Posts Tagged ‘coffee’

Pictures From Colombia Part III

June 5th, 2011

Once again, click on a thumbnail to scroll through the pictures.

Colombia 2011

June 5th, 2011

I’m not sure if it’s because I’m a sentimental person, or if it’s cause I watched the Real World finale today (yes, I watch that crap), or if it’s cause I have ovaries, but today I am missing Colombia. It’s the morning after I returned home {at the time of writing} and, yes, I have the post vacation blues. I get this often when I come back from a trip as I remember the fun times, the people I was with, and all of the little minute memories that my detailed brain recalls.

I was in Colombia for a week. I traveled down there with Joey and we were joined from the US by Scott, Christina, Alejandro and Amalia. And once down there, we were surrounded by Juan and Lala’s friends and family. Tons of them. All of them special.

The driving was crazy, as a two way street would quickly turn into a one way street, as cars would decide when and what they wanted to do. Two lane streets, would quickly become 4 lane streets, and cars would be swerving to avoid other cars and potholes.

Apparently I am much more fluent in Spanish when I have been drinking. Good to know.

I ate odd food such as pig intestines, pork belly, and crazy looking fruits. I was also sick to my stomach for a few days. I am not saying those last two sentences are related, because I did love the food.

Nearly everyone has a maid. It was awesome to come down the stairs and be offered breakfast, and to go back up the stairs and our beds were made, sheets were changed, and everything tidy and in the closets. I could get use to that sort of lifestyle.

I will take with me a lot of memories from this trip. But the most memorable will be all of the great people I was able to see, hang out with, visit with, catch up with, spend time with and especially laugh with. Laughter was omnipresent.

I have had a Colombian flag hanging in my apartment for the last few years. It always held meaning for me, in that it reminded me of my friendship with Juan. But now it holds more meaning, as my heart has further attached itself to the beautiful country it represents

Some recollections… {editor’s note: I probably should have broken this up into individual posts, but when I started, I didn’t think I was going to do nearly a day to day journal. Its even TLDR for me.}

Arrival

According to Joey, Supermodels work in customs in Bogota. Unfortunately for me, I got the guy that didn’t understand English. Eventually after calling his coworker over, he figured out that I was there for pleasure, and not business. Upon exiting the airport, there were droves of people, crowding, and holding signs and shouting for their loved ones arrivals. I felt like I was on the red carpet, as they were crowding the barrier. Our plane had arrived early, but fortunately we saw Juan nearly immediately.

Bogota Beer Company (Wednesday May 25, 2011)

Bogota Beer CompanyWe left the airport in Mauro’s car, waded thru traffic, picked up Alejandro and walked to the Bogota Beer Company. It was odd entering the bar, having to raise our arms, and be metal wanded. Though, I felt safer because they did. We enjoyed some really delicious appetizers and beer and it was a good welcome to South America.

Gaira Café (Thursday May 26, 2011)

Grammy winner Carlos Vives owns a restaurant, that is located within his mother’s old house. It is a place of live music, and good food and we had reservations. Our driver was late, and therefore we were late to the restaurant. Upon calling the restaurant, they said that if we were there one minute past our reservation, then they would give our table away. We pulled up 15 minutes late, and there was a crowd outside trying to get in. Fortunately we were still able to get in.

FritangaOnce in we ordered a crazy platter of appetizer type samplers (fritanga), and a few bottles of rum. The restaurant was in eating mode. But an hour later, it became theater mode as the workers acted out some sort of story. Shortly after it became concert mode, as a band was on stage playing live music. Shortly after that, it became dance hall, as more musicians were on stage, and everyone was dancing on and around the tables.

I tried all of the different food items, the chicharron, the empanadas, the chunchullo, and everything else on the fritanga platter. Apparently I got liquored up (I do like rum), and didn’t want to leave when it was time to leave. I kept asking for “10 more minutes.” Which became a running joke for the trip as people would not stop giving me crap about it. Of course, I merely laughed it off.

