Friday, April 7, 2017

Did You Guess? Travel Destination Revealed. . .

I have so much to tell you, but it's been such a busy week (cardiologist visit -- all okay; yoga class; session with fitness trainer; much-needed facial appointment; dentist appointment; a couple of good runs; an 8-year-old g'daughter staying for the week, so morning and afternoon school runs and then some lovely extra company morning and evening; babysat the visiting-from-Italy Two one afternoon; invited her parents to stop by one evening so the cousins could play together). All good stuff to do, all the stuff o fprivilege, truly, but still, it was a busy week.

So right now, with two quiet hours to myself, I'm not going to write a long post and tell you all the things I want to tell you. Eventually, I'll manage to respond to more of the comments on the last post, but meanwhile, I'm going to count on you to keep the conversation going. It is such a great conversation -- I hope you get a chance at least to read it, perhaps even to jump in with a comment or two.

But for today, I have promised to tell you where we're heading next month. Here goes:

There are very few European cities to which one can fly non-stop from Vancouver. We debated between London and Paris -- London was our choice at first as we haven't visited for a few years and there are some great exhibitions on, all the usual cultural attractions.  But as our ultimate destination for this trip is on the continent, Paris made more sense. Yes, we could as easily have flown one of the budget airlines (RyanAir, EasyJet) from London as from Paris, but we prefer the train when at all possible, and adding those extra hours when it's already a fairly short holiday just didn't make sense. So we've shelved London for next visit. . . .

And now the plan is to land in Paris, stay a few days to adjust to the time difference and glory in the city's Spring, before taking the train to . . . . Venice! A friend of a friend rents out her small apartment there, and we've booked four nights. Probably not enough for a city with so much art and architecture, but it will give us a good taste, and then we'll be on our way across another border to. . . . Yes! We are going to meet Dotttoressa in Zagreb! We're very excited about this, so looking forward to meeting this lovely, gracious, clever, and wise, and generous reader and friend In Real Life. Because, of course, like so many of you, I do feel I know her quite well already, simply through her words here.

We're going to use Dottoressa's city as home base for a week of getting to know Croatia a little bit. Our Lonely Planet Travel Guide suggests this is far too short a time, but again, it will give us a good taste, and with family just a ferry ride away (near Rome), I know we'll have both reason and opportunity to return and to see more on future visits.

So there you go. Did you guess?
I suspect some of you have some great recommendations for what to do, what to see, where to eat, and drink, in Venice, perhaps in Zagreb/Croatia as well (although I think I'll have enough to do keeping up with Dottoressa ;-) All comments are very welcome, and I'll do my best to respond when I can. Sorry to be running off so quickly in the meantime, but I wrote "Sit Still and Breathe Quietly" on the top of my (mental) to-do list this morning, and I think I have to pay attention. . . . We'll chat soon, though, okay? Happy weekend!

59 comments:

  1. (smiling happily) Yes, yes, yes!

    Venice: Peggy Guggenheim Collection. My happy place.

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    1. I knew you'd guessed! And I'm definitely getting to the Guggenheim!

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    2. And I see below you are leaving for Paris in 6 weeks...phooey! I am coming home in 6 weeks. I think this happened before. Two ships (or planes) in the night...

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    3. I wondered about your dates. We arrive on the 23rd -- any chance of an overlap?

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    4. We come home on the 21st.

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  2. Croatia was my first guess, but I had thought of a different point of departure (Munich or Zurich).
    In Venice: the back alleys of the Giudecca, the back alleys of Murano - in general back alleys are strongly recommended. If you have time on your way to Croatia, try to stop in Trieste. I haven't been there myself but friends tell me it is a very special place.
    Have a wonderful time. When are you off?

