We arrived back in San Francisco at 1:00 yesterday afternoon, after a 7:00am flight out of Venice. I don’t know how that departure time slipped past us when we bought our plane tickets — I can only assume we ticked the wrong flight by mistake — but it meant we had to wake up at 4:00am CET and take a water taxi to the airport. The taxi cost us €90 but watching the sun rise from the deck of a boat crossing the bay, with water all around us and cold wind in our faces, was worth it. Especially since we didn’t get suckered into springing €80 for a tourist-trap gondola ride during our stay. This lack of sleep combined with jet lag caused us to go to bed at 6:00pm yesterday evening, which resulted in my being up and awake since 3:00am this morning. At least I got a good start on sorting through the 450 or so photos we took.

Rome was urban, gritty, and so filled with history that we only got to do half the things on our list. Seeing man-made creations 2,000 years old really puts things in perspective. We visited the Vatican, including St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel, and saw the ruins of the Colosseum and fora Romana. Most of the famous Colosseum cats were hiding from the hot mid-day sun, but we spotted a few.

Florence has now taken first place as my Favorite City Ever, and I’m already looking forward to going back. You couldn’t turn a corner without seeing beautiful streets, buildings, and public squares. We saw Botticelli’s Birth of Venus and La Primavera at the Uffizi, but didn’t get to see David due to the Galleria dell’Accademia being closed on Mondays. So right there is one reason to go back.

Venice was filled to overflowing with tourists loaded down with tacky souvenir t-shirts and baseball caps. I heard more English spoken on the streets than Italian and the restaurants around the big attractions all had a menu turistica — a special menu with inflated prices for non-locals. It made me sad to see such a beautiful, unique city turned into a theme park. I would like to visit again in the dead of winter, when hopefully the city would be less crowded.

Aside from sightseeing, most of our time was spent wandering the streets, sitting in sidewalk cafes drinking wine and espresso, and eating some great food. This was the most amazing trip I have ever taken, and the first one where I wasn’t looking forward to going home a little bit by the end of it. I should have pictures online soon.


rob says:

welcome back! sounds like you had a fantastic trip. sorry to hear about venice. i didn’t think it would be so crowded already. you definitely have to give it another chance and go in the winter. sarah & i liked it so much better when we were there in january — you really get the local flavor.

it’s interesting that when sarah & i hit those same three cities several summers ago, florence was my least favorite (NOT that i didn’t think it was great, mind you).

thanks for the gift you & sarai sent. i’m looking forward to it. it means a lot to know that you guys were thinking of me.