Il mio buon amico

Yes, another friend arrived in Venice on Saturday. My friend Max (aka Yosemite Sam) from my Italian class in Seattle is here for a week and we have lots of tentative plans. He rented an apartment about a kilometer from mine so we try to meet various places like Zattere where me met on Sunday morning and enjoyed breakfast at Bar Gino.


Max at breakfast.


Then we made our way back to Zattere to catch the vaporetto. I noticed the newly planted flower boxes along the way…or at least I hadn’t noticed them before.


We were joined by Marc and Iain at San Giorgio Maggiore. If you are interested you can find out more about this beautiful church on it’s own island here:,_Venice

We started our time there with a trip up the elevator in the campanile (bell tower) which totally deserves (and will have) it’s own blog post. Here are some pictures of us and of this beautiful church.

Left to right: Iain, me and Marc


Me and Max


Okay, the church, or in the first picture the view back toward San Marco






Yes, this picture is the floor and not an M.C. Escher painting.

DSCN6797We stayed for the 11 am Mass that was sung in Gregorian chant. We were expecting it to be held in the main church but no, this was an ordinary Sunday and Mass was held in a small side chapel with four monks, the priest and two assistants (other priests) chanting and reciting the verses. Both in Italian with some in Latin which I remembered from growing up with it.

After Mass we took the vaporetto back to Palanca and went in search of lunch. I had though of La Palanca but they were closed so we went to Majer where I had gone with Karen my second day in Venice. The guys ordered a variety of cicchetti (Max’s choice looked surprisingly like bacon and eggs)  and I had their version of a chicken Caesar salad.







I didn’t get a picture of the goat cheese smothered in vegetables. My salad (below) had warm chicken and sliced potatoes with a yogurt dressing. Not the usual Caesar salad.


All too soon it was time to hug Marc and Iain goodbye as they had to return to their hotel  to pack and catch their flight back to London. Watch their blog for their report on their visit to the Dingo Cat Sanctuary on the Lido. I’ve seen some of the great pictures.

Max and I headed to our apartments for a well deserved afternoon riposo (that’s a nap…or just a rest).


Posted in Beautiful Day, Bridges, Cappuccino, Cats, Cicchetti, City of My Dreams, Farewells, flowers, fotografia, friends, Giudecca, Life is good, me, Photography, San Giorgio Maggiore, Travel, Venezia, Venice | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

They’re here!

After much back and forth in email over the last few months the day has arrived and I’m meeting Marc and Iain from London this morning. They have the blog that some of you see almost daily; and here is the latest post….they have lots of guests posts:

Two Red Cats 10 – Destroying plants!

They have never been to Venice and decided that my coming all the way from the west coast of the USA was a good time to book a weekend break.

Even though I awoke to a foggy morning the sun decided to break through by 9 am as I made my way to the vaporetto. The rain originally predicted did not happen and it was a beautiful warm day.


If I had waited a second to snap this shot the man in this lovely boat would have been waving. Evidently his friend was standing behind me on the vaporetto.


I texted Marc that I was on the way to the San Zaccaria vaporetto stop and they should just come out of the front door of the Gabrielli and turn right and watch for a woman in a leopard scarf head wrap. Good thing because the Riva was flooded….with tour groups. They had no trouble picking me out and after greetings and hugs we turned down a side calle and the crowds disappeared. Of course the first shop we passed had a window full of all kinds of cats.


Hardly another tourist in sight, just local people going about their daily business. They learned quickly that we cannot walk three abreast here and whatever you do, don’t block the bridges.


Iain goes eye to eye with an eye.


This is around the corner from my former apartment. The only group we met was one of local teenagers headed for who knows where.


They decided to investigate this narrow calle, barely shoulder wide. I advised them not to step out on the steps covered in green because I would not be responsible for pulling them out of the canal.


Can spring be far with balconies like these?



