I get an email from Sherry Otts about the opportunity to be the next “Go with Oh Blogger” and I stare at the list of 10 cities to choose from, to write about, attempting to narrow it down to just one, the city to end all cities.
How does anyone choose just one?
Sure I could make the decision based on simple and obvious criteria such as where have I not been before. I love the new, the exciting and the unknown as much as the next travel writer but I feel like I should be able to do better. Go with Oh has apartments in some of the best cities in Europe, picking just one is like choosing one animal to save from the apocalypse, nearly impossible! But try I shall!
The ultimate city in Europe should satisfy the logical mind, the emotional heart and speak to the sensuality of the soul. Lets start the first round of elimination using the sensuality filter.
I will recite the names of each city and see what instinctive reaction I have to it. The name of the city and all of its associations should make me automatically close my eyes, a giant Cheshire cat smile slowly emerges and I let out a audible “HMMMM…” as if dark chocolate is melting on my tongue.
Barcelona – a purse of lips and thoughts of seafood. Nope. There is no closing of the eyes and fried smelt is not a taste I want to linger in my mouth.
Paris – HMMM. Buttery croissants and night streets soaked in orange, sodium vapor light. Yep. The eyes closed upon recitation and I crave chocolate éclairs.
Berlin – a frown appears and my face is scrunched together. I have a love and hate relationship with Berlin and I very much would like a re-do. I would love to love you Berlin! But the Berlin Wall and Check Point Charlie is failing to appeal to the sensuality criteria of this selection process.
London – A shrug and meh.
Rome – HUMM. That could be interesting….Nope. I feel the logic of my mind and not the craving of the soul.
Vienna – The nose crinkles and I think of beer, classical music and waiters smoking while serving. Nope.
Prague – MMMM…Charles Bridge, maze like streets and Christmas. Prague feels delightful!
Venice – HMMM. OH YEAH BABY. The Cheshire cat just ate the dormice!
Dublin – James Joyce is the first thing that comes to mind upon the recitation of the name. I love Joyce but Ulysses does not evoke the feeling of sensual delight nor does it taste like chocolate.
Florence – Botticelli’s Venus comes to mind as the eyes close and I inhale the dim light of museums and cathedrals. I lick lips and wonder what an orange ripened on a tree in Florence would taste like. HMMM!
Using the sensuality / soul qualifier, I’ve narrowed the list from ten European cities down to four: Paris, Prague, Venice and Florence. Now we move onto round two, the emotional association.
I was 20 years old backpacking through Europe. Even though the premise of the trip was predictable, it was not without its moments of excitement and drama filled travel tales. Once upon a time, one friend left another behind in the majestic medieval city, just days before Christmas to boot, so she could chase down a guy who seemed to be indifferent to her. I found myself alone in Prague, wandering the streets with names I could not pronounce and no longer in a hurry to go anywhere or see anything. I was alone. I could take in the city at my pace and get as lost as I liked. After spending a few days getting the rhythm of being solitary under me, hanging out with other travelers and learning about where they were headed next, I was addicted. I wanted to hop on the next train that was leaving the station and wear out my Eurorail Pass. I wanted to throw my itinerary out the window and just go! Prague was the city where I got bit by travel bug and fell in love with traveling alone.
The City of Lights. Young lovers in a studio apartment above a bakery. He would go downstairs and buy a fresh baguette every morning while I brewed stovetop espresso and made scrambled eggs for us. We had the first real fight of our relationship in this apartment and spent the rest of the week making up. Paris is love in its most dramatic forms. The height of love promised, the violence of love disappointed and passion of love repaired.
Art, art and more art. Long before I wandered across the known world, I wandered from one luscious volume of art books to another, gently caressing the paintings reproduced, waiting for the day when I will behold their presence in person. Long before I declared travel to be my addiction of choice, I inhaled history and biography of Italian Renaissance Painters like a practiced crack addict. Art is my first love and will most probably be the most enduring love.
The city for lovers. Some time during my six-years of devoted love, I told him that I didn’t want any more presents for holidays, birthdays or anniversaries. Instead, I wanted trips and adventures. I didn’t want to be a collector of things, I wanted to be a connoisseur of experiences. “Lets clump a year’s worth of birthdays, holidays and an anniversary into a trip that we will always remember.” He said ok. “Where do you want to go?” Venice. Six years came and went and we never made it to Venice. Instead, he gave me a copy of The Best Travel Writing from The New York Times on Italy.
UGH. Tough choices still. All four cities are all associated with love in one form or another. Now we must implore logic to help with this dead lock. Where have I never been before and would love to go? I’ve traveled through Paris and Prague but never Florence or Venice. Given circumstance and the stories each city invokes, sensual and emotional, I think Venice is the ultimate European city!
I want to be the next Go with Oh blogger and go to Venice.
The 5 things I would most like to do or experience in Venice as the next blogger for Go with Oh are:
1. Photograph the markets of Venice for my ongoing documentary project, Wok the Dog, and understand Venice from a different vantage point.
2. Sit alone in the church of Frari and be with Titian’s Assumptions.
3. Find a new way to photograph Venice and tell a different visual story.
4. Sit at a cafe and read Henry James’ The Wings of the Dove and finally understand Milly.
5. Be open to the possibility of love and a lover who will indulge me in being a collector of experiences and adventures.
Go with Oh, Please send me to Venice as your next blogger!
Dear reader, please help me become the next Go with Oh blogger by tweeting out this post.
Dear @gowithoh, send @charliegrosso to Venice and help her become a connoisseur of experience instead a collector of things. http://ow.ly/9EOHu