O Solé Mio, Venezia Italy

AWWWW, How I LOVE Venice!! When Miss Charm and I realized that we were only over 1 hour driving distance to our hotel we jumped on the possibility to go and see this GORGEOUS town.

So on our last day in Italy and with the opportunity that Miss Charm’s conference was letting people leave early (before Noon), off we went. With all the excitement we did a few turn around with the car, did take the wrong direction on the bus to Venice and finally ARRIVED!! WHOOHOO!!!
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First sight was the water,

the gorgeous blue lagoon color. The Turquoise reflection of the sun on the Terracotta colored wall of the city.

I just continued my love affair with this beautiful city. I still continue loving it!! Oh how I love you Venizia…. You will always be the number 1 for me!
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When I first visited Venice in 2000 with my husband, kids and in laws we didn’t stay long enough for my taste. I only had a short time to have an after taste of not enough. Since that first visit I promised myself to come back! Matt on the other side didn’t find it to his taste (oh well, too bad for him, cause I will go back with or without him (sorry Honey!!) 😉

We took the bus ferry to the “St Marco Plaza” It was super busy, but what to expect in Venice? We asked a few Gondolier how much a ride would be. One of them said 120 euro, we thought: OMG!! And decided to look around. He did chase us and told us that the long ride would be 120 and the short one 80 (just for us) and it was PER PERSON (Just for us as well) AH!! We told him we will keep him in mind but just arrived and wanted to walk around first. I am pretty sure that he was cursing at us as we left him, but oh well! We weren’t ready to pay that much each! 😉
img_9964So off we went to the discovery of Venizia and its gorgeous street and sights! I couldn’t stop taking pictures, I remember of my last visit and I did take tones of pictures and it was on film at the time. (And now that I have a digital)… My “Happy Trigger Finger” was in the “don’t come up again” mode. For those of you who know me and have seen me with my camera, you can picture it right?? LOL!!
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We cruised the little street full of shops and while there Miss Charm saw a beautiful Chandelier with Tulips all over. It was gorgeous! (Of course when I need it, I realized that I didn’t take a picture of it) We did investigate on how much the price was going to be. And after the clerk told us to wait while he was getting the “Artist” we were left for a short time un-attempted in a store full of gorgeous glass art. (Are you asking yourself if I had a moment? Yes I did!! I had a moment of … oh boy, what will I be doing with all those if I could just take and go, but I didn’t do anything, I just asked myself! Oh, and the answer was: Not much honey you don’t have the room in your apartment that the army is giving you! LOL) Anyhow… The Artist came. And Extravagant very short man with a very thick and beautiful singing Italian accent, telling us all about his brother who make the glass, and that each peace is unique… blablabla!! LOL Get to the point dude! Well the “Lampadario” was “For us” only 3000Euro (ONLY) I did ask how much it was for someone else. But he didn’t find it funny! Needless to say that since Miss Charm needed 3 of them; she just didn’t get any at all! img_9885We went to a little “Trattoria” across from the store and admire while eating a little something those gorgeous lamps. Oh well, maybe when we win the lottery! After making sure that we used the “gabinetto” we started walking again. Crusing from Murano glass display to another admiring every single beautiful window… Oh so “Bellissimo” we did learn something about the Murano Glasses. And here it is for those of you who are planning to go and buy “REAL” Murano Glass. First a little history: “Murano is an island in the lagoon of Venice famous for its glass art. The production of Murano glass is related to its history and popularity and its name is associated with the glass, as if they were synonyms. This union is the result of nearly a millennium of history, during which the master artisans of Murano were able to transform simple sand in one of the highest expressions of art. It is believed the origins of Murano Glass dates back to 9th century Rome, with significant Asian and Muslim influences, as Venice was a major trading port.” The Murano glass are been copied from all over, but specially from China, so beware of copy that are on sale EVERYWHERE in Venice. If you want the real deal, you need to go to store that display a sign that say Consorzio Promovetro Murano That mean the store need to belong to an association of Murano glass and that the items that they sells are made in Murano. So … Watch out for copy that you will pay “molto” money and that aren’t even from Murano! (We didn’t go back to see if the store that we saw the chandelier was on the list of the true Murano Glass, but we don’t recall seeing the sign) OH and if you really want to know where to buy BEFORE getting to Venice. Go to the website: Promovetro – consorzio del vetro artistico di Murano Venezia.img_9791So after our… window shopping time we went to cruise around and asked several Gondolier dude about the Price & Route that they were offering. Until finally we found a guy that was offering it for 140Euro/Long Route (showed us the route) and per Gondola not per person! So we jumped at the opportunity and yes, I know it was expensive, but what a treat! And it was my birthday not so long ago… so…
We boarded our Gondola, and got introduced to our Gondolier “Luca” but we called him “Casanova”img_9948 He told us all about the town, and the history and the beauty and everything. He even sang to us “Oh sole Mio” to the delight of Miss Charm who after a while was singing with him. Him in Italian, her in English. Me… LMAO!