Museums (Friday May 27, 2011)

ArtifactWe visited two museums as well as drove around the city. Driving here is crazy, as I already mentioned. We went to the museum of gold and the Fernando Botero museum. The gold museum was basically a history of Colombia, with all of its old artifacts and descriptions.

The Botero museum holds a collection of Botero’s own paintings, as well as some of his private collection of pieces that included Monet and Picasso. Botero had a unique style that looked almost cartoon like. Most characters were quite large, quite nude, and often there was either a reflection or a little detail poking its way into the background.

LechonaAfter the museums, we had a delicious lunch at Habemus Papa. Ceviche, Empanaditas del pacifico, wine, and with a main dish of lechona.

A quick stroll down the street led us to Conosur, a cone eatery. Everything is served in cones, from ice cream, to crab.

And an odd story to cap this day. I had some night terrors, which in-turn, terrorized Joey who was in the same room. In my sleep, apparently I was shouting “Help Me, Get Away, Help me.” A little bit later, I thought I saw something in the room (I was half asleep), and I started panicking, scrambling, and shouting “Help Me!” again. This time, I shook Joey’s leg and had him turn on a light. It was really odd. I used a night light the rest of the night, cause I’m a little boy.

Wedding (Saturday May 28, 2011)

MatrimonioI expected an evening that ran as late as 4, 5 or even 6am. So I was surprised that this party concluded, and I was back home by 11pm. Although I was exhausted like it was 6am.

We were scheduled to leave with the bride from the house around 10am, so we couldn’t be late. She looked stunning as she came down the stairs in her dress. She rolled to the wedding in style, in an old Bentley. All of the American gringos rode in a separate car, through the rain, and through traffic for an hour and forty-five minutes. Upon arrival to the club, the church was packed, and it was standing room only outside under a tarp. The wedding started shortly thereafter.

After the wedding, the reception was just down the sidewalk at the main building of the club. There were two floors. When you walked in the top floor, everyone was looking over the balcony. You’d have figured that below were the bride and groom. But nope, it was the location of the television screen showing the Barcelona vs. Manchester United Champions League final game (Barca won 3-1).

cupcakeThe reception was a lot of fun. There was a mariacchi band that Juan had surprised Lala with, and there were multiple other bands. All sorts of latin music that was fun to try and dance to. At one time I had to try to resort to my small swing dancing knowledge to try and blend in. Pero, soy torpe. Good food, fun fellowship, and of course the flowing drinks – as they would come around with glasses of scotch and vodka all night.

Juan kept buying extra hour upon extra hour of the band, eventually the party was over. There were promises of an after after after party, but they didn’t occur for us.

I received a ride home from Juan Sr. (Juan’s dad), along with Juan’s step-mom, and his uncle. She made me laugh the whole way home.

Andrés Carne de Res (Sunday May 29, 2011)

No GunsWe headed out around 1pm for a lunch at Andrés Carne de Res. This place is 4? stories of chaos and sensory overload. But worth every ounce of it. Wow! Sadly, I was feeling a little sick from the night before, and couldn’t handle much of the delicious food. However, that did not stop me from trying it.

The restaurant is divided into multiple levels, with names like heaven, purgatory, earth and hell. There is even a children’s romper room area. Think TGIF’s but to the 100th degree. Clowns and musicians and many waiters mull around. If an American restaurant added these devious clowns (think cirque style, not balloon animal style), then clowns could make a comeback.

Arepa De ChocoloI had my new favorite Colombian dish here: Arepas de Chocolo. It was a crepe/pancake like texture filled with gooey yummy cheese. What is not to like? We also tried fried plantain with cheese (almost like a pizza), great steaks, lulo with spearmint, and an agua aromatica – a bowl of fruit, mint and hot water that acts like a fruit infused tea.

Later that night, we also ordered some pizza. Odd I know, but it was nice to try a different countries version of the Italian/American favorite.

Btw, everything delivers, not just pizza, in Bogota. Kinda like New York. At one time we ordered 3 cases of beer and had that delivered.

