You know how sometimes a plan fails miserably, and other times things just seem to somehow fall into place against all odds?
We got the latter scenario a few weeks ago when Dave and I, after much anticipation and planning and preparation, got to travel to Italy and Switzerland with our married kids.
We climbed to breathtaking vistas in the Dolomites:
(In the Italian Alps…somewhere I have dreamed of for a long time.)
We swam in ice-cold glorious lakes:
We walked through countless enchanting little towns:
Every one of them with all the windows spilling out with flowers:
And also every one of them had a beautiful church nestled right in the middle:
We had to stop every now and again to take them in:
We were awed by incredibly green valleys:
I kept these folks RUNNING, I tell you, we packed in those six precious days like nobody’s business.
But we still found time to do things like sit on this green hill (below) and watch the sky change like a giant iMax theater in front of us and talk through the world for hours and hours one of the days:
We hiked a cliff looming over the gorgeous valley where my sister-in-law grew up with my brother as our guide (they live in Switzerland):
Spent an evening with them at “The Hut” in the Swiss Alps:
And made it our job to find the best chocolate in all the land:
(The answer is that you just probably shouldn’t pass up any of it.)
And we had the best driver maneuvering us through all kinds of tiny, incredibly windy roads:
One of those roads even had a waterfall going right over the top of it.
And we happened to beat the weather (the forecast called for rain every single day we were going to be there and you really cannot see those mountains when it’s all cloudy and rainy…we know from past experience!)
But we really, really lucked out, and I was grateful every single day.
And I have SO much to record from all those adventures.
But let’s start at the beginning, after all that stressful travel planning but before we arrived in VENICE (our first stop).
We were all coming from different directions, and of course, when that happens you send a selfie to let the others know you’re coming for them:)
These pictures were after we were dished out some bad news at the airport here in the desert:
The flight was going to be delayed (one of the flight attendants wasn’t going to make it and they were scrambling to find another one).
We had to make a quick decision whether we should still try to stick with our original plan to meet up with our kids in NYC (with an extremely thin chance of making that connection to Venice), OR try to go through Detroit and Amsterdam to see if we could make it to Venice that way.
Dave was pretty set on not taking a chance of two more flights being delayed and we stuck with our original plan. And I was so thankful he made that decision (especially since I stink at decisions) because it WAS a miracle and we all made it, all three couples, with big smiles and huge hugs and even time to grab a sandwich before the long flight to Venice:
We made the long flight, got situated in our van (that would kind of be our “home” for that whole trip…we did a LOT of driving!)
And headed to VENICE!
One Day in Venice
I was in complete awe of this city.
How does this even work? Canals as the only roads?
The most picturesque little alleyways spanning like spiderwebs through the city.
The canals lined with weathered brick buildings toped with red roofs.
It definitely lived up to the hype in my opinion.
Why only one day? You might ask?
Well, the reason is that we only had a week and we had a LOT of ground to cover.
From the reviews we read we figured we could hit the main points and get a good overview. Would we have taken more time if we could? You bet. I would have loved to stay overnight and gone to some of the art museums and definitely tour the main attractions, but we had to weigh pros and cons with our time and this is what we chose.
I feel like we got a pretty great overview of the city.
We started by driving our car from the airport over the bridge to the large carpark on the outskirts of the city, and then we trudged through the heat (it was so hot!) through those tiny alleyways filled with so much character…
…to all the stops I had researched:
But first, a stop for gelato:
Because we were in Italy.
We walked up and down bridge after bridge:
Through all the tiniest alleyways:
In complete awe.
You guys, seriously, I was so fascinated by this place.
We all were.
I mean look at this little entrance to this home. Just a few steps up from the canal:
And when you’re out and about shopping or making your way through little alleyways like this:
(complete with flower boxes, of course), and you want to catch your water taxi or gondola, just go wait in one of these little spots:
The top things to see in Venice:
Ponte dell’ Accedemia
…with it’s iconic view of the Grand Canal.
We walked through the city and my heart was getting more and more excited the further we got, we finally got to the Accedemia Bridge and then BAM!
I was seriously looking around at people wondering how in the world they were all calm, not going hog-wild over this stuff. Ha!
Not sure how to even capture a place like that.
Next we walked through more picturesque stuff:
…and arrived at
St. Mark’s Square
Piazza San Marco
St. Mark’s Basilica
It is the cathedral church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Venice.
LOOK at that gorgeous place.
And back further so you can actually see San Marco Campanile (the bell tower):
Now, if we had more time, we would have figured out a way to get up in that thing, because I know it promises to have a knock-your-socks-off view of the city. But since we didn’t have time, we just basked in the glory of that beautiful square for a little bit.
There is so much history…back to the year 1063 (yeah, it’s OLD), carrying on the traditions of Constantinople, with incredible architecture, and if you want to know more, definitely watch this:
See down below on the right?
That is Doge’s palace (Doge=duke), and it was the ruling center and residence of Venice’s duke for years.
It was the most powerful piece of Europe for a long time and was built to show Venice’s power.
It looks like this inside:
Wow, next time I’m going in.
Way more history and info. here:
(I love Rick Steves.)
I tried to figure out if we had time for a gondola ride.
Dave took this picture because I think he thought it was amusing I happened to fit right in with the gondolier’s outfits:
Just look at those beautiful boats below!
