Small World: Italian Travel Adventure

Nov 7, 2015 | 2015 Articles, Maria Ruiz, Travel

by Maria Ruiz

Maria often shares stories with us about Santa Barbara history, her travel all over the world, her dogs, and life.

My husband and I were visiting Venice, Italy with our little dog, Sherman, and a friend from the USA, Joyce. Hunger drove us to explore some side streets in search of a light lunch which wouldn’t require a bank loan to pay.

A few days earlier we had eaten a piece of cake with a cup of coffee in front of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. It was a cold and foggy day, and we sat at a table outside the restaurant, feeling quite the tourists. We asked for the bill and when it came, it was for Fifty-Two Dollars. FOR TWO COFFEES AND TWO PIECES OF CAKE!



Not believing that could be correct, we asked to see the menu, which we should have checked before we sat down. Sure enough, coffees were $20.00 each and small slices of cake were $6.00 each. We swore to never eat in front of any tourist attraction again.

On this day, we were in Venice, sightseeing and enjoying. It was lunch time and we looked for a restaurant off the tourist trail. We already knew that finding a small lunch was impossible. All through Europe, lunches come on a 12-inch plate, piled high with a heavy dinner, and cost as much as I spend on a week’s worth of food.

Usually we looked for a MacDonald’s where we could get two hamburgers with a soda for less than ten U.S. dollars. But in honor of our friend, we decided to find an Italian place. We found a likely restaurant and took a table with Sherman settling down beneath our feet. A party of Americans came in, sat down across from us, noticed Sherman, and began a friendly conversation. They asked “Do you travel with your dog?” We answered “Yes.” Them my husband asked

“Where are you from?”

One man answered “Wisconsin.”

“Really,” Ted replied, “I grew up in Milwaukee.” travel

One of the women had been staring hard at him. Suddenly she said “Ted! Are you Ted?”

Startled and a bit unsure, he replied, “Yes I am.” The woman laughed and said “I’m your cousin Wendy. We haven’t seen each other in 50 years but you look just like your father.”

The rest of our lunch was filled with conversation about the family and turned into an enjoyable day spent thousands of miles away from home in that small world that felt like an episode in the Twilight Zone.

Maria Ruiz was born in Santa Barbara, California; her family had been there since the Spaniards first converted the Indians & created small towns. She graduated from the University of San Diego State in 1972 & taught for 8 years before starting her own business. After retiring she began a ten-year odyssey to visit and live in 57 countries around the world. She just recently relocated to California. Her book, I’ll be in the Fourth Grade Forever, can be ordered on Smashwords & Amazon. Her blog can be found at


  1. Another interesting tid bit from the many travels.
    Small world isn’t it

  2. I really enjoyed that article. As such ‘stay at home’ people, we enjoy reading about personal experiences like that. We had thought that we would go on one of those European river trips this year, but circumstances caused us to drop the plan. Maybe in 2016!

  3. What a great story. but how much did you have to pay for lunch? LOL

  4. Hi, Maria! I love this story. It really is a small world, too. We ate at a restaurant in Venice and was charged for a sit-down fee. At that point, I was ready to go home. LOL


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