Bucket List Item #168 – feed pigeons in Venice
Expectation vs Reality
Image courtesy of my fabulous friend and ultra fashionista and stylist extraordinaire Avery accomplishing this bucket list goal in style.
Pigeons are one of my favorite animals. Pigeons are beautiful, intelligent, resilient and loyal. They have a lot of character traits I strive to possess and as such I believe they should be cherished…and fed lots of bread!
It’s always been a dream of mine to be surrounded by pigeons, sort of Mary Poppins style. While living in Zagreb I told my friend Sara, (a fellow traveler that you can follow here), about this fantasy of mine and she said the best place to live this dream is in San Marco Square in Venice. I added it to the bucket list immediately. When I went to Venice for my birthday I basically made an a-line for the square with the intent to immediately live my fantasy. It turns out that you can be fined heavily for feeding pigeons in Venice because they are ruining the integrity of the architecture, particularly in the square. I was determined to do it anyway, but there were officers giving out tickets in the square that day. My dreams were dashed. The thoughts of what could have been an enviable Instagram photo plagued my mind: an opportunity missed.
I came back later that evening and arrived at the square too late. The pigeons had gone to roost. I wasn’t ready to throw in the towel yet! We were spending the weekend there and I had one more day to try. We made it to the square one last time and there were officers doling tickets AGAIN. I resigned to pursue this dream another day in another city. I know you can do this in so many places around the globe (they live in nearly every urban city GLOBALLY) but, of course, had hope for the iconic Venice photo. And in all fairness, I had had what was an equally satisfying pigeon experience the year prior in Zagreb. There was a little, old man in Zagreb who always fed the pigeons in Ban Jelačić Square. He saw me watching one day and beckoned me to his side. He gave me food and showed me how to hold the pigeons. Soon enough I had some new friends and probably a much more personal experience than I could ever hope for in Venice.
Anyway, I was still in Venice and knowing this may be my only chance to check this item off my bucket list I had to feed some damn pigeons. We moseyed down an alleyway and I found a tiny group of pigeons in a residential area, away from the prying eyes of the Venice polizia, and gave them bits of my bomboloni. (Side note: the magical Italian donuts are Dave’s favorite thing in the world. They a must try if you’re ever in Italy.) It was less epic, but still satisfying, and I still got to conclude a bucket list check. AND the fail didn’t end there. We documented the experience on film and forgot we had done so. We moved back to the US and when we were unpacking found two rolls of undeveloped film. We got them processed, but they were totally damaged. Most of our Venice photos were destroyed and the ones we did have were rough.
This brings me to an important lesson: not all bucket list checks turn out in your favor. Sometimes you have an unexpected trip to London and want to check off one of your many afternoon tea experiences on your bucket list to find that EVERY SINGLE ONE IS COMPLETELY BOOKED. Sometimes you’re meant to see a cave in the Czech Republic and rent a car and drive four hours to get there just to learn that it’s completely booked for the rest of the summer, yet they failed to put that info on their website and don’t let you buy tickets via the site. Sometimes you move to Zagreb because you run out of time in Schengen while awaiting a visa and try to get opera tickets for six weeks to no avail. Yes, all of these things really happened, the cave situation with Sara again. Sara, maybe you’re bad luck. 😛
It doesn’t always work out in your favor, but every moment brings something equally special. In London I opted for a double decker tea and city tour experience and Dave and I had the most lovely afternoon. (Thanks to Jennifer Brownlee for this recommendation!) In the Czech Republic on our long drive home from the cave we stumbled on Veveří Castle, which I ended up revisiting for my last editorial shoot before moving back to the US. In Zagreb we may not have been able to see the opera, but in our endless attempts and visits to the opera house hoping for last minute ticket forfeitures we said “fuck it” since we’d already walked that far and would eat downtown or explore and found new places every time. In this case finding a desolate alley with a few pigeons led to exploring the beautiful residential alleys in Venice, which had so much character and beauty. We also found the most delicious little pizza place totally isolated from the city. The staff were so nice because they weren’t so used to tourists. We got to have a little locals-only experience in Venice, and considering the island isn’t that bit I thought that was pretty special. A mistake or failed plan is just a gateway to another adventure. So, next time you’re on vacation don’t let a hiccup effect your experience. If you open yourself to new experiences and let life guide you then in turn the life will reward you. Don’t let vacation misadventures get your down!