Quote of the week
It’s a good idea always to do something relaxing before making an important decision in your life. – Paulo Coelho
I hope you all have had a happy Easter if you are celebrating this holiday. We had a very relaxing one, taking our camper van for the first trip of the year, to a camping spa. Absolutely perfect to relax for a couple of days after a very busy itinerary in Venice the week before. It did not mean that I actually had an important decision to do, but Paulo Coelho is always on the spot.
We headed off to Bad Griesbach in Germany, very close to the Austrian border. A small spa, or even a terme, was included in the camping price, so very favourable. Close by, taking a walk up the hill we found the big terme of Bad Griesbach, which we enjoyed for a day. 18 pools, or something like that, with degrees ranging from 10 - 39 C (50 - 102 F). Wonderful to float around in the very soft waters of a terme. The water is coming from an original spring in the mountains.
Venice evening with dinner and literature
We spent three nights and four days in Venice, all on foot. Not much else to do there, unless you take a vaporetto or gondola. We walked for 45 km during these days. Venice is a wonder. It looks more or less the same as it has always done. The old houses are there, although some of them in rather bad conditions. The canals, small alleys and some ‘main’ streets leading to two of the biggest tourist attractions; the Rialto Bridge and St. Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco).
The first evening we just walked around the city randomly and enjoyed the surroundings. While waiting for a table at Trattoria Rivetta we walked down to the waterfront at Riva degli Schiavone where Henry James was staying in March to June, 1881. He rented rooms on the fourth floor of the Pensione Wildner.
“I lodged on the Riva 4161 (now pensione Wildner), quarto piano. The view from my window was una bellezza; the far-shining lagoon, the pink walls of San Giorgio, the downward curve of the Riva, the distant islands, the movement of the quay, the gondolas in profile. Here I wrote, diligently every day and finished, my novel (Portrait of a Lady).” - The notebooks of Henry James.
Today the pensione is the hotel Wildner. We took an aperitif in the restaurant and asked the waiters on the Henry James situation. On the hotel’s website it said that the desk of Henry James was still in the house. As usual, I would say, the waiters had no idea, so this was the closest we came. Once again outside, I peaked up to the fourth floor, and thought I saw a shadow of the great writer behind a curtain. Or, was it just the glow from lamps glittering in the lagoon? We slowly walked back to Trattoria Rivetta for a lovely Italian dinner. I think there is no exaggeration to say that Italian food is the best in the world. Rivetta is a family business, so very friendly service. Highly recommended if you visit Venice.
Venice and museums
The next day we visited the tourist information to buy a Venice pass. The guy at the counter recommended a pass for three museums since we were staying for three days. He obviously did not know us. We are more the people looking for five museums in one day. We settled for a pass with 16 museums and churches. The pass is valid for 6 months, so we still have the possibility to come back. More on some of the excellent museums next week.
Musings this week
Donna Leon’s books and Venice
Having been to Venice I thought it approriate to read som books about Venice. I started the series by Donna Leon and her Commissario Brunetti. I have read the first five of them and they are very entertaining. Donna Leon is an American author who lived in Venice for over 30 years. I guess she knows quite well what is going on in the city and how it works in Italy. She was a lecturer in English literature in Europe and also taught English at an American military base in Italy. One of her books concerns the murder of people at the base. Her books are translated into many languages, but her own wish was that they should not be translated into Italian. German television has made several films based on her books. They books make for easy and give you a good idea how life in Venice is. The first books are from the 1990s and you can object to some of the descriptions on how men look at women. Or, maybe, it is just the way Italian men look at women.
Finally, got around to do a few blog posts. New since last week are:
Short reviews from March reading
In search of Stefan Zweig (which almost gave me a heart attack)
I was curious about Venice. I've been reading all of Donna Leon (about three of her books a year, which are passed on by a friend who works on that schedule! I think I'm up to 13 now and boy, they read quickly. In truth, the books have made me want to visit Venice LESS -- I'm not sure she paints a picture of it that is so loving for one who lives there. But your post makes me wonder....