So the book of Genesis contains the story of Noah and his magnificent Ark; 5:32-10:1. A modest and believable tale of a 500 year old man taking 100 years to build a wooden boat 2/3rds the size of the Titanic to house all the animals on Earth. Clearly whoever made that up was sitting in Venice during Acqua Alta after a few too many Chiantis, watching the loved up couples go past, two-by-two. Just like I was on a grey, cold, wet weekend in March with the flood sirens ringing around the city.
Each year the Marie Curie Alumni Association have their General Assembly and Annual Conference – a great chance for current fellows to meet others inside the MC bubble. The organisers of the MCAA chose the beautiful, charming, characterful city of Venice for 2016 – so obviously I signed up! Along with Jetienne, Marwan, Maurits and Sophia. Another excuse to present a poster too.
Despite the weather, we made the most of our long weekend, Sophia managed to pick up a few souvenirs, Marwan blended in with all the other loved up couples with his new & wonderful wife Olivia, and we all managed to get very very wet. The General Assembly was hosted by the Ca’ Foscari University, whose buildings were fantastic, views stunning and hosting pretty good to boot. Two massively huge downers to the proceedings though – the first being a presentation that was boring on biblical proportions! The other being the loss of my poster – supposedly some of the most astute young minds in science and somehow the organising committee managed to lose my poster. How that happens, I do not know! But at least I got to take it in the first place… hey Francisco 😉
Oh, and as well as very very wet, I got very very lost. Anyone who has been to Venice knows that every little street looks pretty much the same. Relying on GPS on your phone is a must – in fact I think most people see the majority of Venice as pastel colours on their phone screen as they try to get around. So on the night of the most torrential downpour and highest floodwater, that’s when my phone decided it had had enough of being soaked to its core (much like myself) and just gave up (not like myself). It also happened to be the one night where I’d gone to my hotel before dinner and said I’d meet the others later at Campo Santa Margherita, a place I knew exactly how to get to… when my route wasn’t cut off by flooding! So there I was navigating through the floodwaters on my own, with no GPS, no map, no clue. Occasionally I’d spot the odd thing I recognised and a little whoop whoop would run through my head – but prematurely as EVERY tiny little street I recognised seemed to be too deep in floodwater! I navigated the drier streets all the way to Piazzale Roma and miraculously found signs for my destination. I followed helplessly. The final street I needed to go down was, predictably, unnavigable without a boat – but I’d come too far, so I just waded through, I couldn’t get any wetter. And I made it. Just had to remember my way back now…