We wandered over the bridge to my favorite grocery store Punto, where in 2012 and 2013 the checkout ladies got so used to seeing me a couple times a week that they only spoke Italian to me. Maybe now I would understand and be able to answer. Punto is the building with the pointed roof just before the white archway.


Iain stopped  in Punto and got bottles of water for us then we went on to Campo San Lorenzo where cat houses sponsored by Dingo were once lined up in front of the church. Due to construction work there the cats were relocated. We found a bench in the sun and sat for a rest.


Although I didn’t get a picture of it someone had used colored chalk to draw pictures of cats just by the bench where we sat. The cats may be gone but they are not forgotten. I brought cat treats and fed them on my first visit to Venice in 2008.

And on to Campo Santa Maria Formosa and time for a cappuccino break. Marc on the left and Iain on the right…enjoying the sunshine.


After relaxing there for a while it was on to the most beautiful book shop in the world….or so the sign says. Libraria dell’Acqua Alta. Although there were lots of cat pictures, cat books (among some more “interesting” offers) neither Luigi nor his cats were present.


Marc climbed the book steps to enjoy the view.



Iain posed so we could both get his photo.


Although I had been planning on joining them for lunch at Caffe dei Frari…once home to a famous cat, I realized my body was telling me I needed to find the vaporetto home. So once again following my inner Venetian I led them out to San Zaccaria. These are some sights and reflections we enjoyed along the way.






EASTER IS COMING! Yes, those eggs are huge. I would have fainted to find one of those in my Easter basket. Poor bunny.


I was intrigued by the way the sun hit these bricks making them look like jeweled decorations. It’s a little grainy because I really cropped it to get them to show.


Just ahead is as I knew it would be…San Zaccaria and vaporetti to anywhere (almost) that you would like to go. I gave Marc and Iain directions on how to go through Piazza San Marco and find their way to the Accademia Bridge and on to the Frari and the caffe. We hugged goodbye until Sunday morning and I found my way to the No. 2 and home.

On my walk from Sacca Fisola to my bridge I found this. As if you really need proof that la primavera (spring) is arriving.




Posted in Acqua Alta/High Water, Beautiful Day, Bridges, Cappuccino, Cats, City of My Dreams, flowers, fotografia, friends, Photography, Travel, Venezia, Venice | Tagged , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Piove, ma non versando


This morning I decided to experiment. I wanted to go to Accademia and get some pictures of the shopping street and buy a few gifts. I had nothing but time so I decided to take the long way around on the No. 2 vaporetto from Sacca Fisola. On the lower left of the map which does not seem to enlarge like it did for me before I put it here…is the Sacca Fisola area of Giudecca which is the combination of islands shaped almost like an eel. So follow around to the left and then go north(towards the top for those of you map challenged) around the end past Tronchetto where you can park your car and into the Grand Canal. You enter the mouth of the fish (Venice is shaped like a fish) at the train station and wind along making stops along the way.  Accademia is almost to the other end of the Grand Canal. And yes, it takes almost an hour to traverse this route from Sacca Fisola. You see the palazzos on either side of the canal, lots of people coming and going and then finally your destination. You get off to discover that the weather report is wrong and the rain has begun. As the title says…raining, but not pouring. Being from the Pacific Northwest of the USA I would not consider opening an umbrella (or even carrying one) in what was only a fine mist. People tried though and since it was a wide calle hopefully didn’t poke anyone’s eye out.


I’m hoping that the rain coming early will mean that we’ll have fine weather for the end of the week when I have various friends arriving and walking tours planned and all kinds of things.            I decided it was time for a cappuccino and there I was….


Yes, my friend in Scotland…where we met on my visit in 2012, Bar Gino. But a bit damp for an outside seat. They were all out of cornetto being 11 am but I had a nice cookie with my cappuccino.


For those who don’t know it, it’s a cozy place and is very busy on a rainy morning. And they have a menu and serve “real” food and wine and beer.


And since someone has been asking for a picture of me (you know who you are) I asked the nice couple from Nottingham next to me if they would take my picture with my camera. Ciao, Lizzy!


