Friday, April 15, 2011

Venice Day One

I’m in Venice! I can’t believe I actually made it! But let me start at the beginning.

I put myself to bed at eight last night and it was shameful how easy it was for me to fall asleep. I am a disgrace to my age bracket. But I’m glad I did because I’m writing this at 9:28 p.m. and while I’m tired, I never felt on the edge of a collapse at all, and I enjoyed the day so much more for it. I was really worried about sleeping through not only my phone alarm, but the hotel wake-up call, so in addition to putting the room phone as far away from me as I could, I kept waking myself up every hour and a half or so and checking the time until I finally got up at three-thirty.

I was worried I would wake up sick- I was feeling really awful last night, so much that I couldn’t really eat my dinner. Thankfully, whatever I had been feeling (possibly just nerves) had gone away by the morning. Maybe because it hit me for real then- I was going to Venice!

I’m glad I went to the airport so early. I did have some time to kill, but not much. And even though it will be nearly impossible for me to bring back any souvernirs because my bag is packed to bursting, I’m glad I only brought a carry-on. It made every step of the process so much easier. I got to go ahead of lines, not wait for my luggage anywhere- so much less stress.

While I waited for my gate to be announced, I had breakfast at a café on the other side of security. This café had milkshakes in very interesting flavors- strawberry, chocolate orange, banana butterscotch, caramel, and Oreo cookie.

As I was checking in, I was informed that my sandwich baggie for my liquids was the wrong kind. It was sticky-sealed (the only kind I’ve seen sold in London), not Ziploc. The man who was checking me in said I could go and buy some. This did not make me happy- I didn’t want to buy a whole bunch of plastic baggies when I only needed one. As it turns out, they sell them in sets of four for a pound in one of those machines like they have in American grocery stores, with the toys/stickers/rings in plastic globes. Unfortunately, these were sealed much tighter than those. I could not for the life of me twist the sides apart. Finally, in annoyance, I tossed it to the ground and stomped on it. It did the trick, and a group of older ladies behind me who had been having the same difficulty followed my example.
When my gate was announced, I was surprised to find that the gates were not down the hallway; we had to take a sort of metro a short distance. I was also surprised to not enter the plane through a temporary hallway, but trekking onto the tarmac and climbing up the steps. I thought the only did that in movies to make entrances more interesting.

The flight was no problem, and there were some amazing views- at one point, we flew over a huge mountain range. I wish I could have taken pictures, but my camera was packed deep in my bag, which was too hard to rearrange in a short amount of time. But it was cool.

When I arrived in the Treviso airport, I went through customs, then stood in the main lobby looking like a lost soul until I saw a bus service that took people to Venice for seven euros. I’m glad I exchanged my money in my downtime at the Stansted airport- I didn’t see a bureau de change in that airport (though I’m sure one was there somewhere.) I had the address of my hotel written on a piece of paper and showed it to the lady behind the desk. She confirmed that I could get there using that bus.

This was true- sort of. Half an hour later, I was deposited in a giant parking lot right outside of Venice. The view into the city was stunning, but I knew I wasn’t in the right place. I didn’t know where I had to go, though. I bought a map, which turned out not to show the city I had to go to, and finally found out that I needed to take a bus back into a city I had passed through on my way to Venice. I got on the bus, but the problem was, I had no idea where I was going. I knew the bus was going to end up at the Mestre train station, and my hotel was in Metre. Even if the train station wasn’t where I needed to be in the end, it was closer than the city of Venice. I tried to figure out the route on the map I had purchased, but it was then that I realized that the bus had long driven off the map.

I didn’t know what to do. The scariest thing about getting to the hotel by myself was the fact that I don’t speak any Italian at all. At least when I go to France, I know enough French to get around and ask questions. I had written down Italian phrases, but I didn’t know any by heart. Finally, we were passing through a town that seemed to have a lot of hotels, and a nice-looking old lady was sitting next to me. “Scusi,” I said, hoping I didn’t sound obnoxiously foreign. “Dov’e…” [which means “where is”] I pointed to the address I had written down. She didn’t know, but a woman standing next to her repeated, “Dove’e?” I nodded and she took the paper from me. As she did, I thought I saw my hotel fly by the bus. I was right. A man next to her said to me, in English, “Get off at the next stop and go back.” They were all so nice and helpful and I kept saying “Grazie, grazie, grazie!” as I got off the bus. When I did, I found Adrienne waiting in the lobby of the hotel. I was surprised- though it had taken me a long time to figure out how to get there, her flight got in later than mine. However, she’s been traveling around Italy for a few days and knew the system better than I did (plus she speaks school Italian.) As it turns out, her plane had gotten in early, and she had been waiting for me for nearly an hour and a half!

We got some lunch (real Italian tortellini is delicious, as is the bread here. Also, we were the first customers for lunch and the cook was very excited to see us, shouting a greeting when we walked in.) After that, we headed for the city of Venice, where we stayed for six or seven hours.

Venice is beautiful, I think the most beautiful place I’ve ever been in my life. It has over four hundred islands connected by bridges, and it’s amazing to walk through. I know this entry is getting long, so I’ll leave off here. The pictures speak for themselves- I took almost three hundred just today!


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