Since on our previous trips to Venice (twice) we did not go to any of the other islands, it was decided we would do that this time. Burano was our choice, not because of the lace making there but the colourful buildings. Annette is an avid photographer and it seemed the ideal place to go for that. 
We took the Vaparatto water bus to Piazza San Marco. Hm… No first while we were waiting for it to arrive I had a cappuccino in a small coffee bar adjacent to the stop. The morning coffee in the apartment has a lot to be desired so after a couple of days of it, finding some great Italian cappuccino had become a necessity! 
Ok, so…. San Marco we took another water bus that went to the outer islands. It was almost an hour by bus but stops at other islands along the way as well as enjoying the view of marshlands was enjoyable. 
My apologies ahead of time as I managed to leave my camera cables behind and my pictures that day were taken with it. So, later. The one I’m posting with this was on a site. 
Burano is very small but lovely and quaint. The colours are quite remarkable. To think of buildings being red and mauve, yellow, orange, green, blue etc., all in a row, you’d think it would be a terrible sight but it seems to fit in very well together. Little canals everywhere where people have their boat just outside their door. 


Russ and Ken had seen enough after the first couple of streets and we’re happy to be left in a cafe where they visited, ate pizza and drank birra while we looked in all the cute little shops and “ooh-ed” and “ahh-ed” at all the lace items for sale. Tatting actually, it is all so fine. 
We took lots of pictures as well and I hope to beg, steal and borrow any from Annette which she might be willing to share as she has a feature on her camera that makes the colours more vivid. I’m sure I can photoshop mine though and will try when I get home. 
We took a different boat in the way back and it comes to the north side of the north island of Venice. We decided to walk through to the Grand Canal and get another boat there to take us back to where we are staying. 
During our walk we came into a Piazza and found a brother and two sisters with three carts. The brother and his wife (one of the sisters there) are Italian but in a Spanish congregation and although they speak some English I was able to use a little of my Spanish to communicate with her. They are coming to Toronto and New York (Bethel) in October. I think they were a little disappointed we lived in the west of Canada. It was great to see some of our brothers and sisters though as we had not seen any in the public witnessing until then. 
We wended our way back to a Vaparatto stop and took one to where we could pick up our number and get ‘home’. We were rather tired by then and determined we would have an evening in, eating our antipasti and playing cards. 
Ken and I are getting the idea of the game Euchre now! We also played Hearts. Ken won…..



 We had hoped to beat the tourist crowds by being up and out early. However all of us are continuing to suffer from jet lag to some degree so by the time we all were up and had breakfast we were already onto plan “B”. The Hilton hotel shuttle across to the South Island from Giudecca where we are is at our disposal since we are in the Molino Stucky building complex. It is hardly any steps at all from our front door so we took it over and walked through that island to Ac’cademia bridge across the Grand Canal and into the frey! 

We were hoping to find a secondary canal that runs parallel to the Grand Canal but without a map we ventured forth and did what all newbie tourists do; we got lost. Most places that is a hardship, however in Venice it is rather enchanting and quaint, as well as many great picture ops. with few, if any tourists in sight. 
We went toward the Rialto bridge but we’re disappointed to find it is under renovation, most of it being obscured from view. 
By this time we were needing some ‘facilities’. Ken and I remembered there were some WC (water closet) in the area of the Rialto bridge with many stalls offering the best of the tousist bric-a-brac, chachka, odds and ends. €1.50 ea. for the privilege of use, however the bathrooms are well cared for by an attendant. 
The next stop was the Rialto Food  market. We were near lunch time by then so much of its offerings were sold out. We were not looking to buy fresh fish etc. so that was ok. There were lots of stalls still selling fruit and veg. This was why I brought everyone to the area. Fresh Figs!! And there they were. €2 per punnet. Small but ripe and sweet and about a dozen of them. I bought one and shared (well, they were allowed one each at first till they could be trusted to like them. No sense wasting my favourite food) then Annette bought two more, brown and green to be mixed some in with our morning fruit salad.  
Some more aimless wandering, we are on vacation after all, and we ended up in Piazza San Marco. We wondered why people were walking up on a raised walkway until we walked farther in and saw the piazza had become a lake. Some areas were past people’s ankles, we know this as some did wade through it and even have their photos taken as a momento. Since we had one in our party with closed toe shoes and socks we decided to follow the masses (and there were some serious masses) in waking across the makeshift bridge. 
The bridge of sighs was the next photo op for Annette, then we needed some respite from the heat and press of bodies so we took some gelato (yum! And yum!) and went to find a quiet spot in a park just adjacent to the piazza. It was good to sit and replenish our energy. 
Next it was nap time…. Well not for all of us but we have found both Ken and Russ and rather good at it. 
Ken and I had eaten in a little restaurant when last in Venice and we wanted a repeat so I phoned for a reservation. The hotel shuttle took us over and a short 10 minute walk and we arrived early. 
Though the food was good, it was not quite as memorable as we had found it before. Something like the sequel of a movie I suppose. The panna cotta and tiramisu we shared were rather fantastic though. So all was good by the time we left. 
Instead of walking back the way we came, we wandered toward the grand canal and took a Vaparatto along back to Piazza Roma where we could connect with one to our apartment.    
It was a rather long and drawn out ride with standing room only. The upside was that Annette managed to start a conversation with a German lady and get in some practice with the language. As well, a lady who grew up in São Paulo Brazil but is now living in France. 
Our plan to get home was going well until we arrived at the usual stop only to find that that particular run stops at 8pm and it was past 9 now. We managed to find a revised plan that looked good and did the job.
The only real down side I’m having (only me, everyone else is fine!) is that with all the rain, thunderstorms and humidity there has been here, all the standing water is spawning Mosquitos. Of course I’m the appetizer, main course and dessert and have about 20 bites, most of which are swelling… And itching and itching! Grr. 

