Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse!

This was my last day in San Francisco.  My friend had told me about a museum I did not know existed; the Walt Disney Family Museum in the procidio. The Museum has nothing to do with the Walt Disney Corporation and was the brain child of Walt Disney’s daughter Diana.  She came up with the idea and with the help of her husband; the museum was opened in 2009 and is the most fascinating place I have ever been to! Each of the 17 rooms has to do with an aspect of his life! What is so amazing is this man’s view of the future in animation and in cartoons and where he wanted the company to go.

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     Everywhere you walk and turn, you hear his voice from thousands of radio and t.v. interviews he did over the span of his life. Disney grew up on a farm in Kansas and had a hard life.  As a teenager, he left home to join his brother Roy in WWI. Disney drove an ambulance during the war and there is an actual WWI ambulance in the museum just like the one he drove in Europe. He started out in newspapers at practically no money and got his first start in L.A. and created his character, Oswald the Rabbit.  This character was very successful.

     His mentor got married and her husband stole the rights to the character right out from under Walt and then hired all of the animators he had working for him.  Only 2 of the original animators followed him and went on to work with him at Disney. He came up with the idea of Mickey Mouse on a train trip back from New York with his wife. HE wanted to call the mouse Mortimer but his wife said it was too long and would not fly so he named it Mickey instead.

     He hired the best and the brightest animators who had new techniques to make the back round look smoother and the characters come to life. He is very unique in the fact that his first Oscar in 1938 for Snow White and the 7 dwarfs is one big Oscar and 7 little ones.  There are cases in his awards room where you can see all of his over 100 awards including all of his Oscars.  He goes down in the record books for the amount of awards he won in his life.

WDFM Gallery 9 Overview Photo by Ric Miller Courtesy The Walt Disney Family Museum

www.rockwellgroup.com

     While watching his daughters ride on a carusol in Griffith Park, sitting on a bench which is in the museum he came up with the idea of taking his characters and rides around the United States.  His staff said it would be too costly and cumbersome so he decided to buy some land and that is how Disney Land was born. He originally wanted to put the Park in Burbank but the officials of Burbank  turned him down.  So he looked around and found the land in Anaheim where the Park is located today.

     My grandparents and aunt and uncle lived in California and they took us to the park on the opening day.  My claim to fame is that I actually met Walt Disney and shook his hand.  He was the captain of the paddle boat ride I was on.  All of these years later, I can see him in my mind, a man bigger than life with a captain’s hat on and that signature mustache of his. In addition to the cartoon characters, he also did programs on nature and of course, who can forget the great TV. Show Davy Crockett and Sunday watching “The Wonderful World of Disney”!  Then as if that was not enough, he started wonderful family movies like Mary Poppins and who does not know “When You Wish upon a Star” from Pinocchio?

     There were kids in the museum, but this is not a museum for kids.  This is a museum for adults who still are a “kid” at heart. The museum is so crammed full of interviews, audio of Walt talking and interactive exhibits that you will need at least 3 days to see it and experience it all! It is also amazing that his vision of F Cott and Disney World in Florida was never seen completed by him.  His brother Roy brought his vision to life and started and opened the park.

If you have a chance to go to Florida, do not miss going through the model community that Mr. Disney imagined but that never came to pass.  You will see beautiful old time homes with large porches.  Walt’s dream was to have a self contained community with public squares connecting the homes with the schools and the main street businesses.  IT was going to be a model and utopian place to live but never came to pass. Walt Disney and his team came up with the techniques and methods of animation that have been the forerunners of what we have today and Walt Disney is the man we have to thank for it!

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     I came back to the condo I was sharing with my friend, tired but exhilarated wishing I was going to be in San Francisco longer so I could go back and see more of this amazing and  fascinating museum, a real gem of a museum that a lot of people have no idea exists!This is a must see for anyone planning to be in the San Francisco area! I cannot imagine life without Mickey Mouse or Minnie or of course Jiminy  Crikett and Pinocchio, but we do not have to.  It is there for us and for our kids and grand kids!

A great way to end my “all too short” time in the city by the bay!

 

Seeing Old Friends and Listening to Blues in the City by the Bay.

