Thursday, October 23, 2014
Monday, October 20, 2014
Daniel and I hopped on a ferry out of Venice, straight through a storm over the Adriatic Sea and arrived on a deep misty night into the port of Istria. Our Airbnb host, Mladin told us that the forecast would be gloomy the next morning and, for our visiting souls' sake, would quickly become the blue sky norm again. Thankfully, we are from Oregon and grey skies are a don't-sweat-the-small-stuff sight. Super thankfully, the storm only lasted a few hours. Just enough time to catnap in our apartment, gorge ourselves on paprika chips and KiKi fruit chews, and head back out into the winding cobblestones of Rovinj. Sidenote: We plowed our way through FOUR bags of KiKi candy. Croatia probably gave me a cavity. Again, all is forgiven.
Then, THEN, the truly authentic Croatia emerged. Clouds dramatically parted, unveiling a constant sunny truth, and literal harmonies from heaven engulfed the airwaves, (the clouds did part, the heavenly harmonies were most definitely a techno rave, the "Unknown Festival," from another nearby island). This is old country, (forget trying to use a credit card here), but the people know a good time. The entire ocean is their swimming pool, whenever they feel like it. I imagine businessmen after a long work day, run outside to the nearest rocky cliff, shimmy down the ladder into the briny blue. Leaving a trail of ties, suit coats, and brogues on the stone ledges above...
Biking along the shoreline, we found hidden pockets of sand and surf stretching on a seemingly endless coast. Eventually, making our way further south to Pula, by way of bus, not bike, although...biking would've been faster, (Foreign Bus System+Foreign Weary Travelers=An adventure? One thing I've learned from my experiences overseas, whatever happens, call it an "adventure." You'll go a little less crazy). Halfway into our European journey, the buzz of thousands of travel miles behind and before us lulled to a hum as we sipped a Coke on a pebbled beach in Pula. One of those rare times in life where you can feel how everything you've ever done has led to this place, in this moment.
Monday, October 6, 2014
"The Vegas of Europe"
After a bit of a scramble from Paris to Beauveaux to the check-in for our RyanAir flight, we landed in Treviso, Italy with rousing fanfare. Literally, fanfare. Applause. Trumpets. Mariachi music. The woman seated next to us lifted her gaze Heaven-ward, kissed her rosary and made the sign of the cross. "Are we excited to arrive or excited we, ya know, didn't not arrive?" I quickly scanned the cabin for a "We've been accident free for days," plaque. Anxiously ticking away the list of multiple take-offs and landings (and all the in between jazz that happens 30,000 ft. up in the air) we had left in our trip.
Thankfully, we switched up our mode of transportation to something more down to earth. Down to earth's water level, that is. Gondala, water bus, yacht, cruise ship, and ferry, oh my, welcome to Venice, the "Queen of the Adriatic," "City of Water," "City of Masks," "City of Bridges," "City of Canals," "City of George 'It's About Time' Clooney's Wedding" and "The Floating City," although by the looks of the Piazzo San Marco, I think we were most definitely on the verge of sinking every afternoon. Damn tourists. Oh, tourists. Oh the approximately 47.7 million tourists that anchor in every year, in a city of 60,000! For the record, I'm a tourist but I'm not a tourist. Venice is beautiful, but if I were a resident trying to ride the vaporetto to run errands or get to work on a daily basis and I saw one more selfie stick or umbrella or large meandering group of people overpaying for Murano glass made in China and serenaded tours of the Grand Canal, I would probably throw myself in front of a very swiftly moving gondola.
With some careful research and consistent prayers lifted to the almighty TripAdviser, we carved out a pleasant visit in the maze that is, Venezia.
The magic of Italian gelato, pizza, pasta, and spirits quickly made up for any tourism claustrophobia.
If I were a resident, I'd probably survive on a diet of cappuccino, chocolate croissant, and bellini. Then I'd proceed to get old and wobbly and angrily wave my cane at the Carnival ships blocking my house.
Ahhh, the sailing life for me.
Stay: Giudecca Island/Haven Hostel
Save: Buy a 48/72 hr. water bus pass!
See: You'll easily zoom by a majority of the major landmarks as you walk (get lost) through the streets of Venice. Escape the crowds and jump over to Lido for a day at the beach, Murano for the real-deal world-famous glass, and Burano for colorful neighborhoods.
Savor: Best-Practically-Portland coffee at Torrefazione Marchi/Hole-in-the-wall hipster pasta at Dal Moro's Fresh Pasta to Go/Kinder Sorpresa eggs at the supermarkets. You'll find the best selection in Italy, where they originated! Take some home to your kids...or don't...cough*illegal*what?*
Monday, September 29, 2014
"Paris is the New York City of Europe" -says me
Onward to the CDG it was! And pronto, before the Kardashians invade!
The Oregon to France trek isn't all that bad. Daniel and I have both flown to Africa on separate occasions, and if that flight haul doesn't put hair on your chest...
With approximately twelve hours in the friendly skies toward the City of Lights, you have precisely enough time to enjoy any and all beverage services, two meals, one snack, several bathroom breaks, a 30 minute cat nap, eight prayers during turbulence over London, and four movies. Landed.
Step out of the metro and breathe that fresh, city...ozone layer. Yes. Let me begin with this. Paris stinks. In a totally stereotypical Pepe Le Pew sort of way. I was instantly enveloped by a cocktail aroma of perfume and smoke whenever anyone walked past me. Anyone. A three year old on a scooter whizzed by and I'm almost positive I smelled a faint hint of Thierry Mugler. My nose is used to some reeeeeeeeeel good Pacific Northwest air and in America you mainly see someone smoking, gosh, I don't even know, in their car, maybe? Behind a building, hidden in the bushes of shame and lung cancer, while on their lunch break? Towards the end of our time in Paris, (and Europe in general) after witnessing countless 102 year old men and women seemingly thriving on a diet of red wine and cigarette butts, I finally came to the conclusion: It must be the walking? Or the fromage? Or the chocolate croissants? Maybe they take their holiday in Portland, Oregon and fill up the internal reserve oxygen supply? These people are fabulous and fiesty and all La Vie en Rose and c'est le vie. I just might want to be like them when I grow up. Minus the smoking. Unless they invent a macaron flavored cigar. Ok ok, so of course we didn't travel across the pond for an anthropology study.
(As parents of a toddler, we obviously went to eat, drink, be merry, sleep past 7AM, and enjoy a Paw Patrol theme song free zone!)
We wined on wine and we dined on the four main food groups: chocolate, bread, cheese, and meat. We lived in a teeny Parisian apartment in the clouds. We walked past the Arc de Triomphe on our way home every day like it ain't no thang. We asked, "Parlez vous anglais?" so many times, as proper Americans should do. We marveled at the (cheap!) price of Bonne Maman jam at the supermarket, (and also failed at smuggling some into Italy, as improper Americans would do). We saw a whole bunch of naked statues, naked paintings, and naked photos, as one typically does in an art museum, and tried not to laugh too hard because we are actually 13 years old. We searched high and low for a (free) bathroom to use at 10PM, and finally found the free-est most grossest bathroom right by the twinkling lights of the Eiffel Tower, the smell of perfumed urine wafted through the air as an accordion wheezed La Valse d'Amélie.
Paris IS for lovers.