The sun was gleaming on the sparkling waters of Venice’s channels as I jostled my way through hundreds of tourists on the Rialto Bridge to snap a photo of the the city’s world-famous canals. The air was hot and humid, but that clearly did not prevent hordes of travelers from flooding its shore. It seemed as though the whole world had descended on Venice.
Alberto and I could hardly believe that this was the place we had fallen head over heels with almost eight years ago. Back then, Venice to me was a place unlike anywhere else, with a mysterious atmosphere hanging over the narrow canals that stream through the centuries-old buildings, and a truly captivating history and setting. There was always a laidback and romantic air in the background and I indulged in every bit of it. Venice gave me my first few glimpses of the world then and it was definitely one of the places that got me hooked to travel.
The Venice that we saw this time wasn’t exactly how I had remembered it. Its beauty was still undeniable, but with the shoving crowd and unbearable prices and commercialism, it had lost its appeal to me. Granted, this was merely a short stopover and we should have chosen to come during the shoulder season instead of the peak period; but whatever happened to the romance of travel? When relaxing strolls in the piazzas and delicious local meals made every bit of the experience, more so than long museum lines and overpriced hotels. When serendipitous encounters were more memorable than annoying airport security checks and badly-behaved tourists.
As Cristina Odone said eloquently in her article for The Telegraph on the romance of travel, “Travel once enjoyed a certain mystique. Think starched white suits, panama hats, and those gloriously battered leather trunks….These days, a belch, a four-letter word, an elbow in the ribs: anything goes among this new generation of travellers.”
I couldn’t stop questioning myself if it was Venice that had changed or if myself and today’s travelers were the one who had changed. Perhaps I wasn’t managing my expectations well and this had nothing to do with Venice. Maybe a decade of traveling has left me jaded and unable to ignore the less-important things and focus on the beauty and charisma of Venice?
One thing I knew was that we weren’t returning to Venice so soon, at least not until I’ve regained my faith.
Have you ever fallen a place and only to disappointed upon return? We would love to hear your stories.