Thursday, September 29, 2011

Glass, Glass, Everywhere

The island of Murano (in Venice, Italy) is renown for its glass making.
I loved exploring all the shops and discovering unique artisans down random walkways.
I even took advantage of a photo op with a "Comet Glass Star" made by Master glass maker Simone Cenedese for Christmas 2007 in Murano.
Speaking of Christmas, we HAD to do the touristy thing and purchase an ornament depicting our travels this year. How could we not resist Santa on a gondola?
We actually toyed with the idea of purchasing a red glass chandelier for our living room
But, alas, I opted instead for a little glass-topped box to add to my collection. I was especially happy with the fact that we met and talked with the artisan herself.
Still . . . the chandelier would have been fun.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Marzipan and the Watergate

The Watergate to me meant Napoleons, cookies, and marzipan-shaped animals long before it was ever associated with Richard Nixon. My parents watched the Watergate Complex rise along the banks of the Potomac River in the 1960s and happily discovered the upscale Watergate Pastry on its lower level. Every family jaunt into D.C. would end with us begging my parents to visit the speciality shop. Occasionally they would relent. If we were lucky, one or more of us children would be dropped off with a parent, skip down the stairs past the saucer-shaped fountains into the cream and sugar-laden patisserie. The other parent would patiently drive around and around the block until we appeared at the curb white box in hand.
The flavors and scents of the delicacies within this parcel will forever evoke happy childhood memories.

One of the most significant ways my dad showed his love to us was through gift-giving. Occasionally (usually around the Holidays) he would arrive home from work bearing sweet little marzipan animals for us children. It was an utter delight. Not only were they adorable, but to me they were delicious.

My dad never forgot how much I loved marzipan. Even as an adult living in Northern California with my own little family, he hand-carried a special white box all the way across the country containing the precious figurines from the one and only Watergate Pastry.

Marzipan sculptures will forever remind me of my father.
This explains why, on our recent trip to Venice, I literally gasped when I passed this store window. Incredible! I had never seen marzipan creations of this size or type before.
The fish and the artichokes really caught me off guard.
It was fabulous!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Doors of Venice

The doors of Venice fascinated me--the colors, the shapes, the ornamentation. Each one seems to have a story to tell.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Bright Burano

I've never seen a town more colorful than Burano, Italy.
It takes about 40 minutes by water bus to get to this small island from Venice. Upon approach one can't help but notice that Burano has its own leaning tower.
Italy reminded Brian a lot of Argentina where he served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In addition to the milanese, rolls, and bidets, architectural elements like the tiled floors, shutters, and the fabric or bead-covered doorways all took him back to his days as a young missionary. His Spanish actually helped us converse with the Italians, which was especially helpful at mealtimes.
I'm not sure which color was my favorite. I loved them all. But, I will always have a fondness for purple.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Views of Venice

To be honest, I was a bit disheartened when I stepped off the train in Venice, Italy. Sauna-like conditions greeted my travel-weary body, and as I viewed the throngs of people I was momentarily blinded by all the humanity. My romantic expectations were instantly dashed by reality. Dragging my heavy bags, we joined the crowd pushing towards the water bus, boarded, and collapsed onto plastic seats.
I oriented myself towards the open window letting the cool ocean breeze calm my stress and my humor. At first all I saw was the cruise ship--the mother of the masses--and the stark, almost treeless, city. Brian sensed my mood and with his optimistic wisdom reminded me how blessed we were to actually be in Venice together.
I knew he was right. Slowly, I forced my perspective to change as we motored down the Grand Canal. My eyes gradually began to see and appreciate the unique opportunity, the history, and the extraordinary beauty that is Venezia.
After settling into our hotel room, hand in hand, we began to explore.
We took in the usual tourist spots, of course, but our goal was always away from the crowds. Passage through the "streets" of Venice is done via canal or pedestrian walkway. Some are wider than others.
I enjoyed discovering where the real Venetians live.
There seemed to be a church on every corner. 
It was easy to get lost navigating the numerous streets, but with map in hand we criss-crossed the city. Next up: the islands of Murano and Burano where the colors are absolutely brilliant.