This year our team had a large break between games for the month of February since we were eliminated from Eurocup, and only had two scheduled Russian league games. As a result, our coach gave us 5 days off. At first, I was just going to stay in Russia and explore Moscow. However, I didn't feel comfortable traveling to Moscow by myself because of the language barrier. The other two foreigners on the team were leaving, one was going home to Sweden, and the other planned to go back to the USA to be with her loved ones. I didn't think it was realistic for me to spend 20 hours on a plane to only have 72 hours at home so I was left trying to figure out what I wanted to do instead. Playing basketball for a living has been an absolute blessing, it has allowed me the opportunity to travel the world, and to see and live in parts that I would have never imagined! However, because of our schedule, it doesn't leave much free time to sightsee and explore the areas we visit. This time, I knew I had to take advantage of this opportunity!
Once I made up my mind to leave I had to decide where to go. For some reason Italy immediately popped into my head. So, before I could talk myself out of it, I researched the different cities in Italy, decided on Venice, and booked my hotel and flight! As soon as I got the confirmation that my credit card had gone through, I was excited, anxious and nervous all at the same time. I was excited because I would finally get to experience a part of the world I was dying to see but anxious because I had just decided to go on a whim! I usually like to plan in advance, get feedback from others, and prepare down to the last detail . I was also nervous because I would be going alone! Although I have taken flights alone before, like when I was coming to Russia, I've always been met by someone at my destination. This time, I wouldn't know anyone in Venice, I couldn't speak the language and I would be traveling completely on my own!
Despite my initial reservations, I am so glad I decided to go to Venice on my own. It was a relatively affordable trip and I had a wonderful time. I would encourage anyone who has the opportunity, to go travel, and to definitely travel on your own at least once. Traveling the world allows you to broaden your views and perspectives on life. It introduces you to completely new cultures, food, languages, and ways of living. It makes you appreciate what you have at home, while also increasing your appreciation for the differences you experience while away.
Venice made it very easy to travel alone. To begin, most people spoke English which made life so much easier. Oddly enough, I ended up speaking a lot of French since many people from France were visiting during the same time. (This put my minor in French to good use). Furthermore, everyone on the island was extremely friendly and helpful. Venice is a very confusing city. Even with a map I can almost guarantee you that you are going to get lost. Thankfully, when I stopped people on the street or walked into a business to ask for directions, the people were more than willing to help. I also loved the fact that there were no cars. The two main methods of transportation are by foot and boat and I personally enjoyed wandering the island. Every time I got lost I ended up discovering interesting new places, like an awesome sweets shop, some beautiful buildings, and walkways so tight you had to walk sideways!
The posts that follow are a diary-like entries of my trip to Venice and the adventures that came with each new day. Traveling on my own allowed me to experience the city on my own terms which I really enjoyed. I was able to start my days early, and didn't have to compromise about what I did or where I went. It gave me the opportunity to meet new people and come out of my shell. (Especially to ask people to take pictures for me because sometimes a selfie just doesn't do a view justice!) I ended up meeting some pretty cool people in the process. Finally, it allows me to see the beauty that the Lord has created, and the beauty created by people with the gifts the Lord gave them! There is so much more beauty out there in the world waiting to be seen, and I want to see it all.
Thanks for stopping by, and God bless.