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This is a personal love story. 

Since Valentine’s Day has just passed, I thought I’ll share a little love story of my own. And the story goes like this…

It was Christmas Day in 2014, the day I received a surprise gift from The Pom, he presented me with two mock ‘air tickets’ hinting that we are going on holiday in March the next year. But he didn’t tell me where and kept it as a surprise. But it wasn’t difficult to find out where the ‘mystery location’ was because The Pom was very bad at keeping secrets. So he had to plan our itinerary and did all the bookings, silly thing was he had left all the tourist information printouts on top of the printer. Then, I also found a guidebook in the toilet that he’d been reading this whole time! I was like, “This is no surprise, we are going to New Zealand.” For the next three months, I was trying to burst his bubble, telling him that I already knew we were going to New Zealand, there was no surprise at all. Don’t get me wrong, I was still happy that we were going on holiday, but we’ve been to NZ many years ago,  so I wasn’t too excited about it as I’d rather go to a new country that I’ve never been before.

On the day before we flew out, I was ready to pack my suitcase with some light clothes and shorts as it should be still warm and summery during March in New Zealand. It didn’t take me long to pack, I was ready to fly. And then, out of the blue, The Pom presented me with another present, sealed inside an envelope. He then muttered, “Well you know we are going on a surprise trip tomorrow, you might need this for it.” At that point, I was still convinced that we were going to New Zealand, and I could feel it was a book inside the envelope, “I know is a book inside, is it New Zealand guidebook?” He didn’t say anything. I ripped open the envelope, and indeed it was a guidebook, but it wasn’t New Zealand, it was VENICE! For the first time, I was totally shocked and let out a loud yelp, “WHAT!!!!!” He was laughing his ass off and being all smug, “Tricked ya! You thought we are going to New Zealand didn’t ya?” Then I just realised he’d been double bluffing me all this time, leaving breadcrumbs around the house to make me believed that we were truly going to New Zealand! That sneaky bastard, well played mister, well played… I mean, I was pretty happy that The Pom was treating me a free trip to New Zealand, but Venice?! It cost a fortune! It’s not something I would expect from him (or anybody) at all! It was a genuine surprise. The next thing I know I had to repack the whole suitcase for winter weather in Venice. 

But little did I know, the surprise didn’t stop there…

After an excruciating long 24 hour flight via Dubai, we finally landed in Venice jetlagged and exhausted. But our spirits weren’t dampened and soon lifted by the romantic sight of Venetian buildings, gondolas and canals, just like a postcard! 

Here’s a little trivia for you, did you know Venice is made up of 117 small islands, separated by canals and linked by bridges? So navigating through the maze-like city is quite a challenge, took a wrong turn and you will end up taking a longer route to find the next bridge to cross the channels. So on the first day, we took it easy and spent the day to find our bearings around town. 

It was a bit gloomy on the first day we arrived, but it turned bright and sunny the next morning and the whole Venice came to life. Since Venice is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, it can be very congested during high peak season. Also, I’ve heard the whole city can be “smelly” during Summer with their drainage system.  I am glad it was low peak season when we there, it wasn’t crowded with tourists at all and the weather temperature was at a pleasant chill between 10C – 20C during the day and dropped to 3C at night, perfect for winter fashion. 

We spent the first day doing a little bit of sightseeing, first stop the Piazza San Marco, often known as St Mark’s Square, it is Venice’s prime attraction. This principal square of Venice is well known as one of the finest squares in the world. Here you will find most of the major attractions including the Basilica di San Marco, Doge’s Palace, the Campanile bell tower, the clock tower and the pigeons. Lots of pigeons. Here you will also find lots of restaurants and cafe bars but since this is a tourist hot spot, so be prepared to pay exorbitant prices. 

At the square, The Pom suggested that we go grab a coffee and some cakes at Caffe Florian. Opened in 1720, Caffe Florian is claimed to be the oldest coffeehouse in the world. It was the most famous cafe back in the old days, frequented by important people such as Casanova. This iconic institution is now a must-visit for any tourists to Venice. The cafe had been expanded into two (or three) shops, the opulence interior was over-the-top, from gold gilded ceiling to Italian marbled floor, we all looked so out of place with our modern outfits of tracksuits and winter puffy jackets. 

Caffe Florian pride themselves with impeccable service and finest products. They are well known for the distinguished ‘Florian service’ where the servers come in pairs and everything presented on silver trays. 

Cioccolata Casanova  

As expected, it wasn’t cheap to dine here, but you are paying for the experience. We ordered the signature Cioccolata Casanova, a minty hot chocolate, thick like chocolate sauce. And then two pastries to share (possible the cheapest item on the menu). Our bill easily came to over €50. The pastries were good though. 

As I was munching on the flaky apple danish, The Pom whipped out his iPhone and told me he had a video to show me. I was like, sure. He knew I was obsessed with the animation “Frozen” back then, the video began with the song ‘Love is an open door’, then there were photos of him posing according to the lyrics! I almost choked myself on the pastry. Then it turned into a slideshow, old photos of me to recent days, and also many photos of us together travelled in different countries. It was very sweet to watch the video and realised how much we’ve done together all these years. I couldn’t stop laughing the whole time. The Pom sure had something up his sleeves, then it was time for the speech…

“Honeeyyyyy…… (the longest honey ever), you know when we were in Japan, you gave me a ring and proposed to me, it was 2006. Now, 10 years later, I think we should renew our relationship and is my turn to propose back to you. (At this point he was pulling out the ring I gave him) But we have a slight problem, I only have my ring with me. I tried to look for yours at home but couldn’t find it. (To be honest, I couldn’t remember where I put it either, but I found it eventually) So I only brought along mine.” 

I always thought The Pom doesn’t do romance, just not his nature. All these surprises were totally unexpected. He sure had surprised me big time and outdone himself. He put the ring on his finger, we hugged then a quick kiss on the lips. Both of us still not used to showing affections in public, let alone two gay men kissing in public. We both looked at each other giggling and hoping no one saw us kissing. We held hands under the table so no one could see it, we just enjoyed that special moment a little longer. 

Is Venice the most romantic city in the world?

It sure is.