2011 Venice with GrapeHops Archives

July 9, 2010

To Venice with GrapeHops


Yes, it's true! And I am SO excited!

I am doing the Venice tour next May with Shannon and Kim of GrapeHops Tours!

Bill and I did go to Venice for three days in 2006, but there was not enough time to experience all that the city has to offer. Plus the fact that there was a vaporetto strike while we were there, so we could not visit some of the outlying islands. Well, those little glitches are going to be remedied next May.

Shannon, my Slow Travel buddy, is an expert on Venice, having made many trips there and even lived there for a year. She loves the place! And I know that love will be contagious as she shows us "her" Venice.

And her Venice includes eating in places off the beaten track and drinking local wines - LOTS of local wines. Right up my alley! Shannon knows so much about the food and wine of Venice that she co-wrote a book called Chow! Venice, where she writes about all of her favorite haunts.

Our friend Palma has even signed on to be my roommate - what fun we will have! Maybe we can convince some other STers to join us.

I have already made airline reservations with FF miles - I knew I had to do that early to get seats in Bus or First. I will be arriving in Venice three days before the tour begins and staying three days after. I haven't made definite plans for those days yet, but there are lots of possibilities.

Anyway, I just had to share the good news. It's always fun to have a trip to look forward to. So, let the planning begin!


September 20, 2010

On a Quest for Brunetti Adventures


I've led a sheltered life. I am ashamed to admit that I have never read a Donna Leon novel. Or, I should say that I had never read one because I just finished "Death at La Fenice".

I had heard all of the Donna Leon raves, of course, but I never took the bait. When I decided to go to Venice with GrapeHops next May, though, I decided to read as many of the Donna Leon novels about Commissario Guido Brunetti that I could.

I was hoping that the books would give me some insight to Venice as the locals see it. If "Death at La Fenice" is any indication, I have already gotten a "feel" for the spirit of Venice.

I really, really enjoyed my first Donna Leon book. I am going to try to read them in the order they were published, so I am now on to "Death in a Strange Country".

October 19, 2010

More Brunetti Adventures

As I mentioned in this post about a month ago, I have decided to read all of Donna Leon's Brunetti mystery books in the order they were published before my trip with Grapehops to Venice next May.

They are such great reads that I am now on my 7th book! I LOVE them! I will be sad when I am up-to-date and have to wait for the annual book to be released.

I have always loved the number 7 - here are the Brunetti lucky number seven books:





April 26, 2011

Brunetti Adventures Continue

Wow! I can't believe it, but two weeks from today I will be on my way to Venice to continue my Brunetti adventures!

I made a couple of earlier blog posts about my fascination with the Donna Leon novels featuring Commissario Guido Brunetti.

On a Quest for Brunetti Adventures

More Brunetti Adventures

I have actually become a Brunetti fanatic - I have read all 20 books plus the book by Dr. Toni Sepeda (Brunetti's Venice), which takes the reader on a series of 12 walks thru Venice, walking in Brunetti's footsteps thru the novels.

My intention is to try to do all 12 walks while I am in Venice. I have taken the book apart and marked it up to more easily find the locations.

This may seem like a strange thing to do, but when you are a fanatic, you do strange things.

We even have a long, long thread on Slow Travel Talk just about Commissario Brunetti - it has almost 15,000 views, so you can see that I am not the only fan of Brunetti.

So, stay tuned - maybe I will even run into Donna Leon on one of my Brunetti Walks!

May 10, 2011

The Venice Adventure Begins!

Well, the day has arrived. I have been planning this trip for almost a year now, so I am excited that it is finally happening.

I fly from Ontario Airport to Denver and then to Frankfurt where I have a five-hour layover. Then on to Venice where Shannon (and maybe Kim) will meet me. We have a couple of days before our GrapeHops Tour begins, so (weather permitting) I want to do some Brunetti Walks. Palma (my roommate) will be joining us on Friday.

If the Venice wifi works out, I will be posting on my blog about our activities, the wine, the food and so much more.

Let the Venice adventure begin!

May 11, 2011

Venice - Getting There

Hoochie was not a happy camper. She can always tell when we are leaving on a trip, and she hates it. But she didn't know that Bill was staying home with her this time and that she wouldn't be alone. Here she is with her brand new peanut butter flavored bone - a bribe so she would know that I love her.


