I'm not sure how I feel about romance. I like the idea of romance, but romance in its modern iteration, I'm not so sure. Although the kind that immediately comes to mind doesn't excite - the kind that is immodestly shared on social media and unrealistically played out on film - romance in its pure form, centred on a feeling of excitement borne in wonder or love, appeals. Yet this latter dimension has in a sense become subject to the increasingly predominant focus on appearances. Is it even a grand gesture if the world (i.e. social media) isn't privy to it? It is something we have all become guilty of at times, dedicating far too much time to romanticising our own lives instead of simply living it.
So I asked myself, is there still such a thing as true romance, an escape from the mundane, even if only for a brief moment of overwhelming excitement and abandon?
To be sure, I went to Venice.*
The collective fascination with Venice is hardly surprising. The thing with Venice, is that it doesn't even have to try. With it's winding canals, maze-like cobbled streets and terracotta coloured walls, the city naturally oozes old world glamour. Although it has largely resisted modernity's gravitational pull, maintaining traditions and a slower manner of living, there is no denying that it does come up against tourism's erosive touch. Which is hardly surprising considering the crowds that descend daily on the fragile city.
But I went to Venice with a purpose; well actually, two. To celebrate my birthday and mark another year passed; because you see, travelling on my birthday has become somewhat of a sacred ritual for me. And to immerse myself in a place unphazed by the passing of time.
Many go to Venice for what you can see, I opted to go see what I would feel. For its incredible stillness in the morning, untouched architectural beauty, incredible light and generous locals, are more than a cliché; they are what makes the history and magic of Venice. There is nothing quite like getting lost in this island city and halted by its unique beauty. Perhaps then true romance is this, a shared experience of beauty and fleeting sense of remoteness that transcends the noise and disappears the crowds.
*Cue inappropriate questions of the marital kind from well meaning, albeit intrusive, friends and family