As I write from the window seat of a water taxi, flowing through the canals of Venice, I feel strangely disconnected from the city and the life here. It’s strange– I have felt part of every other city so far. Perhaps it’s the half-hour bus ride out of Venice to our Airbnb separating me from the life here, but I feel mostly like a spectateur in Venice, watching Italians live as if behind a glass window. I can interact here. I can eat pasta and ride on gondolas and buy souvenirs but at the end of the day, I’m nothing more than a tourist, paying to watch people live their lives. It’s a little sad, really. It’s as if I am allowed to see what it might be like if I were fortunate enough to live here, but I’ll never get to know or experience it for myself. I think this might be what tourism is– looking at the place from the outside looking in, taking pictures, and going back home to relay stories of what it’s like to be somewhere new– but in comparison to the somewhat “authentic” Austrian life we’ve been living, this makes me feel like an outcast, an imposter, a poser, or a wannabe.
Apart from being 100% aware of my American-ness, today was a very fun day. We woke up (WOW best night of sleep on the trip by far!!! That bed was so stinking comfortable.), ate breakfast, dragged our suitcases to the bus stop, ventured to Venice, dealt with a sketchy guy who insisted (and could not be convinced otherwise) on taking Leigha’s luggage across the uphill-both-ways bridge for her and then would not leave her alone until she paid him a “suitable” amount, deposited our suitcases at the train station, and then went our separate ways for our last Italian day.
I went with Hershila, Elaine, KeLee, and Cynthia to explore for the day. We ate pasta at the same place I ate at yesterday with my professors and Najeeah. (And I got the same thing. How embarrassing. Just kidding; it was DELICIOUS. No regrets here.) We went shopping, walked around, got some incredible gelato (well, they did… I got water.), went on a gondola ride where KeLee got hit on by a passing gondola driver who models in his spare time (not a joke), and took a million and a half pictures. We also went into the basilica– which was gorgeous– and made some American friends there who were from Michigan.
We finished everything we wanted to do for the day, so we took the water taxi back to the train station. We ate Burger King (where KeLee got hit on again) and lounged around until it was time to board the train back to Vienna. This time, we sat six to a cabin because there were no empty cabins to be found. This meant that we slept sitting up, which was challenging at best. Apparently, I fell asleep first, but it was one of the worst nights of sleep I’ve ever had. And with that, I said goodbye to Italy.
Italy, or Venice at least, was much, much dirtier than I imagined. It smelled, there were people everywhere who were trying to scam me, and I had a never-ending feeling that I should wash my hands. Despite all this, it was breathtakingly beautiful, and I am so thankful that I was fortunate enough to get to go. I’d love to go to Rome next! Any other travel recommendations are greatly appreciated.