Sunday, June 30, 2013

Burano, Italy

This weekend has been one of those weekends where I've spent more time living life and haven't gotten around to blogging about it yet.  Sorry for the delay.  I'm glad to say that sometimes LIFE just gets in the way :)

Several months ago, I started this unofficial running list of my favorite sights/things/places I've seen here in the past 19 months.  With each new place we visit, some places fall from my Unofficial Top Ten List and some get added, but it seems that the top four or five tend to stay the same.  In my opinion, the list includes some great ones, but I'm just as sure that many of my favorites wouldn't make it to some people's top 100.  I'm sure I've left off some pretty amazing places in the opinions of others--but that's just it....the list is my opinion--sights/things/places that have struck me as PRE-TEE amazing as I was getting to experience them.  One day soon, I hope to getting around to sharing them with ya'.  But for now, you'll have to settle with just one.  It was SO amazing that I couldn't WAIT to tell you about it--I actually went to it ON FRIDAY. Considering that I'm so behind in telling you about all the amazing places  we've been that I'm literally writing about places we saw a year ago, a 2 day turnaround is pretty impressive in my book!

Burano, Italy.  In a word (or really two words) AMAZING. 

Never heard of it?  I can't say that I blame you.  It's probably not on the radar of most people.  I'd be willing to bet that most people have never even heard of it.  Sure, maybe you've heard of its slightly bigger neighbor island--Murano, where they make the glass that the world has suddenly gone crazy over.  But what makes the tiny island of Burano so special IS that not many have ever heard of it.

First of all, it's TINY--like capital "T" tiny and it almost seems like time stood still there.  It's located about a 40 minute boat ride from "Main Land Venice" and getting to it isn't easy.  After a series of boat changes, we arrived at Burano.  After spending several hours on Murano (I'll tell you ALL about it later), it was almost dusk when we got to Burano.  The weather has cooled considerably over the past couple of day and the temperature was a wonderful 70 degrees.  The sun was juuuussssttt setting.  Even from far out in the Lagoon, the view was AMAZING. The tiny island of Burano is famous for its lace but when we arrived, all the shops were closed up tight.  Only and handful of restaurants were open and there were seriously less than 20 tourists on the entire island.

Instead, we were greeted by loads of neighborhood children riding their bikes and playing.  Old folks were taking an evening stroll.  We could hear the sounds of dinner being prepared from the kitchen windows we passed.  The entire island was perfectly quaint.  I was in love.

And if this tiny island Mayberry wasn't enough, what made Burano extra awesome was the COLORS! Tiny cement houses lined the canals and each was brightly painted a different color.  They reminded me of tiny little tictacs! The story behind their colors is that originally, the houses were painted colors that were so bright and different from each other so that fishermen who were arriving home late at night could recognize his own house from his neighbors.  On the community webpage, I read that residents must petition the town in order to paint their homes and that the government will provide them a list from which they can choose the color! The entire time we were there, we joked that the color scheme seemed well managed because all the colors seemed to go together so well!  Now I know why! I seriously took 100 pictures and wasn't ready to leave, but the sun was setting and I promised to return another day. Maybe next time I'lll buy some lace, but either way, I certainly won't be disappointed with the view!

Ok, before you go any farther, let me apologize.  I seriously took 100 pictures.  Everything on Burano was SO beautiful.  I was able to whittle the 100 down to the ones below.  Sorry there are so many, but I couldn't NOT share these with you!

When we were headed out to Burano from Murano on the vaporetti, we came up on two young boys who were in what we called gondolier school

I hope you've enjoyed reading about my trip to Burano.  It is an amazing place.  If you enjoy my blog, I'd really, really appreciate your vote for "Top Mommy Blog".  All it takes is one click from you on to the picture of the happy smiling mommy below.  Thanks!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Remember all the Best

Yesterday, while on the train coming home from a quick 4 days in Rome, I started to think back on all the places we've had the opportunity to visit and sights we've been able to see in our first 19 months living abroad.  My little trip down memory lane, so to speak, all started when I was sitting next to Delilah in the taxi on our way to the train station.  I had asked her what was her favorite place we'd visited on this trip and she immediately told me she liked the Eiffel Tower the best. The one is Paris, she reminded me.

Poor life of a military kid--they mix up all the famous sights they've gotten to see in their wee 3 year lifespan...

No, I told her...what's your favorite thing that you got to see on this vacation...the one in Rome, I reminded her.  The one we're on NOW.  

Oh, she said (with this hilarious look on her face)....THIS vacation.  (Heavy sigh from her, chuckle from me....) I like the building with the big ceiling (The Sistine Chapel). But I like Paris best the most...
(She talks about Paris ALL the time and has this Eiffel Tower keychain that she carries around with her, too)

All of this talking about favorites got me thinking in the taxi and on the way home on the train--how much of all these favorites would my kids remember?  My husband, Steve, grew up in Europe as well and actually remembers it all fondly, but he was older--much older than Delilah and Jackson (my youngest two who are just 3 and 6).  I think Jackson just might, because that boy has a memory like I've never seen before, but what about Delilah?

Will she remember swinging of the swing in the park on the banks of the Grand Canal in Venice?

Or sailing on a pirate ship there? (yep, a pirate ship in the Grand Canal in Venice) Please ignore my mother-in-laws' finger...

Will she remember sledding over Memorial Day weekend on the Zugspitze at the top of Germany?

Or when she pitched a total fit about getting to drive the electric boat on the lake in Zell am See, Austria, so daddy just gave up and let you?

Or on that same trip to Austria, when we went on the Sound of Music tour and I took my all time favorite picture of Delilah and Jackson in the church where Maria and Captain Von Trapp really got married?
(I LOVE this picture)

Will she remember playing in sand at the edge of the Mediterranean while we were in Cinque Terre and then begging daddy and I to let her get in the water?

