This and That

Random bits of my life

Archive for the ‘travel’ Category

More Shops in Venice

Posted by Avital Pinnick on January 12, 2017

As a follow-up to my earlier posting, unusual shops in Venice, I’m posting some more shop windows and displays.

In a glass shop in the sestiere of San Marco, I found this chess set showing Ashkenazi vs. Sephardi Jews. I’m not sure this set would be very functional because the pawns are different designs and you would need to agree, in advance, on whether a Jew holding a palm branch or a Torah scroll is a bishop or a knight. Some stores have lights in their display windows that interfere with cellphone photography (the lighting turns bright pink or purple), but DSLRs are not affected.

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I bought this vase in a small glass shop in the San Polo sestiere. It’s probably a knock-off because it’s so cheap (25 euros = 100 NIS); the clerk said it was the last one in that design. Although I looked in lots of glass stores, I saw very few asymmetric teardrop vases, and the ones I did see were half the size, twice as expensive, and not as beautiful. The design is similar to the work of Vetreria Artistica Oball in the sommerso (“submerged”) technique. It’s 10 inches high and weighs about a kilo. The seller packed it in bubble-wrap and newspaper and sealed it in a sturdy, sealed carton. I shlepped it around Italy in my suitcase and hand-carried it on the flight back. The photo was taken when I got home. I love the clean, elegant lines and jewel colors of this piece.

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All Saints’ Day is a public holiday in Italy, but who knew that they celebrated Hallowe’en with Jack o’lantern and bat cookies? Bakery in San Polo, Venice.

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These dishes with three-dimensional sculpted mice and pigs are adorable. I’m sure they’re decorations. If you were to eat off them, you’d have a tough time getting the food out of the crevices and you’d probably chip an ear or a snout.

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Everyone needs a gondola kit. Gondolier and velvet upholstery not included. They got the shape right–a gondola is asymmetrical. Because the oar is plied from one side of the gondola, that side is less curved, so that it will glide in a straight line.

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I would have loved a cheerful ceramic spoon rest for my kitchen counter, but there was a limit to how many breakable objects I was willing to carry.

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Torrone morbido (soft nougat) is a traditional Italian Christmas confection made from honey/glucose, beaten egg whites and lots of nuts. Here’s a recipe for a large quantity, with a video, Jamie Oliver’s version (requires you to wave a blowtorch around the metal mixing bowl during whisking), a beautifully photographed recipe that makes smaller quantities, and an extremely simple Sardinian torrone that requires only three ingredients: nuts, honey, and a couple egg whites. The commercial torrone have food coloring added. The homemade versions are extremely pale or white.

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Red Shoes in Rome

Posted by Avital Pinnick on July 6, 2015

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Italian women really do walk around in high heels on cobblestone roads!

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Campo de’Fiori, Rome

Posted by Avital Pinnick on June 14, 2015

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The Campo de’Fiori (literally, Field of Flowers) was only a few blocks away from our flat in the Jewish Ghetto. We bought our fruits and vegetables at the market in the Campo because the quality was much better than what we could find in local supermarkets. The artichokes were huge, big enough for two people. We ate a lot of artichokes during our vacation! Centuries ago, the Campo was the site of public burnings and executions. Now it’s a gathering place

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Coffee is a major religion in Italy. My husband always thought he didn’t like espresso, until he tasted Italian espresso. He was surprised by the small size of the cups; he realized that espresso is the perfect pick-me-up and costs very little when you drink it like the locals, standing at the bar (it costs four times as much if you sit at a table). A significant advantage of adopting the espresso habit is that it gives you access to bathrooms, in a country not over-supplied with public toilets.

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I never bought spices (packed my own), but I was impressed by how clean the spice section was and how they were pre-mixed for different pasta sauces and bruschetta.

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The ubiquitous tourist liqueur in a boot-shaped bottle….

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Castel Sant’Angelo from Vittorio Emanuele Bridge

Posted by Avital Pinnick on June 11, 2015

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The Castel Sant’Angelo, also known as the Mausoleum of Hadrian, is a fascinating site. It started as a Roman tomb, was converted into a fortress, and was used as a papal refuge and a prison. An above-ground fortified passageway connects the fortress with the Vatican.

I took these photos on the same day (May 7, 2015), standing on the bridge that leads from the main part of the historic area of Rome to the Vatican.

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Bouncing Busker

Posted by Avital Pinnick on June 7, 2015

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Rome has some interesting buskers; I saw a man doing magic tricks on the subway, accordionists walking inside train cars. This shot was taken from the bus to the airport at the end of our trip. As we were passing through an intersection, I noticed this man standing in front of cars stopped at a red light, bouncing a soccer ball on his head without using his hands. It was impressive!

