The temporary, the fleeting, and the momentary

Le sigh. I'm back from my two week getaway and already that all too familiar melancholy is setting in. It was a lovely escape from the hustle and bustle that was the past few months...but alas, all good things must come to an end. C'est la vie, n'est pas?

And though we often express disdain for this rather well known fact, isn't that what makes those times so special? The allure of the temporary, the fleeting, and the momentary...the knowing that it will end, when it will end, and setting your expectations accordingly. There is no dancing on the roofs of hope or thinking about the long term...just enjoying the ride for what it is and relishing in the series of extraordinary (and not so extraordinary) moments we encounter along the way.

We say we wish we could be on vacation everyday...that it could all last "forever" but isn't that the very thing that makes life so mundane? If every getaway, every stolen moment lasted forever (the way we often say we wish they would), wouldn't it lose its very appeal? Isn't that exactly when it becomes the permanent, the expected, the routine...and the everyday? Doesn't it then become the very thing that we so desperately and so often want to escape from?

So though I'm sad to have left Europe, I happily return to my home here in Toronto, not with despair that I won't get those moments back (as I felt last year), but with appreciation and gratitude that I was lucky enough to have experienced it all in the first place...

A Boat, A Bus, and a Train

I can't go without blogging about my travels back to Vienna from Venice. With a combination of boat, bus, and train, my journey encompassed all sorts of landscapes. Starting in Venice, I had to ride the Al Vaporetto, the boat, to get to the bus station. It was a lovely short ride along the Grand Canal, giving me my last glimpse of the palaces, the gondolas, and the island. Bittersweet.

The Grand Canal

From there I took the bus to an Austrian city called Villach. Didn't really know what to expect to see from my window...maybe some small Italian towns, but nothing spectacular. More than anything else, I think I was just upset that I was leaving Venice to enter the world of cars  again.

But my frame of mind changed soon after with views of winding roads, acres of vineyards, and would you believe it, the Swiss Alps. I had no idea that I'd even come across those great mountains during this trip! I had totally forgotten that the Italy, Austria, and Switzerland all neighboured each other! And surrounding the mountains were little streams and a river with the cleanest water I've ever seen in my life. I don't know the name of that river but the woman next to me said it's one of Italy's longest...I'll have to research that later. But anyway, there I was sitting on the bus in awe and I couldn't help but think that the people who live there get to see this scenery every single day. Do they realize how beautiful it is? Do they still appreciate its grandness or is it just there...a backdrop simply ignored?

The Alps

But alas, the journey didn't end there...I had to switch on to the train and enjoy four glorious hours of the Austrian landscape. How could I have forgotten that the Sound of Music took place in Austria? With the vast and rolling hills in sight, I pictured Maria twirling around singing, "the hills are aliiiiiveeeee...". So lovely! Seeing the homes there, I imagined again of how life must be like. Crazy to think how much diversity there is in this world... both in lifestyle and in geography.

The Hills of Austria

I really didn't expect that adventure back to Vienna. I just thought I'd sleep or read much of the way but how could I with scenery like that? Who knew the sights I'd behold on a boat, a bus, and a train would be so breathtaking?

Venezia, il mio amore

How can I possibly capture the perfection that has been the past week? Exploring Venice and its neighbouring islands and discovering their distinct culture, their rich history, the warmth of their people, and their overall way of life has been, quite simply, a blast. It's just so different from where I've been, where I come from and what I know...just the mere fact that it's a city in water is enough to set it apart from everywhere else. The trip and my learning of the old Venetian Republic's history served as a powerful reminder of just how much beauty there is in the world, in nature, in man, and in our ability to create, adapt, and discover...

The city oozes with that old school romance that we now only watch in movies or read in books. Everywhere you turn is a potential subject for a painting, every sound a possible song, and every street corner a story to tell. Like I said, it's everything I imagined it to be. Artists tucked away in hidden alleyways painting the sights before them or acordion players performing in's a sight I thought only existed in movies. But voila, I lived it for the past few days. C'est incroyable!

As I sat by the canals I imagined wars being waged on those waters with the Turks or the Slavs. I imagined the days when it was a commercial hub where merchants from all over the world traded their goods with one another. As I walked the hallways and rooms of the Ducal Palace, I imagined the everyday lives of the doges and dogeressas...such a distant past that I found it difficult to fully conceive. So distant as to be so unrelateable and seemingly irrelevant...and maybe that's what adds to its allure...

But more than anything else, I loved just roaming the streets and canals of Venice with absolutely no plans or maps and just going, literally, where the road took me. There's nothing quite like losing your way and trusting your inner compass to find your way back. It's amazing the things you'll discover...the small shops, the hidden alleyways, the odd writings on the wall, or (my favorite) the kind people. If there's anything I'll take away from this trip, it's the beauty of the city (of course) but also the warmth of the people. You wouldn't believe how many people I came across who were so eager to help or just so happy to say hello. Out of all the countries I've been to here in Europe, Italy is by far the friendliest...and really, what is a city but the people who comprise it?


So with all that, let me be the first to say that I've fallen in love with Venice. I was so sad to be walking across Piazza San Marco for the last time this morning. The city has stolen a piece of my heart and there's no doubt that I'll be back to get it...

Ciao belli amici!

Ciao from Venice, Italy!

Made it to this quaint little city yesterday morning and no sooner do I step out of the train do I see that famous Grand Canal with all the gondolas. Let me tell's everything I imagined it to be! Everytime I step outside, it shocks me to see boats and gondolas as the main mode of transportation. And walking along so many bridges to cross not a street, but a canal! It's like I'm living in a totally different world!

I've been spending the past two days just walking everywhere and turning at every small little alleyway and trying, as much as possible, to take the unbeaten path. I've done some hefty exploring walking from San Marco to Accademia to Rialto to San Lucia...and let me tell you, my feet are on fire! I feel like I've walked the entire island already (almost actually).

The weather has been gorgeous and promises to be for the rest of the week...lovely to see everyone just hanging outside with a glass of vino listening to the live band playing in the background. It makes me think of everyone back in Toronto who are always so excited when patio season comes knocking around the corner. Excited to find a spot near the canal sometime later this week and just take in the sun and a good book. This, my friends, is the dolce vita!

Anyway, I've got to run. I've got an early morning train to catch tomorrow AM to Milan. Just for the day though and then I go back "home" to Venezia.

Ciao for now!