Ten things

TEN THINGS ABOUT VENICE

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  1. Venezia was formed on a bunch of muddy swamp patches in about A.D. 400 as the Venetiae (who were Celtic) fled invaders. We enjoyed learning this because Lili thought Venice had come about because of a flood.
  2. Currently there are about 50,000 residents in Venezia and about 80,000 tourists visit daily.
  3. There are 423 bridges. Originally, the bridges had no railings but during the Austrian rule railings were added. There is one bridge left in the original shape - I have attached a picture.
  4. A 35 minute evening gondola ride costs 100 Euros and there is no shortage of takers.
  5. The island of San Michele is the Venezia cemetery. Famous people buried there include American author Ezra Pound (who lived in Venice for over 20 years) and Russian composer Igor Stravinsky.
  6. Venice is not known for its green spaces. Gardens are mostly private, behind walls and gates. We stayed in Cannaregio, in a building that used to be a convent, and it opened to a lovely old park.
  7. The Venezia Jewish ghetto is the first ghetto in the world. It is a thriving cultural community these days. (The word ghetto comes from Venetian word 'getto' which means foundry. The Jewish people were sequestered in the Venice foundry area in the 1500's.)
  8. Bicycles are forbidden in Venice.
  9. One of the islands is Murano, famous for its glass. The glass is so beautiful and I did buy a little plate for my yoga room.
  10. The best way to go to Venice is to take the bullet train. It brings you right downtown to the Grand Canal.
In the Jewish Ghetto.

In the Jewish Ghetto.

Murano glass.

Murano glass.

The one bridge that still does not have railings.  

The one bridge that still does not have railings.  

TEN THINGS ABOUT BARCELONA

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  1. Barcelona is the capital of Catalonia. The people of Barcelona do not want to be considered Spanish, they are Catalan above anything else.
  2. The Catalan have their own language, Catalan.
  3. Some great names from Barcelona include Pablo Picasso, Antonio Gaudi, opera singers Montserrat Caballe, Victoria de Los Angeles and Jose Carreras. French  Open and Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza is also from Barca.
  4. There is a fairly vocal movement opposing tourism in Barcelona. The main complaints are around housing affordability.
  5. Barcelona must be the El Dorado for interior designers. There is a decoration store in almost every block.
  6. The tapas are served very elegantly.
  7. The two most popular sights, Sagrada Familia and Park Guell are no longer free.
  8. There are taxis everywhere- except the night when we stayed out too long and the last bus had already gone. We walked home - almost an hour.
  9. The light show at Plaça Espania fountains was awesome.
  10. Like Paris, English is widely widely spoken. In some ways this is a shame.
The super light show. We stayed a bit too long.... (Read item 8 above). 

The super light show. We stayed a bit too long.... (Read item 8 above). 

Superb tapas! We congratulated the restaurant, asked to take a photo, and then went to our hostel to eat a microwave pizza.

Superb tapas! We congratulated the restaurant, asked to take a photo, and then went to our hostel to eat a microwave pizza.

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The anti-tourism movement is very vocal at times.  Food for thought for sure.

The anti-tourism movement is very vocal at times.  Food for thought for sure.

TEN THINGS ABOUT PRAGUE

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  1. Having studied Russian at school really helps understand a bit of Czech!
  2. Prague is very beautiful.
  3. Transit is very inexpensive, an annual pass costs 4,750 CZK which is about $265 CDN.
  4. The old town is almost completely a pedestrian area. This is very nice.
  5. There seems to be a fair bit of 'adult' entertainment. Also a lot of dark history.
  6. We found an awesome equestrian store. It had three floors! We spent at least an hour there on a rainy day looking at all kinds of cool stuff and bought a pair of pants for Lili. Dance and Jump!
  7. Thanks to Airbnb we made a new friend in our host, who is also women's rights activist. Yay! I will definitely keep in touch with her and her friends.
  8. The Czechiest (is that a word?) souvenirs are enamel, and clock things.
  9. Lili says: People are happy. And lots of people have dogs. We did not see many Czech children though.
  10. The Vaclav Havel Airport has the best ever airport scale model - made entirely out of Legos! Happy kids can push the buttons to make the planes and cars move while adults wait in line to check in. Very well done.
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TEN THINGS ABOUT FINLAND

