The Venice you may be familiar with is characterized by romantic gondola rides, narrow alleyways, and old bridges. The Venice you might have heard about is flushed with tourists from all over the world, selfie stick in one hand and a gelato in the other.

The Venice I got to know for two weeks has a much different mood, still with a bit of the above sprinkled in.

There’s no forgetting the old churches and decadent architecture, or the street signs etched into the walls in a way that was meant to please the eye. Seeing such intricate details on every single street made me nostalgic for when people made the time to put more art and love into places of importance.

I won’t forget walking the quiet streets at night when everyone has gone to sleep. It’s in such contrast to the winding, bustling alleyways that I thought may never know silence.

I won’t forget the way the water floods over the canals when it rains, how the water rises up the bricks of the buildings several feet high up the wall, the stones still soaked even months later.

I want to remember the song of the Venetian-Italian dialect, the friendly hustle and bustle of mixed tourists and locals enjoying the car-less streets, and some of the happiest dogs on earth strolling the city beside their owners without leashes.

Surely I will never forget the short Chinese man with an Italian swirly mustache and the huge golden retriever, about his size, following him lazily around Venice. Venice attracts people of all types to live in its maze, if only for a little while.

Venice is another dimension. It is romantic in all ways, from the narrow streets to the wide canals, the cozy cafés to the old pizzerias, the tiny gift shops to the old alleys made from stone. Everything seems worthy of a photo.

Sure, it’s flooded with tourists… and water, in the rainy season. The prices are a bit high year-round, and it’s actually a sinking city thanks to erosion, but that doesn’t stop travelers of all types from flocking to this wonderful gem in little Italy and paying the premium to live in such an oasis.

There are some places in the world where the moment you arrive, you feel welcome. You feel as though you are meant to be there, like this was the right decision you made by coming.

Venice, for me, was one of these places. It is the most iconic and picture-perfect place I have visited yet out of 19 countries explored. The moment I saw the canals and architecture of Venice I had this feeling of magic. My heart kind of jumped and I couldn’t speak. I felt like I was in my own fairy tale, with villains and heroes and everything. The scene was set everywhere I looked.

Venice was the backdrop to one of my favorite life chapters yet, but I didn’t keep that fairy tale going. It was time to move on; any good movie should have an ending, after all.

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