 So we did..

Or will she remember when we went to Sicily and had Aldo Trapani show us around some sites that were built over 400 years BC? And will she remember how tall he was and how much she loved playing with him...

Or when Pope Francis was picked and the all the churches were ringing their bells in our town and everyone was SO VERY excited--even though we're not even Catholic...I KNOW I will!

Will she even remember how excited she was when we found one of the very LAST Rapunzel dolls in Disneyland Paris?

Or when she got to see the Eiffel Tower for the very first time!  

And Daddy carried her all over Paris on his shoulders?

Will she remember when she got to see the Colosseum in Rome...

She probably won't remember the Pantheon, since she slept through it...

But for now, she remembers the Sistine Chapel. And likes it the best. From this vacation, at least.

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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Hard to be Wordless When it's This Beautiful Wednesday

We've spent the past few days in Rome and I can't wait to tell you all about it! But it's Wednesday, so I'll just show you my favorite picture.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

And the Winner Is...

Chelsea Edwards! Congrats to you for winning the ceramic pitcher from NovĂ©! Random number generator picked #3 and you left the 3rd comment! Please send me your snail mail address ( so that I can get this out to you! 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

The Tooth Fairy!

Of all of our children, Jackson is by far our most enthusiastic when it comes to holidays and the "special visitors" that are associated with them.

It's always Jackson who wakes up looking for Buddy, our elf on the shelf, and he's always the most excited for Christmas morning. 

He anxiously awaits Valentine's Day (which he still calls ValenTIMES Day) so that he can give everyone the handmade cards and presents he's been working on for weeks.

And he is ALWAYS the first to encourage everyone out of the bed on Easter, his favorite holiday, to hunt for eggs that the bunny left.

And don't even get me started on the crazy amounts of excitement which accompanies Halloween... 

It's Crazy with a capital "C".

Since seeing the movie, Rise of the Guardians", Jackson has been ecstatic about loosing his first tooth and getting a visit from the Tooth Fairy.  We just were sure when this would happen because apparently the age when children "shed"  their first teeth is hereditary and our people tend to hang on to our choppers for forever. 

It seemed that all his friends and classmates had lost a tooth by the end of this school year. He would wiggle, wiggle, wiggle those teeth and....nothing. 

(Heavy Sigh) 

We would help him wiggle, wiggle, wiggle..and no such luck. 

Apparently, those teeth were super glued in there!

With gorilla glue...

And the school year ened with no lost tooth.  And no visit from the TF. Bummer.
Even I was a little sad.

And then suddenly it happened. It started out with just a little tiny wiggle, that transformed into a giant wiggle, and 24 hours later: WHAM! A lost tooth!

But it doesn't just end there! We tucked his tooth u dee his pillow and hoped for the Tooth Fairy. 

Imagine our surprised, when under his pillow the next morning was a crisp $5, a €5, and a picture from the Tooth Fairy!

Apparently, she's had to step it up a bit since I lost a tooth!

Venice's Bridge of Sighs

My best friend Jen and I met when we were both high school English teachers 15 years ago in Killeen, TX.  For as long as I've known her, she's had a fascination with the Bridge of Sighs in Venice.  It started with a movie called A Little Romance, which stars a very young Diane Lane and a mischievous girl who runs off to Venice with a boy.  Here's a clip of the trailer:

The premise of the movie is that the girl and boy both believe that if you kiss your true love under the Bridge of Sighs at sunset, your love will last forever.  The movie is cheesy as hell, but totally awesome if you're watching it for pure nostalgia.  

So last year, when Jen came to visit me for a few weeks, the number one thing to do on our bucket list was to get our butts to Venice, into a gondola, and under the Bridge of Sighs.  The "kissing your true love" part would have to come later.

If you've never heard of the Bridge of Sighs, here's a little history.  The story is that the Bridge of Sighs is what connects the Doge's Palace to the neighboring prison next door.  Built in the early 1600's by a man by the name of Antoni Contoni (who's uncle built the Rialto bridge in Venice), the Bridge of Sighs provided the convicts of Venice with their last view of the city and the sea as they walked from the Palace to their sentence in prison. Architecturally, the bridge is interesting because its completely covered and there are few like it in the world.

The bridge from our gondola ride

If you look closely, you can just see a tiny bit of the bridge peeking out between the Doge's Palace and the prison

We carefully selected our gondolier (I'll tell you about our gondola ride in another post) and off we went.  In just a matter of minutes, we made it to the bridge because we picked a gondola closely located to it. We glided slowly under the bridge with our cameras flashing!  What an awesome moment!

We went home hot but happy!

A year later, (just the other day) I headed back to the bridge with my family who had come to visit.  This time, we decided to visit the Doge's Palace--something that I'd never really had much interest in before. The Doge's Palace was so awesome, it deserves a post all to itself, but the interesting thing is that the Bridge of Sighs was included on the tour of the palace.  I had absolutely NO idea the bridge was open to tours and I was so excited!! We got to walk across it and to look inside the prison cells on the other side.  We each stuck our fingers through the spaces in the windows in the bridge and imagined what it would have been like for the prisoners who walked across the bridge, looking out from the windows at what might have been their last view of Venice. The view was breathtaking, but I couldn't help but think about Jen and just how much I miss her, especially in this place she loves so much!

View of the bridge from the Doge's Palace

 Looking through the window on the bridge

 The tiny walkway to the cells

A cell--it was soooo tiny!

Video of me looking at of the bridge--and yes, I'm over here is amazing, but being so far away from the people we love is never easy

Happy Sunday!

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