Saturday, February 19, 2011

Venice

We traveled by private motorboat to Venice.
It was my second favorite city visited.

It is a city built on water with no traffic except the human variety,
unique with its 117 islands
400 bridges
150 canals
and endless, twisted narrow streets.

The city is famous for gondolas, glass, lace and Carnevale (a month-long celebration of masked balls and street parties).

We took a guided tour throughout the city.

Piazza San MarcoOne of Europe's most beautiful squares
Basilica San MarcoOne of the best known examples of Byzantine architecture.
Teatro La FeniceOpera house. One of the most famous theaters in Europe.
After our tour, we watched a Murano glass-blowing demonstration.
It was interesting, but all of the glass goods were very expensive.
If I had found a glass monkey or peacock figurine, I would have bought it, but no such luck.
We visited the Il Merletto Lace School, the only lace school left in Venice.
Lace making is a dying art and we learned about its history and the process.
The lace was so intricate, beautiful and inexpensive.
I bought 4 small monogrammed handkerchiefs for myself, my sisters and my mother.The girls and I enjoyed lunch (mmm..gnocchi!) at a little restaurant tucked away in an alley.Following our lunch, we took a gondola ride and sipped on 2 bottles of the most delicious bellinis I have ever had.
We got gelato (were kicked out of table by a rude waiter).

Then wandered the alleys shopping and bought Venetian masks.
I bought a white and silver glitter feathered mask.
The girls tried to help me find the Greek Orthodox Cathedral of St. George and two Italian men gave us the wrong directions.
I felt badly about dragging them all over the streets of Venice so I told them that I would meet up with them after I found the Cathedral.

Finally, after asking a few more people, I found it.

The Greek Orthodox Cathedral of St. George

I was followed in to the Cathedral by 3 police officers (perhaps I looked suspicious?)
It was even more beautiful on the inside as it was on the outside (I have no photos of the interior, I find it disrespectful to photograph the inside of a Greek Orthodox Church like it's a tourist attraction).

I entered
crossed myself
kissed the icons of St. George
lit two candles
and stood before the altar to pray.

Right then, I became overcome with a flood of emotions.
And I began to cry
to really weep
uncontrollably.

It was like nothing I had ever felt before;
an accumulation of so many thoughts and feelings.
The beauty of the Cathedral
of this place
of this trip
of life.
Everything that I have experienced in the past year that led me to this place
and the events that changed my life and brought me here.
The second chance that God gave me
and the opportunity to be here to experience life and all of its beauty.
At that moment, perhaps more than ever, I felt so humbled and happy and blessed.

I am so very thankful for so very much.

After wards, I wandered (got lost) and saw lots of mask stores and glass stores and streets lit with hanging blue lights.
I finally met up with the girls and we went to dinner together.
We had another fun night of laughing, story-telling, wine-drinking and trying on our pretty new Venetian masks.

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