Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Italy: Pope Parade

The congregation quickly quieted right before mass started in St. Mark's Basilica.  We strained our necks and scanned the church trying to figure out what captivated everyone's attention.  We then heard shuffling and looked to the left to see... it was unbelievable...

The Pope?!


The Pope walked around the inner walls of church and then, within arm's length, down the center aisle.  I instantly became holier.  An angel's halo formed above Ben's head.  Forgiveness washed away our sins.

We barely contained our excitement.

Until... we later learned it wasn't the Pope.  Bummer.  It was actually a cardinal, but we didn't know that until we found someone who spoke English about 90 minutes later. Oops!

The cardinal and other religious leaders marched in a ceremony around the Piazza San Marco after mass.  We took pictures even though we had no idea about their titles or the meanings of their clothing.

Here are a few snapshots.  The first picture is of the cardinal who we mistook for the Pope.  Easy mistake, right?

Monday, December 5, 2011

Italy: Attending Mass

I've never considered myself a risque dresser.  I hardly push the envelope in the wardrobe department.  There was that one time in college on Halloween... but, come on.  I was 23 years old and only worked it because I knew that it was all downhill from there.

So, imagine my surprise when an old Italian lady swatted and shooed me for revealing my shoulders when entering St. Mark's Basilica in Venice.  My shoulders.  My New York side took over immediately and I not only shot a dirty look back, but shooed her as well.  Take that, Nona.

I expected a dress code at St. Mark's Basilica, a huge Roman Catholic cathedral.  I just didn't foresee it being quite so conservative.  Who knew the shoulders could be so titillating?

Luckily, I packed a sweater that passed inspection.

We settled into two seats near the middle of church. Mass hadn't started yet, so we took pictures to document everything.  After a few pictures, a woman in front of us turned around and swatted at our camera while shaking her head no.

How many inappropriate things could we do?  How many Italians would we offend?  I guess a lot. Typical Americans.

Below are outside and inside pictures from St. Mark's Basilica.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Italy: Venice and 007

This picture makes me think of Bond. (Pause). James Bond. (Pause).

Except, this scene is much calmer than the one in the movie... no buildings collapsing or people falling in the water or boats blowing up in the Grand Canal. Thank goodness.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Italy: Bella in Venice

Ah... vacation. These pictures remind me of how much I appreciate the summer. Especially, when not working and getting to tour a foreign city that caters to tourists' every desire. (Insert lip smacking and a content sigh).  

Italy: Italian Stallion

Check out the Italian Stallion I spied in the streets of Venice! 

Few men can rock a digital camera on their belt like this one. 

Caldo. Molto caldo.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Italy: Float On

Venice... what I wouldn't do to trade my domestic beer and Ikea Poang chair for a bottle of Italian wine and a gondola ride down the Grand Canal. Those days were too good to be true.

Below are some pictures that we took around Venice.  Venice was a photographer's dream.  Every street, every building, and every corner became the perfect backdrop for a picture.  It was a Bar Mitzvah/wedding/senior portrait/family photo goldmine.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Italy: Deep In Thought

Apparently, I did a lot of thinking on this particular afternoon in Venice. Could I have looked any more serious?  Honestly, someone needed to loosen up a bit.  There better have been an adult beverage in that glass.  

I was probably admiring Venice's architectural marvels.  Or, maybe my gnocchi was still digesting and I was in a food coma. Or, better yet, perhaps I was eavesdropping on Italian mob conversations. Yes, the last one must have been it.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Italy: Venice Bound

After Paris, we hopped on a plane and headed to Venice, a city built on the water. We stayed at a little hotel right off one of the main walkways.  The hotel offered a free continental breakfast every morning, a planned perk that saved us a little money, and one TV channel only in German, a surprising perk that entertained us for hours late at night. Germany, it seems, has very impressive Clint Eastwood voiceovers.

At first, everything about our hotel room seemed great… until nightfall, when we noted a problem.  Mosquitoes. Everywhere.

During our visit, we learned that they built Venice on top of a lagoon. And, since mosquitoes live, grow, breed, and love watery places, they loved Venice. Big time. We noticed how many modern day Venetians used smart inventions, like window screens, to stop mosquitoes from flying into their homes.  Unfortunately, our hotel didn’t.

The problem started when the cleaning lady left the window open in our room. That acted as a blinking neon sign, inviting all mosquitoes along the Grand Canal to stop by and enjoy a feast.  The first night, I watched about a dozen mosquitoes flit along the walls and ceiling.

Ben didn’t freak out, but I definitely did. I imagined them circling my head in a feeding frenzy, crawling in my hair and under the covers.  I smashed as many mosquitoes as I could with a magazine.  I emulated some of the German Clint Eastwood’s moves to kill them with better precision.

Since I couldn’t get all of the mosquitoes, I slept as stiff and still as possible with the bedcovers pulled tightly around my chin.  I took shallow breaths because I feared they might be attracted to carbon dioxide as I exhaled (an unproven theory). I woke up eight hours later in the same position with some buzzing around my ears.

Ben, on the other hand, slept shirtless with the covers kicked off, which was a perfect diversion from me.  Since he exposed his skin to the mosquitoes, they didn’t bother me near as much as they bothered me. I like to think that did that out of love

He is such a good, good husband.  

Mosquito Central

Free breakfast in the hotel courtyard

Sprichst du Deutsch, Clint Eastwood?  I am impressed.
(Do you speak German, Clint Eastwood?)

Sunday, October 9, 2011

France: Ecclesiastical Points

I promise that this is the last post about Paris, even though I still have about 500 more photos left to share.  

We toured the Notre Dame de Paris cathedral and emerged considerably holier, which is good because I am of Van Kersen lineage, and we all know what that means... I need as much divine intervention as possible.   Hopefully, I gained some ecclesiastical points during our visit to Notre Dame.

* Ben looks so much better than me in the last picture, and I attribute it to his hair staying in one place and mine going everywhere from the open top bus tour.

Monday, October 3, 2011

France: Hanging In There

I loved the Louvre Museum even though it took its toll on me. Don't get me wrong... I appreciated the paintings by world renowned artists, and I appreciated the thousand year old sculptures that lined the (really) long hallways. But, walking miles on marble floors and reading tiny placards exhausted me. What can I say? I was on vacation.

By the time Ben took this picture, I had consumed two packs of peanut M&Ms, leftover cookies, and one water. In the picture below, I was on the verge of sliding down the wall for a "wee" nap. I don't think Venus de Milo would have minded.  

I continuously searched the area for the nearest snack bar as we moseyed around, only to find that it was in another wing of the former palace.  Fortunately, for me, Amanda felt the same way and we left Brian and Ben to graze in greener pastures (literally, we ate at the restaurant located near the entrance while the boys checked out a few more exhibits).

Saturday, September 24, 2011

France: Party People

One evening, we cruised around Paris via boat to get a different view of the city. Unbeknownst to us, Paris has a pretty happening waterfront. People gathered and chilled along the Seine River - drinking bottles of wine, playing music, and shouting in French to the tourists on the boats (us). 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

France: Famous Friend

We met the most popular lady in Europe (besides Kate Middleton)...

Thursday, September 15, 2011

France: Paris

The Eiffel Tower by day...

The Eiffel Tower by dusk...

 The Eiffel Tower by night...