I want to start this entry with a brief disclaimer that I am not the biggest fan of day trips to important foreign cities. Call me condescending, but there’s no way someone can honestly say they have anywhere close to a decent grasp of the culture and feel of a city after spending only a few hours there. With that said, I am not afforded the free time to adequately immerse myself within any city I travel to on this trip. I must, therefore, do the best I can to capture the essence of these places with only one or two full days at most, but usually within only a few hours.
Since our excursion to Verona was one such trip, visiting some of the more major sites was a priority. Seeing the balcony of Juliet again was quite the nostalgic experience for me considering it was the only thing I was able to recall from my previous trip to Verona with my family. I enjoyed elbowing my way through the tussle to get a picture with the statue of Juliet, and I was more than happy to see that they are deciding to keep at least the main wall free from notes and graffiti after having done the most recent restoration.
Naturally, the Arena of Verona was also impossible to miss, and we were able to marvel at the structure for some time as we waited to depart. Again, I was held by a reminiscent feeling as I looked upon its arched openings. Yet, this time it was not called back to another memory, but another place: Roma. Obviously, the similarity of the monolith’s image to the Colosseum is apparent, but even just seeing an ancient structure juxtaposed with a modern surrounding city reminded me much of the living contradiction that is Rome.
The last main site I managed to experience was the Castelvecchio and its imposing bridge. I found it to be a very comprehensive destination spot for visitors as it offers everything from expansive views of the city and the Adige River to the small vendors and street performers one can expect to find in such a place. The steps that allow you to scale up the side of its walls also gives you access to a perfect photo spot. Also, the city center itself was enjoyable to walk through and see its many boutique shops and restaurants. However, I must confess that the best part was still sitting at a bar in the piazza, drinking an aperitivo and eating cheap snacks, and watching the Argentina World Cup game.
The same time constraint that made the Verona trip more strenuous was what also made the stop in the small port town of Lazise that much more valuable. This is the kind of place day trips are made for! The town square had small enchanting shops, cafes and restaurants of various sizes, and amazing views of the expansive lake. I found the town anything but sleepy, however. Instead, it was filled with life and energy, as exemplified by the group of tango dancers by the beach and the wedding reception on the other side of the harbor.
After walking along the shore for a spell, we decided to stop for dinner at a place right by the water. It is hard to imagine a more picturesque moment than watching the sun descend through the layers of illuminated clouds and over the shimmering lake while you have a glass full of white wine in hand and a plate full of mixed seafood in front of you.
The very last moment I was able to experience before rushing back to the bus was certainly the most special of the day. My friend in the group had every intention of jumping into the lake with his bathing suit on as the sun was setting. After dinner, I offered to accompany him to the shore, help him take some pictures to record his moment, and enjoy the final views of the day.
After he spent a few moments in the water and I myself had dipped my feet in, he pressed me to join him in the swim regardless of my lack of swimwear or towel. Despite my habitual hesitancy and persistent rationality, I realized that moments like these are unique and fleeting opportunities, and I could sacrifice a perhaps less comfortable bus ride home for such an experience. So, I stripped down to my boxer briefs and dove into the remarkably fresh water, taking in every stroke and feeling the large rocks beneath my feet.
It is hard to describe these moments of unabashed enjoyment, with the closest comparison in my mind being a childlike magnetism to the carefree. The only thing I can conclude from it, however, is how important it is for us to say ‘yes’ to these opportunities that make us truly happy despite the reservations.