With everything going on lately I haven't had a chance to do the recap from our trip to Venice last weekend. Since we're leaving in a couple weeks, it might actually turn out to be our last trip to Venice. If so, I'm satisfied that we got our money's worth.
Our friends Mike and Grace from Rotterdam in the Netherlands came down for the weekend to experience a bit of Bella Italia. And if you know me, I love to play host to anyone wanting to experience Italy. We picked them up Friday afternoon and set out for Venice. By the time we checked into our hotel, it was dinner time so we headed to the Alla Madonna where we had a less than stellar meal. Typical Venice - Si spenda tanto e si mangia male (you spend a lot and you eat badly). We should have just done panini. But I digress...
Anyway, we were there to show Mike and Grace the city and visit the bars so after dinner we headed towards my old standby, the Devil's Forest Pub. Had some Guinness and chatted while the X Man played with a couple other kids who were there. From there we hit the Bacaro Jazz which, if you know me, is my favorite drinking establishment in Venice. They've got good wine, good beer, the place is usually crowded and lively, and the bartender Mary is one cool chick (she's from Niagra Falls, btw).
We had some vino there, then headed for another one of my favorite pubs - the Fiddler's Elbow. One of the best things about the Fiddler's Elbow is the Kebab shop right next door. It's by far the best kebab I've ever had. I go there everytime we're in Venice and the guy there knows me by now.
From there it was back to Bacaro Jazz which was quite packed by that point. Mike and I kept yelling "If it's not Scottish, it's CRAP!" (It's from a Saturday Night Live skit...) for some reason so imagine how funny it was when this dude walking by stopped and asked us if we were from Scotland, which of course, he happened to be. We ended drinking with him and a bunch of others all night:
The night ended badly however as we were not able to locate any drunk food due to the late hour. Good drunk food is paramount to any night out in Venice so it detracted from the experience but we persevered like the troopers that we are.
The next day was exremely full. We took Mike and Grace to some of the main sights - the Piazza San marco, the Bridge of Sighs, the Accademia, etc. Grace runs a little business where she makes and sells hand-made jewelry and beads, etc, so she was in heaven in the many glass and bead shops:
We packed in quite a bit for one day - so much so that by the time we made it to the car, all of us were practically limping. If we wer horses, you would have lined us up and shot us one by one.
So we left Venice, but Mike and Grace's real Italian experience was yet to come. I had lined up a dinner with our upstairs neighbors, Giampietro and Agnese, for that night. Agnese made some pasta with asparagus and we also had some bresaola with rucola and grana and some nice steaks that Virginia cooked up. I wanted to ensure that Mike and Grace got the absolute most out of their 2 days here so I broke out one of my prized Brunello di Montalcino's for dinner. God, it was exquisite. After dinner came the ever present cheeses, no less than 6 different types. It was a very special - and international - night. American, Italian, Filipino, and Dutch, all at the same table. And despite the language barrier, we were all like old friends. That's one of the things I love about Giampi and Agnese, and the main reason I wanted to do dinner with them upstairs rather than take Mike and Grace out to a really good local restaurant for dinner. I'm satisfied that I made the right choice. Here's a couple of pics from dinner:
We finished the night at home watching the movie "Euro Trip" which Mike go ta kick out of, being European and all. I was feeling the moment so I even delved back into my collection and opened a 1997 Barbaresco. It, too, was fanastic.
Overall, it was an outstanding weekend, one of the most enjoyable I've had in quite some time. As I mentioned, I always enjoy showing people my Bella Italia, but when they really enjoy it and I can see how much they appreciate the things they see and experience, it just makes it that much better. Here are some more pics from the weekend:
As you can tell by that last picture, Mike and Grace were pretty much spent by the time we dropped them off at the airport. I was extremely satisfied that they received a true Italian experience so the drive home was nice. I had met Mike and Grace about a year earlier on my Amsterdam trip (check the blog archives, last May) but I wasn't sure how well Virginia and Grace would hit it off. Turns out they got along great and we all had the best weekend. As for the X Man, he really took to both Mike and Grace - especially Grace. So, I'm wondering...Grace, what the hell did you do to my kid?! Har har...you guys better visit again soon...
[ADDENDUM: We're in Germany and indeed the X Man seems to have developed an infatuation with Grace. For example, on the drive up here we told him that he had to wear his seatbelt and he responded "Anche Grace!", which is Italian for "Grace has to wear hers too!". He has also commented a few times "Call Grace" when I log onto the computer. Also, everytime we pull up their website and he sees it he yells "Mikie Grace!". And the "coup de grace" (no pun intended) was today as we were walking around the Altstadt (old town) in Heidelberg, he saw an Asian girl who looked sort of like Grace and he pointed and yelled "Grace! Grace!"
This is sort of a first as usually it's the other way around - the women always develop a crush on him. Grace, you are certainly special...]