Let me tell you about Venice.
I traveled to Venice in 2015, following a week in Rome and preceding several days each in Vienna, Prague, and Munich.
So, if this is the middle of my trip, why am I telling you about it?
Well, one of my favorite stories from my travels happened in Venice. I could tell you plenty about all tourist attractions I went to, or the hostel, or the people I met. But for now, I’m going to tell this story.
When I went to Venice, it was one of the first times in my life I’d travelled alone. I’d met a friend in Rome, and spent most of my other travels with others as well. While I learned that I prefer to travel with friends rather than alone while on this trip, I did have a number of experiences that I loved.
So I was in Venice, it was my second or third day in the city, and I’d been walking all day long.
That’s what you tend to do a lot of when you’re a poor recent graduate with extremely limited funds – you walk a lot.
But anyway, I had been walking all day, I’d walked every day for a week in Rome, and so I was exhausted by the time I finally found this basilica.
Maybe it was because I was so exhausted, or maybe I was just pleased to have finally found the church after searching and getting lost numerous times, but of all the cathedrals, basilicas, and churches I saw on this trip (and there were SO MANY), the Santa Maria Della Salute basilica was by far my favorite.
Salute in Italian means health. I don’t know if that’s why this building felt so much more open, warm, and welcoming compared to all of the others, but it was all of those things and more.
The way the light came through the windows and reflected off the marble, the openness of the space, it was all astonishingly beautiful to me.
I found myself more relaxed in that church than I think I was throughout the whole trip.
So, after viewing this gorgeous, comforting complex, I walked out and simply sat down on the steps surrounding the entrance. I basked in the sun and let the warmth wash over me, along with the pleasant din of chatter from the tourists all around me.
While I sat on the steps, I looked out onto one of the many canals of Venice. At one point a man drove up in a motorboat and parked next to one of the gondolas tied off near the steps.
I spent the next 20 minutes watching this man attempt to get into his gondola, and it was one of the most amusing experiences of my life.
He seemed to struggle with every aspect of the process, from tying up the motorboat, to stepping into the gondola. All the while, he responded jovially to being heckled by other men in boats, until finally he managed to get himself set to rights.
I’ve never been able to properly articulate the joy of this moment in the re-telling of it. No matter how hard I try, the peace, happiness, and contentment I felt sitting on the steps outside the Salute is impossible to properly convey.
It bears stating, then, the lesson I learned from this.
The moments that you remember most from traveling, and from life, are not going to be the great, important, can’t miss occasions and events. Rather the small, quiet moments in between will be what you come to cherish. Remember to give yourself time for those moments.