Traveling is fun.  And, exhausting.  But mostly, traveling does one main thing for me: confirms my view that people are people…no matter where you are.

No matter the language being spoken, the god(s) worshipped, the backgrounds and upbringings an individual goes through and forever remembers – people are people.

It didn’t even take me getting all the way to Italy to take this in.  On the flight from Atlanta to Paris (CDG is a pit, by the way – if the rest of Paris is like that – no thanks), I sat next to one kid from Mexico on my left by the window, and across the aisle from me, another kid from Washington DC who has dual citizenship.  How did I know that you ask?  Because he was announcing it in a concert-going voice to anyone who would listen, since he was (his words) “f’d up, dude.”

He was also about 6’4” but also only twenty years old.  So, I went into Mom mode about how “drinking is bad!”…and how I lament often about wasting so many of those years pretty much doing the same thing  as college student.  He disregarded me at warp speed, possibly even breaking any of Liv’s solidly intact records.  Yet by the end of the flight, he told me he felt like I was “a cool thirty-five (it was thirty before he sobered up) year old Mom and should he buy an Apple Watch?”  Old lady Mom-1; Giant elitist kid-0.

I should probably interject here and say that I realize how hypocritical I’m sounding with labeling people, since labeling abhors me almost as much as laziness.  However, what I am trying to convey – and getting to, I promise – is why I hate it so much.  Labeling is a straight up waste of time, because it’s boring and nothing is new.  There are amazing people and vastly terrible people all over the world; it has less than zero to do with how they look or how they think or how much money they have or don’t.  Plus, what idiots we hath be for judging and then being proven totally wrong.

This I may have done before boarding that flight when I noticed one fellow passenger’s attire. He was wearing a jean jacket with the words “Bad Mother F’r” emblazoned on the back in what I think, were supposed to be bloody teardrops.  I immediately rolled by holier-than-thou eyes and forgot about it – until he took the window seat next to me and was one of the kindest humans I’ve ever spoken to.  A grad school student born and raised and still living in Mexico, he was on “holiday” en route to Vienna for a month with friends.  He escorted me all the way through CDG, holding doors and insisting I walk through first.  Kind non-elitist kid-1; Giant judgy and tired Mom-0.

All things considered, I arrived in Venice without issue.  The entire place, including the airport, is much larger than I had imagined.  I walked about a mile to the water taxi location(s) and decided it was not worth 100 bucks just to get to my hotel faster.  I’m on holiday, yo, it’s supposed to be relaxing.  So, I took the public transportation for 15 Euro and got there an hour and a half later, after many stops at various water bus stations along the canal.  Well worth the patience.  I not only took in the sites around the water – as advertised and amazing – but also once again, the people.  Fellow travelers to Italy come from all around the world and are highly affectionate.  Backtracking, on the plane at CDG en route to Venice, I saw a wife turn to her husband and begin speaking, and he interrupted her mid-sentence with an open mouth kiss.  This kind of interrupting, I concluded, is 100% permissible.

I tiredly walked off the water stop and was thankfully greeted by Italian accordion music AND a cafe serving paninis and gelato curb side.  Starving and thirsty, I bellied up to that counter and wafted in the smells, deciding right then and there that I shall consume it all over the next 10 days.  I ordered (and botched my embarrassing and limited Italian) a vegetable panini and a giant water (Liv’s not here yet, so still sticking with water trying to ramp up) and headed to my hotel.  Maybe it was having only slept an hour over the last 24 hours or maybe it was my penchant for taking in humanity, but this was my next blush at concluding that people are people.

Sure, I looked like a total tourist, sure I smelled and needed a shower, and sure I looked like I had no business being in what apparently is considered a decent hotel (whatever – as I said I don’t do labels, it had air-conditioning and was away from St. Mark’s, so I looked no further)…but the front desk personnel were not super friendly.  In fact, I think they thought I was going to single-handedly reduce their Travelocity star rating.  No matter.  I busted out my limited Italiano, smiled and started asking questions.  Mi familia!

Tomas is just a grump, I’ve come to realize on this, the second day here.  Nothing personal.  Olivee (sp?) is a cool kid who now patiently answers ALL my questions and I’m pretty sure may be my future son-in-law after Liv arrives.  While my room wasn’t quite ready yesterday when I checked in, I also did not take that personally either, as it gave me time to get the lay of the land.  Which, by the way, is one crazy maze.  It is SO easy to get lost here, but dare I say that’s part of its allure.  One thing I also confirmed is that I have my own style, a/k/a comfortable and unconcerned vs. conforming.  While I think Europeans are very well dressed, as I sit here now, I am sporting my running shoes, skirt and tank, coupled with a Patagonia ball cap.  I stick out like a sore American thumb, but as of yet, it’s not gotten me booted from the boot.

I showered off the travel the second my room was ready, donned a blindfold and slept for almost 2 hours.  The hotel hosts an “aperitivo” which is the most magical hour (or two) in Italy.  While described as being similar to the American happy hour, in reality, it’s much more than that.  It’s a pre-meal drink specifically meant to whet your appetite and slow down, relax, and enjoy one another’s company.  As Liv told me about 5-weeks ago, “Mom, you might really get something out of that!”  That’s code for, I need to chill and stop being so regimented.  Speaking of that, I had every intention of running this morning, including having my running clothes laid out last night.  It took me all of 5 seconds after awaking at TEN O’CLOCK to decide I would just wear them and casually walk around and enjoy this joint.  Running can wait (who am I?!?).

I found the coolest little place to enjoy my aperitivo last night, consuming crustinos slathered in all things garlicky and familiar, washed down by Prosecco in a plastic cup (I found my PEOPLE!).  I then continued to walk around the winding back streets, familiarizing myself as much as possible for the next couple days.  With one block from my hotel to go, I decided to plop down at a cafe at eat a proper dinner – caprese salad and a glass of white wine.  While I would love to get my parents here (and plan to work my sales magic on them ASAP), it dawned on me that my Mom might ixnay that in a hurry.  There are pigeons everywhere and a bird fan, she is not.  At least after I resigned myself to the fact that I was going to lose in the game of “me vs. bird,” I was no longer dining alone.

I called it a night around 10pm, slept for what has to be a 12 hour mathematical mistake, and am now sitting at a cafe, water taxi stop-side, waiting for my bella girl to arrive!  The one who, about 5 hours ago sent this text: “I’m gonna miss my flight.”

Yep…people are people no matter where you are.

Ciao!  Enjoy the pics from Day 1.