Saturday, December 31, 2011

One More App

Did you know a smartphone can be a flashlight? It's true! The App store has several flashlight apps for free. I believe they are all pretty much the same. The idea is to get the app and when you need a flashlight you have one ready.

BTW I've had this app a long time but we were talking about great apps at Christmas and "flashlight" was mentioned ... And we all had stories about how useful it was.

Regarding smartphones--I was in a long line the other day and everyone in the line was playing with his or her smartphone. They were reading email or texting or playing games. No one was bored and everyone in the line was calmly waiting for his or her number to be called. I don't know what that means, but it was interesting to see. Smartphone as adult pacifier?

Random Learnings from 2011

In 2011 I:
-Discovered the wonder of a good pedicure
-Learned that Roman ruins are everywhere in Europe
-Visited my 97th country
-Loved seeing "things" anew through the eyes of my friends
-Learned again and again that each day is special and to live it the best I can
-Learned that good health is fragile
-Learned that the "chore" of walking every day is enjoyable (and it's not a chore anymore)
-Learned wildflowers are ephemeral so it's all right to pick them
-Learned its not about the camera but the memory
-Saw Pompeii and Florence and Venice as well as Monaco and Lisbon. WOW
-Had Lots of fun
-Am ready to make more memories for 2012

Happy New Year

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

I want to wish you a Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Action by the Pond

There was a lot of action by the pond this morning. I could hear the rustling in the bushes when suddenly an egret and a heron popped up and flew away. I was even more surprised to see that I captured the event with my iPhone. On the other hand, the flotilla of mergansers on the pond just stayed put--i guess they were not afraid of my approach at all!

Regarding smartphone cameras-- makers of point and shoot cameras are finding that their sales are falling. People with smartphones are not buying additional cameras as they are finding out they don't need two cameras.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Some Pictures I Like--Part 2

The next two pictures are identical. One is rotated 180 degrees from
The other. Can you tell which one is right side up? The reflection was so clear even I had a hard time figuring it out.

Some Pictures I Like--Part 1

It was cooler this morning. The grass was stiff with ice, but it was this lone leaf that caught my attention. The thin coat of frost covered the leaf yet the underlying color shone through.


Christmas in the Country

In the city people decorate their front doors. In the country people decorate their gates. Same idea--different format. Here are two examples.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Apps

Every so often I recommend some iPhone and iPad apps that I have found helpful. Today I’m recommending websites that talk about apps. Since there are over a half million apps around, it’s nice to have a source where you can find out information before you buy an app.

AppAdvice is for Apple only iDevices. It has reviews, guides, charts, and so much more. It’s updated daily and has links to the Apple Store.

Appolicious is another compiler of apps, but it is good for both Apple and Android devices. It’s been developed in association with Yahoo, so it has a “Yahoo-type interface” that is easy to use.

If you are a teacher, go to Top 50 iPhone Apps for Educators. Created by the Online College Database, it gives a short explanation of each app and a link to the App Store so you can buy it!

I use these three to find out more about an app before I download it. 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Now there are four!

There have been vultures around here for as long as we have lived here. They usually perch on the fence posts on the property line far from people. Then I saw a pair on a power pole near my home a few days ago. That was a first. Since then, the same pair (I think they are the same pair anyway) shows up most days. Today, however, was different. There were 4 of 'em! The view from the poles must be grand! Given that, I needed to tell them that I'm not dead yet.

A little later it looked like they were getting worried as they were moving their heads up and down (maybe they do not like to be watched) and the fellow on the top of the pole stretched out his wings to soak up the sun before taking flight.

