Black Sky

I’m always amazed at the power of a red filter at high altitude.

Black Sky

Yes, in this digital age, the red filter was applied in post-processing.  But the effect was no different than 20 years ago, putting that same red filter over the lens and burning through roll after roll of B&W film.

And the occasional roll of color slide film too.

Just for fun.

Ponte Pietra

Goddess and I sure enjoyed watching the sun set over Verona.

Ponte Pietra

What’s not to enjoy about seeing a bridge originally built in 100 BC?


That’s exactly what happened here.

I loved the lines and saw the perfect portal with which to frame the far merlon.  Everything lined up perfectly and I was happy.

I had no idea there was a flock of pigeons sitting there.

But something spooked them.

And this picture is so much better for it.


Castelvecchio, Verona, Italy.


A lovely town.  One you must visit, although it’s still not my favorite Italian city.  That spot (so far) is reserved for Verona, just an hour up the autostrada towards Milan.  But other than speeding through Verona, Goddess and I didn’t make it there this trip.  But we will.  Plus, there’s a lot Italy we have to explore.

And a lot of great wine.

So anyway, Goddess and I arrived on a Saturday evening.  After checking into the hotel to find our hotel room very cramped and reeking of cigarette smoke (both typical Italian hotel experiences), we headed off to find some dinner.  We got a recommendation from the lady working the hotel’s front desk and off we went.  We think we found the place that she recommended, mainly because there really weren’t any other options in the small downtown area of Mogliano Veneto.  We arrived “American early”, meaning around 7pm, which is at least an hour or so earlier than anyone else in Europe shows up for dinner.  So we had the place to ourselves. 

The food was good and the wine was better.  Apparently everyone else knew too, because the place filled up quickly after 8pm.  We enjoyed taking our time, but apparently not as much as the wait staff.  Once we were done, we asked three separate people and waited 25 minutes for our bill, even though they kept walking by not very busy.  It actually took us getting up to walk out before they moved.  Funny how that works.

So the next morning we headed off into the city.  Visiting Venice by train is the way to go, since parking VERY expensive (more later) and once you’re in the city, you can’t drive anyway.  So it’s better to get delivered directly to the grand canal with no traffic hassles.  And here’s the welcome:

Grand Canal

As you can see, it’s pretty busy, even though it’s only 9am.  The tourists are already bustling around, making the walkways quite crowded.  But not unbearably so.

Goddess and I had rushed out of the house and had left behind my Venice maps from my last visit, which was just over ten years ago.  The beauty of the city is that it couldn’t change that much in ten years.  Sure, the shops may change owners, but the cathedrals, squares and markets would be in the same place.  So we had to buy another map.  At tourist prices.  And that became a recurring theme over the next two days.

Once we got walking, we noticed that there were people running down the alleys, each wearing a race number.  Very odd, considering the large number of tourists.  But these folks were clearly in hurry to get places, so they were definitely racing.  We watched a few and realized that it was an orienteering race.  The folks had their map and compass and would have to pause to get their bearings before taking off again.  It was fun to watch them weave their way through the crowds.  Some even at a pretty brisk run.  And I’m sure they enjoyed the ramps from the Venice Marathon, which was held just two weeks before.  I know those ramps made it easier to get over some of the bridges than actually running up the steps.  Hell, it made it easier for us to walk.

We worked our way to Piazza San Marco, passing canal after canal after canal.  One thing I found interesting was how green the water appeared.  It almost didn’t seem natural.  But it certainly was.  Even out in the open water, it was a different shade of green, but nowhere as bright as within the small canals, framed by the pastel colored buildings.

Once we arrived at the Piazza, we decided it was time to sit down and watch the world go by.  We sat at one of the cafés and ordered our coffees – me a Doppio (double espresso) and Goddess a cappuccino.  The total was €18, which works out to about $27.  Tourist prices. 

Expensive Coffee At least we got water and a chocolate with it.

But it wasn’t all bad.  We sat for the better part of an hour watching people go by, taking in the view of St Mark’s Basilica and clock tower.  We did what we do best – people watch.  One nice surprise was to see a young Asian couple, newly married, parade out and get their pictures taken in front of many of the buildings. 

Venice WeddingLovely couple.

After a while, we decided to head down along the waterfront.  Outside of the canals, this to me is the best view in Venice.

That’s the Basilica di San Giorgio Maggiore in the background.  A phenomenal complex that I’ve yet to visit.

So, being the tourists that we are, we decided to do the gondola ride.  If you go, beware that it is not cheap.  Bring the suitcase.  But it’s worth every second.  I’ve spent many hours roaming down side alleys, through doorways and into hidden courtyards.  But this is a completely different view of the city.  At one point our gondolier actually apologized for a jet flying overhead on its approach into the airport; he was upset that it shattered the calm.

But unlike the movies, he never sang for us.

Again, worth every penny.

And those of you who’ve traveled with me know how much I hate doing the touristy things.  I’d rather explore the back alleys.

Which is what Goddess and I did the rest of Sunday, well into the evening.

Venice Night Shopping

And we returned Monday.

Monday was definitely different.  The city shifted energies, away from a tourist-focused city to a living, breathing city on Monday.  The markets burst to life, the canals were packed with boat traffic as deliveries were made, and children filled the streets on their way to/from school.  And the tourists were still everywhere.

So we went the other direction.  To the point that the locals were looking at us funny, because it’s pretty obvious when two blonde folks are walking down a back alley in Venice that they aren’t locals.

