I have a new way to give myself things to look forward to. I have discovered the great joy of taking a child on a city break. At last my kids are a bit older and up for walking, able to read (relatively effectively) a map, can be bribed with ice cream to look at quite a lot of art, and won't become unbearable to be with if they get ever so slightly less than full twelve hours sleep at night. So, to celebrate my fiftieth and the Bear's tenth birthdays, the two of us went to Venice.
I'd anticipated the trip would be expensive, but it was breathtakingly so. Still, I don't regret a single euro spent. From the arrival via water taxi (as expensive as one night in our hotel!) to the hop-on-hop-off convenience of the water buses; from the glorious mix of modern art at Peggy Guggenheim's lovely cool, white, house (a welcome contrast with all the renaissance gilding,) to the sun rising over the lagoon as we made our way early enough to be first in to the Doge's Palace on Saturday morning, the whole thing was breathtaking. Even the €33 we spent on an ice cream and a cup of coffee (ok, two cups of coffee, and the ice cream filled a bowl almost the size of the Bear's head,) seemed money well spent.
Best bit? Well, the Bear liked the water taxi and Burano, a little island the other side of Murano (where they blow the glass) where the houses are all painted different bright colours. I loved just wandering around, spying secret gardens everywhere (who knew that Venice is a city of gardens?) and little villagey groupings of houses round piazzas (it had never occured to me that not EVERY building in this incredible town would be a vast palazzo.) I liked the fact that, although the city is essentially one giant museum, it felt alive and buzzing, and I LOVED that the museums opened early enough for a wide awake ten year old and his mum to get in before the crowds.
I plan to take a lot of city breaks now. I'm looking at Vienna as a hot destination for me and the Wriggler (currently aged seven,) and then there's Barcelona (how can I have never been there yet?) Salzburg, Madrid, Amsterdam, Bruges, Paris... all quite achievable in a hop skip and a jump sort of way. I will save frantically and take one child at a time to all the European cities I've always wanted to visit, as well as those I can't wait to see again. Rome for example...