Jessica and Christina go on a Road a trip, Left Venice, latter than I planed because I wanted to go through the grand canal one last time. Picked up car and Headed out towards Chioggia and Ravenna. Tons of truck traffic, bad. Navigation with my I pad was slow and bad, most of the time I had no idea where we were, which is bad when you are the navigator, was wishing for a real map. It also is a bit problematic when I pronounce everything incorrectly so Jessica had no Idea what I was trying to say. OH DEAR.
We made it to Ravenna in time to see the mosaics at the church. So beautiful such small little pieces creating amazing pattern and form.
I was very interested in the Marble pieces cut to creat rorschach test
and marble cut so thin that as the sun was going down they were lighting up like stained glass so beautiful.
The whole center of town was for walking and biking only, which is so lovely. And we were the only tourist around. Had very rich and think Hot COCO and headed to San Marino.
I splurged and had a six course dinner. And we stayed at the hotel at the very top of the town right next to tour one, Rosa Hotel. Sleep after a long day was great, but I woke up at 6:30 and went on walk to the towers to watch the sun rise.
I of course was the only person up on the hill at that time, as the first light as starting. I found a great little spot to watch the world wake up. Cars driving far below sound echoes up. I am a huge rock cliff 100’s of feet above the farm land below as the sun slowly rises and the sky turns shades of purples and blues fog lifts from the valley floors. And the sun in oranges breaks trough the clouds casting warm light on the tan towers and cliff face.
I now have a few other up with me; the local garbage man, who I ask to take a phot of his broom, but he thinks I mean him Why not. Great fun. His broom is hand made with bamboo and wire and duck tape. The only others are men working on cobble paving, mixing the sand, portland cement mix then setting them. So much work. I wanted to watch them to get pointers, but they already thought I was crazy taking pictures of what they were doing.
Walking around town it is all tourist crap. Leather, souvenirs, pizza, hamburgers etc. So glad not here in the summer, would be horrible.
Heading out we hit the road towards Montepulciano, cute town in tuscany on top of a hill. We drove on tiny little back roads , though a national forest and along a valley floor with an amazing river, ice blue in parts, with white stone. We stopped at a market for water and break, I ordered some prosciutto which I had cut wrong into this 1/4 slice, ops, and some thin slice salami. bread and cheese. Yum. We had 2nd breakfast in the car and tried to chew on my massive piece of prosciutto.
We arrived in Montepulciano and drive into the city on these tiny little streets to a Guest house we had found online. All worked well and we headed to dinner in the square at a family run restaurant. Great pasta and Prosecco.
So grateful to be here in winter, felt this way everywhere we went. No one around. Much more locals than tourist and I can see where this would be different in the summer.
Lovely women dressed in furs walk through town with their small little dogs at their feet. Many of the dogs are also wearing jackets.
I love getting lost and my first night I found myself at a part of town around 5:30 everyone was out walking their dogs, Like 25 dogs in 15 minutes. And most likely 15 furs. My favorite one was one with a matching hat and she looked like a dutch painting of a man from the 17 century. (Notice the little bag of garbage, people place their garbage outside thier doors and the garbage man comes around with big trolly to pick them up)
Spritz time, after checking out the dogs I follow a group of people into a small Osteria, I asked for the same, pointing to a lovely pink Spritz. I wanted it just like his, small. But instead I got a large plus I had never had Spritz and I got the bitter, wow. Took so long to drink I watched everyone coming and going for about an hour, Ciao’s all around.
I always say the light in Venice is different and it is. But now that I am older I realize a lot of it is the pollution from the boats and fires on the mainland burning fields. They don’t allow fires in Venice I found out because of the fire danger, all the buildings so close together and made of wood. I do think that the morning and dusk light are particularly amazing. Especially this trip with the blue skies.
