Over on the further edge of The Floating Piers, there is a little more calm.

June 28th, 2016, 7am

It was a ton of work to get here. But then it sorta wasn’t.

On Sunday I decided that seeing Christo’s The Floating Piers was definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I spent the afternoon clicking through links, online reviews, advice, and Italian news sites to plan a trip. I’d fly out the next day, Monday morning, and fly back Wednesday, or Tuesday as it happened to be in the end.

The two days were packed and when I came back to Barcelona, I couldn’t believe I had left the day before. It felt like a couple days or a week. Maybe because I didn’t sleep.

I knew there would be crowds, but I wasn’t prepared for them. I sketched out a timeline and assumed I’d be at the Piers at 5pm. That turned to 8pm after a flight delay, a train delay, more train delays, and lines to get in. But it was worth it. The crowds didn’t detract from the surreality of walking on a floating pier, walking on a saffron-yellow cloth on a felt cloth on a grid of interlocked plastic boxes floating and anchored to the lake bottom. A bob and sway with the water.

It was hot, even at 8pm. Climbing up Monte Iseo, even a little bit to get an overhead view, was a sweaty affair. Sounds of people walking and a festive atmosphere with families out until 10pm and probably till midnight. I decided at 10 to make my way back, and after waiting in lines and sleeping in the train, got to bed after 1.

Woke up at 5am the next day to do it all over again. First train at 5:55am and this time was on the piers with no line at 7. Slightly thinner crowds made it easier to walk to the far end of the piers, to the island, and there, finally, there was some peace. Still lots of people, but gaps so a whole 10m length would be empty to facilitate a photo. A quick meditation staring out at the edge where saffron ends and blue liquid starts.

After strolling the length of the Piers, a 5 minute helicopter ride from the copilot’s seat gave an amazing tour and overview of the installation. Add a quick dip in the lake to cool off, wash off the sweat in some sort of pilgrimage ritual. Then the lines, the trains, a walk around Brescia for context on Christo and Jean-Claude at the Santa Giulia museum, and trains and trains and planes and cars back to Barcelona, via Milan.

Christine and David Wade said thanks.

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Ian Leighton

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