Our return trip went well, without any of the misunderstandings or mistakes of the previous one. Or the rain. We enjoyed the slow boat ride back to the airport from Venice, admiring our last vistas of that beautiful city (as well as some racing gondolieri!) and wishing all the way that we had arrived in the day time so we could have been greeted by that sight on the way in.

The flights to Madrid and Lisbon were both relatively smooth and uneventful, with one small mishap coming through security at Venice airport. The guy pulled my bag aside, asking if I had a yogurt in there. For once I didn’t, but I did have a pot of ricotta cheese that we’d had left over and were planning to eat for lunch, which I pulled out to show him. He was going to make me throw it away, but then decided against it, instead yelling to the person manning the X-ray machine, “It’s not yogurt, it’s cheese!” in a rather affronted voice, and apologizing for the inconvenience.

Only in Italy would they defend your right to bring cheese onto the plane, and then apologize for searching you. Cheese is an inviolable right, apparently.

Otherwise though we arrived home without a problem, and were overjoyed to step off the plane into balmy mid-60s weather, as opposed to the low fifties we’d been in all week in Venice. There is a reason we chose southern Europe for our sabbatical, and this is it.

We dropped our stuff off at the apartment and went back out for groceries, which I will say was something of a disappointment after the increased selection we found in Venice. I find it sad that a city built on an island, which has to bring everything in by boat, still has more food selection than Lisbon. It was also almost twice the price of what we pay here, but that’s beside the point.

It was an incredible trip, and one we’ll remember for the rest of our lives. I guarantee that during our time in Venice, we saw more of that city than about 85% of the tourists that go there, since everyone else seems intent on sticking to the touristy areas and the big sights. They are missing out, in my opinion, but they can keep San Marco. I didn’t mind having the rest of the city — its denizens and small cafes, its singing restaurateurs, floating bookshops, and shiny gelaterias — to ourselves.

This trip was the reason we moved to Europe, the reason we left our house and jobs and families for a year: to be able to do side trips like this, to have stories and pictures our children will never believe, and adventures we ourselves won’t believe in twenty years’ time.

But for now… the Venice portion of the adventure is done, and it’s time to return to the slightly less strenuous and exciting version.

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