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Trip planning (or not)

street shrine 5

Thanks so much to Anne (andasamo) for sharing some wonderful photos from her October trip to Venice. Seeing those really made me psyched about my upcoming trip! And welcome home to Maria! I can't wait to hear all about her travels to Venice, Spain, and Morocco. And I think that Kathy (Trek Capri) gets home from Spain today - welcome home Kathy!

Before my trip last year, I wrote a blog post that said, “Trip planning is easy when you’re returning to a place for the fifth time.” I was tempted to just repost that and change “fifth” to “sixth.” Really, there's not much to plan when it's trip number six (and my third December trip in a row).

I bought my plane ticket and booked my room in August and then pretty much put this trip on the back burner. Once the election was over and I felt like I could breathe again, I did a bit of trip prep but not too much. Oh, and let me say that I am SO glad I bought my ticket before the big financial meltdown because I probably wouldn’t be going if I’d waited (and I’m really glad I’m going!).

I don't make any kind of day-by-day plan since I like to drift and do whatever I feel like when I wake up each morning, but one of the things I’ve done to get ready is go through all my books to compile a list of things I want to see. It’s some pretty obscure stuff, for sure. This past year, I’ve been reading old guidebooks because I discovered that they have more legends and interesting stories than modern books do.

For example, I read a centuries-old legend about a bridge in Dorsoduro called “Bridge of the Marvels”….supposedly this bridge appeared miraculously out of nowhere, built by supernatural hands or something like that. I want to find that one!


I also found a great website, Venezia Museo, that has photos and addresses for hundreds of street shrines, many of which I’ve never seen. The website is in Venetian dialect (and its navigation is as labyrinthine as Venice itself), but I plan to roam around and photograph lots of shrines. I used Venice Explorer to get the street locations for the shrines and marked them on these little low-tech pocket maps I made.

Other than that, I've got some definites and some maybes.

I’m definitely going out to Torcello since it’s the 1000th anniversary of the building of its Basilica. I might even splurge and eat lunch at the Cipriani out there (and hey, the exchange rate is better than it was last year!).

I might take the train over to Padua one day to see the Giotto frescoes (but I say that every year and then can’t make myself want to deal with the land of cars). I’m definitely going to eat at La Zucca, my favorite restaurant, which was closed for restoration last December. I might go visit the cat sanctuary over on the Lido, and I’ll definitely go feed the San Lorenzo cats. I want to go back and spend more time on the cemetery island.

San Lorenzo cats with pigeons

I do plan to visit some churches! I have a list of churches that I haven't been inside and maybe I'll get lucky and find some of them open, and I’ll definitely be returning to my favorites. I’m going to attend Mass in San Marco for the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on December 8.

San Trovaso

I plan to hang out in the Christmas Market in campo Santo Stefano and drink hot spiced wine and listen to music. I've checked their schedule of free concerts and during my stay, there will be an evening of Tango! Can't miss that! Last year, I went to a free concert in the church of the Ospedaletto, a perfomance of "Music from the Time of Doges" played with old historic instruments, and I'd like to attend one of those again.

There’s a pretty long list of museums that I haven’t been to yet – I save those for a rainy day and I’ve been lucky to have very few rainy days in Venice. So maybe I’ll go to a new museum or two. Or maybe not. Now that I’ve typed this up, I realize I’ve got a lot more on my list than I’ll have time to do, but that’s okay. I mainly just want to walk and get lost and take pictures.

I’m staying at Locanda Orseolo for the third time and I’m really looking forward to seeing those wonderful folks again. I'm going to look for Roberto, the Oh-Bama gondolier!

I’m getting VERY excited now that I think about it!

I loved what Kathy (Trek Capri) wrote about how there is both an outer and an inner journey when you travel. For whatever reason, Venice as a whole (and its churches in particular) is my sacred space where I get that sense of timeless connection to the bigger picture. I always come home renewed and inspired. I don't understand why at all, since I'm not Catholic and not even really Christian in any traditional sense. I guess I'm a humanist who believes in a Higher Power but doesn't think that organized religion is always the best way to connect with that power, but yet I love going to Mass in the churches of Venice. I find it very holy and sacred and healing. Go figure. So anyway, I’ve got “soul searching” on my "to-do" list as well.

I do plan to blog a little bit (and the Locanda has a computer in the lounge that I can use). I didn’t blog at all last year but I’ve so enjoyed reading everyone else’s “blogs from the road” this year (thanks Girasoli, Sandra, Anne, and Kathy!) that I think I’ll give it a try. But it will probably be short and sweet since I have to share the computer with the other folks at the Locanda and also because I’m such a slow writer and typist. I’ll wait and do more detailed reports (with photos) when I get home.


One of the main things I've done to prepare for this trip is I've gotten much of my Christmas shopping done. I don't want to come home and be too frantic about getting ready for the holidays. I've put a big dent in it (and I do plan to do a little more shopping in Venice) so I'm in good shape with that.

