July 2017
  • Day22


    July 26, 2017 in Canada ⋅ ☀️ 24 °C

    Our travel day was very long. We were out of our apartment by 9 and we walked to the bus station, which meant hauling our luggage over a lot of bridges! Whew. Anyway, we caught the bus to the Marco Polo Airport, which is very small. It was a bit trying to find where to check in and where to go through security, but we had arrived in plenty of time so we weren't worried.

    We had to board a bus to take asked to our plane which was on the tarmac. Then, due to a mechanical error we had to wait on the tarmac for an hour. We finally took off a bit later than we were supposed to but we were happy to be in the air. Our flight was about 8.5 hours and, besides the length, it was a fine flight.

    We arrived in Toronto just after 4 pm local time (10 pm Italian time!) and went through customs and security again. We grabbed a quick bite and then boarded our flight home. By the time we reached Winnipeg it was after 8, which was way past our Italian bedtime! We were all exhausted, but still had a taxi ride before we were completely done our traveling.

    It was so nice to walk into our house again! We successfully transported our olive oil, balsamic vinegar, two bottles of Chianti Classico, and a huge chunk of parmigiana regiano home! We all unpacked and took some time to look at our souvenirs before heading to bed. The trip went by so quickly, but we were so lucky to have had such an incredible trip with so many memories!
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  • Day21

    Last Day in Italy

    July 25, 2017 in Canada ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

    Our last full day of travel started with a lengthy vaperetto ride to the Biennale Giardini site. This is the site where the major countries have their pavilions. We couldn't believe how enormous the space was! We began in Spain and started making our way through the various countries. It would be impossible to describe (or remember) all the works we saw, but I'll try to describe some of our favourites.

    The Canadian pavilion was manned by Geoffrey Farmer. He had created a water based installation that would spout in various ways. The water spout almost looked like it had destroyed the roof of the pavilion, which was purposeful.

    The United States chose Mark Bradford as their artist. His pavilion featured some abstract expressionist installation. He had really used the pavilion's space well. Apparently he had created the pavilion's dimensions in California, where he normally works.

    Another interesting pavilion was Russia's. The whole piece was focused around the idea of Dante's 9th level of hell. In it were plaster casts of hands and faces of people who had committed all sorts of cyber crime and it rated the severity of their offences on labels.

    We eventually stopped for lunch in the garden area where we had sandwiches while Evan had pizza and a lemon granita.

    In total, we spent about 3.5 hours checking out the pavilions and art. We didn't see all the pavilions, but we came pretty close!

    We took the water bus back towards a stop where I had seen Nico's Gelateria, which is famous for its gelato creations. It was getting late in the afternoon, so we opted to just have gelato. I tried a creation that included a block of hazelnut gelato topped with whipped cream, while Brad tried a tiramisu gelato and a rum based gelato. Evan, true to form, had straticalla and chocolate. The sky was darkening quickly and we saw all the restaurants start to pack up their patios, so we hurried home to grab our rain gear before going out shopping.

    After a bit of shopping, we went back to the apartment to get ready for dinner. Brad had made us a reservation at La Zucca, a restaurant that has continually been in the Michelin Guide. We arrived promptly at 7 and were seated in the back at a nice table. To start, we ordered a bottle of Venetian sparkling wine and Evan got a special Arancita pop. We all got pasta for our primi. Evan had tagliatelle with duck ragu; Brad had lasagna with asparagus; and I had tagliatelle with Gorgonzola, pears and walnuts. They were all so good! We will certainly miss all the freshly made pasta when we get home.

    For secondi, we shared osso bucco with rice. We also ordered contori which consisted of mushrooms stuffed with parmigiana and a pumpkin and potato "cake." Since it was our last night, we also got dolci. Evan decided he wanted to spend his own money and buy his own dessert, which was the same dessert Brad and I shared, a hazelnut semifreddo. The entire meal was luscious from start to finish and we couldn't have asked for anything more!