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  1. Helsinki is the same, the environs are not. Huge amounts of development to the point that I did not know my way.
  2. It almost appears all waiters have been made redundant. Now you have to order your food at the till, pay, wait, and then go to pick it up when ready.
  3. Groceries are cheap.
  4. Some things, like transit and haircuts, are definitely not cheap.
  5. There are two new public saunas in Helsinki. That is very cool.
  6. Banks have become absurd. Many don't handle cash anymore, and you have to make an appointment to even get into the branch - the doors are locked.
  7. There are several things you need to take care of by telephone through paying calls. Eur 2.99 / min 'press nine if you have a question about this'  tic tic tic...
  8. Finnish horses are as lovely as any others.
  9. I tried a stand up paddle board. It was awesome fun.
  10. Finnish summer is soooo beautiful.

 

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TEN THINGS ABOUT PARIS

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  • People now speak English in Paris. They actually speak it very frequently. This is a shame as you could really count on speaking French in Paris before. There are now many businesses and services that are entirely run in English.

 

  • We had super great weather.

 

  • Markets in Paris are awesome. We had the best cherries ever from Marché d'Aligre, and they were less than half the price of cherries elsewhere.

 

  • Paris is expensive. A regular lunch is about twice the cost of a meal in Canada.

 

  • Lili says: All the dogs look really healthy and well taken care of. All the dogs of street people are also really well cared for. There are no stray cats either.

 

  • Dante says: The streets are beautiful. Charming.

 

  • Buses are a smarter way to travel than the metro - you see more.

 

  • It seems to still be OK to wear perfume in Paris. (Don't even try to do that in Vancouver.)

 

  • The art is so great. We felt inspired to try our hand at gouaches, sculpture, millinery, decorating with slip, you name it. It's all just great.

 

  • I splurged at Mariage Frères.

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TEN THINGS ABOUT BRAZIL

1. There are lots of really nice Brazilian made clothes and shoes. Yay!

2. I had the the best wax ever in Rio. They just do it differently (and it was not a 'Brazilian').

3. New fruit we tasted: cashew apple, acerola cherries. Both are great when juiced too.

4. Rio is not a great city to swim in - the sea can be wavy and polluted and there are no public pools.

5. There are about 200 million people in Brazil. One half of the wealth of the entire country is in the hands of 1000 people. Yikes. (Personally, I think Nestle owns the other half - as about half of all the items in supermarkets are by Nestle. Whoa.)

6. If it rains, it rains a lot. The streets turn to rivers and most people just wait it out.

7. Almost no one speaks English.

8. Brazil has more species of animals than any other country on earth.

9. People really like their pets - there is a vet at almost every block.

10. The Carnaval takes place in the middle of the night.

This is Monica, the lovely owner of the house we rented. We look forward to seeing her again. 

This is Monica, the lovely owner of the house we rented. We look forward to seeing her again. 

TEN THINGS ABOUT INDIA

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1. It is not as crowded as one would think. However, if you go to Northern India, people will be hanging out of train windows and doors - just like in the movies. 

2. India is a country where use of toilet paper is not that common. 

3. There are over 100 languages in India. Really.

4. No one gets angry in traffic. They just weave in this organic, elastic flow with strange detachment. 

5. The chai is delicious. 

6. Indian women are impeccably dressed. They will have a freshly pressed sari, flowers in their hair and jewellery on every morning, even if they go on to work in the fields.  (Indian people think that western people are dirty).

7. The environmental degradation one sees everywhere does give serious pause.

8. The 'demonetization' - cancelling of all 500 and 1000 rupee bills caused a lot of hassle.

9. Quality of wifi and access to internet were disappointing throughout the trip. We were a bit surprised by this.

10.  You eat by hand. And only use your right hand, please....

 

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Indian fashions are truly, truly exquisite.