one lovely day in venice 

Well, I finally made it to the beautiful city (and island) known for its water, canals, carnivals, film festivals, multi-colored houses, sparkling masks, and abundant tourists.  Yes, if you have not yet guessed it, I made a visit to Venice.  Before making my way to the water-filled city, I heard diverse opinions on the place.  I heard from some that it was “beautiful” while others claimed “Venice is too touristy and not worth all the hype.”  Well, nonetheless, I wanted to travel to the city and form my own opinions on the iconic Italian city.  



This trip, I decided would provide me with some alone, me and God time, so I headed towards Venice solo.  My trip to Venice allowed me to recharge, relax and be refreshed.  I only spent one day in Venice, which for me, was the perfect amount of time.  After traveling through various cities throughout Europe this year and attempting to see everything in each one, I have learned to travel in quite a different way.   I have learned that my favorite travel experiences have not been filled with museum or monument visits but instead with relaxing strolls, pretty weather and no pressure.  So, I went into my trip to Venice without many assumptions, plans or expectations.    



I arrived in Venice around 10:30am.  I then purchased an unlimited day-pass for the water taxi boat service (which came in handy).  I first visited the beautiful San Marco church, which was wonderful. 



Afterwards, I got lost wandering through the maze-like side streets and marveling at the sweet, romantic, vine filled, bricked alleyways, bridges and sparkling blue water filled canals. I then headed to two out lying islands near the main Island of Venice.  I first traveled to Murano, which is an island about 40 minutes away from Venice (by boat).  



Murano is a sweet little island that is filled with adorable canals (if you could not have already guessed this), cute houses and is known for their special glass-making trade.



When I arrived at the island, I began to explore and found a small glass factory.  I watched a glass making demonstration which was both fantastic and fascinating and I even bought a cute (Murano made) glass necklace (a gift for a friend).  





I then walked along the canals and enjoyed the blue skied, sunny, and breezy mid 50s weather.   I found a quiet part of the island and then sat along one of the canals where I wrote, thought, and took in my scenic surroundings.  





After window shopping for a bit, I headed back to the water boat taxi stop and headed for Burano.  Burano is less touristy, more quiet, and about twenty minutes from Murano.  Burano is known for their lacemaking trade, multi-colored, bright houses (they reminded me of Cinque Terre) and had sweet charm and beauty. 



What I loved most about Burano were all the sweet little children that ran and played throughout the bright, lively island.  Burano was filled with families and sweet people.  While in Burano I walked around and marveled the adorable, bright houses.  





I felt like I was in Portugal or a different country, it was a surreal and exciting experience.  I followed the canal to a quiet, residential part of the island where I wrote, took in the presentness of the moment, and relaxed.  While walking through the canals lined with yellow, purple, green, blue, and pink homes I felt like I had stepped into the world of Crayola!  







I passed an adorable elementary school and it warmed my soul to see all the sweet children running and playing in an adorable court yard during their recess.  I window shopped for a bit and looked at the quaint lace shops and enjoyed seeing all the adorable residents of Burano walking about.  After Burano, I took a boat back to Venice where I got lost in the old, winding, narrow, stone streets and my mind for about two hours. 







I loved seeing the black and white striped shirt men in the gondolas as they quietly glided through the canals, the small houses with flower pots filled window boxes and I was thrilled to find a non-touristy area of the city.  I did not pay 80 euro for a gondola ride, so let’s put this down in the book: a traveler went to Venice without going on one of the famous (though very touristy) gondola rides. 



Despite the touristy aspects, the city is marvelous and a traveler must-see in my book.  During my water taxi ride back to the train station, I met a sweet German woman who was studying Italian (yet knew no english).  She spoke in broken Italian to me and we enjoyed each other’s company, it was so funny that we were both from different countries yet were speaking Italian to each other!  During my train ride back to Florence, I then met a wonderful Italian university student who is currently studying in Venice.  Her name is Carlotta and she studies architecture, we had a great conversation about traveling and studying!  As I have said before, I live to meet people, explore and to seek adventure, so my time in Venice was definitely a memorable experience.  Stay true, live justly, and always travel on.  Peace and love.                           

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navarra

Throughout my travels in Spain thus far I have been traveling through Basque Country, in Navarra. Here is a brief history on the region:
Navarra, a French and Spanish influenced culture, is a mountainous region in the northeast region of Spain. The main languages of this region are Spanish and Basque. This region of Spain has various small medieval villages, is mountainous, has various valleys, vineyards, and many green pasture areas. Navarra used to be controlled by the Roman Empire and thus was originally inhabited by the Vascones, mostly in the northern mountainous regions like the Pyrenees. The Vascones, a pre-Roman tribe, have definitely left their romanesque mark throughout the region.
One can see the Vascone’s impact in many of the Roman-influenced buildings and aqueducts throughout Navarra. Historically, the southern region of Navarra is a place that various Muslims resided in. The Muslim’s conquest in Spain was in 711 AD, the Christians, however, over the next 700 years worked on pushing the Muslims out of Spain in the Spanish Reconquest. Pamplona is now the region’s capital and this city played a large role in the Reconquest of Spain. Pamplona is now famous for the Running of the Bulls, a festival that takes place in the city streets. Passing through Pamplona was so interesting, especially knowing that authors including Hemingway once walked the same streets in Spain.
There are many medieval villages, castles, and fortresses throughout Navarra because of Navarra’s location. As a border of France, Navarra has various monumental buildings and defenses, however, many of these buildings were destroyed in various fights, including the Spanish Reconquest. The Kingdom of Navarra is considered to be one of the most historically Christian regions in Spain. Navarra’s culture is extremely diverse. From Navarra’s famous wine to their midday naps called siestas, their bull runs in Pamplona, and their various religious carnivals and holidays, this all contributes to Navarra’s unique French and Spanish influenced society.
In meeting various individuals from Navarra I have found that they are kind, generous, and hospitable individuals. For example, when I lost in Pamplona on the Camino various kind individuals took the time to guide me in the correct direction. Even the locals in the small towns that I passed through when walking on the Camino would never fail to smile and wish me a “Buen Camino”.
I definitely noticed that Navarra is extremely different than Madrid. Madrid, a large, somewhat modern city was not as intimate as quaint, scenic Navarra. Though the individuals I met in Madrid were kind, those throughout Navarra seemed to be more laid back and approachable. In Madrid, the culture of late nights, loud noises, and tapas was overwhelming for me, and can be contrasted to Navarra’s beautiful mountain ranges, quiet countrysides, and high quality wine and food. I loved the time spent in Madrid, but it was too fast paced for me, the small medieval towns, mountains, rolling hills, and fields of Navarra are more desirable to me. The time spent in Navarra was wonderful and I cannot wait to return to this gorgeous region of Spain in the future. Stay true, live justly, and always travel on. Peace and Love.