Monday, June 25, 2007

A couple from Colorado walks into a bar...

...actually, they were already in the bar, Harry's Bar. For those unfamiliar, Harry's Bar is famous for being Ernest Hemingway's hangout in Venice, for inventing that delicious drink known as the Bellini (white peach nectar blended with Prosecco - Italy's sparkling wine), and for being, well, Harry's. It's just one of those places. It's owned an operated by the Cipriani family, Italian restaurateurs/hoteliers with properties around the world. It is a "must-stop" on millions of tourists' lists every year. I can only imagine how weary the white-jacketed waiters/bartenders must be of answering every inane question asked and dealing with, frankly, every attention-deprived jerk who makes a bigger jerk of himself at Harry's. So for every charming story - see "...three girls walk into a bar" posted ten days or so ago - there is one of these.

A middle-aged couple from Colorado who have done some traveling, not particularly savvy or worldly, taking a gazillion photos (it's a small bar, folks), telling the waiter stories in which he has less than zero interest. His name is "Harry" - what a coincidence, it's such an odd name, after all - and "he looks just like Hemingway" - according to his lovely wife, so shouldn't the drinks be "on the house?" She wants a Bellini (of course she does!) and he wants a martini which the two of them describe to the waiter for, I swear this is true, at least three or four minutes to be absolutely SURE it's made just the way he likes it. And no, the drinks, signora, are not on the house, the waiter chuckles sweetly. We were seated TABLES AWAY on the OTHER SIDE OF THE BAR from this pair so how do I know all this?? I know all this because this woman's voice could be heard by all except perhaps a few hearing impaired people at the vaporetto stop down the Riva.

A lovely British couple had the misfortune of being seated next to Mr. and Mrs. Colorado and were immediately engaged in a conversation about travel, baseball, soccer, the Queen, Hemingway, Bellinis, the history of Harry's, and on and on and on, all at this same extraordinary decibel level. The waiters/bartenders at Harry's have to contend with people poking their videocameras in, walking in and walking out after looking at the menu, and various and sundry other "Harry's Violations." But once you're a paying customer, you are treated as a paying customer. And so there was no way any of the white-jacketed ones were going to do anything about this woman. Believe me, several of them and I exchanged eye rolls. You have no idea - or maybe most of you do have some idea - of how much I wanted to go over to her and very nicely say:

"Ma'am, this bar is filled with people who are on their honeymoon, have saved for years for this trip, who come to escape the crowds outside and have a quiet drink. You have managed to single-handedly ruin that experience for everyone here. YOU are one of the reasons Americans are so poorly thought of around the globe. Enjoy your Bellini."

P.S. So as not to leave a bad taste in anyone's mouth about Harry's Bar - which truly is one of the delights of Venice - I've put up a photo of our Bellinis down with the other photos. Salute!

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