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    1. Yes, we had thought of different cities to start from as well, but there are real limitations when leaving from Vancouver and wanting non-stop flights. Trieste is very high on my wish list, and hoping I can wangle at least a night and day there, simply on the basis of its place in literary/artistic history. Not going for another 6 weeks. 6 busy weeks

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    2. Eleonore,I agree with you indeed. Trieste is a beautiful city with lot of both Italian and Austrian influences. Beside our shopping trips there,before nineties,we always managed to see one part of it's beauty,including Miramare castle
      And my last visit there,five or six years ago,was pure pleasure:opera,exibitions,coffees,lunches,glas of prosecco (or more.....)......a walk down memory lane....
      Dottoressa

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  3. Hey Frances, no I didn't get it right - for some reason I thought that you were going someplace new to you. Anyway, ultimate destination Zagreb is an excellent choice. I've never been, but my husband and boys have and by all accounts it's a lovely city. Croatia generally comes highly recommended, especially the coast, although I don't suppose you'll be going there this time. Will you get a chance to visit the Plitvice Lakes National Park? By all accounts that is spectacular and only a couple of hours from Zagreb. And of course you will have a wonderful time with Dottoressa - so looking forward to hearing all about that!

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    1. We're going to two Someplace News, Patricia. Neither of us have ever been to Venice, nor have we been to Croatia. Modestly new, I guess, as we've visited Italy before, but I really feel that there's a lot of difference between cities. And a whole new country, albeit approached through a very familiar airport city. . . New train route too ;-) Not sure what we'll get to, but we do hope to get to the coast for a few days. . . . and perhaps the Plitivice Lakes....

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  4. Venice in the spring. Perfect. Pack excellent walking shoes; I'm sure you will. So much to see. I look forward to hearing about Croatia which is on our list one of these days. Have a great weekend. B x

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    1. Thanks B. Sounds as if our travelling styles are similar because, yes, very good walking shoes are always a priority for me. The trick with this trip is going to be maintaining the same Slow Travel approach that I believe serves me best, despite having three cities (at least) and three countries on a three-week itinerary. . .

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  5. We haven't done Venice but visited Croatia many years ago , before their awful war . The coast was very beautiful with lots of greenery down to the edge of the sea & Dubrovnik was a gem . I'm sure it is just as lovely now & with Dottoressa too , perfect .Hope there will be pics .

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    1. I was in both of those when studying in Udine, between Venice and Trieste (and onto Croatia). I cried about what happened in Dubrovnik and Split, as I'd had classmates at a convegno about frontier culture at a summer school for italianisti... I do hope those places have recovered somewhat.

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    2. Yes Lagatta , it was dreadful when the wonderful bridge at Mostar was destroyed & we've often wondered what happened to the people we met back then . I understand there has been much restoration & Mostar bridge is back in place . It will be interesting to hear about modern Croatia from Mater .
      Wendy in York

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  6. It is so exciting,isn't?
    Looking forward your visit!
    Thank you very much for all your compliments and for all compliments from all of you-please,please stop or I'm going to stress about it :-) and how to fullfil all too high expectations:-)
    I hope that we'll have a lot of fun and have stories to tell you and photos to document it
    Georgia,Sue and A in London:
    -you are very wise women :-)-I couldn't wait to tell you,I've chuckled,but had to wait for the revealing
    Dottoressa

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    1. D, I have been reading your comments carefully and you have been very discreet, you are a good secret-keeper. :) I am excited to read about your time together!

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    2. I agree with Georgia -- and it has been fun to have the little secret ;-)

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    3. Dottoressa, I am impressed, My money was on Zurich with side to Austria and Trieste, Italy. I don't know where my next trip will be to. I had been thinking of southern California in January, but the States is not much a draw right now. I know I will be in England next June/July for a wedding and might go over to Ireland as well. Have a lovely time in Croatia. I have heard marvelous things about the fish. See you in May! Brenda

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    4. Looking forward to our May get-together -- you've got another wedding coming up in England?

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  7. Sigh. Okay...I guess you can go without me. Have a fabulous time. Take pictures...many. Two very cultured ladies in a place I've never been... can't wait to hear all about it. Oh..and Venice too, of curse:) xo

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    1. Akkk didn't mean to "curse" you. Of "course."

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    2. Sue,a lot of hiking tours here,in Slovenia,Austria,Switzerland.......,just a hint :-),so,who knows :-)?
      D.

