Most fanatics with a camera have dreams about exploring Venice at night. It's the reason why I packed my tripod in my suitcase. Happily I used it in Florence and Tuscany, but that was just a warm up for Venice.
By the time we finished our gondola ride, the sun was beginning to fall. The girls were ready to go back to our hotel, enjoy the cool air conditioning and free wifi. As I packed up my camera, adhering it tightly to my tripod, my excitement grew. Liz talked about possibly going with me.
I paused, I felt bad about it, but I just wanted to make things clear. It was okay if she came, but I wasn't going to stop for window shopping or sightseeing. I wanted to explore. With my camera. And be selfish about it. It was to be the only night we would be in Venice. I wanted to roam the streets and stop when I felt like stopping, move when I felt like moving. I know that sounds selfish, because it is.
If we were going to be there for two or three nights, I would hope that I would have been willing to share. Instead I headed out by myself for an adventure of a lifetime.
I had no idea where I was going. That was the beauty of it all. I wandered over cobblestones, through alleyways, across foot bridges, stopping when I felt like it, moving on when I felt like it. The sky slowly got darker, but I never felt afraid. Sometimes the streets were empty, sometimes I would come across another person or two, but I never felt afraid.
At last I turned to go back to our little courtyard, when I somehow stumbled across what appeared to be the docking place for many of the gondolas that glided across the canals. I stopped to take some pictures, soaking in the moment. There was the lapping of the water against the edge of the canal, the low laughter of a few of the gondoliers no doubt sharing some tale of the day and the gentle breeze that wafted through the air.
Continuing on in the general direction of our hotel, I did what I read every tourist should do in Venice...get lost. If it weren't for the fact that it was late by this time and I didn't want the girls and Liz to get worried, I probably would have roamed the streets even more forgetting that I was lost. Added to this, was the fact that I was getting tired. I finally resorted to asking several shopkeepers for help.
Even with the fact that most of the shopkeepers spoke English, it was still hard to follow directions. There is a lot of waving of the hands and the alley ways are so crooked it's hard to know if the block is ended and that's where you turn right or left or if you should continue for a few more steps before making the turn.
Staying calm helped a lot as did having landmarks to refer to. After thirty minutes of confusion, I finally came upon a familiar place and was able to make my way back to the hotel from there. By the time I lay my head upon the pillow, I was ready to call it a night, excited about what the next day may bring.