IJM International Trip - Venice

The second day of our International Trip began in the early hours of the morning as we set out for the train station. The train station was huge! The architecture was vintage-Italian, the inside was extremely clean, and overall, the atmosphere felt very productive, like we were all working together to get to where we needed to be. We arrived at the station early so that we could be at the front of the boarding line.

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Once we boarded, we got to relax and take naps if we wanted. Our train was made for long-distance travel, so the chairs were really comfortable and there were tables and outlets for those who wanted to work. Whenever I travel, I always carry cards with me, so we played card games to pass the time. Pro Tip #2: Bring small things with you like cards or games so that you can keep yourself entertained without the use of technology. It really helps with the bonding and creating memories! For the entire trip, we got an incredible view of the Italian countryside. Passing through was an experience like none other. The beautiful fields and traditional country houses really made you get a feel for what life was like.

It seemed to be peaceful and so far removed from the congestion of the city. After the relaxing train ride, we had a chance to drop off our luggage at the cruise pick up station so we could freely walk around Venice without dragging our stuff around. We had about four hours to spend in Venice before we boarded the ship, so we were able to explore the city. Right outside the train station was the beautiful San Simeone Piccolo Church, which was a wonderful sight to see. With it being the first monument we saw, we all thought to ourselves, “Wow, we’re really here”. 

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After we took some pictures right outside of the train station and had a mini-meeting with Mrs. Nikki, we split up to explore Venice. We also went on gondola rides, which was really cool! There used to be around 10,000 working gondolas at the end of 16th century, but now there are only around 425 in Venice, all mostly for the tourist business. And guess what we were? Tourists. We got to learn a lot more about the history of Venice. Our gondolier was extremely conversational and gave us a lot of insight as to what living in Venice is like. On our ride, we went into a very quiet, suburban area of Venice that was so peaceful. The brightness of the buildings and the vibrancy of life that the people possessed as they were going to school or going to work was refreshing and left me in awe. That gondola ride was monumental for me because I fell in love with Venice and it’s culture; now I’ve put learning Italian on my list of things-to-do when I get older. That is one of the beautiful things about travel- you sometimes get inspired to do things you would have never seen yourself doing. I hope that all of you reading this get a chance to travel the world and have revelations the way that we had on this trip. It is the greatest feeling!

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Walking around Venice was such a nice experience. The fog cleared out around noon and left us with perfect weather. We got to see, in full bright color, pieces of Venetian culture such as glass art, jewelry, houses and buildings, and of course, food! Even though the main area we were in had a lot of touristy things, there was still true Italian aspects everywhere we went. Getting to see the art in Venice was so cool because it’s so colorful and precise. Something I noticed about Italy is how much thought and execution is put into making true masterpieces- there is no shortcutting, everything is done to it’s fullest potential, and it’s all done beautifully. My mom and I got to stop for some traditional Italian food at a little restaurant right along the water. Talk about the best food with the best view!! I also decided that I would try ice cream in every country that we visited, so we stopped at a very cute gelato stand and wow… I can’t even describe how amazing that gelato was. It took me forever to eat it because I wanted to savor every bit! 

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Our time in Venice had quickly come to a close as it neared time to board the ship. Mrs. Nikki used her boss-lady powers yet again and got us to be some of the very first people to board the ship. The inside of the ship was beautiful!! The “lobby” area had purple LED’s all around the room and cast this very calming, high-class atmosphere throughout the main levels of the ship. After an IJM team meeting with Mrs. Nikki, we grabbed some dinner from the buffet onboard. Later that night we learned that the fog in Venice had gotten so thick that the whole port was closed, which delayed our departure to Athens. This meant that our original travel plans would have to be rearranged, but there was not much we could do when our safety came first. And just like that, our day in Venice ended with us tucked away in our cabin rooms.

Lessons of The Day:

  • Even though it is super fun and calls for really cute pictures to go to big metropolitan areas when you travel, try to go to more suburban or rural areas of the new country you’re in. You’ll get a better feel for the culture and history, and you’ll learn so much more about where you are. It is also so beautiful when you get away from the busy city life. Just like myself and the gondola ride, you just might fall in love with wherever you’re at, and it just might change your life. 
  • Always be open to trying new foods! Challenge yourself to try one type of thing in each place you visit; mine was ice cream!
  • Even though traveling in groups is fun, sometimes you extract more from a trip when you are by yourself. So, next time you’re out, take some time to adventure on your own. (Safely of course!!) You’ll find that you absorb your surroundings better and you have a clearer mind for thinking. 
  • Travel in style and travel efficiently. Have all of your documents at hand and in order for quick access. Think of the next steps ahead so you aren’t lost or holding up your group. Move quickly! By being prepared, you will enjoy your time more. 
  • Have an idea of where you want to go before you get somewhere so you don’t waste precious time searching when you’re there.
  • Gondola rides are so peaceful!
  • That wraps it up the second day of the International trip! If you haven’t yet, make sure to read my blog post about Milan and all the other cruise stops we made! Thank you so much for going on this journey with us. 

"Spread Love, Choose Happiness”
Ariah Alba
2017 International Teen

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