And we’re better for the experience.

If you subscribe to National Geographic, then you saw this past Augusts’ article “Vanishing Venice”.  A wonderfully well-written, well photographed article (as you’d expect from NG) that delves into the disappearing native Venetian population.  But we caught glimpses of them at every turn.

Venice Laundry

Plus we got away from the tourist prices.

Believe it or not, this lunch (wine included) cost less than our two coffees in Piazza San Marco.

Venice Lunch And we had it the tables all to ourselves along the side of a canal.

It was too cold for the Venetians to come out to take our order.  It was in the mid 60s (Fahrenheit for you snarky comments [you know who you are]).  But we sat out, sans jackets, and enjoyed the lovely day.

Soon it was time to make our way back across the city to look at carnivale masks. 

When I was here in 1999, I found one that I wanted to get Goddess.  We were dating at the time and I wanted to bring her a bit of this part of the world.  So I found the one I wanted to get her, then decided to go out and do some comparison shopping.  When I returned to buy it, the owner had taken her lunch siesta, but had hung the sign that she’d return at 2pm.  Well, 2pm came and went.  By 330pm I had to leave for the airport to catch my flight, which I did without the mask.

So ten years later we were in the store, picking out the ones that she wanted.  She walked out with a few.  All beautiful, including one that’s freaky (to me) when she puts it on.  But those will remain invisible to y’all until we find an opportunity to wear them.

But here’s one that was on the wall.

After that, we headed back to the garage to pick up our car.

Where we needed a suitcase of money to spring it free.

Since we had checked out of our hotel that morning, we couldn’t leave the car in their massive parking lot of four spots.  So we drove it to Venice, full of suitcases, then parked it in one of the towering parking garages at the city entrance that had a flat rate for any amount of time for under twelve hours.  The flat rate was the low, low price of €24 (that’s $36 USD).

From there we did a fine, fine job of getting lost in northern Italy.  But that’s a different story that involves not updating our GPS with new maps since we bought it.

But I won’t tell that here.

Next stop, a few places in Northern Italy (once we figured out where we were).


BTW, you can click on each of the photos above.  The ones with the borders around them will just take you to a larger version of the image.  The ones with the blue lined borders will take you to my website, where a few other images are loaded.  I’ll be adding more in the coming days.  And if you see one you like, please consider buying it.  I’ve gotta pay for the parking somehow.  ;^)

November. A whirlwind tour.

Wow.  It’s been a busy month.  The first week of November was enjoyed here at home.  The rest of November has been enjoyed elsewhere.

Running and riding have definitely taken a back seat during the past three weeks, but it’s time to kick it back into gear.

The next few posts will show you a bit of what we’ve been doing, but here’s the Reader’s Digest version.

First off, a week of professional development in a lodge high up in the Bavarian Alps, just across the border from Salzburg, Austria.  Staying at the lodge was a bit eerie, considering it was a hideout for Dietrich Eckart, a man who considered himself Adolf Hitler’s mentor.  There was even a picture (right) in the lodge of Hitler and a couple of his cronies looking up at the  lodge.  All that aside, it’s a beautiful area, although it was gloomy every day except for the morning we drove out.  We were high enough up the slopes that we were in the clouds the whole time.  Luckily Goddess and I would be see more of the area a week later.

Next was a quick overnight back home to wash clothes, repack and scoop up Goddess for the next couple of weeks.  We were off the next day to say farewell and thank you to someone who has served her country for more than 20 years.  What better reason to get together and celebrate?  Well, we did.  But we also played it a bit safe, since Goddess and I had a long drive ahead of us the next day.

By the next evening, Goddess and I were enjoying real Italian food and great wine in Mogliano Veneto, just two stops up the train line from Venice.  Unless you’ve got a suitcase full of money, staying in Venice is really not an option.  Especially if you have a car that you need to park.  Well, I packed well, but no suitcases full of money.  So we stayed outside the city.  That worked fine too, since we just left the car parked and used public transportation.  A bonus after enjoying a glass (or three) of wine.

So after two days of exploring Venice, we headed up the road to another work-related conference.  While I sat in meetings, Goddess explored the countryside and brought a few cases of local wines that she liked back to the room.  At one point we actually discussed mailing some clothes home so that we’d have room in the car for the wine.  That’s a sign of a good trip.

Once that conference was over, Goddess and I pointed the car north, drove through Austria, and ended back in the same town (Berchtesgaden) that I was in the week before.  A beautiful town.  Luckily the weather had cleared and the Alps were visible the entire time.  Unfortunately, not much snow.  But that was OK, since we were able to hike.  After a couple of nights there we pointed the car towards home.  But didn’t make it (yet).

Instead, we stopped for a few nights in Munich.  It truly is a wonderful city.  We made the most of our time there, although one evening of touring the beer breweries really impacted our sightseeing the next day.  We’ll need to go back again to see a few of the museums, but we also know that if we don’t make it back, we definitely did our best to get the feel of the city and we’d be satisfied with that.

Finally, we made it back home and basically collapsed.  Just in time for Thanksgiving, even though the cupboards were bare and the turkey was frozen.  Luckily some friends called that morning and invited us over for dinner and conversation. 

Anyway, that’s the month in a nutshell.  I’ll be posting pictures and words from our trip in separate posts in the coming days.  It’s really been a while (over three years) since I’ve shot so many images in a trip.  So it’s taking me a while to get back into the groove of processing. 

Plus, naps keep getting in the way.  ;^)