50 Days and Counting…

50 days and counting…

until my arrival in my beloved Venezia. Do I love Venice? Let me count the ways…no I won’t right now, maybe later. The apartment is booked, the airline ticket purchased, the cat sitter arranged, I’m mentally packed but that could change. Now all I have to do is wait, and wait and wait.

I thought of doing a blog but when I looked at both of the blog sites I’m familiar with I couldn’t figure out how to get started. Maybe it was the hour or just me …just could not figure it out. Maybe I will try when I’m more alert and get it sorted. Maybe this will be my first post there. And it is.

Anyway I am “sooooooo” ready, it’s been two years since my last visit and I’m looking forward to my leisurely month in my favorite city in the world.

Maybe a little background on my “Love Affair with Venice” would be appropriate here so here is a little something I wrote for friends:

My Love Affair with Venice 

I think I have always been intrigued by the idea of a city built on water . I knew I would go there someday. But life happened and Venice waited.

Sometime in the mid 90’s a friend came to visit her cousin in Seattle and also spend an afternoon with me. Dorothy and I had met in a writing class in Asheville, North Carolina some ten years prior to this visit. We had both moved around a bit, both lost our husbands and kept up a friendship that was once upon a time known as “pen pals”. We had not seen each other since the last night of the writing class. Dorothy often told me I reminded her of her daughter who was about my age.

Anyway as we sat in my apartment eating pumpkin pie and drinking tea Dorothy said she had a secret she had never told me because she didn’t want me to think she was weird. Me! Me, think this charming 90 year old woman was weird? What could it be? She confessed that she had a gift and all of her life she had been able to read palms and that she would like to read mine. I laughed and said of course she could read my palm.

I must say I don’t put much stock in things like horoscopes and palm reading but I thought it would be fun. Among the things that Dorothy saw in my palm that afternoon were that while in my 50’s I would find the love of my life and in my later years I would be diagnosed with a serious illness from which I would completely recover and live a full and rewarding life and be buried far from my home. She said it was the most interesting palm she had ever read. She even wrote it down for me and I’ve kept that little piece of paper all of these years. It was stashed away in a drawer somewhere.

I took my first trip to Italy in 2004. A friend had invited me to the renewal of his wedding vows in Greece. I decided it was a delightful reason to max out a credit card and also checked to see how far it was from Greece to Tuscany. After all I had just read the book “Under the Tuscan Sun”. Well, imagine my surprise when I discovered that Athens was closer to Rome than Seattle is to San Francisco and I began making plans. My friend L had been to Italy before and wanted to go again…although she kept talking about Rome and I kept explaining that I was going to Tuscany. We were booked to Antiparos; spent three nights on that tiny island. I had a lovely time getting to meet the friends of my friends. Then on to Milan where we took the train to Florence and each of us wandered the city in our own directions. But my favorite time that I was looking forward to was a week in an apartment in the village of Lisciano Niccone…about an hour’s taxi ride from Cortona of Under the Tuscan Sun. The apartment was perfect and I had several books.

Okay, back to Venice. One of the books I had brought with me was “A Thousand Days in Venice” by Marlena DeBlassi. I had finished reading it while sitting on a bench in the Boboli Gardens in Florence and decided I just had to get to Venice. But it would have to be another trip as I just didn’t have time on that one.

People who know me know that I plan major trips years in advance and 2005…the year after the Italy trip was already spoken for with an African safari. Venice would have to wait.

While on that safari in the fall of 2005 I was thinking what a wonderful present for my 60th birthday…in 2008.…to take myself to Venice. It would probably take me that long to figure out exactly how to do it and to save the money. The 2004 trip to Greece and Italy had been $1000 just for the airfare but the entire trip was still less than my usual week in a condo on Maui. Wish I had discovered that years ago.

So the planning began…reading trip reports on Slow Travel, buying guide books, etc. One morning I saw an interview with the man who created “Untours”.(that CBS Sunday Morning program costs me more money) It is a company that sends people on exactly that…an untour. They arrange your airfare, land transportation, an apartment for two weeks and a local contact in case you have questions and you are on your own to live like a local and explore on your own time. It sounded great to me and the people at Untours were so wonderful and helpful. Unfortunately my birthday is in December and although a great time to go to Maui, not so good for northern Italy. And the latest Untours booked was the last week of October and the first week of November so I took that one. If I remember I booked that in the summer of 2007…nearly a year and a half in advance! Now all I had to do was wait. The closer it got the harder the waiting became but before I knew it I was on a plane to Venice via Paris.

As I was flying into Venice and looking out the window I almost burst into tears, just seeing it from the air was so beautiful. I had been sent a picture of Denny who would meet me at the airport so I knew who to look for. She greeted me with a giant hug and we were off to the water taxi.

I have detailed my two weeks in a trip report that is on both the Untours Café: www.untourscafe.com click on desitinations and chose Venice and there I am. The link to my report is also on Trip Advisor Venice Forum under the Trip Reports, Past, Present and Future.

