Venice was everything I imagined. Do you ever hype somewhere up in your mind and then worry that once you arrive you’ll be disappointed? We were not disappointed.

For those of you who don’t know, I (Cathleen) grew up on the water in a sleepy little fishing town on the Atlantic Ocean. As a girl who grew up on the water, a city that had water instead of roads and boats instead of cars was incredibly fascinating for me. It brought back memories of sitting on the dock waiting for the fishing boats come in. Instead of Carolina Skiffs, there were gondolas and water taxis, and instead of a few boats trickling in at 5pm, they were everywhere all the time. It was controlled(?) chaos and I couldn’t take my eyes away.

Venice is an interesting city to wander. Like all cities, there are those places where the five million tourists have decided to stand in one place looking at their cell phones converge and you have to push past the hoards of people with extended selfie sticks only to be harassed by hawkers trying to sell more selfie sticks. Unlike other cities, there also might be an inch of water on the ground as you are maneuvering through this crowd, depending on the tide. If your first stop in the city is Piazza San Marco anytime after 10am (like ours was), you might hate it (like we did). My advice: get out of there as fast as you can. The real Venice is out there waiting for you.

Our favorite thing to do in Venice was to find a spot and just watch the boats travel the canals. We stood on Rialto Bridge for an hour watching the comings and the goings. The beer delivery boat, the police boat, the ambulance boat (can you imagine!), the water ferries, the water taxis that you stood on the end of a dock to hail. There was a rhythm to it and it was mesmerizing.

There were also gondolas everywhere. They weren’t romantic or relaxed like you see in the movies, slowly gliding down a canal with the gondolier sweetly singing some Italian love song. They all seemed to tip over to one side. There was no singing. Nobody looked very excited to be in them. I thought maybe it was that the gondolas were less stable than they expected so they were nervous. We confirmed later that it was probably because they were paying $115 US dollars for a 30 minute ride. We did not ride in a gondola.

When we weren’t watching the canals we were wandering the streets. The road signs are present, but they make no sense. Google Maps does not work. We relied on Christopher’s sense of direction, and the knowledge that eventually we’d end up at water (Just like the Eastern Shore, right?). We also got the scheduled things out of the way in the morning, so if we got lost wandering in the afternoon it was fine.

There are no cars, so there were deliverymen with hand carts running around delivering goods. The trash man went door to door picking up bags of trash and putting them in a cart. The cart would then be dumped into the garbage boat parked around the corner. It was just another every day logistic, like the ambulance boat, that you wouldn’t have thought about unless you witnessed it first hand.

On our last day, we decided to capitalize on our three-day all-inclusive ferry pass and do some island hopping. We visited Cimitero di San Michele, which is Venice’s cemetery island; Murano, where the famous murano glass is from; and Burano, which is a small fishing village full of brightly painted houses. I’m happy that we had enough time in our Venice itinerary to visit these places, it was something different and we were happy to get out on the water for a few hours.

Now off to more sightseeing in Rome!

Love from Italy,
Cathleen & Christopher

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