When I started traveling solo, I was excited to explore many new places and learn their histories and cultures. I was never concerned about waiting for others to join in this exploration. However there were some cities I reserved specifically for an encounter with my significant other. Perhaps this was due to the romantic image attached to some destinations, places only to be visited whilst in a relationship.
I observed how the same idea is too often applied to other plans and aspects of life: buying a house, moving to a new city or simpler tasks such as eating at a restaurant or watching a movie alone at the cinema. They all seemed to be plans that many would choose to wait and do with company or more preferably, with a partner. Therefore the idea of doing certain things and traveling to specific places, solo, is often still a foreign concept that some would rather not do.
From Paris and Rome to Budapest and Amsterdam, there were many beautiful places I had reserved to be enjoyed with the right person. But what grew clear is that I was missing out and wasting time waiting around. I was allowing my happiness to be determined by a relationship I didn’t even have yet. So I decided to put an end to this unnecessary pressure and visit one of the most romantic places in the world, alone, Venice.
On one long weekend in the summer of 2018, I made my way to Italy and ventured into Venice. Instantly the city took my breath away as I traveled along the Grand Canal and further into the centre. For a few days, I stayed in a small quaint hotel in the heart of the city, just a few short steps away from Piazza San Marco. The city was buzzing with large crowds of people and packed with energy, so much so, it was easy to forget I was even on my own.
I started off by learning about some of the history of Venice by visiting landmarks such as St Mark’s Basilica, the city’s unforgettable cathedral which glistens with golden mosaics in the main square. I also visited Doge’s Palace and Museo Correr, a mesmerising museum filled with historical collections and Venetian paintings. It was a pleasant feeling to gain knowledge of the city and more understanding as to what makes Venice as special as it is today.
However, I wanted to immerse myself into more of what Venice truly feels like. So after this, I decided I wanted to experience the magic of Venice the way couples do but alone and not feel bad or embarrassed about it.
I took some time to pause during lunch and chose a restaurant right by the Grand Canal to eat and take in my surroundings. As I people-watched in the sun, I enjoyed a delicious serving of gnocchi coated in fresh basil pesto, with a light sprinkle of parmesan all accompanied with a glass of Pinot Grigio. My view was beautiful. I admired the glitter from the sun as it sparkled in the water, I watched the constant streams of people walking back and forth, some alone, some with family, some with partners and listened to the soft Venetian sounds of musicians playing in the distance. I soaked up every moment and I felt content.
One morning, I explored the city through its waters on a private boat. For an hour, I cruised along parts of the Venetian Lagoon through a mahogany work of art on water, the Motoscaf,i and took in the sites of the colourful fishermen homes of Burano, Rialto Bridge and even ventured slightly further away from the city to take in all of its beauty as a whole. For the rest of the day, I wandered through charming streets whilst eating gelato, pistachio in flavour, whilst stumbling across boutique shops filled with leather goods. I strolled through the small “campi” (in Venice there is only one square which is allowed to be named a Piazza) of restaurants with customers enjoying espressos and cappuccinos outside in the sun and then I finished the day by watching the sun as it set along the Grand Canal.
Venice is known as “The Floating City” and is certainly a world of its own. From the charming and passionate people to the rich history, winding canals and picturesque scenes, there is no other city in the world, quite like Venice.
It is a quintessential experience to visit Venice alone and I’m glad I had done so and given this gift to myself. I created moments the way I had intended, along with acquiring life long memories, precious to only me. During my time here, I had become aware that too many opportunities are missed, waiting for a romantic relationship in order to reach new milestones or even visit new places. I was certainly guilty of this prior to my trip. Whilst Venice is rightly so, a couple’s dream destination, the city is also a great place for a solo traveler and helped me to awaken a friend within. I realise that a lot of what I want to do in the future and set out to achieve, can be done so alone.
My visit to Venice helped me to rediscover my own path and encouraged me to prioritise myself, with or without a significant other. I left feeling at peace and understanding that much of what comes with having a partner are expectations, feelings and milestones, I could give to me, independently. A partner is an added bonus to the life we choose to create for ourselves, not a necessity. So no longer did I want to pass on opportunities. Instead, I learned that it is ok to be on my own and to live a life based on my own terms and because of that, I thank Venice and suggest for everyone to visit this wonderful and magical city alone, at least once.