The Travel Test: Would Our First Trip Be A Disaster Or A Delight?

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bikes in europe
A first vacation to Italy tests the tenacity of the author's relationship.

Another omen? I slumped into a black leather airport chair. But before I could finish my mental tally of what everything in my brand-new suitcase was worth, the boyfriend presented me with the airline's toiletry kit (complete with three-bristle toothbrush and dog comb) and whisked me out the door. He had quickly hatched a plan: "Distract her with bright, shiny things."

Bypassing the creaky and cheap ferry, he hailed a bright, shiny water taxi that took us directly to our hotel for a mere $100. Even unbrushed teeth, a day without sleep, and dirty clothes couldn't diminish my first glimpse of Venice. I've heard it called "the Disneyland of Italy," but what's wrong with that? The city seems to float on top of the sea like a fairytale come to life, a bit of the 17th century preserved in amber.

The boyfriend had chosen a luxurious hotel called Dei Dogi, a former palazzo in the Cannaregio Sestieri residential area. At that point, I could have slept in an abandoned gondola, so I crawled into the ornately carved bed while he went out foraging for really important stuff, such as wine and underwear.

When he woke me up bearing a demurely sexy white lace bra (in the right size) and a new pair of undies (ditto), as well as bread, a wedge of brie, and a bottle of Chianti—"They sell it right out of giant casks!"—that he found on San Leonardo, it struck me that this one might be a keeper.

The next day, after only three or so hours on the phone trying to find our bags and bump back our departure date to make up for the time we'd lost visiting Newfoundland, we set out to explore the city.

I had learned that the ornate, brilliantly colored chandeliers in the Dogi’s lobby were made on the nearby island of Murano, and decided we had to visit. It's definitely worth a trip. After a demonstration of the centuries-old art of glassblowing, you view More Glass Objects Than You've Ever Laid Eyes On. Yes, it's all designed to make you buy some insanely expensive thingamajig to take home, but the candy-colored glass is so beautiful you don't mind.

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