May 04, 2013

Cruise 2012 - Venice Murano Glass (Day 12)

After the palace, we did a tour of the Murano glass factory (really, these trips are more like "facilitated shopping" - just like the rug store in Kusadesi).
We saw a glass blowing demonstration, though, so it was still pretty interesting. Later, after the others returned to the ship, I went into the Correr Museum, where they had some striking Murano glass chandeliers.

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Posted by JAY at 01:13 PM | Comments (0)

May 05, 2013

Cruise 2012 - Venice San Marco Basilica (Day 12)


The basilica is also in San Marco Square. It was raining on-and-off through the day and the land is so low that the water went right into the basilica, requiring ramps. More recently (this spring) the water levels rose so high that people were actually swimming in the (unsanitary) water in the square!

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Posted by JAY at 01:47 PM | Comments (0)

Cruise 2012 - Venice Wandering (Day 12)

I wandered around Venice for hours after the others returned to the ship. Luckily the rain let up and I could use my camera to pry around. This picture was through a peephole in a gated courtyard.
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Posted by JAY at 02:00 PM | Comments (0)

May 07, 2013

Cruise 2012 - Venice Wandering Private Bridges (Day 12)

It would be so cool having your own canal bridge... like having a moat around your home.

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Posted by JAY at 02:05 PM | Comments (0)

May 08, 2013

Cruise 2012 - Venice Wandering Canals (Day 12)

Canals are beautiful but narrow, tiny, winding streets and bridges to nowhere make navigation very difficult. Locating myself on my tattered tourist map was difficult and judging by the number of times someone asked me for directions, I wasn't alone in being disoriented most of the time.

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Posted by JAY at 02:14 PM | Comments (0)

May 09, 2013

Cruise 2012 - Venice Wandering Grand Canal (Day 12)

Teresa wanted to see this, but everyone got tired before we found it. But eventually I managed to find it while wandering and got a really great picture, considering the overcast conditions. I might come back to this later and do a bit of editing to make the buildings pop separately from the sky.

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Posted by JAY at 02:20 PM | Comments (0)

May 10, 2013

Cruise 2012 - Venice Rialto Bridge (Day 12)

Facing the other direction, here's the Rialto Bridge spanning the Grand Canal.

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Posted by JAY at 02:26 PM | Comments (0)

May 11, 2013

Cruise 2013 - Stressful Trip Home (Day 13)

I'm short a day - I guess I missed one of the Sea Days. I don't have good luck with airline strikes... Lufthansa was doing wildcat strikes on our departure date. The Venice airport was chaos, with really long lineups. It was only the start of a REALLY long trip. Though I didn't know it, I was also getting sick.

When we finally boarded, the plane took over an hour because of assorted mechanical/electrical issues. They had to 'reboot' the plane about 3x - all lights, fans etc went out and the cabin temperature was gradually increasing as A/C wasn't on.

That being said, they took really attentive care of us - handing out substantial snacks, bottled water and some REALLY delicious chocolates. But by the time we reached Stuttgart, Germany, we had missed our connection to Toronto.

Luckily, we were with Olga, whose wheelchair status landed us in the 'special accommodations' section of the Stuttgart airport. Expedited treatment (and a peaceful private waiting room where everyone used my Kindle to get messages to people back home who weren't available by phone) got us ensconced in the Sheraton airport hotel where, after dinner (eh, just ok), I had a good wander, returning to the hotel to find a HUGE lineup of all the other people who had to deal with the standard lineup at the airport.

Unfortunately, our group got separated onto different indirect flights. The others got sent to England and Switzerland while mom and I were unlucky and got Atlanta (boooooo!). On the bright side, Mom and I got upgraded seating. It wasn't luxurious, but there was more leg room and wider seats. Unfortunately, she got seated next to some guy who was SUPER smelly - the attendants came by with air fresheners and sprayed all around him, that's how bad it was.

I gave her my seat and switched to a different row with a nice kid who had his well-behaved dog in the carrier next to him. His parents were in business class and came back to check on him a couple times. After that, it was a good flight.

But THEN, in Atlanta. Sigh, American airport staff have earned their reputation as being the assholes of the airport world, openly ridiculing people who had trouble with English and lacking any semblance of professionalism - such a contrast to every other airport. While we didn't have any problems with them, our flight changed gates six times without any notice (requiring a bus trip at one point!), and was 7 hours late. Then they lost our luggage - apparently that's normal for United Airlines, which has been known to break guitars and lose children.

But it did show up a few days later at my house. So that's the end of an epic vacation for us.

Last thoughts on cruising: So now I've done Vegas (self-planned), Dominican (resort) and Mediterranean (cruise) and definitely the cruise was my favorite. Waking up in a different location every day and the ease of scheduling activities and having good meals to look forward to every day - it was very easy. Admittedly this was the most expensive trip I've taken as well, so it may not be directly comparable - but the structure was very appealing.

If I ever do it again, I'd like to try some of the really physical tours - like hikes and swims. I actually lost weight on this trip due to all the walking - it would be crazy if I was actually doing heavy activity!

Posted by JAY at 02:38 PM | Comments (0)

May 18, 2013

Dinner: Luxury on Sale

Roasted garlic crusted filet, seared sweet potato, pickled sweet peppers.

This was tasty and hey, you can have a filet mignon dinner for just under $4 - every single thing was on sale.

Posted by JAY at 09:29 PM | Comments (0)

May 19, 2013

Dinner: Pan Chicken

Jacques P├ępin style - cooked in a covered skillet with salt and pepper.

Posted by JAY at 08:12 PM | Comments (0)

May 20, 2013

Dinner: Tostadas

The local grocery sells fresh corn tortillas super cheap. I don't often fry them. But I did some nachos as well since I was using the oil.

Posted by JAY at 08:09 PM | Comments (2)

May 21, 2013

Dinner: Angus Fettucine

Costco occasionally has antibiotic/hormone-free beef. Availability seems sparse... I'll buy it when I can.

Posted by JAY at 08:44 PM | Comments (0)

May 22, 2013

Snack: Cheese Plate

Costco has some great cheese at great prices (like 1/3 the price of grocery). In particular, their parm and gruyere are REALLY good. I've plated them here with pecans, prunes, blackberries and roasted garlic cloves sprinkled with sea salt.

Posted by JAY at 08:04 PM | Comments (0)

Dinner: Shrimp Tacos

Tacos are quick, but you kinda have to have a lot of ingredients. Gotta find a more attractive way to pipe guacamole.

Posted by JAY at 08:51 PM | Comments (0)

May 23, 2013

Dinner: Chicken Sandwich

Brined, butterflied chicken breasts make the most delicious chicken sandwich.

Posted by JAY at 08:10 PM | Comments (0)

May 24, 2013

Dinner: Chicken Soup

Being single, a 3-pack of Costco chickens gets split in the following: roasted legs/thighs, fried wings, brined breasts for sandwiches and carcasses for soup.

Posted by JAY at 08:22 PM | Comments (0)

May 25, 2013

Dinner: Ribs and Veg

I should always try to eat this much veg. Beets, greens, squash.

Posted by JAY at 08:25 PM | Comments (0)