Dan and Jenny Shepherd: Our Anniversary Cruise

By Guest Contributor December 7, 2014 01:10

venice-canalAnother FANtastic Tale of Adventure

By Dan and Jenny Shepherd

True story. Believe it or not, our trip started out because of a TV commercial. It was a credit card commercial where a couple tried to use  “points” they’d collected to go to an Italian restaurant on their anniversary. Long story short, they ended up using them to go to a restaurant in Italy. It made us think.

Our 25th anniversary was coming up, and Jenny and I were in the process of refinancing our house.  We’d always wanted to see Italy, and decided “if not now, when?”  So, we borrowed a little extra and booked a 12-day cruise from Venice to Barcelona.

After a 13-hour flight we landed at Heathrow Airport in London.  Our crew had no information about our connection, and all they told us was that Alitalia Airline was across the airport, and in another building.  We had 45 minutes to make our flight.  That was bad enough, but since the airline didn’t show our flight as a connection, we needed to retrieve the baggage first. Then drag it to the next terminal, check it in, and finally locate our gate to catch the flight.

We were in luck.  Alitalia’s International desk was on the way to baggage pick up.  They gave us directions to their domestic gate, and with ONLY 3 minutes to spare, Jenny and I were in our seats on the way to Rome.  The trip would NOW be perfect.  We’d researched and planned, brought maps and books.  We were all set.  Just being there was an adventure, but … the adventure had only started.

The second day of the cruise was spent in Venice. It’s a glorious place. One thing that was a little odd. Our ship, Carnival Liberty, was sailing into the Grand Canal, but the ship was so large that it dwarfed the city around us.  The view from the top deck though …”WOW.”

We’d planned our own sightseeing and set out early.  We mapped our route by water taxi down the Grand Canal to the Piazza San Marco, St. Mark’s, the Doge’s Palace and the Bridge of Sighs. The Bridge of Sighs was connected to the jail and standing there we could imagine the “sighs” of prisoners taking their last view of the city.  Our itinerary included the water taxi’s timetable, the specific docks we’d use, and how long we needed to get back to the ship.

After spending the day going through St. Mark’s Basilica where Apostle Mark is buried, the Doge’s Palace, eating gelato, checking out Venetian glass jewelry, and sampling wine (we weren’t driving the ship), we planned to top off the day with a gondola ride. On our way, we ran into a familiar face and asked if he would snap a photo with my wife.  He consented and we thought that would be tough to beat.  But near sunset we were on a gondola, and Jenny and I floated through the canals of Venice. “Indescribable feeling.”

Our plans included having dinner at Ernie’s for our anniversary but when we made our way back to the Grand Canal, we gasped.  The well laid plan to return to the ship, using two water taxis and a short walk, was hijacked by the boat races. We were told the boat races were ONE day per year.  Guess which day?  Yeah!

So, the first water taxi stand we planned to use was closed. All of them on OUR side were. We began to imagine our ship leaving without us in the not-to-distant future.

Frantically looking at the map, we ran over the Rialto Bridge, and across the waterfront toward what appeared to be another canal.  We hoped to get across to our ship from there.  When we got there, a taxi was just beginning to move away from the dock.  We jumped (only a foot) onto it, and squeezed into a remaining space big enough for a child.

couple-on-cruiseNext we ran three blocks, up and down stairs, across bridges, and through busy markets. Finally we reached a bus that we hoped was headed back to our ship. The driver opened the door: “Are you Dan and Jenny?  We’ve been looking for you.”  Venice was great, but at THAT moment, that bus looked really good.

While in Florence, one of our shipmates was run over by a car where we were told the SPEED LIMIT is “just a suggestion.”  But that’s another story.  The adventure continued!

Dan and Jenny Shepherd live in Sonora, California.

To read our Tales of Adventure Contest winners’ stories, see the Winter 2014 issue
of Friends and Neighbors Magazine, available at these locations and by subscription.


By Guest Contributor December 7, 2014 01:10
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