Monday, October 25, 2010

A Sweet, Happy Place...

When I go to bed at night,
I close my eyes and drift off
to my happy place.
which, as of late,
is Venice,
I've dreamt of going there my entire life.
I guess I always imagined it as being the perfect place
to visit with the love of my life.
Then gain, I'm a sucker for romance.

Almost six months ago,
I was fortunate enough
to share two very special days
in Venice, Italy.
And for the record,
two days weren't nearly enough.

Our trip into Venice was truly breathtaking.
While coming into port,
we stood on the top deck of our cruise ship
to get the best possible view of this world class city.
To make the moment even more spectacular,
Our cruise ship, the Regent Seven Seas,
had classical music playing in the background.

As we got closer and closer
and Venice came into clear view,
I felt overwhelmed with an abundance of emotions.
I couldn't believe I was actually there.

For two whole days,
I was in heaven.
And walked around feeling like I was in a dream.

Our first stop off the ship was the famous
Harry's Bar.
{You can read about the history of Harry's Bar, here}
The pasta there was out-of-this-world.
Harry's Bar is also well-known
for the Bellini.
Currently, my favorite drink.
I could have had several.
It was a fine dining experience like no other.

We packed in as much as we possibly could
in the short time we had.
We walked these colorful corridors
stopping for...
Italian made shoes.
Italian soccer jerseys.
Murano Glass.
And a Gondola ride.
'Cause a trip to Venice, the City of Canals,
wouldn't be complete without one.
We toured through a maze of narrow streets
and over bridges
which is what makes
Venice such a unique and gorgeous city.

We walked
and walked...
and walked....
until our feet couldn't possibly take a step more.
And we shopped
and shopped....
and shopped....
until each of our hands
were so filled with bags,
we couldn't possibly fit another.

At which point,
we were FORCED, against our will,
to head back to the ship.
Where we dropped off our precious finds of the day.

However, when we did,
we literally collapsed from utter exhaustion.
Two hours later,
I woke up and found myself face down on the bed. Drooling.
I wiped the drool from my face.
Rubbed my blurry eyes,
and looked at the clock to find,
that luckily we'd woke-up just in time to head to St. Mark's Square
to listen to dueling orchestras play
at four very famous cafes around the Piazza San Marco.

we were told
that because it was a full moon,
there'd be high tides.
And not only was there a full moon,
and high tides...
there was wind.
When you combine those 3 forces~
AMAZING things happen in Venice.
St. Mark's Square FLOODS!!
Funny thing is,
it only happens 100 times a year.
Guess what?
We just happened to be there for this phenomenon!!

Unfortunately, a flooded St. Mark's Square means...
there are NO dueling orchestras.
Instead, you take off your shoes,
roll up your pants,
and wade through this famous square to get to the other side.

We did end up finding a cafe across from the Doge's Palace
which was not affected by the rising waters.
with gorgeous live music playing.
It echoed throughout the plaza.
It was beyond romantic.
It stopped us in our tracks.
We stood there and listened.
And kissed.

I found myself completely mesmerized.
It was so beautiful,
I managed to totally forget how hungry I was.
Then again, we'd slept right through dinner.
Now it was almost 11 o'clock at night,
and we were famished.
So, when the song ended, we went hunting for
someplace to eat.
Someplace that was still open at that late hour.
We ended up stumbling across an adorable little cafe
right on the Grand Canal.
A cute Italian man came out and said,
"Everything on the menu is 8 Euros.
We will make you whatever you want."
Gary and I were sold.
It couldn't have been more perfect.

We walked in,
found ourselves a seat
and sat down outside~
Under the stars.
And a full moon.
It's bright reflection filled the canal.
We ordered pasta bolognese and a pizza with deli ham.
{Pizza in Italy has different toppings than the US}.
The food was delicious.
The ambiance, stunning.
The evening was unforgettable.

Finally at midnight,
we hopped aboard a water taxi and headed back to the ship so we could go to bed.
We were beat after spending 12 hours wandering around this fascinating place.
The following morning we woke up bright and early.
Ate breakfast on the top deck of the ship~

Which was overlooking
this picturesque city.

I bolted my food down.
Grabbed my camera, purse, Gary's hand
and walked all over Venice
one last time.

This time,
while sauntering through a little square, we
heard the most angelic orchestral music pouring out of
a church.
Gary and I looked at each other in utter amazement.
Once again were taken back.
Once again we stopped in our tracks.
And were drawn inside.
It happened to be a FREE exhibit at the Museum of Music~
Il Museo Della Musica.
It featured some of the most beautifully crafted violins in the ENTIRE world!
You see, if you didn't know already,
Violins have a history in Venice, Italy.
Here's a little Violin history for you...
The Museum of Music, is an exhibition dedicated to one of the artistic expressions which has enriched Italian culture. The making of stringed, wind, and plucked instruments has been a popular art in Italy since 1500 and many great instruments have been produced and admired over time. In fact, the violin was born in this part of the world.
Venice has been the source of numerous composers
and is strongly linked to one of the geniuses of Italian instrumental music,

Antonio Vivaldi who composed the Four Seasons.
And fortunately, we were lucky enough to accidentally stumble across this museum
our last day before heading home.

We gazed at each individual masterpiece in disbelief.
Each, absolute works of art.
As we did,
tears filled our eyes and streaked down our cheeks.
We were in heaven on Earth.

After our emotion-filled tour of the Museum of Music,
we did an audio tour of the Piazza San Marco
with Rick Steve's as our guide.
We sat ourselves down at the oldest cafe in the world,
The Florian.
Where we were served a light lunch
on a silver platter.