You never know what you will see in the morning. Life in the slow lane.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Natural Paintbrush

Tonight we had a wonderful sunset. Mother Nature was having a grand time painting the sky in oranges, yellows, pinks and blues. My camera and I tried to capture the color -- here are a few samples.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Pedometer Mark 2

I've been using the pedometer app for 3 days now and I love it. Not only does it keep track of time and distance, it maps exactly where I've been. The full version has a price tag of $2.99 and frankly I don't know what else it can do. If you are looking for an easy and informative pedometer I highly recommending Pedometer GPS+. I'm sorry to report it is only for Apple products right now. To find out more go to http://mobile.viaden.com/pedometer-pro.html.

Watercolor World

We had a trace of rain this morning. The air had that clean, after-the-rain smell. The bare tree limbs had drops of water clinging on for dear life...just a soft breeze away from falling to earth. The few trees still decked out in fall colors were beacons of bright light contrasting against the gray sky. A good morning for a walk.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Pedometer App

Ever wonder how far you walk in a day? Or how far you walk when you take your constitutional? I do and to that end I started looking for iPhone aps to measure that distance. After looking at several I decided on Pedometer GPS+. I downloaded the free version which I will try for a few more days in order to decide if I want the upgraded version that does more.

The ap has a timer letting me know how long I have walked. It also tells how many miles I have walked, the number of calories I've burned, my heart rate and the piece d'resistance a map of where I went. It's a kick to see every place I put down my feet.

I don't know if there is an android version of the ap but I'm guessing there is. (It cannot be that difficult to make an ap for both platforms.) I downloaded mine from the Ap Store from Apple.

Are you wondering what I found out about my morning walk? This morning I logged 1.683 miles or 3487 steps; I burned 132 calories and my average speed was 2.6 mph while my fastest speed was 3.8 mph. While this is far more information than I wanted it will provide a baseline for subsequent morning walks. I'm happy with my new ap!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Things Have Not Changed

"The budget should be balanced, the Treasury should be refilled, public debt should be reduced, the arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled, and the assistance to foreign lands should be curtailed lest Rome become bankrupt. People must again learn to work, instead of living on public assistance."
- Cicero - 55 BC

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

3 Seasons

Right now there are 3 seasons in our yard. Some of the trees are still decked out in the fall colors. The Pyracantha are ready for Christmas with their bright red berries and the ceanothus is starting to get spring blooms!

Is this an example of climate change? Or, is it normal? I don't know the answer I just find it interesting.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Friends

Every morning there's a little surprise for me. Today it was two vultures sitting on the phone pole. I've been walking the same path for years and I've never seen a vulture on the pole, let alone two! I think of vultures as loners, but these guys looked like friends!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Christmas

The politically correct silly season has started. This year we are seeing Holiday trees and Winter Festivals.
In fact I'm not seeing many ads for Christmas sales either.

I just did a small sampling of the online ads for retailers. Here's what I found. Best Buy is advertising "Great Gifts" but it's business as usual. Macy's is having "Holiday Sales" and K-Mart ads show their "little blue light guy" in a Santa Hat but there's no mention of Christmas. Sears is featuring a robot type critter with a Santa Hat again no mention of Christmas. Bed, Bath and Beyond has seasonal specials and gifts--their concession to the "season" is a boxy graphic surrounded by "Christmas" lights...but no mention of Christmas per se. Old Navy has the "Merry Mall" and the "Happiest Holidays" but again no Christmas. Walmart, the nation's biggest retailer does mention Christmas but you have to look at the online ad hard to find it in the small print. Like many retailers they are touting CyberMonday with "bright ideas for the Holidays." Penney's is having a Thank You Appreciation Sale. At the bottom of their homepage they say "Who's your Santa! Shop Best Gifts."

Online retailer Amazon talks about CyberMonday. The only graphic on their main webpage that looks a little bit Christmas-like is a black box with a red bow in the corner saying you can shop with MasterCard.

Kohl's online ad says CHRISTMAS! Target's online ad has Christmas written in small blue letters and an emphasis on gifts. Lowe's online ad says "The Joy of Christmas" but Home Depot's ad just talks about holidays.

Thank goodness not every big name retailer has decided to abandon the name of the day we are all celebrating.

