The Floating City

After my social work class, I hopped on my 10 Euro bus to Venice and the adventure began! My bus was delayed for an hour at the Italian border as the polizia italiana did a very thorough check of our passports with a few complications with some of my fellow passengers. Finally making it to Venice, I took a people mover to the main island and set out to find my airbnb. As the sun had already set, it was a tad more difficult to find my place and I ended up near the right address but not quite.

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Spontaneous photoshoot in my Airbnb

Thank goodness a young Italian guy sporting a man bun came out of nowhere, said my name in a fun accent, handed me my temporary keys, then led me to the right door. My room was actually really nice, and conveniently right in the middle of Venice. Excited about my first actual day in Venice, I woke up super early, opened my window and saw nothing but fog. Fog is my absolute favorite! Anytime it’s foggy at home I jump on the opportunity to take photos because it looks so amazing. Setting out for San Marco, I walked 20 minutes through beautiful, fog covered Venice. By the time I arrived at San Marco, thick fog still covered everything. Piazza San Marco was full of beautiful architecture but I couldn’t even see anything due to the fog, so I walked along the water for a while, waiting for the fog to dissipate. Of course I really wanted to take a gondola ride but they were all crazy expensive so I just stood on the bridges and watched as others floated along underneath me. After San Marco, I walked around the little streets of Venice and visited a couple little shops. There was a multitude of cafes, pizzerias, clothing stores, tourist shops, shops full of carnival masks, and my favorite which was an adorable lavender store.

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Grand Canal
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Rialto bridge

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St. Mark’s Basillica

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Doge’s Palace

On a whim, I decided to take a ferry to Murano, a little island north of Venice. Colorful and full of works of art made of glass, Murano was a nice little escape from the tourism of Venice.

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Murano

Since this city is known for glass-making, the streets were overflowing with locally made pieces of glass works of art. Unfortunately I couldn’t necessarily buy a tiny glass flower to be put in a suitcase and accidentally crushed when it’s time for me to go back home. CC45C81D-887F-4ECF-99BC-9659238E4941Realizing I hadn’t eaten anything in quite a while, I searched around for a decent place to eat in Murano. I ended up finding a restaurant with a patio by the ocean and I freaking ate an entire pizza by myself. Turns out my capacity for eating is expanded when I have nowhere to take my leftovers. Exhausted, I took the ferry back to Venice and took a glorious nap. I made sure to wake up before sunset then took a stroll and facetimed my family so they could see a little bit of Venice. After it got dark, I walked around the main canal and tried to find a souvenir to buy. Undecided, I checked out some shirts and other knick knacks but nothing really seemed right. I came across a little shop full of Murano glass trinkets and an old man sitting down, sketching illustrations of Venice landscapes. He had a little box full of his beautiful art for sale and I found my perfect souvenir, plus he had a cute little dog sleeping in the corner of his shop which was even better.

Today, March 10th, is my bone marrow birthday. Eight years ago, I was laying in a hospital bed and received my bone marrow transplant. Honestly, I don’t really like celebrating my actual birthday but this birthday is meaningful to me. I didn’t do anything when I was born to earn a celebration, but I did endure chemo and radiation and come quite near death to have a reason for March 10th to mean something. Usually I celebrate by going to dinner with my family or they buy me a Papa Johns pizza, stick a candle in it and sing happy birthday terribly off-pitched and annoyingly loud just the way I like. Although, this year I’m celebrating by traveling the world and taking advantage of the life I’ve been blessed with! I’d say spending the weekend in Italy is a pretty great way to celebrate my life.

 

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Day in Trieste

Spent a quick day in a little known Italian town called Trieste. There was a bus full of exchange students who had the opportunity to visit a cave, tour an anti-aircraft shelter, and walk around the city of Trieste, or Trst as the Slovenians call it. DSC_3312Edit.jpgSo far I’ve only visited one cave in Slovenia even though there are about 10,000 different caves in the country. Walking around in the cave was stunning and also quite frigid, as the temperature dropped every couple meters. Going to another cave while I’m here is most definitely on my list. After the cave, we went to the bomb shelter which was an experience all in it’s own. I’m planning to write a blog post specifically about the bomb shelter and some perspective on what I’ve experienced being an American in Europe.

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Once in the heart of Trieste, we were given time to walk around the city freely. Most of my classmates paired up or went as a group to find food. Not me, I spent my time alone, wandering around, enjoying the beauty and snapping some photos. The sea called to me first, I went directly to the pier and spent some time just sitting on the edge with my feet dangling over the water. fullsizeoutput_6311Noticing a small gelato truck, I left my spot on the pier, chose raspberry and enjoyed the BEST ice cream I have ever consumed in my lifetime. I’m honestly still dreaming about the sweet, berry flavored gelato. Still having a couple hours left for exploration, I walked around the old town of Trieste. Cute old buildings, impressive statues, cute cafes, colorful streets, leftover carneval confetti, and a curious Katrena walking about, genuinely enjoying life. There was a moment on the pier when I became overwhelmed with a sense of thankfulness and unfathomable gratitude for any and every person who helped me get here. If anyone would have told young, post-cancer me that I’d be studying in Europe and traveling solo to foreign cities when I was 20, I would have scoffed. Seriously, I’ve already done so many things I never expected to experience in my lifetime.