Breakfast at Bar Al Parlamento

This is how you start your day in Venice,  you open the windows and shutters of your rented apartment overlooking the Cannaregio canal.  Sunlight enters the living room and the whirring sounds of boat motors and the clink of cups from the cafe downstairs invades your sleepy consciousness. The cafe aromas seep in, waking you up.

Walking barefoot across the smooth Venetian mosaic floor, you feel the sun start to warm the tiles.  It’s time for your morning café.

You walk downstairs to Bar Al Parlamento.  Inside the small bar, you order café and brioche while the local next to you drinks his glass of red wine.  It’s 9 a.m.  After placing an order, you walk outside and take a seat canal-side.  Sit with the sun at your back and take in the view of the Venetian traffic on the canal.

You’ll see the number 52 vaporetto on its way to Murano, mostly occupied by tourists.  As you watch them return your gaze, you almost feel sorry for them.  They’re about to spend a lot of money on hand-blown glass just as you did the other day.

As the vaporetto passes by, the waves ripple out behind the boat, sparkling as it reflects light from the sun.  As the water ebbs and reaches the edge of the canal, the parked boats sway with the waves. After a few minutes, the owner of the bar brings your café.  You take a bite of the sweet brioche, the perfect foil for the bitter café. You sip your café and watch the world go by.

Cannaregio is a Venetian neighborhood where locals live and work.  Some parts of it far enough from Piazza San Marco and other tourist attractions that you often find quiet places.  In this corner of Cannaregio, locals outnumber the tourists.

A man drives by on his boat, his dog, a spaniel of some sort, perfectly balanced on the boat’s bow.  They stop nearby and begin to back up into a spot that can barely fit his boat, parallel parking Venetian-style. They both jump off and walk away, on their way to do an errand, you suppose.

Across the canal, a man pulls up in his boat stacked with several boxes.  He unloads some and drops them off at the office supply store.

By this time, you realize it’s getting late.  If you were truly a tourist, you would have been out and about standing in line at the Basilica or the Palazo Ducale instead of lingering over your coffee and savoring a slow morning in la Serenissima so, you ask the waitress for the bill, “il conto per favore.”

Then, three nonnas (grandmothers) arrive and take the seats at the next table.  One of them is sporting designer sunglasses.  You spend a few minutes listening to their rapid-fire Italian punctuated with elaborate hand gestures. The more they talk, the more you’re sorry you didn’t learn Italian. Whatever they’re talking about, no doubt it’s scandalous.

Now, it’s time to go.  You pay your bill and start to walk away.  You’re sorry to leave and miss the rest of the nonnas’ tableside tales. You envy them.  They have it all, breakfasts at Bar Al Parlamento, gossiping girlfriends and Gucci sunglasses.

Bar al Parlamento
Fondamente San Giobbe 511
Sestieri Cannaregio, Venezia

Brighton Pier

A few weeks ago while in England, I took the train from Victoria station to Brighton, an hour south of London.

I got there on a Sunday afternoon and spent the day visiting my cousin and his family.  We drove around the coast and also walked around the marina and the pier.

Brighton is apparently a popular weekend and holiday destination. If you hate crowds, don’t go on a Sunday afternoon.

A few days later, I came back on a Wednesday and walked along the beach. Hardly anyone was there.

I loved the old-world feel of the pier and the seafront.   The pebbles on the beach added to its charm. Though I imagine, as my friendMichelle said, laying on that beach would be uncomfortable.

Nevertheless, I loved the sea air, the rush of the waves, and the endless, hazy horizon.

God save the queen

I spent several days in London visiting friends and relatives.  Here are some pictures I took while in that city.  Someone must have been looking out for me since I had mostly wonderful (for London) partly sunny weather while there.

Chateau du Pin

Some pictures of Chateau du Pin in the Loire Valley of France where I met friends a few weeks ago.  It’s in Champtoce-sur-Loire.  The owners rent out one wing of the chateau, which accommodated 13 adults and 3 children that week.  The region is famous for its chateaus and wines like the Saumur Champigny and Savennières.

14th St. NW DC

A month ago,  I was back in DC.

After having brunch at Cork Wine Bar with friends, we walked around the neighborhood along 14th St.

I love this mural advertising personal training services.

Guggenheim Museum, New York

I went to the Guggenheim Museum a few weekends ago.  I loved the art collection here but the most memorable part was the building itself.

Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1943, it wasn’t completed until after Wright’s death in 1959.  I liked the compactness of the building, which makes seeing the works on view manageable in one afternoon.

Ascending and descending the helical ramp is the only way to appreciate this modern interior space.

Bryant Park

When you want to get away from the city but can’t, you go to Central Park.  You can find a spot there that makes you forget you live in New York.  But, if you want an oasis right in the middle of skyscrapers and the busy streets of midtown Manhattan, you go to Bryant Park.

Located next to the New York Public Library building, this park is one of my favorites in the city.  It packs a lot in a small space.  You can listen to music, watch movies, play petanque, ping pong and chess, and learn how to knit!  It has fencing, juggling, tai chi, and yoga. It has free wifi, a restaurant, a sandwich and coffee kiosk, by Tom Colicchio no less, and a….

…carousel!  While these are all great reasons to love this park, its pièce de résistance is that it’s built on books.  Bryant Park sits on top of underground storage stacks containing several million books!