Go, Kristi!!!

My travels through life and the world.

Days 17 and 18: Carlsbad, CA July 10, 2014

Filed under: Countryside,Daily Life,Food,Travel,USA,Writing — Kristi @ 6:02 pm

I have some time before my audiobooks download so I think I’ll post about my time with Vicki (my aunt) and Dave in Carlsbad, CA (outside San Diego).

 

I arrived safely in Carlsbad on July 2 (with only the rear-ending incident to bring me down), and Vicki and I finished a bottle of wine. She made excellent crab enchiladas which we ate out on the back patio. I’m actually shocked that I didn’t take a picture out of their back yard (you can see a little in my work photo), because it is gorgeous!

 

On July 3 I had the pleasure to go to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. It was awesome!

 

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Because Vicki donates to the zoo, I got a free ticket and a free tram ride. It was cool. I saw all sorts of herbivores plus a cheetah on the trip.

 

 

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Then I went to the big cat enclosures. The picture on the right is a lioness coming back with her Thursday afternoon treat, a white bunny. The photo on the left is the tiger, obviously, who had been stalking a child through the fence, but got disgusted and decided to hang out with me for a little while. 🙂

 

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I saw all sorts of other animals, which was cool, but I figure the people reading this have also seen those animals before. The one I was very excited about was the California Condor (I could not get a good picture through the fence). When I was in elementary school I used to always do projects on the condors for science class, I’m really happy they are making a comeback in the wild!

 

I got back and did some work. Here is my work picture. 🙂

 

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Then, for the Fourth of July I decided to continue my Fastfood on the Fourth tradition (started in France with my friend Julia, roughly 5 years ago) and had my first In-n-Out Burger experience. These are the two lovely ladies who served me. 🙂 (I got permission to post the picture of them).

 

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And for my patriotic spirit I painted my nails (don’t judge, I didn’t have appropriate tools).

 

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Then I stayed in for a most excellent party, of which I also have no pictures. I’m enjoying my time rather than blogging my time. 🙂

 

The next day I drove east to Phoenix, so you have cacti, sand, and thunder storms to look forward to in the next post.

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Days 6-7 – Portland June 24, 2014

Filed under: Food,Hiking,USA,Writing — Kristi @ 7:36 am

I don’t actually have a lot to post about the last two days, mostly because I kept forgetting my camera.

 

Sunday we had breakfast at Pine State Biscuits. I had some of the best biscuits and gravy I’ve ever had, then we checked out of the apartment and went to the Saturday Market on the waterfront. We hung out with my aunt and uncle and then went out to dinner with my cousins. Finally, I met up with my friend Monica (there is a picture of us below somewhere), and drank wine.

 

Yesterday (Monday) was a bit more exciting. My day started out with productivity! I met up with a friend who teaches in the area and we had a Write-In. Here is my writing picture for the day.

 

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See how diligent we are? This was at a nice coffee shop on Park Avenue.

 

Then Monica and I decided to do the 4T trail (the 4 Ts are actually: train, trail, tram, and trolly), which allowed me to see a lot of the city including a 4 mile hike. I forgot my camera, but Monica sent me a few pictures.

 

trail         tram

Tramview         tramview1

 

We finished up the day with street food (I got Ethiopian, which I have missed since David’s Place closed in Iowa City) and a nice, long dip in the hot tub. I’ve been doing a LOT of hiking and my hip muscles were really starting to hurt. The hot water was lovely!

 

And that’s it. Today I’m heading to the redwood forest so I won’t have internet for a couple days, and tomorrow to Aunt Kristi’s house in the mountains!

 

Bologna: la dotta, la grassa, la rossa! May 2, 2012

Filed under: Daily Life,Food,Italy,Travel — Kristi @ 3:47 pm

After leaving Paris, I had to (eventually) end up in Italy to help Diana get to Florence where we would meet the rest of the family. To kill a few days, I decided to head over to Bologna for a couple nights.

 

I stayed at the Hotel Astoria, which was right in the middle of the old city and REALLY close to the train station. My first night I had been traveling for hours (I flew into Milan and took the train to Bologna), so I was exhausted. The next morning I got up early and left to wander into the city.

 

One really cool thing about the city are the covered walkways. The arcades cover almost sidewalk in the city, which is really convenient if it rains, snows, or is really hot. Luckily for me, the weather was RIDICULOUSLY beautiful!

