Monthly Archives: January 2018

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Uh-oh . ..I can feel it happening.  It’s that subtle, underground magnetism, much like the moon’s tug of the “acqua bassa” (low water) we observed yesterday.  It’s waiting for me with each morsel, sip, bond, unexpected detail, discovery.

It’s that crazy little thing called. .  .love.

Last week I was in love with Buenos Aires, mostly for its tango culture.  This week I’m in love with Venice, mostly for its mystery and complexity.

The day began with exploring the Accademia, the home of pre-19th century art.  Sure , I was a bit tired and groggy when we started out and even during the first hour of strolling through the deserted galleries, and then I discovered Polimnia (by Canova), the Greek mythological muse of sacred poetry, hymns, geometry, and meditation.

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Sitting amongst the splendor of some of the world’s most magnificent art, I remembered to pinch myself to remember to simply live in the moment.  And my moments here were filled with amazement.

We had booked the Venice Bites Food Tour which met right outside the Accademia, and what a gastronomic and comedic treat we were in for in the next 4+ hours!!

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Adam and Maya filled our eyes, ears, and bellies with the best off-the-beaten-tourist-path-family-owned-and-operated eateries and artisan shops in Dorsoduro, San Polo, Rialto.  Beginning with a caffè corretto (coffee corrected with grappa) and ending with a Select (not Aperol, not Campari, in between), we were regaled with stories, food, and a clear sense that these ex-Pats were well-immersed and well-loved in their community.

From our “Tony Bennett” barista. . .

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To a dog-friendly watering hole . .

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To the best, most award-winning cicchetti (1.30Euro/piece) in Venezia. . .

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And the cleanest, most filtered free tap water. . . (acqua rubinetto) . . . .125 around town. . .

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The floating vegetable market which has been here for 71 years. . .

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And the most beautiful carciofi which made me want to grab it to take home, bake, enjoy with a bottle of the house wine of which you can buy a liter for 5 Euros. . .

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The strongest coffee in town, haunted by students, not us. . .

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A seafood lunch  ( after 5 food stops!!). . . .

Un dolce (dessert) of frittelle and a look at a seasonal favorite.  .lingue di suocera (mother-in-law tongue). . . .(I think I must go back to sample these!). . .

And the “bonds,” those tied-together stone structures of the heart between homes that indicated two families who were bound together by friendship,marriage, birth, or business and wanted to proclaim that to the world.

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(Perhaps a marriage bond? Note the two crests at the top, then the larger ornate crest at the bottom.)

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Botteghe (boutiques) of mask artisans, glass artisans, cheese makers. . . .oh my. . .

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And our final stop on the back-side of Rialto market for a Select.. . With a lesson in always looking the bartender in the eye and asking for Aperol, Select, or Campari CON PROSECCO because otherwise you might just get soda water. . .

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Mamma mia!!   I’m in love.

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I mascheri. . .the masks

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I came to see masks and buy a mask. . .a REAL mask, made in Venice, by a Venetian artisan.  I also came to look at other people’s masks and costumes.  Here’s my progress on all accounts:

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I have a lot more research to do before making my UMD. . .Ultimate Mask Decision.

Buona notte!!

Carnevale di Venezia. . .the continuing saga

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Not to be hood-winked a second day, I was up and ready to leave by 8 am to secure a spot for the boat parade on the Grand Canal.  Savannah and I went out with a plan and Gayle/Susan would meet us.

Haha. . .the joke was on us!  The Rialto area was totally empty and good viewing spots abounded!  So we enjoyed un caffè, un cornetto, and we shopped at the deserted souvenir stands and market stalls.

We bought veges for soup and chatted with the guys from Bangladesh.  So how does this happen that two Bangladeshi end up selling vegetables in Venice. It’s a mystery.

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Gayle and Sue easily spotted us because there were VERY FEW PEOPLE AROUND.  Was last night a figment of our imagination?  Was there really going to be a boat parade on the Canal today?  But soon we saw boats going toward what we figured was the starting point.

