Day 1- A Venetian Family Reunion

The various members of our group arrived separately, from Boston, New York, Tucson and Victoria BC. Everyone was exhausted from the trip, but excited to connect and begin our vacation. Hillary had flown from Tucson to pick up her granddaughter, Kate (11), whom she was escorting to Venice with her daughter’s blessing, envy and set of instructions. I had flown with my husband, Mike and children, Megan (15) and David (12) [a.k.a. the Cruise Family]. We had all crossed paths at JFK the night before and exclaimed “See you in Venice in 12 hours!” before went to our separate gates. Susan had flown in from Boston and, unlike the rest of us, managed to get a row of 3 seats to herself and was able to catch a few winks. Amy would not be able to join us until the following day, but her arrival from British Columbia was much anticipated.

The Cruise family landed at Marco Polo airport  and were excited to see a familiar face awaiting them on the other side of Immigration. Mike’s mother, Susan/Nana, held her arms open as Megan and David ran to greet her! Then we all boarded a bus headed for Piazza Roma in Venice.

We decided to walk to our hotel  – advertised as a mere 10 min walk from the bus stop. Each person had one suitcase to manage, but David quickly realized his Nana was having trouble with her large upright. He offered to take charge and gave her his much smaller, towable bag. Needless to say, he provided plenty of entertainment on the walk (which was much longer than 10 min btw). Crashing the suitcase in to walls and tripping over it when it skidded on the cobblestones in the narrow alleys. But his efforts at lugging it up and down the bridges were much appreciated by his Nana as she could not have managed it by herself. “Next time I need to get a more portable suitcase!” she proclaimed.

We finally arrived at our hotel, Al Duca di Venezia, and were more than happy to freshen up in our beautiful rooms. Hillary and Kate had arrived earlier and were eager to get out and explore Venice. Within an hour we were ready to head out. We decided to go to Saint Mark’s Square – an obvious tourist trap, but a must see.

It was as beautiful as we had remembered (the Cruise family had been there 2 years earlier on a tour of Italy), but the lines to enter the basilica were so long that we decided to ascend the bell tower instead. Kate very much wanted to go up, but when she discovered there was only an elevator, she confessed that she was afraid of elevators and could not bring herself to do it. Her Uncle Mike thoughtfully patted her back and told her they could explore St. Mark’s square instead. Conversely, Hillary and Susan had assumed it would be a climb up the tower, which their knees would not be up for. They had already taken off to walk along the canals and people watch together. They were excited to use this trip as a chance to get better acquainted. They had always declared they would be best friends if they lived closer to each other.

That left me, Megan and David to ascend the bell tower. When we got to the top, we took in the breath-taking views of Venice! We looked down on the moveable clock and crowded Saint Mark’s Square and across to the dome of the basilica. All the way out to sea we caught a glimpse of our Holland America cruise ship. We became very excited to think of the long adventure that awaited us tomorrow.

    

Megan was looking forward to visiting many historic sites. David was determined to take full advantage of room service on the ship, and I was looking forward to spending some quality time with each and every member of the family.

When everyone reconvened at the bottom of the tower, it was time to head to dinner. Mike had looked up a favorite restaurant which the Cruise family had visited last time we were in Venice. He printed out a step by step set of directions which led us through 42 twists and turns on back alleys until we arrived at Casa Mia- only to discover it was closed for the day.

Shrugging off our disappointment (and hunger pains) and demonstrating how flexible everyone in this odd group could be, we wandered for a few blocks until we found another place to eat. At that point some salads, Margarite pizzas and a bottle of Chianti  (or Fanta) were all it took to make everyone happy. We finished off our first day with authentic Venetian gelato and fell into our comfy beds-  exhausted but relaxed. All the stress of planning this trip was over. Now we could enjoy the next 12 days!

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