“Venice is the most romantic place in the world but it’s even better when there’s no one around.” ~Woody Allen.
Wednesday August 17, 2016
Venice… Everyone I talk to says its one of the most romantic cities on earth. With its little canals and gondola rides in sunsets and quaint little restaurants with candles and wide brimmed wine glasses and beautiful narrow streets…
They asked me why I would go to such a romantic city by myself?
“I bet you are going so you can find your own Italian Stallion, eh?” They would laugh, slapping my shoulder for emphasis. “Come on, you know how Italians are….” They would wink coyly. All I could do was laugh back. Listen. This is my trip. There is no right or wrong way to travel. I’m going because I want to see it. I want to experience it for myself. I don’t need to follow societies rules. Besides, I am not looking for love. I want friends. Experiences. Memories. Moments. And I can find that just fine without a lover. This is MY time. And I am loving it.
But most of what I saw were restaurants overflowing with tired, hot and worn down tourists stuffing pasta, pizza and wine into their face, but pausing first to take a picture to show off to the world that they were having the best day ever. The narrow streets were packed… rivers of lost people. And they all walked soooo slow. Pausing to check their phone or snap a picture, causing everyone following in their footsteps to make quick attempts to avoid a human domino scenario.
I have to admit though, I was quite charmed by some parts of the deeper bits the city. The bits where locals lurk and the typical tourist is too happy with the known to want to venture off. I talked to the dishwasher who was dumping dirty water into a back alleyway, asking him about his day and where i should go. I talked to a bored looking young lady sitting behind the counter of a beautiful jewelry shop. I was going to find the secrets. And I certainly ran into some strange and beautiful people.
I arrived and was hit with an overwhelming sense of thrilled excitement and nervousness. I had no idea where I was sleeping that night. The hostels were full. The hotels were absurdly expensive.
I wanted badly to run around the city and find all the secrets. The nooks and crannies. But I decided to do the logical thing and try to find a place to sleep for the night.
I wandered until I found a cute little cafe with beautiful umbrellas decorated with dangling Italian flag colored tassels over their tables and signs for free WiFi. I ordered a Spritz and sent out a few last minute couch surf requests. I always hate doing that.,. I usually like to take my time and write a nice message and personalize it to that person cuz I genuinely want to stay with them. But today I let fate take over. I sent out a bunch at random, each one with a quick little personalized remark so it didn’t look too much like a copy-and-paste. Because I didn’t write to just everybody. But to the ones I thought would be interesting to stay with. Ones that I knew I would get along with or sometimes those that seemed not like me, as a challenge to still find things to connect over.
Thankfully I got a response within 5 minutes and another option for the next night. I promised I would be at their house with a bottle of wine at 7. Perrrfecctttt!!
I threw my huge backpack over my shoulders, it seemed to increase in weight every time I put it on. After paying, I headed out to explore.
My favorite thing. I weaved in and out of the alleyways and over the canals. Trying to take the path less traveled. The way with the least amount of people. Soon I found myself deep in the labyrinth. The only one around. It was beautiful. It really was a beautiful town. Colorful buildings. No cars. Surrounded by water. Canals.
I grew weary with the giant backpack on my back. The sun beat down, causing my throat to grow raw with thirst. But wow this city sure had a lot of pretty.
That night, as I was walking to my CouchsurfErs place, I noticed the clouds looked a little murky. Weird. I checked all the street signs and couldn’t find the one I was supposed to turn on. I felt a raindrop.
Weird. I looked up. More raindrops pelted my face.
I kept walking, quickening my pace, debating if I should stop to pull out my sweatshirt or my rain fly for my backpack.
I finally found the road. Just as I turned, the sky opened. Buckets of water fell. I shook off my flip flops and carried them. At least it was warm rain. After another ten minutes of walking in the rain, I finally made it to his place and I was greeted with a warm towel and eager conversation. 🙂
As the night passed, more people joined. His roomate, his friend, and 2 other Couchsurfers. All of us different ages. All of us from different places. Different countries. Different paths in our lives. Different languages. Different upbringings. But all of us with the same mindset.
The world is our oyster.