Today was our second day in the city. After waking up and having a quick breakfast, we put on our walking shoes and walked down to Trader Joes to get goodies for our lunch with friends from high school. We picked up wine, cheese, flatbread and other goodies for our impromptu get together . We took the time share’s car service back with our bags and put them away and started getting everything ready for lunch.

My hostess set everything out on the long table in the apartment and around noon time our 2 friends came, Ted, an investigative reporter from D.C. in town for a conference and Dave, a retired artist and caterer. We then spent the next few hours reminiscing about what our high school experiences were like and our lives afterwards, all very diverse. After our friends left, our hostess left for the opera and we continued our way around San Francisco.

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     We wanted to hear some good music but it was an off night so wended up at a blues club called Biscuits and Blues, a must not see club to go to! The tip off should have been that they were selling ear plugs at the door but we did not see the sign. The theme was Southern food and blues. The music would have been good if it had been at half the volume. The servers acted as if we were invisible and the food wasn’t very good. They even charged us for a second cup of coffee and tea after gouging us on the dinner prices.

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     We left after the first set, got the entrance price back from the owner and then took a car back to the resident’s club where we were staying. As my husband says, “a bad day at the races” Oh well, you can’t win them all.

 More to come tomorrow!

 

Sighting Seals and Alcatraz in San Francisco 2

Today I started on the third leg in my journey across California. We left San Diego at 9:30 on a plane and an hour later  touched down in San Francisco. We picked up our bags, caught a cab and a mere 40 minutes after were pulling up to Fairmont Heritage Place, a residents club in the heart of Ghirardelli Square and San Francisco. The residents club is by the bay and it was a very windy day in San Francisco.  We left off our luggage at the front desk and started exploring. The Fairmont Heritage Place is a time share and my friend was spending the same days there we were and offered us the use of her second bedroom while we were in the city.

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I will be reviewing the place set in 5 historic buildings in a later  blog entry. We went out the back of the club, through a gate and we were on our way walking the fifteen minutes down to Fishermen’s wharf, a must see tourist attraction! We walked around the wharf, went into shops, and stumbled upon a open excursion boat going around San Francisco Bay for the low price of $15 in cash. Luckily we had some cash on us so away we go. In order to get into this boat, in the wind, we had to go down 2 ladders.

If someone had a camera and had shot a youtube video, it would have gone virile, a short redhead inching her way down 2 ladders backwards with the captain of the boat behind her to catch her if she fell while the wind tossed the small boat to and from. The cruise was so much fun and so exhilarating! As the boat moved up and down through the bay up on the hill as the song says, we sat on an open bench among lots of other tourists and college kids with coolers of beer and pretzels having a ball.  The boat is a fishing boat during other days of the week and does this to supplement their income.

Captain Dave did a great job of describing Alcatraz, the prison that is no longer a prison and the Golden Gate Bridge which we passed under. It is a great way on a cool day to see the city.  We also had a sighting of a sea lion and a seal while we were out on the boat. All too soon we were back at the dock and back on our way down the pier. While we were walking about we were treated to the sound of several different bands with everything from hip hop to rock and roll and classic piano music and jazz. There were people doing street theater with unicycles and magic tricks to get tips as we strolled along the walkways and up and down the steps.

Around 6 pm tired and sore from all the walking, we climbed up some steps to have a crab dinner. We found out afterwards from our hostess back at the time share that fresh crab isn’t in season in June but it was still delicious! We only got through one side of the wharf on our first day in town.  The wharf is enormous! While we were walking around the wharf we went to a look out for sea lions but only saw one.  There were signs about the sea lions at the lookout point and we found out that June is part of their breeding season where they go to an island to breed and have their pups and come back to the bay around August. So the sighting of one sea lion was a real clue.

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                                                                                                                            http://www.wildnatureimages.com/Pier%2039%202.htm

The time share apartment was a loft apartment with floor to ceiling windows that looked out over San Francisco bay and when the fog was out, you could see Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge from its windows, quite a view! Tired but having had a day of fun, we went to sleep and recharged ourselves for our second day in the city by the bay!

More to come!

