Murano & Burano Islands

Twenty minutes from Venice by water taxi lies Murano Island and just a short ride from Murano is Burano.  Murano is famous for it’s glass and Burano for lace making.

The trip did not disappoint.  Through the channel by the “fish tail” side of Venice we  bounced through the channel on a water taxi. Once there we were given a quick demonstration then we could explore the island.  We weren’t supposed to take pictures -so here are some pictures.  (I took these  before they stopped us). The shop we weren’t allowed to take pictures of was three floors of the most beautiful glass I have ever seen.

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Chandelier in a warehouse.

imageThere  was one piece I fell in love with.  It was 9,000 Euro so it is still on their shelf.  It was made by a 45 year old Maestro who is a decedent of a glass family tradition dating back to the 1600’s.   I would love to have shown you but NO Pictures. I will dream about it as I tried to memorize the color and how the light behaved through the glass. G  of course was ready to move on so on we went.

Down the walkway there was an interesting tall brick tower, oh and this big blue glass thing…

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I don’t like it but hey it’s big, blue  and all blown so there’s that.

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On to Burano.  WOW what a place. It once was a thriving fishing village and while the women waited for their fishermen to return, they perfected a lace making  technique.  It was beautiful but sadly a dying art.  The old woman giving the demonstration started making lace when she was 8 yrs. old.  The items weren’t my taste but I can see the attraction.  The real gem to me  was the village itself:

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The fishing and lacemaking industries are no longer so a lot of the village is up for sale.  Here is a real fixer-upper:

image.jpegSince fishing and lace making are both a dying profession, the islanders rely a lot on the tourists.  However,  we noticed that when the church bells rang at 6 pm EVERYBODY closes up shop as fast as they can.  G bought a coffee at 6:05 which apparently was very inconvenient to the 3 generation “tourist bar”located in  a small stand  that was next to the boat.  We thanked then heartily, well, then we saw it.

Yep, this is coffee served in what can only be described as a communion cup.  (He hasn’t taken a sip yet)

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OF COURSE they didn’t want to dirty up their machine for a teaspoon of coffee.  Made perfect sense.

Burano is also famous for their leaning tower, Not the famous tower of Pisa. Nope,  it’s the not so famous leaning tower of Burano. Since I forgot to take a picture of it, here are some pictures of their ambulance and police boats.

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Back across the choppy seas to our Venice home. Both islands are worth the trip and have their own personalities.  Well worth the visit.We used Viator to book.

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The Venice Experience~

It is estimated that 20,000 people visit the Islands of Venice for the day from the mainland.    They take tours and see the sights which is beautiful of course, but  Venice is so much more than it’s famous gondolas and canals. There are too many museums to see in one week. Too many restaurants, buildings,waterways, churches & the list goes on.

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I just wish I could send you the smell of the entry to our Hotel courtyard complete with the old well.  Only way to describe it is ancient wet limestone that smell like you just pulled them from the bottom of the sea, rubbed 100 years of cooking smells in them, and fresh flowers.  It is a wonderful earthy smell unlike any other in the world. We stood here many times just deep breathing trying to make a memory.

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Water gathers around the drain on the limestone floor near the well.,  The marble stairs are to the right at the end of the room. An old entry courtyard is  now the interior.  How many years I don’t know.

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Once away from the crowds we slow down.  Feel the cobbled streets under our feet, touch the crumbling walls, squint at the sunlight that peeks through open passages.  The city is quiet until the bells ring at 9 am sharp.  Suddenly the street below  come alive.  Shops open, daily life begins. Voices fill the streets.  Tours arrive from the mainland a little later.  We have the morning to ourselves with those of us staying in town.

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We take breakfast on the Plaza San Marcos.  Chamber music plays at each little sidewalk cafe, taking turns to ensure the square is never without a soundtrack. Only the sound of the music, footsteps, birds and each other can be heard.

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Time to explore and get lost in Venice once again.

 

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imageimageimageWe soak it in, feel the rhythm of the city. Its a short walk from the higher end shops to the daily life of the Venetians.

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Finding textures and beauty everywhere like the mosaic flooring below.