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    3. Hi D. .great suggestions! and how lovely that you and Frances will get to spend time together.
      Sue, you and Stu would love Switzerland ... but then you'd know I'd say that! :)
      Rosie

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  8. I'm seriously Green with envy...
    I know you will share the highlights with us so I will look forward to your pictures and snippets.

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    1. There will definitely be photos . . .

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  9. What a meeting that will be - you and Dotteressa... Venice too. And Paris is not too shabby a spot either. Looking forward to hearing all about it.

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    1. I'm so looking forward to meeting Dottoressa and sharing that with all of you via photos here.

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  10. What a lovely choice both places are beautiful. Definitely the Guggenheim. You'll find plenty to see and do. And a couple of Brunetti books to get you in the mood. I'm currently reading the latest. Mary

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    1. Me too,Mary :-)
      And was just thinking that Frances and Pater have to take the journey to Murano,Burano,Torcello,Lido...(we did it in one day with the vaporetto on our own ,and I liked it-although it was before I've been introduced to Commissario :-))
      Dottoressa

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    2. I've been to Lido (where someone I knew, dead now at over 80, was born) but not those other islands. I was only on a short stayover in Venice on my way to a summer seminar in Udine, in Friuli, which like many towns around there has a lot of Venetian architecture and even some canals (don't think they were navigable). I was meeting a Venetian who was a lawyer there all his life after reading Law at the famous University of Padua. He was a friend of friends. While we were walking to the little restaurant where we were to have lunch near Arsenale (and far from San Marco where we had met, and its tourist traps) a pigeon crapped on his fine cotton shirt. He wiped the shirt clean but obviously it could no longer be worn in court. This seemed to be a cost to factor in for well-dressed professionals in that city.

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    3. I agree with Dottoressa, it is much nicer to visit the islands by vaporetto and do without a guided tour. When I was on Murano, the tourists crowded in a few glassblowing factories and in the main streets with their souvenir shops. A few blocks off, everything was quiet, with only a few locals going about their business.

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    4. Thanks for sharing these tips and these memories. I must admit that we will be avoiding crowds and tours, trying to see a few landmarks, some art, etc., but much of our focus will be on soaking up the spirit of the place however that seems best achieved (so often, walking and stopping for coffee seem the answer....)

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  11. Croatia will be lovely. My husband and I took a cruise of that area and really enjoyed Venice and Dubrovnik. It was Monsieur's first cruise and first trip to Europe, so it was special. You will have fun with Dottoressa, I'm sure. Slow travel will indeed be a challenge with so much to see.

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    1. I can see how you'd have special memories of both Venice and Dubrovnik -- I hope we will too, and I know we are sure to of Zagreb, meeting Dottoressa there!

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  12. No need to respond! One of my best friends says Venbic is the one place that calls her to return time and again. Looking forward to your as always keen observations and photos.

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  13. Mater, You will have a wonderful time!! Venice is very busy with tourists, almost too much at times. We have been twice and the last time we stayed in Padua which is a short commuter train away (25 min). If you have a mind to take a break from the crowds for an afternoon consider visiting the Scrovegni Chapel in Padua. It will take your breath away ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scrovegni_Chapel). Croatia is amazing, we drove from Zagreb up to Istria and then down to Dubrovnik. We spent a couple of days in Split - the downtown includes Dioclesian's (likely didn't spell his name correctly) palace where the stores and offices are incorporated into the palace structure. The food is outstanding. Have a wonderful time! Kris in Courtenay

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    1. I'll make a note, Kris, and thank you. We will definitely be hoping to avoid crowds....
      So you rented a car in Croatia? Any tips on that or on driving there? We're debating whether to book from here or just wait to see what works out -- the latter is usually less expensive, but the guide book's not clear on whether that's the best approach for Croatia.

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    2. I think we did book the car ahead. We went in 2007 (don't recall exactly which year, but it was a while ago). We met some fellows on the train from Vienna who were Croatian and Brian asked them if they had any advice about driving, as we had never driven in Europe. One fellow said 'watch out for the rich kids in Daddy's car - they drive very fast. Do a shoulder check and then check again before you change lanes'. The road down the coast is very good, many lanes. Brian was going to pass someone, did a shoulder check and the lane was clear and checked again right before pulling out. A car went past us doing at least 200 kph and he had not even been in sight for the first shoulder check. So watch out for fast drivers! Kris

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    3. Kris,I'm afraid that's truth indeed-a lot of young drivers in too fast cars- a lot of people drive too fast-but,then,you'll have to be careful and drive by the book and it is like in Italy (and the shoulder check and double check is a must)
      D.