    Evan had become obsessed with the idea of going on a gondola ride, but they are insanely expensive (100€ for 20 minutes, nearly $175 CAD) and looked pretty cheesy, so we weren't keen. I eventually offered him a second dessert instead of the gondola and he was sold! So we stopped at Majer and he chose Nutella gelato and, you guessed it, straticalla.

    At home, it was time to get packing. We had to craft ways to get our wine, oils, and balsamic in our suitcases in a protected manner. Here's hoping they make it home! We have had an incredible adventure in Italy and it is sad to be saying goodbye, but I think we are all looking forward to seeing in our own beds tomorrow night!
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  • Day20

    Damien Hirst

    July 24, 2017 in Italy ⋅ 🌙 19 °C

    The Wreck of the Unbelievable was the name of the show. It took place in two separate buildings that were about 15 minutes away from one another. The whole premise was that Hirst constructed this narrative about finding a shipwreck and all the lost treasures in it. The gallery spaces, which were enormous, housed the relics of the wreck. Now none of this is true, but the crazy part was that it all looked like something you'd see in a museum.

    For example, he created statues with sea debris and coral on them. He filmed a whole "documentary" about scuba divers retrieving the artefacts! And he constructed a model ship showing where all the artefacts would have been stored. But it was all fake! But you kind of thought it was real. And that was the whole point. The line that exists between what is real and what is presented as being real. Anyway, the show was really phenomenal!

    After the two galleries, we stopped to grab gelato. The rain had stopped and the skies were clearing as we ate. I had bonci just for Kathleen!

    We made it back to our apartment just long enough to make a dinner reservation and head out again. We walked into a part of the city we hadn't seen before, and we got to cross over the famous Rialto bridge. Dinner was at Restaurant Al Corner, which was not in a corner. We were too hungry to take pictures today! Evan had gnocchi, Brad had a seafood spaghetti, and I had ravioli carbonara. We all shared the mixed seafood grill which featured cuttlefish, shrimp, langoustines, and tuna.

    It was a cool evening, which we didn't mind at all during our walk back home. Tomorrow is our final day in Venice, which I can't hardly believe!
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  • Day20

    Peggy Guggenheim

    July 24, 2017 in Italy ⋅ 🌧 21 °C

    It was a cool morning (26c, 29c with humidity) so walking about was actually quite pleasant. We strolled along the streets and popped into many different shops as we made our way to the Peggy Guggenheim Museum.

    The Guggenheim is housed in what was formerly Peggy's home situated right on the Grand Canal. The home itself is incredibly beautiful, and the art collection is quite impressive. It is basically Peggy's own collection, so Brad described it as "all thriller, no filler." In the collection, we saw some great pieces by Jackson Pollock (an entire room in fact), Mark Rothko, Max Ernest, Alexander Calder, and Picasso. There were a lot of works by Abstract Expressionist artists, which is one of my favourite art movements. We also got admission to a Mark Tobey show as part of our visit.

    After checking out the art, it was time for lunch. We stopped in at Cantinone gli Schiavi for a local food called cicchetti, which are small pieces of bread with assorted toppings. We tried six different ones that included: octopus; truffle and egg; shrimp; salmon. We ate standing next to the bridge just outside the restaurant while drinking a spritz. Evan was less keen on the ciccheti and more keen about eating pizza, so we stopped at a small stand so he could get his fix.

    We arrived back to our apartment for a bit of down time and it suddenly began to pour! The temperature also dropped dramatically and there was a lot of lightning! Luckily we had packed our raincoats and umbrella, so we set off to walk to the Damien Hirst show.
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  • Day19


    July 23, 2017 in Italy ⋅ ☀️ 30 °C

    When we arrived back on the mainland, we walked about 20 minutes to get to the Arsenale sight of the Biennale. The Biennale is a huge art exhibit that happens every two years, and there are pavilions where each country has an artist to represent his/her country. We have tickets to see both venues, but they are so big that we just went to one today.

    We spent about three hours touring the emerging artists' pavilion, which were all arranged thematically. There was a lot of contemporary pieces, which are not really my thing, but some were quite neat. There was a huge piece that featured strands of thread that connected to a table of clothes demonstrating the idea that we are connected by the clothes we wear and who fashions them. There was also a piece that had a wall of old running shoes that had been turned into pots to grow plants. Evan and I also found a tee pee made of yarn that you could go sit in.