After our ride, we asked him about a place to eat. He recommended the “Trattoria Al Vagon” not too far and so we went. We found it and sat. The owner/chef were so nice, it was a family restaurant. Grandpa and his granddaughter were serving while Grandma was in the kitchen cooking, coming out when not busy. img_0082Then the mother came to pick up her daughter, (did I mention she was only about 6 years old) but what a cutie, and talking about tones of stuff, of course we couldn’t understand anything. But just a pretty little thing!

OH and here is my futur house. I just LOVE it! (of course this is only a dream, or maybe in another life time my husband will be a Venetian Prince!) LOL

We had a great dinner and while the sun was lowering in the horizon we made our way to the “Ponte di Rialto”.img_9960
Have you ever seen a sunset on the Grand Canal? I have and let me tell you, it is just AMAZING! It was just like a dream! The lagoon color change, from a turquoise green to a gold orange pink. It was SO beautiful! But I can let you just see it!!img_9991SEE??? Isn’t it just “Strabiliante! Bellisima, Magnifico” a MUST do on one’s bucket list!

So for me, it is a checkmark next to it. However I will have to go back because I haven’t seen a sunrise yet, and that must be “spettacolare”

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In search of Romeo & Juliet, Verona Italy

On May the 18th after the conference, Miss Charm and I went to Verona. We went on the search of Juliet and Romeo. And let me tell you, they are HARD to find. LOL

We parked in an underground parking not far from the river and walk to the center of the city. (see the olive tree on the pic.. they are ALL over!)

 
The river view is just amazing. On top of the rock you can admire: Castel San Pietro. Walk over the bridge and started searching for Juliet’s house.
Arrived on the “Piazza dei Signori.” Plaza. And we knew it wasn’t far, of course as usual in Italy, most major plaza have little souvenir shop. So we went around looked around. And look closer on the map and went on…. After a few street: north, west, east, south… whatever direction we were going

We passed under a “roman looking gate”: Porta Borsari. We arrive near the river again!! Hmm?? No not suppose to be there!

So, off we went south and found the big Roman Theater! OK now we are talking. I thought that with that we wouldn’t get lost and would be able to find the road/street and way toward Juliet’s balcony.

At the corner of a street we turn left and saw LOTS of people in front of a gate. So we went to look, and sure enough at the end of the tunnel, Juliet was waving at us (well her spirit at least) FINALLY we found it! Well of course by the time we found it the “gate” was closed and we could only see it from afar and not recite the:

“O Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou Romeo?


Deny thy father and refuse thy name!


Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love,

and I’ll no longer be a Capulet. “

 

Oh well… Of course now we are getting hungry and decided to go back to the Piazza delle Erbe and enjoyed a pizza, glass of wine and search for Gorgeous Italian men (sorry, I didn’t see any) Miss Charm saw one, but… nah! He wasn’t really GORGEOUS, just Italian looking dude! LOL!Sorry can’t post the pic, since he might be reading my blog! (Since I am SO popular) LOL

Anyway, after the pizza, we actually tried to find Romeo’s house, and on the first try. We found him. Guess Juliet wasn’t calling for us. LOL
We had a good time and Miss Charm just complimented me today that I take good picture (even with people in it) LOL

Schwetzingen Blossom

The cherry trees are in bloom. It is as usual beautiful. We went several time, had too, it is just so pretty…So here are a few pictures of those times. You can see that the flowers give joy to the people who are admiring! It is so cool!! We came upon a group of girls that were dress up in “Manga” characters and that were taking pictures of themselves! Morgane was so excited!! She loves Manga and that was like heaven for her!!
Love is in the air you can see lover’s enjoying the beauty of spring. On our way out we cruised in Schwetzingen and everyone were enjoying the nice weather. Eating out is starting and it is so neat!!

