In a way I’m a little unsure how to start this story. I guess from the beginning, which is simply that I’ve dreamed of going to Italy my whole life. I really can’t tell you what had me so drawn in, but I’ve always loved Italian food, good Italian food, and the old houses and history and wrought iron and stone and wine, you get the picture.
When I got married I convinced my husband that this was his love too and so we began to plan. We actually started deciding that we might want to live there for a year and our first trip was really a preparation and a figuring out of where we would want to be. So, this trip, while a lifetime for me, has been 10 years in the making. Most of them spent dreaming and the last couple of years actually saving and planning. So that’s how it all began…
We arrived in Venice our first day after about 20 hours of travel. We were zombie tourists really and, of course, to beat jet lag we decided to hit the ground running and pretend that their time was our time. We had gotten off the plane in Milan around 7:45 AM and took two different trains before we arrived in Venice. We really wanted to experience the culture and people of Italy as much as we wanted to see the sights so we opted to stay with people through Airbnb through most of our trip. Our first stay was in a place just outside the main part of Venice in Mestre. This is what it looked like…
Idyllic, right? It was lovely. When we first arrived though we had no idea where it was. Our only directions were to take the bus to Mestre and get off just past a certain hotel. We did this only to discover that we didn’t know where to go from there. Oops. That would have been important information. Armed with the street name, no GPS, my memory of what it looked like and a kind neighbor who obviously had seen a few people with lots of luggage traverse down his street, we were able to figure out where the place was and were so thankful we had finally arrived. Yea! I can’t tell you how glad we were just simply to not have to lug our luggage around anymore (we over packed of course) and to not be on a plane, train or bus. After dropping off all our luggage, we had one more little bus ride into Venice and this was the first view…
Venice is stunning! Truly! And it wasn’t even our favorite place! I can’t tell you all the things and emotions I was feeling to finally have my dream realized. It’s really indescribable. I was so full of anticipation for all that was to come. And Venice is such a great place to start, it truly takes your breath away.
I had made reservations for us to go into Saint Mark’s Basilica when we got there but I had really underestimated how long it would take us to get there and we missed our reservation to go in, but we got to simply wander around Saint Mark’s Square and felt perfectly satisfied with that.
We found this beautiful garden, next to the square and were intoxicated by the fragrance of these little flowers.
We were so terribly exhausted it was all we could do to get up from the bench we were sitting on. A nap right there in the garden sounded really wonderful. With great effort we continued on and finished out our evening by getting lost in Venice, but that was expected and so we didn’t care.
We finally crashed into our bed that first night. Aaahhh, sweet sleep never felt so good.
One of my favorite memories of our trip will be our chance meeting with Grazie Maria and her husband. We were on our last train ride from Milano Centrale station to the Venice train station. It was a 2 1/2 train ride at the very end of our long travels. And we were trying to stay awake! It was going to be rough. Mine and Vince’s seats were across the aisle from each other and poor Vince ended up next to a grumpy couple from Alaska and I ended up next to Grazie Maria. Vince and I were really quite taken by them, they were so distinguished looking. She spoke fantastic English and truly I assumed they were from England, she had the accent. I soon discovered that she was actually from Italy, they lived just outside of Venice. When I asked her about her wonderful English she said she used to be a translator for medical companies and she spent a lot of her time in England. Okay, now I get it. She sat next to me quietly knitting most of the trip and we had a few wonderful conversations from time to time. She asked me about our trip, told me we had chosen our places well, but was quick to tell me that we really should be spending more time in Venice. Well, next time we will do that. She was the type it seemed you would always be best served to take her advice. Next time, Grazie Maria. As we were parting and I told her how much I enjoyed sitting next to her on the train, she handed me a little cachet that she had knitted and told me I could put lavender in it or something. How spectacular! I will remember her with such fondness and a true testament to how I found people to be in our travels. It was a great way to start the trip. Grazie, Maria.