So much of our media is promoting Winter or Holiday as words to use so as not to offend people. Well, I part of the people, and I'm offended! The Holiday we are celebrating is Christmas! I want to hear traditional Christmas music. I want to see Nativity Scenes. I want to celebrate with the 3 Wise Men about the birth of Christ.

Long Legs

I like to walk every morning (weather permitting...I'm not fond of windy or rainy days). Mornings are so quiet -- the rabbits are still in their burrows and every so often I surprise one. A sleepy rabbit is fun to watch as it zigs and zags down the hill. We've clocked them at 25 mph!

Here's a picture of me (going a lot slower) as the sun is rising over the mountain. I look about 10 feet tall!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

My Favorite Blanket

As you know I crochet blankets for Project Linus. I just finished a "teddy bear" blanket that looks like sunshine. It feels happy. I know a little kid will like it a lot.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Josh the Computer “god"

This morning I talked to Josh my own private (at least for today) “computer repair god.” Most computers are relatively reliable but every so often things happen. Last night one of those “things” happened. I was logging off for the night and my computer would not let me do anything! It had locked up! NOW WHAT? I tried all sorts of methods to make the computer work, but all I got was a screen that jiggled. A jiggly screen is never a good sign.

I called the computer help line, even though it was midnight and of course no one was there. The nice voice at the other end of the line said “Hello...we are closed...call again in the morning.” SO, I called this morning. Of course, everyone else who had a computer glitch this long weekend was calling too. After a 13 minute wait (not too bad when you consider it) Josh came on the line. He’s the “computer god” I was talking about.

Very calmly, Josh said “we can fix that!” WHEW! That was nice to know. He said first do this and this...I did... and the computer stopped working.

He said there’s another route we can take...do this and this...I did...and the computer stopped working.

He then said...”this looks like a bigger problem than I thought at first, but we can fix it!” It was nice to hear his encouragement.

He then gave me another set of directions and the screen turned black! A black computer screen is never a good sign...then some white letters started scrolling down the screen. There were a few words I could understand but most looked like "/fn/ - qrs”What does that mean? Finally it stopped printing letters and I saw :/ root -- something I could read and understand.

Josh gave me detailed instructions on what I should type next, one letter at a time. After a few seconds the computer started to fix itself. It had 43 items in a directory that only needed 42 (I have to wonder how an Volume fixed! Then :/ root appeared on the sreen.

Very gingerly I typed “reboot” and the computer rebooted and a familiar screen appeared. My name appeared...then it asked for my password and the password worked! There was no jiggling. HOORAY!

One more thing to be thankful for...calm computer gods who know how to fix your system!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thanksgiving Weekend

The big day was Thursday: American Thanksgiving. I say American because Thanksgiving is celebrated on other days in other countries. In Canada it occurs on the second Monday in October. Germany calls it Erntedankfest and it's celebrated the first Sunday after Michelmas which is usually near the end of September. In fact most cultures celebrate their thanks to a bountiful harvest.

And that's what we did -- and we also celebrated another year of good health, good friends and good times. I cooked the traditional bird and some of the trimmings as I did not wish to become thankful for more weight gain than necessary! I took one picture of the turkey as I put it in the oven and forgot to take more. Rest assured it was a tasty bird and we will have even tastier leftovers for a few days to come. I still want to know why the leftovers always taste better?

Monday, November 21, 2011

This and That

It’s always fun to write in a blog when we are doing exciting things...it’s less fun when we do the normal day to day stuff. But then, for us, normal is being on the move and the day to day stuff is definitely not normal.

I’m thinking the US Congress has 3 days to fix the deficit debacle and I’m guessing they will not get it done. I’m guessing they needed more of a stick to force them to some sort of action. They knew from the get go that if they did not act, some cuts would automatically be set into place. While those cuts are not nice, they are a lot easier to agree on than anything else. Makes we wonder what happened to the idea of compromise!? OK, I know, I’m being a Pollyanna, but geeeees...these guys needed to do something and it’s clear they have not done anything. Might I suggest cutting the Department of Education?