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We make a habit of looking up.   It is interesting what one can find by looking up!

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Looking up paid off as we discovered a rooftop patio on a hotel that welcomes visitors to take a beer or lunch and enjoy. Below is the view over the rooftops of the island.

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Sea breeze and warm sun while watching the busy waterways below.

In the evening the day trippers are gone and the pace slows again.  Time to enjoy what can only be described as MAGICAl…

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Twenty thousand people daily and Venice returns to what it was centuries ago.  So many faces, so many cultures visiting.  I look in their faces and sometimes I see the same look I had when I was 19 years old.  The knowing that one will return someday…

Ahhh Venice

This is my favorite place in the world.   We took the Alilaguna (fancy word for boat bus) to a dock near the hotel and tried to follow the directions on the map. Tried. We were lost for a while. A man with a wheelbarrow working on a building saw us pass for about the fifth time and took pity on us. In only Italian he directed us to the hotel. (A door we passed several times.)

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They were working on this building as well. The white door leads to the original house, the round thing is a stone well.  The poles are scaffolding while they work on the floors above.

Settled in and then meandered down to the Grand Canal….

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Following our host Tatiana’s advise we headed out to an outdoor restaurant on the plaza.  The waiter was so abrupt and guessed/told G exactly what he was going to have.  After looking at the menu, well, he was right.  We quickly caught on to his sense of humor and the bantering began.  Soon the local construction worker, waiter, shop keepers all recognize us with a warm smile and hello.Below we are sitting at a table on one of the squares watching the people, enjoying beer and wine for me, and relaxing.

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Each shop is artistic and beautiful.  I asked the shopkeeper putting together a wooden Medusa if I could take his picture.  In a loud gruff voice he said “ONE PICTURE ONLY!”

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There are many specialty shops that are as amazing to explore as museums.  There are open air fish markets, vegetable stands, homemade toys, masks, and of course closer to St Marks Square lots of designer stores.  Getting lost isn’t so bad now as we can eventually make it back.  Every turn there is something to explore. Chao for now…

Goodbye Paris My Love

It’s hard to say goodbye to this beautiful city.  Staying on the boat was incredible.  We enjoyed the unique wood cabin, the view from the table where we enjoyed our coffee in the morning to the city waking up and cocktails at night to the beautiful lights on the water.

Air B&B has the information on the boat.

‘The boat was all this dark wood. This is the fancy door to the loo.  The feeling lying on the comfortable bed listening to the rain on the roof was quite magical.

Paris.

image.jpegThis city steals your heart away.

image.jpegI have a video coming as soon of the bus going round the Arc de Triump.  No lanes, just go for it!

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There were many unusual ways to get around the crowded city.  Lots of crazy parking and then there was this guy sloshing up several  beer kegs delivering to the restaurant.

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Wonderfully helpful locals were on every corner. Parisians are so full of life.  So many kind strangers.  Perhaps the recent bombings, perhaps just the times, but we felt a surge of optimism here.

Viva la France!

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Paris Catacombs!

image.jpegFirst of all it looks like a ghost on G’s face. It  must have been a friendly ghost or a woman ghost trying to make out with him. Nice try ghost chicka.

Les Catacombs!

Seeing all those skeletons is  like watching fire. Beautiful, terrifying, destructive, engaging, and hypnotic adventure. It did make me feel like I  had to take a hot bath afterward.  The magnitude and amount of bones is incredible.

imageimageThere were sayings everywhere, but we don’t read French so they could have been saying “you are cursed” or “There are diseases down here and you people paid for this tour hahaha” and the phrase  “We are all bones in the end” came up a few times (which I  kind of liked).

We had a few questions that weren’t answered on the recorded walking  tour.  1.  If the bodies were so full of disease, and they even dug up many of them, why not just cremate them?  2. How long do the germs stay on them…’cuz we’re walking through thousands of skeletons here!

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We took 135 small circular steps down and then walked through a long limestone lined tunnel to get to the tombs.  Knowing there is an entire city above is quite unnerving and the recorded tour seems to delight in letting one know that fact. The city seems so far away as we walk along damp ancient limestone.   They have guards posted at various intersections and they remind me of rats hiding in the dark, scurrying around when they think your purse is going to swing into a skull or something.  (Yep, I got yelled at).

