If you haven’t already guessed—from the globe of London in my cover photo to my poems and posts about various places—I like to travel. There are many things, though, that they don’t tell you about in all the pretty little brochures. Culture shock. Jet lag. The disillusionment of place. Just to name a few.
I’m not saying that people shouldn’t travel. I’m just saying that every time I go someplace new, it’s never quite what I expect, in good ways and bad. I didn’t expect Germany to have so many immigrants. I didn’t expect Italy to look so dumpy. Then again, I didn’t expect to enjoy visiting the German bakeries every morning any more than I expected to start drinking cappuccinos in Italy.
Travel changes people. It teaches us about the world and our own cultures and selves. Despite Italy’s run-down nature, it is one of the most recycle-enthusiast countries I’ve visited. Because Germans’ often stoic behavior and brutally-honest words, I have learned to appreciate honesty even more.
The following poem contains just a few of my thoughts on Venice. You may recognize glimpses of the city in a previous poem, “Shadows”.
People romanticize the canals
and arching bridges of Venice,
but have you ever gotten yourself lost
in the sticky, humid heat
down an alley that stinks of urine?
Don’t get me wrong,
I enjoy the way I stumbled
across a bookstore with volume
after volume laid out in rows
within a bathtub, within a boat
for when the city floods.
I relished watching the glassblower
tug at the liquid fire and mold it
and pull until he set a little red horse, solid,
on the table.
But try finding a place to park
outside the city inside a garage
where your car is no longer a car
but a sardine packed among sardines.
I would rather take the train
and not have to worry about driving
with these maniacs who don’t signal—
I would rather be told to stand
at the wrong platform—
then rush back
down the tunnel, up to the right platform
and board a train with cracked windows
and humid air. Pounding hearts. Less stress.
Is it worth it all?
Taking the time to travel
to walk the trash-lined streets,
sail under the Bridge of Sighs
taste the bread topped with olive oil and rosemary
smell the salt of the Mediterranean,
feel the cool water lap at my feet
as we escaped the throngs of people and pigeons.
The towers are crooked here,
but even in leaning, there are blue skies.
Let’s chat! What are your thoughts on travel? What’s the last journey you took? What did you think of the poem?