George Cloony, Ellen De Jenneres and Spiderman

This is our third day in L.A.; tomorrow we drive to San Diego on the next leg of our road trip through California.We got up at 7 am and caught the shuttle bus at 7:30 am to go to the office of Starline tours, the tour operator for our all day tour of Movie Stars homes and Universal Studios. After paying for our tickets, we met our 12 passenger van and Jimmy, a struggling actor, doing this to make ends meet.  He was very funny and knew a lot.

As we were winding our way through Hollywood, Beverly Hills , West Hollywood and Malibu, and Mulholland drive, he was pointing out homes like Aaron Spellings home, a mere 123 rooms on 68,000 square feet of land.  Aaron Spelling’s widow, Candy, sold this house for a mere 85 million dollars to a 26 year old lady, whose father owns a racing car company in England. As we were driving around, Jimmy told us how Bruce Willis would ignore the bus when he came out and saw it, how the lead singer of the Arrowsmith group  Steve Tyler, would stop the bus so he could get pictures taken.

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                                                                                                         www.foreclosurelistings.com

We went up canyons and down into the valley.  We wound through memory lane in Beverly hills called memory lane because on this street lived Lucille Ball, Henry Mancinni, Mel  Torme , Rosemary Clooney , Dinah Shore and of course, Audrey Hepburn.  Connie Stevens   moved in later on around the corner of Henry Mancinni and sold one of Jimmy’s friends a music box that Henry Mancinni had given her for $5.  When you opened up the miniature piano, it played Moon River, what a find!

He told us about the old episode of “I Love Lucy’ where Lucy and Ethel break into a star’s home to steal his Oscar.  The house was really Lucille balls’ house where they jumped over the wall to get into his back yard. We saw where George Clooney and Denzel Washington lived along with Madonna’s 2 houses.  We went by a house where an old actress by the name of Pia Isadora bought an old star’s house, tore it down, gutted it and then left her husband 10 months later and left him this house which he never wanted in the first place!

“Only in Hollywood”

It was a fun 2 hours and we saw lots of foreign cars but no real star sighting except for Ellen Dejenneres in a red Audey station wagon on her way to film her show. The plaza where we started our tour was the Hollywood Highlands Plaza, across from the building where the academy awards were done and down the street from where the Jimmy Kimel show was filmed.  ON the day of the Academy awards, they close off the streets to put down the long red carpet that you see on T.V.

We passed by what used to be a barn which is now the Hollywood heritage museum where in the early 1900’s Cecil De Mille, Mary Pick ford and Douglas Fairbanks’s Jr and Charlie Chaplin . started what came to be Paramount Studios . We passed by the Biltmore hotel over a hundred years old.  They give tours of the hotel but only on Sundays and we would be in San Diego by then. We found out that this is where Mary Pick ford and Douglas Fairbanks Jr. and a couple of others decided that the film industry should be recognized and thus the Academy Awards and the Oscars were created and conceived!

Fyi trivia fans

Walt Disney who got the Oscar in the 1930’s was given a one of a kind Oscar, one big Oscar and 7 little ones, for Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs!

We also found out that in addition to Grauman’s Chinese theater, there was an earlier one called Grauman’s Egyptian theater which has now been taken over by Disney and premiers are now taking place there on a regular basis. We went up to look at the Hollywood sign, which was originally a real estate sign for an ad but came to be known as the symbol of Hollywood, stars and glamour! The sign was falling down after so many years and 25 years ago, Quinton Farentello decided it needed to be saved and sold each letter to raise money to put up a new permanent sign, great picture taking opportunity!

We also went by a building with a mock up of spiderman climbing out of the building. All in all a fun morning! Then we headed back and were left off at Universal Studios for the rest of the day. After stopping at a western restaurant outside the park where in addition to eating, you could ride the bull  While eating lunch, we spotted Mario Lopez.  He films the t.v. show Extra at the studio!

We got our hands stamped and into the park we went.  The first thing we did was to g on the studio tram tour.  It was a hoot.  We visited the front lots and then the back lots.  We saw floods occur and hurricanes hit through simulation.  We went by the sets of desperate housewives and leave it to Beaver from the 50’s.  We saw how gun fights and duels are staged anywhere the star’s bungalows used to be  In addition to movies, shows from NBC like Parenthood and the voice are also filmed. It was an exciting ride and well worth it!!

