Venice, Italy

Spending the night in sketchy discount hostels is a large part of the student travel experience. Some offer a luxurious “free breakfast,” which usually ranges from white bread to cellophane-wrapped, chocolate-filled croissants, and an assortment of jams and butters, if you’re lucky.

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My Venice experience was in one of these less-than-three-star accommodations and as a solo female traveler this is always unnerving at first sight. Though of course it proved to be a good excuse to go out and explore. As if I needed one in Venice.

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As always with budget travel, I had to compromise between price and location and thus the hostel was about a half an hour outside the center of Venice. Though a large part of my days were organized around the venture into the city, the commute became part of the experience. Sitting on the train or bus next to the locals and looking out the window proved a great way to feel connected to the city and to get a picture of the suburbs. So maybe it was a blessing, but the exciting part was still to come.

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In my experience, New Yorkers associate Italy with pizza, pasta, “The Sopranos,” and over-gesticulation. Wandering the narrow streets, taking the water ferry through canals, and enjoying scoops of gelato in front of picturesque mask vendors, the culture was much richer than my first impression. The only way I can really describe Venice is that to me it felt as though I were walking inside of a giant painting, it was easily the most aesthetically pleasing city I’d traveled to.

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The only downside was that it began to rain. Oddly, all my family members had visited Venice in the rain and found it equally spectacular, flooded or not. Even with the dismal lighting  (visible in the photos), this city won me over. Although, in terms of itinerary, I couldn’t so easily be itinerant (ha) and had to pick some destinations so as not to find myself soaked upon arrival.

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First stop: Teatro La Fenice (the Venice Opera House).

Tonight, the Magic Flute was playing and I asked if they had last minute tickets available for students, which they did! I managed to get a seat for a show later that night (without a view of the left half of the stage, but a seat, nevertheless).

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Next: The Peggy Guggenheim Collection

An American in Venice! So we’ve all heard the name Guggenheim, well Peggy was the daughter of Benjamin (Titanic) and was a wealthy art collector. The collection includes some incredible works by Jackson Pollack, as well as by her ex-husband, Max Ernst, whose paintings seem potentially autobiographical, according to the audio tour, which was 6 euros well spent.

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Part of the outdoor exhibition at the Peggy Guggenheim collection (multiple exposure)

Peggy’s grave can be found in the outdoor garden:

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Grave of Peggy Guggenheim

The rest of this trip involved writing out postcards in Italian cafes and consuming too much gelato. I couldn’t imagine a better trip!  ✿

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Annie Rubin

Annie proudly knows all the lyrics to Joni Mitchell's album Blue. When she's not writing, you can find her reading about intersectionality, drinking Lorelai-Gilmore-levels of coffee, and exploring the world.

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