Preface: On May 2nd, 2015, my husband Allen and I traveled to Italy for the very first time for just over two weeks. Our cities of travel were (in order) Venice, Bologna, Florence, Rome and Naples/Pompeii. I had been planning for six months prior to our departure and didn't take the task of "vacation coordinator" lightly. This was going to be our Holy Grail. This trip would define all future trips and we would not return for years to come so treading the thin line of preparing, over-planning and not planning at all was to be exercised and weighed. What follows in this series of posts are the letters I wrote back home every day with our experiences, thoughts and reflections. I could tell you how our trip was but I would prefer you to read it just as our families did back home...
Arrival to Italy/Venice
What a long but FULFILLING day!
In an effort to acclimate ourselves to the 9 hour time difference Allen and I stayed up for 24 hours straight but were shooting to stay awake for an additional 5 hours through our LAX to New York flight. The flurry emotions of extreme exhaustion coupled with intense excitement was a new feeling for me. We were about to embark on something great and I was both nervous and overcome with anticipation over the country we were about to explore.
In short, we made it on our plane at 8:45am for a 9:00am take-off and were both asleep before the attendants could go through their security procedures for the flight. We both woke up mid transit, slightly stunned, wondering what had happened. The heavy series of naps cut our idle time in transfer to Milan substantially and was very beneficial in long run to our overall success for the day. We were primed and ready for our Italian takeover by mid morning, Sunday May 3rd, when our plane landed safely in Milano at 10:40am.
Upon arrival and after 15 hours of travel time under our belts we had to take an hour shuttle to the train station and then hop onto a high speed train for another 2.5 hours. The benefit to flying into Milan was that we would round the country and end up back there to fly home. The initial "getting there" I knew would be rough. I had set my husband up for this hop on, hop off travel itinerary to Venice so it wasn't a huge surprise. Reflecting back it was well worth it though to go through those hoops and start our adventure in the most beautiful and romantic city we'd ever seen. Our first REAL look at the city was a defining moment and launch to beginning of our stay. Prior to this, in the fluster of exiting the train and trying to bustle through the station I didn't stop to look around but when I did I was in awestruck of the scenery and took only a moment to come to the realization that we had crossed a line. Wherever we were was somewhere between reality and make believe because only in my dreams did I think something so inviting and magical could exist. The phrases, "It's hard to explain," and, "You just have to see it person," now made perfect sense. In no way could I really have imagined the old and timeless beauty of Venice.
Accommodations: We were able to meet up with our Airbnb host, Roberto fairly smoothly and he walked us through his upstairs apartment that was originally his grandparents located in the Jewish Ghetto district, not far from the train station and far enough out of dodge that the cluster of tourist activity wasn't an issue. His grandparents owned the upstairs 2 bedrooms and worked downstairs in the bakery their entire life. The home was lovely and perhaps one of my favorite Airbnb rentals to date.
The rest of our first day was spent getting lost in Venice, like really lost. So lost we had wandered 5 miles around the city and had killed one cell phone battery and 90% of the other cell phone before making it back to our home at midnight. In our travels though we took a gondola ride (what a wonderful memory that will be), had our first gelato (it should be a crime to make something that good), saw St. Marks Square, the Rialto Bridge and had dinner at this lovely little outdoor garden restaurant partially covered with a wild flowering wisteria tree and ornate lanterns.
Everyone has been so friendly and we are picking up on the common language and phrases pretty quickly. Tomorrow is our only full day in Venice and we plan to tour the other islands Murano (known for Venetian Glass) and Burano (known for Venetian Lace).
Thank you family for keeping our safe travels in your thoughts and prayers. We are so excited to share our adventures with you.
Noel and Allen