After twelve long and excruciating hours, I exited the train as swiftly as my lethargic legs would allow. Having left the train station in Vienna, Austria at 8:30 p.m. the previous night, it was now almost 9:00 in the morning, and I had finally arrived! My whole life has been filled with elegant dreams of someday seeing this unique and beautiful city known as Venice, Italy. Taking into consideration that I have read and studied many travel books and Internet sites about Venice, I felt that I had a pretty good idea of what was waiting for me just on the other side of the train station doors.
As I drew nearer and nearer to the doors I realized that not only was Venice awaiting my arrival but it was calling out to me like a siren call. I rushed quickly to answer the call and as I finally passed through the doors, my deep brown eyes were immediately drawn to the light blue hue of the Grand Canal that flowed with ease only a few short feet in front of me. As I gazed unbelievingly at the miraculously colored water, the sloshing of the canal seemed to whisper only to me, “you’re finally here….wake up and enjoy it!” Precisely at that moment I pulled my eyes with great force away from the canal and yanked them a little to the left, bringing into view the ‘Ponte Scalzi’ (Scalzi Bridge). My eyes followed the arch of the beautiful stone bridge to the other side of the canal with my legs – slightly less lethargic due to renewed excitement – following not far behind. Halfway across, I slowed to a halt in order to soak in the vision of the Grand Canal from a higher view. Looking to one side I could see every ripple and drop of the salty blue water gushing towards me as it gently patted the sides of the centuries old palaces that lined the edges just before it passed under the bridge to make it’s escape from my deep stare. Looking to the opposite side I could see the same drops and ripples, this time gushing away, off to find the Adriatic sea.
Upon crossing the bridge, the entire world of Venice was spanned out in front of me, eager to show me the sights. My original plan had been to stroll along the edge of the Grand Canal easing my way towards some of the city’s main sights. However, I soon realized that there is not always a footpath right along the side. My initial irritation at that fact was soon overcome by gratitude as I strolled through the narrow alleyways and saw what I’d have missed had I remained along the side. Hundreds of tiny alley ways weaved together like an unorthodox basket to lead the ways to hundreds of destinations. Each one being accompanied by it’s own history and personality, and some being partnered with baby canals stemming from the mother, Grand Canal. I continued to wander through the peaceful, car-less alleys for hours. Every minute imprinting a new detail or memory of Venice culture in my brain such as: tons of small boats lining the serene canals giving a new definition of ‘parking-lot’, or gondolas slicing through the water creating a stark contrast with it’s slick black appearance against the smooth turquoise salt-water.
Throughout the day I navigated my way to the world famous sites including, ‘Ponte di Rialto’, ‘Ponte Accademia’, and ‘Basilica di San Marco’. Standing on top of Ponte Accedemia, memorizing the majestic scene of the Basilica di Santa Maria della Salute jutting against yet another portion of the Grand Canal, I felt as if I were in a dream and I didn’t want it to end. Much to my disappointment, however, my physical hunger and fatigue reminded me that I was in fact awake and it was time to eat and rest. Having been enthralled by the beauty of the city I hadn’t realized how starving I really was and now it was time to settle down and enjoy some authentic Italian food. Italian food has always been high on my list, but when that first bite of lasagna entered my mouth and met my taste buds, I was sure that I had never tasted anything so heavenly in my life! With every bite the deliciousness only seemed to intensify and I couldn’t help my mouth from watering. When I was finished, although I was completely satisfied, I was slightly disappointed that the wild entertainment for my taste buds had vanished so soon.
Soon after eating it was time to retire for the day. Slowly I dragged my feet back towards the train station reflecting on my day in Venice. After spending the day wrapped in the charm of the city it was brought to my attention that Venice is nothing like any picture I’d ever seen or any story I’d ever read…It was a million times better!