I’ve been wearing that little turban a lot both due to weather and the fact that although my hair is growing in curly after chemo, it’s still pretty sparse and I need to keep my head warm.

And on to what I came for…some pictures of the shop windows and some gift shopping.


Easter cakes are starting to appear…even in what seems to be a wine shop.


Ah, the colors…


These shoes are definitely too sexy for my poor feet. That leopard bag on the other hand…


Even with the awning these tables had no takers.


Lots of glass.  A Murano chandelier is not in my budget and definitely would not fit in my suitcase.


Look! Gondolier slippers! These are not embroidered with a gondolier facing the wrong way and don’t cost E 280 or whatever those cost in the new high end shopping mall at Rialto. If I remember these were E 35.


And more glass. Yes, I got the gifts I was after, all but one and even a “little” something for myself. I’d love one of those birds that light up but I really don’t think it would survive the trip back.



Don’t think I have enough money left for lunch out so headed for the Zattere and home just as the noon bells began to ring. I paused to listen. 


Here, you can listen too:

As a postscript, I took the No. 2 vaporetto from Zattere (right around the corner ahead to the right in the picture of the calle above the ringing bell) to Sacca Fisola, the second stop, it took about 10 minutes. The walk between the Accademia stop and Zattere on this calle took me 10 minutes without the pause to listen to the bells. So 20 minutes point to point. Taking the vaporetto around the other way took nearly an hour, a cultural experience but probably won’t do that next time. As I said, it was an experiment.


Posted in Cappuccino, Chemo, Church bells, City of My Dreams, food, fotografia, friends, Giudecca, Hair, Italian Lesson, me, Photography, Travel, Venezia, Venice | Tagged , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Vorrei due biglietti per favore

Yes, two tickets please. That was my mission for today. Go to San Vidal and obtain tickets for the concert by Interpreti  Veneziani for this coming Sunday evening. I checked and I could take No. 2, my current favorite vaporetto route from Sacca Fisola and get to the nearest stop (San Samuel) without having to change. As has been the case the last couple of times the vaporetto became very crowded as we stopped at Tronchetto (parking garages), Piazzale Roma (last stop for buses and cars) and Ferrovia (train station). I had a seat in the disabled area near the front but still had to push my way through somewhat of a crowd (a lot of those people got off at Rialto) to get off. I had put directions from Google Maps on my phone. It told me that it was 350 meters to my destination which isn’t very far even for my current condition and would take four minutes. Well, I don’t walk that fast so it took a little longer what with stopping for photo opportunities and all. But their turn by turn directions were so complicated I didn’t bother with them and just followed my inner Venetian.

Hmm, where did everyone go?



I could swear Rialto was in the other direction.



Ah, some people…


And around the corner ahead is my destination.


And just ahead Chiesa San Vidal.


I purchased the tickets….sadly she did not ask for proof of age when I said over 65. There is a discount. And yes, I could take photos so this is the intimate area where we will hear Vivaldi played on Sunday evening.


Now, in search of cappuccino.


Found it, just across the campo. And even I can make art in cappuccino.


As I sat there eyeing the food being served to the next table and listening to the noon bells…


I realized it was lunch time and ordered pizza…of course…i quattro stagioni.


It was quite good even though as an afterthought and I had already seen their regular menu and decided what I wanted they put a “menu turistico” on my table. One cappuccino, a half liter of acqua minerale naturale and my pizza came to E16. The least expensive lunch so far. It was a lot of food and I could not finish all of it but I made a good attempt. The pizza by itself was E 10. Why do restaurants in the States charge $18.95  plus tax and tip for a pizza half this size? Just wondering.

I was retracing my route and was stopped in my tracks as I noticed this in a shop doorway. I call it “Girls Night Out” or maybe “Doge in Drag”.


And as a lover of reflections and what they do I couldn’t resist the front window in the same shop.