Nada (Monday May 30, 2011)

Coffee BagsWe did practically zero, zilch… Juan had some school work to get done, and since we didn’t feel really safe to just go wandering on our own, we stayed around the house most of the day. After feeling nauseous the day before, I didn’t entirely mind. We did make one trek out, about a block away to a mercado/flea market type place. Bought some souvenir gifts and returned home. At night, Juan went out to a birthday sushi dinner for his sister-in-law, and since I was still feeling a little bit sick, Joey and I stayed home. Juan’s sister, Ana, came over to hang out.

Oh, we also went down the street to the grocery store, and loaded up on coffee bags to bring home.When the attendant asked if we needed help out, I don’t think he expected to push our grocery cart up 6 blocks of cobblestone.

Send Off Day, Final Encounters (Tuesday May 31, 2011)

Colombian BreakfastIt was a day of eating, and having final reunions. We started with breakfast at Juan’s mother and sister’s house. Fresh arepa, pineapple, hot chocolate, empanadas, and calentao. Im a mother lover. I love Juan’s mother’s and they seem to love me too. They are sweet, energetic, funny, and always make me laugh and smile. This breakfast was no different. And in regards to energy, Ana ranks up there as well. She is quick witted, and opinionated (I mean this in a positive way). She likes to challenge, she likes to debate, she likes to engage.

Sadly, I could only eat about half of my food, as I was still feeling queasy. They had me take a pill for “tummy pain” this morning and the last night. I’m not sure if that is helping or making things worse. It is a shame to have so many new food options to try, yet feeling unsure about how my body will react.

We had to leave breakfast after a short while, because we had a lunch engagement. Today is going to be a meal to meal schedule.

Juan Valdez CafeAfter a brief stop at a Juan Valdez cafe, we made our way to Juan Sr. and Martica’s house. However, the ruler of the house is their yellow lab, Nala. We hung out there for about an hour, and then made our way to lunch with a few more of Juan’s friends. Still feeling sick and queasy, I had a bowl of chicken broth. Boring I know. But there were big dinner plans that I needed to get right for.

In between lunch and dinner, Joey, Pablo, Angela, Lala and I walked up the street where surprisingly, there was a mall. If we had known, on our nada day, we’d probably have come up here. We bought a host gift, and the rest of them had an ice cream. Pablo was calling his doctor friends, and then running down the escalator. He came back with yet another drug for me to try for my stomach. I took the pill graciously. When I got back home, I looked up the drug, saw it wasn’t approved in the US, and saw that a side effects were the squirts. Uh oh, this might be a long night (since I don’t want you thinking of me, and that, i’ll let you know, it didn’t have that effect on me).

We headed to dinner where we were joined by Esteban, Marcella, Pablo, Angela, Diego, Mauro, Jenny, Juliana and Lala’s parents. El Filetto was the restaurant, and omg, nom nom nom. Still struggling with my stomach, I couldn’t eat a ton. But the wine and the appetizers were delicious. I ordered Juan’s favorite cut of steak – Punta de anca. Wow. It was so good, juicy, tasty. I was sad to have to give half of it away, but was glad that such a great piece of meat did not get wasted.

We went back home where we were joined by Lala’s sister and cousin, who came by to say goodbye to us. We have an early morning coming (4am!!!). I was sad to be leaving, and was thinking I might just stay awake all night. But instead I turned in around midnight.

Leave (Wednesday June 1, 2011)

Arose at 3:45 am, and made our way to the airport. Because Juan was bringing 5 bags, we needed two vehicles to take the 4 of us to the airport. Juan Sr. drove one car, and Lala’s parents were in the other.

Crepes & WafflesAirport checking was both confusing and easy. We now had some time before our flight, and before we went thru security, so we had breakfast with Lala’s parents at the airport Crepes & Waffles. After breakfast, we made our way thru security, the final duty-free shops, and to our gates. Ciao Colombia, I came away more impressed than I expected.

At our layover in Houston, Joey and I went into the Continental President’s club. There was only snack food, and Skinny J wanted a “meal” so we were about to leave. But decided to have one beer first. When we were told the beer was free, our 5 minutes became 90 and we enjoyed a few drinks.

