Returning to Venice was something that I was wondering how much I would enjoy it. When I first went in 2015, it was my least favorite location that we visited, and I was only going back since it was part of the itinerary for the trip.. not something I had picked to do. Although I knew it would feel like a whole different location than before thanks to it being January, and a slow season for tourism.

    Maybe it was the slow season that changed my mind, and maybe it was being able to experience Venice in a different way than before since we stayed on the mainland, but Venice did a complete 180 in how I thought of the city. With our hotel on the mainland, our tour Director had planned a wine tasting and dinner at a local winery. The wine was amazing, the food was better, but the best was when the patriarch of the family, who retired a few years ago, came and sang Opera music to us at he end of the meal. It was really a once in a lifetime experience that I know I probably won't get to experience again, and I am sure that a second time would never be able to top the first time.

    The next day brought us into Venice. It was time to explore the islands that make up Venice after a walking tour, with one of the best tour guides I have ever had. His commentary and joking really made it an enjoyable time as we walked around the small islands until we met back with our tour Director at Saint Marks to go see a glass blowing demonstration where we watched a vase be made by hand. Afterwards we were able to view some Murano glass and buy some if we wanted too. (I am now the proud owner of two of the classiest shot glasses ever, sorry Mom).

    Up next was a gondola ride through the canals, which of course is something that you really do have to do anytime you're in Venice. I also found out that it's bad to lean to the side, and that the gondolier will yell at you if you do. So that's a something new I was able to learn. After the gondola ride we were off to Burano island. An island made wealthy for lace, where the pastel colored houses make you think that you just entered a fairytale, and where a 5 course meal for lunch greeted us. The menu was; seafood risotto, seafood lasagna, calamari, fish, and tiramisu with espresso. The food and wine were great, and it was some of the best seafood I had ever had, which is hard for me to say coming from another place where the seafood really does come right off the boat at some restaurants.

    To end the day, our Tour Director said to go get lost and just wander around the city. Since you will always find a sign pointing you to Saint Marks, it seems like a great idea. So off we went to the Rialto Bridge for photos and gelato, and then the real getting lost began. That's also when we found out that you can in fact get lost, and that it was a good thing we had downloaded a map of the Venice to our phones. All in all it was a great experience that could not have ended better than how it would, since we were going to be taking private water taxis down the grand canal. This was something I had never done before and it was beautiful to see at night, especially under the Rialto Bridge. Did we feel like George Clooney who was able to shut down the canal during his wedding? Not really, but it did satisfy my action movie loving self, so it was fun to pretend I was in a much slower and less illegal version of The Italian Job.

    Maybe it was the meals that had been planned that really made Venice great, or maybe something about Venice that grew on me. But when it came time to get back on the bus to head off to Verona and the Lucerne region of Switzerland I almost did not want to leave. So Venice, I hope this is just the beginning. Venice still is, and always will be, one of those cities that people will flock too, and for good reason. It is a unique city that you should try to see once in your life, and take all the chances you have to visit it again. There's nothing quite like drinking wine in a gondola, or seeing a sunset in Venice.

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Joseph Hallgren

Boston, MA

Full time student, adrenaline junkie, and traveller.