I couldn’t tell exactly what they were selling….those sport coats maybe?

On around the corner and this window caught my eye and I had to go in.


It was actually an art store where you could buy pigments and brushes but they showcased the work of local artists. I’m sure Davide saw “sucker” flashing on my forehead but I had fallen in love with a pendant before even asking the price….knowing I had to have it. He told me the price and if I bought it I could have the magnet I had in my hand (a cat in Carnevale dress) for free. Then when I also saw something else I wanted for a gift he said if I could pay cash I could have everything for E125. He had previously said the pendant was E 135 so I’m sure he had a lot of wiggle room. And I had decided to buy before I even knew the price so he did not put “ham on my eyes”. That is a phrase I learned on a Rick Steves program on Venice. He said they say that a woman who visits Venice and falls for a gondolier has “ham on her eyes”. Here is the charming Davide “hamming” it up for the camera and yes, the card he is holding has a picture of a cat. And I didn’t buy it.


The pendants are on the wall directly behind his hand. Paint pigments are on the other side of him.

Okay, enough euros spent for one day. Back to the vaporetto and “home”.


As I reached Sacca Fisola the sun decided to make an appearance. On my walk home I decided to dream a little. Just before my bridge this little house is for sale. I wonder how much they want?


It has a garden and a covered patio.


It does look like a bit of fixer upper. But is has a fenced yard.


It has water access. And it’s directly across from the Caribinieri Barracks and looks like they lease space to the Hilton to park their shuttles. Income producing property?


My heart is saying…I wonder and my head is saying “Not in your wildest dreams, sweetheart!”

And at the other end of the bridge awaits a colorful boat…probably more in my price range but probably not even this. I’m sure someone uses this boat to work hard.



Posted in Cappuccino, Cats, Church bells, City of My Dreams, dogs, food, fotografia, Gardens, Giudecca, Italian Lesson, Photography, Travel, Venezia, Venice | Tagged , , , , , , | 11 Comments

La nebbia

One of my favorite Italian TV shows that I get to watch back in Seattle on MHZ Networks International Mystery and Drama programming is “Nebbie è Delitti” (Fog and Crimes). Commissario Soneri solves crimes along the Po River. It seems it’s always foggy when he is along the Po. And I enjoy watching  Luca Barbareschi .   You can see the trailer for the series here: 

This evening when I decided to walk over to the Hilton to raid their bancomat (ATM) for cash for the rest of my trip and check the gift shop for possible snacks I was surprised when I rounded the corner and saw…. la nebbia!


Since the windows of my apartment face the side of the Hilton Hotel I could not see this and I had not checked the weather app on my phone. It had told me about fog before and it lied each time.

Not this time.




You can barely see the lights on the Zattere.





And by the time I completed my business in the Hilton it had begun to lift a bit.




Posted in City of My Dreams, Fog, fotografia, Giudecca, Photography, Travel, Venezia, Venice | Tagged , , , , , | 9 Comments

Buona notte

Buona notte….good night in Italian.  I had decided to try to get some nice sunset pictures and maybe a “cruise” on the Grand Canal. I headed to the Zattere. I will now give you a link to some information about this Venetian promenade. It’s not Wikipedia but a little more interesting.

I don’t have the right kind of lens to get the entire Zattere in the picture. This will have to do.


In my short crossing I had a delightful conversation with a small native Venetian. She singled me out and started chattering away. I explained in Italian that I didn’t speak much Italian and asked if she spoke English. She replied “Si, certo, I speak English”. And we continued with her answering my halting Italian questions in English. I asked “Quanti anni hai?” (How old are you?) and she held up her fingers. I said “è cinque?” (five) and then…”ah, no, quattro” (four). Fat little fingers make it hard to tell. Yes, four years old. Too soon it was my stop. Her mama was sitting by us and was thoroughly entertained by her precocious daughter.

Sunset from the Zattere.

DSCN6505  Lots of dogs participate in the passagiata (evening stroll). This one seems to be saying….is it time to move on…


Nope, guess not.


