Two Weeks That Changed My Life Forever

Come un sogno…..but much more than a dream.

I think it was towards the end of 2005 that I started thinking about how I wanted to celebrate my 60th birthday although it was still three years away. When planning a big trip I like to start early.  

I considered India and spending the 12th of December at the Taj Mahal. Hmm, but it wasn’t really a place I would be comfortable going alone and really didn’t want to spend all that time with a group of people I didn’t know. So I thought and thought and decided that one place I’d never been but always wanted to see was Venice, Italy.

The planning began. I bought guidebooks, researched on the internet and read everything I could get my hands on. One Sunday morning I was doing my usual thing; having my breakfast while watching CBS Sunday Morning and they did a piece on a company called “Untours”. It was a company that did all the legwork for you, airfare, reservations for two weeks in an apartment, transportation while you are there and a local contact if you had questions. Otherwise you were on your own. It sounded just like my cup of tea. I immediately looked them up on the internet. Yes, they had a Venice “untour” but the last date was the last week of October and first week of November which would mean celebrating my December 12 birthday more than a month early. Little did I know then how easy it would be in years to come to book all of this myself and how delightful Venice is in December….but that came much later.

I booked their Casino apartment (located near the Venice Casino) for that last two week period in 2008.


I was met at Marco Polo Airport and transported to my apartment in a gorgeous water taxi. Arriving by water is the only way to arrive in Venice as far as I’m concerned. I felt like a princess standing in the back of this sleek, water borne limo and thought maybe I should be waving to the crowds. No, there really weren’t any crowds and the cheering was only in my head.


The apartment even had its own private garden.


The kitchen was stocked with basics and food enough for a light supper that night and breakfast the next morning. And to make sure I was up and about there would be an orientation walking tour the next morning also. So much for sleeping in and recovering from jet lag!


But who could sleep on a morning like this?

Not a lot of tourists on this lovely morning

There were two other couples and me on this late October morning. We met with Denny the Untours local contact who took us on a two hour tour of some very small calles and over what seemed to me like 100 bridges (really maybe five). Then we stopped for a “spritz” the national drink of Venice. Since I don’t drink I had the non alcoholic version…a soft drink called Gingerino which I have grown to love and find the taste impossible to describe.

We would be meeting the next evening for a performance at Musica a Palazzo, held in an old palazzo on the Grand Canal. It had been described as like being at a private party in a palazzo and that was indeed the feeling you got. Very intimate with chairs around several rooms and the different acts moved to different rooms.


I was beginning to fall under the magical spell of what has become the City of My Dreams as I left my companions and wandered the calles towards Piazza San Marco. The orchestras were playing and I was on my own for nearly two weeks to do what I wanted, when I wanted down calles and over bridges and since I had a pass….ride the vaporetto as much as I felt like.

The following is a selection of my photos taken with a tiny point and shoot camera which I have upgraded twice since then so if the pictures aren’t quite up to what you have come to expect from me rest assured that I am much better now and so is my camera….although she does still lead me where she wants me to go.

Except for the back packsJust like the book "Chocolat"

A chocolate filled window reminiscent of one of my favorite books “Chocolat”.

Atilla and friends

Atilla and friends. I discovered that Dingo had a cat adoption center two doors from my apartment. The lady who described herself (through a passerby who interpreted for us) as the “cats’ secretary” told me that he is the boss of the neighborhood.


DSCN1395DSCN1401DSCN1402DSCN1412DSCN1421DSCN1435Little did I know how often I would walk through this campo in years to come

Little did I know nearly seven years ago how often I would traverse this campo…which harbors my favorite hardware store and the church where Vivaldi was baptized.

I would take this walk many times in years to come

Or how often this would be my route to Piazza San Marco.


In the past years I have returned to Venice three times. In 2012 when I went for my birthday which happened to fall on 12/12/12 I realized that I had to live there. I returned for another month a year later as my retirement gift to myself in December 2013. It only confirmed my dream to make Venice my home.