 

    

 

I made my way to the Piazza Maggiore which has the city hall on one side. The red flags aren’t on the building all the time, but it was Liberation Day, so there was a parade and logs of people in Military uniform.

 

    

 

On the left side (facing the city hall) is the Duomo, the Basilica of San Petronio, which is apparently the 5th largest church in the world. Unfortunately, the interesting part of the facade was covered for whatever reason, so all I got was bricks. I didn’t take any pictures inside but I got some postcards, which I might post later.

 

And on the third side, across from the Duomo, were some cafes where I had a cappuccino.

         

After my cappuccino, I decided to check out Asinelli’s Tower. There are two, famous, leaning towers in Bologna built in the early 1100s. The shorter one was cut off in the 1300s because it was leaning too far over, and currently leans about 10 feet off center. The taller one (Asinelli’s) only leans about 7.5 feet off center. I climbed the 498 steps to get to the top (about 98 meters high), which gave me an amazing view of the town.

                             

Since it was still early after I got down from the tower, I decided to wander around and go to San Stefano’s church which was really a complex of churches/cloisters/chapels haphazardly arranged around each other. The cool part about this was the Romanesque church that was SUPER old and may be the first Romanesque church I’ve ever been in.

             

I then wandered back to my hotel room for a little break. I really needed a siesta, so I hung out and read for about an hour before going back out to explore the town. I discovered, by accident I’m ashamed to say, that St. Dominic is buried in Bologna. Because he was Spanish, I assumed he was in Spain, but no, I was wrong. So I first went to see the Chiesa San Francesco, which wasn’t all that impressive, finally moving on to San Domenico.

                      

After leaving San Domenico, I had a bit of a camera scare. I had put it down when I was in front of the saint’s tomb and forgot it when I left the church. I got all the way to the Piazza Maggiore before I realized that it was there. Normally, this is just something that stinks, but a camera is easily replaced. Unfortunately, because of my computer issues, the last week’s worth of work in the archives was on that camera and it really would have been a disaster. Luckily some one had turned it into the guard and I got it back with no problems.

I finished up the day having dinner at Trattoria Anna Maria on Via delle Belle Arti, which was delicious. I got a lasagna with a different kind of sauce and tiramisu, which was ridiculously delicious. I walked back through the Piazza Maggiori at night and it was really lovely.

         

The next day, my train to Perugia left around 1pm so I ended up wandering over to the university part of town. I didn’t take any pictures, for whatever reason, but it basically just looked like the rest of the city. Then I picked up my stuff, hopped on the train, and headed south.

 

Old Broken Things and Green Things August 8, 2011

Filed under: Britain,Food — Kristi @ 11:57 am

Although I’m home now, I still wanted to let you all know what I did while I was in the UK. I had some excellent adventures that I don’t want to forget about.

 

When John and I were planning my visit, I made a joke that we were going to find every ruined castle in the area and visit it. He scoffed at that idea and said that he would come up with a plan that he felt was more fun; he didn’t.

 

Kenilworth Castle

 

Kenilworth Castle was actually quite interesting (for me). It is in Warwickshire and is just a ruin these days but they had a great audio tour and I had my first cream tea of the trip, so I was very pleased. John and Cat went to the pub. Kenilworth Castle was started in the 1120s by King Henry I’s treasurer, Geoffrey de Clinton. It was further expanded and strengthened by King John in 1210-1215 in the hopes of preventing the barons from gaining access. Unfortunately, he made it so strong that about 50 years later, his son had to lay seige to the castle for 6 months in order to retake it from Simon de Monfort, the earl of Leicester. John Dudley built the second, more ornate, building in the 1570s as a place for Elizabeth I to stay when she visited. Dudley hoped to marry her… it didn’t work. Apparently, though, the castle was a sight to be seen at that point. It was ruined during the Civil War, 1649, and broken up for materials. It was restored in the 19th century as a ruin, which is what we have today.

 

         

         

         

         

 

While I was having my tea, there was a tour group of older people also having tea. They began to talk about when they have tea. One of the ladies mentioned her shock that some people had scones and cream for breakfast. THE HORROR!!!! The woman she was speaking with replied, “They are foreigners though, probably American.” It made me laugh. Anyway, the views of the surrounding countryside from Kenilworth were really lovely.