I had not asked a question on TA but just before I left I posted how helpful the forum had been to me. I got a PM from Y in Australia wishing me a good trip. About a week after I got back I got another PM asking if I was back and we have become friends and have been emailing ever since. It was Y who tried to get me to go on the first Rome adventure with the Sisterhood of the Traveling Scarves but since I was just back from Venice I had neither the money nor the vacation time to go…although it was tempting. 

They had their adventure and we were all chatting on the “we did it” on TA off topic chatter when about a month later(April 1, 2009) I was diagnosed with uterine cancer….suddenly out of the blue…no history of cancer of any kind in my family. I made all the arrangements for my hysterectomy. My surgeon said it was the easiest form of cancer to cure as they do the hysterectomy and it’s over. Yeah, right. The cancer is gone…so far but the doctor visits continue. The women on that forum were so supportive and caring. I got phone calls from S and Y, care packages and prayers being said in churches all over Italy…let alone Venice. More so than my co-workers who also knew what was going on.

When you hear the “C” word you do go a little crazy. I prepared for my surgery by spending money, the little netbook I’m currently typing on, an HDTV for my bedroom, upgrading my cable TV…after all I was going to be home recovering for six to eight weeks and needed entertainment. I bought a stack of books and friends brought more. 

K even invited me to spend my recovery on the farm where she lives in Donnegal, Ireland. I thanked her immensely but really didn’t see the woman with lifting restrictions schlepping a suitcase through international airports. 

The Sisters were planning another meet up in Rome in March 2010 but I was already planning a return to Venice the end of October 2010 with Untours. Then I got email from Untours that they were canceling their 2010 Venice trips. They would be happy to help me with an apartment but I would be doing the rest on my own. Hmmm, was this the hand of God? I started researching apartments in Rome, apartments in Venice, airfare in March. When I found a ticket for $749RT I booked it and then booked an apartment for 5 nights in Venice to be followed by Rome. 

Back to Dorothy’s predictions: I started thinking about what she had said about having a major illness. I think/hope this was it. Then I realized that I hadn’t met that man who was to become the love of my life that she said I would meet in my 50’s. Of course Dorothy and I both assumed that it was a man. She never said I would meet the love of my life…she said I would find the love of my life. And I did….her name is Venice.





About mvaden1948

I love to travel to Venice (and probably other parts of Italy and beyond) and my camera leads me where she wants without any consideration as to whatever plans I may have. I enjoy photographing nature, my cat and anything that strikes my fancy. I have a "thing" for interesting doors and architectural details.
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12 Responses to 50 Days and Counting…

  1. may1787 says:

    This is beautiful, Michelle! I would love to return one day. As you know, I have Paris in the works, but through my career (nursing) I may also be visiting Nepal. Scary! I think as single women its good to be nervous, but we can also have amazing experiences when we push past the fear and do it! You have been such a wonderful resource to me and had been very kind when helping me build my confidence for my trip to Italy. I can’t wait to follow you on your trip to Venice!

    • mvaden1948 says:

      Grazie, Leah,
      I say follow your dreams. I would love to do Nepal but have to be careful of altitude because of high blood pressure. See…if I had done it when I was younger….
      Maybe we’ll meet up someday in some exotic locale. Or if you are flying through Seattle.
      I’m a social worker and believe me, my supervisor is not happy with my being gone for nearly six weeks which included my month in Venice then five days to recover from the jetlag.

  2. jan Graham says:

    Very good , what else can I say,

  3. Barb says:

    Well done, Michelle! The blog is great and your count-down is going to go so fast now!
    I’m here for 2 weeks this time and even though it is the 14th or 15th visit, I am still as enchanted and delighted as I was on that very first visit. It does seem that once Venice grabs your heart, she doesn’t let go! You’re going to have a wonderful visit.

    • mvaden1948 says:

      And a coworker asked if spending a month in one place wasn’t an awfully long time. My response was that I’ve been in Seattle since 1995 and I’m not bored yet. He doesn’t “get” what it is about Venice.
      Enjoy your stay.

  4. julie says:

    I love your story Michele, and how we all met ! Pity we did not have much time in Rome in 2010 ! looking forward fo following your trip… till my next venice visit !!

  5. Sheila Bosch says:

    Wonderful, Michelle!
    I know you will enjoy posting and sharing. AND inspiring the rest of us to get back to blogging. I cannot wait until RB and I return to Venice in March, to experience a change of season, and a longer stay. Celebrating my b’day AND Easter is a dream come true, with the added joy of seeing a few of the “traveling Scarves!”. Now about that fall of 2014…hmm that will be our 40th wedding anniversary. May have to “pencil that in” . Hugs and smiles across the miles,

    • mvaden1948 says:

      Grazzie, Silkie.
      It would be wonderful if we could work out that meet up in fall 2014. I know you would love being there anyway let alone celebrating your anniversary.
      I wonder what kind of music they have at Bascillica San Marco for Easter. Or maybe the Frari.

  6. mvaden1948 says:

    A friend said my countdown clock wasn’t working. He didn’t understand that 50 days was the name of the post….here is the countdown and it is now two weeks till departure:

  7. mvaden1948 says:

    And now the countdown is over and I’m in Venice!

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