A Travellerspoint blog

"It's Venice to see you"

Whatever floats your boat!

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The last two days we are spending in Venice! I love Venice... and this time...we are here just in time for Carnivale! The pageantry is amazing! Once we arrive at the airport we are whisked away on a vaporetto (water taxi) to our hotel! Perfect location next to the "ferrovia" (train station).

We are staying at the Hotel Abbazia. This is the perfect place to end our vacation. The history of this hotel caught my attention when I heard it was an abbey! In the late 19th century, this building was a Monastery and it still possesses that old world charm. It is located a few hundred feet from the St. Lucia train station. The hotel is tucked away from the Grand Canal in the Cannaregio district and offers peace and quiet if you just feel like relaxing. The lounge/bar area was once the monk's dining room. It's a large room with wood paneling and comfortable furniture arranged for visiting and relaxing. It has a courtyard garden and.... croissants, pastries, cookies, tea and coffee all day. We're "gonda" like it here.

We take the city tour of St Mark's square and the Basillica (my favorite), visit the Doge's palace, and walk via the Bridge of Sighs (and we all sigh as we take our last look of freedom before entering the prision). A very interesting and informative tour. The square, of course, is packed with people enjoying carnivale! We decide to get our faces painted and join the fun.

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Venice is such fun and so amazing...there are photo ops around every turn...people watching is always entertaining...the architecture and history is abundant and just watching the every day life of the locals is beyond comprehension....everything must be transported by boat...crazy! Right???! Venice has 118 islands connected by 400 bridges...(foot bridges!)

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A trip to Venice would not be complete without a boatride to the island of Murano! So we hop on the vaporetto and off we go to the land of glass. We have a tour of the Glass Museum and see a live demonstration in the art of glass making. It is very impressive and beautiful to watch. The museum is also filled with everything you can possibly think of to make out of glass.

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...and a sampling of a breakfast table complete with a natural honeycomb tray:

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It's always so nice meeting new friends on our travels and we have had many laughs and great memories with Francisco, a fellow New Yorker. He was a big help with our shopping excursions and at the end of the trip we were thrilled that we could help him with an excusion of his own!

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Life is sweet!

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Posted by Linda Fluckiger 07:30 Archived in Italy Tagged venice hotel murano carnivale abbazia Comments (0)

Bled Castle

"A room with a view"

Bled Castle is one of the oldest castles in Slovenia (1011). The image of the castle towering above the lake and the romantic island with it's church is a picture suitable for framing. We couldn't stop staring at the view both day and night. Having had a room with a view and a double terrace certainly helped.

The castle's buildings are spread across two courtyards which lie on different levels. There is a printshop, gallery, a shop which sells honey products and known as the castle "beehive". There is also a tower, museum (which tells the history of the Bled area) , a memorial room, and a 16th century chapel.

The courtyards are protected by a Roman defense wall featuring a battlement, a gate tower and a huge Gothic defense tower.

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One word...breathtaking.

Posted by Linda Fluckiger 13:19 Archived in Slovenia Comments (0)

Ljubijana, Bled

Captial of Slovenia

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Known as "The Green Heart of Europe" and just hearing the word "green", (my favorite color), I knew I'd like Slovenia already.

Ljubijana is the capital of Slovenia and is famous for it's open-air markets, Three Bridges and their Parliment. Car traffic is restricted in the city center so pedestrians and cyclists can enjoy the Ljublijanica River. The city has a relaxed feel and is very charming...locals seem to hang out everywhere...great for people-watching.

The attraction in Ljublijana are bridges. To me it's basically three ornate bridges within arms reach of each other. They are nice but I enjoyed the Dragon Bridge the most....which is the symbol of the city. Many of the restaurants are on the riverbank and all have outdoor seating (and heated tents).

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It's also Carnivale time and we see a few in this city hiding their identities so the evil spirits will not recognize them. We take in the views of the city along with their beautiful open-air markets...always a welcome site!

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Lake Bled is beautiful with gorgeous Bled Castle looming over the lake. We are treated to a wine tasting in a local wine cellar with wine and local sausage and cheese. We enjoy some local music along with a demonstration of the dance in traditional costume which hinted German, Austrian and/or Polish flavor.... a bit of polka mixed with ooompa-pa music! Fun!!!

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We then go upstairs to the restaurant for dinner with more entertainment. During dessert we were involved in a "hat dance" and a another fun dance called "Bretzal". It goes like this: a couple starts the dance, the band member yells "Bretzal" and each dancer picks a new partner to dance with. When "Bretzal" is called again, new partners join the dance floor and so on....which got everyone on the dance floor and made for lots of laughs.