 

         

 

The entrance fee for Kenilworth Castle was £8, but the man at the door convinced me to buy a week membership to English Heritage for £21. English Heritage runs many sites around Britain, into which I get free admission, and has relationships with many other sites that gets me a discount to them. I also got a book that lists all of the English Heritage sites, which was quite useful for the rest of my “old broken things” journey. However, I can’t imagine these sites will change much in the next couple or 10 years so the book will be useful for later explorations too (a £10 value). Needless to say, I’m very glad I bought it, I really feel I got my money’s worth!

 

Warwick

 

After Kenilworth, we drove to Warwick, which is a little town with a non-ruined castle. Unfortunately, the castle costs about £21 to get in and is VERY touristy, so we didn’t go in (although I do think I got a discount with my membership). I find that I prefer the ruins, which have a lot of historical information and not a lot of tourists, it feels more authentic to me. Anyway, we walked around Warwick, which was cute and touristy, and had some old buildings that I liked. John was horrified when I took a picture of a tea-shop.

 

         

 

The next day, Cat had to work (I think) so John and I went through my very useful English Heritage book and found the castle ruins for the day. The main plan was to wander through the countryside of the Peak District in Derbyshire, but we (read “I”) thought it would be a good idea to see more castles on the say, and I wanted to make my membership pay off.

 

Kirby Muxlowe Castle

 

First ruin of the day was Kirby Muxlowe Castle. It was basically just a gate house, a tower, and a moat. Unfortunately, it was closed that day, but really, there didn’t seem to be much to see. We were almost attacked by geese, however, which was exciting. They were hissing like CRAZY!

 

         

 

Bolsover Castle

 

Next we went to Bolsover Castle, which was the main castle of the day, anyway. It had one ruined part and two non-ruined parts, which John appreciated.

 

         

         

 

Sir Charles Cavendish, built the little castle (the castle-y part above) and his son, William, who inherited in 1617 really loved his horses, so there was a large and impressive stable facility.

 

       

 

Next was the ruined part, built in the 1660s, which was where the family actually lived. It was really quite large and it is hard to imagine how it looked.

 

         

 

Finally, we walked through the main part of the castle, which is not ruined and actually has parts which have recently been restored. It was built by Sir Charles to be a pleasure palace in the early 17th century and finished by William. For this one we opted not to get the audio tour, for whatever reason, so we really had no idea what we were looking at. There were some signs at the rooms, but really we were just wandering around blind.

 

 

         

 

 

Off of the bedroom there were these highly decorated rooms that looked like large, walk-in closets. The ceilings were painted with these silly-looking cherubs and Jesus doing a jig in the middle. I have no idea what that was about, but John basically hid from the horror of it.

 

 

 

 

At one point we went into a tiny, dark, empty room, which was on a strange middle level, and we just couldn’t figure out what the heck it was. As we were leaving, I noticed that there was very faint writing on the outside of the door. Apparently the room we were in was the Cheese Room.

 

 

In the cellars there was this large room that was once the beer cellar that had two different video recordings projected on the walls. Both recordings had people talking but neither had sound, so we had no idea what they were saying. In fact, it was a bit creepy.

 

Finally, there were beautiful views of the countryside from the top and front of the main castle as well.

 

         


 

So that was the majority of the broken things with some green things, next mostly green things.

 

Lake Como July 25, 2011

Filed under: Food,Italy,Travel — Kristi @ 5:55 pm

While in Venice, I told a bunch of people that I was going to Milan and many of them (read 3) recommended I make a day trip to Lake Como. I wasn’t sure it was something I wanted to do as I only had 1 full day in Milan, but after my not very exciting venture through Milan, I decided that perhaps getting away from the city wouldn’t be a bad idea. So on my way back from the Duomo, I stopped in the train station and bought my ticket for the next day (Thursday) at 11am.

 

Lake Como is about 30 mins (by Eurocity Train) north of Milan. It is a lake, shaped like an upside-down Y, surrounded by mountains and it’s where the Milanese go on weekends in the summer to escape the heat. I think George Clooney has a house there too. Anyway, when I got off the train in Como (at the bottom of the left-hand fork of the lake), I knew I had made the right decision. This post contains a lot of pictures of mountains, it was just too pretty for me to not take about a million pictures.

