Sarah: “Brian, I can’t wait to go to Oktoberfest in just a week!”
Brian, Sarah’s friend who was visiting Rome for a weekend: “Wait, in a week? But I booked the hotel for the first weekend of October… in three weeks!”
Sarah: “You have got to be kidding me.”
Stupid Brian: “Looks like you’re spending the weekend in Venice!”
My sister Jaclyn and I had plans of going to Oktoberfest with a group of our friends in the Air Force who are stationed in Italy at Aviano Air Force Base, about 45 minutes north of Venice. The plan (made back in July, Brian) was to fly to Venice and explore for a day, to then pile into two cars and make the five hour drive up to Munich for the 200th anniversary of The “Wiesn,” as Oktoberfest is locally known.
So what do you do when you’ve just booked an extra trip to Venice in order to go to Oktoberfest during the third weekend instead of the first, but you still have a flight booked to Venice for the upcoming weekend?
Ooh, pick me! Pick me! I know!
You invite five of your friends to hop on a train and meet you in Venice, and make a weekend out of it. Which is exactly what we did.
Our friends looked miserable when we met them at the station in Venice Friday morning, likely from spending six hours on an overnight train, without any sleep. It was just around 9 a.m., and bonus, it was beginning to rain.
Jaclyn and I, feeling refreshed after falling asleep on a plane in Rome and waking up 45 minutes later in Venice, popped open the umbrellas we came prepared with, and tried to psych every one up with an overly exaggerated, “BENVENUTO A VENEZIA!” and a suggestion that we find a cappucino e cornetto bar, pronto.
It didn’t rain for very long, and since we had all dropped our bags off at a storage closet for the day, we now had happy friends. Every street in Venice is a post card, so we put away our maps and got ourselves completely lost weaving our way through the narrow and bustling streets. Bars and pizzerias and gelaterias are offset by Venetian masks and antique art and leather and designer stores, so we spent our day eating and shopping, shopping and eating. We emerged from one of the many narrow streets to Piazza San Marco, or Saint Mark’s Square, completely mesmerized at its beauty. I have a feeling I’ll be saying this a lot as I travel this semester, but this was my favorite view so far.
We had lunch at Saint Mark’s and meandered our way to the train station to catch a train to a town north of Venice called Pordenone, where a very generous (OK, maybe not so stupid) Brian was letting us crash for the weekend.
Friday night we went to a wonderful and inexpensive local restaurant followed by a local bar called the White Harp. Saturday was spent relaxing and eating an American feast of a lunch (that we whipped up with food purchased from the Air Force base grocery store) and watching movies since it rained like crazy for most of the day. Late Saturday night we decided to get spontaneous and take a train to the neighboring town Sacile to meet up with some more of our Air Force friends and venture out in another small northern Italian town.
Rain or shine, Venice is an incredible city, and we were lucky enough to spend all of a sunny Sunday back in The Floating City, eating and shopping, shopping and eating, and getting lost wandering through more of the city’s post card streets.
It would have been rather pricey to pile all eight of us into a gondola for a touristy ride through the canals, so we jumped on a Vaporetto (a smaller version of a ferry) and played make-believe. The water taxi dropped us off near a restaurant on the water just down from the famous Rialto bridge, and we enjoyed a lovely (and rather pricey) dinner to end the weekend.
Jaclyn and I gave our friends a pep talk for their six hour overnight train, likely again to deprive them of any semblance of sleep, and headed back to Pordenone with Brian for a full night of sleep before our flight back to Rome in the morning. Our friends made it back in time for their 8:30 a.m. class, Jaclyn and I arrived Monday afternoon and were happy to be back in Rome Sweet Home.
So what if we didn’t get to go to Munich for the first weekend of Oktoberfest? Instead we’ll be going to the last weekend of the 200th anniversary.
Not-So-Stupid-After-All Brian was a great host to my sister and me, along with our five friends, throughout a fabulous weekend in Venezia, Pordenone and Sacile.
Our Venetian Vacation? Va bene!