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The parade today was all about fun, family, and community.  It reminded me of Halloween Parades or the Beaufort, SC parades in which every club, organization, Sunday School class, gets together, thinks up a theme, makes costumes, and goes out rowing.

This being Italy, the starting time of 11 am came and went but by about 11:45 am the flotilla began appearing.

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Ok, so I swiped these photos from the UK Daily Mail when all I was really looking for was a good photo of the American addition to the parade:

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Translation:  “Mine is longer.”  Each rower had a target on his/her back.

This is MY photo:

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Feeling much refreshed and relieved that we had now seen the second parade in its entirety and with no agita, we set off to find food and do what Italians do on Sunday. . .walk, shop, eat.

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Frittelle. . ..those Carnevale treats available for 2 weeks only.  Mine filled with pistachio, Savannah’s filled with zabaglione.

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Gayle and Sue adeptly ordering lunch. . .

Back at home we planned our week ahead, ate, fell into bed exhausted.  We are  READY  for a week ahead of adventure.

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Carnevale di Venezia. . .the Opening Night

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We thought we were coming to Venice to see the spectacle of ethereal aerial acts over the water, beautiful sights high above Rio Cannaregio, a sky lit with wonder and awe.

This is what we saw:

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So let me explain.  We decided to attend the 8 pm water parade and allowed 2 hours to take the traghetto and find our way to a good viewing spot.  Vaporetto OK, crowded, but OK.  The throngs swelled as we made our way and before we knew it, we were immersed in people, shunted along with police not allowing access to viewing areas, and directing us to areas filled with even more people.  I felt like Temple Grandin being squeezed, but not in a calming way.   (Three of us being former special educators, you’d have to know about Temple.). Sue says, “This isn’t working for me,” so she and Gayle fought their way to who knows where and we figured we’d see them back at our apartment. Savannah and I continued on for a bit until we knew the situation was hopeless and actually scary,  at which point we ducked into a hotel which was deserted, and spent time looking out a second floor window, trying to make a plan, chatting with the manager, asking if there was a back way out! No.

OK.  We would make an attempt to traverse the crowd, and wiggle our way going against the tide back toward Rio Cannaregio.  Hey, I waited 60 years to see Carnevale and was NOT going to be deterred.  Human movement had started to thin, and we made our way back over the bridge and THEN saw signs directing us to “Festa Venezia.”  We walked through every back passageway, over bridges, were turned AWAY from bridges by police, continued on, heard the music, knew we were getting close, saw parade-goers coming TOWARD US (oh no, it CAN’T be over!) and arrived at the edge of the canal.  We must have walked 2-3 miles.

We saw the floats, now dimly lit, coming back from the parade.

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The theme this year is The Circus, and I felt like I was seeing a watery re-do of The Lion King.  Probably the circus animals, of which we missed most, were some sort of engineering marvels but honestly, I was hoping for beauty, not Ringling Bros.

We were shot.  Done for.  We wondered what happened to Gayle and Susan and if they were totally pissed off.  Savannah knew what she needed to set her nerves right.

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We needed food.  We didn’t really know where the heck we were.  We had to walk one way or the other and soon discovered ourselves in the Jewish Ghetto.  Yay. . .a restaurant with a menu in Hebrew.  “My name is Weinberger,” I said.  “They’ll let us in.”

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Like a Jew of another time, there was “no room in the inn” and we walked on while Savannah puffed!  We plopped into the first outdoor cafe we saw, begged for food and drink, and were eventually rewarded with both.

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Now revived and with Mr. Google as a guide, we made our way toward the Ferrovia traghetto stop. . . .and couldn’t believe our eyes when we saw Gayle and Sue sitting there waiting for the same boat!!!  They had a few beers, a leisurely dinner somewhere, and laughed at the crowds.

All in all, a memorable night.  Not what we expected, but a good story, over 10,000 steps (where are our FitBits when we could have really blown them out!), and an exploration of parts of Venice we never need to see again.  Ever.

