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Apr 01

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Venice is Where I Found my New Travel Partner

Dear Luke and Leia,

I know this will be strange for you two grandchildren to read, but Venice is where I found my new travel partner. Okay, I will jump to the end before you guys get really upset: Nana is my new travel partner. Yes, I know this seems confusing. Let me just tell you the story and maybe you will learn something from it.

Venice, Italy

We had been on the road for five weeks straight and now were ready to tackle Venice. Remember, Nana is vertically challenged (short) enough that the handle on her wheeled carry-on nearly reaches her waist. After dragging it through Ireland, Switzerland, Netherlands and Paris, she also dealt with lugging it up and down all the steps in Rome and Florence. Now it was the train to Venice, then the water taxi and the bridges arching over all those canals. Me? I just wanted to get to the hotel, dump the luggage and get out to explore the city. She was taking far too long.

Water Taxi in Venice, Italy

On the water taxi in Venice, Italy

In my rush to get us to our hotel every bridge was a struggle. There were no ramps on the bridges back then so I had to carry all my stuff over and then go back to help her so it wouldn’t take ages to get to the hotel. Something finally snapped with my patience and I told her, “I will never travel with you again!”

Yes, I actually said it out loud. Suddenly, those beautiful brown eyes welled up and flowed down her cheeks as she began to apologize for not keeping up. I just shoved my backpack at her and carried both suitcases the rest of the way to the hotel without another word.

The Grand Canal, Venice, Italy

Then Venice happened.

As I had imagined, Venice is a magical town full of color, canals and romance. There is romance in the still waters of the canals reflecting the bright colors of the buildings and the quiet bridges connecting people on different sides of the water all sharing the same city. Looking at it through the lens of my camera, I became captivated. Venice just did something to me. Nana was the same, but something changed in me. The alluring charm of Venice seduced me.

Venice, Italy

Venice, Italy

Venice, Italy

All the misery and challenges I had endured to get to Venice were worth it as Venice revealed itself to me. Yet something was different; something changed as we wandered the streets. I just can’t put a finger on it; maybe it was the all this water surrounding the Venetian people that brought a sense of shalom or peace into my soul. I began to tie them to their sinking city. They were struggling together to preserve what they have.

Venice, Italy

Venice, Italy

Venice, Italy

Going back to the market to heal wounds

So with the silence killing me, we headed off to Venice’s shops. Markets always bring about a great deal of conversation for Nana and me. The first thing I noticed there was all the Venetian glass, in every shape, size and color of the rainbow. It seemed as though every shop was loaded with it. I found it interesting how Venetian glass was originally made here on Venice Island but in 1291 the government forced the glass makers to move to the island of Murano to avoid the risk of fire due to all the wooden buildings.

Venetian Glass in Venice, Italy

Colorful Venetian glass in Venice, Italy

Venetian glass, Venice, Italy

Mosaics done with Venetian glass, Venice, Italy

Mosaic pendants of Venetian glass

The second thing I noticed was the weird looking, yet extremely colorful masks everywhere. Why would they have such unusual masks? That question made a good opening for making up with Nana, as she is so knowledgeable about the places we visit.

The masks are worn during Carnival but traditionally they were used from December 26 until the start of the Catholic lent season, also known as weeping for Tamuz in ancient times. Masks that are traditionally used during Venetian Carnival can be divided in to two groups: Commedia dell’ Arte masks and Carnival masks. The Commedia dell’ Arte was a type of improvisational theatre that was popular form 16th to 18th century but is played even today. Maybe they are on to something here: The masks represent the various roles that actors play during a performance.
Colorful Venetian Carnival masks

Venetian mask in Venice, Italy

Venice is where I found my new travel partner

So Venice had won. The masks of Venice became an analogy to me: We each wear different masks in our lives, depending on what role we are playing, and we see things a little differently depending on which mask we choose to wear. I have masks formy role as a husband, father, grandfather, son and friend. Now I have a new mask to wear: that of a travel partner. My new mask has helped me to see that everyone travels differently and has different challenges. The struggles we face when traveling as a couple are no different than any other in life; it is just that traveling seems to magnify those struggles more vividly.

St. Marks Square, Venice, Italy

The Grand Canal, Venice, Italy

The Bridge of Sighs, Venice, Italy

Love is in the … gondola

Somewhere over a canal or on a lonely stretch of narrow cobblestone street, hidden deep within the city of Venice, I came to my senses. I didn’t lose my wife in Venice, I gained a travel partner. I gained a new understanding: Just as those Venetian masks, we play different roles as a couple as we walk through it hand-in-hand.

Romantic Venice, Italy

The Romance of Venice is legendary

The Romance of Venice is legendary

Maybe it was the unusual features in Venice, from scrollwork lamps to spiked buildings. It could have been the whimsical signage in various shapes that mark a business by an icon rather than words, or maybe the cafes along the canal, or perhaps the romance of the Grand Canal at twilight. I don’t know, but something drew Nana and me even closer.

Interesting lamppost in Venice, Italy

Interesting lamppost in Venice, Italy

Interesting Venetian architecture in St. Marks square

Venetian Architecture

Ship building company in Venice, Italy

I finally figured out just exactly what we need: a gondola ride through the love-infested city of Venice. Seeing Venice from a gondola changes everything: It is not about the sights, but the experience. Venice is a city you just can’t go and see, snap a few pictures and call it a day. Venice brings much more to the table, something that breaks through barriers built up, to be dramatically broken down by the experience called Venice.

