Tag Archives: Venice

Venice

On Monday 20th February I set off for the airport to fly to Venice Marco Polo Airport. Very excited! I met Rhiannon, my niece, we had lunch and flew off at 15.20 in fog. We were assured by Easyjet staff that our plane had extra sensors so no worries.  We landed at Marco Polo safely on time at 18.30 Venice time.  Only had hand luggage so cleared quickly and went to the Alilaguna Water Bus to Lido.  I had done this in the past but all was changed, much larger and modern!  Very exciting but dark of course and yes misty.  With the help of a handsome young official we boarded our vaporetto (water bus) at Lido for our hotel at St Elena. He was concerned that “it was dark there and did I know my way!”  Rhiannon was slightly disconcerted by this conversation (in perfect English) but I quickly reassured her that I knew where we were going.  We arrived at the hotel and I explained who we were BUT I was speaking bad Spanish instead of bad Italian!  The Reception Staff were amused by this but it set the tone for our whole stay of friendly, helpful service.  We had a wonderful supper in the hotel restaurant, with our first bottle of Prosecco of the stay, and an early night.

Next morning we were up refreshed and raring to go.  Had a good breakfast for 9 Euros each and set off. We bought 3 day Vaporetti passes which were so useful in that we could hop off and on as many times as we wanted without hassle of buying tickets each time.  That morning we walked into San Marco alongside the Grand Canal, sadly still in fog, but in good spirits. We passed the Giardini Gardens, the site of the Biennale Exhibition featuring International Artists shown in 1920s Pavilions representing the different countries staged every 2 years. It is also the start and finish of the Venice Marathon, yes a full Marathon!  We passed The Arsenale where the great shipbuilding industry was based helping support the power of Venice.   It was Carnavale which is a very special time in Venice, lots of people in elaborate costumes posing in the hope a photographer will feature them.  I spoke to several international photographers over our stay who said people queue up to be photographed free and just want a copy.  For the photographers it is an ideal opportunity to expand their portfolios.  Two of our favourite subjects are featured below, in many ways it was like stepping back in time.  Venice was packed and buzzing with excitement.  We walked miles that day until we were exhausted and went back to the hotel for another superb dinner and yes more Prosecco.  Our hotel was on the tip of the main island but in a less crowded residential area with a park and small restaurants.

I was pleased to remember my way around and Rhiannon enjoyed being guided to familiar sites including St Marks Square, the Campanile, the Doge’s Palace and less famous parts which featured Venetians going about their daily lives including the police boats, ambulances, garbage collections and delivery men all on the canals.  Everything is transported in by boat which adds to the traffic on the Grand Canal.  We walked through the Fish Market and Rialto Market, hence the statutory photo of Rhiannon on Rialto Bridge.

One morning the hotel arranged a special water taxi for us to Murano to a glass factory.  It was fascinating to see glass blowing skills in the tradition which dates back to at least the 15 century.  We didn’t buy any but it was wonderful to see.  Sadly our video didn’t come out well enough to show you.  That day we also visited the Guggenheim Museum as an antidote to the beauty of La Serenissima.

A high spot of my trip was meeting up with a friend of mine who I hadn’t seen for 18 years.  We studied together for our Masters’ Degrees, although Louisa was 30 years younger we became firm friends.  She married a Venetian after returning with her degree and now has three beautiful daughters and lives on Lido.  She lectures to Art Tours, Cruise Ships, at the Biennale Exhibition and to various visiting University student courses so continues the experiences we had.  Louisa took us to a wonderful Venetian restaurant, Anice Stellato, which was hidden away where we had one of the best meals I’ve had for a long time.

Sadly it all ended too soon.  Rhiannon will return with her boyfriend Jon and take a trip on a gondola, not something to do with your aging aunt! I think it will be my last trip but one I will treasure.  We took off on Friday 24th February in fog! Whilst I had wanted Rhiannon to experience Venice set against a bright blue sky the misty, foggy conditions added to the glamour and mystery of this beautiful city.

I’ve attempted to give you a flavour of Venice but please try to visit yourselves if you haven’t been already, if you have I hope it brings back good memories.

 

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Motivation

Whilst out on my usual walk, which I’ve shown pictures of at times, I was musing the word motivation – as you do! I really had to force myself out on a cold, frosty morning but as there is more of me than when I fell ill I must exercise regularly and regain my fitness levels.  Thing is I have never been “an athlete”.  I set off reluctantly but pretty soon got into my stride and looked around at the winter landscape.  Frosted spiders’ webs, frozen plants and trees then the sun came out and transformed it all into a beautiful winter scene.  My spirits lifted, I was glad I had come out and enjoyed the walk which offered such a contrast to the other seasons I have enjoyed doing it.  Dog walkers and other people all speak so it becomes a sort of social event too.  Dogs always greet me (I’m not going to analyse that one!) and their owners always have a conversation.  This lengthens the time taken but adds so much too.  I arrived home feeling warmer, healthier and ready for a cuppa! Job done!

Motivation is an odd phenomenon.  Some people seem to have no problem, seem driven at times. The only time I really pushed myself hard was during my years of studying part-time for a degree whilst working full-time in a stressful job, two of my children were still living at home and my husband though very helpful had his own stresses.  Thinking back to those times I realised that if one has a goal that is important for whatever reasons one works hard to achieve it.  Finding ways to push on despite feeling despondent and exhausted. In the wider context I realised too how cushioned I am and have no real pressure to do it other my own desire.  It did change my life but every day people all over the world have to push themselves to their limit and beyond just to survive.  I am going to end this thought process now as it will become boring to read and too long for the blog.  I would love to hear how you motivate yourselves to achieve your goals.  No need to climb the highest mountain or come up with something to save mankind – I am veering  too close to politics now!  I hope this ramble of thoughts is understandable as you’ve all guessed I was struggling to motivate myself for this blog!

