For as long as I've wanted to travel I've wanted to go to Italy. The language, the food, the culture; there's nothing about the country that doesn't pull me in. And so, mid-September I took a week off work and went to Venice instead. And it was literally everything I'd hoped it would be.
I find it so hard to believe that people actually live in Venice. And not just on the outskirts, but on the main island. All the normal things - eating, sleeping, shopping, working, fighting, laughing - they do in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and probably without giving their surroundings any real thought. All I did in Venice was marvel. And despite it being billed as a city for lovers, I was quite happy to wander the streets and eat my body weight in gelato by myself. Although I did realise while I was there that you can't really gondola alone.
The other thing about travelling alone is that you're never really alone anyway, if you don't want to be. In hostels especially you meet people whether you're looking to or not. But because Venice is fucking expensive I couch-surfed. And for the first two nights I stayed in the same house as a group of three German students who were on the last leg of a month long road trip, and who turned out to be possibly the best people I've met while travelling so far. They were fun and clever and unbelievably happy for me to spend my first couple of days in Venice with them.
Before they left they suggested I go see the Biennale, an exhibition that Venice hosts every year (despite the name), and which oscillates annually between art and architecture. I love art, but I LOVE architecture. Marrying an architect is in my top 5 life goals (becoming an architect has been ruled out by my total lack of drawing skills and depth perception). I spent hours exploring the exhibit, and even managed to find the Australian pavilion, complete with fooseball tables.
I came home sunburnt and relaxed and so happy I can't even describe it. And even though now it's three weeks later and it's getting cold, and the coffee here is terrible and I sometimes have to work in the rain, it makes me smile knowing places like Venice are so close, and I'll be going off to discover more of them so soon.