Monday, May 28, 2007

A Little Blue Boat

Port of Call: Dubrovnik

Photos on Flickr

We boarded a
(replica) 17th century galley ship and sailed from Dubrovnik to the little Island of Lopud for a local fisherman's lunch. Set up on the lawn under a cool canopy of trees we were treated to a nice breeze and Corsican songs by a string quartet while we savored the delicious catch of the moment. It tasted like it was literally just plucked from the sea. Wonderful octopus salads and delicious little squids, and tuna along with fresh herbs and cheeses and breads and spreads. All that and some good Corsican wine and a blaze of azure blue seas.

While most of our party stayed on the terrace overlooking the bay, and Will and some others trekked to the other side of the little island, I stayed and walked along this short stretch of pristine shoreline of this sleepy little isle. No cars , not even golf carts. Just your feet in the sand and a bicycle or two.

And a little blue boat.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

My Kingdom for a Bottle of Vin Santo

While approaching the Isle of Burano on Wednesday 05/09/07, noted for its museum and school of lace, we noticed the severely leaning tower as our guide told us that it is inspected and is completely safe. Once docked we strolled along in wonderment at Burano, also noted for its brightly painted houses, while around every corner another amazing and picturesque house, we beelined it towards the leaning tower of the San Martino church.Our guide had also told us of Golosessi, a specialty biscuit of Burano made is the shape of an "S" that are traditionally dipped in Vin Santo, a sweet wine.

" Into sweet Vin Santo wine, or thick hot chocolate they like to dip their ‘essi’ , shaped like the letter ‘S’, "
With the pastry shops everywhere along the main street it was easy finding the Golosessi, especially due to their unique shape. Not so much with the Vin Santo.
We couldn't remember the name and couldn't discern one bottle of wine from another, unlike Venice, this little island of locals aren't as quick with the English. Which is fine. I don't expect everyone in all corners of the world to speak my language. But it took us a couple of shops to find anyone either fluent or friendly enough to want to help us with the Vin. Walking out of one shop and into another we did find a very accommodating shopkeeper who knew just what we were looking for.
We also picked up some Fritelle stuffed with chocolate and custard and in heaven ate them on the vaporetto back to the ship.

Laundry hanging out of virtually every lovely shutter-framed window,
the entire place smelled like freshly laundered linens. An absolute delight for all the senses. I would love to spend more time on Burano. Later this evening and back on the ship heading out of the lagoon toward the open seas, we opened our bag of Golosessis and dipped them into the sweet wine, and it was delicious. And more goodies await us.

Entering Venice by Taxi

Arriving in Venice on Sunday 05/06/07 we hopped the Alilaguna water bus from the airport to Venice. Once deposited on the dock at Piazza San Marco smack dab in the middle of the mid-day crowds we eventually found a taxi to take us to our hotel somewhere between the Piazza and the Rialto Bridge. The ride there took us to a canal leading right under the Bridge of Sighs. Once inside and onto the smaller canals of Venice we arrived at our hotel (Pensione al Gazzettino) our room with high ceilings, a Murano glass chandelier and a little balcony overlooked this:Boisterous during the day the gondoliers eventually put their crafts to sleep and its a quiet night.Upon waking up our first night at 1:30 in the morning we decided to go out for a walk. From Piazza San Marco we wound our way through the cobbled streets crossing bridges over quiet canals finding our way to the Grand Canal (taken from the Rialto Bridge).
For the next couple of days we crossed many bridges on our walks through the lovely cobbled streets. We got lost and found treasures at every turn.My sweetie standing on the bridge that crosses the canal to our hotel. Our little balcony is up on the left just above his head.It was a lovely trip and I want to return. I really loved one of the little islands we visited called Burano with the most beautiful brightly painted houses and laundry hanging from every window. Being there was like burying your face in fresh sheets just taken out of the dryer. We picked up some local pastries and sweet wine there, and of course took a ton of photos.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Taking It All In

Returning from our trip satiated with travel (and a bad cold) it is good to be home. While all of my photos prior to Monte Carlo are stuck on a laptop until I can extract them, I'll begin with the end of our Spring Holiday, our last days in Paris before coming home.

With so many things to do and see in Paris, how do you see the main attractions while still experiencing the city of light on a personal level? Somehow I believe we accomplished just that. First of all, our Hotel de Notre Dame was perfectly situated in the 5th Arrondissement. we woke up every morning with their continental breakfast delivered to our room,
which came complete with a marvelous view of Notre Dame, illuminated at night for our pleasure. I'm sure Will got much better photos of the gargoyles, but I managed to get close enough to snap a few of them. So it was that on our final day we headed to the Tour Eiffel via the Metro. And after popping into a tobacco shop for a Cuban cigar and some beverages, we rounded a corner and there it was. As excited as we could be we headed for the monument, stepped under it's monstrous belly, and cutting through the labyrinthine lines at the ticket booths, crossed the street and found a shady patch of park to have our picnic and feed the pigeons.Once sufficiently grubbed we headed back under the Eiffel and took our place in the cue to get our tickets to the observation decks of the tower. The sun had spent some time this afternoon out from behind the clouds for our benefit but once we were grounded again and walking along the Parc du Champ de Mars it began raining again. We ducked under the canopy of trees that lined the park and by the time we made it to Rue Cler it was coming down pretty steady. We found a little shop and went inside to see if they carried umbrellas. We found two that suited us and as soon as we stepped outside and opened those umbrellas up, dang if the rain didn't just stop.

We wound our way back to the Metro and the Hotel de Notre Dame. That evening we had planned on taking the Metro to Montmartre which is situated on a hill that is supposed to have great views of Paris at night, but deciding that was too much effort (my cold had kicked in pretty good at this point) we changed the plan and went back to the Shakespeare and Co. book store
with its own du Chat Noir, found a little cafe for dinner, where Will enjoyed that Cuban cigar, and had a lovely walk through the cobbled streets of Paris before retiring for the night. Our last night in Paris before coming home.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Tourists and Travelers

I like to think I'm a traveler, not a tourist. Something that a fellow travelling companion once said drew the line very clearly between a tourist and a traveler for me. Tourist's say things like. "I'm not eating at another restaurant unless the menu is in English." Why even bother leaving the country if everywhere you go you expect it to be just like the U.S.?

A traveler once said, "If you find something is not to your liking, change your liking." Travelers immerse themselves in the unfamiliar and relish the differences. I wouldn't say anyplace is bad, just different. And I wouldn't think of potentially offending someone with some thoughtless comment about their customs, their lifestyle, their country.

When travelling you just have to roll with it. There are going to be crowds (of tourists) who areloud and obnoxious, and who don't respect the land they are visiting, who are inconsiderate of those around them, and who think they are somehow more important than everyone else on the planet. I have little tolerance for these people, but I try not to let it affect me and my enjoyment of the experience I am their to have.

I'm sure what I am about to embark upon will not disappoint. It will be a highfalutin sojourn around Italy's boot complete with a fancy schmancy boat and a Captain's Black & White Ball. Sweetie's got his black tux ready and I've got my little black dress. We'll be excursioning at all the wonderful ports o' call all along the Tres Rivieras. Book-ended with a couple of enchanting days exploring Venice and a few magical days basking in Paris, the city of lights.

Now, I have to go learn some Croatian phrases.