People scurrying across the Accademia Bridge….everyone in a hurry.


Since I was right there at the Bar Foscarini I decided to treat myself to another cioccolata calda. Sadly it paled in comparison  to the one at La Calcina. This one was more expensive at E 6 and so obviously from a boxed mix. Yes, that’s me in the mirror taking the picture.


I headed to the vaporetto for my cruise. This is taken from the floating platform where you wait after passing your card in front of the machine to validate your passage. Soon I will take a picture of the validation machine so you understand what I’m talking about. Board without validating and you face a hefty fine if caught. Ignorance of the rule is no excuse.


Now you know why it’s called the “Blue hour”.



I boarded a very crowded No. 1 because this late in the day the No. 2 (which would take me all the way to Sacca Fisola) stopped this route in the afternoon. I had to change at Rialto (not Rialto Mercato on the other side of the canal). It was standing room only and I could not risk trying to take pictures. At Rialto I found where to get the No. 2. They have a variety of stops there and only certain boats make certain stops. I found my way to “C”. It was my first experience of something I had read about. There is a new system that separates the waiting area into “locals” and “all other passengers”. I discovered that although my iMob card grants me the right to get tickets and passes at the local rate…I paid E37 for my pass that allows unlimited use for the month….it does not allow me to open the gate to the local waiting area. But when the vaporetto came he opened both gates at the same time  and it was a mad rush to board. It was the first time in all my visits that I felt like I might be knocked over. I wasn’t and I had spied some outside seats on the other side. A family had taken over but two little girls were hogging three seats. I asked if I could sit with them and a lovely young woman sitting next to me stood up and gave me her seat instead. So here are a few night pictures on the Grand Canal.


With the right timing you can actually see the beautiful Murano glass chandeliers in some of the palazzos that you can’t see during the day. Sorry, I’ll have to try harder another night.


At the Ferrovia (train station) stop everyone seemed to get off.


Yes, really, they all got off except the couple behind me. The workers came and helped me past them as the woman was having a medical emergency and the ambulance had been called. The boat was stopped and I would have to get the next one that came. Not long after I stepped off the ambulance came speeding down the canal, tied up to the far side of the vaporetto and gently loaded this lady into a type of reclining chair and transferred her to the ambulance boat and took off. I pray that she will be fine.  The crew untied the vaporetto and left. I’m sure they had to go back to their base and file an incident report.

Another No. 2 came and there was plenty of outside seating but nothing much beyond that point for photographs. Nearly everyone else got off at Piazzale Roma…probably to catch their buses to the mainland where many of the people who work in Venice live. I was glad to have put my gloves in my bag and put them on for the short trip on to Sacca Fisola and the walk to my Venetian home. Oh, I made it without having to stop on a bench and rest. I just put one foot in front of the other telling myself that it really wasn’t that far and 400 meters is nothing. Drat the neuropathy. 


Posted in Bridges, Chocolate, City of My Dreams, Cruise, dogs, fotografia, Giudecca, Italian Lesson, learning Italian, Palazzo, Photography, Travel, Venezia, Venice | Tagged , , , , , | 12 Comments

Un addio affettuoso…a fond farewell

Today was bittersweet. Two friends left Venice.

This afternoon I met Karen at Gelati Nico on the Zattere for a farewell visit. She and her husband Mike are moving from Venice. They have been with me from the beginning of my Venetian journey. In 2008, my first visit and when I fell head over heels in love with the City of My Dreams I had booked a last minute photo tour with a company called The Venice Experience. A nearly four hour private photo tour with Mike Henderson. He showed me how to see Venice differently…not just through a series of snapshots like most tourists take home. About halfway through he said “you really should meet my wife.” I didn’t actually meet Karen until I returned to Venice in March 2010.

I’d like to let Karen tell you why they are leaving in her own words. She posted this blog late last night.

I’m waiting for Karen and taking photos as usual. Not much call for gelato at this time of the year but it’s nice to sit in the sun.