    After a quick granita break, we began to explore some of the smaller countries' pavilions. The highlight may have been the huge horse sculpture in the Argentina pavilion! It completely dominated the space and was quite stunning to see. Brad and Evan also liked some work in the China pavilion, which featured huge cut outs and the use of silk embroidery.

    We were arted-out by now, so we used the golf cart shuttle service to take us back to the main entrance. Evan quite enjoyed our quick ride! Then we took the vaperetto back to our apartment.

    Evan had to have a shower when we got back as he'd been dripping in sweat since we set out this morning. We had wrongly assumed there'd be dinner options on Sunday night, so it was a bit challenging once we found out so many places were closed. Eventually we set out to find Al Nono Risorto.

    When we arrived, it was absolutely packed! We had to wait about half an hour to be seated, but it was nice to be out on the terrace to eat. Evan decided on a carbonara pizza, Brad started with a shellfish pasta and then had squids in ink with polenta, and I had an octopus and potato salad followed by polenta and baccala. The Venetians don't eat as much pasta as some of the other places we have been, which has probably been a good thing for our waist lines! It was a nice meal and honestly, we were just happy to find a place that was open!
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  • Day19

    Murano and Burano

    July 23, 2017 in Italy ⋅ ☀️ 30 °C

    Today we got up early so we could get to Murano and then Burano in good time. We hopped on the vaperetto and it took us away from Venice and on to the island of Murano which is famous for its glass. We had a quick cappuccino (standing, not sitting because it costs more to sit) and checked out two glass places.

    The first one had the most elaborate glass chandeliers you have ever seen! They were all different colours and designs, some had glass flowers, others looked more traditional. Evan spotted the menagerie of glass animals and picked out a colourful dolphin to buy as a souvenir. At the second shop we were able to see a bit of glass blowing in action. Considering how hot it is, I have a lot of respect for the people who are standing by a fire blowing glass!

    We only had 30 minutes in Murano before we needed to get back on the vaperetto and go to Burano. The vaperetto was packed and we had to stand for most of the 45-60 minute ride. Needless to say, we were able when it was time to get off the packed, sweaty water bus.

    Burano is a very small town that people mostly visit for the brightly coloured houses. There are all sorts of colours: blue, yellow, even purple. Apparently they are also known for their lace and we did pass many lace shops along the way. We spent some time taking photos and ducking into tourist shops before stoping for lunch. This region of Italy is known for its fish and seafood, so we found a place that only had an Italian menu and that was mostly fish based.

    Evan decided to have a mixed seafood linguini, Brad had a mixed seafood salad, and I had gnocchiletti with a zucchini cream and shrimp. The meal was pricey (it is a tourist town after all) but the food was excellent! Brad and I even got to try an Aperol Spritz, a drink that is very popular here. I can see why it's so popular as it was very cold and refreshing!

    After lunch, we caught the vaperetto back to Venice, although that ride took nearly 45 minutes. At least we got seats on our journey back though!
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  • Day18


    July 22, 2017 in Italy ⋅ ⛅ 26 °C

    We arrived at CoVino after traversing many narrow and varied alleyways. It is a very small restaurant with only 16 seats.

    We started with glasses of organic prosecco while we perused the menu. It was a three course menu, so we each got to choose our courses. I began with sole and peaches to which they added chocolate shavings. Again, it sounds crazy, but it was perfect! Evan started with a pasta with ragu, which was really neat because it had a hint of curry. And Brad had an octopus and lentil salad. Brad and I had the wine pairings as well, while Evan enjoyed his bottled lemonade.

    The next course was considered a main course. Brad had a squid ink spaghetti with roe; Evan had eel (yes, eel! By choice!) with plums and a sesame and peanut sauce; and I had sea bream with roast vegetables and a fennel salad. Of course we all sampled one another's dishes, as usual, and everyone had made lovely choices!

