View from the bell tower of St. Mark's Basilica.
  • View from the bell tower of St. Mark's Basilica.
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In Venice, I was a third wheel. Or more like a unicycle. The other wheels were found on a bicycle built for two, riding in the opposite direction.

Venice sidewalk café.

Venice sidewalk café.

This was not the best city for the lone traveler looking to share a conversation or meal with new friends. Every lady my age was connected by the hand, hip or mouth to her man friend, and I felt like a spectator on someone else's honeymoon. A public peeping Tom. Instead of my usual wide-eyed self, gaping in awe, my gaze darted about, trying to avoid resting on an overly affectionate couple. It was a bit depressing.

Even a gondola ride was out of the question. At a whopping 80 euros, there was no way I was going alone. It was the first time I felt limited by my independence.

Being in Venice was the first time I'd felt sad. Me, the unabashed optimist, in a melancholy mood.

My low spirits didn't last long. After a long-distance phone call, I snapped out of it. I was, after all, in Venice! Gorgeous Venice! A beautiful, floating city with many other sights for me to focus on besides the rampant lip-locking that I abhorred (or really, was just jealous of).

As I have done in every other city, I climbed the highest peak (the belltower in Piazza San Marco) and spent time taking photos.

Snails at the Rialto fish market.

Snails at the Rialto fish market.

In lieu of a gondola, I took the vaporetto, Venice's subway on water, for a seven-euro sunset spin around the islands. I stood at the side of the boat the entire route, getting off at the same stop from which I’d boarded. I bought a hand-painted leather wallet and perused the Rialto fish market with so many sea creatures and buckets of live snails.

Despite the reservation for one, I had one of the best meals of my entire trip: fresh-caught seared tuna, homemade macaroni with exotic mushrooms, and a lemon ricotta cream.

Dangling my legs over the concrete curb with my feet hovering over the water, I spent my afternoons eating Sicilian oranges, drinking spritz aperitifs and enjoying the sunshine.

I left Venice happy, knowing I made the most of my solitude.

"Secret" passageway in Venice.

"Secret" passageway in Venice.

I can understand why this is a city for lovers, a magical place full of romance. With no streets, no horns honking, no traffic or the typical hustle and bustle, it’s truly an escape. The narrow alleys are dizzyingly twisted and often appear to dead-end, only to present you at your destination. It gives you the feeling of an explorer. As if you and your loved one are forging new paths, finding routes never before taken.

Despite the masses of tourists, the cramped and tangled avenues offer you the illusion that you're all alone. Just the two of you. (Well for me, just me, but we're already over that.)

The accordion music is enchanting. The brackish lagoon water looks fake, like that of a lukewarm swimming pool. The foundations are masked in green algae. The rocking water lulls you; lights glitter on canals and cast a twinkle in the lover's gaze.

From the stripes of the gondoliers to the canal reflections doubling what you see, this sinking city makes you dizzy. You must grab on to the one you’re with for stability. The buildings are all slightly atilt, and that, mixed with the abundance of Aperol cocktails, adds to the hallucinogenic qualities that the city is so famous for.

For two, Venice is euphoric.

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Derek Ray July 2, 2013 @ 12:46 p.m.

Great story. Nice timing, too-I'm going there tomorrow!


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