Below is my favorite skull.  He is very smiley.

imageBeing such a macabre place one would think it would be sad, but somehow I felt extremely peaceful down there.  Many souls left their bones as art for us to see.  Many souls with families, lives, talents, and professions we know nothing about.  They are anonymous, they are famous.  Life is short; live large!

WE ARE ALL BONES IN THE END! 

Paris Meanderings

I am not sure what day it is as Paris steals time.  Time speeds up on the Metro as we pack our bodies together and fly through the tunnel.  A menagerie of ethnicities, languages and smells overwhelming the senses.  Hop off and a short walk back in time as we head over to the attraction for the day.

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Why not start with the iconic Eiffel Tower, then cruise down th Seine at sunset.

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All along the bank of the River people gather as couples or even groups waving and celebrating… well…LIFE.  Rumba, Samba, Rap and Classical music blasts from some of plaza areas as impromptu dance floors.

A little further and we are back at the Eiffel Tower lit up against the purple sky.

imageWe chose accommodations on the Seine staying in a boat.  Life on this river is full of contrasts.  The morning fog rolls gently in as the city wakes.  Joggers, activity begins.  Each  boat that passes gently rocks us reminding us where we are.

image From the galley we can sit and enjoy a nightcap and the lights on the river.

imageimageThe first night we awke from a dead sleep to a thump on the boat, then wolves began howling. I was terrified and wondered how wolves got into the city?  The next night our neighbors had a party until 4AM.  Just when the sun was coming up the people at the party disappeared leaving me to speculate that they are vampires and that the wolves last night were just chasing them back to our neighborhood.  No other explanation works as they don’t come out in the daylight at all.

image.jpegPerhaps my brain is just packed with images so powerful I got chills.  I think visiting the Louvre on more than one day is the best as my brain can’t begin to register thousands of years of art history at once.  We saw the basics and a few surprises.

imageimageimageimageimageThen there was this poor guy.

image.jpegI think the look on his face says it all.

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Cable Street Inn

Cable Street inn at the East end of London is an antique gem.  Once a pub in the 1700s, the charming owner Julian has transformed the building into a cozy inn.image.jpegWe enjoyed meandering through the park next door and St. George Church.  There is an abandoned building behind to explore. Below is a shack that is yet to be renovated on the church grounds with plants growing on the roof.

image.jpegShadwell Underground Station is right next door and we had an easy time getting to all of our destinations.  London was easy to navigate this way.  We spent a lot of time  looking around the magical little inn we had chosen.  It was so easy to get swept up by the charm..

imageimageimageimageimageimageThe bathroom kept the old feeling while being clean and modern. I appreciated all the light pouring in from the wood framed window.

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I think the most wonderful surprise was the rooftop terrace overlooking the park area, the church behind,  and a beautiful modern art mural depicting the famous Cable Street Riot.

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Fun place from which to base our London experience!

Want to see more? #Cable Street Inn!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

London, London, London!

Driving from the Cotswold area there were plenty of scenes like the one below.  Guess which horse I am…..

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LONDON!! What an exciting city. Finding it easy it easy to get around on the Underground we parked and rode in. Well, we did have help at each station.  It seems my Stetson/boot wearing  com padre made it clear we were tourists along with my holding a giant map pronouncing stop names incorrectly.  Our B&B is located in the East End on Cable St. It seems this was the stomping grounds of Jack the Ripper. We also discovered that it  was  one of the most heavily bombed area in “the blitz” 1949.  Many of the buildings are of the 50’s era.  Now mostly inhabited by families of immigrants from all over the world we experience multi-cultural and multi-languages while walking down the street.  It seems the history of  this end of London has always been inhabited by tough and resilient people. We were fortunate to see an exhibition celebrating the women of the East End at a nearby church.