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    4. Luckily, we've got some experience driving in Europe (mostly Pater) -- Italy was hair-raising, but also Portugal which has some crazy twisting, hilly, narrow roads, high speeds, and a country late to drinking-and-driving laws....

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  14. Venice is a city to get lost in. I spent hours walking with no real purpose other than to see and hear what was off the beaten track. One of my favorite memories was laying on the bed in our off the beaten track small hotel room listening to the sounds of families playing in the nearby (tiny) piazza. Mothers calling to children through open windows, young children playing tag, a young father trying to teach his son to ride a bike. For some reason it has always stayed with me. Take some time to wander- it will reward you.

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    1. This is exactly the travel approach I like to take, and I love your description of that memory. Too often, I think, this kind of experience gets missed in the rush to check "must-sees" off a list. Thank you!

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  15. Sometimes I find that the planning and anticipation of a forthcoming vacation can be better than the reality! From what you have said, it definitely sounds as if this won't be the case for you. I'm looking forward to reading about your adventures. Elizabeth xxx

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    1. I agree that there's much fun to be had in the planning and the anticipation, but I also think that sometimes that planning can raise expectations and project a screen between traveller and reality. . . .I like to plan just enough but leave room for serendipity -- as well as anticipate my own fatigue and potential travel grumpiness. 'cause it happens, right?

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    2. Moreover, shit happens everywhere. Traffic congestion, missed connections, petty thievery, what have you...

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    3. so true, lagatta,. . . travel occasionally demands we roll with the punches. . . and it reminds us that life can't always be controlled...

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  16. It all sounds wonderful Frances. Lovely to be meeting with Dottoressa...so looking forward to reading all about your time together and your visit to Croatia in general. I haven't been but it's on my list!
    In Venice, definitely explore away from the well trodden tourist routes into the back steets and alleyways and the quieter canals. Such gems hidden away.
    Rosie

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    1. It's going to be great to meet Dottoressa, and I'll keep in mind that all you readers want to know all about it.

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  17. How wonderful! A glorious springtime combination of Paris and Venice. I have always wanted to see Venice, particularly since Proust loved it so much. Croatia is very popular for short-haul/budget airline sunshine holidays from Scotland but again I've never been (husband does not do sunshine holidays!). Our daughter was there last summer and loved it. So much of the Balkans to explore. I have only been to Kosovo but am keen to see more. How lovely to be having a blogger meet-up too - Margaret and I can recommend it, although technically ours was an Instameet.

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    1. Perhaps it will be another spot that you an Anne will get to with your lottery winnings ;-)

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    2. We might. I have been to Croatia twice and it was wonderful. Linda and I can go back-packing.

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  18. Linda, Croatia is not necessarily a "sunshine holiday" in the sense of beaches, boozing and farniente. It also has rugged hills and sheep. Just better weather than Scotland ;-). It is definitely a destination for those more into cultural tourism. Or hill walking.

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    1. Yes, I know! What I was thinking when I wrote that was that daughter was bowled over by the varied aspects of Croatia, combining beaches and countryside farniente with the Croatian family of the American family she was travelling with (including wine from the family's vineyard, one of the best wines she has ever tasted), alongside walking. My point was that despite Croatia being easily accessible from Scotland because we sun-deprived Scots love going there, I am somewhat ashamed not to have made the easy hop to exploring the full range of its delights.

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    2. I got that Linda -- and I'm almost sympathetic at your embarrassment of riches you have, an "easy hop" away. Almost. . . .except that while I know I live in a stunning part of the world, a place that draws so many to its natural beauty, the huge outdoor playground of mountains and ocean and forest, etc. . . . I can't help envy the myriad destinations you have within two hours' relatively easy travel. Especially given Am. politics right now, our choices are much more limited.

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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