Watching the race of the “witches” men dresses as Le Befana racing on the 6th down the grand cannel in small boats felt like small town fun. A band, speakers, the racers, people practicing in other boats, fun. It went fast glad I was there for the 15 mins it took. “Italy’s traditional celebration includes the tale of a witch known as La Befana who arrives on her broomstick during the night of January 5 and fills the stockings with toys and sweets for the good children and lumps of coal for the bad ones.”
Kids all met after near the fish market and received stockings as gifts from the “Association of Rialto Bridge” I gave a donation and got some Panettone for the road and headed to a traghettii to ride a traghetto across the grand canal. So fun, standing up with the locals as we take the 2 minute ride to the Ca D’oro to check out the exhibition of costume Jewelry.
My favorite part of the Ca D’oro is the amazing mosaic courtyard garden. The whole first level of the building is an open courtyard all mosaic tile. Even the walls had a stone diamond pattern. Small details are so fun, the little lions watching guard from the windows. Windows made with hand blown glass that when you look through them the warp the view beyond into great modern pictures.
I was excited about going to the Peggy Guggenheim, they have anew name I don’t remember and they have expanded the space since I was there last, in 1990. I guess a lot can change and stay the same, in 25 years.
I decided to get the Vaporetto pass and headed out onto the canal for a ride through the grand canal and around by the airport, then to the Giudecca which was cold because of its relation to the sun at that time of day. I ended up at the bell tower at San Giorgio Maggiore. And went up to watch the sunset. It was so cold, I didn’t have enough clothing, but was dedicated to stay till the sun went down. It was a beautiful sunset with a view out to all of Venice.
One of the best parts of this trip to Venice was where I stayed, bedandvenice.it It is a church run guest house on the third floor of an old Nunnery. The nuns in this space used o care for unwed women who had children and then the children after they were born. The space reminded me of old time Italy guest houses, bath down the hall, return your key every time you leave. It was so clean, quiet and nice. Breakfast included with a roof balcony and views out to the bell towers and Saint Marks domes. Such a great find at $40euro a night. (single) Lovely!
I spent one morning taking pictures of the sun rise, getting lost and then very lost, finding my way to a hair dresser. In 1986 I got one of my best hair cuts ever in Italy, so decided to go for it again. I went in and asked if anyone spoke english and Barbara did. So I said do what you like, lets make it short. It was fun, she was great and I am still looking for the right product so it will do what I want and not be soooo frizzy.
The line went on for miles, well it felt like miles and it took almost two hours, What were we thinking? Ashema had never seen the Mona Lisa, so a must do. Rick Steve is so smart, show up an hour before opening or just buy the museum pass. SO when I go back to do more art, I will be getting a Pass.
But the best part of going was to see the Mona, mona Lisa that is. The herd of people squishing there way into the front, shoving and pushing. It was like a rock concert for art, flashes going off even though they say no flash, arms in the air, cameras clicking, children on shoulders. The best part is reminder of how grateful I am that I Iove my job and I don’t have job of saying, “the parquet floor is slippery please no children on shoulders”. Over and over to the hordes of tourist.
Paris Highlights include; Walking everywhere, seeing the Eiffel Tower Sparkle,
Spending time with Ashema,
A seven course “Menu of Distinction” at Semilla, 54 rue de Seine, 75006. Great place, no attitude, lovely wait staff, a joy and my big extravagance in Paris. Below, Leek and Chestnut Mousse thing? I am so bad about remembering, my favorite course was black truffles with light hard cheese over celery soup/ foam. Kept forgetting to take photos all too good to not just start eating. And how rude to take photos of 7 courses with your Ipad, Please
Watching this amazing football player on the stairs of Sacré-Cœur, Montmartre having Crepes, The little apartment in Paris, An amazing visit!
Listening to live classical music as we float by the city, watching the lights a nice start to a wonderful 2.5 day with Ashema in Paris.