I have to admit that I'm fretting a little about leaving the cats. Well, really, the kitten (LuLu will be fine). When I went on that business trip in early November, the folks at the boarding kennel told me that Maria the kitten was NOT a happy camper and she was hissing at everyone! But they said that after a day or two, she calmed down and was fine. She is such a wild child! So it will be hard to leave her but I keep telling myself that she will be with LuLu, not all by herself, and I won't be gone all that long.

P.S. Just learned that today (December 1), Venice is experiencing the worst flood in 22 years! I'm so glad I'm not arriving today! It should be all gone by the time I get there, I hope, but I'm going to email the Locanda to make sure it's safe to come.

The link above has a slide show of today's flood - check out this one of the bar at the foot of the Rialto Bridge! I've sat right there many times, but not in water!


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Comments (27)


Have a wonder-filled trip, and all the best for the soul searching part. We'll be thinking of you often.

Fred just alerted me to the flooding. I'm hoping it won't put a crimp in your activities. I feel bad for the countless shopkeepers and residents who must deal with it, though.

Cubbies, thank you! This will be the first December trip where I won't get to see you and Fred, and I'll definitely be thinking about you guys (and hoping that we will reunite in Venice one day soon).

I just googled and there are some incredible photos of today's flood. It was really a bad one. I bet there will still be a lot of clean-up going on when I arrive.


OOH, I'm totally jealous! Not only Venezia but Locanda Orseolo, too.
We went on the tour of the clock tower and found it very worth while.
Have a great trip!


Thanks Jan! You've stayed at Orseolo too? Aren't those people the best?! They offer a great deal in the winter-time...stay three nights, get one night free. Very nice.

And thanks for the reminder about the clock tower tour - I would love to do that!

Kathy (Trekcapri):

Hola Annie . . . I'm back! I'm so excited for you that you're leaving in two days. I wasn't sure I was going to be back in time before you left!

I think it is awesome that you are going to do a little blogging while you are there and I can't wait to hear from you both while there and when you return, because I know you'll have something really unique and interesting to tell us. Sounds like you have been doing quite a bit of research. Gorgeous photos that you posted here!

Thanks for mentioning my blog . . . :) It was fun to do and I know that you'll enjoy it too. Sounds like you have an awesome plan for your trip...I enjoyed Torcello a lot.

I know what you mean about getting renewed on your trips. As tired as I am right now from the long flight, I feel so fresh and inspired at the same time!

Have a totally wonderful trip Annie! Lulu and Maria I'm sure will be okay. The flooding should clear up by the time you get there. BTW, those images were really incredible.

Have fun and safe travels! Take care!

Thanks Kathy! Good to hear from you and welcome home! I'm glad to know that you made it home safely and that you've got that post-trip inspiration despite the fatique! You did such a great job blogging, it really made Spain come to life for me and has me thinking I need to go there someday if I ever get over Venice. :)

The kennel where the cats stay is really nice, they have these tall condos (not little cages) and they play music for them, and they have fish tanks to watch. So I know they will be okay.

I'm going to wait a while before I start asking you when you are getting your kitten(s)!!! Figure you need to rest up for that adventure!

Ambling through narrow cobblestone alleys of Europe is one of my dreams for the longest time. This photo just makes me salivate.

Oh how exciting everything! I am so happy for you. Sounds like a perfect plan/unplan. I feel the same way about going back to places I love, it is very special. Can't wait to read more while you are gone and when you come back - each post is a treasure of history, culture, and interesting anecdote! Buon viaggio e divertiti tantissimo!!

Photo Cache, I hope you get a chance to go over there very soon!

Chiocciola, thanks! I love your phrase..."plan/unplan"!


Annie, I'm so excited for you. Your relaxed plans sound fantastic, with some lovely highlights sketched out but lots of room for roaming (even to Padua, I'm very envious.)

What you (and Kathy) have said about the inner journey that accompanies the physical trip is really profound. Something in Italy in particular feeds my soul, and draws me back again and again. Perhaps, in part, it relates to this different sense of time and history I have in Italy; that time isn't a long line with the past and future far away. Instead it feels like a circle, with the past and future all present at once and that I'm connected to it all.

Now I'm babbling when I just want to wish you a fantastic trip and not too much acqua alta. I'll be watching for news and photos, when you can post.

I hope Lulu relaxes and enjoys the kitty spa!

Sandra, thanks! You explained the sense of timelessness perfectly. That's exactly the feeling I get in Italy too (and I love your description of it feeling like a circle).

One more day of work and then tomorrow night, I'll be in full-tilt packing panic mode. I'm only taking a carry-on bag and it's always a challenge to see how much stuff I can cram into that tiny space!

Annie, your plan to be unplanned sounds perfect!! I am very excited for you (and selfishly for us also since we all know we will learn much more about Venice through your blog).

Those photos are amazing! I have seen flooding before while in Washington but never people going about their business in a flood. I guess there is no other choice. I can't imagine trying to get around (especially if you arrived that day) in a flood like that. AND I read there also was a vaparetto strike. Did you see the photo by the Rialto bridge? One wrong step to the left and you would fall in the canal!

