Saturday, April 8, 2017

Venice, Italy

>>> Hello Venice, Italy <<<

I flew straight from Barcelona to Venice, and I slept the entire flight from takeoff until landing... So I had three hours of sleep to take on Venice. Fall semester 2015 prepared me for this moment. (Right, Chels?)

Day One -- Solo Exploring

"Acqua Alta" Bookstore; definitely a Venice must see
This first day in Venice was really exciting for me. I haven't done too much solo traveling this year, but I really enjoy exploring new places on my own as well as alongside friends. 

Since the cheapest flight for me was super early on Sunday, I ended up getting to Venice earlier than I originally planned, and Emma, a friend from BGSU who is studying at EM Strasbourg with me this year, met me late in the day. 

We stayed at Venice Lagoon House hostel in Tessera. It's about a 20-minute bus ride from downtown Venice, but it's a very cost-effective option. We enjoyed our stay! Luca, the hostel owner/manager, was an extremely kind host, and his hostel was basically just a house with a few rented rooms... It was very homey and comfortable, although it was different than a traditional hostel experience because it was such a small operation. I do recommend it highly though! (And I did just try to talk Chelsie into staying there for her time in Venice!)

Day Two -- Walking Tour Day

Emma and I at one point on The Grand Canal

A number of different companies operate free tours in Venice, but I found it different than other cities because these all asked for registration ahead. I registered an hour ahead for Emma and myself, and there were no complaints. 

We enjoyed two tours with the company Venice Free Tour ( ). In the morning, we went on the Introduction to the City tour, and we enjoyed ourselves so much that we came back in the afternoon for the Main Landmarks tour. If it sounds to you like six hours of walking is too much, you're probably right, but it's a perfect way to see and learn about all of the highlights within a city from guides who really know their stuff. 

In the evening, we (almost) caught the sunset on the coast. Regardless of our poor timing, we sat on the edge of the island and enjoyed the orange/pink sky as it got dark on the water. Before this trip, I didn't know very much about Emma, but moments like this were great times to get to know each other better. It's amazing how comforting it is to talk about life with someone who knows what growing up in Ohio is like after spending this whole year with (amazing) friends who just don't know that life you live. 
Study abroad is just one big cluster of extremes... Last semester I clung to everything outside of my comfort zone, and this semester I'm seeing myself treasure that comfort so much.
As it got later, Emma and I crossed Venice to find a concert that our morning tour guide recommended. We entered just as they were getting ready for their set, and it was a perfect opportunity to grab a table and a drink before the music started. 

We enjoyed the atmosphere, but we found ourselves relieved to have to call it an early-ish night because we had to catch the bus out to Tessera to Luca's hostel. 

Day Three -- Beach Day 

Venice Beach, Florida Lido Beach, Venice, Italy

Emma and I agreed to let ourselves sleep in, but the beaches in Venice were calling so we got up early anywho.

We had a Flixbus home to Strasbourg at 9pm, so we had basically the whole day to explore. With such beautiful weather, it was no question that we would spend our day as close to the water as possible. We caught an amazing lunch before heading out to Lido first. The beach was so great. In Barça, I didn't get to enjoy the beach, so this was my first time at a beach since the week of Christmas in Portugal. (And while the beach in Setubal was even more perfect than Lido, it was a little too chilly to actually lay out. Right, Kika?)

Anyway, Emma and I laid out on the beach for a good part of our afternoon, and they may have been my favorite couple hours of this whole trip. At first, we were talking about everything under the sun... Mostly how genuinely happy we were to be on a beach in Italy, and how unreal it feels to enjoy these luxuries this year. Then we spent some time just in our own heads... While I was laying on the beach, I was drafting a motivational message to my soccer team in preparation for our next big game... Coming off my shoulder injury and a few tough losses, I wanted the girls to hear how much I believed in us. 

It was in that moment, laying out in Venice, Italy of all places, that a few things started to feel very real:

  1. Deciding to spend this year abroad was likely the greatest investment I've ever made in myself, and I wouldn't trade my time for the world
  2. My time here is dwindling, and I'm torn between my excitement to go home and my longing to live this study abroad lifestyle for longer
  3. Playing soccer for EM Strasbourg was the coolest opportunity I ever stumbled upon, and I am going to miss my team and this sport dearly when I go
After these moments of insight and a few more comments about how happy we were to be alive, Emma and I headed back to the mainland. We planned to get to more islands, but public transportation via boat isn't known for its speed... and missing an overnight bus home because I'm stuck on an island too far from the mainland is a story I didn't want to bring home with me. (Although I have to say Chelsie's "Sick and Stuck in London bc Missed a Connecting Flight to Dublin" can only be topped by Kelsey's "Violently Ill from Bad Water and Stranded on Tenerife Island in a Tropical Storm", and those stories are going to be worth it a few twenty years from now, right girls?)

Then (as all my good travel stories end), we boarded a fifteen hour Flixbus home to Strasbourg. 

The End.

Love, Jules
"Wander with wonder and the whole world becomes home." - Tyler Knott Gregson

P.S. I scheduled my classes for FALL SEMESTER OF MY SENIOR YEAR on one of those aforementioned walking tours. I got all of the classes I wanted, and I have to say the "Eh, it'll work out somehow" attitude that study abroad has impressed upon me is the only reason I didn't sweat the idea of scheduling on an iPhone in the middle of a tour guide's description of the architecture of a cathedral in Venice, Italy.

P.S.S. Less than 20 days until I see Francisca in Lisbon, and then just 23 days until I'm home! (Ohio friends! I miss you! I'll be in Boro the first week of May, then I move up to BG for the summer. I'll be wanting all of the Saxby's dates, Bill's runs, Grounds for Thought reunions, and 315 East Merry porch visits before I start my internship!) 

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