Sunday 20th Jan to Friday 25th Jan
20.01.2013 - 25.01.2013
View 2013 on Claire.Miller's travel map.
So the last week with everyone was in Venice at our beautiful apartment. It was a nice relaxing week, although we didn't have our butler anymore so that made life more difficult. Had to make my own breakfast! My life will be so much harder now, but you know what they say, better to have had a butler and lost than never had a butler at all! But it was a nice week in that we could sleep in every day and have a relaxed breakfast rather than rushing out because we had a limited time in the port. It was even better because I could actually have milk, in my tea, in my coffee, or even just a glass of it, whenever I wanted!
It was a little cold and wet this week, I quickly learnt the art of layering and the need for a pair of gloves and waterproof boots. In particular the boots as apparently I have a skill for always stepping in the largest puddle. On the first night I even managed to step in the probably largest puddle on the island. Twice. The boots were a little more difficult to find than the gloves. We went out the second day with the intention to buy some before lunch, however it didn't quite work out that way. Whenever you need something you can't find it. By about 2 or 3 Alicia and Gary were so hungry I am pretty sure they would have been willing to go find some leather and make us a pair just so they could have lunch. I ended up finally getting some after lunch, although they are not perfect as they are wedges (and everyone knows how I feel about wedges), at least they are warm, waterproof and look decent. I also found another really awesome pair of boots earlier but they weren't really practical... Surprise, surprise for me. Practicality? Who needs it? Well apparently me as with much deliberation and enough tears to cause Venice to almost flood again, I resigned myself to a life without said boots in it. I may have to start going to counselling.
Most of the week was spent shopping, eating and drinking. And then some more eating. The first night Alicia and I shared gnocchi and a cuttlefish pasta which was pretty awesome. This led to the life-changing realisation that I could totally pull off goth (the sauce stained our lips and tongues black). Alas, a second later this decision was neccessarily reversed as, obviously, I would just be too attractive like that, it just wouldn't be fair.
Among the other highlights of food was a pizza Karen got on Murano bythe name of baby. Don't ask me why it was called that but it was amazing. It was the perfect mixture of brie and mozzarella cheese with roast pork. Apparently though, according to the bird thst spent about 20 minutes pigging out on the massive display pizza outside one of the cafes we went to, you just can't beat ham and cheese!
But now to the most important food source of the week; the street food outside our apartment. Close your eyes and picture this: (if you actually closed your eyes at this point joke is on you, you kind of need them open to read the description so maybe leave that bit til later) the square outside our apartment, an ice skating rink circling a well (wow a square with a well in it? Not many of them around in Venice...), a few temporary shacks for street vendors. In one of these vendors you find a man who makes the best steak sandwich on the planet, or, if that is not your thing, lovely steak or tuna tartare to go... Honest to god, best meals ever. We had his sandwiches first and they were amazing, particularly if you are a fan of salt. Then the last night Alicia and I were too full for dinner and the others went down and ended up eating there for like 2 or 3 hours. Apparently they had tomato soup, beef tartare (with apple in it), massive amounts of steak, and the hot wine and home brewed beer that he sells. When they came up and told us I was massively jealous and so, seeing as Fiona was going down again, asked her to see if I could also get some tartare takeaway. There was no way I saw it happening but she comes back up with this little plastic container with green salad leaves and a perfectly round mound of beef tartare with apple! Plus if course bread. It was awesome. The beef is a lot larger than a usual tartare, he cuts it infront of you by hand, but the apple is actually a very good mix with it. But really and honestly, I am just so very much enjoying the fact he made it to go.
Alicia, Gary and I went back on our last morning for lunch for one last sandwich. We had already gone to the train station but it was totally worth the walk back. We got there and he was so happy to see his friend Gary again. He was also so excited about the piece of tuna he had got this morning. And I would be too seeing it. Biggest piece of tuna I have ever seen in my life. He spent a moment worshipping it before he made us some sashimi tartare thing. He obviously loves his food, apparently the previous night when Pete didn't quite finish the meat off the bone of his steak he took it back and cooked it up again so he could eat it all. Talk about reducing your food wastage! But anyway after what could only be called a performance of preparing us our food we ended up with three big mounds of; chopped tuna with I think prunes, half prawns with pistachio, and chopped tuna with tomato salso (also known as his tomato soup). The last one was just amazing. We then, of course, had our sandwiches and got another one to go so Karen could try it. Once more we got these three containers with these lovely mounds of fish in it, although they weren't quite so lovely by the time we made it back to her.