 

         

 

I got a map, walked to the ferry stop, and realized that I had just missed the next ferry so I had to wait. I had decided to spend the day in Verrano(?) which is a tiny little village on the right bank of the lake and has a castle and an old abbey. I also wanted to avoid the crowds in Bellagio, which was the main tourist part of the lake sitting where the two southern forks meet. While I was waiting for the 1:30 ferry, I had an ice cream with a shot of espresso in it, it was delicious! Finally, 1:30 rolled around and I got on the boat. I met a nice couple from Wisconsin and a mother/daughter originally from Cedar Rapids, IA. The scenery was amazing but the weather was a bit crappy. I took what pictures I could from the boat and hoped that things would clear up at some point, especially as I didn’t have an umbrella.

 

         

         

         

         

         

 

 

On the boat, everyone convinced me I should to go Bellagio instead of Verrano because there was no way I could spend an entire day in Verrano; it was just too small of a village. So I took their advice and Bellagio is a lovely little town. It’s built on a hillside so there are all sorts of steps leading but to the mountain. I explored the town a bit, did a bit of window shopping, looked into an old church, and really had a lovely time. By this point, the weather had turned gorgeous, it was sunny, breezy, and the perfect temperature, so I was in no hurry to get moving.

 

         

         

         

 

So I got a map and set off to find lunch. The woman at the information office recommended the restaurant on the very tip of the town, so I headed north. Unfortunately, it was closed until dinner so I had to find somewhere else. Luckily, there were amazing views of the lake. Totally worth the 15 minute walk!

 

         

         

 

 

I walked back into town and bought a purse that I had looked at on my way out. It might be the most beautiful purse I’ve ever seen. It was made in Tuscany and is lovely and shiny. I’ll take a picture of it later and post.

 

By this point, I was REALLY hungry so I went down to the lake to find a place to get some pasta and fish. I ended up going to a place which was part of a hotel and my meal was nice, not as great as the last pasta dish but definitely not terrible. but the views were amazing. The pink building on the water in the pictures above are of the restaurant where I ate dinner.

 

         

 

After lunch, I walked around a bit just looking at the amazing scenery and taking about a million pictures, and enjoying the fine weather. I had to catch an 8:00 train back to Milan so I caught the 6:20 boat back to Como and decided to walk around the town a bit. They had some nice buildings and a medieval tower that was nothing to write home about, but I took some pictures anyway (the digital camera age has ruined any image conservation I might have had). Here are some pictures of the boat ride back and of Como.

 

         

         

         

         

 

 

I got to the train station and our train was late… in fact it didn’t come. I ended up having to take a regional train, which took an hour and went to a different station. Luckily I met a nice family from Utah on the train so we worked together to figure things out. By the time we got to Milan it was dark, I was exhausted, and I still had no idea where I was in the city, add to the fact that the neighborhood that my hotel is in is not very nice at night, and I thought it best to just take a taxi. Boy am I glad I did. It was a 5 minute ride and cost about 10 euros. Totally worth it! Overall, it was an amazing day trip. I would love to go back and stay longer there is a castle and an abbey that I didn’t have time to see. I’d also like to spend more time on the water. Awesome!

 

Milano July 21, 2011

Filed under: Food,Italy,Travel — Kristi @ 5:14 pm

In Venice there is a bridge from the Doge’s palace to the prisons called the Bridge of Sighs. The reason, so the story goes, is that prisoners taken over that bridge would look out the window, see Venice for the last time, and sigh in despair. I caught a12:45ish train out of Venice and saw the city for the last time and crossed my own sort of bridge of sighs, although hopefully I’ll be returning some day.

 

After Venice, I decided to go to Milan. This decision was completely based on the price of plane tickets to the UK, so I really didn’t know what there was to do in Milan besides fashion, which I’m not super interested in and, either way, can’t afford. The trip was completely uneventful. Found my seat next to this young American couple, who were watching a movie together on their iPhones. I would like to rant a bit about technology, for a second. Here we are, traveling through northern Italy, and they are watching a movie and ignoring the scenery. In Venice, I saw a child (maybe 10) walking around with his parents playing a handheld game. Have we become so addicted to being constantly entertained that we can’t go to a beautiful city, or through a beautiful countryside, without constant stimulation? It was a 2 hour train ride; it wasn’t even enough time for them to finish the movie and yet they ignored what was happening outside in favor of a movie they could obviously watch any time. Anyway, that’s my little rant. It makes me feel a bit sorry for these people that they aren’t really experiencing their travel.

