Showing posts from October, 2014

Travel day: Firenze to Lucca

Yesterday on our last day in Firenze, we attempted both the Accademia and the Uffizi.  We took it easy in the morning, anticipating a busy afternoon, and it was.

1.  Museums:  I don't know how long it would take you to visit all the museums in Florence -- a year, probably, if you include all the palazzos.  We had tickets to the Accademia for 1:30, so we walked up there, had lunch nearby, and presented ourselves with the voucher for the tickets.  That let us right in without standing in line for one minute.  We spent a while looking at the pictures, then went into the area where the David is, and stayed there for quite a while.  It's hard to describe the feeling of being in his presence -- even with a bazillion people milling around, it's still a very moving experience.  It's much bigger than you think (or I thought, anyway) -- I don't know how many times the size of a man.  That museum is small but very nice and doable in an hour or two.   It has a wonderful sculpt…

Random Thoughts on Firenze: Three

So today we went to the Medici Chapel (just amazing) and the Mercato Centrale (the market that sells everything under the sun).  We did a lot of walking and had an exceptionally great dinner.  Tomorrow (our last day here), we're going to attempt both the Accademia and the Uffizi.  We have tickets for specific times, so we should be able to do it.  Cross your fingers --

Something sitting on the side of a building -- at one time, you deposited alms into the hole at the bottom of the cross.

1.  Under the category of "things we were not expecting":  the weather, most of all.  Although the temperature itself is certainly reasonable, somewhere in the 70s, the humidity is something we are totally not used to.  I packed enough clothes for 10 days, to get me to the painting workshop where I can do a load of laundry, but so far we have sweated through every single thing we brought with us, and it's starting to feel pretty yucky.  I've tried to wash a few items, but they…

Random Thoughts on Florence: Two

We had a fairly quiet second day in Florence -- I had slept horribly the night before, so mainly we wandered around Il Duomo and that area, then came home and napped and went out again in the evening.  This seems to work pretty well for us; go out and sightsee for a few hours, then come back for an afternoon siesta, and then go out for dinner.  I don't think we could go full-tilt the whole time.

The Campanile in the Piazza al Duomo

1.   I've been wanting to write about the entrepreneurial spirit in Italy.  They want to sell you flowers, knock-off purses, little toys, a kind of extension stick you can put your cell phone in to facilitate the taking of selfies, and so on.  When we were first in Venice and it started to rain, suddenly boys appeared, selling umbrellas.  Men come around with roses every time you are eating at an outdoor cafe.  I was surprised that at the bridge with all the padlocks in Venice that someone wasn't selling the locks -- in that case, I surely would …

Random Thoughts on Firenze: One

Today we left Ferrara and came to Florence.  We had to take the train to Bologna and change to the fast train to Florence.  It was an interesting travel day.

1.  Train travel, once again.  We did much better in the Ferrara train station, but of course it's much smaller than Venice.  We had to change trains in Bologna, and that would have been a nightmare but for a very helpful young man who figured out what train we needed to get to and grabbed our bags and started heading for the platform.  Okay, he got 20 Euros from us for about five minutes' work; on the other hand, we would have never gotten to our train without him (we had only 20 minutes and had absolutely no idea of where we were going in a huge station with many levels).  We had premium tickets on the fast train (the only ones we could get) and he took us right to platform 19, car 6.  We decided we liked the slow train better; the fast train is very comfortable but goes pretty much underground.  Every now and then we w…

Random Thoughts on Ferrara: Two


Random Thoughts on Ferrara: One

Sadly, we left Venice yesterday morning to go to Ferrara, a medieval town on the way to Florence.  I had wanted to go to Bologna, but they have many trade fairs there, and when I was making the reservations the hotel rooms were outrageously high, so I guess there was a fair at that time.  I thought Ferrara might be nice to spend a couple of days, and indeed it is.  It's a lovely town, full of history and Italians -- very few Germans or Japanese here; a fair number of tourists, but it seems like mostly Italians that come to Ferrara for a weekend getaway.  Here are some random thoughts -- 