Moral of the story is if you ever see that guy (I will put a picture below) then, for my sake, get food from him! He told the others on the last night that he used to be a chef but now he sells his food on the street. He is in Venice (Piazza San Polo) from December to February and then goes around the world doing it. It is obvious that he loves his job and the performance of it, he was definitely not made to be couped up in a kitchen! He must love it as he seems to be there til at least 12 or 1am and then is up early enough to go to the fish market! So if you see him eat there. End of story.
So after that mini essay, what else did we do... Well pretty much shop. We spent a day on Murano and saw the glass blowing which is amazing. On the way there we saw an ambulance boat. We had been having this conversation the previous night about how many things that seem everyday to us, such as an ambulance or structure maintenance, are much more difficukt in Venice due to the lack of cars. It is quite interesing to think about. My favourite was a DHL boat.
Back to Murano; I would love to have had half the stuff on that island, it is all so beautiful. Venice is such a lovely place to just wander around and shop. And much of it is so cheap! Well except for all the stunning glass work. I managed to buy myself a necklace, clock, bowl and tea container. Plus of course a couple of gifts which shall not be named. I bought the bowl on the last day because I was like to myself, 'I haven't bought anything for me yet!' Then I remembered the clock and the necklace. But then I thought 'but neither of those are proper venetian items'. Then I remembered the necklace was. But then I thought to myself 'why one earth am I thinking about this so much' and bought it anyway. Wasn't that just an exciting story!
So the other thing we did many times in Venice was go to a bar by the name of Bacaro Jazz. This is a great bar which the others found last time they were in Venice. But the main reason I bring it up is due to a certain afternoon when Alicia, Gary and I spent around one and a half hours looking for it. Gary had shown me a map at the start of the trip so he and I thought it was in a particular area around St Mark's Square. The number of times we walked exactly the same streets and kept on finding ourselves back at the square I swear I could not count on two hands. Also, the number of times we passed a certain glass model of a golfing clown. I know for a fact we passed the same restaurant three times as the second time the guy outside gave use some (shoddy) directions. The third time he wasn't outside so we thought we were safe, only to look in and see him laughing his head off at us as we passed. Then the next day Alicia and I passed him again when we were going to St Mark's to find her rents. He got a good laugh then as well. But back to the finding the bar story. Alicia was refusing to give up when finally we got a text from Fiona saying her and Pete were there and she gave us directions. Umm turns out it was actually near the Rialto bridge. Gary had been looking at the map to their hotel from last time. Which we had definitely found. Multiple times. The only thing that consoles us is at least we weren't Fiona who slipped down some steps and nearly ended up in a canal. Although at least that little situation only lasted about five minutes...
Talking about drinking, if anyone sees Alicia ask her about her new obsession with Bellinis. When I say obsession I mean obsession. Venice turned into Alicia's week long Bellini tasting tour.
Well I can't think of anything else from this week. Apart from the rather ridiculous amount of pringles, nuts and mink drinks that were stolen from the mini bars on the cruise and eaten in Venice, as well as the chocolates and complimentary bottles of champagne from the cruise. We had a whole end of sofa table covered, I didn't take a picture but if I get one off someone else I'll put it up, it looks rather ridiculous. The champagne of course was turned into Bellinis for Alicia and myself.
Oh, and Alicia and I also went to a DaVinci museum that is in Venice. It isn't a massive museum but it was quite interesting, and sparked what was probably our most intellectual conversation of the trip as to where DaVinci sits in terms of greatest inventors. High quality stuff. But anyway, what made it interesting was they had built prototypes of a number of his machines that you could try. Interactive is always better!
Next stop is Milan! Again, everyone reading this you are awesome, thankyou for making me feel loved!