We have been blowing and going the last two days. I a bizillion pictures but they are going to have to wait for some separate posts because the uploading of pictures has taken a long-time here and with the Pulandian schedule we've been following, there just hasn't been the time to do the uploading of pictures into the text posts. Also there have been MAJOR GASTRONOMIC EXPERIENCES but I've decided to devote an entire post to just them.
The Cosmic Weather Channel reports that Pulandia will be up and moving tomorrow which will bring a return to our placid, tranquil semi-retired, transitioned life style but will also take away a slew of family that we love so much and see so infrequently. (Tear drops staining the post).
So over the last two days we did two opposite extremes of the travel experience. On Wednesday we went to Venice, one of THE major tourist attractions of the world. And on Thursday we just cruised around the Veneto countryside looking for the hidden treasures
Venice - We started off with the Magical Unicorn Pony God of Travel along for the ride. The 'short' ride to the train station in the rental book was a half an hour. Then parking was way the freakin way from the station. I had dropped everyone off at the station and just barely made it back in time to catch the train...which was packed so we stood a good part of the way...to get to Venice where we tried to make sense of the water bus system...waited in a long line to get our tickets (and ended up paying way more than we should have)...waited for a long time until we could finally get into one of the packed water buses (mass transit is all by water in Venice)...and finally got to Piazza San Marco at 12:30, four hours after we left!
The children were starving - and we are in the most expensive part of town and have to spend $40+ for a couple of cups of coffee and two ice creams. We finally started getting going. We were planning a nice lunch at a place off the beaten path but decided to can that as we would have ended up seeing nothing. If you are not familiar with the history, Venice was one of the major powers of the world during late Middle Ages and Renaissance periods. It dominated trade between Europe and the East until the opening of the Atlantic trade routes by the Portuguese and the Spaniards. And because it was never subject to physical assault or conquest, it is amazingly preserved. and because it is one of THE tourist attractions of the world it is always overflowing with tourists.
We went into the Doge's (the leaders of the city) Palace, which was pretty spectacular. At least in the Palace there were much fewer people running all over the place. We then walked to the Rialto Bridge. Along the way we got off the main tourist track and were able to score lunch - pizza slices - for $15 - Yay for us!
We ended up taking a gondola ride which I was skeptical about as being 'way too touristy' but was in fact a really pleasant and relaxing half hour seeing the city from a different perspective (except for Wife and I nearly falling into the canal getting off the gondola at the rickety narrow pier).
Going home was equally interesting as we had failed to get the name of the train line our station was on so it took a bit of flailing around in the station to figure which train was ours.
As chaotic and frustrating as was the day on Wednesday, Thursday was about finding things unexpected in a mellow fashion. We had no need to get up at any time so there was no rush to get going. Then we went to a winery for some tasting. We were very impressed by the wine we had the night before and went to the winery. It was a beautiful place. There were a number of photo ops along the way. There was room for the kids to play while we were tasting. Then we decided to have our big meal for lunch as the Pulandians needed to pack for leaving on Friday. We were at a wonderful place in the country. There was a big indoor room where everyone else was. We had the outdoor area to ourselves with big areas for the kids again and beautiful views. It was a long, long lunch. Then we took a drive to a walled Medieval city, Marostica, that blew us away. We spent an hour wandering around, stopping in the piazza for a drink, before heading home where the chaos that is Pulandia re-erupted in the flurry for their departure on Friday.