has all sorts of importance. Me, I just kept thinking about how much the whole thing weighs.

The financial center retains a few 19th-century buildings which survived bombing in World War II.

The financial center retains a few 19th-century buildings which survived bombing in World War II.
And who says Germans have no sense of humor. Unless some heartless person went and stole that doll from its innocent little owner.

And who says Germans have no sense of humor? Unless some heartless non-Teutonic person went and stole that doll from its innocent little owner.

So farewell, Frankfurt. My happiest memory may well be the firemen on their mid-day ice-cream break.

So farewell, Frankfurt. Your airport’s spectacular and your history is first-class, but my happiest memory may well be the firemen on their mid-day ice-cream break.

 

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Categories : Boatworld
Comments (0)