Throughout all of my travels I had somehow never made it to Italy before, so when it came time to set sail, Italy was of course at the top of my list. Selecting my specific destinations was not easy and soon Utrip will help with that as well, but for this trip I finally landed on Venice, Florence, and Rome; not too creative, I know.
When it came time to plan, like most professionals, I really had no time to devote. Between work, start-up competitions, and other responsibilities, I found myself 48 hours away from takeoff with nothing but a flight from Seattle to Rome and back. With no plans of any kind I had a lot on my plate but luckily Utrip came to the rescue. I indicated that I like history, love food, and of course that I am a first timer and WOW – it worked like magic! In seconds it built a trip based on my interest, desires, and budget. Within 20 minutes of editing, locking, adding tags, and dragging and dropping (stay tuned; it is coming to all of you soon), I built my 12-day itinerary and was off.
Finally landing in Venice after a long 18-hour trip, I was ready for my adventure. The first day was a blast: Utrip recommended I visit the palace, followed by Saint Marcos Square, then by climbing the bell tower, making best friends with an old Italian chef (it was amazing – there will definitely be future posts dedicated to Italian gastronomy and this amazing man) and of course my fair share of Gelato. After a full day of fun, I met with our Venice local expert at a wonderful Italian pizzeria for dinner; it’s one of the best pizza places on the island, according to him.
After a long distance flight & a packed day of adventures, I was ready for bed. As I slept I heard the sound of rain, which was comforting to a Seattleite. But as soon as I woke up the next morning, I realized that the rain had only just stopped.
I laced up my brand new shoes, got out my rain coat, and was ready for Venice day two. I fly down the stairs, open the door, and boom – water as far as the eye could see; and not just in the canals, but EVERYWHERE. The city had flooded overnight. I run back upstairs seeking advice. The lovely man running the hostel says in broken English, “no problem, I have solution.” He disappears for about 30 seconds (even though it felt more like a century) and returns with 2 garbage bags and a roll of sticky tape. Only after a couple of seconds did I realize he was serious and follow his lead. After wrapping more tape around my legs than is reasonable, I take the plunge into the street; the water was about 6” high and rising.
With only 3 days in Venice I could not let ‘a little’ water get in my way. Day two was also amazing, but I learned several lessons the hard way.
· Sidewalks – Any of you who have been to Venice have probably seen the two feet tall platforms stacked around the city – well some brave soul set them up to create a second sidewalk level. Thank you for the kindness sir.
· Boots – like in all touristy locations there are always salesmen and women ready to sell you whatever you need. Well at 8:30am the boots cost 10 Euro on average. Well by 11:00am my feet were so wet I was ready to give in and buy, but by that time the laws of economics had set in and the cheapest pair around was 25 Euro.
· Sandals – I saw too many people walking the streets barefoot, not my idea of hygiene, but the smartest tourist brought water shoes, the same ones you wear in __(I was going to add Cassis, France but it’s not typical French fashion)___ on a rocky beach. If you can’t beat it join it I guess.
· Patience – Wait it out the waters will subside – after about an hour I finally made it across town to the Academia Art Gallery (unreal; a true treasure trove by the way). But as I left the flood had gone. The streets were cleared and life was all but back to normal.
Not knowing these essential rules, my friend and I gave the locals a great laugh and got a truly authentic Venetian experience to share with our fellow Utrippers.
And just in case you are wondering the second we stepped into deeper waters, our handmade ‘boots’ failed miserably.