Day eleven was our second At Sea day. It was cooler along the Adriatic than I would have liked. I wished to sit up on the Deck 16, sunning myself and reading a book, but the wind and clouds forced me to move on to Plan B. So I worked out and then took a much-needed nap.
Our final stop on this cruise is Venice, Italy. We started navigation down the lagoon around mid-morning, and we docked close to noon. The views coming into Venice were absolutely spectacular, made even more amazing because we watched them from my great-aunt and uncle’s balcony on the bow of the Royal Princess as we celebrated their 52nd wedding anniversary with champagne and hors d’oeuvres.
It was just the six of us touring Venice together on this final day (Mom, Dad, Sisters B and C, Kid A, and me). The rest of our group went over on their own. We took a short bus ride, followed by a water taxi to shore. We wandered around the streets of Venice for quite some time. We definitely got lost for a while, but apparently you are supposed to do that. I liked Venice best when we were alone on the meandering, narrow streets, passing small cafes and shops and houses. We even walked past an artist quietly painting inside his studio with the doors open so he could enjoy the beautiful day.
We loosely followed our map of the city and ended up getting gelato near a church (Fun Fact: there are more than 140 churches throughout Venice and the lagoon islands). We also took a famed gondola ride. By that time we had gotten lost in the crowds once again, especially when we reached the restaurants, shopping, and Piazza San Marco.
I was so pleasantly surprised by how much I loved the city of Venice. The architecture was spectacular. The views were breathtaking. I don’t know how else to say it except that Venice left me with a really good feeling inside. Being surrounded by the water was peaceful and calming and romantic. It made me want to come back to visit. And it made me miss Sheepdog so very much.
And what perfect timing, because early tomorrow morning we disembark the Royal Princess for good and take a ten-hour flight back to Philadelphia International Airport. Following a three-hour layover, we will fly to Atlanta, where Sheepdog will be waiting to pick us up. We gain six hours traveling westward, which will make it a 30-hour day, but that means we get to go to bed at a reasonable hour once we’re back on Eastern Standard Time.
So, now it is time to say farewell to all of the incredible places we have visited over the past two weeks. It has been an amazing trip, filled with memories and laughter, long lines and swollen ankles, and more than a few bottles of wine and vodka. Most importantly, we got to experience it together as a family. Well, minus the too-pregnant-to-travel Sister D. The trip just wasn’t the same without her.
Now when do we start planning our 2014 African Safari?
Wish me luck for tomorrow…