My travels began when I was only 16-years-old. I was lucky to travel on a school trip to Spain. Yet I would not travel out of the country again for another ten years. My grandmother and I traveled with my cousins to London 1993 with the now defunct Club ABC Tours. What came next was unbelievable. The fully escorted tour had us at a luxury hotel which served a full breakfast each morning, and offered several daily excursions–all for approximately $750 a person, and that included airfare. While those times are over, that trip ignited a spark to travel that I still have today. After London came what would become a deep love affair with Italy followed. Yes I traveled to other locales, but I kept returning to Italy. My time is limited being that I have a full time job as a high school English teacher, but this job does offer time to travel I would otherwise not have.
I was spring cleaning the other day, and happily came across my pictures of my first trip to Italy. This trip was again with my grandmother, and we convinced my mother to join us. Venice was our first stop on a standard “Venice-Florence-Rome” trip–but my feelings went beyond standard.
We stayed at the Hotel Bauer Grunwold, a luxury hotel just minutes from St. Mark’s Square. Venice remains the most unique place I have ever seen. I marveled at the people waiting at the bus stop to go to work each morning, except the bus was a boat! I’ve never gotten over this. And as we walked around the many different areas and quaint walkways, I kept thinking of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado” and how I could now understand the description he infused into the short story. It’s amazing how one can always connect to literature during travel. Just lovely.
Our first full day took us to St. Mark’s Square. Yes, we fed the pigeons and stood as a scarecrow for the confident birds as they used our arms for rest. But the real experience was our time at the famed Cafe Florian, the first cafe and coffee house in the world. Of course I used Fodor’s to determine the places to go–no such thing as the internet in those days. And, as usual, Fodor’s did not disappoint. The 1720 cafe was a neo-Baroque splendor, with waiters whisking by as patrons ordered traditional delicacies to provide energy for a cold but bright day in Venice. Actually, we enjoyed sipping the famed hot chocolate as we admired others being donned by pigeons–way more fun than having them spread out on your own arm.
I haven’t returned to Venice since that first trip to Italy, and I’ve decided it is about time I return. For some reason, I was not a shutterbug yet, and my plan is to try to retrace my steps from those two days in February over 20 years ago–and to take some new ones. And if possible, I expect I will appreciate the Venetian way of life even more than the first time.