The kennel sounds very plush. I am impressed with the music and fish tanks for entertainment.

Have a wonderful trip! Think of me when you eat at La Zucca. That is my favorite place to eat in all of Venice.


Thanks Girasoli. Wouldn't it be fun to have a Slow Trav GTG dinner at La Zucca one day? I love that place. Two years ago, I ate there three nights (and I might end up doing that again).

I got an email this morning from the folks at Orseolo. They said that the flood was exceptionally bad but that things are pretty much back to normal now, so I should plan to come on over. Yay!

That last photo put a smile on my face. Anne and I sat there drinking prosecco and the waiter tried to overcharge us. He gave us a lame excuse after I protested. This is the same bar where I tripped down the steps.

Your trip planning (or not) sound perfect to me! I'm very excited for you and looking forward to reading about your new discoveries and some of your old favorites.

Don't worry too much about your wild child. LuLu will be there to comfort and cheer her up. I bet Maria is going to love looking at the fishies.

Wishing you a wonderful journey!

Maria, thanks! I thought that was the same bar where you tripped and yelled out the loud curse, LOL. I'll be cautious about getting overcharged if I end up going there again.

Thanks for the encouragement about Maria the kitten. I know that she will be fine so I'm trying not to fret about it. It WILL be sad to say goodbye to them tomorrow though.

I just did some flood research. The one that I experienced in May 2004 was a 116 cm flood (approx. a third of the city under water). The one yesterday was a 155 cm flood, so it was much worse. What good timing that I wasn't trying to haul my luggage thru that!


Yikes -- a quick apology, Annie, for mixing up your kitties (why do I think Lulu is the little one?!)

I hope that Maria (the kitten) is able to relax and enjoy the kitty spa, watching the fish show and listening to music (I wonder what style of music she enjoys?!)

Your hotel sounds so wonderful, how kind of them to give you a reassuring update. I've seen some flooding in Venice, but it seemed to recede almost as quickly as it arrived. And it does make for some fascinating photos!

Sandra, not a problem! Maria sounds like a more mature name than LuLu does.

The Orseolo is such a wonderful place to stay and they are the nicest folks. I'm really excited about seeing all of them again!

Just want to say - thinking of you. Oh my, Venice. :) Have a wonderful time. :)

Thanks Leslie! I hope that we'll cross paths in Venice some day.

Kathy (Trekcapri):

Hi Annie, I'm sure you're probably busy tonight doing some last minute checklist things and possibly bringing Lulu & Maria to their cool sounding condo kennel. But I just had to stop in again to wish you a very wonderful trip!

I haven't forgotten my next goal . . . now I really like the name Lola! :)

Take care and have an awesome time in Venice! Safe travels . . .

Thanks Kathy! I don't have to take the cats until tomorrow morning, so they are here "helping" me pack (Maria keeps jumping in the suitcase!).

Lola is a GREAT name for a kitten! Another name that crossed my mind (from reading your blog) is Ronda. I'll be so excited for you when it happens!

I've done as much packing as I can tonight and will finish up in the morning. I'm trying to make myself not take so many books this year because those things are heavy and I always end up buying more. But it's hard to figure out which ones to leave behind!

I'm pretty psyched!

Buon Viaggio Annie!!! Have a fabulous time!!

Kathy (Trekcapri):

Hi Annie, my whole calendar is off right now. For some reason I thought yesterday was Wednesday and you were leaving today and I really wanted to make sure that I wished you a great trip before you leave. Oops, sorry. So now that today is really Wednesday, I want to wish you a great, fabulous and wonderful time in my favorite place in the world, Venice!

I think Maria wants to go with you . . . It's good she's keeping you entertained and making your packing easy! :)

Ronda is a perfect name! I love that idea... I will definitely keep you posted on the kittens front and I haven't forgotten that place up north either.

I hope that you got your book situation squared away so tonight you can just relax and continue to get all psyched.

Have an awesome time Annie. I'm looking forward to reading your blog both while you are there and when you come back. Enjoy! Ciao for now...

Thanks Girasoli!

Kathy, no problem. We are all in different time zones and then we travel and get wonky. I'm sure you are still working on getting back to LA time.

The 7-day weather forecast looks awesome. Sunny days, temps around 50 degrees, just perfect for walking and taking photos! I'm just about ready to go! Yay!

One more Buon Viaggio! Enjoy!

Thanks Maria and everyone. Taking the cats was traumatic...LuLu realized something was up and hid under the bed, and I had a time getting her out. The kitten was clueless until I put her in her carrier and then she cried like a baby. They will be fine, they will be fine, they will be fine.

Getting ready to shut this computer down and head out. Talk to you soon, from Venezia!

Kathy (Trekcapri):

Oooh Annie it must be so hard to leave Lulu and Maria behind. I was just thinking about them and whether they could sense something as you were packing and now I know... But I'm sure as you say they will be fine.

I think you're already in flight right now. Awesome weather forcast. I'm so happy for you. Have a wonderful time!

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