London to Venice  

After the early morning rush to check in for our flight we did the “hurry up and wait” that has become air travel. Our plane arrived late from Geneva, bad weather causing delays now in that ripple effect, our flight leaving about 40 minutes late. There was unsettled weather all over the area we were travelling to as well so there was some turbulence. Nothing too bad however, and we arrived safely and with little delay. 

Everything went to smoothly from there, no congestion at passport control or long wait for baggage and our shuttle bus from the airport to Venice proper arrived within a few minutes or our arrival at the stop. 
The air was warm and humid as we stepped off the plane. Thunderstorms in the area the previous day and the continuing moisture in the air making the temperature, around 24C, seem higher than it was. 
So, everyone kept asking me before I left, “are you excited?” The answer being, “no! Stressed”. So the moment I felt excited was as the bus turned onto the causeway that connects Venice to the mainland. We had arrived! 
Ken and I , having visited here before, knew where to find the Vaparatto (water bus) stop where we would board to get to the apartment we were to be staying while in Venice. We had little or no wait time for this either and soon were on our way. Our travelling companions were enjoying their first glimpses of the city and this unique way of getting around it. 
A little walk, along with traversing two bridges with our suitcases, and we were at our destination. The lady caretaker of the suite was there to meet us and surprisingly we were on time. A very friendly Philippino lady gave us a tour of the apartment and explained details we needed to know about its facilities and then left us to it.
After a short rest we went to find the grocery store so we would have at least breakfast and snacks and a little ‘liquid sustenance’ 😉. The Co-Op supermarket is well stocked and offered us all we needed and more. Showing restraint as we only need a small amount to last the 3 1/2 days we only purchased enough to fill the wheeled carrier we found in the apartment and a cooler bag Annette brought from home, so resourceful.
Jet lag crept up on us yet again and instead of venturing out for dinner we decided since we had lots to feed us right there we stayed in and ate. Russ and Annette are avid Euchre players and were anxious to initiate us as well so we played a game and apparently we show aptitude. I’m sure they are both happy and relieved that we enjoyed it so it can become our evening entertainment when we are ‘in’.

Ha ha.  The rest of us were hiding out behind the cameras. Annette has one with more people in it…  

Day 1

…..And so it begins. 

Uneventful is a cherished word when speaking of air travel, and we were grateful ours was no exception. We were even spared the usual trek from domestic to international flights, surprised to find the gate for our flight to London was only a few down from where we arrived in Calgary.
We haven’t flown British Airways for a while and were pleasantly surprised that the seats were not too uncomfortable, and the food more than simply editable. 
The coffee at breakfast however had much to be desired. It reminded me, and Ken agreed, of coffee we once had on the Greek Isle of Naxos. Pretty much undrinkable! That time we choked our way through it to be polite to the hostess, her coffee cake more than making up for the beverage. This time it was only that it was ‘warm and wet’. Not even hot, Diana. You would have done without for sure!
All was well with the landing etc. However, we were separated at Passport control as Ken is allowed to accompany me through with the EU passports. Russ and Annette had to go through “all other passports” where there were simply hordes of people. We went to baggage claim and waited, and waited, and waited. Finally they appeared and off we went in search of our hotel shuttle. 
Another small adventure, as the bus we were supposed to take (according to the sign we saw) took forever to come. When it did, we were told that this was not the bus we needed. It had changed. If we had read the new sign, which was obscured by travellers waiting for their own bus, it would have told us that, so we were informed. Actually it didn’t, but the driver of the bus said he did in fact go there. 
It became apparent when we arrived a the hotel why we could not find it on the list. The name of the hotel had been recently changed from the Arora to Heathrow hotel. Go figure! New signs please!!
The hotel was good though (a steal on Hotwire) and we were able to rest our weary, jet lagged bones and eat a light repast in the restaurant before retiring for an early night. Good thing we did retire early as none of us slept past 4am. This was not that much of a hardship however as we had to be up at 5:30am to be off on the next leg. 
Not quite ‘full English breakfast’.

To Pack or not to pack. That is the question.

Well, I guess that’s not correct. I have to pack if I want to have a change of clothes while we are away, without purchasing it all there. Hm…. Well that’s an idea! 🙂

What to pack? That’s the real question. 

One warm destination is easy to figure out. However, adding the UK to the end of the trip at the beginning of October, brings the guesswork into play. The weather in the south of England is much like Vancouver Island. Unpredictable!

September is often a month where summer extends into fall (autumn) and though the nights are cooler, the days are often still quite warm so as not to notice with the passage of time bringing us closer to winter.

October is a whole different thing entirely. One that is rarely predictable or consistent.

So, layers it is! (Plus an umbrella for good measure)

Italy 2015 vacation blog

parksville 40th anniversary

We are in countdown mode for out trip to Italy. We leave September 12th with a night in London, near the airport, then on to Venice the next morning.

Am I ready for this? No! But then I never am. I pack the day before, so don’t ask if I’m all packed and ready to go. Am I excited? No! I get excited when I’m on the plane and can’t stress about what still has to be done before I go. Ken is looking forward to it. Does that mean he’s excited? I’m not sure. Guess I will ask and let you know.
Since our summer has abandoned us already I will enjoy an extension of it while we are away. The temperatures will be in the 20c + and in some areas upper 20’s so that will be enjoyable.
Another perk for me is a second season of fresh figs. Here the season is short, really short; three weeks only. In Italy they will still be on the trees and wonderfully, mushily (yes I know it’s not a word) ripe, juicy and sweet. I’m salivating just thinking of them. As you can tell I really like them, a lot!