Then we went over to the water world show.  My friend said she wanted to sit in the front row and did I mind getting wet.  It was a ice day so I said “bring it on”. We were hit with water  from all  sides as the  two factions warred and the good guys strived to find dry land and escape, very action packed and exciting and the guys playing the characters were from movies like terminator and spiderman, really cool! As we dried out our clothes and walked around in the sun, we went over to the Blues Brothers show where 4 guys and a lady reenacted the days of the blue brothers ending with shout and shake your tail feather I left the show clapping and singing along, so much fun!

We ended the day by shopping and donating some money to the park for things for our grand kids and then boarded the van back to our hotel arriving just in time for supper. Another fun filled day in L.A. Tomorrow is off to the next leg of our trip, San Diego, and the San Diego Zoo and Sea World.

Stay tuned for the next chapter.

Lost in Los Angeles

Today is our second day in California and we thought we had it all mapped out.  Then life happened.

 

 

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www.iiclosangeles.esteri.it

The first thing that went wrong was that the directions we go were for the main Getty center, not the one that had the Roman sculpture garden with Braille plaques and touching allowed.  We were supposed to be at the Roman style villa in Malibu Beach but were 13 miles away.  So, since we were already at the main center we walked around.

The center is huge, you park and then go up an elevator to catch an automatic tram to bring you to the entrance way.  The main center has exhibits on modern and impressionists, not my cup of tea but nice.  The favorite part of our time at the Getty center was walking along the garden walks, with the creeks and the water falls.  This was quite unexpected since we had been told all water had been shut off because of the drought.  But they had just lifted the ban.  It was so peaceful out there that you could sit on a bench and listen to a book all day and be content.

Then it was off to The Farmers market. We parked at the Grove side, the high rent district and had a very delicious lunch at a little café. Then we walked around to the high price stores like Gucci, Barneys of New York and Michael Coors where their sale of 60 % off still brought the price tag down to only several hundred dollars.  We looked at Jimmy Chue shoes that you could break a hip falling off of and a purse that was a steal at only $500.00

Then we meandered down to Barnes and Noble to find the store closed to business until  4pm because Hilary Clinton  had taken over the store for a book signing and security was tight. From there we went over to the Farmer’s market area, the low rent district and found a gourmet food lover’s overload.  There were spice shops with spices which I had  never heard of and things like carrot jam.  There was any kind of meat, fresh fruited or nuts you could think of.  There were coffee houses and tea shops.  There was food from any ethnic background from California to Bosnia and African.

The smells were amazing! So, tired and full of samples, we went back to our car and made our 40 minute drive back to L.A.; right, wrong! We kept getting conflicting directions and 2 and 1/2 hours later, we finally arrived back at our hotel, kissed the ground of the lobby s we walked in and made our way to the hotel room.

My friend says she is never driving in L.A. again. Thank g-d, tomorrow we only need to get up early and catch the van to our two tours with Starline Tours, more on that tomorrow. The places we saw were great but the direction we got were not!

Oh well, that is what travel is all about. See, even the best travel agents can have experiences that are not perfect. But we are in L.A., the breezes from the ocean and the weather is perfect.  So, no complaints!

Stay tuned tomorrow for the next installment in our road trip through California.

A Day in Venice Beach

I am doing a road trip with a friend from college through California.  I am currently in L.A. for the next four days. Today we spend the morning and afternoon in Venice beach.

The weather in L.A. is absolutely perfect! It is warm with ocean breezes during the day and cooler at night.

We started out around 11 am walking along the pier at Venice beach.  On the pier, there were people fishing from the pier, mothers walking with their babies, tourists from Germany and Switzerland, a lot of sand, and lots and lots of dogs. Below us on the beach were people who had set up open tents to give them shade.  There were guys in wet suits on surf boards riding the waves.  There were yachts and sailboats and all around us were the ocean breezes, the sound of the waves and blue, blue skies.

