The last two days have been more relaxing than eventful. On our last day in Montersoso we woke up early, bumped into Ivano, said goodbye to the lifeguards and headed to the train station. Unfortunately, the automated ticket machine broke when we were next in line and the ticket window ran out of paper after we were half way through. We missed our train, but were able to hop on another one just a few minutes later. We tried to catch up on sleep until we arrived in Pisa and almost didn't make our connections because we were so knocked out. We did eventually find our way to Venice by early afternoon.
Venice is somewhere I have always wanted to go. Even before I wanted to travel, I wanted to experience Venice. The city has not disappointed me at all. Many people have told me that they think Venice is overrated – that the water is dirty, murky and smelly. Instead, I think the city is enchanting. You can walk several blocks (probably in circles because the labyrinth of streets can be a bit confusing) and then wander right the a dead end where the water meets the sidewalk. Doors open to water and gondolas are a way of life.
Last night we bought grapes and a bottle of prosecco (after tasting several varieties of local wines) before jumping on a Gondola. Our gondolier was a man named Mario, but he preferred to be called Casanova the Second II; all the other gondoliers told us he was trouble and I believe it. Earlier in the day we had asked a local where we should eat dinner and he had given us directions to a local restaurant. The twenty minute walk took us about an hour as we got lost, asked for directions, walked in circles and got lost a little more. When we arrived we were pleasantly surprised by the amount of charm this local restaurant offered. We told Mario, the owner, that Dario had sent us and received VIP treatment. This means were weren't allowed to order what we want (“The lasagne is the best!”), we were given free desert and wine, and we were forced to take several pictures with Mario. I think Mario was particularly fond of me because he wouldn't stop rubbing my shoulders. The feeling wasn't reciprocated, and we managed to sneak out while he was in the kitchen.
Last night was our final night with Alicia, so we did everything we could to make sure we enjoyed it as much as possible. We had a final glass of wine sitting in a plaza on the Grand Canal and reminisced on Italy, Spain and the way our friendship have changed and grown over the past five years. Heidi and I were so sad to see her go this morning, but we're looking forward to upcoming camping trips, races and eventually Thailand (with E Herl, or course!).