If you've ever had the feeling of wanting to be pinched twenty four seven because you need something to wake you up from an amazing dream, then you can sort of understand what it is like to be in Venice.

We left for our first weekend trip to the city that is loved by all Italians at 7:30am. Most of us, myself included, slept on the plane. The plane in itself was an experience! The airline we flew with, Easy Jet, doesn't assign seats for its passengers, so what seat you get is kind of a free for all. Unless....you have a strategy. Which, of course, we did. However, everyone else also had the same strategy as well. With Easy Jet, after they check your passport and boarding pass, you crowd onto this bus which takes you to your plane. The key is to position yourself as closely to the bus doors as possible, because once the bus stops and the doors open, everyone makes a mad dash to board the plane and sit in their prime seat. I have to say that we all did very well getting the seats that we wanted:) However, the entire process is a little hilarious.

We arrived in Venice around 10:30 after taking a 45 minute bus ride, and a 50 minute ferry ride to our hotel. Venice is separated into little and big islands.Our hotel was on the island of Lido. It was a beautiful place, with a family atmosphere, social fun at night, the Venetian Sea with in ten minutes walking distance, and only fifteen  minutes away from any main attraction by ferry. It was great! In relation to the United States, I would compare Lido to Hilton Head Island. A much more beautiful, exotic, and interesting Hilton Head, of course. But nevertheless, the two islands shared many things in common, like numerous vacationers for starters, bike rentals, water, and relaxation. I guess you could say the islands are soul mates:)

Day one in Venice after arriving we grabbed a pizza, some Fanta, and headed down to the beach. We ate our pizza and then explored the beach! Being on the beach of Venice was absolutely amazing! I just stood there, looked far in the distance, felt the wind on my face, and tried to immerse myself in the moment. The gray water splashed up onto the sand, ferries passed, people laughed, and I stood there, shocked and amazed at what I was seeing, what I was feeling, and where I was. I can't explain the beauty of the beach and the Sea in words....I just can't.

As the time passed I collected sea shells and we took pictures and did other fun things. After a little bit we left the beach, and caught the ferry to San Marco. Woohoo! When we got off the ferry in San Marco's square, it really hit me that we were in Venice! In San Marco is what everyone pictures when they think of Venice. There are gondola rides, canals everywhere, bridges you walk over, amazing views, shops, and of course the three most famous things of Venice: San Marco's Church (the oldest and most famous church in Venice), the Emperor's Palace,and the clock tower. Much of San Marco's square has Arab influences in the architecture, which provided such an interesting and beautiful twist to much of what we have been seeing in Rome. Danillo took us on a walking tour, where he showed us the best shops, the unique and original Venetian masks to buy ("Stay away from the fakes!" he would tell us.), and the non touristy gondola locations. Everything was fantastic, and once again, I tried to soak it all in.

We did so much on our trip! We rode many ferry rides, which are a good form of transportation but also a great way to see Venice. We had Mass in San Marcos Church on Sunday morning, which was absolutely amazing. I'm still getting used to attending Mass in Italian, and I can't understanding what the priest is saying in the Homily, but thank goodness that the Catholic Church is universal, because even though I cannot understand the actual words being spoken during the Mass, I already know what is being said :) The church was very elaborate and very different, with a gold leafed ceiling.

Now...take a deep breath....on Saturday....we took a gondola ride!!!! Yay!!!!  It was so fun and my favorite part of the trip. Our gondola driver took us around Venice, through the canals, under the bridges. I waved blew kisses to everyone we passed and offered up a million "Ciaos!" The driver showed us where Marco Polo lived and Napoleon. At the end of the ride he helped us out of the boat and I got a picture with him..It was great:)

Well, this is incredibly long, so I will end it here. Best wishes to all those reading...I love and miss you all!
-Ciao Bella!  

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