Wednesday, October 19, 2011

My big 50th!

Up at 6:30 on my birthday? Yup, I signed up for a photography tour of the "other side " of Venice with Ian. I wanted to at least have a cappuccino before I met Ian, so reluctantly got out of bed. The morning was spent happily snapping away, in the Castello and Arsenale regions of Venice, along with Ian at my side. We had an intimate group of 5, including our guide. A couple from New Zealand were along for the tour as well. Off the typical tourist path, I got another side of Venice on this tour. I embraced the opportunity to capture as much of it as I could. The following speaks for itself.

Masks to be adorned, or not?

Ian and the Kiwis and our guide.

Sensible tourist shoes.

Canal hotel entrance.

Ian getting some photography guidance.

Endless bridges.

I hadn't had breakfast, and everything looked good.

Fresh picked pomegranates.

Local newsagent. Typical architecture.

Back doors of homes.

I liked the asymmetrical mail slot.

Bridge to front door. How convenient.

Like the crazy wires of Kathmandu,
I was fixated on the laundry lines of Venice.

A study in laundry.

More laundry.

Adornments on the gondolas.

The winged lion of Venice, atop the Arsenale.

I thought this looked like a character out of Gangs of New York.

The best known symbol of Venice.

After a happy two and a half hours of exploring and snapping, Ian and I met up with my Mom and Sue - where - in front of  Florian's. Florian's was a great meeting spot. By now Ian and I were hungry, having sacrificed breakfast for the sake of our tour, and were keen to get somewhere. The lovely tiny northern island of Burano was our destination for lunch. Two vaporetto's and just under two hours later, we arrived in the most colourful island of Burano. Had we known it would take so long to get to Burano, I think we would have had a bite before leaving St. Mark's Square, alas.

One of our daily sites,
as his master sold his paintings by our hotel.

Waiting for the vaporeto to Burano from Murano.

I love colour, and Burano was full of colour. It was such a happy looking spot. These island dwellers embraced all colours  and all combinations of colours. They were not shy. I loved it!

We had been told of a good restaurant in Burano, Al gatto nero, the black cat, by two people now — Mario, our tour guide in the Murano glass works factory and by the Contessa. Somehow going to a restaurant called The black cat on my birthday seemed very appropriate. So, we set our sites on finding this restaurant. It was located  maybe ten minutes from the vaporetto dock. We had a slight line-up, but were each given a glass of prosecco as compensation, and the line moved quickly. Word got out that it was my birthday, and more special drinks came out. I was given the head of the table in this charming restaurant that was adorned with dozens of paintings, sketches and drawings of black cats, and local scenery. This was a happening spot. It was buzzing inside and out on the canal side patio. Their specialty was fish, so we all ordered fish dishes. We had two large platters of antipasto of all kinds of fish — shell fish, raw fish, squid, mussels, fish I didn't know, a mousse of a white fish, it was all yummy. What's a meal without pasta, but with crab added. More yumminess. When it came time for dessert, I was stuffed, but was brought out a lovely little panacotta with a candle. After making a wish and blowing it out, more indulgence.

Location of my birthday lunch.

A one...

A two...

Note the Murano glass bead bracelet.
A birthday present from my Mom.

I think we were all ready for a walk around Burano after that very satisfying meal. We needed to move, or at least I needed to move.

Post lunch outside the restaurant.

Typical canal of colour.

Is this not sweet.

Bold and beautiful.

Embracing the many colours.

Side by side and bold.

Even the laundry was colourful.

Burano is known for its hand made lace.

Lovely reflections.

We had a glorious afternoon wandering around Burano. The weather was beautiful, the company splendid, the occasion was noteworthy — a day to remember.

Burano is small island, quite a way north of the action of Venice, but well worth it. Next stop Venice.

We took the vaporetto back towards Venice, changing vaporettos in Murano, and ending up on the opposite side of St. Mark's, at Fondemanta Nove. We were clearly, nowhere near where we wanted to end up. Not sure how that happened. When my Mom and I came back from Murano, we took a direct vaporetto. Oh well, more new neighborhoods to explore. I had been on the search for Pan Forte, a delicacy of the Florence region, but thought I could get it here, I mean, we were pretty close to Florence. I had gone into several Pasticcerie's, all with the same results. Finally, I saw one in a window, and two were purchased. Success. We were clearly walking through residential neighborhoods, with kids kicking a soccer ball around, moms and kids strolling and chatting before dinner and the end of a day's events were shared with neighbors.

We made it to the Rialto bridge and caught the vaporetto around the grand canal, back to St. Mark's. It was mostly full of people going home from work, or going out for the evening. Not many tourists like us on board. Again, the moon was full and bright and lead the way back to St. Mark's.

Vaporetto just going under the Accademia bridge with full moon.

One thing my Mom and I had on our list of things to do in Venice was to go to the original Harry's Bar. Now, Harry's is where Hemingway hung out in the 20's, and Bellini's originated. Yes, a total tourist trap, but one we wanted to experience, even though the Contessa told us they used frozen peach juice now. We knew it was around our hotel, but just didn't realize just how close, until we got off the vaporetto at St. Mark's. Harry's is an intimate little bar, full or little tables with little chairs occupied by tourists and locals alike. The menu asked that we refrain from taking photos, so as not to make other patrons uncomfortable. Wonder what, or who should or shouldn't be seen there. I resisted, but so wanted one last group shot of us with our 15 Euro Bellini's.

By now we were all getting weary, and my Mom and I still had to pack as we were leaving in the morning. I walked Ian and Sue back to their vaporetto stop, and had one last lovely walk through the evening quiet of St. Mark's square.

My 50th birthday was indeed a day to remember. My Mom suggested this whole trip, and from start to finish it was truly wonderful. Thanks Mom, for everything. I love you.


  1. Wonderful photographic journey Kat, thanks for sharing. Best Wishes and safe travels to you and your mom. Nice to see you having such a great time.

  2. Oh, geesh, and very Happy 50th Birthday. Wow, where have the years gone. We're not old(er), just ripened to perfection.


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