Food and People

I think, when recollecting this trip, what I will remember most is the crazy and tasty food, and the crazy and amazing people. There is a lot of love in this country, and lot of beauty, and a lot of heart. Colombians have a lot of pride in their country, and as it continues to transition itself, it is this pride that shines through. When I first booked this trip, I thought this might be my only trip ever to Colombia. But after enjoying the people, places, sights, and fun, I am looking forward to a return visit.

John Denver Is Full Of

May 23rd, 2009

May 23

Went downstairs for a coffee and some internet time.  Hung out there awhile while Lisa wrote a post on her site about Montalcino.  Made it back upstairs and packed our bags and settled our things and wrote down some last minute information.  I am kinda intimidated today about Rome and the pick pocketers.  Ive seen them in action, and I’ve heard many stories, but recently I have heard more stories, and success stories (success of the pickpocketers) especially near the main train station in Rome.

I am worried and stressed, though I am sure it will all turn out ok.  What do I have to get stolen?  My watch?  The loads of cash I am carrying?  Passports?  This mini computer?  The bottle of wine?  The souvenir I bought Chaunce?

I am on the train right now trying to fight off the motion sickness from the hour curvy drive to this station, as well as catch up on some of the journal typing on this keyboard whose mouse in the middle is ultra sensitive and continues to throw my typing for loops.  It is really hot and I’ve already been lectured about having the window down.  The conductor assistant came by and put the window up and locked it.  Oops.  Its almost a two hour train ride to Rome, and we are about halfway done.

The train has been really hot, almost unbearable.  All of the windows say to keep them closed because the air-conditioning is on in that car.  Highly unlikely.  We had ours open for awhile, as did others.  When the aforementioned employee came back and scolded us, and locked all our windows.

Not only is it hot, but we are sitting near these two ladies.  One of them seems to be quite irritated with her travel partner, and also seems deathly ill.  Its getting really gross and rude how she keeps coughing and sneezing without covering her mouth.  Does she have the swine?  She looks really really sick.  And a few times I want to just tell her to cover her mouth and nose when she is gonna project her sneezes into the air.  I am THIS close to speaking up.

But I don’t.  But I do occasionally shoot a disapproving look her way when she does it.

Finally we arrive in Rome, and its really hot too!  We are ready for war with the pickpocketers at the station.  When we exit the train, we quickly come across a side exit of the station, and figure we might as well mad dash out here.    We make our way to a cab line that we see, and we get a quote on a ride from here to our rented apartment.  He either said 29 or 39 euros.  We accept and figure, whew, we are safe.  We arrive at our apartment, pay the man, and we are stoked that we made it past the pickpocketers at the station we were worried about.  However, in reading up on cab fares from the train station, we figure that we think we got taken.  In retrospect, we remember even that he didn’t even turn the meter on.  DOH!  (I would later email this information to my dad, to find out that they paid only approx 15 euros when they arrived in Rome a few days later).  A small price to pay for safety.

We arrived at our apartment that we are renting and there is a carabinieri parked and standing across the street with an automatic weapon.  We find the door for our address, but it is locked and we don’t know who to buzz to let us in.  We are standing outside this door for about 20 minutes, thinking our landlord will be here anytime.  Eventually someone exited the door and we were able to get ourselves into the courtyard area inside.

We are sitting here for about an hour, continually going out the front door to check the street to make sure he isn’t sitting out there.  Afterall, he did request we email him yesterday, our arrival time, and he did know that I would not have an available european working cell phone.

We eventually give up and decide to track down a place to try and call the number he had left of his girlfriend, in case there was a problem connecting.  I sent Lisa on the trail.  Approximately 20 minutes later she returned, frustrated with what she just experienced.

She found her way to a tabaccheria where she was rudely shushed out of the store.  She tried to offer a clerk 10 euros to make a local call for us.  She was ignored and treated very unkindly.  She found a calling card for the pay phones, and when she went to use it, she didn’t realize for some time that you have to rip off the corner of the card in order to activate it.  She reached the lady and the lady rudely says “youre there now?”  No kidding lady, we have been here for 2 hours, at the time we said we would.

