with its canals for streets, all manner of boats as transportation and distinct European facade. And magic it is. However, our awe is soon transformed as we disembark at our stop at noon, "Piazza San Marco", the heart of the city where the Basilica stands along with the Doge's Palace surrounding a very large square which is filled with wall to wall people and is partially flooded. Our mission is to drag our luggage through these throngs (lifting it through the flooded spots) across the square and then find our hotel. This is not fun, the masses do not move, they can't. So we push, pull, lift, push, push, push our way through and suddenly I hate Venice. People told us not to stay in this area but being that it's the center it made sense, now not so much. We get across finally intact and I follow my map reading, go one block, make a right at a main street (it's a little wider than the rest) go one block and turn left on a VERY narrow street, go about twenty feet and there's our hotel. We are on the top floor and barely fit in the tiny elevator. I open the window and breathe. What have we gotten ourselves into?
Our first mission is to find our way to the opera house because I was able to snag tickets to the famed Venice opera house La Fenice, something that made me start a bucket list, for a performance of La Traviata. My directions from google maps are complicated. The guy at the desk takes one look and shakes his head, "no, just go across the square and then go straight, there will be signs." Only one problem, big parts of the square are flooded and while it is possible that I can get through by tiptoeing on my ballet flats it will not work tonight in my high heeled sandals. There's got to be another way! My map reading mind starts to work. I know, we go one block over from the plaza and walk straight towards the lagoon, make a right on the main walkway with all the tchotchke stands walk a bit past the square, pick a street, make a right, go a couple of blocks, make a left, then a right and there it is:
Smaller than I pictured, in a small elegant little square and barely any people around! That was easy. We're exhausted. We flew out of Newark Friday night at 6:00 PM, it is now 2:00 PM on Saturday, 6 hours ahead, and we've been non stop since landing. Time to relax with a little vino and my first pizza in Italy
The opera is an unforgettable experience,
and we have magnificent seats. We walk over for dinner at Caffe Centrale,
the soprano from La Traviata walks in and sits two tables away. We walk home in a cloud. Day one is in the books...and suddenly I love Venice.