ONe of the many fresh, colorful produce stands
As my four months in London were winding down, I knew I couldnâ€™t leave Europe without a trip to Italy; Iâ€™d always dreamt about walking down those canals with a glass of red wine in my hand and a man on my arm. A bit of a romanticized, dreamers view of Italy, but I was going to shoot for it anyway, and turns out, Italy is that land where dreams really do come true and the body and mind are overwhelmed with awe. Last minute I booked a flight to Venice, not even asking any of my friends if they wanted to join (this trek was just for me), and began one of the most memorable weekends of my life, and before my second day in Venice, I did have that wine and man on my arm, a hilarious and charming story youâ€™ll hear in a minuteâ€¦
To be honest, I almost missed my flight in the first place-Iâ€™ve never been good at saying no to a date and Iâ€™d agreed to meet a soon-to-be lawyer at a nice Japanese place in London just hours before I had to leave for my flight, and itâ€™s hard to rush a man whoâ€™s dropping nearly $150 on dinner (not the sort of date Iâ€™m used to)â€¦I made it though, and I landed in Venice Thursday afternoon, grinning from ear to ear.
I had no idea how to get to my hostel, but after talking to several people, I found my route via a short bus ride (Tip to all of you-they hardly ever check bus tickets in Venice). I made it and was greeted with a kiss on both cheeks by a friendly, bored Italian man in charge of checking everyone in, and I was on my way to my room with evidence of just a few other travelers.
On my way to the train to the actual island of Venice I began my amazement of the gardens, balconies, and layers of paint chipped away by the years, revealing character in a house you just donâ€™t see in the states. That was nothing though, compared to what I saw when I got on the island. Pictures donâ€™t do justice to the beauty of Venice, and I spent the rest of the afternoon eating gelato and pizza, looking at all the tourist trinkets and beautiful handiwork of the Italians.
Maps donâ€™t do justice to Venice eitherâ€¦no really- several times I found myself at the crossing of two streets that simply werenâ€™t to be found on the map. To make Venice more difficult to navigate, there is the obstacle of the canals. Theyâ€™re beautiful, awe-inspiring, romantic, picturesque, and I enjoyed crouching at odd angles to get the best shots of the strong men (not all dressed in blue and red striped sweaters contrary to legend) rowing the gondolas carrying blissful couples, but these canals force you to find a way across the major canal that makes an island in the middle of the larger island-I learned that first night to give myself at least an hour to find my way back to the train.
Armed with umbrellas, no one really seemed too worried about the rain (except maybe this dog)
It was getting darker and I was getting more apprehensive about finding my way back, when I ran into a Portuguese man and his mother, also snapping photos at every turn.
Commenting off-hand about the difficulty of getting anywhere quickly in Venice I made a friend of not only him, but of his small mother, who spoke not a word of English, but insisted she share her banana/chocolate gelato with me. I couldnâ€™t resist the lady. The man, whoâ€™s name I donâ€™t remember, and I exchanged stories of our homelands, and I learned a great deal about the Portuguese way of life. Arriving back at my hostel, I was disappointed that my roommates were already asleep, so I wandered out in the hall, where the same lobby manager offered me wine out on the porch. We chatted and I enjoyed my first real conversation with a real Venetian, who, by the end of our chat, tried to kiss me on the lips, which startled me to say the least. Our incidental friendship paid off the next night as he shared half his pizza with a half-starving me in the lobby.