Thankful for Italy

Sunday, Oct. 10

Yesterday’s flight from Athens to Venice was amazing for a number of reasons.

We felt rich and high class. For some reason, we felt clean. And of course, we felt incredibly excited to be going to Italy.

After taking multiple overnight ferries in Greece and eight-hour bus rides in Turkey, an airplane journey was like going to the spa.

We even had free beer and wine. Granted it was only 10 a.m., but we’re travellers. If it’s free, we’ll take it. Especially if it’s beer and wine.

Anyway, getting to our hotel in Venice (yes, hotel, not hostel – they’re equally as expensive here) was a feat and a half.

We were told the bus took us straight to our destination. I don’t know why we bother believing people any more – we should have learned our lesson by now. But we figured the woman selling us our bus ticket wouldn’t steer us wrong.

Somehow, I don’t think we even ended up on the right bus. We asked a handful of people on the ride (all of which were Italian – the lack of tourists should have been a warning sign) and one spoke English. Luckily, he was the most helpful English speaking Italian ever.

Miraculously, he ended up living in the same area as our hotel. He called for proper directions, showed us the bus stop to get into town and even walked us to our hotel. He was a Godsend. The difference between this happening in Italy and Turkey was that we didn’t feel nervous. I didn’t feel like we were about to be mugged. We could tell he genuinely wanted to help us.

That evening we ventured to the local grocery store. Almost in tears, I found some gluten-free food. All the staple items: pasta, cookies, chocolate cake and bread. So we went home, ate gluten-free sandwiches and watched a documentary on MTV about Run DMC. Very Italian, indeed.

We had to wear earplugs to get any sleep because of the nightclub outside of our window – but it could have been worse.

Today was amazing. We caught the right bus (thanks to our friend) and had an entire day of sight seeing in Venice. I found a beautiful sweater, and Kylie, a really nice leather jacket. (It’s a lot colder here than we thought it would be. Apparently flip-flops and tank tops don’t go too far in late October unless you’re in Greece – who knew!)

Beyond shopping, we explored many of the city’s back alleys. It was a welcomed change. The terraced housing, with fading and peeling yellow, green and peach paint was breathtaking. Looking at the wooden shutters facing onto the canals and the unique door-knockers, door-bells and mail slots never got old.

As it was Thanksgiving, we celebrated with a dinner out on the town. We ate in the first restaurant we could find that wasn’t 20 Euros per person, plus cover charge.

(This was after checking if any diners had a specific gluten-free food menu. One waitress must have missed the word “gluten” in our “gluten-free food” request, because she thought we wanted free food. She was disgusted. Anyway, our search left us empty handed.)

Matt and I ordered some seafood risotto and Kylie went out on a limb and ventured for some spaghetti and tomato sauce.

Going around the room that night, saying what we were thankful for, sounded like this:

“I’m thankful you booked us a room in the ghetto of Venice,” said Matt. It wasn’t my fault the hotel was in the Whalley area of the city.

“I’m thankful we made it in one piece,” said Kylie.

And me, “I’m thankful we’re not in Greece.”


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