Sure Pula has some of the best-preserved Roman ruins in the world, a remarkable amphitheater that rivals the Coliseum, a Temple of Augustus that inspires awe. But our first stop in this fabled city? The fish market. Housed in a spanking new building that adjoins its fruit and vegetable counterpart, it features some two dozen vendors offering the freshest of the daily catch, including those octopi over on the right. I guess this vendor has seen it all before, so he can be excused for texting or whatever it is he’s doing. But these abundant markets are still thrilling for us, and we generally make them our first stop in every port we hit.
November 11, 2018
Market day in Kotor, and all of the vendors carrying their produce from local farms and gardens into town to sell. On this beautiful crisp autumn morning, olives and mushrooms were in greatest abundance. Unripe, uncured olives, as seen here, still not freed of their bitter unappetizing juices. And huge mushrooms, fist-sized, most already sliced and primed for drying, readying them for storage and use during the winter. Farmhouse cheeses, homemade breads and brandies, and the last of the October harvest’s fruits and vegetables. For us, a wonderfully different experience these markets. For the Montenegrans, a way of life.
November 10, 2018
Having breakfast each morning on the upper deck of our Windstar ship as we approach the day’s new port, a great treat. For me, sometimes Greek yogurt with pecans, raisins, bananas and pineapple. Sometimes more. For Jay, always smoked salmon with tomato slices and pesto. (Another great treat: being gently awakened each a.m. by coffee brought to our stateroom.) I’m generally uncomfortable with, well, comfort. But for these cruises, I bent the rules.
November 9, 2018
There are lots of advantages to staying on the island of Giudecca when visiting Venice. It’s only a two-minute vaporetto hop to the main part of town. You don’t run into thousands of tourists as you walk to the market or to the bar for your morning coffee. The restaurants are frequented mostly by residents of the neighborhood, so the food is good (prompting revisits) and simple, the prices are lower, and the conversation is lively and in Italian (or Venetian.) Also, you get to sit outside on the quay as you dine, looking across the channel at this beautiful vista of the magical city. When you stroll leisurely back to your lodgings afterwards, you’re likely to be either alone in your wanderings or in the company of, at most, two or three Giudecca locals. And when you go to sleep at night, it’s blessedly quiet.
November 8, 2018
Yum yum! No matter how you spell it, in English or in Catalan, it still means the same thing. And Jay and I were echoing that napkin’s printed sentiment as we ate at Tapas, 24 not that long ago. Prompting our deep satisfaction, the following selection of tapas: braves, pa amb tomàquet, truita espanyola amb pernil and boquerones al limón. For those of you whose Catalan may not be quite up to snuff, that’s fried potatoes with hot sauce and garlic mayonnaise, toast rubbed with tomato and olive oil, potato and onion omelette with Serrano ham and fried anchovies with lemon. A wonderful assortment at a wonderful place we were happy to revisit.
November 7, 2018
My late friend Dali, martyr to any photo op she was offered. For example, here in the famous water gardens of the Villa d’Este at Tivoli. Less than 20 miles outside of Rome, Tivoli is also the site of Emperor Hadrian’s Villa, his country retreat from Rome, built during the 2nd century AD. (He is said to have disliked Rome so much that he governed almost exclusively from his Tivoli home during the last years of his reign.) Much of his 250-acre estate remains unexcavated, but one site that has been unearthed is Hadrian’s temple to his young lover Antinous whom he proclaimed a god. A religious cult grew up around Antinous, one that continues to this day. (Unfortunately, YouTube has removed the video of my friend Ernest in his BBC debut, pointing out representations of the gay god in the Louvre. Antinous, if you're listening, please take care of restoring it, OK?)
November 6, 2018
Have you all voted today? I love voting and do it every chance I get. I have friends who never vote. Can you believe that? Their excuse: “What difference does my one vote make?” I don’t even have to answer that, do I? With all the shenanigans that surround this year’s American presidential election (challenging voters’ rights to vote, CEOs threatening to fire employees if their chosen candidate doesn’t win, etc.), our electoral process is beginning to approach that of, say, Venezuela. Just a matter of time, I think. Still, I believe that my vote counts. And I believe that yours does, too. Do it. (I wrote the above text on Election Day 2012. And just look at what has happened to our country in the years that followed. VOTE!)