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                                                                                            www.comfortinnsantamonica.com

Coming from the mid west, I was in heaven, drinking in the beautiful scenery and feeling the ocean breezes on my skin.  After spending an hour walking along and talking to people and petting dogs and adoring the little ones, we went back down the pier and stopped for lunch. We ate at a place called the Venice Whaler.  I had the shrimp and scallop skewers and my  friend had the Reuben, very yummy.  We got our left over cup, threw it in the back seat  of our car and went shopping.  After spending some money on a hoody saying Venice beach, we got back in our car, drove r  car down about a mile  and went to the happening part of Venice beach that you see portrayed on TV.

 

We parked our car and started walking around.  For the next couple of hours we walked the streets of Venice beach.  As we walked by the stores, across from us were tennis courts with people playing tennis, a basketball court with people playing basket ball and other cool things!  We spent some more money on jewelry and a beach hat and then walked down to a street  to watch a guy who was doing a show on a unicycle, quite a lot of fun to watch and also walked by a guy playing a small grand piano; only in Venice Beach! We saw guys in Speedos, with dreadlocks down to their thighs. We saw ladies with pink hair and tattoos!

This is  California and so much fun. Tired we drove back to the hotel put our feet up for a while and then went back out to Manhattan Beach for a good Greek dinner. We went back to our hotel for the rest of the evening. Tomorrow we head back out for a tour of the Getty museum in Malibu beach and then down to Beverly hills.

Stay tuned in for the next chapter  on my road trip!

 

Venice Beach Surfers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OdOeTJaDPDk

Street Performers “ The Calypso Tumblers: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YYFwXoAspAQ

 

Venice Vacation!

In October I had the opportunity to travel to Venice and then go on a 10 night cruise with 59 other travel agents to Venice, Croatia, and the Greek isles. I have always dreamed of walking the streets and maze of alleys of Venice and being among the history and beautiful scenery of Greece, as I was a fan of Greek Mythology, the gods of Greece and the rich history of those far away places. So, on Tuesday morning, October 8, I took a cab to the airport and embarked on my journey to New York, to meet my travel companion, Robin, and then take an air France flight over night to Venice! The flight from St. Louis was uneventful and when I got to La Guardia air port, retrieved my bags and met my cousin in law, Robin who joined me in New York from Houston. We took a taxi from La Guardia to JFK and then went through security at the air France terminal, again very smoothly. The Air France flight to Venice was huge, about the size of a football field.  I always sit at the back of the plane when going to Europe so if in the middle of the night, I need the restroom, I will not wake anyone up. I cannot really sleep on a long flight to Europe so I always bring plenty of audio books to listen to and watch at least 2 movies. This time, I finally got to watch Now You See It with Morgan Freeman, it was very entertaining.

The food on Air  prance was quite good and the service quite prompt and wonderful. We did not get breakfast in coach so with a 3 hour lay over at Charles De Gaulle Air Port, we were looking forward to having a cup of French coffee and croissant before we boarded our short flight to Venice. Wrong!  Getting from one terminal to another was a nightmare.  We almost did not make our connecting flight.  So, a word to the wise.  Either schedule at least a 3 hour layover when going through this airport or go non stop. We needed to go from terminal E to Terminal F.  That does not sound like too much of a production.  Well, first we had to go through security, practically take off all of our of clothes and then have our purses searched before we were given the privilege of climbing on a crowded bus to take an hour to get to the next building. When we finally reached this terminal and got off, we had to go through security twice more before finally getting to our gate as it was boarding.  We never did get that croissant! After a short flight from Paris, we finally touched down at the Venice air port. We walked the mile to get off the airplane, picked up or luggage and caught a water taxi to take us to San Marco square to begin our fantastic journey.  Venice and Venice Island are surrounded by lots of water.  We had our luggage put on the water taxi and then proceeded to our 5* hotel, the Hotel Denalli, part of the Luxury collection at one end of San Marco Square.  It was so cool!  The water taxi pulls up to a dock at the back of the hotel and then you walk in and go to the front desk.