Like a lot of people, traveling to a destination is a chore - not fun at all. But it's something that must be endured in order to enjoy the vacation.

I did have the benefit of traveling business class this time - it cost me a ton of AmExp points, but it was definitely worth it.

I was on an early afternoon flight to Denver, then to Frankfurt. After a five-hour layover there, finally to Venice.

Ontario Airport was pretty deserted - good for me but bad for the airport economy. I hate going to LAX, so I hope Ontario can survive the decline in travel that it seems to be experiencing.

I had never flown thru Denver or Frankfurt before, but I was really impressed with Denver but not so much Frankfurt.

The international flight from Denver to Frankfurt was on Lufthansa, my very first time on one of their flights. The Business class cabin was lovely, and the bonus was that I had no one sitting next to me. In fact, the row in front of me just had one passenger on each side. I asked the flight attendant why someone hadn't been upgraded to those seats, and she said that they didn't do that. Huh? Very strange . . .


Frankfurt was huge and congested, and I had to go thru security several times during my five-hour layover. Not that I ever left the terminal because I didn't. My carryon contained all of my electronics, and they hand-searched it twice. I cannot find the power cord to my computer, so I can only assume it wasn't put back after the search. Now to find a new power cord in Venice . . . I may have to post blog episodes on a public computer without photos. Stay tuned!


Venice - Jet Lag Gone!

People experience jet lag differently - some get over it quickly and for some it lasts for several days. I was lucky to have Shannon around because she kept me up thru a nice dinner and then for several more hours more to be able to sleep thru the night and get acclimated to Italy time.

I arrived in Venice on Wednesday evening, and Shannon met me at the airport to help me with my luggage (thank you Shannon). We took the Alilaguna boat into the city and even had a little wine along the way. What a beautiful entry to the city that is!

The apartment that I am sharing with Shannon and Kim for my first three nights is not too far from the Fondamenta Nove - great location, but the downside is that it is up on the 4th floor (5th by US standards), and there were 77 steps to get up there! Yikes!


We walked to dinner at a great little place that Shannon knew, Da Alberto and had three of their evening specials, two pastas and steak with gorgonzola, which we shared. The gnocchi with salmon was especially good.

May 12, 2011

Venice - Getting Organized

Day #1 dawned, and I had good intentions of beginning my Brunetti Walks, but reality won and I knew I needed to get organized first.

Shannon had things to do, so Kim and I headed down to Campo S Maria Nova to try to get our WiFi up and running. We had signed up for WiFi thru Venice Connected. So, instead of walking thru Venice, here we are:


Later we walked along the Fondamenta Nove and enjoyed a drink overlooking the water. Out in the distance you can see Isola di San Michele, the cemetery island.


Later we met Shannon at a new wine bar where we sampled some white wines from the Veneto area. Here's Shannon and Kim:


Venice - Mini GTG

Day #1 in Venice ended with a mini-GTG with Ruth and Martin at their lovely Dorsoduro apartment overlooking the Grand Canal.

But first we met up with Kevin and Jill from Australia, who will be our companions on the GrapeHops tour beginning on Saturday. Their daughter Megan will be joining up with us tomorrow.


Here is a photo of the view from Ruth and Martin's living room window - pretty spectacular!


And here are Shannon and Ruth, authors of the wonderful "Chow Venice" book that so many Slow Travelers have used to choose great places to eat and drink in Venice.


After enjoying the view (and the company) for awhile, we headed over to Ruth's favorite pizza place for dinner.


I chose an unusual-sounding pizza with arugula (one of my favorite things), raw beef, and balsamico. Sounds strange but very good.


And the wine . . . You knew there would be wine - right? Shannon was thrilled to find this particular wine there - Ottin Pinot Noir. And she was right - it WAS delicious!


May 13, 2011

Venice - Brunetti Walks #1 & #2

One of my major goals on this trip (as if you didn't already know) was to do the walks in "Brunetti's Venice" book by Dr. Toni Sepeda.

The first walk began with the location of the first book, "Death at La Fenice". I didn't get to the famed opera house until 1 pm because I was looking for a power cord for my laptop - I have since found the power cord (so happy about that).

