If you look to your left…
If you look to your left, you will see a huge body of water. I arrived in Venice about 12.30, a little hungry and very curious. Huge bustles of people appeared like moss trailing off the ticket machine. I was eager to explore so I headed for the nearest bridge. A girl with two huge suitcases was trying to cross the bridge five steps at a time. I empathised with her plight and gave her some help crossing. She was grazie-ful, I was prego-ful.
I got to work on my plan and got a focaccia from a nearby supermarket and watched the gondolas go by (not a sentence I get to say often). I next decided to locate San Marco square as I’d heard from several people that it’s the centre of many points of interest. I got intentionally lost on the way and followed my nose through the city’s waterscape and backstreets sometimes leading nowhere and at other times leading to piazzas with guitarists sitting in the sun creating music for passers-by.
I walked a while then sat on a step in front of the gran canal. I did nothing else for a while.
I looked around and ice cream seemed like a good idea so I got tiramisu and mint ice cream. Not a bad choice even if I say so myself.
Shortly after I realised I wasn’t where I wanted to be and set out for San Marco square. I found many squares on the way; round-squares, square-squares and rectangular-squares too; this place had it all! As I kept walking, the diversity of languages spoken grew and. I knew I was getting closer. When I finally arrived it was full of crazy people. People with selfie sticks more important than their children, children more important than manners and completely flooded a city in danger of flooding. I was glad I’d come off-season.
A place made so beautiful by humans had turned people ugly. I swiftly made my escape and came across a classical musical instruments hall of fame. I imagined my guitar behind the glass with its ‘ants have sex in your beer’ sticker and wondered what had happened to the world. In the calm and dark of the museum. I realised the place I had wanted to be wasn’t the place. I wanted to be but the place I thought I wanted to be.
I walked and walked and walked some more. I was still feeling disheartened and a little rattled by the crowds. In less than five minutes, my rule of following quiet streets led me out to the water and lost and happy once more. I came across an art exhibition of graffiti artists from across Europe and the USA and I was truly happy. The world was no longer against me. The curators were kind, friendly and incredibly knowledgable. In the peace between the warehouse walls, I found peace between my ears.
As I looked at more human-made beauty, I realised the lesson I had just learned. My trip is not about seeing all the things that I’m told to see. It’s about being lost, to be open to the road, the paths, the canals and new destinations where I’ll find the things that interest me. So many people go on holiday with a checklist and defeat the point of being on holiday. It’s hard work being in a crowd, queueing all day to not take photos of things you don’t really care about and not relaxing.
I am at peace when I do the things I am interested in and be myself. One of the artists painted the words, ‘you are what you write’. Tired, happy, forever learning.