Visit number five, to be exact.
Other than my very first trip to Venice, this is my second visit to the fabled city, with friends. Lovely, but very much different than seeing the city alone. No better, no worse. Just different. Less intimate, I think.
Being there with two first-timers allowed for a few first-time experiences for the tour guide, too. My first gondola ride was a highlight in that category, for sure. It's so smooth and, well - serene. Really. I know it sounds cliche, but it truly was. As you'd expect to experience it in a dream, not your unscripted and oft lackluster-letdown of a reality. We hired a gondolier off the main drag, in a backstreet canal near our Castello home base. And yes, we hired him mainly for his dashing good looks. Christian was his name, I think. The 40-minute glide through heaven ran us 80 Euros in total. Split between the three of us, it was quite the deal when you consider how idyllic the surroundings, how cute the captain, and how smoothly serene the ride itself.
By the end of the trip I'd pretty well worn both my friends and myself ragged with sight-seeing. All the Venice standards, plus lesser known churches, nooks, and many a canal-lined cranny. It was wonderful to wander the streets again, seeing how much I remembered and finding how easy it was to get lost. Still. But by far the favorite part of the trip was seeing my friends there and picking up a few new ones, meeting their kids and loved ones. It wasn't nearly enough time, but the time I had I am grateful for. And besides, I'll be back. I'll always be back.
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