Ailsa’s Travel Theme: Glass

Ailsa’s  travel theme this week, is ‘Glass’, and if you click on this link, you will be able to see her fabulous photos.

Last year our ladies club organised a trip to the Norton Museum in West Palm Beach. The glass sculptures on display there were really stunning, and the one which impressed me the most was this really large and intricate one by Beth Lipman. ‘The Banquet’, or ‘Bancketjie’, is a twenty-foot long oak table, upon which are four hundred glass objects, some of which are overturned goblets, half eaten morsels of food, and snuffed out candles. This amazing sculpture was created in the genre of some of the 16th and 17th century Dutch still life paintings in the ‘Vanitas’ style, showing the meaninglessness of earthly life and the transitory nature of worldly goods. We weren’t allowed to take photos, so here’s one I got from Google. It was a wonder to behold, and I couldn’t tear myself away from it, which resulted in my getting left behind when our party moved on to the next room.

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The one piece I fell in love with and would have liked to take home with me, was this really delicate ” Late Summer Cactus,” by Flo Perkins. You’d have to see it in real life, to fully appreciate its beauty.
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We were taken into a small room with seats all around the edge, and sat for a few minutes admiring this amazing glass ceiling created by Dale Chihuly. It weighs 2000lbs and is really colourful, depicting all kinds of sea creatures, including manta rays, sea snakes, sea urchins, and shells. We weren’t supposed to, but I did manage to sneak a quick photo as we walked out.

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On a trip to Venice, we ate at a restaurant called ‘Trattoria Do Fourni’, and besides having the most delicious meal, we had the added pleasure of sitting beneath these gorgeously ornate Venetian glass wall lights.

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To see more beautiful entries for Ailsa’s theme, just click here.

More about the unique and beautiful city of Venice.

We had real ‘Indian summer’ weather on our tour of Italy last October. Our last day in Venice was very busy, what with all the exploring and shopping we had to do. There were Pinocchios aplenty to choose from, although I didn’t succumb to the temptation. I’ve bought enough souvenirs in my time, and have asked myself when I got home, “What were you thinking?”

We wandered through the narrow lanes, between the towering, historic apartment buildings.

and up and down hundreds of steps. Such good exercise. 🙂

We were serenaded whilst indulging in a delicious pasta and a glass of Chianti at a pavement cafe; “Besame Mucho” and all that, by three brothers on the squeeze box, guitar and violin. How wonderful!  I was loving Italy so much. Mucho magnifico!!

Venice is such a great city to visit. It has everything; magnificent architecture, water everywhere you look, divine food and wine, music around every corner, and a decent amount of shopping. What a romantic adventure! There were plenty of tourists, but we never felt crowded by them. All the while we were enjoying ourselves, the everyday business was going on around us. I got the impression that those Italians work very hard indeed to keep the city well maintained and tourist-worthy.

We went back to our hotel to change for the evening’s activities, and in the late afternoon, again took the ‘taxi’ ride across the lagoon.

The sun was setting behind the Basilica Santa Maria della Salute, as we sailed across. The Salute is a vast, octagonal building built on a platform made of 100,000 wooden piles, and is constructed of Istrian stone and Marmorino (brick covered with stucco containing marble dust).

Here you can see the bell tower of the Basilica di San Marco on the left, with the Doge’s Palace in the middle, and The Bridge of Sighs on the right.

At the dock, our Gondolier was waiting for us, and I gingerly stepped in first. I fully expected it to capsize, but fortunately, although it rocked like crazy, I made it to the ‘love seat’ at the front, and then hubby and four other 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 usually until they died, as the conditions were appalling, the cells being barely big enough for a person to lie down. There were serious renovations going on, hence all the scaffolding.

We asked our boatman to sing to us, assuming that all gondoliers were the singing types, but he just said that would cost extra.  The guy in the gondola in front of ours started to sing “Buona serra senorita,” and ours joined in, albeit somewhat half heartedly. A local man walking along the path, called out in Italian, “He can’t even sing. Why don’t you tell him to shut up?” Served him right for being so miserable. 🙂

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

We could see through the brightly lit windows into people’s houses, and they looked so beautiful and cheery.

It was now getting dark, and a church bell was tolling in the distance. I couldn’t help imagining those prisoners of long ago, cooped up in their tiny cells under the Doge’s Palace, hearing that same bell day after day until they eventually died. It really was very spooky, and in some parts, the smell was very unpleasant. When there was a sudden gushing of water from an outlet at the base of one buildings, I had to wonder 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 places on the gondola.

Our guide led us through the streets to our restaurant, the “Trattoria Do Forni,” where we were treated to the most delicious four-course meal. I had 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 end to the trip.

So finally I’ve finished my Italian travel tale. Just doing this post has made me long to be back there again. Maybe some day.