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Fairy Glen near Betws-y-Coed

Posted by Avital Pinnick on October 20, 2014

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[May 16, 2014] Fairy Glen is a local beauty spot near Betys-Y-Coed. Admission is half a pound. A lot of people complain about the charge on TripAdvisor, but when you consider the size of the park and the cost of maintaining the paths and fences, you understand why it’s not free. Wear good hiking boots. The stones are wet and slippery and you have some steep steps to descent to reach the glen itself. When we were coming out of the gorge, we met a couple older English tourists waiting on a bench for a younger couple, who were climbing down. They were very grateful when I showed them my photos.

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The paths in the park lead to a confluence of two rivers, with a lot of fishing cottages.

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I love the chocolate sheep!

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Wandering around Conwy

Posted by Avital Pinnick on October 12, 2014

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More photos from Conwy, Wales.

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The Aberconwy house is a 14th century merchant’s house that has been restored and is part of the National Trust. We didn’t go into the house itself, although I did check out the bookstore in the basement.

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The Smallest House in Great Britain is not on my list of things you must do in Wales, but it’s amusing if you are traveling with kids. It was actually inhabited until 1900. Now it’s a tourist trap.

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Conwy Castle in the Rain

Posted by Avital Pinnick on October 12, 2014

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Conwy Castle, in Conwy, Wales, was built by Edward I between 1283 and 1289. It is considered one of the best preserved and finest examples of military architecture of this period. Unfortunately, I don’t have any good photos of the castle from the outside, because it was raining heavily that morning (we were lucky that during our 10 days in the UK, we had only a half hour of heavy rain). Many of the towers have been strengthened and you can climb to the top.

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Conwy Castle was an integral part of the city walls and fortifications.

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Mount Snowdon: “Miner Down”

Posted by Avital Pinnick on October 12, 2014

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As the Welshmen in the bar said to my husband, “Pyg up, Miner down!,” so our descent from Mount Snowdon was along the Miners Track. It was a good choice. Even though both the Pyg and Miners tracks begin and end at Pen-y-Pass, they are very different. It’s much easier to do the more difficult stretch of climbing at the beginning of the day than at the end. These photos were taken last May. I got a bit behind because of all the events in Jerusalem, the Gaza war during the summer, the holidays….

In the first picture, above, you can see how lucky we were with the timing of our climb. The first half of the day was mainly sunny, with good visibility from the summit. By the time we reached the Llyn Llydaw (Brittany Lake) on the descent, the summit was covered with cloud. The weather in Snowdonia is very changeable and the extremes of wind and temperature make this mountain a challenge, although it’s not terribly high, as mountains go. An easy climb in good weather can be dangerous in high wind and fog. As the guidebooks say, it’s the weather and not the map that determines how difficult a climb is.

The descent from the summit to the lake was quite steep. I was very glad to have good hiking boots.

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The side of the mountain has abandoned mines snaking across the rock.

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This ruined building was the Britannia Copper Mine crushing mill.

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A view of the same building, from beyond the curve of Llyn Llydaw. The sun broke through the clouds briefly.

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Park services helicopters carry huge canvas bags of rocks for repairing the paths. You hear them constantly and see them more often than rescue helicopters, which are yellow. The park has miles of trails to maintain.

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These ruins were the foundations of miners’ barracks by the lake. It’s difficult to imagine living in such harsh conditions, in the middle of nowhere, with only horses and mules for transportation.

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Cool rock formations!

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Snowdon Summit

Posted by Avital Pinnick on June 10, 2014

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We were lucky that the clouds had cleared when we reached the top of Snowdon. If you arrive during a cloudy patch, you see nothing but fog and it’s very cold up there. Winds can reach 200 mph on the summit. Above, you can see both Llyn Glaslyn and LLyn Llydaw. The path on the left is part of the Miner’s Trail, which we took on the descent.

The ridge in the next photo is part of the Horseshoe Trail (one of the dangerous routes), which gives you an idea of Crib Goch. One walks along a knife-edge ridge, created by two parallel glaciers carving the valleys on either side, with drops of hundreds of meters on either side. There is no escape route–you go forward or back. When it’s windy and visibility is very poor, you can understand how people run into trouble. About 15 people a year die on Snowdon.

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Hikers eating lunch in the clouds. It looks safe, but you can go rolling over the cliffs if you slip. By the time we got to the top of Snowdon I didn’t feel like climbing down to the grassy areas, so we ate near the steps of the visitor center.

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Brass plaque on top of the cairn points out the landmarks surrounding Snowdon. On a clear day you can see Ireland and England’s peak district.

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This photo shows the ridge of Crib Goch, about a third of the way from the left. the path halfway up the slope is the Pyg Trail. The one winding around the lake is the Miner’s Trail.

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