The trip started in Venice.
Side note-if, in reading my rambling thoughts and stories on this blog, you've ever found yourself really relating to me, then you need to go to Venice, because you will love it. GO. Go right now. Seriously, stop reading this blog and go book your ticket, and leave it open-ended, because you will not want to come back.
In a word, Venice is amazing.
Every corner is a beautiful scene, with two-, three- and four-story crumbling homes built straight up out of the canals and ancient wrought-iron balconies anchored to the sides. Windowsills and doorways are cluttered with terra cotta planters crammed full of every kind of ivy, greenery, hot pink geraniums, trailing peonies, and daisies. If you go, definitely go up in the tower in San Marco Plaza, because the views are stunning. Actual conversation from Day 2 of our travels:
Me: "Wow. Look at that."
Younger Brother: "What?"
Me: "That. That's just so beautiful."
Younger Brother: "Yeah...I feel like in Venice, that's just kind of redundant."
And it's true. You literally can't point out every beautiful scene, or photograph it, because you'd just have your camera pressed up to your face the entire time. So while I did take a ridiculous number of photos, we also took in the sights, including (deep breath): San Polo, San Salvador, the Rialto Bridge which was literally just seconds from where we were staying (photo of the Grand Canal, left), Manin district, Point Accademia, the Collection Peggy Guggenheim where the three of us took a short nap in the sculpture garden (probably frowned upon, but eh, whatever), Santa Monica della Salute, San Fosca, Ca' d'Oro, Chiesa di Santa Caterina, Chiesa di SS Giannni e Paolo, Monuma Colleoni, Palazzo Ducale and the Doge's Palace in San Marco Plaza, which is where I got attacked by the seagull.
Mmmhmmm. That's what I said. Attacked by a vicious.....seagull.
The three of us were eating lunch sitting at the bottom of a bridge where one of the lesser canals dumps out into the bay by San Marco. It was a gorgeous sunny day, and the gondolas were floating by to let the tourists take in the scene- children playing, old ladies feeding pigeons in the square, seagulls circling and calling to each other high above our heads as I took a bite of yummy mozzarella panini and (quite luckily) turned my head towards the boys to comment on something or another.
Out of the corner of my eye I saw a flash of movement, and then a dark shadow fell over me. The next thing I knew a massive beast had landed on my upturned hand and was ripping the sandwich away and flapping its wings furiously against my shoulders and the sides of my neck as I (between the mouthful of mozzarella) managed to get out an "EEEEEEEEEEEK!!"
As soon as it began it was over, the offending gull flapping away victoriously with a hunk of panini clenched between its beak, though not before it managed to take a chunk out of my finger, which instantly swelled and began to bleed.
The looks on the boys faces were priceless - jaw dropped, eyes wide, and I'll give them credit that for about three seconds they managed to look concerned for my well being, until I came out with "WHAT THE F just happened!?!!? I can't BELIEVE I just got f-ing bitten by a SEAGULL!" and they (and, oh, about three hundred onlookers) burst into laughter.
Ironically, it turns out that the bridge we were sitting under is a well-documented bridge and the subject of several paintings that we saw throughout our trip. Should you ever stumble across a work depicting San Marco, look to the right-hand side of the painting at the bridge connecting the Doge's Palace to the square....and there you will find the infamous site of the Great Seagull Attack (pictured here, post-attack).
And that was Venice.