An American Girl in London


Emily Chudzik, Staff Writer

For the final installment of fall break, my friends and I traveled to the wondrous and incredibly hard to navigate city of Venice. We only spent two days here, but we still had our share of adventures.

When we first arrived to the place we were staying, we were terribly confused. There was no water anywhere and every person we passed on the street seemed to be over the age of fifty. I’ll admit I was a bit nervous at first. Were there two cities in Italy named Venice? Did I book a stay in the wrong one? Once we settled in, we learned that the bus would take us into the heart of Venice; we were staying on the mainland. Thankfully, we avoided what appeared to be an unfortunate mix up.

The first day was relatively uneventful. After a thirty minute bus ride into the main part of the city, we mostly walked around and shopped. The canals really added to the magical aura that seemed to radiate throughout Venice. We attempted to find San Marco Square but were unsuccessful. GPS wasn’t a very effective tool due to the winding nature of the roads and canals, and many of the side streets on the map we had weren’t labeled. We also had to be back at the bus station, which was on the outskirts of the city-center, by 9:30 p.m. so we could make it back to our Airbnb stay. So, we decided to save that for the next day.

The next morning, we had scheduled a boat tour to three Venetian islands: Murano, Burano and Torcello. The tour left at 9:30 a.m. and we needed to be there twenty minutes beforehand. We had the plan down pat: catch a bus into the city at 8 a.m., arrive by 8:30 a.m. and find the pier we were leaving from in the remaining time. Things would have worked out so well, only the bus to the city didn’t come until 8:45 a.m.… We literally sprinted through the streets, weaving in between people and dodging various obstacles. Ironically, the pier we needed to find was right next to San Marco Square, the place we couldn’t find yesterday. By some miracle, we ended up finding it and made it to the boat by 9:32 a.m.. They were just about to leave, so we were insanely lucky. I was hot and out of breath, but we had made it in time.

The tour itself was lovely. Our first stop was the island of Murano, which is known as the glass island. We watched a glass blowing demonstration, which was really neat. The master made a flower vase in five minutes and a horse sculpture in two!

Then we went to Burano, which is an old fishing village known for its unique lace and painted houses. We saw a woman making lace, which isn’t commonly done anymore due to its very time consuming process.

Lastly, we stopped at Torcello, which is home to the notable Venetian-Byzantine style Basilica di Santa Maria Assunta. It is one of the most ancient religious structures in Venice and contains the earliest mosaics of the city.

After the tour of the islands, we set off to find San Barnaba, a church used as the exterior of the library in “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.” That was really cool to see.

We then took a gondola ride near the church and were lucky enough to go on a quiet day. Our driver was very kind and so knowledgeable about his profession. He showed us where the higher end gondolas were made (he compared them to a Ferrari), told us the origins of the striped shirt as their uniform, and explained some of the city’s history. Any question we had, he was able to answer. He also asked us about where we were from and how we liked studying and traveling abroad. That was an experience I will never forget.

We ended our trip with one last dinner at a nice restaurant. I was sad to be leaving Italy, but really grateful for the opportunity to go. I owe a big thank you to my amazing parents. Without them, it certainly wouldn’t have been possible. Classes are sure to pick up again when we get back, which, admittedly, I’m not looking forward to. Yet, how bad can it really be when I’m in London?