 

I got to Milan without incident and headed to my hotel. I ended up staying at the Hotel Demo which was right next to Milano Centrale train station, very convenient, but which is not a great part of town at night. The hotel, however, is very cute and my room was small but cozy, I highly recommend this hotel if you are traveling on the cheap. The only issue is that there was a giant reproduction of a painting on the wall above the bed that was Jesus being taken of the cross (I think) and the way the room was set up when I used the bathroom, I was staring at a bloody Jesus. It was a bit disconcerting.

 

    

 

After checking in I decided to wander around Milan for a couple hours. I got a map and decided to go to the Castello Sforzesco and the Duomo. I walked down to the  Castello and it was pretty neat. The Castello was the home of the Dukes of Lombardy, I think,  and now houses a bunch of museums, all of which were closed when I got there. Luckily it is HUGE and has lots of places to sit. At one point I was resting (it was about 2.5 miles from the hotel) and a woman dumped a bag of bread in front of me. The local pigeons tore that stuff up! Flinging it around, fighting each other for the choicest bits, it was quite interesting. Anyway, by the time I got there the museum was closed so I didn’t get to learn as much about the history as I normally do, but it was nice to walk around away from the bustle of the cars.

 

   

 

Then I walked down Via Dante to get to the Duomo. In case you haven’t noticed, I always visit the main churches in any city I’ve been in, and sometimes the minor ones. There are a couple reasons for this. 1. it is a free way to see some amazing art; 2. whatever the weather outside, the climate in the church is usually controlled enough that it is much nicer inside; 3. they are usually wonderful places to rest and get away from the tourists. Either way, the Duomo was amazing! I’ve never seen a church like this, it was more gothic than any gothic church in my experience and really, even the outside was magnificent!

 

    

    

 

 

I wasn’t sure if I was too late to go inside but I thought I’d try anyway, and lo and behold, they let me in (luckily I was dressed appropriately). The inside was really lovely. It was huge and gothic and decorated with amazing huge stained glass windows. I think I prefer the gothic churches to the byzantine style basilicas that I saw in Venice and Padua. The main difference to me is that in the basilicas, the color and decoration come from mosaics on the ceiling or paintings with some stone carving, whereas in the gothic churches, the color and decoration come from windows that not only decorate the walls but, depending on the light, decorate all over the church. I think I prefer the glittery light rather than the mosaics, but that’s just me, of course. The interesting thing about this church was that it was also decorated with paintings.

 

 

There were two mummified bodies of previous bishops in glass coffins along the wall, both of whom had been beatified. It was a bit disconcerting but after all the sculls I saw in Paris, it didn’t phase me all that much. The prized relic, however, can be found in the wall high above the altar. There is a cross with a glass box in the middle the holds a nail from the crucifixion. It was apparently once owned by Constantine and gifted to the Duomo at some point. It is reached by a strange elevator of sorts (ropes and pulleys), which is set up once a year so the bishop and a couple other people can take it down and process around the church and then put it back up.

 

After my time in the Duomo, I decided to have an early dinner (which was around 6, I’ve completely gotten on a European eating schedule). I found a place on the piazza overlooking the Duomo and ordered a salami pizza. It was terrible! It had clearly been made previously and just reheated with toppings because the middle was cold, like really cold, like the cheese wasn’t even melted cold. I ate the outside and vowed to never eat pizza in Italy again, unless it was in Naples! I walked back to my hotel, stopped in the train station for some gelato and to buy my ticked to Lake Como for the next day, and went to my room to mess around on the internet.

 

My thoughts on Milan: I’m not a fan. Granted, there were some extenuating circumstances: 1. I didn’t do my research before I went. This is a problem for me because I like knowing what I’m looking at when I’m looking at something. 2. the weather had turned windy and cloudy, it puts a bit of a damper on dinner when your hair is blowing in your pizza. 3. dinner wasn’t good and after I didn’t feel all that great. 4. it was just too much like an American city. After Paris and Venice, I was expecting something a bit less dirty and modern, so I was disappointed by the honking cars, yelly drivers, ugly buildings, and dirty streets. If I go again, hopefully, I will know what to expect and be more prepared.

