If I have one complaint about the AIMS program in Graz, it was the lack of time to travel. We were sort of led to believe that there would be a lot of time to do some sight-seeing, but we ended up having only one good weekend. But we certainly made the most of it, rented a car, and went to Venice.
In all of my time in Germany I never had the opportunity to travel to Italy, so this was a chance of a lifetime. Of course, I would rather go to Rome and Florence, but Venice was very nice. Venice is certainly a sight to behold, and I thought it was really funny that I only saw a few Italians.
Nothing really matches the reaction of walking out of the Venice train station and catching your first glimpse of the Grand Canal. It is like nothing you will see anything else. We then took a boat (their version of a regular bus) down the Grand Canal, saw the Rialto, and arrived at San Marcos Square. You quickly realize that most vendors sell the same things, and that summer is a sweaty crowded time to go, but it was worth it.
What is fun about Venice is that you can just go exploring, and never worry about getting completely lost. The Island city itself is so small yet so packed with interesting things that getting lost is actually part of the fun.
I also gave Deanna a task--to find some kind of jewelry that Abby would love, and she really came through. At first the search was pretty frustrating when we realized that most of the stores sold the same jewelry. Then in our exploring we past a small shop with a woman making her own jewelry, and we found the perfect piece. Deanna found a necklace/earrings combo that Abby loves, and wears just about every Sunday.
We had dinner on the Rialto--which was mostly great for the atmosphere. The food was okay, but spending $20 for about a palm-size portion of lasagna was disappointing to say the least. Still, nothing could beat the ambiance. The waiters were hilarious, and even tried to serenade for us.
Then, Rachel (Willis) took the opportunity to sing with a guitar player on the bridge over the Rialto. He was playing different arias, and when Rachel started singing with him a large crowd gathered. The crowd loved her performance and she received quite an ovation.
All that being said, the romance of Venice does tend to wear off pretty quickly. It was very crowded, and the fact we did not have a lot of money meant we could not do/see everything. Still, we all have a lot of fun memories, and I look forward to going back with the resources to go to the museums and concerts.
More to come!
(side note, I've decided to post my photos on my photo blog, and I will link to them from here. Enjoy!)