Our 'Welcome' into Europe
"Cities were always like people, showing their varying personalities to the traveler...Where one city will rise a certain individual to glory, it will destroy another who is not suited to its personality. Only through travel can we know where we belong or not, where we are loved and where we are rejected."
- Roman Payne, Cities and Countries
I have been very excited to bring my son to Europe for the first time since my trip here in 2013 and he has heard me speak highly of it for the past three years. I fell in love with Italy, in particular...the people, the air, the light, the history. Everything about it.
I wish I could say that our arrival into Europe (Venice) was a good experience but that was not the case. The city of Venice was beautiful but the people who crossed our paths, both residents and the European tourists, tainted the experience to the point that we couldn't wait to leave Venice. The attitude toward us took me by surprise for I had not experienced it when I was here before. However, I am different now than before but the only thing different about me is that a health issue (which the doctors are still working on) put an extra forty pounds on my body and my son is overweight right now, also.
Every time we were out, we could not walk more than four or five steps, maximum, down any sidewalk, before someone was looking at us in utter disgust and they made no attempt at being subtle; their complete contempt was very clear. My son occasionally got looks from people when we lived in Seattle but nothing compared to the atmosphere here. It was constant and it was everywhere. It didn't take long before we referred to leaving our hotel room as walking the plank or facing the firing squad.
I have often heard that we shouldn't let other people's opinions affect us or bring us down but that is easier said than done. We tried very hard but it was extremely difficult for us not to be affected by it, particularly with such a continuous onslaught. What was really sad to see was the total lack of compassion from people. We experienced this attitude from every age group, from the elderly to children who are being taught at a young age that some people should be looked down on and publicly shamed for their differences.
After our experience here, I would say to anyone who is overweight by twenty pounds or more, don't waste your time and money in coming here (to Venice, at least, as I cannot speak for the rest of Europe yet) unless you are comfortable handling a bombardment of looks that say you are not worthy of existing or are some kind of circus freak. I know those are strong words but they accurately describe what we experienced. We hope the rest of Europe will not be like this as we have been looking forward to having wonderful travel experiences, making new friends, and meeting great people over the next year.