A Travellerspoint blog

Coming Home

Sept 17, 2014

Not too much happened - we made it from our hotel to the airport. The new Queen's Terminal at Heathrow - Term 2 - which Air Canada flies out of now - is quite nice. We were able to check in and get bag tags for the checked bags from a computer in the terminal, but had to wait in line to dump the bags. Chatted with a lovely couple from Scotland, I think. Not too long a wait. Got thru security - wandered around a little in the stores - by the time we saw where our gate and walked seemingly forever, it was almost boarding time. (By the time we went back to a Boots and picked up some chocolate and water, they were starting to board). The plane was a little late taking off - I think about a half hour from out scheduled time by the time we got our turn. And arrived home a little late. Flight was smooth - but a couple of crying babies - within 5 rows, there were two familes with crying kids...sigh - thank goodness for headphones.

Got home fine, picked up the bags, got tickets for the bus home, waited about 20 min and got on the bus. Home sweet home!

Posted by u2traveller 11:56 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

Bye Bye Venice and hello London

Sept 16, 2014

Our flight out was around 11am or so, so we were up early-ish and made our way to the train station and caught the bus to the airport (just got one as it was leaving). Got there and thru all the rigamarole fairly easy. I think we still had an hour before our flight, so D and I wandered around the few stores that were past security (we thought there would be more!) and picked up some snacks and generally nickel and dimed our way thru our last bit of euro change and bills - we left a lot in the vending machines!

For the flight, we had to go out and get on one of two busses that went out on the tarmac (we got on the first bus luckily - these days it's such a rush for overhead bins). Now - they told people - if you are in certain rows in the back (say from 20 on) use the back staircase onto the plane. If you were in rows 1-19, use the front staircase. Well, you can probably guess how well some people listened - uh - no, if you are at the back, you should have boarded from the back, because now you have to wait until other people get their stuff put away before you can go thru (allt eh while glaring and wondering what the hold up is) - same for people who were at the front but loaded from the back - further holding up the boarding process- sigh. It was even more fun when they had to try and get around each other in the aisle because some had to get up front while the others were trying to get to the back. God people - pay attention to simple instructions!!! But I got my window seat, and had some gorgeous views of Venice as we were flying away.

When we arrived at Gatwick, we went back into Victoria and left our bags and went back out to spend the afternoon in the city. We made our way over to the British Museum and spent about 60-90 min there. Wandering into some of the shops in the area. Made our way around (I think we ended up back over by Trafalgar Sq) and eventually got over to the Thames and by the London Eye. We looked around a bit for somewhere to eat and decided to try the place D and I ate at the beginning of our trip - 'Enough to Feed an Elephant' - but they were closed...sigh. So, we walked around a bit and decided to dive into the Slug and Lettuce after checking out the prices. We got in - the place was a bit full, but they stuck us at a table that had been reserved, but I guess they failed to show up. The place was a little loud, but we had a super nice waiter (he even slipped me a plate of peas because D didn't want his...lol). The food was good I had a chicken pot pie that I found a little on the rich side. They had a 2 for1 dessert. Mom and I had our hearts set on sharing an apple crisp, but they were all out. So I opted for the Millionaire's Meringue, and D got the hot chocolate chip cookie thing. OK, that meringue thing was the sweetest thing I have ever eaten in my entire life. Mom at first wasn't going to have any, but she relented. It was delicious, nice and warm, but the meringue base was so sweet...I think we only ate 1/2 or 2/3...it was pretty sickly. Would be lovely to go in and just get that with a cuppa tea and share with someone. And then when we came back out - right there is the London Eye all lit up gorgeous and red.

So then we had to get back to Victoria Stn to get our bags and start the long journey by Tube out to Heathrow, then find the Hotel Hoppa and get to our stop - the Holiday Inn. I think this took about 60-90 min all told (and there was a really creepy guy on the Tube in our car - something a little off with that one). The room had a bed and a pull out couch for mom. Watched a little tv, sorted out the bags for the trip home, and off to bed.

Posted by u2traveller 11:54 Archived in United Kingdom Comments (0)

Another day hanging in Venice

Sept 15, 2014

So today we didn't have set plans again - just see where the day took us. Mom and I were up and out early again - this time we took the vaporetto and got off at a stop just before San Marco and wended our way over. Managed to find a few churches that I hadn't seen before, so we stuck our heads in for a minute to look (Actually, thinking back - we did this after going back without hubby - my timeline is a little messed up). Also discovered the where all the really expensive shops are! My - even window shopping left me feeling a little broke...1200 euro for sneakers - holy smokes! We went back over to St Marks so I could redo some photos since some from the day before were blurry. Walked back to Rialto and decided to check out the food market - but we were actually a little early as the sellers were just beginning to set up. Then back to the room for breakfast.