We ended up not having time and decided to take a water taxi back to our car instead, which was a good choice considering the heat, but that’s coming in a minute. For now, let’s go to our next stop:
That sucker is the oldest bridge in Venice, it was the only way to cross the canal for 300 years.
We crossed that thing and checked out the cool views:
This is how these kids felt about that by now:
Ha, not really, they were really right up there in the hype with me about all this, but I love that picture.
We moseyed on around that area for a little while, picked up some Italian pizza from a little cafe, checked out the bridge from the other side:
And then boarded our water taxi:
This was probably one of my favorite things.
Rialto Bridge behind us up there above.
Loved seeing the whole city from the water.
Again, so fascinated with how this city was built.
Did you know it is built up from a few islands all connected…they drove huge wooden poles deep into the clay beneath the ground which were surrounded by mud which was “petrified” over time? They built wooden platforms on top of the poles, and then constructed their buildings. Pretty crazy to think about. Google it for more information because it’s pretty cool.
I loved passing by this little fire station on the left below (boats ready to get to action if needed), a police boat raced past us with its siren on, our wake caressing so many weathered Italian buildings that I’m sure all have their own stories to tell.
And then we were done, ready to bid goodbye to Venice and head up to the Dolomites.
More on that coming soon!
Did lucy stay with claire back home or what?
Yes Lucy and Claire stayed at home in care with some friends (school and volleyball just starting), and they did so great!
Gorgeous! Venice is high on my bucket list.
I have pictures of myself with my mom in St Marco’s square 60ish years ago. Then 38 years ago with my then 2 year old daughter. Both times there were pigeons everywhere. So sad not to see any pigeons in your pictures. Venice and Pisa are probably my two favorite cities in Italy.
I love that you have those pictures years apart!
There were certainly quite a few pigeons, I guess just not a ton in the pictures.
What an incredible experience!!! Wow it’s so beautiful. My friends daughter just returned home 2 weeks ago from her mission in Rome !
Wow that would be such a cool mission!
I love her white dress, can she share who makes that?
I’ll have to check!
What type of camera do you use while traveling? I loved all of your photos!
I use a Canon 6D, mixed in with my iPhone 🙂
Beautiful pictures! Brings back so many wonderful memories. Definitely my favorite Italian city, of the ones I visited. So unique! So nice that you were able to sneak away for a little vacation with your married kids. Looks like you all had a blast!
Hi! If you kept your itinerary, would you be willing to share it? It looks like an incredible trip!
Yes I’m so happy to share, send me your email and I’ll email it to you.
I would love the itinerary also. How do I send you my email? TIA 🙂
I really appreciate it! Here you go: firstname.lastname@example.org
What an adventure to share with your older children and their spouses 💚
how do you work out logistics with all the older kids, airbnb? separate hotel rooms, do you cover everything, do they pay for stuff?
We did a little bit of everything, whatever we could find that was available. Some nights we each had our own rooms and other nights we squished into a place with a bunch of beds. We stayed in a different place every night for all six nights!
I love traveling with our adult kids. Your travel approach is different than mine for sure :). We like to do just 1-2 places. We spent 2 weeks in Turkey and stayed in 2 different hotels so we could feel how different the neighborhoods were. Did a 2 day trip to Ephesus which was amazing–hundreds of cats just hanging out. I like feeling that the place is a little bit mine. I have my grandmother’s diary when she went to Europe with her girlfriends. Loved her entries about Venice. I heard that with Covid, and the drop in tourism, that Venice has been especially nice lately. I, too, (if it’s not too personal) am curious if you pay for everything. Our kids are out of school now so they typically pay for plane tickets, but we pay for hotels/food etc. They love treating us to a special dinner which is always lots of fun.
I answered this question in another post about this trip but I can’t remember where so I’ll answer here as well. We did pay for this trip (except for anything the kids wanted to buy specifically). It would be so awesome if they could afford to pay for their own way right now, but someday they will! This is how my parents did it and I’m so incredibly grateful for the memories we made together!
I really wanted to do a trip this Fall but was worried about the Covid protocols for traveling. Did you have to test before leaving and when you arrived? Did they require proof of vaccination?
We didn’t have to test before leaving, just had to show our vaccination cards with our passports. We did have to test before we came back to the United States though. We were able to do the test at the airport a couple hours before our flight. It does add a little extra worry for logistics and I’m not sure how that is changing now with more of the Delta variant but when we went, it was pretty simple.
What a glorious trip! With the fantastic airfare deals I just booked our family a trip to Austria and Italy in the Spring. Would you be so kind and send me your itinerary as well? Thank you! Also, do your parents still rent out their Bear Lake home? If so, is it on VRBO? I love your sweet, uplifting posts!
Yes I’ll send it to you, and yes, my parents still rent out the Bear Lake home. I’m pretty sure it’s on VRBO, but I’ll double check.
As an Australian, we can’t leave the country without an application… and there’s some very strict options on why to leave – none for a holiday 🙁
I’m also exhausted thinking about what you cram in! I sprinkle generous amounts of rest into my trips, even when it’s only 10 days in Europe (from Australia)!
I know Australia is really difficult for travel right now. Praying things will start to calm down more all over the world. Sending you some love on over to Australia!
I love feeling your joy in being places that have given us so much joy through the years (without the advantage of these fabulous photos!)