Italy: Day 1 / by Josh Trudell

Venice-1 Starting a vacation with a headlong sprint isn’t my idea of a good time.

But there we were, ducking, bobbing and weaving through Heathrow Airport, trying to catch the last connection for a trip we had been planning since the flight back from our last trip to Europe, four years ago.

We were Italy-bound for the first time – if we could just make it to the gate on time.

I’m sad to say – this oxygen-deprivation exercise was my fault.

Our travels started smoothly, including a splurge on a first-class upgrade between Dallas and Boston on American Airlines. The second leg, on British Airways, was less comfortable – six hours in a tiny middle seat were not fun.

In the midst of trying to juggle Kindle, drinks, carry-on and other assorted travel paraphernalia, I put my passport in the seat pocket in front of me.

Two words: Rookie mistake.

After 18 hours of travel, we staggered out of the plane and up to the first security checkpoint, only to find that a certain sleep-deprived writer/photographer had left his passport on the plane.

While I can’t say much for the accommodations, the customer service from British Airways was excellent. Within 20 minutes, I had my passport in my hand. The next issue, however, was getting from our gate, which I’m convinced was on the far end of Scotland, to our connecting flight.

Twenty minutes of sprinting mixed with trying-desperately-to-be-patient-but-dear-god-can-this-security-line-move-faster patience, we charged into our gate area and down the ramp…

Where an airline worker held up a hand, begging for calm. “It’s okay, you made it,” she said, as we walked into the plane…and found it completely empty.

We had sprinted past first class check-in, business class check-in, soldiers, mothers…the whole lot. We made it to our seats and collapsed in laughter, as everyone else started filing on board and looking at us strangely.

Still chuckling three hours later, we landed in Venice. After checking into our hotel – Ca’Dogaressa, a very nice space that was convenient to local transportation and sights – we staggered around for a bit, but the very long travel day – including a nasty head cold for my traveling companion - landed on us hard and we passed out early.