If you didn’t start reading on Day 1, you might want to start from the beginning…
My brother warned us about visiting Venice in August. I tried to talk Aubree out of it but she said it was the whole reason she wanted to come to Italy, so we skipped the expensive breakfast and caught an early train west.
We changed trains in Florence, a city I wish we could have explored if we had more time. Our train rides in and out didn’t offer much in the way of views so someday I’ll have to get back to Florence too see the most famous sculpture in the world, David. Out of Florence was passed through a lot of green hills, mountains, tunnels, and little towns. The ride was beautiful. It made me wish I had a sporty car or motorcycle so we could explore all the narrow windy roads and villages.
Eventually we hit the ocean and before long had water on both sides of us as we crossed the bridge to Venice. Just like the tower of Pisa, the moment I saw Venice I loved it. Canals, boats, bridges, buildings four stories high made from ancient looking bricks…despite the muggy heat, it had a cozy feel to it. Our Bed and Breakfast wasn’t far, and we walked through the shops and tourist with our luggage clackety clacking behind us. It was fun to walk past the shops full of dazzling masks, Venetian glass decorations, fruit markets, and all manner of places begging to suck my bank account dry.
It took a while to find our B&B. We passed the narrow alley the first time and had to backtrack. We bought some fruit cups and I’d hoped to ask the vendor for some directions but he didn’t speak English and raced off to arrange his peaches before I could try. I walked into a restaurant and found some help. It turns out we were standing right next to the alley we needed. We walked down it and found the door with a sign taped above the bell, “Please call this number for check in.”
Well, we had no phone. We rang the bell for about ten minutes without luck before I decided to leave Aubree in the alley with our bags and go find a public phone. It didn’t take long to find one, but at 60 cents a minute they better not put me on hold. They didn’t put me on hold because they didn’t even answer the bloody thing. I called several times, returned to Aubree and waited, rang the door bell, went back and called, back to aubs, door bell, phone, alley, door bell…for over an hour before they finally answered. In basic English I managed to let them know we were standing at the front door. She said, 15 minutes.
I went back to Aubree and we waited out the last 20 minutes or so before a real nice gal showed up and let us in. We hauled our luggage up 4 flights of stairs and found out we were sleeping in a large brick oven that had been converted into a bedroom. No AC. So that’s why that last time I looked I actually found affordable rooms in Venice…I’d forgot to check the “AC” filter option on Expedia. It was more of a hostel than a B&B. Four rooms, two bathrooms, and a lobby area. Nobody lived there permanently and there was no kitchen.
But it was decent. It felt authentic. We quickly explored and looked out the shuttered windows to the tiled rooftops below. I took off my shirt and stood in front of the fan and noticed that the breakfast part of “Bed and Breakfast” was already set out for us. 2 small cardboard boxes of juice, a few stale cookies, and a couple croissants in a wrapper that looked a lot like the day old Dolly Madison fruit pie’s my mom used to buy us. Another breakfast strike out. We had really been spoiled with that first hotel in Rome.
We went out for a stroll and through numerous shops and bought several presents. The masks were amazing, ornate, elaborate, and glamorous. There were so many cool looking masks and I wished I had thousands of dollars to buy presents for all my friends and family. But I did decide that I’d buy a real nice mask for Sandi and I to put in the house . It would be the one big thing I bought on the trip. There are two reasons for minimal purchases. First, whatever I bought I had to haul around with me everywhere we went and, second, money. I’d rather collect photos and experiences to write in my travels than spend a lot of money on stuff. Like South Africa, I didn’t plan on buying much on this trip. But unlike South Africa, the stuff here was really expensive.
We stood on the bridges and watched boats sputter slowly through the narrow canals. We saw a few gondolas quietly drift past. It was a really fun evening. We went into a local grocery store and bought some snacks. Aubree loved drooling over the candy isle and gagging at the fresh seafood. I don’t think it would be the same for her if she ever had to miss either of those two events.
We took some time in a sweaty internet cafe to say hi to everyone at home and then found a nice place for dinner. We ate at the place of the guy who helped us find our Bed and Breakfast, which was conveniently right around the corner and had a yummy dinner. The lasagna was almost to die for, I loved it. It had a different taste to it and I had to try and pace myself so I didn’t scarf it down so fast (like I normally do with my dinner).
We sat on a table out in front of the restaurant and watched the crowds come and go as people explored the shops and city streets. Aubree looked so grown up, she’s not my kid anymore. She’s a young independent beautiful woman, smart and eager to start life on her own. We talked about relationships, life, depression, difficulties…it was a pleasant evening with my eldest child. I think that I barely caught the window of opportunity to take this trip with her. I’m pretty sure she’ll travel with her friends or boyfriend next time. She’s not my little girl anymore and although she still calls me daddy (and I hope that never changes), I play a different role in her life now. She doesn’t look to me for direction like she used to. In fact, it’s better for me most of the time to keep my opinions to myself! She is making her own choices, forging her own life, and seeking true independence.
It’s a tough transition at times, for both of us. Sad and painful in some ways but sweet and endearing in others. She’ll always be my daughter but she’s not under my wing anymore. She’s got her own wings spread wide open and is ready to jump from the nest. It’s wonderful to see the young woman she has become and know that she offers so much to the world because of her unique personality and talents.
We took an evening walk after dinner and tried thimble’s worth of a peachy liqueur that was being sampled by one of the shops. You won’t see that at Costco! It was dark and we stood on the big bridge in front of the train station and watched the boats coming and going in one of the larger canals before we went back to the brick oven. It was a long hot night. I felt drops of sweat roll off my face and chest. At one point I remember Aubs getting up and standing in front of the open window to try and cool down, but it was hot everywhere. That didn’t even help. Later she asked me if I had to do the hike or that night again, which would it be. That’s a tough one.