The Charming Canals of Venice, Italy

 

Italian architecture has a distinct voice that’s impossible to miss. There’s so much to admire about each city I visited, but through the days I was roaming around this wonderful country, no city left such an impression on me like Venice did. Entering Venice, the sense of adventure is unavoidable. Bewildered at such a peculiar city. A city where traveling by water is more convenient than maneuvering through what probably is the most isolated maze of pedestrian streets of any operational city in the world, and a place where boats are the main mode of transport. Where instead of a public train or bus, one of the most accessible public transport around is the public water ferries. Shuttling people through floating stations where my balance is tested due to the sway of waves from boats zooming by. Yes, there’s definitely a sense of discovery coming back to Venice (maybe also because I was much younger when I was here last), but nevertheless – Venice is undoubtedly one of the world’s most unique cities.

There are many aspects of Venice which make it unique. Imagine the city back when it was first built and inhabited. If it commands fascination today, the city must’ve been a real wonder back in the day when it was new. Think about how many floating cities there are. Arguably only nine in total, but none quite like Venice. The marriage of Italian architecture, with its eye-catching facades and Venice’s creative city blueprint, is what charms millions each time. What I hadn’t noticed on my previous visit to Venice was how artistic the city’s community is.

Wandering through the various shops which line the narrow turns and bustling corners sits shops with crafts screaming with creativity. From the jewelry gems, I came across to the striking masquerade masks displayed. Creativity is part of the city’s identity. Why is such an interesting city host to such creative inhabitants? That is a question I’d like to explore further the next time I come back (and I will definitely be back). Even amongst the murky canal waters which double as the city’s sewage system, the unbearable hordes of summer tourists (ironically, myself included) pushing through the crowded streets on a hot summer’s day, Venice was still a seductive city. Captivating my every attention.

One thing I’d like to note, before arriving at Venice I didn’t realize the crisis Venice is facing as a dying city. I only knew about the city’s sinking problem, but what I was ignorant to was the problem it faces against tourism. Sitting conveniently along the Mediterranean and along a route most cruise ships take, the city’s locals are drowned out by the millions of tourist who arrive in the quaint city each year. I can tell you myself, visiting Venice in July (what’s considered high season) was beautiful but more unpleasant rather than enjoyable due to the number of people (or shall I say tourists) around. At every corner, at every bridge, there was no way to escape the crowd. I remember thinking to myself, oh how terrible it would be if I lived in a city where my day-to-day becomes more difficult because of tourists.

Where I live, Singapore, is a cruise ship stop too. I find myself complaining about the tourists crowding my city, but to experience the density of Venice is a whole other thing. For now, I wish to share this with you, so we can be aware of the problems our world faces. I wish there was something more I can do because Venice is a magical city worth fighting for.

 

The Colors of Corfu

 

Arriving at Corfu the first thing I noticed was how different the architecture of Corfu was compared to the Italian cities I had visited on my summer adventure. The walls of Italian homes are bright and colorfully painted, but at the same time, modest and muted (not what Italians are typically known for). Not a vibrant red, like that of fresh Italian cherry tomatoes, rather an earthy shade of red which resembled the color of old red bricks. Arriving at Corfu, however, it wasn't the architecture that caught my eyes. When we arrived in Corfu, Greece the color which caught my eye the most were the colors of nature.

Quaint village named Afionas, Greece

Quaint village named Afionas, Greece

The flowers were wonderfully vibrant, the blue skies seemed more inviting than the previous cities we visited, and even the tree barks appeared more dynamic. I barely took notice of the homes or buildings, whether fortunate or not— a city’s architecture (that of man-made sculpting I may add) is what I usually notice most about a town or city, but Corfu made a different impression on me.

The natural beauty of Greece is undeniable. It’s rich soil, delicious produce and of course marvelous food, and terrific landscapes are what has placed Greece on the global radar for travel. Despite where the country is economically— unfortunately evident in the piles of rubbish scattered at trash points around Corfu, is not an accurate representation of the real beauty Greece has to offer. Certainly not of Corfu. Amongst the secluded coastlines, scattered netting to catch olives, and the occasional snake crossing the street, Corfu made a memorable impression on me (or maybe it was what we were shown, but I tend to side with optimism anyways). There was so much natural color screaming attention. There was fresh air to breathe in and of course, the delicious olives and food patiently waiting a visit. 

Note: We went on an amazing tour, which took us through hidden passages to secret spots (areas where even Corfu locals know about, so said our tour guide). I highly recommend the tour if you’re ever in Corfu.



 

 

Holiday Truths

 

A holiday means different things to different people, but two qualities that should be essential to a holiday is a real adoption of taking it easy and letting loose. Surprisingly, easier said than done for some. I used to stress about how much I ate or how little I worked out during my holidays, but I finally reached a point of accepting a holiday for what it is, a holiday! Here are two tips, to make a holiday worthwhile:

#1 - Take It Easy

There are some of us who enjoy working out during time off, while others find it more difficult to sweat it out while on holidays. Whether you’re the former or the latter, it really is about what fits your lifestyle. I am of the latter.

I find it incredibly difficult to motivate myself to workout during a holiday because my intent for a holiday is always to give myself a break. To me, that means giving my mind and body a break as well! Adding routine into a holiday is the opposite of what I enjoy, especially on holidays shorter than a week.

If you don’t get a workout in during a holiday, don’t sweat it! There’s no reason to feel guilty about taking a holiday (i.e. a break) while on holiday. It’s called a holiday for a reason. Unless if I’m away for more than a week, then I’ll usually do a simple 30-45 minute middle to high-intensity workout or if I am nearby a nice area to run, I’ll make the effort to go for a jog. What’s important here is to find what works for you, but don’t let any worry corrupt any part of the holiday.

If you don’t get in a workout during the holidays, then be ready to commit to a routine once the holiday is over. Rest goes a long way anyways!

#2 - Let Loose

Unless you’re on a restrictive diet due to a health condition, there’s no reason to discount your food experience while on holiday! I love food! I love tasting new food! I love discovering new food! I love eating food! I basically love everything to do with food, so whenever I am on holiday, especially to a new country or new city, I enjoy experiencing the local flavors. I can say it’s a hobby of mine.

It doesn’t mean go crazy and eat as much as I want, but what I mean is don’t be afraid to eat what each place is known for. In Italy, there was no way I could go through my holiday without eating lots of pasta and pizza. Neither could I pass on the chance to devour delicious Italian gelato, especially during a hot summer like this year's. More importantly, I allowed myself to enjoy every bite, every drop, and every lingering taste without any sense of guilt.

Here’s an important mindset, you’re on holiday! Let loose a little! I mean eating gelato every day is not what I recommended, but on a holiday, it’s really not the end of the world because what I remind myself when I am on holiday is that the holidays are temporary (unless you’re some lucky person who holidays for a living then this advice isn’t for you). My ‘routine’ or lack thereof isn’t a problem. It’s only temporary! Best of all, with adequate rest-- physically and mentally, I usually come back from a holiday even more committed and ready towards my routine.