Making The Most Of A Day In Venice

Making The Most Of A Day In Venice

Seeing Venice in six hours

Imagine a city built atop a lagoon, filled with masked men and women stepping through dense fog, wearing wigs and dresses that date back to the 18th century, gracing the cobblestone streets as if they'd never left them. Children dressed as forest nymphs and princesses stare up at you through dark holes in feathered, painted disguises. This is where I spent my Saturday afternoon.

The bus from Rome to Carnivale in Venice left at 7 a.m. My friends and I spread out in the back of the second deck and prepared for the six-hour trek ahead of us. We drove into the hills until our ears popped and we could see clouds at our side. The mountains were a constant, shadowy presence in the distance as we passed long stretches of land and dirt roads, ghost towns and farms growing nothing but trees of thin, veiny branches. Mist settled onto the grass. I listened to the "Into the Woods" soundtrack and imagined a fairy tale.

We got to the shore after 1 p.m. and boarded a small private boat headed into the lagoon. The fog grazed the water, turning the world stark white ahead of us. Venice drifted into view like smoke. We wobbled off the boat and into Venice with only six hours before we would have to leave for Rome again, leaving us on the docks pressed to make the most of what time we had. As short as the time was, we really did find a way to do it without rushing ourselves. We bought masks in Piazza San Marco and blended into the crowd to explore the islands. The water at our feet was a pale green.

The girls wanted to go looking for a Bellini, so we stopped at a small place beside the water. The shop was stocked with sandwiches that made our stomachs growl, even though we'd eaten lunch only two hours before. We stood near the water and snapped pictures of the passing gondolas and costumed men and women.

At 4:30 p.m, we split. Five of us went looking for a gondola ride, while the others went to a glass-blowing show (something I'd love to see in the future, though I'd pick the gondola again, given the choice). Our boat slipped through the fog and into the green canals. I've always loved being on the water, and the slow rock of the gondola as we passed through high, colorful buildings was incredibly serene. The sound of the water lapping at the sides of the boat was the only thing to break the silence.

After the gondola ride, we found dinner at Dal Moro's, a fresh pasta take-out place that serves food in a Chinese rice box. It was definitely some of the best pasta I've had in Italy, so far. The pasta was great and cheap, and the marinara sauce was even a little spicy. We sat on the ledge by the window, where the people working behind the counter smiled at us as we watched them work the pasta-maker.

The day grew dark, and drops of rain started to fall as we went looking for gelato in our last hours. The night brought masks shaped like plague doctors and skulls, and the eyes of the masks from the morning transformed into black holes in the shadows. Our first stop was a shop that had been recommended to us, but after trying it, we decided to keep looking. We ended up stopping at enough places that I had a small collection of small spoons in my purse pocket by the time we found a spot that we liked.

We joined the bus group again and left before 8 p.m., an entire troupe of disguise-clad college students trying to navigate in the busy dark. We stumbled back onto the boat and watched Venice disappear into the fog as quickly as it had emerged, until it was just a string of bleary lights. We boarded the bus in a tired daze and immediately began falling asleep as the bus took us into the dark hillsides. We were satisfied that even though we, deciding to take the day slowly with just a few priorities, had only seen a corner of Venice, it had been the right choice.

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7 Signs You're From the 732

Only the best part of New Jersey.

If you're from New Jersey, you know how badly the state's looked down upon by outsiders (thanks a lot, Jersey Shore). But you know that all of those false accusations aren't true- the Garden State is your home and only you're allowed to make fun of it. Although Jersey's small, there are different regions and everyone thinks that their's is the best. Here are seven signs you're from the 732, AKA the best part of Jersey:

1. You know that Central Jersey is a place.

One of the biggest arguments is whether or not Central Jersey exists. I live in the middle of New Jersey, so it's pretty funny when people say it's not a real place. I'm not from South Jersey, and definitely not from North Jersey. Also, it's close to both Philadelphia and New York, not just one or the other. Perfect location.

2. Everywhere you go, you see a Wawa.

Legit everywhere, and you go there 24/7. All hail the holy grail.

3. Surf Taco means a lot to you.

Every time I come home from being away at school the first place I go to eat with my friends is Surf Taco. Even when I am home, Surf Taco's always on my mind. Who doesn't love a good taco with chips? P.S. I highly recommend their Teriyaki Chicken Taco, you won't regret it.

4. You go to all the summer concerts.

There's really nothing more fun than summer shows outside, and you already know that PNC Bank Arts Center and Stone Pony Summer Stage are the hot-spots. 'Tis the season of tailgating and enjoying a good show with your friends.

5. Two words: Pork. Roll.

I don't care what Chris Christie has to say, it's pork roll. Quite honestly, Taylor Ham just doesn't sound right. And what's better than a pork roll egg n' cheese on your favorite bagel? Nothing.

6. You live close to the beach...

Spring Lake, Manasquan, Asbury, you name it. You know these areas and where all of the good food spots are in each of them. Living so close to the beach makes for the perfect summers, but with summer comes the bennies.

7. ...So you can easily spot a benny.

If you're from Jersey and you don't know what a benny is, you most likely are one. Bennies usually come in packs; they bring lawn chairs and tents to the beach, wear socks and sandals, and have the "Jersey accent" because they're either from New York or close to.

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia commons

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5 Great Things About The Holiday Season In South Florida

Who said you can't go to the beach in the middle of December?


This is my first holiday season in college, and I have many friends who have come here to Florida Gulf Coast from out of state. I am an in-state student coming from Palm Beach, FL, where the sun is out year-round, and we take the boat out on Christmas evening. Peers from Chicago or New Jersey have asked me how it feels during the holiday season, and even though we don't have snow or a stash of sweaters to whip out from the back of our closet, we do have beautiful weather and many exciting events around the state that make the holidays in SoFlo very special.

Here are 5 things to look forward to in South Florida this holiday season!

1. Year-round Warm Weather!

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SoFlo's "winters" consist of sunny afternoons and an occasional day below 60. Other than that, our weather stays moderately warm and beaches available every day of the year!

2. Christmas at Disney World!

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According to a Walt Disney Resort blog, Disney displayed nearly 8.5 million Christmas lights throughout the season, around 1,300 wreaths, and about 171.6 MILES of ribbon. Talk about dedication.

3. Beachy, Coastal Decorations!

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From Christmas lights on palm trees to stockings hanging from the hurricane shutters, Floridians certainly have a way of putting their own spin on their holiday decor.

4. Wealthy Areas Who Get Extra AF

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As many know, South Florida is a big hub for retirees. With that being said, a good amount of folk have a grand amount of time to decorate for the holiday season. Many neighborhoods collaborate and create a magical walkway for all to stroll through and enjoy beautiful lights.

5. Tropical Santas!

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This picture honestly says it all.

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