10 minutes after Lisa returned, and about 2 hours after we arrived around 1:30 PM,  this young high school age man showed up with a grocery bag.  He was neither the guy I had rented the apartment from, nor the lady that he said would meet us at our arrival time.  He took us into the apartment, showed us around, took out a bottle of shampoo and 4 rolls of toilet from his grocery bag and left them with us, provided the keys, took our money and was on his way.

This place is tiny and not very clean.  Granted, it is in a brilliant location just a short walk from the Piazza Navona.  But it is much more cramped than I expected.  And although we had to pay an extra 40 euro as a “cleaning fee,”  it is obvious that it was not fully cleaned after the last visitor.  Beds are made, but there are museum receipts on the table, and hair on the bathroom floor, a gross shower mat, mildew in the shower, and a puddle of water (I hope) behind the bidet that has rusty fixtures.  There is an open bottle of travel shampoo still in the shower, and a topless can of hairspray on the shelf above the sink.   The bathroom and the room are tiny and “cozy.”  The downstairs beds/couches smelled like urine and I would later find yellow stains on the sheets.

I thought to myself that maybe this was all just stemming from the bad first impression that the landlord left on me by standing us up, so I let it go for now and we left the apartment to explore.

We walked around, trying to figure out our surroundings.  We came across an internet cafe and bought a card and surfed the net, left posts, twitters and checked email to holler back to my parents in Montalcino.  We walked to the Piazza Navona and it was much more crowded than I remembered it.

I know, I glorify my previous trip to Europe, and my new memories are shaded by the light and knowledge and experiences of that trip.  I am not saying that my new experiences are any less, I am saying that seeing certain things and places bring back memories and experiences of places.  What I recall of Piazza Navona was a cool “square” (oval in shape really) that had its cafe’s and its people, but was not overly crowded.  And it had this really cool fountain/statue that has become one of my all time favorites.

Well, most of those things still hold true, but now the square if overflowing with people, street performers (boring human statues), and art sellers.  It still is cool though.

We grabbed lunch on the corner where they had a pizza, bruscheta, soda special for 12 euros.  It was tasty.  It was more soupy than the pizza of the north.  Yet, it still is not the perfect pizza.  I tend to like to explore, or get lost, or some might say “wander aimlessly.”  I like to take in the sights, the smells, the people, the scenery.  I like to get a lay of the land and then figure out what to come back to.  Being that I don’t often have a plan per se, I think can be frustrating to Lisa.  I have been trying to be more vocal with what direction my mind is thinking.  We start to head towards the Pantheon, since its not very far from this piazza.

oculus_smThe Pantheon is crowded outside–its another really cool open square with cafe’s–but we make our way thru the people and enter into the building, which isn’t too crowded inside.  This is a really cool building with an oculus that lets in rays of sun, and in wet days, rain as well.  It holds the tomb of Raphael and is a really cool temperature which is welcoming on this hot and muggy day.  I think its one of my favorite things in Rome.  It has a ton of history too and is built with great geometric precision.  Its a building that has inspired many great buildings and domes around Europe.

trevi_sm

It seems that we are now hitting everything.  We walk towards the Trevi Fountian.  This too has become much different than I remembered it.  It must just be my memory of it, but I was completely dissappointed in it.  I remember it being right on the edge of the road, and less confined, and more at an angle.  I don’t know why I am so struck by this, but I’m really flabergasted.  “I always thought the Rockies would be a lot, rockier.”  Oh well, its still a beautiful statue that harbors many emotions for everyone that visits.

spsteps_smWe stayed their briefly, catching our glimpse, our pictures, and our dissappointments, and then followed the signs that led to the spanish steps.  Now I have never been to the spanish steps, so this will be brand new.  It was a long hot walk and my body is really feeling gross and sweaty.  The spanish steps aren’t very easy to find, even with a map–at least the first time.  After walking these crowded streets, we found these crowded steps and did the italian thing and lounged on them for about 10 minutes.  I could do this everyday.  Sit here and just people watch.  There are really hoards of people here.  It’s about 7:00 PM and its sunny, hot, sweaty and crowded.  It hasn’t been the most pleasant of days, but the things we have seen have been ridiculously amazing and fun.  What a day.

