Tour Day 1
This afternoon, we meet our tour group of 26 other travelers, and our intrepid leader, Patricia. My traveling companion and I are not sure how we will like ten days of togetherness with the group. We come from Hawaii, California, Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Texas, Wisconsin, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Georgia, and South Carolina. Some couples, some friends or relatives, some traveling solo. We introduce ourselves. My traveling companion says he is here for the adventure. I explain that as an artist, I have always wanted to see the art and architecture I studied in Art History class.
Patricia orients us to the city. She teaches us about pickpockets, a common problem, and how to conduct ourselves in crowds. She is organized, funny, charming, competent, and motherly at the same time. We adjust to wearing headsets. At first, the devices feel awkward. Later, we come to rely on them.
We have a fine Venetian dinner of lasagna and tiramisu at Ristorante Antica Sacrestia. The building is hundreds of years old, and has been carefully restored. Our group gets louder as wine is consumed, and we get to know our tablemates.
After dinner, Patricia leads us through an evening stroll in Piazza San Marco. Dueling tuxedo-clad orchestras play from cafes lining the piazza. Street hawkers throw balls of light high up into the sky, and the show is altogether magical. La Serenissima seems an appropriate nickname for Venice at night, for the city is most serene after dark.
Patricia posts the next day’s schedule in the hotel lobby. We retire early, because we’ll leave right after breakfast in the morning for a full day of touring, and we don’t want to be the last ones down!