The Hills are alive

How fun my last week was…
So as I mentioned in my previous post, I was going to a trip with my friend Miss Charm. Italy was the destination. Hotel was in Castelnuovo Di Garda, not too far from Verona. Hotel was also next to Gardaland, which is similar as Six Flags or something like that (since I have never been to Six Flags or to Gardaland, I am not a very good specialist to tell you about neither one! LOL
Anyway. We left on Sunday morning, drove toward Switzerland where Miss Charm HAD to sing the song! You know the one with The hills are alive with the sound of music
…. Ladi lada!! Well I am sorry to report that Miss Charm, who (don’t get me wrong here) has a beautiful voice, didn’t sound that good. LOL! As soon as we passed the border, here came the sound of music. LOL (which I could totally envision Miss Charm doing exactly what this chick is going to do)I thought it was so funny!! Anyway… enough singing. So here we are in rainy germany going down in rainy Switzerland, and as soon as we pass the San Bernadino Tunnel.
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It was AMAZING how sunshine could change the look of a panorama such as the mountain. Something that was Pretty became Gorgeous. So then after a long ride. We made it to the hotel, and were greeted by a beautiful view of the sunset. Checked in, settled in and went to rest after a long day! The next morning, Miss Charm had her conference to attempt to. So I took off and went on a discovery of the area. I asked the front desk as where I could find some cool site and the young woman said that I should go to see “Salo” “Moniga” “Sirmione” “Lazise” and “Garda”. So I decided to go on the West side of the lake the destination was “Salo”. I took the small road that leaded there. I saw some very beautiful view and discover a little town just before Salo.
San Felice del Benaco. So cute. I parked the car and then walked toward the church. When I grew up, we always use to go visit churches, and I realized that one can always find the most beautiful art in European churches. I wasn’t disappointed with San Felice’s church.
From the outside the church didn’t look so great. But as you stepped inside, it was something completely different. “…should point out the Parish Church of Saints Felice and Adauto, which houses an altar piece by the Brescian painter Romanino in the apse, and also has an isolated bell tower from the Scaligero castle tower of which there remain only a few parts of the wall.Of notable interest also is the Santuario della Madonna del Carmine, built in 1452 in the late gothic style. On the extreme point of the promontory stands the little church of San Fermo from the XV century, built on the ruins of a large Roman villa.”
I went to visit the cemetery since it was just right there. And was surprise to see how small it was and the fact that they didn’t have many tombstones. As you can see in the pictures, most of the graves are on top of each other. Probably to keep the cemetery small and inside the city next to the church, but that is again pure speculation on my part.
Anyway, here are a few of the pics that I took over my little first escapade in the morning/early afternoon. Hope you enjoy them.
Beautiful Panorama over the Lake, just pure beauty.

Lazise, Lake Di Garda Italy

On the morning of the 18th of May, I read that there were a old “XV century Carmelite monastery” that was supposed to be way cool and had a gorgeous view over the lake and all that good stuff that will my HTF super happy! So I drove to Garda small cute town on the North East part of the lake and went to the Tourist office. They were very pleasant and helpful; they gave me a map and said that it was “around” there! AH AH well let me tell you something…. AROUND, mean “couldn’t possibly be found” except maybe by stopping and asking local who only speak Italian…( scusa il mio italiano non è così buono come il mio francese o inglese) I drove and went up and down, looking for some kind of sign. Normally even if it isn’t well indicated on the main road, it get at least one sign as you drove toward the “right” pass. Well, I drove and drove and looked like a stupid lost tourist that I was and NEVER found it. Well actually, I did finally found it, on Bing map, and if it is the building that I think it is… I wasn’t even CLOSE to it. Well I was close, but not on the road that go to it.
Anyway, so since I couldn’t find it. I decided to drive back toward a little town that I saw while going up to Garda.

The town of Lazise, I was impressed by the towers while driving near it, so…. I stopped and parked, and went on a walk around town. I found out that: This fortified town was first mentioned in a document dated 983 AD. The castle was at one time protected by Draw-bridges and heavy gates which you can still find traces of. A very cute little port was apparently a military port.

Next to it you can find the Medieval Church of Saint Nicolo that date from the twelfth century, and where you can see some very cool Fresco that date from this time.

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In June we had lots of visitors. 2 of my Scrapbook group ladies from Iowa came to visit me. I went to pick them up at the Zurich Airport. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Zurich, don’t bother, there is NOTHING interesting there, except maybe overprice hotel/restaurant and everything else in between!