In the other DrCs blog, COTTonLINE, there’s a link to this excellent article by Tom Friedman, where the bottom-line is READ TO YOUR KIDS! As a reading teacher most of my life, I know how important it is to read to your kids...now folks who are not reading teachers are saying the same thing. His article states that the crucial time to read to your children is during their primary school years. I’ve always backed the notion of reading to kids from birth! No matter, we are on the same page...read to your kids. The kids who are read to are those who are most likely to succeed!

Never fear, I’ll get back to the pretty pictures soon.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Home Again

We were gone for 38 days! My that's a long time. Now we are back home and dealing with reality away from a cruise ship. Gosh--we have to buy groceries, do laundry, house keeping, gardening, and everything else. Jorge is not our steward, Paul and Ljubica are not our waiters. Damiano is not supplying us with endless fresh chocolate chip cookies. We are coping. Yet, I would be remiss not to thank these hard working folks for making the cruise wonderful.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Bird feeder

Sometimes other critters get to enjoy.

The Smokies in Autumn

Surprise! We arrived in time t enjoy some fall color. Fall in the Smokies is beautiful. We drove to New Found Gap, which is the border between North Carolina and Tennessee and looked at the views along the way and it was wonderful.

Next stop was Gatlinburg. I remember driving through Gatlinburg sometime in the early 70s in our motorhome. It was summer and crowded and we did not like the place. Yesterday, on a warm autumn afternoon it was delightful. We had a great lunch at Calhoun's and enjoyed our friends.





In Tennessee

We arrived in Tennessee this afternoon. In 2 days we drove a little over 950 miles. For folks who try not to drive more than 250 miles a day (when we RV) these are long days for us.

As we drove north the scenery became prettier. Just outside of Atlanta we started to see trees dressed in their autumn colors. By the time we got to Tennessee the trees were in their glory. Prettiest of all was the golden light shining on the Tennessee River. No pictures just memories.

We will be here till Friday (which is 11-11-11 btw) then back to the real world with real responsibilities.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

In Georgia

We landed in Ft. Lauderdale this morning. I must say it was one of the tidier disembarkations I've ever done. We were told to meet in Explorer's Lounge at 7:50 and within 10 minutes we were heading for the gangway. We left the ship and without too much ado we found our luggage. The next stop was the bus to the airport to get our rental car. I had the car scheduled for 10 AM and we got there at 9:30.
Princess did a good job!

We are renting a Chevrolet Traverse, which is some type of crossover vehicle. It's very comfy--and it has all sorts of things my 11 year old car does not have including Bluetooth, a USB port, a 110 outlet, a DVD player with headphones, at least 3 different types of radio and Bose speakers. It also has 3 rows of seats so a whole army will fit in it. So far we have driven it about 400 miles and we are liking it a lot.

Our drive through Flat Florida was long and uneventful. We drove the turnpike most of the way, then when the tollway ended we joined up with I-75. I hope we get some rolling hills to look at tomorrow in Georgia as we have seen a bit too much flat today. We are supposed to arrive in Maryville, TN

Friday, November 4, 2011

Time to say Good-bye

We have been on the Ruby Princess for 4 weeks...we boarded her on Friday, October 7. During this trip we have visited Rome, Florence, Pisa, Naples, Pompeii, Herculaneum, Venice, Monaco, Barcelona, Santorini, Mykonos, Corfu, Split, Lisbon, Ponta delGado (there might be more too). We have been on one of the tiny electric trams in Lisbon and a 4x4 on the back roads of the Azores. We have walked in the ruts made by carriages 2000 years ago in Pompeii. We seen some of the splendors of Venice and revisited the beauty of Pisa. I've taken pictures of laundry hanging out of windows all over the Mediterranean too. It's been some trip.

