I first fell in love with Venice when I was a child. I had a book about gondoliers, and I used to write stories about a gondolier's daughter who spend her mornings helping her father clean the boat.
When I finally visited Venice at age 27, that rush came back as soon as I walked out of Santa Lucia and saw that gorgeous, grotty canal. It was love, and lust, at first sight.
Part of why I moved to Ljubljana was its proximity to Venice; less than 3 hours on the Casanova Express train and I was among the rich, glorious beauty of bella Venezia. I had a routine: I'd get there in the evening, check in at Albergo Doni for 40 EUR/night, eat at a trattoria, have a drink at Centrale. I'd spend my days wandering, Moleskine in my bag and stories floating in my head, my nights finding a place for dinner. I'd spend hours watching. Time stops in Venice.
It's more than the romance of water gliding through ancient buildings. It's the sense of purpose that Venetians feel, the overwhelming need to conserve this precious place. It's the shared love between those who become better people when in her boundaries. It's laughing at the Americans who see the Doge's Palace and squeal, 'it looks just like Vegas'. It's sitting in Harry's Bar and hearing history ooze from its walls. It's bellinis and wine, free happy hour food and wooden bridges during the floods.
M asked me what I wanted for my birthday this year. I said Venice. We're going in 11 days, and already I'm nostalgic for how different it will seem this time around. I change. Venice doesn't.