Of course I screwed up on the date of arrival. I thought it was arriving on the Tuesday and they were actually arriving on the Wednesday. So I spend 2 days in a town where there is NOTHING to do! LOL!! At least I rested before the craziness.

After a day or two staying in the Heidelberg area we went to the Chateau du haut Koenigsbourg (see the last post for more: http://annejambor.blogspot.com/2010/09/uso-chateau-haut-koenigsbourg-france.html) and after that we drove toward Paris.

First we stopped in Reims only for a short stop to eat and just get some “wakeup” time for me, who was the driver.

We slept not too far from it and then drove to Paris the next day, spend it walking around, taking pictures and just enjoying the nice weather. Then by 3 or so we left for the North of France. Well actually we drove for Bruges in Belgium.

 
 

 

We arrived in Bruges around 6 and then went to eat out. Some of us got a little too much of that nice good Beer that they have in Belgium. (and NO it wasn’t me) after a.. peaceful night (especially when some came back to the hotel totally wasted) 😉 We walked around the beautiful city of Bruges and got some Waffles and other goodies, and in the afternoon, left for Amsterdam.

 
 
 
Arrive early evening, ate at an Irish Pub, and went to visit the “Red District”, Now I am sorry, but I don’t understand the whole big deal around such a place. I mean OK it is legal in Amsterdam to get some hokey pokey and some weed too. BUT, if you ever go to the Red District pay attention and look at it the “HUMAN” way.
I was like every other “tourist” at first, I was like, whaoh, nice… that funny!! (it is kind of those creepy exhibition, where they show weird and unnatural stuff, and even though you find it just disgusting, you keep on looking) And then after blocks and blocks of windows shopping for the perfect woman body that might appeal to those guys. I got really sicken to even think of what those girls must endure life.I mean come on… One, they really enjoy it, OR they are stuck in that kind of careers, and I would not like to be in their shoes. It was just humanly depressing. I did take some pictures of the area.
However, my USB Key has been missing since I have saved those file to transfer to my other computer. So… you only have the little Daytime trip. Sorry for those of you who were expecting… something… hot and spicy!

We came back to the hotel and spend the night, and then the next morning we took the Tram to the center of town and went to the Anne Frank’s museum, after Mel and I went to walk around town while Gena and Al went to Van Gogh museum. It was a nice day and after a very LONG day we drove back to home. I was exhausted. But… I wouldn’t have those nice pictures if I haven’t gone right?

Czech Republic

In June my mother and father in law rented a house in the Czech Republic. We drove their and meet them at the house. It was great to see them again, and the house was outside of the Prague center but not so far that you couldn’t enjoy it. So we settle in the first day and went on our discovery of Prague. From Up hill next to the castle, to down hill next to the river, Prague is just a beautiful city to visit. This is kind of interesting. This giant Metronome was erected in 1991 on a place that use to have a huge monument of Joseph Stalin (who was destroyed in 1962). If you go all the way to the Metronome, there is a Skateboard meeting place, and lots of young people meet there. Old Town square is a must when you go to Prague. Well it is next to the Astronomical Clock, there is also Tyn Cathedral and St Nicholas Church. This memorial is the statue of Religious reformer Jan hus who was burned at the stake for his belief. (nice he?)

Part of the Charles bridge, this summer wasn’t too great because of the fact that they were repaving the bridge, so it was always busy between construction and tourist. but it is one of the most beautiful bridge that I have ever seen. So many beautiful statues and views from the river.

 One of the Smallest street in Europe (I think), I mean come on , there is even a light to make sure you can pass, because 2 peoples can’t stand next to each other!! How cool is that?

Art made out of metal keys!!

Prague is also knowned for ball the beer that you can enjoy in their different Beer Garden/Restaurant and Cafe. For more information on the beer in the Czech Republic, check here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beer_in_Czech_Republic

Inside of the Train Station in Prague

Old Jewish Cemetary. This community weren’t allowed to buried their love one outside of the Jewish Ghetto. So they had to burried them on top of each other. It isn’t used anymore, but you can see that the tombstone are so close to each other. It is an amazing place to go visit even though it is kind of sad that Jewish had to suffer in that kind of way!

Kutna Hora Czech Republic

While in the Czech Republic in June, we went to Kutna Hora. We stopped at the Cathedral of our Lady to try to find more information about the town, or at least a plan of the town. So we went toward the cathedral and I guess I was kinda of lucky and passed under the radar of the “entrance lady” so I didn’t have to pay my entrance.