Sitting on the train to Ferrara -- finally!
1.   Regarding train travel:  If you as a couple are anywhere near divorce, don't go into a train station in Italy, especially not in Venice.  Because you are in a strange country where you don't speak the language, you will be at each other's throats in no time.  Nothing is posted in English.  They don't tell you where the ticket office …

Random Thoughts on Venice: Two

Another morning, another hour of people watching on the Piazza San Marco.  More random thoughts:

The Doge's Palace, without the construction just out of the picture on the right.
1.  We left home in a heatwave and were excited to get to Venice because the Weather Channel kept saying it was in the 60's or low 70's there.  Well, yes.  It was 72 today, but that is hard to believe because it feels like 85.  The humidity is close to 90%, and we are soooo not accustomed to that.  The sweatiness factor is extreme.  In California, we live in a "Mediterranean climate," and we assumed that here on the actual Mediterranean, we'd see something similar.  But where on the California coast the breezes blow off the ocean most of the time and there is little humidity, here it just hangs on you like a wet blanket.  The people who stand outside many restaurants trying to lure you in kept grabbing me and saying "You can sit outside and have a nice cold drink," I'm s…

Random Thoughts on Venice: One

The very water taxi George and Amal used on their wedding weekend.  It says "Amore" on the back.
Well, here we are in Venice -- first time here, first time ever in Italy.  I have so many things swirling around in my head, but I'll start by just giving some impressions, with a few pictures.

1.  This is the most beautiful city I have ever been in.  Not so much in terms of its physical setting, which is great with all the water and so on, but everywhere you look, from the tiniest vignette of a doorway to a sweeping view of the canal spooling out behind you as you ride the vaporetto -- everything is breathtaking.  The colors, the beautiful buildings, the "wall treatments" that people in the U.S. pay lots of money to duplicate -- it's all gloriously beautiful, as far as I'm concerned.  I've heard you either love Venice or hate it, and we are definitely in the former group.

Ed crossing Piazza San Marco -- the water is from an "acqua alta" the nig…

Ciao, everyone!

Well, in three-and-a-half hours we take off in the car for San Francisco; at 4:00 the plane will begin whisking us off to Paris (short change of planes) and Venice, and then we will whisk ourselves to Ferrara, Florence, Siena, and Lucca.

Yes, I'm nervous!  Didn't get much sleep last night.  I think I have everything packed except for a few last minute things, I know what I'm wearing on the plane (comfort first), I'm hopeful that the seating crisis (we're not sitting together on the long haul to Paris) will be resolved so I can relax on the plane, I have our tickets already to get by boat from Marco Polo Airport to Piazza San Marco and directions on how to walk to the hotel from the vaporetto stop . . . what could go wrong? 

It should be about 68 degrees when we get to Venice -- a welcome change from the beastly hot weather we've had here over the past week. Temperatures over 100 degrees, and no air conditioning in anyone's home in Santa Cruz.  Ugh!  But it …

A (Very) Distant Cousin

In the time I've been doing genealogy, I've come up with very few connections, whether through traditional research or DNA research.  I've found one second cousin, and there's a lady in Holland who believes her mother and I are connected, but we haven't found the link yet.  Other than that . . . not much.

A short while ago, I joined the German Genealogy Group, out of New York State, and of course submitted my surnames to their list.  Then last week, a woman emailed me to say that we might be connected through our Heissenbuettel ancestors.  At first, I said that must be a mistake, I don't have any Heissenbuettels, but I investigated a bit further and found out that indeed, I did -- they came in with the nearly 40 people I added to the tree when the brick wall around my great-grandmother came down.

She gave me information about where her ancestors lived, and in what time periods, and I looked at the same things with my ancestors.  And look at this:

Google maps
Her …