Saturday, October 31, 2015

We're Home!

We got home lateish last night, collapsed into bed and awoke this morning to fresh snow. My next thought was; "where the heck are my mittens?!"

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Homeward Bound

Rome to Frankfurt, Frankfurt to Vancouver, Vancouver to Whitehorse. That's our route. Rome to Frankfurt on a very reasonable afternoon flight after some drama of trying to get all the stuff into the luggage we have. We ended up buying more luggage, which lasted 5 minutes before the front zipper broke. Sigh. Trying to get us, the luggage, the dog crate and the dog into a station wagon was even more fun. We did the magical mystery tour of Rome, and saw some new things.

Check in took quite a long time because we had a dog. The tail back of our fellow passengers was getting rather agitated by the time the gate agents were finally done with us. The flight was smooth and short, Isla was very happy to see us at the other end. We left the mass of luggage at the bag storage and checked into the Steigenberger hotel - lovely! It is situated right beside a huge forest which makes this Canadian feel right at home.

We took the opportunity to travel into Frankfurt by train.

We weren't fully prepared for how cold it would be, so we satisfied ourselves by a quick meal and returned to the hotel. The dog was happy to go with us and we were happy to have her. We love how welcome she is in Germany. The restaurant even brought her a dog bowl!

The next day our flight was at 10:40, with the dog we needed to be there 3 hours before. Sigh. Up we got, off we went. I can't say enough good stuff about Lufthansa, at the Frankfurt terminal we asked where to check in for business class (Yay aeroplan points!). In fact, there is a special check in area for people travelling with pets. What a great idea. We've encountered folks who are stuck dealing with dogs who are actually afraid of them (hello YVR, we are talking about you). At that point we discovered that Isla's cage was supposed to have a dish attached to the door so that the folks handling the dog could give her water. We'd put a dish in her cage, but that was not cool. The very kind man in line with his dog gave us his spare! People are really good.

Christopher breezed through passport control, much to our amazement. The officer asked him if he'd really been in the EU for 5 months, looked at his colleage, shook his head, and stamped his passport. All the work for the permisso di sojourno was for a magic talisman obviously.

Arriving in Canada after the 10 hour flight was amazingly simple.  Breezed through passport control again, even after checking 'yes' on two of the boxes on the declaration (do you have fruits or vegtables, and do you have goods in excess of your allowed exemptions). No duty owed. Unfortunately for us, and the dog, who really had to pee, we had to clear agricultural officers - to the cost of $31. The cashier was slower than cold molasses, ignoring the poor whimpering, shaking dog. Then the line to get out of the customs area was forever... anyway, Isla made it without soiling her crate and was very excited to be back with us.

We're in Vancouver in a lovely loft apartment with a private balcony and hot tub! Jet lagged....

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Roman Sunday lunch

We have a great fishmonger in the local market where we've spent quite a bit of money. This guy is an 'orata' which is apparently a sea bream. All I know is that it is tasty! I was inspired to make this dish after eating something similar in Venice recently...

 With it we had the last bottle of the French wine we'd been accidentially hording. It was at the back of the cupboard and we found it as we were cleaning out for the epic pack. I also made some very nice spinach, just quickly wilted in a hot fry pan with a bit of garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper.

This was desert. Here they call it 'cachi' which is pronounced the same as the colour 'khaki'. If I've understood the info google gave me, it is a bitter persimmon that is so over ripe all the bitterness is gone. It is certainly one of the sweetest fruits I've ever tasted. I like it, but think it's an acquired taste, or perhaps I should say texture. Mostly, I wanted to try it because I've seen them every where here and never in Whitehorse. I'd also seen a lovely painting of persimmons recently that was equally inspiring. 

The serving recommendation of the green grocer was to just eat it like an apple. I'm glad that I cut off the top and scooped out the insides with a spoon.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Roman Cafe Life

Do you have a snack for me?

Waiting for our drinks...

Dogs are welcome pretty much everywhere except the grocery store. So, instead we go to the covered market at the end of the street, the butcher on the corner and the bakery in between the two. 

One of the best features of Italy are the cafes. They are everywhere  and they all have something to recommend them. This one is on Piazza Regina Margarita catches the afternoon sun and has good gin.  

Post cards to be written

The last Italian stamps - which are not stamps but instead, ugly little digital printouts.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Roman Autumn

As our sojourn in Europe draws to an end we are getting lovely weather here in Rome. It feels like a Canadian Indian summer, warm days, cooler evenings and that lovely autumnal bite to the breeze. Of course, being Italy, the locals have decided that it is downright frigid and have donned scarves, puffy jackets, boots and woolly sweaters - although oddly, not hats and gloves which is the Canadian response to real cold. I think Romans fear that a hat would disrupt their lovely coiffure. I am slightly worried about what will happen when I get back to Whitehorse. We are also a bit concerned for the dog, who has decided to start shedding again. We hope she is preparing a deep downy undercoat for her return to the Yukon. If not, she'll be wearing her own overcoats all winter...


Thursday, October 22, 2015

Venice Views

The best thing about digital photography is that you can be a complete shutter bug, snap happy and not worry about the cost of developing or wasting film. The opportunity to capture Venice in the evening light shouldn't be missed. The same for seeing the city after dark when the cruise ship passengers have retired for the evening and the streets are not so crowded. I took both opportunities in my short visit.

Venice by Train, the Grand Canal, and the Generator Hostel

My Dad, Donna and a friend of theirs were in Venice and I thought it would be great to grab a train and go see them. I do love train travel. In Europe the opportunity to travel by train is always (almost always) there. So, rather than arrive at the airport all stressed, hours before a half  hour flight, I arrived at the Roma Termini train station by cab a half hour before my train. On the train I did find that I'd chosen my seat poorly, and was facing backwards until Florence, sigh. I discovered that on the Frecciargento something about the movement of the train or the airhandling was queasy making, not the case on the Frecciarossa (go figure, both are high speed trains, the 'argento apparently tilts and the 'rossa doesn't). In around 4 hours I was delivered from Roma Termini to Venice Santa Lucia - right on the Grand Canal in Venice and into the loving embrace of family who met me on the platform. I do love that.

For me one of the best things about venice is how the water transport takes you past some of the most lovely and unique architecture in the world. You just sit down and enjoy. Certain of the vaporettos (boat bus) even have open air seats at the prow so you have a grand stand view of the Grand Canal.

I was lucky enough to find an inexpensive room at the Generator Hostel on the Guidecca so I could afford to stay over night even. I can't say enough about how fabulous this hostel is. The last time I'd stayed in a hostel was more than a decade ago and it was nothing to write home about - dry, warm and cheap. This hostel is a whole other kettle of fish. Brand new fittings, floors and design, with lovely preservation of some of the building's original features. I got a large room with a big bathroom over looking the canal and Venice with breakfast for only 76 Euros. It had both heat and A/C and was very easy to find near one of the vaporetto stops on the #2 line.