The Strange Happenings of Venice
Written by jackreiser September 26, 2022
Venice. The city on the lagoon. Since its settlement in the seventh century, the city has been enthralled in countless mysteries, happenings, and strange occurrences. Millions upon millions venture to this city each year to explore the labyrinth of canals, bridges, and alleyways. I, along with six other CIMBA students, chose Venice as our first destination to visit over the first weekend.
Our travels went smoothly, and immediately strange things began to happen. A group of local men were traveling to Venice on our train, where one of them had a window frame around his neck. We thought it was only a practical joke and thought nothing of it. The man with the window frame approached us, and immediately each mention of tourist scams from our CIMBA staff ran through my head. My fight or flight instincts kicked in.
Instead, the man was the bachelor at the head of his bachelor party group, and he was dared to make a TikTok with strangers. Simple enough to me. He made the TikTok with one of my friends, and we shared a laugh as we watched the final product. With my brief Duolingo practice and one class period knowledge of Italian, we communicated that we were American students on the way to Venice. Our first strange occurrence of the weekend and we were on our way.
Our afternoon in Venice began as we snaked through the crowds out of the train station and found our Airbnb. The weather carried the last remnants of the breezy rainstorm from the night before, as there was no sun until about three o’clock and the sun finally began to shine. From then on, the city was ours.
San Marco’s Campanile, the piazza, Doge’s Palace, and the Bridge of Sighs each were thoroughly explored. Everyone ought to witness warm sunshine on the Grand Canal. No other city boasts intricate décor and beauty comparable to that of Venice. I plan to test that claim each weekend this semester.
As the evening faded into night and our adventures of the day faded to memory, we found our way to a restaurant near our Airbnb. This is where our strange happenings continued. We were eating dinner, and a Venetian had left their dogs strung up to an old well, leaving their dogs to howl, adding an element of spookiness to the dark piazza. We continued with our dinner and asked a man at a table beside us if he could take our picture.
This question marked the strange happenings of Venice. After he took our picture, he began talking with us in skilled English, a welcome sound during my first travel weekend. (You can see his thumb in our picture.) Our quickly asked favor had turned into a cultural delve into Dutch culture, lifestyle, and education. He was from Utrecht in the Netherlands. He described his favorite (European) football clubs, and how the Italians prefer a defensive strategy. The Dutch farming protests are a real thing and have affected how food is provided across Europe, because the Netherlands are a leading food exporter. Dutch children choose their educational tract when they are in primary school that will ultimately determine their vocational positions in life. The last expectation of my trip to Venice was to meet someone from a completely different region of Europe.
Not only strange was the occurrence of meeting different cultures in a new place, but it was fascinating. Our world is so accessible to travel and new experiences that we are able to immerse ourselves across two or three cultural lines at the same time, and more clearly understand our place in the world.