When I was in Italy in 2008, my friends and I spent most of our time with absolutely no idea where we were. We actually had--gasp--paper maps. Paper. Maps. And we used them to get around. It was surprising every time we arrived somewhere we *meant* to visit.
Smartphones changed everything about European travel. My sisters and I have used GPS daily to tell us where we are, where to go, what's nearby....until Venice.
I swear there's something in the air that confuses technology. People spend even amounts of time holding hands and starting dumbfounded at their phone screens. There's no mistaking the "Where the eff am I?" look in every language. The alleyways in Venice are like a sneaky labyrinth. You think you're headed the right direction, then you suddenly are forced to veer right and left, and you end up in a piazza behind where you started. The streets seem to move around you, like a puzzle that gains new levels depending on the steps you take.
But it's beautiful, and romantic, and kind of depressing to be here with sisters and not a significant other. It's been cloudy and since the island is pedestrian only, every sound is hushed. It makes it so easy to imagine you're alone in your own personal city.
Incidentally, we were here for New Year's Eve, and Venice put on the most spectacular fireworks show I've ever seen. Just...wow. Waterfalls of fire and light.