Category: Travels

Trip of a Lifetime: Venice in a Day

After a good night’s sleep, we rose to sunshine and an early morning temperature of 71 degrees Fahrenheit. Our B&B owner fortified us with a simple but filling breakfast in the elegant dining room. Croissants, pastries, two cups of cappuccino later, we departed for Piazza San Marco.

We had a busy schedule set out, wanting not to miss out on anything. Our route led us directly to Ponte Rialto (Rialto Bridge), where we stopped to climb the stairs, cross over while enjoying the many shops and restaurants along the way. We were not alone. Throngs of people crowded around us, wishing to savor their moment as well.

Everywhere we turned, canals, gondoliers, scented flowers adorning window sills, were charming us. We continued our walk back over the bridge towards San Marco. In no time, we arrived in the grand square, surrounded by the restaurants, shops, the majestic Basilica and the Campanile. The Doge Palace was our first stop.

We took a tour through the Palace, with its impressive apartments, chambers and old prisons. The courtyard outside has some of the most impressive sculptures. From there, we climbed up the Campanile, to have a spectacular view of the city. From high up above, the red terracotta rooftops stretch out across the landscape. The island of Morano, with its famous glass factories, sits across the Grand Canal.

Next, it was on to the Piazza itself. Strolling along, with the pigeons following, we stopped for a quick lunch at one of the restaurants. Bands played, people meandered and souvenir stalls were packed. The charm of Venice completely enthralled me.

With the afternoon having come and gone, we returned to our rooms, to clean up, in order to prepare for supper. Our plan was to have a meal at one of the more upscale restaurants, featuring Venetian cuisine. Of course, pasta was on the menu. Our primary plate was spaghetti in a simple, but savory, tomato sauce. As the secondary plate arrived, the tantalizing aroma of the fresh sea bass, with capers and black olives filled the air. It was one of the best meals I’ve ever had. To finish off, a tiramisu with an espresso, completed our meal.

Feeling full, we walked along the canal, coming up to the Bridge of Sighs. This bridge is covered and connects the New Prison to the interrogation rooms in the Doge’s Palace. We lingered out into the late night, enjoying the starry sky, the atmosphere, and sights. Our day had gone too fast. I was sorry to be leaving the next day, but this is one city I will be returning to. Our next stop would be Verona. I wondered if it would be as magical as Venice. Come back next time for my impressions of Verona.




Trip of a Lifetime: Venice


Excitement built upon our arrival at the Venice Marco Polo airport. We had boarded our flight leaving Montreal’s Pierre Elliot Trudeau airport, with its stop over in Paris, late in the evening our local time. After nine hours of travel, we landed early morning in Venice, at 9 am, exhausted but exhilarated, to find ourselves at the first stop of our dream vacation.

We would be spending two nights in the city and there was much to see and experience before departing to our next stop in Italy. From the airport, our transport bus to the Piazzale Roma, which is a large square on the outskirts of Venice, offering the only place to park, dropped us off to find the rest of the way ourselves. From there, cars or any motorized vehicle is prohibited, or should I say they are impossible to maneuver through the tight streets or the many bridges. This is a walking city.

To get to our guest house, the Palazzo Rosa, which is located near the Rialto Bridge, we took the Vaporetto. Riding on the waterborne route is a great way to see the city as you glide over the Grand Canal. At the seventh stop, named the Fondamenta Nuove, we stepped off and continued on foot.  In less than 10 minutes, following the signs to Santi Apostoli, rolling our suitcases along, and crossing over a bridge, we found the Palazzo Rosa just at the end of the street.

The guest house is a remodeled, old historic Venetian home, which offers guests all the modern conveniences, as well as breakfast daily between 8  and 10:30 am. Check-in is at 2 pm, which meant we arrived early. Lucky for us, having arrived at eleven o’clock, the pleasant desk clerk who greeted us, readily produced a key to our room. Beautifully decorated in the classic Venetian style, spacious, and equipped with an in-room private bathroom, our room was bright and elegant. Eager to get started, we deposited our baggage into the room, leaving the guest house to begin our visit.

I will get into what we saw and our reactions next week. For now, I want to share something hysterical that happened to us. We walked around the city for hours. Already tired from our long sleepless overnight flight, we quickly ran out of energy. Deciding to retire early, to continue our sightseeing early the next morning, we retired back to our room to rest and catch up on our sleep.

It was six in the evening when we lay down on our comfortable bed. Sleep found us easily. We woke, glanced at our watches, and saw they read eight o’clock. We would be just in time for breakfast. Freshly showered, we dressed, exited our room to go to the charming breakfast room facing the picturesque Rio dei Santi Apostoli.

No breakfast. Maybe they were late in setting up. We approached the desk clerk to inquire at what time breakfast would be ready.  He informed us it was at eight in the morning. We looked at each other, perplexed as we knew it was past eight already. Understanding dawned on the clerks face. He smiled, with a knowing look on his face. Telling us that it was eight in the evening, the same day we arrived, we had a good laugh with him. We had only slept for two hours.

