The first thing I notice is the smell, salt in the air once again. Hoping onto the ferry I realize how much I’ve missed the smell of the ocean, the seagulls cawing overhead, the speed boat throwing sea foam into my hair. I grew up by the ocean and for a second I feel like I’m home, and then I open my eyes.
Venice is like no other city I’ve been to in this wonderful world. Canals packed with ferries, speed boats, water taxis and gondolas. Throbbing side streets, tourists and shop owners taking a break from the unrelenting heat. Gelato shop windows, jewelry stores and leather handbags hung on doors swarmed by people wanting a taste of the air conditioning inside. Down tiny side alleys I wind my way over bridges, through gardens and past people’s laundry drying above me. These alleyways are so small sometimes my shoulders brush the peeling paint off the walls. Venice is a city falling apart, yet in it’s age it’s become more beautiful. There are no high rises here, no fresh coats of paint. The old town charm rubs off on me as I get lost in the never ending maze of streets and canals.
Stumbling across yet another wonderful library, I take refuge inside the wonky looking abode. Inside I find books piled inside bathtubs, old paddle boats and gondolas. Books spill out of them and balance precariously in stacks up to the ceiling, I’m afraid to touch anything, for pulling a book out could mean a pile of ancient dusty volumes falling down upon me. Talking to the small italian women who approached me asking if she could help I discovered this bookshop, as old as the city itself, has been flooded so many times they decided to keep the books inside boats and bathtubs to protect them for the next flood; there’s always a next flood. She directed me to the very back of the shop, and sat me down on a felt covered chair. The chair looks out onto the canal that runs beside the bookshop, as peaceful and stunning as it was, it’s very easy to see why the store is flooded all the time.
I spent days wandering around the small island, dodging tourists, and locals trying to rip me off, while eating a constant stream of gelato and spending way too much on Venician masks. I came out of everyday a little more tanned and constantly smiling.