 

 

Last day in Venice and Padua! July 16, 2011

Filed under: Food,Italy,Travel — Kristi @ 6:52 am

I have a couple hours until my flight leaves so here’s my final Venice installment.

 

My big plan for Tuesday was a day trip to Padua and then relaxing before hanging out with the Fish gang. Unfortunately, there were still those museums that I wasn’t able to see on Monday so I had to fit them in on Tuesday. I ended up catching the 9am train to Padua and getting back to Venice around 3:30, which wasn’t quite enough time to do everything I wanted but it was enough to whet my appetite.

 

Padua

 

Padua (or Padova) is a university town about 30 minutes, by train, from Venice. The university was established in 1222, which is right up my alley, and I actually met a former student on the train when I was on my way to Venice last Friday. She told me all the things I should do… none of which I had time to do. Oh well. So here is what I did.

 

First, I went to the Scrovegni Chapel. This chapel is famous for it’s internal decoration which was done by Giotto in around 1305. For those not into medieval art, Giotto is considered the first Renaissance painter and is super famous. Anyway, the chapel is interesting because it is completely climate controlled, so you have to make an appointment (I made mine about a week in advance) then at your allotted time they usher you into a glass room in which you sit for about 15-20 minutes while your climate is fixed, finally they usher you into the chapel where you have about 15-20 minutes to view the art (watched over by a very dour guard).

 

The art is amazing and you really have to focus on one thing to look at because it can be overwhelming trying to see everything in the short amount of time. Again, I didn’t take any pictures but you can google them. The ceiling is all blue covered in gold stars. The wall of the main door shows giant image of the Last Judgement, which I thought was fascinating. I enjoy the contrast of those who are saved and those who are not. I also think medieval/renaissance images of the devil are interesting. This one was particularly graphic and had a lot of things to look at. The other images tell the story of Mary’s life and Jesus’s life. And finally at the bottom we have representations of vices and virtues, in which I am also interested as a gender historian. My favorite was Anger. She was renting her chest with her long hair flowing. For whatever reason it caught my attention.

 

Here are some images from outside the chapel, including the wall surrounding the park.

 

    

    

 

Then I went across the street to the Palazzo Zuckerman which houses both the Museum of Applied and Decorative Arts but also the collection of Nicola Bottacin, a wealthy merchant who donated all his art works and coins to the city of Padova in 1865.

 

Again, no pictures, but this museum was pretty interesting. They had a large selection of lace, jewelry, fabric, costumes, ceramics, wood, etc., all highly decorated using various methods. What was most interesting to me, however, was the coin collection on the 2nd floor. When I saw “coin collection” I mean tens of thousands of coins (of which they only displayed a fraction) from pre-Alexander the Great, with some from him, through the modern era. The museum did an amazing job presenting the history of these coins, which is basically the history of Western Civilization. I had no idea that coins could tell stories like that.

 

Finally, I hopped on a tram to the Basilica of Saint Anthony. This basilica is one of the most important pilgrimage sights in Christianity and I actually grew up right across the street from a church called St. Anthony of Padua when I lived in Hightstown.

 

 

This church was more impressive to me than San Marco, for some reason. Perhaps it was all the carvings or perhaps it was the devotion of the pilgrims. St. Anthony is off to the left in a white marble alcove, which almost seems to be glowing. The devout walk through and touch the altar saying silent prayers or kneel in front, completely oblivious to the world around them. I didn’t stay in that part long, not wanting to disturb anyone.

 

They also have a reliquary room that was closed when I went, but which holds St. Anthony’s tongue, lower jaw, vocal chords, his original coffin, his tunic, and a piece of the true cross. This alcove is also interesting because of the carvings on the ceiling. It shows St. Anthony ascending to Heaven with all these cherubs cavorting around him playing music and dancing. It was neat.

 

The Basilica is attached to a cloister, which I didn’t go in but which had some nice courtyards, so here is a picture of them.

