Ailsa’s Travel theme: Night #2

This weekend our seaside village had a “Winter carnival.” Many people travelled down to our bit of coast, as on Saturday was the “Durban July” horse race at the Greyville racetrack in Durban. This is an annual event, and the main attraction for the Press, if not the punters, are the ladies who go all out to be noticed in their OTT outfits, and especially the hats.

The other event was a rugby match played on Friday night at the Kings Park Stadium, between two of the country’s top teams, ‘The Sharks’ and ‘The Blue Bulls’. Of course our local team, the Sharks won. 😉

Many holiday makers were here for one or both events, and there was a jazz festival advertised in our local newspaper, for Friday evening.

Hubby and I decided to go up about 9pm, to check out the jazz, but were quite disappointed to see that it was just one group playing in the street near to the car park. ‘Beat-Route’ is described as a “traditional funky swing jazz combo, but we weren’t terribly impressed, and the only way to hear them, was to stand in the street, not more than a few yards away.

We thought we would be able to sit and have a drink at one of the bars or cafes whilst soaking up the jazz, but each establishment was so noisy, with its own canned music blaring out, that we gave up, and just took a few night photos for this weeks travel challenge.

Umhlanga’s favourite tapas and wine bar, “The George,”  was full to overflowing with very merry customers.

The lovely aromas were very tempting as we passed the ‘Bangkok Wok’, and ‘Luigi’s Pizza & Pasta’ looked so inviting inside, with candles flickering on the tables. Unfortunately for them, we’d already eaten dinner at home, so couldn’t be tempted.

The ‘Ponta D’Ouro’ Portuguese/Mozambican restaurant is another great place to eat, and above this, is a new Cuban restaurant, which I think we’ll try out whilst our son is here next month. ‘Little Havana’ has already got a great reputation for its wonderful cuisine.

Right next door is ‘Angelo’s Trattoria’, which boasts “the wickedest dessert menu in Umhlanga.” That really does sound like my kind of eating place. Why do I cook at home, with all these interesting restaurants on our doorstep? Probably because hubby always says that he enjoys my cooking the best. 😉

So, after listening to the jazz, and inhaling the delicious food aromas, we decided that it was past our bedtime, and went home. It had been great to be part of the night vibe in our lovely village for a while.

Ailsa’s travel theme: Night

Ailsa’s travel theme this week, is “Night.” I thought that I didn’t have any photos actually taken after dark, but then I remembered our Italian tour last October, so here are some pics from our two nights in the fascinating city of Venice.

On our first evening, we had a half hour private motor launch “Magical Venice” tour of the Grand Canal and many of its side alleys, ending up in Piazza S. Marco. It was so peaceful, with just the lapping of the water and the purr of the motor, as we slowly sailed past all the apartments, restaurants and churches.

Every so often, we heard church bells ringing in the distance. So awesome, but unfortunately too dark for any decent photos.

After the boat ride, the two of us found a small pavement cafe where we shared a pizza, a bottle of wine and  a delicious Tiramisu, before meeting up with the rest of our group at the “Chirggia Bar,” in the Piazza, for drinks and music.

I had to pinch myself to make sure it was real. Here I was, sitting in the famous Piazza San Marco, surrounded by beautiful architecture, drinking a delicious ‘Bellini’, and listening to a great jazz trio playing really romantic songs, such as “The way you look tonight,” and the theme from “The Godfather.” They did hot it up a bit with their fabulous rendition of “Hey Mambo,” and people were soon up and dancing in the square. Such a very happy evening.

The following day was the final day of our tour, and in the late afternoon, we left our hotel for a ‘taxi’ ride across the lagoon. We’d booked a night-time Gondola ride.

The sun was setting behind the church, as we sailed across.

Here is San Marco’s Square on the left, with the Doge’s Palace in the middle, and The Bridge of Sighs on the right.

Our Gondolier was waiting for us, and I gingerly stepped in first, half expecting it to capsize, but fortunately, although it rocked like crazy, I made it to the ‘love seat’ at the front, and then hubby and our four friends got in too.

We pulled away from the pier,

and set off under the ‘Bridge of Sighs’, so-called because it was the bridge over which prisoners were led before being incarcerated in the prison. They usually died there, as the conditions were appalling, and the cells barely even big enough for a person to lie down. It was being seriously renovated, hence all the scaffolding.

As you’ve probably noticed, our boatman was not the most cheerful looking guy. We asked him to sing to us, because surely that’s what Gondoliers do when they’re sailing along?  He just glowered at us, and said it would be extra, but when the guy in the gondola in front of ours started to sing “Buona sera senorita,” ours decided to join in, albeit somewhat halfheartedly. A local man walking along the path, called out in Italian, “He can’t even sing. Why don’t you just tell him to shut up?” We had to laugh, but he didn’t even smile. 😉

We passed between really tall, old buildings, some with the stone steps half hidden under the water, and were told that in winter all the ground floors are flooded. The plaster had fallen off the outside walls long ago, and they looked extremely ‘distressed’.

We could see into the living rooms of people’s apartments as we sailed past.

It was now getting dark, and a church bell was tolling in the distance. I couldn’t help imagining those unfortunate prisoners of long ago, cooped up in their tiny cells, hearing that same bell, day after day until they died. It really was very spooky, and in some parts, the smell was really awful. When there was a sudden gushing of water from an outlet at the base of one building, I wondered if someone up there had just flushed the ‘loo’.

Here is a restaurateur waiting to welcome diners, who would be arriving by gondola.

Our ride was for about half an hour, and then we suddenly emerged out of the gloom, into the bright lights again, where more tourists were waiting to take our place.

Our guide led us through the streets to our restaurant, the “Trattoria Do Forni,” which was absolutely wonderful. She told us it was one of the best in Venice, and I’m sure she was right.  I had the most delicious four course meal; Prawn cocktail in Aurora sauce, Linguine with seafood, Fillet of sole with zucchini, and last but by no means least, the best Tiramisu I’ve ever eaten. The decor was very elegant, and don’t you just adore these Venetian glass, wall lights?

It was a fabulous farewell dinner, and a wonderful evening to end our Italian tour, which I think I must share with you all soon.