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Holiday Diary – France and Italy August 2015 Day 11

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Monday 31st August.

We had decided that having breakfast served in our room was how we should roll, so again we started our day feasting on the delicious trolleyfull that was provided. While we waited lazing in bed P opened the door to the balcony and was met with a wall of heat again. We have the airconditioning in our room set at 27 at Mrs P’s request but this is in no way a reflection of the real temperature in our room which was far far colder. Even at 9am it was a great deal hotter outside, and is reaching 34C most days. 

This was the day we took advantage of our complimentary trip to a glass blowing factory on Murano Island and we were to have been picked up at our hotel but there was some kind of gondola jam in the canal outside, so we were escorted to the main stop at San Marco where a water taxi awaited.

We then had a very pleasant boat trip across to Murano where we watched a master glass blower at work. It was in truth incredible as we watched him create a beautiful glass horse before our eyes in minutes. The guide was amusing, Il Maestro as they called the genius glass maker was astounding to watch and then full of wonder and delight we were lured into the sales rooms.

This clearly was the point of our visit – we were meant to buy something and we were led through endless galleries of gorgeous glass of slowly diminishing value. The business began with your personal assistant showing you chandeliers with prices that made your eyes water. Every time you stopped to admire you got a lecture on how wonderful it was and why it cost £4000 or more, nothing was priced.

After a while we both got a bit irritated by this “hard sell” and by then had made our minds up not to buy anything almost as a point of belligerent principle! But what we didn’t realise was that there was no facility for a drink, unless you purchase something, in which case you evidently get a glass of prosecco. We weren’t that thirsty! And as we soon found out also a water taxi of your own to take you back to Venice! For those who decline their wonderful bargains, you wait in the sun for 20 minutes or so, until they can fill a boat and take all the tight fisted humbugs back together. We began to think we might have to row ourselves back, or maybe swim. So never forget there is no such thing as a free lunch, or factory tour.

On balance it was a great morning, high speed water taxis across the lagoon (Bond and Moneypenny were out again), an eye opening chance to watch a master craftsmen create art in front of your eyes, etc. However, the hard sell left a bad taste in our mouths and it is not our nature to put up with that just for a “freebie”, which is what this was.

Back at last in Venice we had lunch and enjoyed our freedom, having safely escaped Burano Island. It is a feature of this holiday that wherever we go in Italy, we seem to fall foul of the Curse of the Loud American! What is it about them? Why do they bawl? Why can’t they eat, walk or just exist quietly? And why do they wonder why the rest of the world finds them irritating? So yes we had one behind us at lunch, obviously and also one on the glass blowing trip. Worse still, she bought nothing so was on same boat as us back to Venice. We had to sit inside as she successfully drowned out the noise of a 250 HP boat engine.

After lunch we shopped some more with Peanut adding some rather fetching cream trousers to her collection. Then we wanted to find the shop where we bought P’s Valentine bracelet back in February and that took some doing I can tell you! We headed for the Rialto Bridge as it was definitely on the other side. As we approached the bridge, Peanut had a brainwave and said she wanted some earrings fashioned as carnevale masks, one gold and one silver. This was prompted by a brooch she had seen of two masks one gold, one silver depicting the happy and sad faces of theatre. I too was smitten with her idea. 

The Rialto Bridge is full of small jewellery shops and 35 seconds later we were gazing at a set of gold and a set of silver earrings. Peanut decided to buy both split them and give the spare pair to The Elf. This was an incredibly fast example of turning an idea into reality – under two minutes by my estimate!

Back on our mission to boldly go where where every man in Venice has been before (can the enlightened ones tell me what I’m paraphrasing?) and indeed after a few wrong turns we found the shop where Peanut’s bracelet came from. 

One of the wrong turns took us past another master craftsmen this time in the noble art of mask making. The classic masks were there and indeed he was making a double headed mask representing the same theme as Peanut’s earrings as we walked in. He was applying gold paint to it and the shop smelt gloriously of the vapours from the paint. It felt, as it was – the work place of a great artisan. We spotted a fantastic half bust perfect for our bedroom and decided to have it as our Christmas treat. Once home we will check wall dimensions and then we will get it. It’s great when we both fall for the same thing!

The bracelet shop had been taken over and was now solely a watch shop. They were new Hamilton watch distributors so I hoped they had the latest Ventura there but sadly it wasn’t. Peanut tried the Bagley Hamiltons, which we had not seen in the flesh before and they were lovely, but really we are looking for a sports watch not another dress watch.

We wandered some more, back across The Rialto, had some ice-cream sat on some steps. Aargh an American woman sat next to us accompanied by two more. Someone was missing from their party. Have you any idea what it is like to listen to one American woman talking at 244 decibels to her companions on how they were going to solve this for the whole duration of my vanilla scoop and my lemon scoop? Have you? Well… Aaaannnd calm.

We sought the sanctuary of our hotel room where after an hour our hearing levels seemed to have returned to normal parameters. Later we changed and headed out for dinner.

Dinner was very pleasant as we stumbled on a slightly upmarket place away from St Marks. My Mum is never happy if a place doesn’t have table cloths. By definition it must be a cafe not a restaurant. I’m not saying my Mum is right but God dammit I can’t help but always clock the presence or absence of a table cloth. This place had table cloths.

We had a superb seafood risotto to share and as it was freshly made and would take some time to cook, the waiter suggested a small traditional starter. No idea what it was called but it was made of soaked dried cod mashed with olive oil and then deep fried. Delicious but you wouldn’t want too many of them. Oh and yes, more loud Americans, this time playing cards in between courses!

This was the day of The Americans in Venice! A lovely day for us both in truth and to balance the records, Americans come in all shapes, sizes and volumes, many I count as real friends and they make the truest and best friends you could hope to have.


Author: ibeastie

Interested in Photography, Watches, Style and Cars

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