One result of my first degree was the opportunity to do another degree – a Masters Degree in History of Art Venice and Europe.  I had just turned 50, took early retirement from my job and flew off to Venice for 10 weeks (the first term).  I knew hardly anyone, most of the other students were 25 years younger than me and I was terrified.  The following two terms were in Warwick University, back in the UK, but my young friends supported me and I them.  The time in Venice was one of the best in my life, it changed my outlook on life and remains a continuing source of pleasure.  In February I am flying to Venice with my niece, Rhiannon, who has featured in some of my fun times I’ve shared with you previously.  This will be her first visit but not her last I am sure.  It may be my last but we will make it memorable.

To end I share a motivational post with you.Relax

Craziness In the House

So, this week is a double release week for me and I’ve also got (to use a cliche) a tiger by the tail. I need to update my website with all my new stuff and lots of other things need doing but I am in the throes of a crazy whirlwind of a story. It will not leave me alone. My house is a wreck. I haven’t cooked in days and in fact, never ate dinner tonight and it’s 10:30 as I’m popping over to get this post ready. I love a story that wants to tell itself, but dang, I need to do other crap, too.

My first novel that sold was set in Italy and it still sells to this day. Every royalty statement has some sales of it on it and several people have said it’s their favorite book of mine. That caused me a little angst as i like to think that my writing has improved since then but I finally figured it out. People love Dario, the hero. The macho, alpha, arrogant count is a wonderful character (even if I wrote him myself- lol). So, I decided to return to old Italia for the new story.

My inspiration was Venice and the water taxi driver who took me and my son to the train station. He was a beautiful man. Absolutely divine. I also adored the city. It was lovely and so unique. I can’t wait to go back someday, but til then, I’ll hang out with the hero in my imagination.

This thing has taken over my life. Send aid. Chocolate, a chef, a maid and maybe a lawyer who can do my day job so this Italian man will let me work in peace from 8-5. Have a wonderful September and see you on the other side of this fast draft!

Foreign Film Recommendation

I like to watch foreign language films and I took the time to watch two this past weekend. I enjoyed them both even though they were quite different from each other. The one I want to tell you about is quite a lovely little romantic story. It’s called Bread and Tulips.

It’s the story of an Italian woman who is on vacation with her family. They are on a bus tour and the bus leaves her while she’s in the bathroom at a rest stop. She’s been a housewife. She has a husband who is a loud mouth as well as a cheater. He’s not nice to her at all.

When she ends up waiting over two hours and they haven’t come back for her, she decides to hitchhike home. On the way, after chatting with the two people who offer her rides, she decides to go on to Venice.

She spends a day in Venice, then misses the train home. On her way to the station the next day, she stops at a florist shop where there is a help wanted sign. She takes the job and stays in Venice for a while.

This was a wonderful tale of hope and I loved it. I also enjoyed the Venice scenes. Having been there, it was a neat addition to my enjoyment of this film. Here’s a link to the imdb info.

If you haven’t watched a foreign film, try it. It’s a whole different experience. Surprisingly, you won’t feel like you’re reading, the stories are usually so riveting. Give it a try and let me know what you think. If you like foreign films, too, give me some recommendations.

Spaghetti Alla Carbonara

When I was in Italy, almost every restaurant I went in had Spaghetti alla carbonara. I thought it sounded disgusting. Spaghetti with bacon and eggs? What? I didn’t order it until I went to Venice.

While we were in Venice, my nephew and his wife met us. He’s stationed in Aviano, which is about an hour away. We had lunch and I mentioned that I thought the spaghetti carbonara sounded disgusting. My nephew said he loved it- it’s his favorite Italian food. His wife said it wasn’t like eating breakfast on pasta. The eggs are actually added to the hot pasta and bind to the pasta, they don’t  scramble. So, I ordered it and guess what? It was amazing. So tasty.  And I had it again before I came home.

I don’t have my own recipe for it but here’s a link to one I’ve found and tried. It turns out very well.  This guy, Tyler Florence, is one of my favorite Food Network chefs. He makes his recipes easy to follow. Check it out. http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/tyler-florence/spaghetti-alla-carbonara-recipe/index.html

Lunch in Venice

Waaaay Over the Fence

I was way over the fence this past month as I traveled to Italy with my younger son. When I was between my first and second year of college, I traveled to Europe with my parents and I have great memories of that trip. When my oldest son was between his junior and senior year of high school, he went to Europe with a group of 25 students. I asked the younger son if he wanted to do the same thing between his junior and senior year of high school. He informed me that he didn’t want to go with a bunch of “nerds”- rather, he wanted me to take him. After I got over my joy at being a step above a nerd, I started planning the trip.

I was a bit disappointed that he only wanted to go to Italy, but since it was his trip, I settled in for the ride. It was a great deal of fun and I’l always treasure this time I spent with him.

He loves art and music so he was in heaven. He was quite attracted to one painter’s work in Venice and we bought a painting from the guy. It’s lovely- impressionistic in look. The texture is amazing. It’s at the frame shop now but I can show you the picture of my son with the artist. I think this photo is great and we’re attaching it to the back of the canvas so he’ll always know where it is.

A grand time, but I’m glad to be back in my own backyard and peering over the fence at you all.