When travelling, I’m a huge fan of going off the beaten path. I’ve noticed that theme cropping up again and again in my writing, and whenever anybody asks me for travel tips, it’s one of the first suggestions I make.
But I’m not actually against doing touristy things. True, I prefer to try to time doing them when it’s quieter, going at off-times to avoid people. But that doesn’t mean I don’t find value in doing the things that everybody flocks to because they’re touted as the thing to do.
Take Venice. I’ve been fortunate enough to visit Venice several times. The first time, I was with Ron, and before we’d even left Canada, I told him I wanted to go on a gondola ride. He didn’t full-on roll his eyes, but he said it was up to me to arrange things, and there was a good-natured Humor Her vibe to his demeanor.
I didn’t arrange the ride in advance. I’d read gondola stands were everywhere in Venice, so I decided to wing it. I’m glad I did. They were everywhere, and picking which one to hire based on face-to-face interactions lent the transaction a more personalized feel. I finally settled on a stand near our hotel, and contracted a pleasant fellow to take us on a tour of the canals.
Considering Ron’s humoring mindset, and the fact that I primarily wanted to take a gondola ride just so I could say I did, neither of us had high expectations. We were both pleasantly surprised by how enjoyable the experience was. Not only did we get to see areas of the city that are only accessible by water, it was quiet.
One of the side effects of the mass tourism that Venetians are rallying against is noise, and the canals the gondoliers take tourists through are lesser used than the main ones. That alone was worth the ride.
The second time I was in Venice was with Kerry and, when I suggested we should think about a gondola ride, she was a little skeptical. But she was also more than happy to give it a try – especially when she saw the gondoliers.
My second time around felt different than the first. I was more open-minded about it, expecting it to be a pleasant interlude instead of cheesy, and I wasn’t disappointed. I don’t think Kerry was, either.
In the long run, it all comes down to one thing. No matter how hard we might try to deny it, the reality is that when we travel, we are tourists. Sometimes, you just have to embrace that.