Now it was the best time of day, and also a frustrating time of day.  I have loved and looked forward to our dinners every day.  Meals have been my best and most enjoyable aspect of this day to day travelling.  Some nights we go off of a recommendation in the Rick Steeve’s book, and other times we just walk and check menu’s.  It seems that every few feet there is another restraunt.  The trick has been trying to find ones that do not look like tourist traps, serving microwaved food.  Sometimes we have been succesful at this, and other times we have not.

The frustrating aspect has been that I am often looking for, in a restraunt, the perfect balance between sights, food, price and atmosphere.  Too many times a restraunt is lacking one of those qualities, so I say we just continue walking and look for the next one.  The downside of this is that it leads to about an hour more of walking, getting lost, and getting tired.  Tonight is another occasion of that.

crowdedrome_sm

Before These Crowded Streets

We settled on a place to eat, and sat down.  Now a couple days of ago when we went on that cool winery tour with Ceylan (Jay), she mentioned how she was coming to Rome, and we offered to meet up for dinner.  Well we didn’t ever connect after that and so we were on our own.  Now, tonight we are eating on this back alley of restraunts, dark, on the patio, and guess who walks by.  Yep, Jay.  In a big city like Rome, with all of the great resteraunts and locations, we happen to run into the one person that we know is going to be in the city.  We shared salutations and then she went on her way and we finished our meal.

With our belly’s refreshed, and some wine in our system, we decide to try and walk towards St. Peter’s so that we can see it all lit up at night.  It is late though.  And we have exhausted our patience, and our legs.  We got lost trying to get there, and decided to stop at one of the bridges to cross the river, but instead take a few long distance pictures and head home.  It has been a long day, full of difficult times, and exciting sites.

stpeter_sm

These items that we are seeing are beyond belief.  Are we really here?  Sadly, is this trip almost over?  How remarkable is the check list of things we have seen and done today?

We find our way home, and I have to shower off all the grossness.  I am even more grossed out by the shower and bathroom here.  I must block it out and fall asleep.  It is really hot here.

stpeter2_sm

Pinch This

May 21st, 2009

May 21, 2009

Alle LoggeStarted the morning the same way most mornings here in Montalcino would start for me, and that was downstairs at the winebar/internet cafe.  It is such a great convenience having it just outside the front door.  Almost as convenient as having it inside the apartment, but with better coffe.

We were meeting up today with Ceylan Tumgoren, who runs the winery at Casanuova delle Cerbaie Winery in Montalcino.  When we ran into her this morning, she wanted to sit with her mom for some coffee first, so we took the opportunity to walk over with my parents to a church that was currently being restored.  My mom has taken great pride in this little town and all of its events and undertakings.  You pinchcould see the pride in both of my parents faces as they discussed this church, its sinking, the art that was hanging, and the statue of peter that was here.

Rather than squeeze 6 in the car again, Lisa and I rode with Ceylan while the Volvo was behind.  We learned a lot about Ceylan on this car ride.  Her mother lives in New York and is divorced.  Her father is from Turkey.  To go along with her American citizenship she also held citizenship of Ireland.  She worked for a wine distributor out of NY called Zachy’s.  She then spent time working for a vineyard in Bordeaux France before moving to Montalcino where she has been for almost 2 years.  She speaks fluent French, Italian and some Turkish.   She told us how it was first a tough transition having an American work ethic while working with Italians because a coffee break would sometimes last 3 hours.

Lisa Likes Wine We arrived and we walked amongst the grape vines as she told us some of the history of the winery and some of the patterns of growth.  She told us about Brunello-gate(tangent:  I’m really tired of something controversial being called blank-gate.  Watergate was the name of the office complex in the Nixon controversy.  It had an actual reason of being called “gate.”  However, now everything gets labeled “gate” and its flat out annoying.  One recent example was when the Patriots were caught cheating, it was labeled “spygate.”  For an inconclusive list of many others read here).

