Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category
diagonals

Brindisi

Lizzie

“Okay, well then,” our tour guide began. “Brindisi now is known for being a port to the Greek Islands, a modest fisherman’s village, a military base, and for its ancient Roman columns which mark the end of the Appian Way.” As our little tram putted its way around the quaint town marked here and there by significant historical landmarks, I wondered why Brindisi isn’t more well known. Its natural harbor has been in use since before the Roman expansion. After being conquered by the Romans in 267 BCE, it became a Naval base and huge center of maritime trade. Throughout a series of takeovers, wars, and natural disasters, Brindisi has remained true to its roots as a port and military stronghold. To a Los Angelino who thought Boston Common was old, Brindisi practically bled history.

Towards the end of the tour our guide, a pretty young woman obviously proud of each landmark and story of Brindisi’s long and meaningful history, took on a somber note. As we worked our way down a quiet and not-exactly-luxurious part of town, she sighed, “You have seen the Godfather, you think of Italy and you think of the glamorous Mafia. The Mafia is not glamorous and it is not good. The Mafia is a cancer on our society.” Her forlorn tone as she spoke of the plague of the Mafia on Italian society revealed the answer to my earlier musing: the Mafia clearly has a stronghold on Brindisi, and it’s prevented a historically significant town from becoming the cultural mecca it should be.

diagonals

Hvar

Lizzie

After bidding a rainy farewell to Venezia to board the Seabourn Spirit for a week of unfathomable luxury and adventure, our first stop was Hvar, Croatia. During the months of eager anticipation leading up to the trip, Hvar was the place most shrouded in mystery for me. No matter how much I read about the opulent marina, fresh seafood, and astonishing natural beauty there, I just could not imagine a place so different from everything I’ve ever known, and so far away from any place I’d ever been.

On the ten minute tender ride from the ship to the marina in Hvar, fear of boats and oceans newly forgotten and full of anticipatory electricity, I thanked every lucky star for the opportunity to be here, seeing this. The intense cerulean water, unlike any I had ever seen, eased my worries and calmed me in a way I never imagined an ocean could. As we pulled up to the marina, I was first in line to leap from the tender to land and breathe in Hvar.

The first thing I noticed, which I didn’t expect because I had no expectations, was the smooth, spicy smell of grilled meats. The restaurants on the marina were touristy (and almost assuredly overpriced), but a short walk to the center of the village revealed undeniable Middle-Eastern influence complete with a fast food stand featuring fresh kebab. It was abundantly clear we were no longer in Italy.
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diagonals

Venezia

Lizzie

It’s been a really long time since I posted anything. A really, really long time. Here’s the story: back in April, light years ago in consideration of how much I’ve done since then, my best friend invited me on the trip of a lifetime. We started in Venezia and worked our way to Roma, followed by a week in Toscana. My next several posts will highlight the places we saw, the things we did, and the food we ate on a two and a half week spectacular journey by land and by sea.

Our time in Venice was short, rainy, and completely charming. We arrived just in time to walk to dinner at a local cafe, where the wine was rich, the lamb was fresh, and where I fell comfortably into immediate, wholehearted love with Europe.
(I also got my first taste of the brilliance of Italian tomatoes and Italian meal-culture, which I gladly enjoyed at every opportunity.)

The next morning, following a gondola ride that thrilled me over and over, we walked the streets and alleys of Venice with no particular destination in mind until it was time to bid a bittersweet adieu. Though I still had over two weeks of Italian tomatoes, rich wine, and incomprehensible adventures ahead of me, boarding a boat to Croatia on a rainy August day in Venice, I knew: I’m far from done with this city.