Rainy Day Blues in Venice

Ciao friends!

As you may possibly know, my name is Natalie Grammer, and I’m art student, doing the Italy Art Study Abroad program! Being a first time world traveler, traveling to Italy was probably one of the most intimidating things, and I was TERRIFIED. But the morning of September 22nd, my travels began, with my destination as, Venice, Italy.

My flight leaving Seattle was at 8:30am, so I woke up at 5:00am, which is a dark disorienting hour, and frankly, a damp hour. Basically those conditions are horrible to wake up to because they are anything but sunshiney. But I woke up anyway, feeling crazy nervous but had a more dominating, surprising feeling; excitement.

Before I left, I gave my dad one last sleepy hug, and exchanged words like “love you” and “see you soon!” (as a joke haha) and I made my way to the car with my overweight luggage, heavy backpack, and best chauffeur in the world, my mom. Of course the worst part (and best part) had to come, saying goodbye to the one woman that supported me through everything and then making my way to a country that may change my life forever, but this moment came, and it was a really great moment. Gathering all my things and looking like a typical study abroad student; luggage by my side, backpack on my shoulders, nervous smile, I said goodbye to my mom. We hugged for an abnormally short amount of time (probably because we would boo hoo if we hugged longer) and she told me, “Have the best time of your life.” which was the most emotional and beautiful sentence a mother could say to her child who’s studying abroad for 3 months. With tears in her eyes (and mine), I quickly walked away so the goodbye wouldn’t be more emotional than it already was. One last wave to her, and I was off.

Traveling alone was scary for me, but I probably experienced the most simple and helpful airport travel in my life. Checking my bag was a breeze because a very nice lady that worked at U.S. Airways helped me, and security was so easy; they didn’t make us take our shoes off OR take laptops out of our backpacks. Crazy! After that, I walked to my gate and ate a tasty cinnamon roll and bubbly (not in a good way) cappuccino from Seattle’s Best, with a fair view of the airport.

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After eating a decent breakfast, I waited for my flight, which was going to be 5 hours to Philadelphia.C

Arriving to Philadelphia was a safe and uneventful flight, and I made my way to my gate, departing to (finally!) Venice, Italy. This flight was going to be about 8 hours and 30 minutes, a flight I wasn’t looking forward to for a few reasons. One, I can’t sit that long. Two, I’ve never traveled for more than 10 hours. And three, it was going to be the morning in Venice the next day, when it was the afternoon leaving the airport the day before. VERY weird. The time difference was my biggest concern because I hadn’t slept on the plane really, and once I got to Venice, I’d have to go through an entire day without sleeping. Yikes. Once I got on my plane to Venice, the flight was as pleasant as a flight could possibly be, filled with watching The Big Bang Theory and Disney movies.  After a long 8 1/2 hours of flying, the airplane landed in Marco Polo airport at 8:15am. Jet lag was a bazaar feeling also, because I didn’t feel it until about 1 hour before we landed. I felt so so so sleepy and my body felt wiped out. Not the best feeling in the world.

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Excited to fly to Venice!!!!!

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Breakfast right before we landed…wait, didn’t I just have breakfast??

Once I got off the plane, the first thing I did was look outside the airport windows, and no I didn’t see a gorgeous sunny day with a 360 degree beautiful view, instead I saw an overcast day with a 360 degree view of airplanes and construction. Gorgeous. After going through customs (which was the easiest thing I’ve ever done, they just stamped my passport no questions asked), I luckily found 5 people from my program who were on the same flight as me. So I stuck with them to travel to Venice. Once everyone got their luggage from baggage claim and withdrew some euros, we all headed to the water bus station, where literally a water bus would take us to Venice. Anticipating a short ride to the island, instead, it look about 1 hour and 6 stops until we got to San Marco Square. Feeling overwhelmingly tired, the once overcast sky of Venice quickly turned into a muggy rainy day. Wearing a jean jacket and sandals, I just sighed and decided to not worry. I’m going to get wet, who cares (which by the way, was a really good state of mind). Getting to the hotel was a bit of a nightmare, only because everyone had heavy luggage and it was raining, so one wrong turn would have been pretty terrible. Not to mention, Venice is not luggage friendly. It’s covered in bumpy cobblestone that is “slippery when wet”, bridges galore, and it won’t let you roll your luggage, but rather make you use your mighty strength and drag your luggage. But we all safely made it to our hotel in about 15 minutes, arriving as tired, wet, and sore humans. Unfortunately, we couldn’t check into our hotel rooms until 2pm, (it was 11:30am when we got there), so we thankfully put our luggage in a room and were forced to explore Venice (which sounds funny but everyone was exhausted).

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At the water bus station! (Kind of ugly to be honest)

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Rain rain go away

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Venice is filled with tiny alley ways like this, not the best conditions when it’s raining and you have heavy luggage.

As a group, we explored Venice in the rain (but I got an adorable pink umbrella for 3 euro!) and admired the scenery, even though Venice welcomed us with pretty crummy weather. That night, I met with my whole study abroad group, and we had a brief orientation, then walked to this adorable and tiny italian restaurant. Inside the restaurant, a man played his electrical guitar and sang slow songs while we ate tasty italian food and got to know each other. Besides the fact that about 90% of the group was terribly jet lagged, I had a really wonderful time and even though it was doesn’t seem like it, I had a great first impression of Venice, Italy. After dinner, I linked with a couple of friends from the program, and we decided to check out San Marco Square. San Marco Square was quiet at night but had a live jazz band under hanging lights. So we decided to grab a seat and listen to jazz and talk about life and our eager anticipation for what Italy had to offer us. After wandering back to our hotel, I lay my head on my pillow and drifted off to sleep. My travels were safe and so far everyone was great. Venice is amazing so far and I drifted off to sleep, very very happy.

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Beautiful Venice!