Graduate Blog

The Venice Experience

venice

I am a poor planner.

From buses to planes, to water buses and on our Chevrolegs (Chevrolet + legs), my trip to Venice has been anything but smooth sailing. I found myself asking what I was doing there.
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Venice is built like a labyrinth on water. If Italy was the maze, my travel mate Allison and I were the small mice trying to find our way to the touristy, cheesy trophy. Unfortunately, this cheese was guarded by moats and barricaded by a language that we both struggled to understand. Maps provided vague hints as to direction because the houses, though colorful, are built so close together that they blocked all views of path and distance. Even Google maps is confused when it comes to navigating Italy. Since Venice is built on water, the grand canals are incorporated into the city. The city is in perpetual motion with the waters of the sea, working alongside, instead of against, the tides. Where trains are normally seen, Venice replaces rails with public water buses that take circuitous routes all around the main island as well as smaller islands of Lido, Murano, and Burano. Locals find these crowded and have their own boats parked like cars out back. Tourists find these buses to be great photo opportunities. I found myself to be seasick. The constant up and down was fun at first, but nauseating soon after.                                           ***

I am a poor planner.

We stayed at a hotel that was based off of price rather than comfort. The one shower (shared by the entire floor) flooded, the one toilet clogged, the one twin bed in our room sunk; this hotel was in a state of constant constipation. The shower drain, choked up from years of hair clumps and dirt, made it so that the more I tried to shower, the dirtier I became. A flood of grey water pooled around my ankles while the rancid, unflushable toilet putrefied with the steam from the shower nearby. From the dangling ceiling light hanging on with all its might by a mere electrical wire, to the gaping hole in the floor where water pipes were rammed through, location and price were the only things keeping Hotel Alla Salute de Cici afloat. With no air conditioning in the hot stuffy room, we were forced to sweat through the nights of blood-ravenous mosquitos and leave as early as possible to get to a public restroom. For a shower, I bathed in the salty waters of the Adriatic Sea and changed behind flimsy towels with the moon as my light bulb.
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I am a poor planner.

I forgot to bring bug spray. I was told to bring bug spray and I did not listen. The bite on my foot swelled up to the size of a Cyclops’s eye. There it stood, staring at me, tempting me to scratch. At one point it cast its own separate shadow from my body with the build-up of pus and redness. With the sweat, the irritation of bugs and bites, and the cramped twin size bed Allison and I had to share, all I could see was fault. And yet, I was doing something.
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The things I didn’t plan miraculously followed a predestined plan. We zipped by long lines of tourists waiting to get into St. Marks Basilica and walked up to the front of the never-ending line. Whether by luck or by chance, we got in without a single question or hiccup. The same thing happened at the Correr Museum and at Doge’s Palace. Wherever we went, the tourists did not follow. It was as if Italy was giving us a private privilege in light of all our traveling woes. We figured out how to navigate the city by boat, by going with the flow. Attractions, once out of walking distance, were all open to us. We explored street markets in Burano, known for their intricate lace patterns, and tried out our bargaining skills on local vendors. The unexpected night life of Lido with impromptu dancing in the streets, concerts on the beach, and restaurants with swings as chairs only further highlighted the beauty of the boundless sea at night fall. The moonlight smiled back at me as I utilized her enormous salty bath tub with grateful relief. This Italy, once so closed off, opened its arms, gave us a hug and welcomed us with warm meals and cool gelato. I finally felt a sense of purpose.
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On our last night in Italy while Allison and I bobbed up and down on the water bus dock, I asked her if she would ever move to Venice. She told me she didn’t know what she would do or where she would live when school was over. How perhaps she’d be an au pair and teach English and find out what she wanted to do in life by seeing others grow. I whole-heartedly agreed with her lack of a solid plan. I think we all are poor planners when it comes to knowing the future. Perhaps this is why we travel, why we subject ourselves to the unfamiliar and frankly uncomfortable. We bob along this massive world, trying to see the most of what we make up such a little part of, trying to figure out our plans by exploring the plans of others everywhere else. Maybe by seeing how the world plays out its plans, we can get a glimpse of how we might change ours. I am a poor planner, but figuring it out along the way is just how Italy intended me to do it; working alongside the flow. As Allison and I bobbed along watching the sun set, it seemed as if we caught a glimpse of the cheesy trophy we sought at the start of the maze.

About the Author

Cindy Cindy

I am a freelance children’s book writer and have recently graduated with a BA in English from the University of Iowa. While I’m a major fan of children’s books, my hope is to make a career from influential and impacting writing, whatever genre I find myself in.

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