Saturday, February 22, 2014


I was lucky enough to meet some really great people my first weekend in Sicily and was able to talk my way into their trip for President's Day weekend. The destination… Venice, Italy. It was a great weekend with good food, nice people, and a beautiful backdrop. 

The view across the water from Fondamente Nuove. 

Every turn was a picturesque view like this. 

Inside a small church we passed. 

Looking up the Grand Canal. 

Cheesing for a picture to prove I was there. 

Looking down the Grand Canal.

Top of the Rialto Bridge.

Side of the Rialto Bridge.

Perfect shot. 

National museum.

Classy statue.

We also took a day trip up to Verona, which was beautiful. Thanks to one of the guide books we got a great walking tour full of history. Did you know that Verona was a Roman city dating back to 86 A.D.? Then it was taken over by Venice and eventually brought in as part of United Italy. 

Porta Borsari, part of the original city and a toll booth to enter. 

Fountain in the old herb trading square, now full of knick-knacks and fun hats.

Juliet's balcony. So there's no reason to believe that this is actually her house, but that's what everyone says and it's cute so we just pretend it is. 

Victor Emmanuel, the first king of Italy. 

The Roman Arena, truly amazing that it's still standing. 

Back in Venice we did some shopping and sightseeing. 

This was just sitting on the street right down the way from our apartment. 

Creepy full moon. 

We all bought masks but never did find a Carnavale parade. 

Rialto Bridge at night. 

Then we took a boat trip over to Burano which was said to be "adorable" and it didn't disappoint. 

Everywhere you turned on that island was another brightly colored house or beautiful statue. 

We spent our last day in Venice trying to knock the last few "must visits" off our list.

Here's a panorama of the apartment we rented, it was eccentric but really fun and a nice place to lay our heads. 

Saint Marc's Basilica and Square were amazing and something I really wanted to see, so I'm glad we were able to visit and take some pictures. 

A couple more random pictures from walking around. I was so impressed with the architecture of this city and I would love to return and visit a few of the museums. 

The worst part of traveling is getting there

Who would have guessed we'd have three snow (ice) days in Pensacola, Florida? Not me. It was interesting to see ice covered palm trees though. 

I was going absolutely bonkers in my hotel room so I ventured out both days we were supposed to be holed up waiting for the ice to melt. On the bright side it gave me a chance to study and write a paper for class that was due that Friday, which turned out to be a good thing because my travel plans did not turn out how I had hoped. 

SO MUCH ICE!!! This is the windshield of the rental car pre-scraping 

Last American Pizza, I also took one to go because I thought I had all weekend to eat it. 

That's my sad face. Why am I sad you ask? Well after arriving at the school and discovering my orders were wrong I had tried in vain for two and a half weeks to reschedule my flights from Florida to Italy. Then on the Friday our class finished I was informed that I *MUST* leave and they (Pensacola peeps) were going to schedule me a flight out later that day or the next. Okay… fine, I'll roll with the punches, by that afternoon I had a new itinerary and was leaving early the next morning. I did some laundry and packed up.

My flights took me from Pensacola to Atlanta to Norfolk, where I was supposed to get on a military flight. I showed up at the airfield with my flight number and everything ready to go… but it was a no go. Turns out the genius who booked my last minute flight was in too much of a hurry to figure out it was a cargo flight, no personnel allowed. And that's when the fun began. 

After more than three hours on the phone with the emergency line, being berated for changing my flight, told I would have to pay my own way, and telling the whole tale to no less than eight people it was finally sorted out and I had a nice commercial flight out the next afternoon. 

Thank goodness I had a friend in Norfolk who took pity on me and let me crash on her couch/cruise her DVR/complain about the huge mess that was made of my travel plans. We watched "Life of Pi" and then had a hankering for Indian food, thankfully there is a restaurant right near her apartment. Then we pretty much crashed. It was a pretty exhausting and emotional day. 

The next morning I was even treated with a ride to the airport and from then on in it was smooth sailing. The airport in Rome is a little intense and I was more than a little surprised at how little scrutiny my passport was given, but it was so nice to be almost done with my journey. When I landed in Sicily my sponsor was there to pick me up, I got checked in at my hotel and we started running errands while I had the energy. That lasted about two hours then I was done. 

It took me about a week to get adjusted to the new time zone, but I think I'm doing pretty well now. Overall the trip was bumpy, but I'm so glad to finally be here and figuring things out. Next adventure -- finding somewhere to live.