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This picture  is from the rooftop patio of our B&B Cable Street Inn  and shows a mural depicting a famous riot of this neighborhood.  When Mussolini came to power, Fascism was growing in popularity.  Hitler was seen to be progressive with his ideas and had a small smattering of support.  The people in this neighborhood weren’t having it and a 3 day riot broke out.  The neighborhood is quite proud of their accomplishment and believe this was the turning point to stop the growing Fascist support in London. Quite impressive.

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Time to wander along the Thames River.  We learned the Thames is a tidal river and is actually very clean with regulations over the past 20 years.  This makes my tree hugging heart happy. I did notice the ground, sidewalks and river were cleaner than I expected in such a large city.  An obvious reflection of London Pride.

image.jpegWestminster and G.  We eventually meandered to a restaurant which became a healthy eating favorite; Bar One. We spent time there  watching the people pour out of offices to scurry home from work. My brain is unprepared for the combination of the old architecture next to modern buildings and a thriving business community  seemingly oblivious to the contrast.

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Tower Bridge in the picture below.  Full of history and mystery.

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Moving on to the Tower of London and a Beefeater Tour. VERY interesting and informative.

Beefeater tour well worth it.

Our Tour guide, Clive, was so fun.  There are 37 Beefeaters all of whom live within the tower walls with their families. A fact I would not have believed until  I saw their apartments.  How great would that be to live in so much history?  image.jpeg We ended up spending most of the day exploring the tower.  We stood in the moat, marveled at old “graffiti”, weapons old to new, armor, architecture…. Camera roll below:

Apparently this particular knight was not taking any chances and protecting his favorite body part under all circumstances.

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imageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageOn to Piccadelly Circus and the madness of rush hour! We managed to arrive just at 17:00 hours.  Lots of traffic speeding by.  Beautiful facades every direction.

imageimageAhhh LONDON!  You have found two new admirers.

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The Porch House Shenanigans

Stow on the Wold is a historic village in England who’s charm can’t be beat. We pulled up to our Inn after a day at Stonehenge.  The Porch House dates back to 947AD.imageStone buildings rise up from the rolling green fields creating a serene artistic backdrop to the day. Our room was charming with a sweet view over the park area. image

A perfect sitting area for morning coffee…

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G was excited over this toilet seat of solid cherry wood to a high polish. Of course the handle works (you guessed it) backwards (flushes up).  image

After settling in time to roam downstairs.

The rock walls, heavy wood and slate floors, and rough wood beams create  a time machine and our imaginations explore the possibilities…

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Sitting in the bar area watching people go by, G decides to have a drink.  Walking up to the bar and to our favorite waitress, he asks her for a screwdriver for him and a cider for me.  She pours the cider and hands him a real screwdriver, the actual tool. Thinking she is being funny he calls her “clever girl” (in his fake accent of course ).  Aparently she has never heard of a screwdriver before (in her defense neither had the bartender).  That’s OK Jenny, I had never heard of flat water before yesterday.   #The Porch House image

England meanderings

 

I could live here it’s so beautiful and charming.   Well, except for the driving. What maniac dedided to change the steering wheel to the right side.  If you have never done it (and want to loose some weight) I highly recommend it.  It’s aerobic!  I am sure my heart rate was at maximum level every time the British accented GPS  said “take the second left” as I am going CLOCKWISE around the roundabout.  It’s worth it to drive to the tiniest towns full of history.

It seems I am a collector of three types of photos; 1. Gravestones

Churches…

imageimageimageimageimage…and doorways.

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My husband is wearing his Stetson cowboy hat everywhere and his ostrich boots which draw a few stares.  So far only two brave souls have asked to take his picture.

We are loving the open air markets Wednesdays  and Saturdays. Homemade breads and pastries, meat pies, fruits and vegetables…

But then there was the pig booth. imageJust about anything one could do to pig parts is represented.  Thank goodness they left out the privates. I told G that Pig privates must not have the FLAVOR of bull privates or this place would have it.  He is ignoring me now.  Speaking of G, he answers people’s questions in a terrible British accent.  He won’t stop.  People just look at this black Stetson wearing, Ostrich boot havin’, American with a terrible British/Mexican accent with the most confounded looks.  Sigh.