Now however, it's time to say good-bye to the friends we have met. We have spent 1/12 of the year on this boat. It's been our home away from home. Our respite!

We have filled out the "You've Done a Good Job" forms for the various folks who have made the cruise such a complete escape from the hustle and bustle of the modern world. If you are looking for a way to relax, consider a cruise!

Tomorrow we will pack up our bags and get ready for the next stage of the adventure. When we disembark the ship on Sunday morning, we will pick up a rental car and drive to Tennessee to visit old friends.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Sea Days

We are on the crossing part of our cruise now. In case you didn't know, there is a difference between cruising and crossing. Cruising means stopping at different ports of call; crossing means sailing from one side of the ocean to another. So we are crossing the Atlantic and we will make landfall on Sunday.

Many folks like crossing better than cruising because it is more relaxing. All you have to do is enjoy the ship which is relatively easy to do on these floating cities. Other folks like cruising as you get too see so many interesting places. It just depends on what you like to do. With a 30 day cruise, you get to do both.

So far, the crossing has been pretty good. Yesterday we were steaming along at 21 knots, it was 72 degrees outside and a mild 15 knot wind was blowing...not too bad. (In other words you can walk outside, on the decks, and your hair will stay on your head, but it will be messy.) If we had a 30 knot wind, forget hair and bundle up! It will be dangerous out there! When on a crossing you rarely sit outside on your balcony as it's too cool and windy. Balconies are for cruising in warm still waters.

Ruby Princess has a huge open air theater on board, so I watched a movie on deck 16 at 1 in the afternoon while enjoying the sun and the breeze...only on a cruise ship can you do that.

Sea days are pleasant...no ports to worry about, no tenders to board, no excursions to meet...the only worry is getting to the event you want to see on time, and of course, eating. By this time in the cruise, no one is eating very much, so even that is not a concern.
I stopped eating 3 meals a day over 2 weeks ago.

So we have 2 more days of crossing and then back to reality. We will need to find our own food, make our beds, and get back to serving ourselves. I think we can do that.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Ponta Delgado, Sao Miguel

Our last landfall was a tiny Portuguese island in the Azores. A pretty little island too. We had a gray foggy day and the beauty of the place came thru.

So while we did not see the crater with green lake and the blue lake we saw where they were--just too foggy to see the color. We tried to see the 7 tiny towns built into the craters of the island but alas--no views were available.

We saw some cows; horse carts carrying jugs of fresh milk; pretty little churches: clean tidy houses. A delightful little place I would like to return to in order to see it on a sunny day.

P.S. Our driver said it took about 2 hours to drive around the whole island. It's tiny.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Lisbon

Ah! Lisbon! What a treasure! I did not have big expectations for this port of call and I was stunned. What a pretty little city. We had beautiful weather too, and that always enhances a situation. (maybe if we had a warm sunny day in Firenze my opinion would be different of the city??)

The name Lisbon means pretty harbor in some ancient language (a descriptive name much like Hong Kong for "fragrant harbor" or Buenos Aires for "good air"). When said in Portuguese there is a slight lisp to the /s/ so it comes out as "Lish-boa" which is the city name on Google maps.

Lisbon sits at the Tajes River and the Atlantic ocean at Greenwich Mean Time, so it'd directly south of Jolly Ol' England. Like many port cities, it is cradled in hills, 7 to be exact (each with the name of a saint) so there is a grand view from the "top" of the city to the port below.

To get from one place to another in the old town you either walk a bunch of steps or ride the tiny electric tram. We road the tram for about an hour winding through ancient streets that were just as wide as the narrow trams. The cars for the tram system were all made in 1922 and they are lovingly maintained and used by everyone.

The narrow streets are lined with houses, San Francisco style, that are decorated with tiles. Lisbon can get quite hot and we were told the tile reflects heat. So instead of painted houses there are row after row of houses covered with 3x3 tiles on their facades. Sadly I was not able to take any pictures of these tiled houses as the little tram did not linger when it moved.