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Josip, our tour guide took us for a walk through town afterward just to explore the village a bit and to get some fresh air.

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Posted by Linda Fluckiger 12:18 Archived in Slovenia Comments (0)

Zagreb

The Capital of Croatia

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Besides being the capital city of Croatia, this city has so much to offer. Restaurants, galleries, churches, museums and other landmarks make this a vibrant and interesting place to visit.

We start with a funicular ride which is an easy walk from the center of town. It's nothing special but it's been in operation since 1893 and it does make for a quick and easy trip to the Upper Town. Our destination is the Museum of Broken Relationships. I read about it...it sounded different...and it was.

Yes, it is a museum that is dedicated to items people kept that remind them of broken relationships. These keepsakes are just as intriguing as the name suggests. Eash piece has a little story of a real person who donated the item and what it meant to them. As you walk from item to item you can feel their feelings of loss, loneliness or relief since they were written by that person to whom the item belonged....as opposed to the museum curator.

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There are many other museums in Zagreb like the Museum of Illusions, the Torture Museum, Zagreb City Museum , Museum of Arts and Crafts... and actually, too many to mention.

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St Mark's is a famous landmark and recognizable by its red, white and blue tiled roof with the White Castle (Zagreb's Coat of Arms) for all to see. The architecture is beautiful along with it's winding streets and unique shops which line the sidewalks. The open-air markets are abundant and offer everything from fruits and veggies, flowers, wreaths and stands with Liciter hearts.

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We couldn't miss the Stone Gate oath site. Flickering candles, silent prayer and hope greet passersby when you walk through this gate.. This is the most significant oath site in Zagreb. When you walk through, you can stop and light a candle and pray for health, happiness, good luck and love. The "Virgin and Child" is guarded by an impressive baroque fence built in 1778. A long time ago, Virgin Mary of Stone Gate became the most significant oath site where people came to find comfort and hope. They lit candles as a token of gratitude or a prayer. Many townspeople of Zagreb got their prayers answered and plaques with engravings hang on the walls in gratitude. Everyday in Zagreb, people stop by and light candles and pray.

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Zagreb is considered the birthplace of the cravat...(tie)....
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There are so many photo ops in this town as well....

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Fun day!

Posted by Linda Fluckiger 11:46 Archived in Croatia Comments (1)

Krka National Park, Vodice

Waterfalls

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The weather is getting warmer the further south we drive. We've passed Bosnia/Herzogovenia and gone through the border patrol there which is quite strict. There is a portion of Bosnia which is considered "no man's land" since it is unclear who actually owns that portion of the country. We pass an area which is called the valley of grief. Thousands of cypress trees grow here which were planted many years ago in memory of those killed during the war. It is apparent that many homes have been either bombed or vacated and no one has returned. Those that have returned do so cautiously due to the fact that there are still active land mines in several areas. The common thread in their local newspapers are about those that have returned to rebuild their lives and have gone into the woods or worked the land when a mine went off. Huge efforts are being made to disarm these mines which were meant to mame rather than kill....and, that is exactly what they do

We stop at a place called Etnoland located in the Dalmation hinterland. We are greeted by Anna and her husband who offer us a sacred Dalmation welcome which is a strong liquor and a toast to health, wealth and prosperity. We are then treated to a delicious lunch of chicken and pork (cooked under "the bell"). The bell is a metal dome-shaped lid which is called a Peka which covers the meat while it cooks. This is the traditional Balkan way of cooking. It is connected to the idea of a fireplace as the heart of every traditional household, where the family gets together, where meals are prepared and where everything happens. The flavor is hard to describe...partially roasted, partially cooked. You light a fire and place the dish with the Peka on the hot coals and then cover the whole thing with more coals so that the food is baked from under and above. All I can say....it was delicious.

The best way I can describe Etnoland is that to me, the concept is "farm to table". Everything is raised and grown on this land and the restaurant is serving their meals family style. We love it!

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The quaint Dalmatian village of Pakovo Selo is home to the beautiful Krka National Park. This is one of Croatia's most famous sights which includes Skradinski Buk Falls. It entertains 10,000 people during peak season which is why I'm really happy to be here now! We almost have the place to ourselves! A beautiful walk thru nature viewing the falls is not only memorable but relaxing as well.

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Posted by Linda Fluckiger 10:41 Archived in Croatia Comments (0)

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