Day 6 Venice: Thursday, Aug. 21
I apologize for the tardiness of this entry but with the lack of wifi since we left Verona, it has been very difficult to find a way to post. Anyway, today was the day of the long awaited trip to Venice. I have been looking forward to visiting Venice ever since I saw our itinerary for the trip. On our bus ride towards the city, the players and staff were naming all the movies that took place in Venice in hopes that it would look similar. Whether it was Casino Royale or The Italian Job with Mark Wahlberg (a personal favorite of Spike), everyone was trying to imagine what we were about to experience. We soon found out the scenes with a ton of water inside the city was accurate as our bus parked a ways outside the city and water taxis were needed.
Venice itself is made up of a cluster of 130 islands and can only be visited via the water or the "people mover." We decided to take water taxis and it took three of them to transport all 31 of us through the canals to the center of the city. On our journey through the canals all of us were standing up and taking as many pictures as possible. None of our traveling party had ever been to Venice and most couldn't believe what they were seeing. The architecture was remarkably similar to the rest of the Italian cities we had been to, but instead of brick roads separating the buildings, there were narrow canals. Once we arrived near the city's center, the group broke off for a quick lunch before the guided tour. I went to a water front restaurant with Pete Kahler (director of basketball), Will Vergollo (video analyst) and Bryan Smothers (graduate manager). Shortly after we sat down Spike, Andrew, Ricky, Mark and Sean grabbed the table next to us. Everyone thought the gondolas were incredible as one person was able to propel the himself an those aboard around the city at a pretty impressive pace. Then, just as we were discussing how deep we thought the water was, a woman stumbled backwards trying to take a picture and fell feet first into the canal. Her and her camera ended up being just fine and she solved our question about the water depth. Around six-feet deep at the edges.
After lunch, Leo led us on a walking tour of the city that ended at St. Mark's Cathedral near the shoreline. St. Mark's has a beautiful white exterior with statues on the top and murals all over its sides. The statues on the to include a lion with wings, which we learned was the symbol of St. Mark. Next to cathedral was the public square marked by two pillars with the symbol of St. Mark on top of both. We were told that public executions used to be held right between the two pillars and it was bad luck to walk between them. Needless to say, we all kept our distance. At the end of the walking tour the team split into four groups for a scavenger hunt, Venice style. The captains were Derrick Walton, Spike Albrecht and Caris LeVert for this photo scavenger hunt and there were prizes and punishments for the winners and losers. The winning team gets to pick the restaurants for training table during the first week of classes and the two losing teams have to run a "17." A "17" is a conditioning drill and a staple of Camp Sanderson. The winners and losers will be decided on the plane ride home, we do have nine hours to kill after all. During this time the staff had free time to explore or "get lost" in Venice as our tour guide Leo suggested. Thankfully no one decided to take this advice to heart.
After the scavenger hunt and the guys were finished singing a Katy Perry song for some girl's bachelorette party, we boarded the water taxis and headed back to the bus. For the entire water taxi ride and most of the way home no one could stop talking about how incredible Venice was. Everyone felt like it would be an amazing place to live, if it didn't cost 6,000 euros per square foot for an apartment. I asked our new graduate manager, Bryan Smothers, how Venice treated him and he responded, "better than I deserve, Dev."
After Venice, our next destination has a lot to live up to. But it is game day and we're looking to go 4-0 on our trip. Go Blue!