Under the stone guard of St. Mark's winged lion, we embarked on an explosion of art, history, religion and water. Venice makes it hard to know where to look first, so unique and beautiful that it stopped me short.
From the train station, we found a dock, climbed onto a boat, crossed the canal, and began our search for Daniella. "I'll be carrying a red bag," she texted.
We started our day at five in the morning, leaving Zurich in the early hours and taking a train ride that was a destination unto itself. Although I thought I'd be too tired to appreciate it by the time we arrived, Venice won't take no for an answer. I stood speechless. The sight of salty waves lapping against buildings I have only studied in photos simply took my breath away.
Lugging our suitcases behind us, it was dusk when we landed at Guidecca, one of 117 islands that comprise the area people think of as Venice. We chose this spot because, although it's only a short boat ride way from St. Mark's square and its throngs of visitors, it's quieter and suited to our style.
We passed picturesque courtyards with mosaic images of the Holy Mother embedded in centuries-old stone and smelled the perfume of jasmine heavy in the air. Laundry fluttered on clotheslines high overhead, strung across narrow passageways from one wrought-iron balcony to another. But no red bag, no Daniella.
Searching for the landmarks she noted her her text, we found nothing and everything that matched her descriptions. Then, just as our luggage began to feel heavy, we saw a smiling face and a bright red purse.
"Daniella!" we shouted, like she was our long lost friend. She walked with us to the apartment we rented for our stay, pointed out a few features and went on her way.
So begin our adventures in Venice. I think I want to live here.