We learned more about Prince Henry the Navigator (the fifth son of the King--never destined to be king--so he studied the sea and made all sorts of wonderful discoveries). We stopped at the exact place where Vasco daGama set sail in 1488. There's a church there now to commemorate the event. As I walked along the promenade I thought of the excitement and fear of those early day adventurers as they headed out into the great unknown in their tiny caravelles. This was THE place from where "it" all started. How history would be different if deGama did not set sail?

We looked at the famous Belem Tower which was the fort for the city. We visited the Monument to the Portuguese Navigator. We saw the "Christ the King" statue (sister to Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janiero) and a Golden Gate Bridge (made by the same CA firm that made the one in SF). Maybe the city was wonderful because it was filled with familiar stuff? Whatever, it was an interesting and wonderful visit.

Then as we drove from Old town to New town was see a marvelous aqueduct that was built in the 1700s to bring water across all the mountains. It took our breath away!

As we wandered the streets I felt we were in San Francisco of another era. The trams are similar to cable cars; the narrow windy streets sometimes with stairways on the side; the beautiful vistas on a clear day; yet we are half a world away.

We had a short time here but I'd like to return to explore more.






Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Florence aka Firenze

We went to Florence today. We saw what we needed to see without going into any museums. Museums are closed on Monday, so that was not an option. In fact, I planned to take tours when the museums were closed as I thought they would add more confusion to the already lengthy 10 hour shore excursion.

I don't know what I expected but I saw a big city with ancient buildings covered with grime. The narrow streets were clogged with too many cars. The streets while relatively clean were used and dark. We had a gray day and that made it all seem darker.

Aside from that we did see the Duomo, the famous doors on the Baptistry, the huge ornate cathedral, the statues of David and Perseus and Neptune, the Ponte Vecchia and Santa Croce Basilica (where a lot of famous people are laid to rest). All of this was interesting. I learned about these in Art History too many years and it was interesting to see the actual "things."

It was a long day--I saw some interesting things--but I'm afraid I had a Mykonos experience. What is "it" all about? I missed something I'm sure!

Firenze is a monument to the past. It seems to be hanging on to it's past but I don't know where it is going in the future? I'm sure there is more to Florence than I saw but I'm not that excited to return to find out what "it" is.

Pisa

We visited Pisa for the second time yesterday. The Tuscan town is small, and famous for it's Leaning Tower in the Field of Miracles. The tower is dramatic in that it defies gravity by listing several degrees away from straight. It is a pretty little wedding cake monolith, but to me the star of the Field of Miracles is The Baptistry.

Back in the 12th century when the Baptistry, Church and Bell Tower were started, you needed to be a Catholic to gain entry to the Church and of course entry into Heaven. The Baptistry of any Church was designed to be the first step toward Heaven. It was supposed to MAGNIFICENT! The Baptistry in Pisa is magnificent. This little jewel still brings about shock and awe by it's majesty. To me, it has far more charm and beauty than the rest of the structures on the Field of Miracles.

The Bell Tower is famous because it leans. It has been leaning since it was 3 years old! Not only does the Bell Tower lean, so do the Church and Baptistry. The structures lean because the subsoil is sandy. If they had completed an environmental impact study in the 1200s they might have discovered the proposed structures were just not right for the territory.

It was good see the pretty little Baptistry again and marvel at one of the unsung wonders of the known world.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Pompeii

I have wanted to go to Pompeii since the 4th grade when I created a "volcano" for a class project. (I did not know at the time that "the volcano" was a pretty common class project.) Anyway I created the volcano, saved up my money in order to buy the chemical to make the explosion and on the day of class project presentations I had the curtains drawn and I put in the chemical and my paper mâché volcano exploded and I told the story of the great eruption of Vesuvius in 79AD.