One for you, two for meShe also told us about pinching the grapes  and how they do not want too many grapes growing on any particular vine because then all the energy of the vine is spread out through larger numbers, rather than focusing all its strength and flavors on a smaller number of grapes.  We walked up and down some vines, pinching the vines. 

two for meWe then went into the barrel rooms where we were gonna taste some of the wines that were in the middle of the aging process as well as some fresh wines.

In order for a wine to be classified as Brunello, it must be 100% sangiovese grape, grown in the region of Montalcino.  It must age in the barrel or vat for a minimum of 5 years.  If it is bottled after 2 years it is called a Rosa di Montalcino.  If it is less than 2 years it is called “Tabalo” or table wine.  I can’t imagine the patience that goes into a bottle of Brunello.  Not only do you have to grow the vine for a certain number of years in order to yield fruit, but then once you do you have to wait 5 years for it to properly age.

We tasted some of the wines that had been in the barrel for 2 years, and others that had been longer.  On one taste she immediately said “this one is ready to be moved out of the barrel” and she took note to make sure that got done immediately.  To me it just tasted like wine, as I am not sure I would have noticed it was ready to move.

Straight From The BarrelsIt was a great experience and I really enjoyed the first hand tour and imparted knowledge.

We made our way back to Montalcino and I spent some time posting to this site while at the internet wine bar.  We then all went to St. Antimowhere we spent time at a 30 minute service of Gregorian chants.  It was a really pretty church whose history dates back to the late 8th century.  After the beautiful service, we walked around the grounds and made our way back to Montalcino.   

antimo

Back in town, we walked around, ate some gelato, and then had dinner of wine and bruschetta, and then risotto with chicken.  All very delicious as we watched the moon come up over this beautiful valley.

Our conversation started toward Bridge and how my parents play often with Kathie.  We then spent 20 minutes trying to give me a bridge lesson and playing a hand.

Time for bed.

cork

I Just Got Lost, Every River That I Tried To Cross

May 12th, 2009

May 12

We awoke to street noises and the st. mark’s bell and then got our day started around 9am.  We debated heading all the way back to the train station to check the schedule for our exit the next day, but instead decided to hit the internet cafe.  I also was needing to email our next hotel as they wanted notice a few days in advance, of our approximate arrival time.

We got to the internet cafe, and it was not due to open for another 15 minutes, so we found a nearby street cafe and had an espresso and a cappichino.  It was my first attempt (I think) at an espresso and I must say it was quite bitter, I think I eventually had a bigger sugar to coffee ratio.  However, I had most of lisa’s cappichino and it was the best one yet of the trip.

The cafe opened and we took care of buisness.  At that point we decided to get on a water bus and make our way across the backside of the canal and go to a few churces across the way.  But once on the bus, we had front seats in the air, we didn’t want to get off at the 3rd stop.  So we decided to stay on for all 15 stops and then get off at the last stop and do the Accademia museum instead.  We were enjoying our cheap bus ride, in the open air.  Part of me thought we should just go round and round all day.  It was that much fun.  Though, we got off at the Accademia museum, and before going in the museum, ate some pizza at a cafe right outside.  Mike would have loved this pizza because it was not very high quality and tasted like it was frozen pizza from back home.  Lisa barely made it through a slice, and I wasn’t gonna leave it.  

There was no line for the museum and it was not very crowded.  It started with some byzantine art, but worked our way through art by Veronese, Bellini, Giogiorne, and some Tintoretto’s.  I recall from my trip in 1997, that my favorite two items from this place was The Tempest by San Giogiorne and The Feast in the House of Levi by Veronese.  I’m not sure why I included the Tempest, because on further review, there wasn’t much special to it.  Although, it had a long and complicated history, so maybe that is what I found so pleasing.  Veronese however, I think I really like.  I like many of his pieces, and The Feast I think is one of my favorites.  I also like the story and history behind it.  It takes up a giant wall and is full of details.  I think I could spend hours looking at it.

redentore_sm

Part of me wishes that there were some great museums with just one or two pieces of art.  I think I’d like to once, just sit for 2 hours in front of one piece, reflecting, praying, writing, and seeing what thoughts come to mind.  But in days of fast travel, and even quicker society, there isn’t time for that.  Maybe one day.