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Venice. . .the Intro.

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Is there a better, more iconic method of seeing Venice than a gondola ride?  And what if you are lucky enough to (sort of ) know a gondolier.  My facebook friend Marie Nardin, whom I’ve never met but feel as if I know, is married to Roberto, a longtime Venetian and gondolier.  So off we went.

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Opting for the longest route possible, we wound through the backwaters of Venice, chatting with Roberto, enjoying the calm, the quiet, and the misty watercolors of ancient buildings.

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Roberto sang. Imagine that, a gondolier who sings lovely snippets of gentle songs. We told him that we hoped he sang to his wife. . .

Along the route we learned a few facts:

There are 154 islands in Venice.
Venice itself is about 1500 years old.
Canals-150
Bridges-400
35000 Euros—cost of a gondola.
500 currrent gondoliers and there used to be 5000
120 churches—each Island had its own church because originally there were no bridges.

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Is there anything truly more exquisite than the colors of Venice!

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Grazie mille, Roberto!  What a lovely, calm experience to begin our exploration of your ancient city.

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The VenetianVixens

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When I was in 5th grade at Southwest Elementary, we learned the song, “The Carnival of Venice.”   I may have even played it on my clarinet,but at any rate I always wondered, “What IS the carnival of Venice??”  I’m about to find out.

The planning began some months ago when Savannah mentioned on Facebook that she wanted to go to Carnevale and “Who wants to go with me?”  I raised my virtual hand and the rest is history.  We all met in July to begin planning.  This year’s Carnevale begins tomorrow January 26, 2018.

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So what if I’ve only been home from Argentina for 3 days.  I was ready to go this afternoon when friends Gayle and Sue showed up and Don drove us to Newark airport.  There we met the 4th “Venetian Vixen,” Savannah, and with a toast, the party began!!

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We flew from EWR to Munich, then on to Venice.  Uneventful, and we even may have gotten a few winks of sleep.

The Alilugana transported us down the Grand Canal to Giglio, our stop.

We love our Air BnB with 3 BR and 3 baths, a large kitchen, living room, washer dryer, and the charm of being situated right on a canal!

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Eager to begin exploring. . .and hungry. . .we set out and soon found dinner, topped off by a birthday surprise!

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Venice on a brisk January evening was quite delightful and uncrowded as we strolled, window-shopped, and stopped for an Aperol spritz.

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It will be a tour of discovery, fun, history, food, masks, water, and wine.  We’ll be learning our own version of ‘The Carnival of Venice,” and I’ll tell the story right here!

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Buenos Aires, the wrap up

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We are home.  We’re happy and tired.  Three weeks gave us a wonderful opportunity to explore parts of Argentina, drink in the culture and the wine, dance the dance, walk the streets. Were we really in the SanTelmo Market just yesterday??!!

It’s time for the outtakes, those moments which I either forgot or somehow didn’t make it into other blogs.  Here we go. . .

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Wine, wonderful wine,wonderful wine tour.  If you are going to Mendoza, book your tour through Uncorking Argentina.  Can’t be beat for five-star service and experience!

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Our lovely 8th floor apartment had an elevator that took 3 people at a time, meaning one of us had to walk up or down.  This view from the top down 8 flights captivated each time it was my turn!  And the marble walls in the foyer made me curious about the history of this building.

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A sink plunger in a marble bathroom sink in Tigre was a curiosity.  As we learned, the Argentinians were always keen to show off.

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Mike and I clowning for our Facebook Cedars ’67 group.  We’ve known each other since third grade!

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I wonder if anyone else visiting Patagonia was drinking Isagenix shakes for breakfast?  We enjoyed our superfood which supplied us with energy, convenience,  and 5-star nutrition.

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Don napping before the flight.

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We drank the water, so it looks like we will return. . .

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Farewell Buenos Aires.. . . .we’ll see you again!