Yesterday I saw the remains of the real Vesuvius. We had seen Herculaneum a week earlier, so we were ready for the experience, but it was better than I expected.

Pompeii was a big city at the time of it's death. It had paved streets (with ruts made by ancient wagons). Under the streets was a sewer and water system. The houses had running water and most had a cistern that caught rainwater for uses other than drinking. Painted on walls of some of the houses were frescos and then wax was applied to the fresco to preserve the masterpiece. The color was still vibrant after being buried for over a thousand years.

The houses we saw were quite large with a vestibule, a small temple to pray to the gods (they were pagans), living area, bedrooms off the main living area, and an outdoor garden or peristyle where folks ate with rooms off the peristyle. These folks lived well.

We walked the cobbled main street and saw houses that had shops in front and living quarters either in the back or upstairs. Did you know there were 100 bars yet only 34 bakeries in Pompeii? We did not learn how many shops there were. We saw the "red light district" where the frescos described what happened in each room.

There was a forum, not as large as the Forum in Rome, but good size. In addition there was a gymnasium with an attached outdoor stadium that had a retractible cover (similar to that of the Coliseum in Rome) for sport, and an indoor auditorium for plays.

Pompeii was a city with religion, government, sport, culture, commerce...and in a heartbeat it was destroyed. We saw a few of those haunting plaster bodies. The plaster bodies fascinated me as a child...now they held a different type of fascination...they told of the painful death of a person. With mouths open they were gasping for precious air, but the noxious gases from the explosion left the air poisonous. There was no escape.

Pompeii was an interesting experience. I'm still amazed we had a chance to see both of the cities that Vesuvius destroyed almost 2 millennia ago. Tomorrow we are in Florence for another type of culture.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Interesting Factoids about Venice

1. Venice is made up of 118 islands, but not one of those islands is named Venice. In reality it is an archipelago.
2. There are 150 canals and 400 bridges connecting the islands.
3. In the old days each island had it's own church so on Sundays the church bells ring and ring and ring.
4. The old Jewish quarter is on Judica Island, and it is said that the word ghetto was first used in Venice to indicate where the Jews lived.
5. The Doge's Palace is connected to the old Prison by the Bridge of Sighs.
6. The Bridge of Sighs was named by Lord Byron. Before that it was just the prison bridge.
7. The "sighs" are those heard by the prisoners as they were being led to prison.
8. There are no cars on most of the islands. There are also no roads. However, most families own small boats which they "park" in the canals near their houses.
9. St. Mark's Square (next to the Doge's Palace) was flooded 250 days last year as it is the lowest point in the city.
10. The Venetian Empire lasted about 400 years until it was brought down by Napoleon.
11. The name Venice comes from the Latin word "venir" meaning "come."

Venice, Again

We spent 2 1/2 days in Venice...one day of good weather, the rest with rain! We braved to look at the city on the morning of our last day and we were rewarded with fog, rain, gray skies and cold! When you travel you get the weather you get, not necessarily the weather you want! The idea is to have fun no matter what.

To that end we went to the islands of Burano and Murano. They are known for lace and glass respectively!

We saw a lace "factory" (for lack of a better word) where the lace is made by hand in an elaborate process. On
display were some examples of their work and it was incredible. It's good to know there is a place for this type of craftsmanship in today's world!

Burano is also known for colorful homes. If you have been in Curacao or LaBoca in Buenos Aires, then you might have an idea what that means. As in those 2 locations the houses are brightly painted with color ranging from bright red to lurid lavender. It's a kick!

At Murano we saw a glass demonstration but I was not able to take pictures. By then the rain was coming down in buckets so I did not take any shots of the village either.

After we returned to the ship and dried off, we attended the sail-away. Our big ship sailed out of the Venice Lagoon giving us a view of the city. I've posted some pictures of that.

At last we left the many islands that make up the Venice Archipelago and headed for the Adriatic. It's strange-- we had never sailed in the Adriatic before, but we have been here twice this year!