So, I did the tour of La Fenice with audioguide. It was quite a beautiful place, which is remarkable since it burned down three different times - in 1774, 1836, and 1996.

I only completed the first two of the Brunetti Walks today because I kept getting lost and backtracking, but here are some of the sights I did find from the book. I will add the specific book comments later.

La Fenice Opera House

Hotel Fenice behind the opera house

Fantin Fiori, the most expensive florist in the city, where Signorina Elettra ordered her weekly flowers

On the other hand, Biancat (Brunetti's favorite florist) was nowhere to be found. I had the street address from Donna Leon's website, and all I found at that address was this dress shop. No other florist in the area.

Continue reading "Venice - Brunetti Walks #1 & #2" »

Venice - Dinner at La Cantina

After my Brunetti walks, I met Kim and Shannon and we headed back to meet Palma's vaporetto. Up those 77 steps again and we were good to go to dinner.

Here's Palma and me.

And Shannon and Kim.

We ordered the most glorious large platters to share.

This is the seafood platter.

And here is the meat platter.

What a great dinner! We sat out on the campo after dinner and enjoyed the warm beautiful weather and the ambiance. After all, this is Italy!

May 14, 2011

Venice - GrapeHops Check-in

I absolutely hate moving days! Of course, who doesn't. Hauling your heavy bags around is just not fun. And the 77 steps of our pre-tour apartment didn't help.

It took two trips to get everyone's luggage transferred to the apartment that we would be staying in for a week on the GrapeHops Venice Tour. Whew! We deserved a little Prosecco!

Once our tour-mates Kevin, Jill and their daughter Megan arrived (and we rested up a little bit), Shannon and Kim had a special surprise for us.

The Arsenale in Venice is a huge shipbuilding dockyard from the glory days of La Serenissima. It is closed and inaccessible to the public except for a couple of special events during the year. This weekend happened to be one of those special events.


Here are a couple of websites where you can read about the Arsenale:



We got to see some very old ships like this one that was built for a Doge - very posh and ornate.




Continue reading "Venice - GrapeHops Check-in" »

May 15, 2011

Venice - A Rainy Museum Day

It was the first glitch that the weather gods had thrown at us, but it was a doozy - a really rainy day. But our GrapeHops tour leaders took it in stride and made today a museum day.

I had dragged along my raincoat because the weather forecast had predicted rain, so I actually got to wear it. And I was glad to have it because it just poured and poured.


We took the vaparetto down to San Marco and visited the Correr Museum for a couple of hours. Although a much smaller museum than Accademia, we really enjoyed the intimacy of it. Here are a couple of links with museum information.





Then off to lunch at a fantastic restaurant, Taverna San Trovaso where I had my very first taste of Fegato alla Veneziana (liver Venetian style), served traditionally with polenta. It was yummy.


But wait - the day is not over yet! We hit a couple of wine bars and then dinner at Shannon's favorite pizza place. I had Brie & Walnut pizza because it sounded unusual. Yum, it was great!


And here is Kim and me enjoying a little vino with our pizza.


May 16, 2011

Venice - Lagoon Tour

The weather gods are smiling down on us - Rain was originally predicted, but a gorgeous day dawned for our tour of the Venice lagoon.

We met our guide Andrea and the boat captain on a little canal-side calle (we had to switch the location because the trash boat refused to move), and off we went.



Our first destination was Murano where we cruised down Murano's main canal past lots of glass factories like this one.


Lots of great views.





Continue reading "Venice - Lagoon Tour" »

Venice - Dinner at Osteria La Zucca

I had just a couple of restaurants that were must-do's on this trip, and Osteria La Zucca was one of them. A lot of my Slow Travel friends have been there and raved about the food.

So, I was really, really happy that Shannon and Kim chose La Zucca for our Monday night dinner.


All of the rave reviews were confirmed - the food was wonderful!

We started with a couple orders of Pumpkin Flan. Wow and double wow! It was wonderful!


I then chose a Lasagna special, but I am not sure what kind it was. I will check with one of my compadres and post later about it.


We also shared an assortment of vegetables.


And we shared three different desserts.




Continue reading "Venice - Dinner at Osteria La Zucca" »

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to A Winelover's Wanderings in the 2011 Venice with GrapeHops category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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