Speaking of speed, we made it through that museum in a mere 45 minutes.  Hopped back onto the water bus, with intentions and determinations this time of getting to the churches across the way.  The first church was called Il Redentore (the Redeemer).  This church is beautiful.  Not only is it pretty, but every nave seemed to have a great piece of art by Tintoretto.  I loved the arches, and the domes and the perked ceilings.  I snapped a couple of pictures, but then got reprimanded, albeit kindly.  Il Redentore has a cool background story.

sangiogiore_smWe walked a few blocks and then realized that we needed another water bus, and found our way to San Giogore church.  Lisa enjoyed the beauty of this one more than the last.  It is a gorgeous church with a large campinelle.  It housed great works of art, and we could take pictures more freely, and explore more depths of the choirs and main basillica.  We took the elevator up the campinelle for great views of Venice.  As Dr. Carlander would have said, “beautiful.”  Lisa must be getting at least slightly annoyed, as I keep reminicing about when I was here last, travelling with school, enjoy the friendship of Andrew.  Some things that we are doing, such as visiting these 2 churches, were things that I did and enjoyed so much before.

Along those lines, after San Giogore, we took a water bus to the San Salute church, which when I was here, was our stop.  I was attempting to find my way back to the hotel I stayed at before, so I could show her where we would climb in and out of the window, and how it was right across from where a famous poet once lived. We found the Hotel Messener, but despite going in every alley, could not find my window or the poets house.

tintoretto_smWe traversed over bridges, through alleys, across squares and then more bridges and found our way back to our room.  I did some Snide prep work and we rested.  Then, we went back to the itnernet cafe where I spent a frustrating 2 hours trying to publish my Snides.  The attempt to upload a video to youtube kept failing, I would get typed and insert a bunch of photos and tags, and then the computer or server would freeze and when I would re-enter into the right page, I’d find that I lost 20-30 minutes of work.  We kept buying 30 minute increments, and eventually I completed (all but the youtube video) of my posts up until Venice.

We then walked about 45 minutes looking for the perfect place to enjoy our last meal in Venice.  Sadly, we didn’t find the perfect place, but gave up  looking cause we were tired of walking, and energetic for food.  I had a caprese that was substandard and Lisa ate some very good minnestrone soup.  My next plate was Spaghetti Pomodoro which was very delicious, and she had a pizza Margerhita that was substandard.  All of this chased down by frizzante (Peligrino).

We made our way back to our hotel, stopping briefly to take some very nice pictures in St. Mark’s square, as the sky light was perfect.  We tried to set an alarm lisa downloaded for her computer as we were going to attempt to wake up at 5:00 am so that we could catch the 6:00 am water bus, that would get us to the train station by 6:30 so that we could catch the 7:20 train ride to the Cinque Terre.  This train ride would take approximatley 7 hours so we didn’t want to miss the early train as the next one was 2 hours later and wouldn’t get us to our destination till 6pm.

Needless to say, I was not expecting a great night of sleep, as I had my doubts on if the alarm would work.  Little did I know, that it was going to be an even worse night of sleep than I expected and would still end in failure, with slight redemption.

stmarksdusk_sm

It Doesn’t Cost A Little, It Costs….well, you know.

October 23rd, 2008

I work for a company that is involved in the financial industry.  One of our general newsletters recently had a tidbit of information that I found intriguing.  I thought I’d share it here.

Little things can certainly add up.  If an investor with a $5-a-day caffeine habit were to take the money he or she normally spends on lattes every month and invest it in an account earning a hypothetical 8% average annual return, the accumulation would be almost $150,000 after 25 years.

Tidbits like that make one think about their typical spending habits.

This Week I'm Thinking About: Greg Crisci