We hadn’t seen each other in over eight years. It was strange and great that it felt so familiar and comfortable to just jump back into a friendship after so long. Being a what I call a “Berliner” most likely unfairly, she had never been to France and I hadn’t been in 25 years. So great to see her and experience the city again. She did ask why I would return to a place I had been before, well I love the Musee D’Orsay I think it was the biggest reason I wanted to go back. And I was not disappointed, it was fun to see my taste change. I was so interested in the night paintings. I do love them.
Fun to jump back in and see the city. Highlights, the boat ride, finding Sennelier, a beautiful art store near the Louve. It is so well displayed I went back to buy something but it was closed. Darn. Finding Trei3e a Bakers dozen,https://www.facebook.com/treizeis13isthirteen
SO amazing and fun find. It was all Ashema being daring. She kept trying to open doors into small gardens I would have loved to see and then there was this little alley up to white lights so she went in, I reluctantly went also. Ending at this amazing little cafe, were we had Lattes and carrot cake? Yes it is owned and run by a woman from Charleston and the Cake was great. most others were having tea and biscuits. It was a really fun mix of people who just happen upon it, Very cool.
After the boat we went home to bread and cheese that Ashema was so nice to have bought for us. So nice to start.
Waking up in the loft of the mini mini apartment. It is an amazing small place with a loft but such a great location. It could be so amazing, I love the old tile floor. I realize you just don’t need a lot of space to create a great place to live. I am excited for the day and after Cafe lattes and Croissants at the nearest cafe we are off to the D’orsay. Where I am most excited about an Monet and Millet.
I love the building it self and was disappointed that the Photography display that was there 25 years ago is no longer part of the museum. I loved seeing the start of photography and how it changed how we all view the world.
I am so grateful we paid and went on Saturday, because I never would have made it on Sunday.
So worth it. It rained most of the day so Museums are good on rainy days, Lunch under the clock was great fun and I ordered way to much food. Oops.
After a few hours it was time to get out, we headed for the Hammam,http://www.la-mosquee.com/htmlfr/hammamfr.htm , something I had read about long ago and really wanted to check it out. So we went. It was a new experience. I think I was thinking “Spa”, relaxing quiet, hanging out in the steam room. It all went a bit weird when I first we both hadn’t brought bikini bottoms. I was surprised that even though it was all women everyone had bikini bottoms on. Oops so both of us had to wear our sarongs and get them all wet, I went for the full treatment of soap, scrub, massage and tea,which was sweet tea, which I was surprised by. The building was so beautiful, arches and color. The room where you can hang out and get a massage is colorful, hand painted, cool.
Dancing My way though southern Iceland. I like to try to scare the tourist as a dance around on top of a hill overlooking the Glacier Lagoon, Jökulsárlón. Which I still can to say. The only word I know is þakka þér, luckly because they shorten it to þak, which sounds like Talk. Easy, I just say it were ever ever I go. Seems to be working so far. South Iceland on a 2 day overnight was amazing:
Do I look like a babushka in siberia or what! But no it is Jökulsárlón, the glacier Lagoon. The light was cloudy or would have been even bluer. The photos don’t do it justice. A beautiful location.
The northern Lights were a highlight. Out in the crisp/ cold night air. Messing with my tripod, the smell of sheep poo in the air, the sound of the ocean crashing out on the icy lagoon, the moon out. Then in streams the aurora started, so long I couldn’t look at the whole sky and see them end to end. It did feel like magic. Closer to something so much bigger. Then the dam lights on the buildings were “wreaking” my shots. I kept asking myself why they had all they lights when people come out to see the sky! I still don’t understand. I think it has something to do with it being so dark, Christmas lights are huge up here. And when I am not trying to enjoy the Aurora the lights are really amazing as you drive throughout the country little farms lit up in the middle of frozen tundra. Lovely.
Having had tons of Rain the last two days, the ice was so clear. All the snow had been washed away, leaving clear, lovely ice. If it had been sunny it would have been amazing. Next time I hope I The wind is wicked strong and I am so grateful for the Baklava I bought. Wind proof, so worth it. Playing with the Camera was great fun, I tried for double exposer, but needed some practice.