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Venice is an old city and the buildings are hundreds of years old with the insides modernized.  The hotel Denalli is comprised of a main building and then 2 adjoining buildings that you access through an elevator and steppes and bridges.  Everywhere you look, you see beautiful marble and other wonderful elements of luxury.  After reaching our room, very beautiful and large, we dropped off  our luggage and started maximizing our day and a half in Venice.  Everyone we knew who had been to Venice said if you only visit one museum, go to the Dolges Palace.  It was down a bridge from our hotel.  The Dolges Palace is a huge edifice, hundreds of years old and was the seat of the legislature as well as the home of the royalty family in years gone by. You cannot see all the maze of rooms in one day.  We spend 3 hours walking around a maze of rooms and up and down many, many marble steps.  Each room was so huge, I could have fit my house inside the room and still had room to spare.  We saw the part of the palace where the legislature met, and also viewed a jail cell which you had to walk down steps to get into.  I called it a dungeon; very cool! There were beautiful paintings and statues in each room and you were allowed to take pictures without a flash. After walking around for 3 hours, we left and walked down to walk across some more bridges and find an inexpensive place to eat some great food for supper. A word to the wise, be sure to find out if they charge to sit down to eat.  Many restaurants charge a 5 euro sur charge to actually sit down and order from the tables in the restaurant.  If the weather is fine, you can always find an outdoor table or bench to sit on to eat a wonderful pizza or drink a cup of Venetian coffee.  In Venice if you want cream in your coffee, you ask for a white coffee and they do also have what they call Americanized coffee. You are not allowed to make coffee in your room because with such old buildings, fire is a problem so there is a sign in your room telling you why you cannot make your own coffee.  Coffee in Venice typically costs from 3 to 5 euros, no free refills and small cups, not a bargain like the states.

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     After eating a small supper of great seafood, we walked around, window shopping and people watching and people listening to wonderful Italian as their accents wafted around us.  As I said, Venice is a walking city, with lots of bridges and steps going up and down in all directions leading you to small alleys with wonderful shops to walk in and window shop from. We returned to our hotel room around ten pm  and started winding down.  I was unable to get the great travel agent rates that allowed us to stay in a luxury hotel for the price of a 3 * hotel for both nights so did not unpack as we needed to move our luggage the next day to the other part of San Marco square, 15 miles away. I finally got to see what a bidet is all about, too low to sit on and no seat. The beds were very comfortable and we were asleep in no time. Thursday morning came bright and early.  We went down to the front desk and checked out, leaving our luggage to be picked up when we got back from exploring the small islands around Venice.  The water bus system is the best bargain in Venice.  You buy an inexpensive bus pass for a certain amount of hours or days and have unlimited access to the water bus.  You go down to a station and wait for the big water bus to come to the dock and you walk straight on and sit down.  The water bus makes stops along the way at small islands just like a regular bus.  This is how the locals get from one small island to another to shop and work.  We got off in a small island and then boarded another water bus to Burono, the island next to Murono where the beautiful glass factory is located.  We spent several hours walking around Burono, purchasing beautiful murono glass jewelry for half the price you would find in the States, eating lunch at a  small café and then walking behind the streets of the shops to see how the local Venecians  really live.

The alleyways of Venice and the surrounding Italian islands are a maze, one alley and street leading into another with dead ends.  You need a street gps to navigate them successfully.  While we were there, we saw a little three year old trying to catch a pigeon with a net while his mother called to him in Italian and his father watched near by  In Venice and the surrounding islands, you see pigeons everywhere, being fed by the tourists.  Peoplewilleven go so far as to put bread crumbs all over their shoulders and arms to get the pigeons to fly on their bodies, very weird!.  People in Burono and in other islands of Italy and Greece do not use dryers.  It is typical to see clothes hanging out on balconies or back yards on lines or pulleys blowing and drying in the wind! The houses and apartments  have beautiful pastel colors and has inside and outside shutters to protect them from the water elements but no screens.  There is beautiful grill work and carvings and materials every where you look. Also, it is typical to see pots outside the building to catch rain water.  It is also typical to see doorways set in from the alley and courtyards because of all the water elements that face Venice and the small islands around Venice. We then eventually found our way out of the maze of alleyways and walked back to the bus station to go on to Muromo . There was no official tour of the glass factory to be done in Murono since it was off season so we just got off the water bus and walked around.  This island had more stores closed and the alleyways were more of a maze.  So of course we could not leave without getting more glass jewelery and again walking around the courtyards and back alleyways.  Exhausted and hungry and having spent lots of Euros, we finally found our way back to the bus station and back to the bus to go back to Venice, pick up our luggage, take a water taxi to our second luxury hotel and then on to supper.  The waterbus left us off at the other end of Venice from where our first hotel was so we had to transfer to another bus to get back to the right side of Venice.  We picked up our luggage, and took a water taxi to the Westin Europa Regina, another hotel in the Starwood Luxury collection of hotels.