What did we do? We went out for dinner. Having caught our second wind, we enjoyed a great plate of pasta, a bottle of wine, an after dinner vin santo to dip our biscotti in, and made our way to Piazza San Marco for an evening stroll.

Next week: Piazza San Marco – Mercato Rialto – Grand canal
Ponte Vecchio – Ponte Rialto – Palazzo Ducale – Clock Tower.



Trip of a Lifetime

It took months to plan. Starting in September of 2010 the list of places we wanted to see grew exponentially. Our trip was to begin on June 4th, 2011 with our return scheduled for July 1st. A month to explore and discover the boot shaped nation. We settled on the six cities we most wanted to see, from which we could plan day trips to nearby sights. It was all coming together by January when we had to reserve our flights and hotel bookings.

Italy, Flag, Map, Country, Symbol

Finding the flights was the easy part. Hotels were another matter. We would be traveling to each city via train so the hotels needed to be near each station. That took some doing. Not knowing the locale, whether it was a safe neighborhood or not, the internet proved invaluable. By March 2011 the hotels and trains were booked.

Our first stop would be Venice. Excitement built as the day of departure drew near. We went through our lists of what we needed to bring with us, organized our itinerary and made sure our passports were still valid. Now all that remained was to board the plane.

I will be writing weekly, hoping to entertain and inform on our experiences throughout this once in a lifetime trip. Next week, Venice will inspire and amuse as I divulge a little tidbit about our first night in the canal city.

Until next time, a picture to start us off.




Palazzo Pitti – Florence


      Palazzo Pitti (or Pitti Palace ), and its surrounding Boboli Gardens, is one of my favorite spots in the entrancing city of Florence. If you love art or history, then you have come to the right place. The city itself captures the imagination. From the gothic Basilica of Santa Croce, to the Piazza della Signoria, where you can marvel at a copy of Michelangelo’s David, Florence has that magical quality of  taking you back in time. Sitting at an outdoor cafe, or restaurant, the various imposing statues that line the Piazza are overshadowed by the impressive Palazzo Vecchio. The Medici family’s influence over the city is everywhere you look. Their love of the arts during their reign over Florence has made it the place to be to view some of the most renowned works of art.
The way to Pitti Palace is full of wonders as well. My favorite route is through Piazzale degli Uffizi. The courtyard of this museum holds statues of Michiavelli, Da Vinci and Galileo, to name but a few. Once past the courtyard, the adjacent street leads directly to Ponte Vecchio. Overcrowded most days by visiting tourists, the old stone covered bridge, lined with shops, crosses over the Arno river.
Pitti Palace is a short walk along the road that meets the bridge. The galleries housed within the palace contain over five hundred Renaissance paintings, sculptures and artifacts. I could spend days strolling through them. At the other end of the entrance, an arched doorway leads out to the newer constructed courtyard, from where the gardens are accessed.
The gardens themselves are a wonder. With their many sculptures dating from the 16th through the 18th centuries, one can get lost in the walkways bordered by immaculately trimmed hedges. You cannot go a few steps before finding something to stop and admire.
But, it was the courtyard leading to the gardens with its many archways that inspired me to make it the entrance to the world I am creating. I needed a site for the council governing over the paranormal races and what better place than in Florence. The palace offered me the perfect venue to create an underground network, one that none but those governed by the council are aware of.
It is still a work in progress. Keep following for more insights on the developing story.


London Eye


     And here I am on the London Eye with the Palace of Westminster in the background. Our trip was an unbelievable adventure. Aside from London, we visited Stonehenge, Bath, Leeds, Dover, Canterbury, Greenwich and Oxford. We visited Warwick, Windsor and Leeds Castle, as well as the Tower of London. My favorite though was a stop in the town of Lacock where we enjoyed the best fish and chips at the George Inn . During our visit, we were pleasantly surprised to see the picture below of  a Harry Potter scene which was filmed just around the corner from the inn.
For our next visit, which we are looking forward to, we want to see more of the countryside. Maybe venture further into Ireland, Wales and Scotland. There is so much to see and enjoy in these beautiful countries. Any suggestions on what we should include in our itinerary?


Ischia, Italy



     I have always been fascinated by history and what it can teach us. Traveling is one of my favorite things to do. I have many favorite places, but none compare to the many captivating ones from my visit to Italy. You cannot turn a corner without being caught up in the splendor around you. From Rome with its Trevi fountain, Spanish steps and Villa Borghese gardens, to Verona with the romantic setting of Juliet’s house, Italy is infused with history. The people, the food , the wine make the country unforgettable.
     Taking the imagery and trying to transform it into words is a daunting task.  I find when I am writing of the places, it is useful to have pictures to help me. Below is Casa Rosa, a house built by an American colonel, JC Mackowen, around 1898. A civil war veteran, lover of archaeology, he built the house using different architectural styles. The entrance has a Greek inscription translated as: “Greetings, citizen of the land of idleness”.
     It is one of my favorites on the island. If you are ever there, search it out. I am sure you will love it just as much as I do.
     Wish you all a great day! Enjoy life to the fullest.