It’s been about five days since I left for Venice and now I’m back in Vienna with so many good memories! Although I’m going to try to mostly recreate my time spent in Venice day by day, by this point some of the events might get mixed up, but I’ll do my best!

My alarm played a tune I’ve come to hate directly into my ear at four in the morning, but I sprang out of bed ready and willing to face the day. Our flight was at nine, but Annika, Addison and I had calculated that we needed to be at the train station at six, which for me meant getting up at four. Most of my things were packed from the night before, so all I had to do was dress, eat and then I was ready to go. I walked out the apartment building with a spring in my step, but immediately had a bad feeling and checked in my backpack for my shorts. They weren’t there, so I had to make a mad dash back to my room to grab my shorts and then get to the train on time.

Like always, I worry too much about punctuality and I made it to the station before the other two, even with the added time of going back to the apartment. Getting to the airport was only a 20 minute train ride and once we got there we were able to skip checking, because we had already printed our tickets and had only carry-on luggage.

Once we were on the plane we were informed that we would be getting drinks and food once the plane leveled out. Annika and I both looked at each other in shock. We couldn’t even remember the last time we were served food on a plane, let alone for a 55 minute flight. None of us believed that the food was free until the stewardess handed us a pastry. It was delicious and made the time pass quickly! I strongly recommend flying with Austrian Airlines if you get the chance, they were kind and had great service even though we were on the plane for such a short time.

When we came into Italy it was cloudy and we really didn’t have much hope for the weekend, the forecast having said Venice would be rainy with the possibility of thunderstorms. However, outside the airport it was only a bit humid and although the sun wasn’t shining there was no rain. From the airport we traveled by bus to Venice. As soon as we stepped off the bus we all immediately started taking pictures in excitement and instead of taking a water bus, or vaporetto in Italian, we decided to take our time and walk through the city to our apartment.

Immediately I noticed how crowded it was. Tourists had come out in droves to visit Venice and it was no small feat traveling through the small narrow streets with our huge bags. Not only where there hundreds of tourists walking down the street, but there were also hundreds of stalls and small shops set up along the walkways. In general these shops consisted of three things, masks, handbags, and the general tourist items such as trinkets, shirts and postcards.

*Below are Carnival or Carnevale masks. There were about a million of these masks lining the streets ranging from the cheap plastic kind to the more expensive paper mache ones. Anyone could buy the masks from a vendor out on the street or there were more extravagant masks being sold in some of the nicer and more permanent shops. The masks below are some of the less complicated ones I saw!

With so many shops and people, it was all very overwhelming and although I could handle the tourists, I was one myself, I had a hard time adjusting to so many cheap shops lining the street and overall I felt like a lot of them were not necessary. However, after spending four days there, I’ve come to realize that for many, Venice is not much more than a tourist destination and it takes a little more work to actually find the real heart and life of the city amongst so many foreign feet.

As we moved deeper into the island and into the smaller alleyways the scene changed from cheap tourist stands to permanent and very expensive stores showcasing designer brands. It was difficult to walk by so many wonderful pairs of Italian clothes and shoes without buying them, that was until we looked at the price tags.

Soon we arrived at our apartment and were pleased to find that it was tucked back in a smaller courtyard, where the hustle and bustle of the main tourist street was only a distant thought. Although the door to the apartment was almost impossible to open and Addison had to basically rip the door off its hinges, the apartment was very cozy and just the right size for three people. It included a kitchen, which meant we would be able to make a little of our own food.

*We were on the second floor of the apartment.

*The inside had a pink theme going. It was very cute.

We quickly unpacked and then headed back onto the streets in search for real Italian pizza for lunch. We found a place and sat down to eat in an open square, where we were able to people watch. We were served our pizza quickly, which was delicious after a half day of traveling. While we were eating I noticed just how many Americans there were in the crowd along with a lot of German speakers. It was not too long after this that I realized Venice was the first time I had ever been in a city that didn’t speak a language that I knew or understood and it was a very strange feeling. I suddenly felt very disconnected from the world, but at the same time it was somewhat freeing to be able to act like a tourist and just relax without worrying about trying to blend in.

Soon after we headed to the local Billa, which is a grocery store that seems to be the European equivalent to Safeway or Albertson’s, where we purchased food for dinner and the next few days.

Naturally, we decided to make pasta.

Addison had heard from someone who said that the water in Venice wasn’t good to drink unless boiled and since we had no access to the internet (how did people survive before the internet?) we decided to go ahead and boil some water for safety. After about five minutes of boiling the water a strange white powder appeared along the edge and bottom of the pot and after confirming that it was probably only minerals we were able to get enough water to boil our noodles. Throughout the next few days we became more and more lax about boiling the water and eventually just gave up and bought some bottled water to drink and used the tap water to cook.

We ended up making way too many noodles and decided from the amount in the pot that we would be eating pasta for the rest of the trip.

That day we took it easy and after eating dinner we took one last trip to the Rialto bridge before turning in for the night.

*From the bridge we could see the Grand Canal and the storm clouds made the view even more amazing. Later that night there was a little bit of thunder and some rain.