Flying into Aeroporto Marco Polo di Venezia.
Talk about easy airports!! Marco Polo has such an ease to it, letting you know what you have to look forward to for the rest of your trip. Everything, and everyone, here is so easy and pleasant.
I was given directions to my hotel, Centro Culturale Don Orione Artigianelli, so I knew to buy a bus and vaporetto, or a waterbus, ticket, take a bus to the main terminal, and then walk to the vaporetto stop. What is never taken into account is how, much like in my everyday life, I always feel like I'm going in the wrong direction, so I'm never quite sure I'm where I'm supposed to be until I get there. Thank God for Google Maps and screen shots, helpful strangers and comfy shoes.
If you're looking to buy a bus/vaporetto ticket, don't waste 15 minutes like I did at the ticket machine next to the baggage claim trying to read all of the Italian. As soon as you exit the terminal there is a counter on the left and they'll be happy to help you figure out where you're going.
As you exit the terminal, be prepared to feel like a celebrity. Balloons, flowers, cameras, people smiling and so happy. They're not here to see you. They're waiting for their family members. Proceed to the bus ticket counter wishing people were that happy to see you, always.
I had two choices: take an hour and a half vaporetto to my stop, or take a 20 minute bus ride and then a 20 min vaporetto to my stop. Since I'd already been feeling a little queasy from the plane ride, I decided to limit my time on a boat. I broke my first rule of traveling: Always choose the adventure!!! I leave a note to myself that I'll take the vaporetto on my way back to the airport when I leave for Rome on Wednesday.
Well, this is me. My vaporetto stop.
After a few mistakes, wrong streets and nice Italian catcalls, I made my way to the hotel. It is an old monastery, that was also once an orphanage. Lots of history, stories and energy in this place. Trying not to psych myself out when I hear a noise or walk down a large hallway and turn around to a larger than life statue of Mary staring at me.
Ummmmm. Chanelling the twins and the avalanche of blood from The Shining.
My room wasn't ready yet, so I took a whore's bath (yay for baby wipes, a must have when traveling) in the lobby bathroom and set on my way to explore, sans map. First things first: food. I found a sandwich shop close to the hotel and chose a parma ham, mozzarella and arugula wrap. Unless your feet are hurting and you need to sit down or you're eating a fancy meal, always get your food to go. Everything is more expensive if you sit down, and they're quick to kick you out of any seat if you get it to go and then decide to sit. Walking and eating also helps you work off the large amounts of bread and cheese you'll be consuming.
As I stood with a mouthful of wrap, staring into another shops window at their pastries and desserts, I was thankful I went with the elastic waistband shorts for the trip. I wasn't too sure about them as I stood in the store holding them up, but this is the defining moment the shorts were made for. Eating food while window shopping for more food.
I found some steps out of the way to sit on and enjoy the sandwich, the weather and the sun on my face. Does it really get any better than this? It's times like these that I just close my eyes, and scream a big, loud THANK YOU to the Universe. Thank you for everything that brought me to this place, right now. All of the good stuff, the stuff I thought was bullshit, the stuff I adored. Thank you for all of that stuff.
I accidentally on purpose forgot to grab a map, so I just started walking. I mean, how lost can I really get? It's not like I'll walk and find myself in another country, or so far away from where I need to be that I can never get back. Plus I was wearing flip flops. I couldn't get too far. And I read in a book somewhere that you should get lost in the city you're traveling in, for the adventure. So I just walked.
Up and down streets, into shops, taking pictures and just enjoying the people, the sounds and the scents. No agenda, no where I have to be. Just present. Again, THANK YOU!!!! So grateful.
I did some window shopping.
I went and saw some fancy art.
Century of the Self, by Alexandra Grant (2013)
And then some art that I thought was bad ass. There are free museums all over the city. Keep your eyes open and just walk in.
One thing I really started paying attention to and appreciating when I was traveling in Peru last September were the different kinds of doors. Venice has some truly amazing doors that are pieces of art in their own right. This copper door was massive and opened up to the most spectacular view.
Since I didn't have a map, I have no idea where this was. Which is a downside of getting lost in the city.
I worked up an appetite and needed to refuel. One good trick when finding a place to eat is to 1) pay attention to how busy a restaurant is, 2) look at the price of an item that you're interested in ordering, 3) compare multiple restaurants in the area on that one item. If it's busy it tends to be good and reasonably priced. If you're on a budget this will allow you to have a full tummy of yummy food while still being able to stay within your means. If you want to splurge and have a special night out, head to the more expensive and not as busy restaurant for more individualized service.
What brought me to Venice this time is a Travel Writers Retreat led by Pink Pangea. Eleven women who love to travel, write, and eat good food, coming together for five days to share our stories, fears and developing our voice as a writer. My Tribe. My intention is to have a fire lit so hot under my ass that I finish the piece I'm working on from my trip to Peru and get some international travel funded. It would be another dream come true to be paid to travel. (Just putting that out into the Universe.)
We met up for the first time in the lobby of our hotel, did a little bit of writing and then headed off to dinner.
Gnocchetti. Potato dumplings that just melt away into your mouth. My first sit down meal in Venice and it couldn't have been any more perfect. 14€ for the meal, 3€ for the sit down fee and 2€ for a bottle of water.
And what better way to wrap up the day than with some window shopping and a little bit of gelato?
Gelato count today: 2
Gelato names: Stracciatella (vanilla with chocolate shavings) and Nocciola (Nutella).
My kind of windown shopping.
First day in Venice was a success. Parma ham, museums, gelato, canals, gondolas, walking, cool pictures, more gelato. Sweet dreams my loves. Dreams of far away places and smiling faces. xoxo