Travel Diary: Venice


How do I put this delicately...Venice is basically Disneyland.

Apparently Disney theme parks are supposed to be the happiest places on Earth, a claim though compromised by horror stories of its Florida joint apparently crawling with alligators from nearby rivers, is actually very much true. It feels much like being in a dollhouse, except everything that was supposed to only exist in moulded plastic is somehow in front of your eyes, in life size. And its entire appeal lies in the fact that it removes you completely from the real world, and puts you in a very malleable frame of mind free to enjoy a world of fantasy and pure fun. You could hand anyone a Mickey-shaped cookie ice cream sandwich or a headband fashion with Minnie Mouse ears on the street and they wouldn’t think much of it, but when the same happens in a park crawling with ecstatic tiny human beings and equally ecstatic couples, honeymooners and sweet 16 revellers, you get right in the spirit of it and it feels completely magical.

Now for Venice.

In Eat Pray Love Elizabeth Gilbert wrote that she didn’t take an easy liking to Venice, because of its dreary and sedative qualities. She labelled it a city that seemed to have stagnated decades ago and is merely awaiting some sort of descent into watery oblivion. I took her word for it, because a woman who spins beautiful words with such ease must surely know what she’s talking about, duh. But in the end, I was completely sold.

Dammit Venice! I had myself cloaked in a dose of skepticism and apprehension but you slowly picked every thread of that loose and chipped away at my resistance with your otherworldly magnificence. I now get that I was always meant to be enchanted by you, Venice, which you effected so easily by putting S and I in a fantastical parallel universe complete with all the trimmings - the romantic cobblestone alleys and trattoria-lined streets and a soothing Spring chill that pervaded every nook and cranny of the city, along with the balmy swoosh of canal waters that truly was music to our ears.

Now, not to undermine the value of its rich art galleries and museums in any way, but the best memories you will have of Venice are likely to be the little moments you will experience knowing that you couldn’t experience them anywhere else. See, just like Disneyland! One night, S and I found a narrow alleyway facing the canal where we ate our dinner in view of passing gondolas, mutually amusing tourists and ourselves with the sight of us hiding in a cramped corridor with our takeout boxes. The next morning, we took the vaporetto to Murano island and watched a glass blower take all of five minutes to tweeze a mass of molten glass into a figure of a horse. We also wandered around Piazza San Marco on several occasions, chasing pigeons and trying to create lens flares with the classic Venetian sunset. We had a Korean housemate who would feed us espresso-filled chocolates and strawberries every night. We went back to the same pasta takeout and gelato spot so many times that the servers chatted with us like friends. In the grand scheme of things, these little vignettes didn’t make up the bulk of our visit, but they were the stocking fillers that only Venice could present. It’s the magic of the sinking city.

I'm done. I’m trying my darndest but I don’t even have words for how special Venice is.

P.S. If you visit Venice promise me you'll put these food places on your list.
Grom (many locations)

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