    The last course was dessert. Evan chose a very decadent chocolate cake; Brad had the cheese course; and I had a buffalo ricotta with nuts and fruit. Everything from the food to the service to the wine pairings was absolutely top notch! It was a truly decadent meal to kick off our time in Venezia!

    Feeling quite satisfied, we headed off to catch the vaperetto. It was dark and all you could see where the lights of the hotels and restaurants along the canal. It was so incredibly beautiful that I almost couldn't believe I was seeing it! Venice is such an incredible city that I am almost kicking myself that it took me so long to see it. However, I am seeing it now and will certainly make the most of it!
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  • Day18

    Venice is sinking!

    July 22, 2017 in Italy ⋅ ☀️ 32 °C

    We left our hotel at 11, and got a cab to take us to the train station. We could have walked 30 minutes to get there, but it was already 30c by 9 am, so cab it was!

    Our train ride to Venice was uneventful and only took about 90 minutes. We were on another high speed train, but luckily it didn't go through tunnels and were able to see the countryside. Evan watched episodes of the Simpsons as we traveled.

    Arriving in Venice was quite a shock! You stepped out of the train station and there was the Grand Canal! It was RIGHT there! Brad had to get us vaperetto passes, so Evan and I sat with our luggage and watched the water busses and water taxis go by. Once we had our tickets, we hopped on our first water bus (vaperetto). It moved much more slowly than I had anticipated, but it is a busy waterway and there are other water vehicles on it. Eventually we made it to our stop and we called our host. She met us in a square just beyond our stop and took us through winding streets and over bridges to get to our apartment.

    We got acquainted with the place and then had to hurry to get to Saint Mark's Square as we had timed entry into the Basilica. Another win for us because without the timed entry, we would have been waiting in a very long line. I don't have any pictures from the Basilica because you are not allowed to take any, but I can tell you that the ceilings were all mosaics, which is a pretty stunning sight! The mosaics were of many different Biblical stories and I could not believe how far they stretched on for. Even the underside of the arches were done in mosaic!

    After we were routed out of the Basilica (they want you there for 10 minutes only!) we walked around the Square for a bit. People seemed to be enamoured with feeding the pigeons, which is actually against the law here (and rightfully so).

    We finally meandered our way back to our area. The streets here are more like alleys and they go every which way! It is incredible how the waterways are ever present and take the place of streets here. You often read about it or see it on tv, but you can't really believe it until you see it - it almost doesn't seem possible.

    We bought a few groceries to serve as our last few breakfasts and then headed home. Evan was a sweaty mess and had to have a shower once we got there. The humidity is so high that it didn't take more than a few steps for him to become soaked.

    Before long we had to get going for dinner. This required a walk, a vaperetto, and another walk - taking about 35 minutes altogether. We chose to dine at CoVino, as we had read good reviews about their three course dinner.
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  • Day17

    Al Sangiovese

    July 21, 2017 in Italy ⋅ ☀️ 30 °C

    We weren't especially hungry after such a full day of eating, so we just hung out in our room for a bit.

    Eventually we felt we should eat something or we'd be hungry at 10 pm when we needed to get ready for bed. So we ventured just down the street to Al Sangiovese. The owners were the ones serving tables, which is a practice we've come to enjoy here. They are the ones who are truly invested in the restaurant, so it seems like they take the time to ensure you are enjoying everything.

    Anyway, we shared two antipasti: a vegetable pie and a Bologna dish that's comprised of goat cheese with a porcini mushroom sauce. Then we each had a primi. Evan chose a dish that featured traditional handmade pasta in broth; Brad had lasagna; and I had a typical Bolognese dish of hand twisted pasta with peas, ham, and mushrooms. Brad and I also shared a bottle of organic red wine from the Emilia region, which was very nice!

    We had joked with the owner that we had been eating all day and simply could not have dolci, and she responded with, "I am from Bologna, I know! All we do is eat here!" Maybe that's why it's regarded as being a great food city!

    After finishing our wine and paying (we also enjoy the no tipping policy here!) we had a quick walk back to our hotel. Tomorrow we take the train to Venice for the last leg of our trip!
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