Burano-4

     The second hotel was huge and the front floor and lobby was a maze of rooms and lobbies and marble steps and floors all over the place.  The lady who checked us in informed us that the hotel building was 4 hundred years old but the marble floors were only 15 years old.  They said the marble had to be taken care of continuously since the water that came in from the front and back doors by the dock caused the marble to stain unless you took care of it immediately. We followed our porter up to our suite and left off our luggage.  Then we went out for another great meal and to explore.  This side of San Marco Square is what I call the high rent district.  As you are walking down the alleyway you see in a row, Gucci, Prada, and other well known shops of Italian designers.  If you have to ask the price, you can’t afford it.  But it is always fun to window shop and feel rich walking around these fabled streets.  We had a great pizza for supper, white sauce, shrimp and artichokes.  It was a real bargain, only 7 and ½ Euros for a 14 inch pizza and we found a little table outside the café to eat it on. We picked up some coffee and then did some more exploring of streets listening to music wafting out of restaurants and hotels and hearing wonderful Italian all around us.  We spent the time walking, and talking to people from all over Europe, quite exciting and left us feeling very cosmopolitan  We got back to our room late, but were not tired so sat on our couch and watched a movie on my portable dvd player I had brought with me. After the movie, we again fell asleep on wonderful beds with high end linens and prepared for our   last morning in Venice before taking the water taxi to the cruise pier to meet up with our fellow travel agents to start our odyssey to Croatia and many Greek Islands for the next ten days.

In the morning, we got up early, checked out, left our luggage to   be picked up by the water taxi and went exploring to maximize our last morning in Venice.  We stopped for a quick breakfast of Venetian coffee and eggs and then went walking and into some small Italian Boutique hotels to get an idea of what was around us. We found that there were a couple of small 20 room hotels around our luxury hotel and a best western. So, if you are on a budget, you can still stay in the heart of the luxury district and if you stay at a 3* hotel or an Italian boutique hotel, you will even get free coffee and breakfast in the morning a reel savings so you have more Euros to spend on jewelry and other essentials! We walked around the alleys and bridges of Venice, drinking in the flavor of the Island, seeing people in costumes to advertise a concert at the opera house that evening and getting to hear a gondolier sing to the people around him.  We did not get to do a gondola ride because it was too cold the last morning we were there.  A word to the wise, a gondola ride is very expensive in Venice and even more so if you want a one on one ride with a singing gondolier.  But just getting the experience of listening to the gondoleer standing up and singing was wonderful and something  I had always dreamed of experiencing!

Then it was time to wind our way back to our hotel pick up our luggage and take the water taxi the forty minute ride to the cruise pier.  I was fascinated at how great the water system works in Venice and the surrounding small islands.  There is a lane for the water taxis, the water buses and the gondoliers, they really have it down Pat. As we waved good bye to Venice and Venice Island we prepared to start our journey to the Greek isles and lots of beautiful scenery, olive groves and history! We were not in Venice long enough and so I must come back again to experience things I did not have time to visit this time around! Things not to be missed when visiting Venice and the surrounding islands

In Venice

  • The Dolges Palace
  • A gondola ride with a singing gondoleer

In Burono

  • The leaning tower of Buromo
  • Great sales on beautiful glass jewelry

In Muromo

  • A tour of the glass factory
  • Touring the museum of lace and seeing how the beautiful Vnecian table cloths and clothes are made.

 More to come   tomorrow!  

Hot in Austin!