 

 

Just a quick story about the importance of modest dressing in Italian churches. It was a VERY hot and humid day in Padua when I was there so, of course, I wore a tanktop and longish skirt, however because I knew the rules I brought an overshirt with me to get into the basilica. As I was going in this couple was refused entrance because of the woman’s dress (again, obsession with shoulders and knees). These people were shocked, they sounded American by their accent, and tried to argue with the guard. They mentioned something about the heat and that it made no sense for someone to be covered up when it was this hot. The guard saw me taking my shirt out of my backpack and pointed to me and said, next time do that. They weren’t allowed in. So remember, if you want to get into famous, Italian churches, bring an over-shirt. This was not the first or last time I saw someone get turned away from a church.

 

Finally I walked a bit to the Prato della Valle square, which is apparently the largest square in Italy, and had a sandwich. Amusingly (to me anyway) the person I ordered my sandwich from didn’t speak English but he spoke French, so I ordered my food in French. Who knew my French would come in handy in Italy! On my way to the square, there are numerous kiosks selling religious trinkets, one of which was a hologram image of John Paul II, which would change depending on where you were standing. It was probably one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever seen!

 

           

 

Finally, I hopped back on the tram and caught the 3pm (ish) train back to Venice.

 

Back in Venice, I ended up only seeing one of the museums that I hoped to see on Monday, the Palazzo Mocenigo, which houses the textile and costume museum. I was only allowed to take pictures in the main room, which didn’t have any dresses, but the clothing they had was amazing! I think men should dress in colors like that again, I think everyday male clothing is so boring (in the US anyway). I will start a movement to bring back colorful knee breeches!!!

 

 

The palace is right off of a Valparetto stop so I hopped on the number 1 boat and took a nice slow tour of the Grand Canal, this time during the day. Luckily I had my Rick Steves book with me so I learned all sorts of things. Have I mentioned that I LOVE Rick Steves? From now on I’m always buying one of his books before I go to a place! Here are some pictures of my tour.

 

   

    

    

 

I got back to my room and relaxed for a bit, showered and changed for dinner. I decided that as it was my last night I was going to be an adult and actually buy myself a nice dinner with wine and everything. I had no plan but I knew I was going to go to the Fish afterward to hang out on my last night. So as I was walking I saw this little hole-in-the-wall place with a couple eating outside. As I was looking at the menu a waiter said, “If you want, you can have the last garden seat.” That sounded great to me so I took it. Boy am I glad I did! The “garden” was really a stone courtyard, not much to look at but it was private. I had a pasta with seafood, which was probably the best mean I’ve had on this trip. The pasta was cooked perfectly, it was in a light tomato sauce, and it was covered with fresh shellfish. Unbelievably delicious!!! I had a nice glass of wine and an expensive bottle of water, and in total my bill was about 23 euros. The waiter was overly nice, which wierded me out a bit, but overall it was amazing. I don’t remember the name of the place, but the courtyard was called “Corte del Pozzo Roverso,” so if you’re interested you can map it.  Here are some pictures.

 

    

 

Everything took a bit longer than I was expecting so I booked it to the Fish and met everyone at their first stop. As this is my last post about these guys, let me give you a brief cast of characters who work at the place.

 

Jacob – adorable gay man from California. He’s the main person I dealt with as he was currently managing the San Marco property where I was staying. He makes a mean tiramisu and is SUPER nice! He also tans on the balcony every day.

Hans – an attractive and charming man from Australia. He’s the second person I got to know pretty well. He is planning on moving to New York to become an actor, if I remember correctly he did some acting in Perth and wants to expand his market. He had a new girl every night and watching him work his moves was fascinating. Luckily he was VERY nice and didn’t take himself too seriously, which made him endearing.

Daniel – From Manchester and very nice. We talked a bit my last night in Venice and he was super nice. He was wearing a Dirty Dancing 25th anniversary shirt.

Peter – Not sure where he was from and we didn’t talk much.

Sophie – From Leeds and the only woman in the group. She was friends with Daniel from home (he moved to Leeds at one point). I didn’t hang out with her much but she was super nice. I wish I had been able to spend time with her.

 

So I met them at their first stop and we ended up at a bar by the Rialto with really cheap, and not great, spritzes. We got our drinks and went to a pier in the Grand Canal and just chilled. Nothing much happened, we just chatted and watched the boats go by. Overall, it was an excellent day.