(The illness of a family member, brought on an unplanned trip for Jim and Magrit to visit Magrit’s family for Christmas 2010 in Klagenfurt. They are currently stuck in Venice.)

Dear Friends,

It appears that we’re lucky to even be here (in Venice, that is). They also call Venice “La Serenissima” (the “most serene”) but things didn’t start out all that serene.

First the flight out of Seattle was delayed, then the connecting flight from Paris to Venice was REALLY delayed. There was still hope that we could make a wild dash for the last bus from Venice to Austria (which would have taken 7 hours as opposed to 4 hours for the bus we originally thought we’d catch with ease) — and THEN — we spent the next 2.5 hours standing in line to report our missing luggage.

But this is like the fable where all these bad things happen which turn out to be a blessing. It’s now our third night in Venice. Amazingly, we got our luggage yesterday (even though everything came to a screeching halt in Paris right after) and ever since, we’ve been walking for hours through rainy, windy, cold and impossibly romantic Venice where everybody chirps “buon natale,” nobody sings “Rudolph, the red-nosed reindeer,” and some of the streets are magically flooded with a sea of lights strung between the palazzi. The Campanile (clock tower) on Piazza San Marco had been transformed into a projection screen with huge white snowflakes gliding off all 4 sides. And, speaking of flooding, we heard the Aqua Alta sirens for the first time which warn people to either get on higher ground within one hour or run for their rubber boots — lots of rain this time a year causes flooding (aqua alta) in large parts of Venice — a fact the Veneziani take in stride.

We love this town and this whole experience was a gift so that we could rest, get over jet-lag, eat well, and gain strength for the things to come. Tomorrow we’ll take the bus into Austria.

Buon natale e tanti auguri!

Magrit