As my lovely Italian teacher has taught me:

“Io ho un sogno nel cassetto di prendere residenza a Venezia un giorno”

(I have a dream in a box to take up residence in Venice one day)

It is equal to saying “I have a dream in my heart” which indeed I do.


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.
This entry was posted in Memories and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Two Weeks That Changed My Life Forever

  1. Sue Merritt says:

    While reading this, I felt I was back in Venice! Thank you for the trip, albeit in my imagination….your pictures are magnificent. Best wishes and my sincere thanks.


  2. Sheila Bosch says:

    Just a lovely post! Your pictures were so perfect! Silkie

    SDG soli Deo gloria

    Date: Sat, 11 Apr 2015 23:26:48 +0000 To:

    • mvaden1948 says:

      Your email about your planned strip reminded me that I’ve been wanting to do this post for a while.
      Also getting a new faster computer (Windows 8.1) where I don’t have to wait for eons for pictures to load really helped too.
      Wish I could join you in October.

  3. Susie L says:

    Lovely photographs and I really enjoyed hearing the backstory. May your dream come true, and soon. Would Diavolo become Ventian as well? 😍

    • mvaden1948 says:

      Susie L-
      I won’t even be able to apply for the “elective residence” visa for at least three years (paying off credit cards and getting all my affairs in order, financial and otherwise). They do say once you submit your application (which I have to do in San Francisco, by the way) they process it within 90 days. So I’m hoping to be there (Venezia) for my 70th birthday in 2018.
      Diavolo will be a very senior citizen cat by then and if he is still with me it is unlikely that he would be able to make the trip. Once the visa is approved it will take me several months to get it together….including finding a very good home for il Diavolo. I hate the idea of leaving him behind but subjecting him to the long flights etc is just more than what will by then be a 15 year old cat would be cruel. Although if there is a way I would do it.

  4. How could you leave the splendor, the magnificence? Oh, that’s right! You will be calling paradise, home. Go for it, never looking back; you deserve to capture your hearts desire, holding it tightly in your embrace as a dream realized.
    Thank you for the beautiful tour. I’m green with envy. 😘

  5. biankonera says:

    I have just one question – why, oh why is it impossible to step through the screen and find ourselves in the Piazza or any other corner of this vision of a city? 🙂 Thank you so much for this beautiful start to my Sunday!

  6. We were in Venice at August – very crowded. Your pictures have a lot less people in them. We have been talking about visiting off season and after reading this it’s made me even more determined. It’s a lovely blog. Feels very personal – and the pictures are great.

  7. mvaden1948 says:

    Thank you for the compliments.
    I love Venice in winter. My last two trips (2012 and 2013) have both been in December for my birthday…a month each time. Although it can be frigid cold like it was in 2012 it can also be gloriously beautiful. It was not nearly as cold in 2013. And there are a lot fewer people visiting although weekends are still busy because that’s when Italians visit. And there are hardly any cruise ships so not as many day-trippers.
    I do encourage you to visit in the low season which if you visit after Carnevale can be March. High season starts with April and runs through October (some hotels use mid November).
    I do encourage you to return.

  8. Jason Jones says:

    I have thoroughly enjoyed reading all of your blog posts, particularly the ones about Italy! I’m very jealous that you were able to live in Venice for a month! Amazing. Maybe that will be our retirement gift, as well!

    • mvaden1948 says:

      Grazie mille, Jason.
      It was hard to save the money to stay in Venice for a month but it was well worth it being able to really “live like a local”.
      I won’t be able to realize my dream of actually living there full time for another three or four years. In the meantime I live my life, study Italian and dream of Venezia.

      • mvaden1948 says:

        PS Jason, I have thoroughly enjoyed your trip to Italy too. I really loved the photos your daughter took. She has a great eye for only being, what is it, seven! The two of you are giving her such a fabulous education.
        For any of my followers who haven’t seen Jason’s blog on his family trip to Italy I suggest you check it out:
        And they did it during the huge heat wave so if they sometimes look a little “wilted” in the pictures…that’s why.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s