Two days in Venice is not enough (part two)

We packed a lot into our second day in Venice. Starting with breakfast on the terrace of our hotel, looking out onto the Grand Canal, I thought I might cry at the beauty of this city. So different to anything I have ever experienced. I could have sat there all day but I’m glad I didn’t.

Venice is complicated. Obviously reliant on tourism but also being damaged by tourism. There were two enormous cruise ships looming while we were there. The problem with cruise ships is they dock, disgorge passengers for a day and then leave. They cause huge damage to the fragile buildings and eco-system but provide enormous income. Here’s a link to an interesting Guardian article published a few days after we left which sums it up very well. It’s hard  to work out the best answers as, like so many other people, we wanted to experience the magic that is Venice. How do you decide who can come and how many? At least we were staying a couple of days  and spending money outside of the set tourist attractions – I hope that’s better than staying on a floating hotel for a day, visiting St Mark’s Square and then leaving?

We spent the morning in the Doge’s Palace with the delightful Daniella as our guide. A passionate Venetian, she recreated the political and social history of Venice as we drank in the incredible art and scope  of this building. Was wonderful to cross the Bridge of Sighs after visiting the Cambridge one last year ( with its slightly less ominous tradition of crossing to sit exams).

Then off to Murano for a glassblowing demonstration and a chance to buy some of the beautiful glass on display ( some Christmas presents were sorted!).

The afternoon was spent at the beautiful island of Burano. Think of a laid-back mini Venice! Apparently Michelle Obama has been here – good choice by her. Brightly coloured houses with fabrics billowing over the front doors, tiny canals criss-crossing everywhere . Just beautiful. One of my favourite places in Italy.

Sadly the next morning was time to leave Venice and indeed Italy. I definitely want to come back and spend more time in the areas we fell in love with. We lingered over breakfast for as long as possible until we had to leave via speedboat. Wayne’s suitcase was precariously balanced on the top of a pile of others. I was convince it was going for to fly off into the sea! But we made it safely to the airport dock and far too soon were sitting on a plane to the UK. A whole new series of adventures to come.

New York – a photographic state of mind 

We arrived at Newark airport after a very nice flight up the front of the plane ( what a treat!). Emerging out of the terminal we were immediately assaulted by a cacophony of people, taxis, buses, heat, noise – and we were barely put of the airport. Clearly not in San Franscisco anymore! 

We managed to get an Uber and headed to the Refinery Hotel. Glass of wine while checking in set the tone for our week.

We fell in love with this city. We knew it would be fast paced, sophisticated and iconic, but we weren’t prepared for its beauty and sheer energy. 

Just too much to describe in our week there, so a few highlights and a lot of photos! 

Cycling Central Park and the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges – these were both guided tours giving great insights of the city. Never thought I would be a fan of guided tours but you get such great stories and information from the guides. 

Refinery Hotel rooftop bar – the Empire State Building so close you could almost reach out and touch it.

Street food and tiny bagel shops (shades of the Seinfeld ‘Soup Nazi’ episode at one of them). 

Blues-influenced Jazz at the Rum House and then a sublime jazz quartet in our hotel lobby bar. 

The indescribable wonder of seeing iconic paintings by Van Gogh, Picasso, Dali and so many others at MoMA.

Book of Mormon on Broadway. A whole new level of professionalism and passion from the performers. Watching this knowing that all around us countless other shows were simultaneously playing.

Times Square at night – so cliched but so exciting. 

Empire State Building during the day and Rockefeller Centre at night. Facing my vertigo head-on and winning! 

Ground Zero and the somber and profoundly moving 9/11 museum. 

We decided that it would be very hard to live in New York but we will definitely try to return. The song says ‘I left my heart in San Fransciso’ – I think I left a part of mine in New York

Three weeks to go!

It is now just under three weeks to the biggest overseas adventure Wayne and I have ever done.

It is customary in NZ as I’m sure it is in many other countries to embark on an OE between finishing university and starting life as a working adult. We  instead married and had our first child in this period so this was not our reality. Ending up with five children meant that overseas travel has been  a scarce opportunity and if we have managed to get on a plane it has usually involved child-friendly island resorts and theme parks.

Our nest now empty with Christian moving to the UK last year to study has changed all that. We travelled with him last year to settle him in, got the travel bug (finally) and this year have committed to 8 weeks away in several countries. Planning to catch up with him on his internship in San Francisco, visiting New York, a small tour of Italy and then a bed and breakfast journey through England, Wales and Ireland before hanging with the boy as he starts his second year at Cambridge. We finish with a week in London before coming home.

Sounds crazy to me that we get to do this! We have never done anything like this before. Months of planning and dreaming – finding interesting places to stay, things to do and see. Our trip itinerary is nearly complete. And one advantage of doing this when you are older is that I haven’t had to book a single hostel or dodgy backpackers’!

I am not without trepidation – the world outside of New Zealand seems uncertain and in some places unsafe. But I look at our son stepping out to new terrain with optimism and faith and I want to be there too. Just the process of planning our trip has broadened my understanding of how interconnected we all are.

According to my long-suffering husband we can’t start packing for at least another week – not long before I can get my suitcase down from the attic and start filling it!