Ok y’all, I’m actually going to try to finish telling you about my epic whirlwind trip around Europe. Where did I leave off? Oh right, Paris.

So Paris was where we had to part ways with my wonderful Delta Gamma twin sister. Her Spring Break was only a week long, so bright and early Monday morning she had to catch a flight back to reality. We said our goodbyes and went our separate ways to the airport.

I, however, continued on to Venice with my friend Ginny. We took our first flight of the trip, arriving in Venice mid-morning. And that is where I believe the real adventure begins . . .

Before the trip I had painstakingly look up and printed out directions to and from almost every place we were going. I looked up bus numbers and train times and metro stops galore. I printed out maps of areas, walking directions, and just about everything I imagined we would need. For the most part that proved to be a very good idea. It got us around almost every city without a problem . . . except Venice. You see, Google maps lied to me. When I searched for the Marco Polo International Airport, it told me that the airport was a fifteen minute walk from San Marco square. I did think that sounded a bit weird, but I know that Venice is a whole bunch of islands connected by bridges so I thought the airport was just on an island by itself or something. You can go ahead and laugh at me now, I’ve had a good laugh at myself for my naïveté. But at any rate, we left the airport and started walking. We saw a sign for “Venezia” with an arrow and I thought, “Yay! We’re going the right way. Awesome.” So we followed the sign.

Pretty soon, the sidewalk ended. We were walking in the grass alongside the road. We couldn’t find street signs, so we didn’t actually know what road we were on, but we could see buildings ahead of us so we kept walking. We soon got to this little town area, but of course all of the signs were in Italian. I think there was a hotel or two, and some restaurants. We could have asked for directions, except that neither of us spoke Italian. After walking for about ten more minutes we came to a bus stop. I know some of the bus stops in Manchester have a map of the city next to a display of bus times, so I thought we should stop and look. Maybe there was a map. So we crossed the street, but no such luck. There was no map. We did notice, however, that the bus that stopped there terminated at Venezia, which is where we wanted to go. So we gave up trying to save a few Euros and just waited for the bus.

When the bus arrived I realized that I had no idea what the fare was, and I had no idea how to ask. In Manchester I’m used to walking up to the bus driver and telling him where I’m going, and he tells me how much. So I figured even if the bus driver didn’t speak English, he should understand “Venezia.” I think I also added “per favore” because I remembered how to say please at the last minute. But the driver looked at me for a moment, shook his head, and waved me to the back of the bus. I shrugged, but what could I do? I didn’t know how to ask anything. So Ginny and I made our way to an open spot on the very crowded bus.

It was just our luck that at the next stop, who gets on but the bus police. They go around the bus and check peoples’ tickets, and if you don’t have a ticket (or if your ticket is expired) then they pull you off the bus at the next stop and make you pay a pretty hefty fine. At this point I was freaking out because not only did I not have a ticket, but I had no idea how to explain that the bus driver wouldn’t sell me one. Thankfully there was a woman standing next to me who spoke English, so that when the police guy turned to me and I stuttered, “I don’t have one, I asked the driver, and he waved me back here and I’m sorry I don’t speak Italian…” she was able to convey the message in Italian too. The police guy just told me to wait.

When we finally got into Venezia (which by the way, was a lot further than Google maps had told me. There’s no way we could have walked…) the bus police motioned for Ginny and I to follow him. He went and talked to the bus driver, and I don’t know what they said, but finally he came back to us. He motioned to a building not too far away. “Buy a day pass,” he said. “It’s good for bus and vaporetti. Cheaper than one ticket, because vaporetti is 7 euro one way.” Relief flooded over me. At least he wasn’t going to fine us! I felt like a really stupid tourist. But we nodded and thanked him profusely before heading to the ticket counter to get our tickets, and a decent map.

Once we had figured out where we were and found the boat to take us where we wanted to go, the day definitely got better. How can you be upset when you’ve got this view?

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Venice was absolutely wonderful. It was everything I had imagined and more! We saw the Ponte Rialto, Venice’s famous bridge that is covered in little shops.

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By 11 am we were hungry, but honestly that’s a bit too early for lunch in my opinion. We did, however, find a gelato shop. Gelato is an acceptable mid-morning snack, isn’t it? It certainly seemed appropriate to be the first thing we ate in Italy. Whatever, if this is truly a once-in-a-lifetime trip, I’m not apologizing for my eating habits.

We then took one of the vaporetti boat-buses over to the Piazza San Marco, the famous centre of Venice. We got there around noon and the piazza was absolutely packed! Everyone was standing around looking up at this clock, which I didn’t notice until the clock tolled twelve. A little statue of a man on top of the clock began striking a bell with a hammer. Unbeknownst to me, that clock and the little men with their bell is over 500 years old. It’s kind of a big deal.

The famous clocktower

The famous clocktower

Closeup of the bell

Closeup of the bell

We also found the famous pair of lions right near the clock. If you’ve read The Thief Lord, then you know what lions I’m talking about.

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We ate lunch on the steps near the lions, and then explored the Piazza for a bit. We took a trip out to the island of Murano, where they make awesome stuff like this from blown glass:

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And we finished the day at a delicious pizza and pasta place. For only spending a day in Venice (and considering how the day started out), it was an absolutely wonderful day. I’m so happy that I finally got to see the city! I have wanted to see Venice since I was a little girl. My mom told me that when she visited the city more than 30 years ago, she was struck both by how beautiful it was, and by how it seemed that it could fall apart with one bad flood. 30 years later it still looks the same, and I feel the same way. It’s a miraculous city really. I don’t know how it survives, but somehow it has seen hundreds of years go by. It’s truly remarkable. I hope it remains that way for another 30 years! Because I’ll make it back again someday. I know I will.

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