I was born with a bit of a wanderlust heart. However, I was also born with a fearful mind. In case you’re wondering, these two things are contradictory and one cancels the other out. Usually fear wins because fear, as you know, is a big bully. But I still had dreams. Dreams of all the places I’d like to have adventures à la Indiana Jones. So when an opportunity to venture outside my daily living zone presents itself I jump on it. In a cautious yet impulsive manner.
Let me explain. For work, my brother, RH, was in charge of an annual community trip abroad. He and his wife, CC, were required to go. Two people I know traveling abroad? Cautious. Deplete my savings to travel somewhere that is not on my bucket list? Impulsive. However you want to describe it, at the end of March I found myself on an airplane heading to Italy for one week.
Unfortunately, the dates of the trip were from Tuesday to the following Wednesday. This meant I needed to take a full two weeks off from work. Two weeks, 10 days worth of work piling up because as much as I’d like to believe in magical elves to do my work at night they either don’t exist or they don’t like helping me. But I tried not to think of the work I’d come back to. I’ve watched enough movies to know that this is normally the typical life-changing event that with any luck I wouldn’t have to return. Perhaps my ship was finally going to come in. Maybe Italy was going to be my story arc. Spoiler alert: it wasn’t and I returned to two weeks, 10 days’ worth of work waiting not so patiently for me. But this story isn’t about that.
Let’s begin again. At the end of March I flew from Salt Lake City to Amsterdam. I finally got to sit next to a window but we flew over the Atlantic at night. My luck. I couldn’t see a thing. The guy I sat next to put his ear buds in before we even took off so we didn’t say two words to each other the whole ten hours. I did get caught up on movies. You can watch a lot of movies on a ten hour flight.
My last stop in the Amsterdam airport nearly two years ago didn’t leave a good impression. This one wasn’t much different but in Holland’s defense, it wasn’t the airport’s fault. My boarding ticket from Amsterdam to Italy didn’t print in Salt Lake. And being a rather traveling novice I didn’t understand where I needed to get my ticket printed in Amsterdam. Plus, for traveling with a group of mostly retirees they moved pretty quick in the airport and I had a hard time keeping up. I arrived at the gate without a boarding pass. The airline agents had pity on me and others in our group in the same predicament and printed our passes for us even though they informed us we were “supposed to do that at a kiosk.” With our boarding passes in hand we were able to relax a moment or two while we waited for our flight.
Our flight from Amsterdam to Venice was comparatively short compared to crossing the ocean. We arrived in Venice and met our tour guide. A veteran of traveling and tours there wasn’t a lot she hasn’t seen. She was full of stories and adventures. She took us to our hotel at Venice Mestre and we settled in. The full group (50+ people) had a welcome dinner. It was at that moment that I realized the group was made up of primarily retirees. I wasn’t the youngest but I was an outlier for the median age. No matter. I was in Italy!
Before dinner, RH, CC, and I ventured out of the hotel and crossed the canal to San Lucia. We took our picture while standing on a bridge. I live in Wyoming in a town that just celebrated its 130th anniversary. That day I was standing in a town that has been in existence since 400 A.D. The layers of history are mind boggling. To prepare for my trip I wanted to read up on Italy but I live in a small town and this was a community trip. All I could find was a book on Venice. So I read 400+ pages about Venice. All about Venice. Unfortunately, I have a poor memory so I could remember very little about the place. No matter. I was in Italy!
I do remember reading Venice was made up of outcasts. This gave me hope. Perhaps, maybe, there would be a place in Venice for one such as me?
We made our way back to the hotel to get ready for dinner. My first day in Italy!