Gondola in Venice, Italy

Rialto Bridge in Venice, Italy

Gondolier's at rest in Venice, Italy

Our Gondola awaits us in Venice

Aboard the Gondola in Venice

Aboard the Gondola in Venice

A Gondola ride allows you to experience Venice not just see it

A Gondola ride allows you to experience Venice, not just see it

The Lesson of Venice

Venice took me to school and taught me a very important lesson that it would do you two very well to learn early in your lives. Life is a series of masks that we wear as we play different roles. Travel forces you to wear all those masks, so be prepared to pack each one of them. In the beginning of this trip, I had the mask of a husband and also packed the mask of a best friend. But Venice brought out the fact that I needed a mask of a travel partner, which is totally different than any other mask in the case.

Venice, Italy

Venice, Italy

Venice, Italy

Campanile tower in St.Mark's

Campanile tower in St.Mark’s

Cafe on St. Mark's square

Cafe on St. Mark’s square

Beautiful streets of Venice

Beautiful streets of Venice

Playing the role of travel partner

Thankfully, Venice had a travel partner mask readily available and I graciously accepted the offering. Now more fully equipped as I look through the mask of a travel partner mymself, I can grab life by the leg and jump for joy with my new found travel partner. Thank you Venice for your undying devotion to bringing out the best in those who are willing to receive what you have to offer.

Boy with Frog by Charles Ray

Taking life by the leg – Boy with Frog by Charles Ray

Jumping for joy in Venice - The things people do for a selfie

Jumping for joy in Venice – The things people do for a selfie

Accepting change as a little child - Cooling in the Adriatic, Venice

Accepting change as a little child – Cooling in the Adriatic, Venice

Luke and Leia, the Bible says “all things work for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose” and this scripture was proven true here in Venice. What started out as a disastrous attempt to see Venice turned into a romantic experience of Venice.

Carnival mask in Venice, Italy

My new travel partner mask, Venice I thank you

Love,

Nana and Pap

P.S. – If you have Pinterest you can click the top left of any photos in our story to add them to your Pinterest boards. We would actually like that a whole lot.

Venice can teach you about more than just romance.

Venice, Italy

Venice, Italy - Bridge of Sighs

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12 comments

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  1. Anda

    How sweet! I can so relate to this post.’Vertically challenged’? Ha,ha,ha! I haven’t heard this one before. My husband and I always have little ‘arguments’ when we travel, but the beauty of a place can make you forget it all in a second. Venice is one of those magic places that will stimulate all your senses and capture your heart. I haven’t heard of anybody who returned from Venice disappointed. Great post, Dan, and great pictures! I feel like going back to this marvelous city again.

    1. Dan

      Anda,

      Thank you! The beauty of Venice allowed me to think through the situation and I always ask “how did I contribute to the situation and how could I have reacted differently.”Most people want to place blame on the other, while ignoring their contributions. This is why Linda and I have an extremely strong relationship.

  2. Lyn - A Hole in my Shoe

    Dan, that is such a lovely story. Venice is truly beautiful and the ideal place to restore romance. Funny how travel does magnify the stresses and turn little issues into bigger problems. Imagine, taking longer to get to the hotel being an issue, instead of just taking in the scenery and enjoying the pace. This was a lovely story, well done.

    1. Dan

      Hi Lyn,

      Thank you for the wonderful comments. You captured the root problem with wanting to get started and Linda not being able to pull her suitcase at the pace I wanted. Adjustments into travel style makes all the difference. We now have very little issues while on the road and we look back to Venice for exposing this issue and allowing us to work through it.

  3. Kerri

    Loved the way you wrote this story. I love Venice and the photos you have taken have done it absolute justice. There’s no place quite the same as Venice. #theweeklypostcard (shared on SU)

    1. Dan

      Thanks Kerri, We have been back to Venice since this time and loved it even more. Maybe we need a third trip.

  4. Clare (Suitcases and Sandcastles)

    What stunning photos! You’ve made me desperate to visit Venice again. #TheWeeklyPostcard

    1. Dan

      Clare, thanks for the compliment. I sure am glad to inspire you to head back to a favorite of ours.

  5. [email protected](.net)

    What a great story, and a great reminder that sometimes we need to practice a little extra patience with each other. Fantastic photos, too! I love all the colors in the glass works, captured so vividly. Nicely done!
    [email protected](.net) recently posted…The Souvenir DilemmaMy Profile

    1. Dan

      Thanks Rob, guess patience is a tough teacher and a great rewarded all at the same time.

  6. Liz

    Such a beautiful, beautiful post! This is worth at least two slow readings – the first to truly understand the lessons you were sharing, and the second to truly appreciate the beauty of Venice through your pictures.

    This piece really hit the mark for me. While I haven’t been with my boyfriend for as long as you guys have been together (heck, not even a FRACTION!) nor have I traveled as much with him, I always felt that we weren’t travel-compatible. He moved too fast, was all about seeing things in rapid succession; while I moved a lot slower and loved to take my time taking pictures and soaking up the atmosphere. Needless to say, we have had lots of fights on the road.

    But this gives me hope that we can evolve together as a traveling couple. It may take years and a lot more destinations, but hopefully we find our own Venice where we can learn to adapt to each other, too. 🙂 Thanks for this wonderful post! 🙂

    1. Dan

      Thank you for the wonderful comments Liz. Travel brings a different level of understanding within a relationship and when we can see how we are different we can accept it and work within the parameters. I too like to go rather fast and then take a bunch of pictures. So many times I will move on ahead, but always within sight of each other, while Linda strolls and absorbs the culture. What I realized is that she does the writing while I do the photography and we both can enjoy a location equally and still be together. I no longer go as fast as she does and have started enjoying the culture, while Linda moves a little faster and points out things she would like to write about so I can capture it.

      I truly hope that you find the best three people you need to share and enjoy life, your husband and life long companion, your best friend, and your travel partner, all of them in the same person as I have done.

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