May 28, 2013, 10:24 AM EDT
Venice, Italy, the City of Romance; once the home of the famous lover Casanova, the city is now the destination of many couples on their honeymoon or vacation. And, of course, Notre Dame Volleyball. I was very excited to visit the floating city, my excitement only dulled by the Nyquil I took the night before in order to sleep; in other words, I woke up this morning a little lethargic and wondering if I was going to have the energy to make it through the day. Sadly I wasn’t the worst off, as our strength and conditioning coach (Kaitlin Sweeney) was also sick. But a little illness wasn’t going to spoil our fantastic first day in Italy.
After a nice breakfast at the ski lodge in Maribor, we hopped on our bus (all the seating was located above the driver’s head, like a double decker bus but without the first deck; it was awesome.) and took a three-hour bus ride to the train station in Trieste. Still tired from the Nyquil, I took a rare nap on the bus, along with many of my other teammates and the members of our party. After getting to the Trieste train station, we had to take a short walk with our luggage into the building before we all grabbed a quick lunch at a café in the restaurant. There was also a small grocery store across the way that we looked through, where they had warm croissants and other breads that were delicious. After lunch, we made our way on to the train for our two-hour ride to the hotel, located on the mainland outside of Venice. I learned how to play gin (rummy) with Hilary (Eppink), Erin (Klosterman), and assistant coach Christy (Pfeffenberger) during the ride and was actually in the positive by the time our train stop was up. Our hotel was a short walk from the train station and after we dropped off our luggage in our rooms, we were on our way back to the train station and to Venice.
As soon as we walked out of the train station in the city, my breath was taken away. The doors opened on to part of the Grand Canal, the main waterway in Venice, and a little to the left was the Farravia, the bridge that crossed to the next part of the city across the Grand Canal. Several vendors were on the bridge trying to sell their knockoff designer bags or their splatter pigs (these gel pig-shaped things that they would throw to the ground and would completely flatten out). I stuck with Nicole (Smith) and Hilary (Eppink) as we made our way through the maze that is Venice and amazingly we only got lost once. I think we took a rather back roads way to Piazza di San Marco, but we ended up there all the same. The square was beautiful, so open and airy; a stark contrast to the narrow alleyways and streets that characterize the rest of the city. We walked around a little bit, narrowly avoiding getting conned by a man with roses and getting the obligatory gelato.
The group met up again by the Campanile de San Marco, the tallest bell tower in Venice, located in the Piazza. We made our way over to the gondolas and took a nice 40-minute trip down the canals and waterways of Venice in its original transportation device. The trip was beautiful and serene and I felt almost transported back to the Venice of 800 years ago, when gondolas were the only way to move from place to place in the city.
After the gondola trip, we all made our way back through the city to the train station, stopping to do some shopping along the way. I picked up a Carnivale mask for myself and a few souvenirs for my parents and roommates. After our long day of travel and exploring, I was wiped out and so was the rest of the group. So, we hopped on the train and headed back to the hotel for a good night’s rest (and a few extra hours to sleep in!) before our adventure to Milan tomorrow. Only a few more days left in Europe!
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