Payton Meyer is an official CAPA blogger for fall 2018, sharing her story in weekly posts on CAPA World. A Strategic Communication major at University of Colorado Boulder, she is studying abroad in Florence this semester.
In this week's post, Payton visits Venice with her CAPA friends and shares some moments from this experience.
This past weekend, I was fortunate enough to do an overnight stay in Venice with a few friends that I’ve met here through CAPA. We attended CAPA’s My Global City advising event on Friday morning, to sign up for various volunteer activities such as English teaching or meeting with an Italian family once a week (the GANZO program), and then made our way over to the Firenze Santa Maria Novella train station around 2:30pm to catch a train into the city. The train was about 2 hours long, and had WiFi and phone chargers. About halfway through, we got an email from our Airbnb host to let us know that our place had been flooded earlier that morning, and that we were getting upgraded to stay in his bed and breakfast in Lido, just outside of Venice, instead! So, as soon as we got off the long train ride, we took a boat taxi for 30 minutes to Lido, and strolled around the less crowded, more spacious streets of the sand bar. We had a lovely seafood pasta dinner, walked around a bit, and headed back to the B&B for a little R&R before our big day in the heart of Venice.
Made it to Venice!
The smell of toast and croissants woke us up the next morning, and we enjoyed breakfast in the quaint dining room of the B&B accompanied by a family of 3 from Spain that we practiced our Spanish with. After taking a nice walk along the Lido coastline and feeling the sand between our toes, we hopped back onto the boat taxi and headed into the city.
The Venetian Canal.
Some of the best views we saw were from the deck of the boat taxi, as it made its way down the main canal. Once arrived, we walked through the narrow alleyways and over the countless tiny bridges until we got to Saint Mark’s Basilica, which was absolutely breathtaking. Before long we were in Piazza San Marco, gazing at Doge’s Palace. After lunch, the 7 of us hopped into two gondolas side by side, manned by Italian men in black and white striped shirts, and floated through the famous canals of Venice. It was like a scene out of a movie, and one of my favorite experiences to this day.
Saint Mark's Basilica in Venice.
We had our fun in Venice, and decided it was time to head home. We made our way back to the train station, and got lost more than a few times in the maze-like streets. We finally found it and went straight to the red Bigliette (translation: tickets in Italian) stations to purchase our tickets home. We were confused by the message that kept popping up, until we pooled all of our Italian language knowledge and were able to make out the sentence “there are no more trains heading to this station today.”
The girls with Ricardo guiding us on the gondola!
We, of course, panicked. We hadn’t planned for a second night in Venice, and my wallet was just about empty. I remembered seeing a booth labeled “Last-minute tickets” when we had walked into the station, and suggested that we go there. We told the helpful attendant about the situation, and she calmly explained that the last train to Florence was leaving in 15 minutes, and that she could get all 7 of us on. We waited for her to work her magic, grabbed our tickets, and ran to the platform with only a minute or two to spare, thankful that things had gone our way.
The whole gang!
Looking back, I would say that my first weekend trip was quite successful. It was a bit of a learning curve, but I think I took away a lot of useful information for next time. One of the great things about studying abroad through CAPA in Florence is the opportunity to have classes on weekdays and some time to travel on the weekends. I absolutely love spending time in Florence itself, and it’s also great to have the ability to hop on a train and discover a new city or even a new country every once in a while. In the future, I’m definitely going to book my train tickets in advance, to avoid jacked-up, last-minute prices (we each could have saved about 50 euro by booking online a day or two in advance), and of course, missing the last train home. I’m also going to look into cheaper places to stay, like hostels, rather than Airbnbs. All of that being said, I had a fantastic time, and would highly recommend visiting Venice. I already want to go back!
Payton's journey continues every Thursday so stay tuned.