I was very surprise in Prague about the fact that most of the church/Cathedral and Chapel have entry fees. I mean I understand if you are a huge known church like the Vatican or like that. but even Notre Dame doesn’t have a entry fee. WTH?

Well anyway. I thought this church no matter the fact of entry fee, was beautiful. So much light, huge beautiful space and the colors where beautiful! St. Felix Remains. The Sedlec Ossuary: It is believe to contain the skeletons of 40000 to 70000 people.

Because of the Black Death in the mid 14th century and the Hessian Wars in the early 15th Century the local cemeteray had to be enlarged to make room for the newly deceased. A church was build on the cemetary ground and on the lower level of it, the ossuary was build and the task of exhuming and stacking the bones started.
In 1870 a woodcarver was employed byt the Schwarzenberg family to put the bones in somekind of order. An incredible and macabre artform is the result.
And then there is Saint Barbara Church, one of the most famous Gothic churches in Central Europe and is part of the UNESCO world heritage site.
Again a beautiful sight. Just gorgeous ceiling.

Beautiful Prague Czech Republic

OH, How I love Prague. For those of you who haven’t had the chance to go… GO. Do you planning and GO!!

You won’t be sorry you did.One day I told one of my friend who was not sure where to go between Paris and Prague with a visiting friend, that she should go to Prague.

Reasons were: It is smaller, there is less cars, less expensif, and the architecture is beautiful. Every corner you turn there come another gorgeous building or scenery. Just amazing.

I mean, I am French so maybe the fact that it was only my second time in Prague made it so special, but… I doubt it. In order Prague is before Paris in my viewpoint but… Venice is before Prague!One of the things that I mention earlier is that no matter where you are in Prague you will turn a corner and see something different. The details in the architecture is amazing. I love the colors, the different kind of building. The balcony, the windows, everything is just gorgeous.

Hardware on doors are also amazing
Another part of town that is well known and visited, is the Jewish quarter.
It has a sad history. Apparently the Jewish community were ordered in the 13th Century to leave their home and settle in one area ofd Prague. The area was the only place they were allowed to live. Even thought the area changed under a large redevelopment between 1893-1913 most significant building from previous eras were saved.

There is still 6 synagogues remaining, the town hall and the old jewish cemetary which is an amazing site on its own. The old cemetery is amazing. When you walk in it you will just wonder why it look like that. During our visit, I learned that because the Jewish Community were ordered to live in a small part of town, they didn’t have the luxury of expending their cemetery. So they used their small graveyard to the fullest. And I mean the FULLEST! The result is somehow poetic. If I may say so. A new Jewish cemetery was build later accross town, it is half empty because obviously the generation it was build for all died in Nazi concentration camp.

Terezin Czech Republic

Terezin fortress is located N.W of Prague. I didn’t go to that outing, because I didn’t feel that good that day. So Matt’s parents, the kids and himself went there. I am glad to not have gone, because I have issue with place that saw lots of suffering. Damien took all those pictures, and I believe he did a very good job at it! Don’t you think so.

Well here is what I learn after they came back from their time in Terezin and also by researching the subject.

Terezin was constructed as a Fortress in the 1780/90 time. It was never fully finished, and in 1940 the Gestapo took over and set up a prison for “Priviledge Jews”.
What is being a “Priviledge jews” you may ask, well apparently it was for people who had some kind of education(Artist, Writers, Scientist, Jurists, Diplomats, Musicians…etc…). It was used by the Nazi on their Propaganda and was (probably the only) the camp that was mostly visited by Red Cross. The Barracks of the Fortress were build to house 7000 individual. During the “Working Camp” in 1940-1945 it accomodated over 50000. Some survivors claimed it reached 75000.
Terezin camp was a source of free jewish labor (slave) for the Germans. Prisoners were assigned different tasks: Mining mica, manufaturing boxes or coffins, spraying military uniforms with white dye. According to ex-prisoners, it was also a sorting re-distribution center for clothing items confiscated from Jews. The baggages were taken away and send to Terezin where it would have been sorted out and send out all over Germany for the people who were bombed out.
Married couple were given a single room and were able to stay together in their sleeping quarter. Because Terezin was design to house “Priviledge” Jews, it did have the cultural life that most camp didn’t. Jazz ensembles, Chamber Orchestra Groups, education for children etc…They also overcame a lack of water by building water pipe system and water supply system.