After slow poke husband the day before, mom and I decided that when we were ready to go, we would just tell him to meet us somewhere if he wasn't ready when we were - since we both got cranky waiting for him the day before. So by 9:30 he wasn't ready, and we told him we'd meet at 10:30 in St Marks Sq by the column with the lion on it. Back we went and I was able to peruse the artists selling their prints and paintings by St Marks - picked out some I liked, then went back for the final decision after meeting hubby (he was on time!).

We then got in line for St Mark's Cathedral - it snaked halfway across the square! But - it only took 15 min to get in - the line was moving really well. I kinda stuck beside a guided tour for a few minutes to hear what the guide was saying...lol. We walked around there for about 15 min, but did not go to the upstairs area. We went back out and wandered into a little park just past where the artists sell their wares to have a little rest on a bench and figure out what to do next.

We decided to go across the canal to San Giorgio - where there is another bell tower that you can go up in...why did we wait so many trips to go over? I think this was my favourite view in all of Venice. There was no line at all for the elevator (as opposed to probably a 30 min wait for St Mark's campanile) and maybe 10 people up top. Mom decided not to go up (I don't know why). The views across to St Marks and across the island were breathtaking. We were even up when the bell rang - mind you, it was 1pm and it only rang once - and I think that it's electronic or automated since we didn't see the bells swing. It was loud and really startled me! The church itself was really lovely, and there was a little area selling items from monasteries around Italy where you got the ticket for the lift, and I got a nice bag of lavender buds - which I sniff every once in awhile...

So hunger was setting in and we went back over to St Marks and wandered along the waterfront looking for a restaurant with both a free table and not insane prices. My recommendation - skip these places all together. We finally settled on one near the end of the walk as it was after 2pm and I was getting 'hangry' (this was when you go past the Bridge of Sighs area and continue to the Arsenale area). The pizza was only OK, prices were high - I swear that a bottle of Coke was 15 Euro. I still think maybe I read that wrong, but I'm pretty sure that was the price - needless to say, it has the most expensive soda prices I'd seen. Don't worry - we split a bottle of water (and even that was expensive!). I was looking around to see if their were any vendors nearby with water so I could get a bottle for 1/5th the cost, but no luck.

Darrin decided he wanted to check out the Naval museum - but - OH DARN! - on Mondays it was closed at 1pm. He was disappointed - Mom and I, not so much. So we walked down to the Arsenale and checked out all the lion statues, then wandered some back alleys - finding a few churches that I had marked on my map. Came back out in the St Marks area, did a little shopping and looking around as we wandered back to Rialto and the room. Rested for a bit, and as evening was coming on, I wanted to explore the Accademia area (Dorsoduro area).

We took the boat and got off by the Accademia bridge and walked a little - what shops were there were mostly closed, so we went back over the bridge and walked around that area (I think it was the San Marco area - but off the beaten path...yes - it was - we managed to find the 'snail shell' staircase - the Bovolo stairs!). We basically just wandered back over to Rialto and back to the room, stopping in shops along the way and getting a few nice little trinkets to bring home. We were getting really hungry as it was getting on to 8 or 8:30 pm. )After having such a late lunch, we weren't really hungry at 6-7pm). Walked past the few restaurants in the square by the room and saw a restaurant down an alley. I went down and checked out the menu - prices looked good so we went in. We had hoped to sit outside but there were no free tables, so stayed inside. I must say, this place - called All Amarone - was probably right in the top two of places we ate. Mom and I had a Caesar salad and hubby had Bolognese. The portions were the perfect size, the food was good, the waitress was friendly, the price of a soda wasn't outrageous(!), the bread in the basket was tasty (I think it was a focaccia)...if (ok, when) I get back to Venice, this place is def on my return to list.

Back to the room to get our stuff prepped for our flight back to London the next day.

I must say - Venice is still my fav place ever, and even after 4 trips, I still feel like there is so much to see - so many areas I just want to wander around. I guess having seen all the 'touristy' stuff, the next time I return (And I will return!) will be spent wandering the less touristy areas.

Posted by u2traveller 11:53 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Trip to Burano

Sept 14, 2014

So I woke up really early - like - 6:30am. Mom is always awake early, so she and I snuck out around 7am and walked over to Rialto. I cannot stress enough how awesome Venice is in the morning. After fighting the crowds thru the day, you will appreciate the quiet and beauty of an almost empty Rialto and St Marks and alleys, before the shops open and the day-trippers descend like locusts. We followed the signs to St Marks Sq and spent about a half hour enjoying the sunrise and taking lots of photos in the gorgeous golden morning light. We hopped the vaporetto back to Rialto, popped into a little shop and picked up some (really really sweet) cream filled pastries and back to the room for a shower and breakfast.

