May 20, 2013
VENICE, Italy -Sunday took the Purdue volleyball team from Maribor, Slovenia, on a day trip into Venice, Italy, where the group toured the city, shopped and more. Redshirt senior Katie Griffin offers her take on the day's experiences.
Dear Purdue Pete,
I do not even know where to start! Today has been amazing! We woke up to sadly say goodbye to our hillside lodge in Maribor, Slovenia. After breakfast we packed up our bus and got ready to hit the road. Unfortunately, Little Daddy (Volunteer Coach Travis Fuller) and his roommates spent their morning frantically searching for his passport! Rumors going around claim that a sleepwalking Neil (manager Neil Diesslin) stashed it in his suitcase. Nevertheless, the group pushed on and mostly slept on the bus ride to a train station. This place looked abandoned and Kitty Cat (Catherine Rebarchak), Angie Shondell, and Wendy Mayer got an extra special experience in the bathroom where no toilet paper was provided. The train did come and we rode for 22 minutes to Venice. The station was crazy busy, smokey, and dirty but the moment we stepped outside it all changed. Sparkling water and beautiful buildings surrounded us. All reports said rain was in the forecast so we mentally prepared ourselves to enjoy the day under our umbrellas, but as with the rest of our trip, the weather was flawless! The sun was out and there was a slight breeze.
We were again given the freedom to explore in groups of three or more. One of our guides, Kelly, told us in order to fully experience the city we needed to get lost in the alleys of Venice. That sounded odd to me, especially since I typically try to stay close to people like Ray (Rachel Davis) and Car (Carly Cramer) who have incredible spatial awareness and always guide us to where we need to be. As we started walking though, I began to understand! We were walking down tiny little alleys that led to bridges or more open areas and then another alley! Some were so tight that we could only walk in twos and all we could see were the pretty old buildings and the bright blue sky. With empty bellies and no clear direction for lunch, our group just found a hole in the wall and went in. This ended up being a super decision with delicious pizza (what else would you want in Italy).
Back out we went and began to find little shops along the way where we obviously went in and got down to business! Kiki (Kierra Jones) and I went in together for a deal on really cute rings. Our group continued on, taking pictures, people watching, and stopping to shop whenever a window caught our eye. As we went over one of the bridges, Val (Val Nichol) spotted two gondola rowers on break so we asked for pictures with them. They smiled and agreed! On we went, finding fancy Mardi Gras looking masks and really neat colorful blown glass jewelry everywhere we went.
Our group was to meet in the San Marco plaza at 5 p.m. to take a picture and make sure everyone was hanging in there. This task may sound simple, but it was certainly an adventure! There were signs with arrows directing us every so often but we had no idea how far away it was or what it was going to look like so it was quite a search. We weaved in and out of people, asking those who looked reliable to point us in the right direction. When we found it, we knew it; a huge open square with gobs of people, a gigantic bell tower, and beautifully constructed government-looking buildings. It was comforting to see familiar faces in our group and discuss what everyone had been doing for the last few hours. From here we got our daily gelato cones and then went to find a gondola ride. The guys selling the rides were being a little stingy, so we went with a taxi boat ride and it was an amazing experience! The sun was in full shine mode and the sky could not have been more bright blue. We took tons of pictures and all soaked up the day as we cruised down the canals of Venice.
After finishing up with a little more shopping we met back at the train station and headed to Milan. From a train to a bus, we stopped for a little dinner and grabbed some chocolate on the way out! As I have been writing this letter, the back of the bus has kept brilliant conversation. With county music coming from an iPhone, middle school dances and fantasy weddings have been discussed. It's dark now but we appear to be getting close. Purdue Pete, I miss you so much and cannot wait to see you as soon as I get back! Buuuut, I have to be honest...I am loving European Tour 2013 with my team!
Sincerely and with tons of love,