Saturday, July 21, 2012

Venice, the Pace of the People

Believe it or not, with all of our time and travel in Europe, I have never made it to Venice.  My better half has made it there a couple of times herself, but this tiny little aquatic labyrinth of a city has somehow always evaded me; until recently of course when I had the opportunity to make a short, but sweet trip here for work.  

We have written a couple of posts on Venice, so there is no reason to revisit the obvious and repeat what most people would already know from having traveled there themselves or reading about it somewhere else, including this blog.  It is widely one of the most popular destinations for any traveler in Europe and for very good reasons; it requires no introduction.  Getting lost along the canals, dining on the amazing food, and drinking the sublime wine, it is no wonder that this is one of the most visited places in Italy, yet alone in Europe.  I am still surprised that it took me this long to get here and a work trip to justify it.  

No matter how you spend your time it seems it is impossible to get bored or disappointed.  Just don’t bother with Harry’s Bar which is un-extraordinary at best and which will charge you €18.00 for one Bellini and standing room only.  You’re probably better off posting up with a carafe of house wine at one of the plenty of welcoming cafes anywhere off the beaten paths and away from the ultra-touristy main squares.

I got very lucky with the weather, escaping what had been constant rain in London and was able to enjoy clear skies, sun, and constant heat during my time in Venice.  I somehow even managed to avoid what has been described to me as the unpleasant canal smell which overtakes the city on days with stiflingly high temperatures.  My only slightly unenthusiastic observation, which could not be helped based on the circumstances, was that unlike some other European cities which I would happily visit for work, Venice is truly not a business trip kind of a place.  Perfect for couples, families, or even groups of friends or solo travelers, but being here for work felt somehow out of place.  But I can’t complain; at least I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to finally make a visit so I certainly made the most of it.      

The one major thing that did surprise me was that people actually do live in Venice and lead every day, routine lives; normal people, not just tourists and those in the tourism industry.  After my work meetings the following day I casually inquired where my business contact lived.  To my surprise he actually lives in Venice with his family.  Along with all of his friends, associates, and extended family that also hold normal jobs, commute daily to the mainland, and make Venice their actual home, he has lived there his entire life and has no intention of ever moving to the mainland.  

This certainly gave me a richer and deeper appreciation for the city which at first glance can appear to be overrun by and catered to tourists.  He put it best himself when he said the reason he has lived his whole life in Venice is that “it is the one city in the world that moves at the pace of the people and not at the pace of machines”.  I couldn’t have said it better myself.  Perhaps it is this timeless distinction that keeps visitors flocking to Venice again and again throughout the years.  I would return here myself, but maybe next time I’ll leave the work at home and take a gondola ride with my better half.    - KV

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