John had a vacation week and asked me where I'd like to go. "Venice!" I said without even thinking about it. We checked the standby lists... there were plenty of seats on the direct from JFK. Two days later we were off. We even got bumped up to the business class "pods." As if ANY free seat on an airplane isn't the greatest gift already, here I am with silverware, a menu, and a seat that turns into a bed. This always feels so surreal, like somehow I got zapped into someone else's life..
We stayed at the same monastery guest house that we did last year when we came with John's girls. Except for the fact that they added a little continental breakfast buffet, nothing had changed. It felt like coming home.
Wanting to do something fun and different on this trip, I found Classic Boat of Venice. Somehow John and I were entrusted with an electric motorboat equipped with GPS, a sun shade, comfy cushions, and a chart of the lagoon. The CBV crew showed us how to work things, came with us for a test run in the marina, and waved us off. I can't say enough about how FUN this day was. John and I argued in their office (in Italian) about who was going to be captain:
“Io sono il capitano!”
“No, IO sono il capitano!”
I am surprised they even let us take out a boat after that. In the end we took turns, but I loved navigating more than piloting anyway (What is it about me and maps?)
We visited the islands of Torcello and Burano, braved the open channels, decided NOT to go swimming with the jellyfish, and found several places that we want to explore next time.
On our last day, we decided to hop the vaporetto to Lido and rent bicycles. First, though, we had to stop at our favorite sandwich shop for picnic supplies. What is it about European bread??!! In Paris, I could not get enough of their ham & cheese baguettes. In Venice, it’s the prosciutto & arugula with brie & tomato. I actually had a dream a few nights ago about eating one, I miss them so much.
We bicycled the entire length of Lido, stopping along the seawall halfway for our picnic, then for lemon popsicles at the south end of the island. We walked through the pine forest and out to the old lighthouse at the end of the jetty. The Adriatic Sea stretched out all blue before us, shimmering in the low sun, while massive freighters glided sooo quietly in and out of the channel. Now, to walk all the way back to the bicycles AND ride them all the way back to the vaporetto…argh!
John asked me why I love Venice enough to have foregone traveling elsewhere for this trip. I think it's that Venice is just such a magical enchanted place: canals-for-roads, sidewalks so skinny that two people can barely pass each other without bumping shoulders, and secret gardens around every corner. Even Venice's foundation seems an amazing miracle: millions of logs jammed into the mud, left to petrify into stone harder than concrete. Ta-da!
Amazing food, of course, is a given. One of our favorite restaurants had a little garden courtyard overlooking one of the canals. We actually ate here twice.
This was such a perfect mini-getaway, especially because it was so spur-of-the-moment. It even included a quest to find a shoemaker who could recreate my favorite pair of red shoes for me—but more about that in a future post. For now, though, Ciao, Venezia!
ps - Our anniversary happened to fall during this week away. John went for a run that morning and came back with a bouquet of roses :-)