What Karen had:


What I had:


All too soon she had to go and we hugged goodbye. Not really goodbye…arrivederci. Our paths will cross again.  In bocca del lupo, Karen and Mike. I look forward to your new adventures.

I had a bit of time to meander until I was meeting my Latvian friend for dinner at La Calcina so of course my camera decided what it liked. The day had turned grey and very cool…no gorgeous sunset tonight. Maybe mourning the loss of Karen and Mike. Maybe that was just me.


Per i cani….for the dogs


I wandered along a little shopping street….it deserves a post of it’s own as it had some “interesting” shops. At the end was a canal (what else). Here’s what I got but I also plan to come back on a blue sky day.





I was getting a little cold so I wandered through this Sotoportego.


A handsomely decorated pisotta. Don’t know what this is? Well, they were developed a long time ago to discourage “gentlemen” from peeing in the corners.


I gatti…above the exit.


A grey evening….no spectacular sunset tonight.


The entrance to the hotel.


At the desk I explained that I was meeting a friend there for dinner and did they have someplace I could wait. He directed me to this lovely room.


I’m in heaven. A tiny, beautiful room. I was wishing I had done my head-wrap with my leopard print scarf so I could look more like an “international woman of mystery”.


I could sit and watch the world go by.

I decided this would be the perfect hotel for a honeymoon (maybe it was the canoodling couple who came in and sat on the sofa taking selfies with their smart phones) or perhaps (and it looks so sexy in Italian) una relazione clandestina….a clandestine affair.

I couldn’t help but be reminded of a magazine article I read years ago about women traveling solo. She said that when you come to a new place put yourself up at the best place you can afford. They will think you are a whore anyway so you might as well look like a successful one. Excellent advice. 


I craved something hot to drink and ordered a cioccolata calda (hot chocolate for you non Italian speakers).


Thick and rich and had no need of the extra sugar provided.


Oh, did you notice the fireplace? Not real but gives a nice ambiance. No open fires allowed in Venice for obvious reasons.


My Latvian friend texted that she had just read my email and was running for the vaporetto. I texted back that there was no rush and I was perfectly happy and content where I was. She arrived a little while later and we sat and talked for a while and then checked about dinner. We never thought for a moment that we would need a reservation at 6:30 pm on a Tuesday in mid-March but it seems they were fully booked (mostly by a very large party of locals) but they found us a charming table in a back corner.



We ordered two of the chef’s recommendations of the day from the menu. I finally had Spaghetti alla Buscara and it is now my favorite Venetian dish.


She had pizza alla Ruskin (John Ruskin was a frequent visitor to Venice and with his wife wrote “The Stones of Venice”….this hotel is sometimes referred to as Ruskin’s House).


I finished with my favorite dessert…tiramisu.


All too soon the evening was ending. Okay, it had been an Italian restaurant meal meaning we lingered for three hours. But she had to pack and had a flight to catch back to Latvia in the morning.

Here is the front of the building where you can sit and dine in nice weather. They even have a floating dining area directly on the water. Maybe later this month.


We paused to take some pictures, hugged goodbye. A wonderful visit for two women who had never met face to face before. I looked across and momentarily considered getting the Hilton shuttle….which was right there…but decided to get the No. 2 vaporetto home. And walk across my bridge.


So I’m on my own again till my friends from London arrive the end of next week and then Yosemite Sam will arrive for my final week. I’m already making plans to keep him entertained. It’s hard to believe I’ve reached the halfway point in what I have decided is a spiritual journey. Of course it’s not “half over”. I’m too optimistic for that…I always see the glass as half full so this journey has only just begun. Won’t you continue along with me?


Posted in Bridges, Cappuccino, Chocolate, City of My Dreams, Coffee, Farewells, food, fotografia, friends, Gondolas, Italian Lesson, Photography, Travel, Venezia, Venice | Tagged , , , , , , , | 8 Comments