I’ve had this recurring dream throughout my life where I get lost in the alleys of Venice. This dream started sometime in my early twenties, and I have no idea why.
Was it a movie or a picture that triggered it? I can’t be sure. Maybe I was born with this soul connection that made me an honorary citizen of Venice. A soul citizen, if you will.
You see, my dreams have been vivid for as long as I can remember—I was the creepy sleepwalker kid that punched my sister if we shared the same bed. I’ve met people in my sleep and never remembered it.
On a positive note, I have seen and felt the most incredible fabrications of reality. And I have a silly habit of “swim flying” in the sky, which is an interesting way to get around.
The only time my dreams were tame was in college, when I was seeing a therapist who doped me up with antidepressants. But those drugs stole my dreams away, left me lost in a fog of apathy instead of the exquisite alleys of Venice.
When I first met Mr. H, he said: “You’re not depressed. Why are you taking those?”
I said: “I have anxiety.”
He said: “You can beat it without that shit.”
And, he was right.
I got off antidepressants and my dreams returned—sometimes they were night terrors that sent me sprinting across the room in the middle of the night, sometimes they were unconscious explorations that inspired my first novel, and sometimes they were magical and nonsensical, like wandering Venice without purpose.
Yet the crazy dreams were mine, all mine, sensations and visuals my brain conspired to create just for me.
Beyond the dreams, this other Venice thing happened at my wedding over 11 years ago. For those of you that don’t know this fun fact about Britt and Mr. H, we got hitched in Vegas.
Imagine my surprise when my dad gave us a wedding present that we could enjoy right after the ceremony—a gondola ride at the Venetian.
Still, we never thought we would see the real deal and we settled for the sparkling chlorinated Venice canals from our wedding day.
Most people would kill to see Venice. As I mentioned in my first Italian travel post, I just didn’t have the bug like everyone else.
When we randomly decided to go to Italy, we did our best to avoid the typical American race across a European country by limiting our stops.
It was a showdown between Cinque Terre and Venice for a day trip from Florence, and Cinque won.
I had heard negative feedback from other people I knew that went to Venice: It was touristy, pricey, the food sucked. These are all things I later found to be true, including eating overpriced frozen food as our last meal before boarding the train.
Except this espresso didn’t suck…
And, this chocolate orange cannoli definitely didn’t suck…
But I also feel these things—crazy tourists, high prices, mediocre food—are a given when you go to one of the most fantastic places in the world in the summer.
Hands down, these were the most expensive cappuccinos I’ve ever purchased in my life. The people-watching and live music were pure perfection though.
That’s why I’m taking the high road with a whimsical perspective on the city so many have visited before me. Because at the end of the day, Venice is TOTALLY a tourist trap.
There are truly as many pigeons as there are tourists, and sometimes they join forces. Like this young bird woman with a pigeon on top of her hat (crapping on her head, no doubt), dutifully documenting the whole affair with her selfie stick.
Because who would believe her otherwise?
But if you really want them, I can sum up my Venice tips right here:
- To Avoid Tourists Don’t visit during peak season. Or, spend the night since the crowds thin out after the last train leaves for the day. But be ready to fork over some bucks for a hotel!
- To Avoid Overspending Don’t go to Venice. Kidding, use the vaporetti (water buses) to see the city the way it’s meant to be seen, and wander around (wear comfy shoes!) for a day trip.
- To Avoid Sucky Food Don’t forget to pack your own food. There is too much portable deliciousness in Italy to play the victim here—plan ahead. Unless money isn’t an option and you can dine at the fancy pants restaurants.
Anyway, I’ve never been one to ignore my dreams and I felt a quiet pull inside knowing that Venice was within reach as soon as we arrived in Italy. I felt it strongly in Florence, and even stronger in Cinque Terre.
Fate called on the tour bus back from Cinque, after a long day of hiking and swimming, sunshine and seafood. One of our tour guides was giving Venice tips to pretty much everyone but us.
His advice was always the same: “Just get lost. When you go to Venice, that’s what you do.”
Mr. H turned to me and said what we were both thinking…when will we ever have a chance like this again? The pull was so strong that my heart was ready to explode.
Fortunately there was room on the train the next morning and we saw the fabled place I had dreamed about.
Instead of repeating the gondola ride from our wedding, we splurged on a private water taxi. There wasn’t a huge difference in the price, since both options were astronomical.
The main reason is that we were fortunate to have an amazing opera singing gondolier during our Vegas/Venice trip on our wedding night, a memory we didn’t want to taint in any way. The real-life gondoliers don’t exactly serenade you, and you probably don’t want them to try.
Truly, it was worth every penny.
Sometimes we are linked to a place in the world and there’s no need to understand it. So why not take the chance and see what happens—if anything happens at all.
Nothing spectacular really happened to me. I’m just happy to be a soul citizen of Venice who finally got to live out her dream.
Are you a soul citizen of any place? Or, is there a place you visit over and over for some reason?
P.S. This post wraps up my Italy travels and I hope you all enjoyed coming along. Be sure to check out Rome, Florence, and Cinque Terre if you missed them! Next time, I’ll be back to American Britt. 🙂