Lost island: For Rhys Muldoon, Venice has echoes of Sydney's Sylvania Waters.
Your faithful correspondent is writing this column in Venice, an almost unforgivable crime, I know. It is not only chock full o' foreigners, it is also chock full o' boats. There are no cars, so you just know this place is some kind of socialist wonderland. The poor are free to boat about at will in their ongoing hunt for work. Foreigners boating other foreigners around, while earning a living. Some of those foreigners may or may not be Scottish. It's like an alternative universe. It's almost like they have no idea of the "Team Australia" concept. These people (and I am covering my writing hand as some are lurking) are clearly enemies of justice and freedom. People smugglers here are called "gondoliers". Typical foreign obfuscation. They paddle about with nary a care in the world. Some of them even sing foreign sea shanties to unsuspecting white people. Cheeky.
It all started at customs. Do you think they asked me what their best cricket player's average was? Nup. Do you think they asked me if I was "into their vibe"? Nup. Just straight through. No questions. No raised eyebrow. Nothing. These are dangerous people. The whole place looks like Sylvania Waters, but with older buildings and more water. And less lawns. The Tom Ugly's bridge is longer and called something foreign, but it's still a bridge. In fact, half the place is bridges. Mostly with pretentious, "spiritual", pseudo- Frenchland names. As you can imagine, I'm alert and occasionally mildly alarmed. Their food is mainly foreign too.
It's been a bit of a funny old trip all round actually. As a patriot, I flew over on the Qantas "Recognise" plane, and they seated me in 18C, which made it a bit difficult to sleep, as the three blokes behind me, George, Andrew and Tim, kept flicking the back of my seat. Even after we landed they were still going. Thankfully none of them got off at Dubai.
Man About Town: Rhys Muldoon. Photo: Simon Schluter
But back to Venice.
To call this place a city does it a disservice. It's more of a floating miracle that exists despite logic and because of the poetic heart. It's shape is reminiscent of a heart. The veins and arteries are thick and true and even a little clogged and dirty, as the heart of the reckless is often wont to be. Everything around this unique organism is, truth be blabbed, pretty crap. The Marco Polo Airport is so profoundly unworthy of that mighty explorer's name, you'd think they'd forgotten he brought Italy pasta. Then it's just car yards and scruffy hotels, some swamp and a spaghetti stick bridge until...
Venice. The lost island, where you can't help but find a new you. It does that. Worldly concerns seem to simultaneously fall away and come into clear focus.
Venice has something that few cities have: Nearly every inch is beautiful. And anything that's not is still worth a photo. Paris has it. Dublin kind of has it. I'm sure there are others, but I'm not that widely travelled. My point is, you can point anywhere, in any direction and see beauty. That's quite an amazing feat. Especially as it's still a working city. It's not just "Veniceland" for tourists. (Though there are, as is the case of all "special cities" these days, tourists aplenty. The difference is, Venice has had them since, well, a long time ago. From temple to trade to temple to the tourist has been a long slow process, and still continues today. Her identity remains elusive.
I can not recommend this strange semi-Atlantis highly enough.
Get on a plane, then get on a boat. Venice will float your boat. Promise.