As Leah and Lola made their way across Europe courtsey of Go with Oh, I followed their adventures with amusement. Who doesn’t love a good girls’ road trip, especially when it includes five European cities over four weeks, not to mention trains and planes, wine and pasta, feather boas and flamenco dancers? It was a veritable arm-chair traveler’s dream!
But even as I lived vicariously through their daily exploits and even as I daydreamed about a possible Go with Oh month-long trek of my own some day, I’m practical enough to know that – by necessity – my own such adventure would have a somewhat different theme. For want of a better term, let’s call this fantasy trip the Fritz Family Foray into Europe.
My dream plan is simple enough – a week in Dublin and London with my Anglophile loving daughter Jackie for some mother-daughter bonding time, followed by a week in Rome and Venice with my 15-year-old son Jordan, where I hope to introduce him to some real Italian culture – with the emphasis being on REAL. As I’ve already covered why Dublin with my daughter is on the list, it’s high time to explain why oh why I want to take my baby boy to Venice.
For starters, that boy needs some perspective. While looking over pictures of my friends-only trip to Venice, he actually said in all seriousness, “Oh, I’ve been there,” all the while pointing to the bell tower in the Piazza San Marco. “I climbed up that dome,” he said matter-of-factly as if he had actually “climbed” the basillica. “See that bridge?” he declared, “I jumped off of that,” pointing to the Rialto.
A weary world traveler, is he? Not exactly.
Of course, my xBox-bleeding teenage boy was referring to his video game, Assassin’s Creed, one version of which takes part in Venice and allows players to crawl over every dome, bell tower and bridge re-imagined by the game’s designers in all their gorgeous glory. He knows of the Piazza and the Grand Canal and the Rialto Bridge, but, unfortunately, we’re talking in CG graphics detail only.
As a mother, I desperately feel the need to point out to him the difference. While the graphics in Assassin’s Creed are good – very good, in fact – nothing takes the place of actually BEING in Venice. Good graphics or not, the experience isn’t even close. Actually being IN Venice is a tactile experience which should include, in no short order, the following:
– hearing the bells toll throughout the city upon the hour, any hour;
– reaching out your hand in the Piazza San Marco toward a cloud of forward pigeons who promptly swarm you for food and get a bit familiar in the process;
– getting oh so deliciously lost on a daily basis and not caring if you ever find your way back;
– smelling that ever present hint of salt water every where;
– discovering the uniqueness of Venice’s highly socialized dog population:
– discovering hidden treasures like a Knights Templar cross cut into street pavers, tiny doors, building bolts and Flavia’s costume shop, and;
– making wonderful new friends.
Additionally, as a picky, picky child, Jordan practically lives on butter, pasta and cheese. We often joke that he’ll some day own a store called ‘Carbs, Carbs, Carbs!” so naturally, his place is in Italy. He once asked me to bring home a gigantic wheel of parmesan, but since I couldn’t fit it in my carry-on luggage, it seems like a shopping trip in Venice is in order too. It’s time he try lugging home his own 30-pound wheel of cheese.
Lastly, having been to Venice recently with friends, I find that I desperately need to go back, especially given the city’s recent flood. I want to make sure that things are still as magical and as different as we experienced before. Plus, there’s still so much to see. As we crawled through the city at a snail’s pace – seriously, there is SO much to see – we only scratched the surface. Naively, before we left, we actually thought we could see every square inch of this modest sized city in the course of a week. Little did we realize that our average daily pace would turn out to be two blocks an hour. It’s THAT different.
So now, I want to go back, bringing my 15-year-old son along with me in what can best be described as the “remix tour.” I can only imagine at this point what it would be like for him to actually stand in the Piazza San Marco without his computer and online friends. As he is a curious, smart and personable young man, I know he’s going to love it.
Or else he’s grounded.
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By Robin Fritz