We decided today to go over to Burano for a few hours. Initially we thought to go to Torcello and look around Murano as well, but hubby was having a hard time getting going, so it was almost 11am before we finally got started (mom and I vowed to leave without him the next morning if he was going to be so slow...and we did).

It is a bit of a long haul to get to Murano/Burano. The ferry was quite crowded from Murano to Burano. Mom got a seat, but hubby and I had to stand for the ride - I think 30-40 min. (Well, it felt like it was that long). We roamed around Burano for a bit - it was close to 1pm by the time we got there, so we found a little spot to have to lunch and then wandered a little more. Burano is now my fav of the islands. Well, that's not fair exactly. It was our 3rd visit to Venice before we even made it to Burano, at which point it rained on us after about 30 min, so we really didn't see much. I always enjoyed going to Murano and picking up a little glass bird. We went to Torcello on trip 2, but got there about 20 min before the few tourist-y things closed, so really didn't get to do much there. But Burano - for someone like me who likes to take photos - it is a dream. The bright colours contrasting with the blue skies, the laundry hanging to dry (I think they are contractually obliged to hang out white laundry for the tourists to take photos of - lol). We were tired from the long stand and walking around, so decided to skip Torcello and Murano and just head back to Venice.

We wandered some back alleys then went back to the room to relax. I was having issues getting the washing machine to work, so I had to hand rinse powder off the clothes and wring them in the sink and hang them out (I hate European washing machines...lol). See photo of the clothes hanging - and it took them a looooong time to dry - no sun really gets in that alley, and not much of a breeze - it took over a day for them to dry - had to bring them in and hang them from cupboards and dressers.

So we decided to go find something to eat and ended up eating at a spot D and I ate at in 2012. I got bombed by a darn berry that fell out of the tree we were sitting under. It exploded when it hit my pants! Thank goodness I was wearing my jeans. I had a Shout wipe as well as water from my drinking glass, but what a mess. At least it didn't land on my linen camera bag! Or my head. While waiting for the bill, mom and I wandered the square and I took lots of door photos, leaving hubby trying to get the attention of the waiter. We then went back towards St Marks, stopping at Santa Maria della Salute for some 'blue' hour shots, as well as playing with the long exposure on my camera to get some shots of St Marks Sq. We then went over to St Marks and listened to the dueling orchestras play and wandered the square a little. I'm sure there was gelato involved in there somewhere as well. Back to Rialto Bridge for some more long exposure shots, did a little window shopping in the stores and then back to the room to relax.

Posted by u2traveller 11:53 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

Travel/Relax day...Venice

Sept 13, 2014

So today was mostly a travel and get oriented day. I had booked the fast train from Rome to Venice in advance (great savings that way!) for about 11am, arriving in Venice around 3pm. So we got our stuff together and made our way to the metro, then to Termini. We had a little time to look around, and found a small grocery store in the train station and picked up some snacks for the trip.

One nice thing - when we passed thru Florence, we were able to point out the famous cathedral dome to mom. We did notice some improvement when we got to Venice - namely - they actually now had a ramp out front of the train station to make lugging the luggage easier - I'm sure that wasn't there two years ago. They also seemed to have did more cosmetic work in the train station area. I stood in line for 10min or so to get the vaporetto passes (3 days - pricey! But with each ride costing 7 euro, it quickly pays for itself - I think it was 42 euro apiece or something like that).

I had told our airbnb person that I figured we'd arrive at the meeting place around 4pm - was pretty much dead on! Timing worked out well. He took us to the apartment - which was quite nice. It was just around the corner from Sant Aponal church, there were a few restaurants in the square, a bank so we could get money, very quiet at night after the accordion at the nearby restaurant stopped playing...lol (and so dark with the shutters closed!) and we found a small grocery nearby. A combo living room with pull out couch, a dining table, a nice size bedroom with lots of storage, a small kitchen and bathroom. And only a few minutes walk to the San Silvestro stop, and about a 5 min walk to Rialto - a really lovely spot!
https://www.airbnb.ca/rooms/1683211

We went out to search for a bank machine (we looked for one at the train station to no avail) - and duh - there was one right in front of us on the square! We went to the little grocery and picked up some breakfast food and snacks, found somewhere to eat in the St Marks area, but off the beaten path a little, then did an evening walk around St Marks and Rialto and various side alleys, enjoying the mild evening (at least Venice didn't have the heat and humidity of Rome and Amalfi!). Had some gelato and picked up some sweets from a spot near the Rialto. We didn't have any firm plans for our stay (since this was our 4th visit since 2008, and mom just goes with the flow) - other then wanted to return to Burano/Murano, have some early morning walks, wander some back alleys and explore the Accademia area a little.

Posted by u2traveller 11:51 Archived in Italy Comments (0)

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