Monthly Archives: September 2011

Between a Pool and a Far Place

That’s precisely where I am, if you look at my calendar.  Let me explain.

Did you ever make a lot of promises, not realizing how all the obligations would come together at once? That’s what happened to me this year. Except – although it won’t win me any band of wailing sympathizers for saying so – the promises I tend to make have to do with traveling. So for the last, oh, quarter of 2011, that’s where I’ve been. Keeping promises on the road. (My dear husband is very understanding!)

It started like this: every year I have two standing travel plans. I take one trip with my dad in the summer; this happens to be one of my most favorite things ever in life. If I’m even luckier, like this year, sisters (and/or husbands, kids) will decide to come too. The other standing plan, of course, is my husband’s vacation.

On the down side, these trips cannot be merged. In his current job, my husband’s vacation is split into two parts, tethered to the months of August and September. Dad is only open May-July. (So much for the fact that it’s 100x easier for me to travel in the shoulder/low season.) That makes three trips, de facto. On the other hand, this works out, because my husband doesn’t like to fly so much. He doesn’t like to fly over the ocean at all, although he will if strongly enticed. (Or appropriately drugged up. That works too.) So he’s very content for my father and I explore the Far and Away; hubby is thrilled to deal with the less-intrepid me.

But a year ago I also promised to look after my nieces in America for a few days (albeit another one of my favorite promises to fulfill), which happened to fall in August, then get postponed at the last moment until September. Hmmm. The calendar was getting crowded, but I could manage (…she said with determination).

Then came one of my best friends. To be fair, he’s been begging me to travel with him for years, but I’m always too booked up (see above). So this year I promised, with the stipulation that I only go for 4-5 days. I just couldn’t take more. “I couldn’t”. Unless it was like, Madagascar, or something, where I’ve wanted to go for 10 years. Oh what? You’re keen on Madagascar? October is the perfect month to go? Er, ok then. Maybe a bit longer. Wait, what? My other best friend wants to go too, and is already buying her tickets from America? *sigh* Fine. Two weeks it is. (Life is so hard…)

So that’s where I am. I just finished a week with hubby, where we did nothing but sit by a pool all week (and write some, yeay me); I have just two days before I leave to try and explore an island twice the size of the UK, where about 90% of the roads are unpaved, all in a span of two weeks.

Thank goodness I’d promised to relax by the pool for a week, even if it falls on the toes of the Far Place.

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Venice…and that First Kiss Feeling (*Redux)

For me, Europe is like my fiancé: it’s the one that has totally taken your heart. There are lots of different options (places/boys) and so many are interesting in different ways, but this is the one that’s clearly “a keeper”. Sure it’s imperfect, but it’s the one that dependably makes you happy. Keeps you interested. Challenges you. Makes you feel warm and cozy inside; makes you smile. Makes you feel like you belong. Like you occupy a particular, irreplaceable niche in its life as much as it does it does in yours. But it’s also been a long time since you had that “first kiss feeling”.

That’s what Venice just did for me. After years of a solid loving relationship with Europe in which I grew to feel that it held no more surprises, Venice gave me that first kiss feeling. I guess, after ages of hearing that it was dirty, stinky and clogged with tourists, I was bound to be pleasantly surprised. The water, the boats, the cheerful Italians, the bridges, the food. Venice is a place you could just wander the streets for days and never grow bored. Every corner is more interesting than the last. It’s a giant labyrinth of bridges, tiny twisting streets and stunning architecture. (We had plenty of laughs as the men would lead us somewhere confidently – only to wind up dead ended into the water.) Underneath all of your enjoyment lies the nagging and unfathomable issue of how such a place could ever exist. Seriously. How did they do that?! But anyway…

We were accompanied by our friends Dan and Anna, and we couldn’t be happier to have shared the weekend with them. I had purposely never gone to Venice, figuring that it would be a shame to waste the romance of it by traveling there solo. So it is perfect that Del took me there for a birthday present, and just as nice to have shared it with another couple that we like so much. I can’t believe I ever held such low expectations for such a wonderful place! In fact, I hope to go back again and again. (Namely, I’d love to take a less strenuous visit, when I can just relax and drink a cappuccino while listing to the water slop against the stairs, boats and houses.) My only disappointment was not being able to see an opera in the famous Teatro de Fenice (sold out), but hey, I can always use an excuse to go back!

If you’d like to hear about my recommendations, I’ll post those tomorrow. Otherwise, I’ll leave you with a couple of photos (as usual, the rest are on Flickr).

Grand canal
From Accademia bridge over the Grand Canal

from burano
Looking back from the island of Burano.

hot chocolateDIY hot chocolate deluxe.

servicio gondole

Servizio Gondole (from St. Mark’s).

Note: This is a post I did back in 2008 for my former blog “Life with the Others”, which focused on travel and cultural topics. I am working on a new post for Killerboob, but recently I was reminded of the post below and – if you will allow me to be immodest – I like it. So I decided to dig it up and cross-post it here. Hope you like it, too.

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