     If you were  in Austin this summer, it would have been hot.  Austin was under a heat dome and the heat index was brutal! Austin, Texas is an up and coming city that is fast outgrowing it’s city limits. Texas is beautiful and Austin has become more than just a college town, it has become a city and has a lot to offer. In addition to it’s bustling downtown college campus, it’s pedestrian bridge, and places like whole foods, it has history in music.  Janis Joplin had her roots here as did other musicians of the 60’s. It has also been used for many movies and Sandra Bullock lived here for many years. If you visit, be sure not to miss ThreadGuilds, for great down home cooking. Try the buttermilk French fries that Austin is famous for and learn to talk to the Crackles, as you are feeding them your left over fries in the courtyard 
austintexas-panorama

     For different food, drive out to Lake Austin, have some Tex Mex/Polynesian food, walk down the marina over looking the lake, and stop at Mozart’s for great coffee and decadent desserts and ice cream! If you have the time, go to the interactive museum and take a drive out to the campus of Jewish buildings where Orthodox, Conservative , and Reform  synagogues and Temples stand side by side along with the Jewish Community Center and the Mitvahand the Jewish Day school as the 12 deer living the property show up.  Michael Del donated the acres of land for this unusual project! however, Austin’s just the tip of the great places within a 2 hour drive from the city. Around 20 minutes outside of Austin are  several  large outlet malls in a place called San Marcus and about ten minutes past there is New Brumsfeld, a small German Town.  If you have time, stop at Oma’s and have the Weinershuntzel and shop in the at the front of the restaurant.  In October, they a great German Festival with wonderful German bands and lots of beer to drink! A little know fact is that in addition to it’s Mexican heritage, there was a German influence as well as a Swedish influence that settled in this part of Texas!.

      Nestled  just a half hour from Austin is the hill country, Beautiful national state parks with events being put on in it’s caves and rivers to tube in and fish in. When driving through the hill country, you will see blue bonnets along the road and signs saying “Look out for Deer.” In Johnston City, you will find the courthouse where couples get married at Christmas time with the holiday lights in the background. Right outside of Johnston City is the courthouse with it’s sign, “saying True Grit Was filmed here.”  If you go a half an hour further, you will come to San Antonio,home of the Alamo and the beautiful Spanish Missions with it’s famous flea markets, River Walk and it’s famous Spanish Masses during Easter. Around forty minutes outside of San Antonio is Frederick Texas , a boutique town with it’s many flat streets of shops, restaurants and benches to sit and people watch on a nice day.

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     It is amazing how many unsung treasures there are in this part of Texas. You can easily spend a long weekend or even a week in this part of Texas and not run out of things to do. So when it  is cold where you are and you want a fun vacation where it is warm, head for this part of Texas and be sure to practice, Ya’ll and bring your cowboy or cowgirl with you!

Texas has a lot to offer and in addition to it;s being a great place for a vacation, it is a beautiful place for a wedding and honeymoon!

Why we shold let travelsuppliers knowhow we feel

Fun Jet has changed their bonus money program. In the past, when you booked with fun jet, you were given points that could be redeemed for prizes or trips. About 2 years ago, they changed the program to their new bonus debit card program where you got bonus money for your bookings. With other suppliers, such as Classic Vacations, GOGo, and APPle, you get rewarded for any bookings you create. With fun Jet’s new bonus money program, if you do not book aclient at a certain hotel or in a certain month that is featured in the month, you create a booking, you get no reconition of that booking or bonus money put in your debit card. Over the last 18months ,for all of my bookings, I am getting a huge $20.00 for my hard work and efforts. If you agree with me as a travel agent, that there is something wrong with this picture, then you need to let the president of Fun Jet, Mike Going know how you feel! IF we just sit back and feel bad and do nothing to let him know our feelings, then nothing will be changed. If you would like to let him knowhow you feelas I have done, here is his info:

Mike Going
President of Fun Jet
email address

mgoing@funjet.com

great cruise sale to Europe

For anyone over 55, this is a great last minute get away. It is a 15 night get away from Galveston texas to Barcelona Spain. To findout more or to book it, call Sue Slater at 314- 726- 6893 or send me an email at cruiseaway2001@yahoo.com

RCCl Mariner of the Seas
15 night Transatlantic Cruise from Galveston Texas to Barcelona Spain
April 21 to May 6/13
Ports of Call

Galveston texas
sail for 2 days
Nassau
7 days at sea
Medira Portugal
day of cruising
Gilbralter U.K.
Alicanta spain
Barcelona
May 6
inside
cost for 2
$1187.04

ocean view
cost for 2
$1787.04

balcony
cost for 2
$2027.04

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