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Diary from Europe: On a whim, cybergrrl Daisy Nguyen parties in Venice -- and recaptures her faith in humanity

Blast France Bureau

Venice was absolutely gorgeous and I am definitely returning one day. It's a unique city in itself flowing on water; I was so intoxicated by its beauty. The carnival of costumes and masks was so elaborate, there were people everywhere! Imagine a huge Halloween parade in the most mystical city on earth -- that was Venice during the weekend of Mardi Gras.

I am more in love with Italy than ever before. I took the TGV train from Grenoble, France into Milano not knowing where I was going to stay in Venice for this fully packed weekend of Mardi Gras. All the hotels were booked and there wasn't any hope of getting lodging in Venice, but my friends and I went anyways. We were worried but I was flirting with the idea of staying up all weekend and, if worst comes to worst, sleeping in the train station. Luckily, we met the nicest guy on the train who happened to live near Venice.

Giancarlos was an engineering student in Torino and he offered to take us in, all five girls, to stay with his family for the night. This type of spontaneous generosity from complete strangers makes me love traveling. Giancarlos and his family lived in Travisto where the main attraction and the source of life for the town is the Benetton factory.

Our first night there his parents offered us THE BEST Italian meal I had ever had and we tried to communicate to them with our little comprehension of Italian and the help of Giancarlos with his English. It was great and I am so inspired to learn Italian now, it's music to my ears.

All of Giancarlos' friends and his neighbors came over to meet us -- the five girls he had "picked up" from a train ride into town. They were curious about us American girls and our life in California, and we tried to take in as much as possible the Italian way of life and the people there. As you can see, they are super-friendly people and their hospitality just amazes me. That kind of thing rarely occurs in the U.S. It was an altruistic act like that of Giancarlos and his family that really restores your faith in humanity. It made the first night in Italy so pleasant and the rest of our stay in Venice a great one. Seeing places is always great, but it is the people who really leave a lasting impression in your memory.

I returned to Grenoble just on time Monday afternoon to catch two interesting lectures. Then last evening I came home and had a great chat with my charming neighbors Serge and Hugues and my roommate Soraya. They are sweethearts. They are almost my second family here.

I've always been conscious of that fact that I am so damn lucky and privileged. How many people can say they spent a weekend like that, after all? It's great to live here and I sometimes can't imagine returning to California and start all over again. It's going to be such a strange transition. It's almost as if I need to continue forward in my road and not make a detour to go back. I am certain that when I return it is to complete my studies and then moving on with my life. There's so much to see and do and learn out there, and I am excited to jump in and experience it all.