We hopped on a train to Venezia Sunday night and took a train back to Milan Monday evening, and it was wonderful. I've decided that I love venice. There are "touristy things" to see in Venice, but Venice is much smaller than the other places we've been. We went to Piazza San Marco and saw the church (it's beautiful), and we took pictures by the Gondolas all lined up in the ocean, and we walked around the Ponto Rialto. But honestly one of my favorite things about Venice was just wandering around and intentionally getting lost. Everyone says to plan on getting lost in Venice, so we embraced that and just started walking to see where we would end up. At every turn there was a piece of ocean, or an adorable alleyway, or a tiny bridge, or an old lady walking with her grocery cart, or another Gondoliere in a striped shirt trying to convince us that he could give us a "good price."
It's so interesting to look at where the water meets the buildings and try to imagine how much further down the buildings actually go. They say that the whole city is slowly sinking into the ocean, and in many cases you can see that stairs up to 'front doors' keep going down below the water level (who knows how far). The rivers are the roads in Venice. People's parking spots are the poles where they tie up their boats, and there are no cars. There are taxi and metro boats, garbage boats, police boats, post boats, ambulance boats... The "real roads" are really all just alleyways with names, sometimes with the same name. The directions to our airbnb house were from a certain piazza, and all given in landmarks rather than street names. It really feels like something out of a movie, but it's just normal life to the Venetians.
After a delicious lunch and a couple hours of wandering, we took a vaporetto (waterbus) over to Murano (an even tinier island just north of the main island) to see the glass, because I have a weird fascination with glass working. Venice is world famous for its glass, but the actual glass work doesn't happen on the main island of Venice but in Murano. The glass museum was cool, but my favorite part was certainly watching a glass craftsman taking molten glass out of the fire and turning it into all kinds of pretty little animal figures. At one point I clapped for him, but he was less than amused. We still bought glass, though. :)
If you go to Venice, do some of the tourist-y things, but also just enjoy venice. I loved talking to the people: a Gondoliere took a beautiful picture for us even after we said we didn't want a Gondola ride, an older woman assured me with a warm smile that she didn't need help, she was just moving along "piano piano" (little by little), the man at the glass museum thanked us for trying to speak Italian with him instead of just assuming he spoke English, one of the women who works with the glass explained to me exactly how the necklace I bought had been made. One of my favorite things about traveling is talking to the locals. They tell you different places to eat than you find on yelp, and you learn cool little details by talking to them - I think I don't feel like I've really traveled somewhere unless I get to have conversations with people who live there.
But my FAVORITE thing about Venice and my favorite thing about traveling is who I get to go with... I love that my husband and I get to be partners in all of life's adventures. I love how he always makes me laugh (even if I've steered us onto the wrong vaporetto), I love how he always takes care of me (he carried all our stuff in his backpack the whole time we were walking around!), and I love that he loves getting lost with me.
We both agreed that this was one of our best trips - we just felt more unified. I think that has a lot to do with lessons that are being learned and re-learned through this move. I've had to learn all over again that I cannot always dump my emotions on him - I always need to pray and often need to talk to women before talking to him and HE needs me to do these things too. My emotions are often at the forefront of my mind, but he needs some space and time to be able to learn what he feels. We've had several conversations in the last couple of weeks where we both have been able to communicate well and vulnerably, and we haven't missed a night of praying together before bed (I highly recommend this to anyone!) I think these things have brought us closer and made it so that our Venetian trip was full of fun and laughter and love and unity rather than "bickering moments."
So, the Sinking City was a win for us.