We took a peaceful, quiet tour of St. Mark's Basilica.

And explored Doge's Palace~
Which was the most incredible~
Most amazing~
place I've been to in my WHOLE life.
The architecture,
Jaw dropping.
{I had to pick my jaw up off the ground several times during this trip}.

Our tour of Venice, Italy
ended there.
At Doge's Palace.
We had to get back to the ship
to prepare for the
CA Technologies Award

Then again,
that is why we were there.
Gary is a Senior Solutions Strategist for CA.
He had such a successful year, they awarded him with a trip to the
And Venice, Italy was our final stop.

This was a black-tie, evening gown event.
Awards were given.

A special dinner was held at
The Arsenal
in Venice to celebrate.
It was Carnivale Themed.
We even wore masks.

And enjoyed some fun entertainment.

When the night ended, we took one last water taxi ride back to our ship
where we packed our bags.
And placed them outside our door by
The following morning we were to catch a bus to the
Venice Airport
and head back to US soil on a long flight home.

My last night on the ship, I didn't sleep.
I just tossed and turned all night.
I couldn't find my happy place.

Before I knew it,
the sun was shining through our curtains.
It was time to bid farewell to a place I'd
dreamt of my entire life.

As Gary and I got ready to go home that Friday morning,
I cried.
I looked out across our balcony at Venice
and thought about how thankful I was that we were given this opportunity of a lifetime.
To travel to parts of the world I never thought I'd have a chance to visit.
I was grateful for....
Each and every place I'd been.
Every place I'd seen.
Every feeling I'd felt.
And for the person who made it possible~
The love of my life.
We shared some pretty incredible moments together.

It was a trip I will cherish forever.

Now, each night as I lie down to go to bed,
I have no problem finding my happy place.
When I do,
I fall peacefully asleep.
And dream of
being back in

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Disneyland Halloween Trickery....& a Sweet Treat!

We tried to take the kids to Disneyland
this past weekend to see all the Halloween decorations and
go on a few rides.

Tried is the key word here.
Disneyland was a zoo.
Not an amusement park.
It was utter insanity.
Countless people had the same idea we did.
And amazingly we all converged on Disneyland at the exact same time.

We shuffled along.
through Adventure Land,
trying to make our way to Pirates of the Caribbean
and the Haunted House.
It took us 30 minutes just to navigate through
the crowd.

In that time,
I'm certain I rolled over
a half-dozen people's feet
with Megan's stroller.
Which made me feel horrible.
But how do you push a stroller
through a sea of people without
rolling over a few toes?

I have never seen so many frustrated
theme-park goers in one place at one time.
It went from the Happiest Place on Earth
to the Not-so-Happiest Place on Earth
in a flash.
And it definitely was NOT a Goulishly Good Time...

Having grown up in Southern California,
I've been to Disneyland
too many time to count.
And I have NEVER seen it like that!
It was baffling.
And far from magical.
At least this time around.

I think I can safely say
Disneyland was at full capacity.
Every line was hours long.
Even the handicap lines
{which we usually use},
extended for what seemed like miles.
Not worth the wait.
Not when you have season passes
and can pretty much go whenever you want.
I have to say,
I felt bad for those who were there on
vacation and don't have the luxury
of coming and going at their free-will.

we made the quickest exit possible.
And decided we'd
take a vacation day
from school soon.

With the hope that we can enjoy
all the Halloween festivities
on a future trip to Disneyland without
a million visitors there at the exact same time.
My fingers are crossed.

Instead of jumping on and off rides,
we sauntered through Downtown Disney.
And TREATED ourselves to a
little sweet dessert
at Haagan Daz.

I indulged and had a Brownies a la Mode Sundae
{which I shared with Megan}.
It was delicious.
And I don't want to know
how many calories it had.
And really if I'm being honest,
I don't care.
Not when it's one of my all time favorites.
And the perfect ending to an
entertaining evening together as a family.

Disneyland served up one thing over the weekend...
Halloween TRICKERY!
We thought we'd go and have a little Halloween fun,
instead to find it merely impossible.
Thankfully, there were no TRICKS at Haagan Daz.
Just a simply fabulous TREAT!

Trick or Treat!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Sweet~Stellar~Stunning California Sunset

Fall has arrived!!
At last.
It's my favorite time of year!

With it,
A little rain.
And some seriously
California style

Beyond breathtaking.

Funny thing is...
I shot these photos through the windshield
of my car while I was driving.

It was too amazing not to.
The sky was all shades of pink, orange, and blue.
The clouds floating around were large and puffy.
They were like mirrors reflecting the intense shades of the evening sky,
which looked like a canopy of heaven.

Thankfully, my camera lives in my purse so when I need it
it's at my immediate disposal.
Because you just never know what is going to catch your eye.

And this here
more than caught my eye.
I wanted to stop my car right there in the middle of the street.
Stop traffic.
Stand in the road.
And have a little photo session
with this stunning sunset.

But I figured that wouldn't be too safe.
And drivers probably wouldn't appreciate me being in their way.
People in California have places to go.
And they always need to get there...

So staying in my car,
reducing my speed,
and taking pictures through the windshield
was my best bet.
And safest.
And one I'm certain the drivers behind me appreciated.
Except for the fact I was going 10 MPH.

It was truly a
magnificent moment in my day.
It left me grateful to live in such
a beautiful place.
A place,
I absolutely love calling