Venice Day 1

Friday, October 28, 2016

I had an amazing day filled with solo adventure today to Venice! The reason I came to Venice in the first place wasn’t for a typical getaway or vacation but rather a pilgrimage. Everyone in the FFE Program has to embark on a pilgrimage and write a fifteen page paper on their travels and what inspired their pilgrimage (research). As we’ve discussed in First Year Seminar, the word ‘pilgrimage’ often carries a religious meaning. Dr. Graham assured us that our pilgrimages did not have to be religious by any means, but they should be somewhat spiritual. She told us to go somewhere that’s connected to our passions in order to make it more of a quest than a vacation. I’m on a quest right now to explore the theme of authenticity, a word that has always intrigued me.

I was nervous leaving my apartment this morning. I knew I would be staying in a hostel all by myself, and I wouldn’t have anyone to really talk to for the next 36 hours. At the same time, I was also very excited. To me, authentic travel means going somewhere on your own and exploring the world through only your eyes. I don’t have any immediate distractions because it is just me.

I walked myself to Firenze Santa Maria Novella Train Station at 9:45, leaving me 15 minutes to get on the train by the time I arrived. I found my platform, and the train left precisely at 10:15- right on time. An American college student sat across from me (it’s very easy to identify them), and I asked her why she was going to Venice. She told me she was meeting her mom there, and they were going to go on a cruise in Greece. I didn’t catch her name, but I knew she was a math/econ major at Gettysburg College in Pennsylvania. She advised me to have a great year in Italy and said she was jealous I got to be here for the whole year. It’s hard to believe that whole year has become 3/4 of a year now.

It only takes two and a half hours to get to Venice from Florence on the fast train, so I was there by 12:30. As soon as I exited the train station, the Grand Canal stood before me. It is more beautiful than it looks in the photos. A big bridge was on my left with many tourists, a church with inviting steps was straight across from me on the other side of the canal, and water taxis and ferries lined the canal.

I found my way to my hostel, L’Imbarcadero, with the directions the hostel provided in my booking confirmation email. It was only five minutes from the train station and very close to the Grand Canal. A young woman checked me in and showed me to my room. It was spacious and simple– four beds, four lockers. There were three other girls around my age staying here. I said hello, but we haven’t said much other than that.

The hostel has a nice common space where I did a lot of writing, and two young European travelers cooked their pasta dinner not too long ago. I can eat breakfast here tomorrow.

I went out to explore Venice for the day and ponder authenticity. I brought a journal I bought in Ibiza and hope to fill it before tomorrow. I won’t go into a lot of detail about my actual pilgrimage because I hope to share my final paper when it is done.

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I rarely used my GPS because it’s a small island with no cars, so I felt like I could figure out where to go on my own. There were also signs guiding me to the main areas of the island which were all I needed. I went to St. Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco), the Rialto Bridge, Campo Santa Margherita. I didn’t go into Doge’s Palace or climb the Campanile di San Marco because it was expensive, and there were outrageously long lines! I was not expecting so many tourists to be in Venice, but the whole city was crowded. I basically just wandered, sat, and observed. It was very entertaining and relaxing. I did sit in Campo Santa Margherita (where the college gang hangs out) to write before going to dinner across the canal. I went to a touristy restaurant, but I couldn’t be picky at that point, and I was hungry. The pasta tasted good to me!

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I got back to my hostel at 8:30, and everyone in my room is here and getting ready for bed. xo ~e.

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