Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Cafe Degas in New Orleans

We love our trips to New Orleans, and are able to go often, even just on the spur of the moment. Such was our trip last weekend, we needed to pick up some things from our friends at Zito’s, and decided to make it an overnight.

We have never visited the New Orleans Museum of Art, so we looked for restaurants nearby and found Cafe Degas, a French restaurant.

We miss France. Going to France was one of the best parts of living in Germany, not far from the French border. We were in France all the time, and oh, how we miss France.

We found Cafe Degas with no trouble, and were able to find a parking spot within a short walk.

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Each table filled almost as soon as it emptied. There were families, people coming in after church, friends meeting up to share their weeks. It had a great vibe.

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The bread was wonderful, crispy on the outside, light as a cloud on the inside

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We LOVE mussels. These were perfect, and the broth was exquisite.

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The mussels come with fries. Normally I will avoid fries, but oh, these were so good. I ate about half, more than I had intended! I had thought “oh one bite won’t hurt!” and twenty fries later, I still had trouble stopping.

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3127 Esplanade Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70119
(504) 945-5635

Hours of operation
Lunch: Wednesday through Friday 11:00am – 3:00pm.

We are open for drinks, salads and appetizers between lunch and dinner service Wed – Sat.
Dinner: Wednesday through Saturday 5:30pm – 10:00pm.
Sunday: 5:30pm – 9:30pm
Brunch: Saturday and Sunday 10:30am – 3:00pm

HAPPY HOUR Wednesday and Thursday 3:00pm – 6:00pm

All Major Credit Cards Accepted

January 21, 2017 Posted by | Cultural, Customer Service, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Food, France, Mardi Gras, Restaurant, Road Trips, Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Cooking Up That Angry Food

I have a friend that helps me keep my house clean. I started out as her employer, and now we have become friends. She lives a very different life from me, and I learn from her. Sometimes her perceptions will catch me by surprise.

As we were talking about volunteers and volunteering in churches, we found our churches to be very similar – and I am betting these experiences are universal.

“I’ve always liked washing dishes,” I tell her, “because nobody else wants the job, nobody is telling me how to do it, and I can just keep my head down and stay out of the uproars.”

“Yeh,” she says, “arguing over the little things, cooking up that angry food.”

“Angry food?” I ask.

“”Yeh, you know, you can taste it. When people are calm and happy, they cook differently, and the food comes out good, you can taste the love in it. When they in a hurry, or upset about something, food come out angry.”

Yep. I’ve cooked an angry meal or two myself. It’s a waste of good ingredients. You might as well just open a can of soup as cook angry food.

December 16, 2016 Posted by | Advent, Community, Cooking, Cross Cultural, Family Issues, Food, Humor, Quality of Life Issues, Survival | Leave a comment

The Cookie Diva

“Grandmama, I need to tell you something,” my little 3 year old granddaughter looks up at me earnestly.

“What is it?” I ask, kneeling down to be at her level.

“I am SO SO SO HUNGRY!” she states, holding her little tummy and making her eyes big.

“I have peanuts for you!”

She just looks at me.

“Or here is a little orange!”

“I want a COOKIE!”

This is easy.

“You know it’s just Baba and I living here. We don’t have any cookies because we don’t eat cookies.”

She just looks at me, boldly. She is not defiant, but there is something unbending in her posture, and in her unwavering eyes.

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(Thank you Cliparts.co for use of the free image)

Then those little eyes do a quick flick to the table, and back to me. Very quick, almost imperceptible, but I catch it, and I can’t help it, I start to laugh.

She’s right. We do have cookies, they are in the assembly of items I have to take to our Thanksgiving gathering. I had forgotten, but this sharp eyed little minx spotted them.

“You’ll have one on Thanksgiving, I promise you. And look, here are the snacks we have for you (all her favorites) for the drive down.

Telling my friend about it later, she asked “You didn’t open the package and give her a cookie?”

That had never occurred to me. “I should have?” I asked.

“No, I wouldn’t have, either,” she laughed.

“But I would have,” interjected AdventureMan. “I never say no my my grandkids.”

LOL, that is totally true. I am the one who doesn’t want them thinking they can have sweets every time they ask, and AdventureMan is the good guy, who gives them whatever their little hearts desire. They both adore AdventureMan. 🙂

November 20, 2016 Posted by | Aging, Counter-terrorism, Family Issues, Food, Humor, Parenting, Relationships | 1 Comment

Viking Sea: Santorini – It’s Complicated

I’ve always wanted to see Santorini. We once lived near ancient Carthage, and a nearby village, Sidi Bou Said, all white and deep turquoise blue, with tiny winding streets.

Coming into Santorini is beautiful. We had watched an excellent presentation the night before on how the volcanic activity and tectonic plates shape Santorini, and we loved seeing it and understanding it a little better.

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This is one of those places where the ship anchors out in the bay and you tender in. I had imagined little rubber rafts bobbing by the side of the big ship, so I was happily surprised when I saw what a “tender” looked like.

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There was one woman on board I noticed, and steered far away from, a woman who had no respect for others. She moved a man’s bag out of a chair she wanted to sit in, and just grinned at him when he noticed. She was waiting to board our tender, and had pushed her way to the front, but when she showed her ticket, she was not in the group called to board, and the Viking representative diplomatically told her she would have to wait until her group was called. I love it that Viking trains their staff to handle bullies with quiet firmness.

As we board the bus, AdventureMan said “Are you happy?” and I tell him “Yes, but it’s complicated.” Last year, on our voyage The Passage of the Moors, through Spain and Morocco, I waited until the last night to pack my bag, and on the last night, we joined two other couples we had thoroughly enjoyed, for dinner. I had a little sore throat at dinner, but we had duck, which I love, and so I couldn’t have been too sick.

But by the time we were back in our cabin, late, after too much wine and good conversation, I still had my packing to do, and packing is something I am generally very good at, very efficient, this time it didn’t go well. I was feverish, and not thinking clearly. I made mistakes. I ended up being really sick with a respiratory infection that took me a couple weeks to shake.

“I know I need to pack when we get back,” I told AdventureMan. “I don’t want to leave it to the last night. It’s hanging over me.”

Actually, once I said it, the anxiety went away, and I enjoyed Santorini.

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Santorini is a caldera, the remains of ancient volcano(s) and multiple eruptions. The soil is rich. We start off, I believe, driving to Oia, in the north. I say “I believe” because the signs are in Greek, and it is Greek to me. We arrive in a beautiful little town where you can see it is set up for tourists. As we walk toward the first photo op, walking into a church courtyard, we hear the sound of the Zorba theme, being played by a man sitting there. The guide gathers everyone into a circle and has them dancing.

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I could imagine my Mother, who is a lot of fun, joining the group and loving it.

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Below is one of my favorite photos from the trip:

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Oia

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Mostly what I remember about the ride back into Fira/Thira is that because of the climate, the grape vines do not climb high, they are kept low so that they may make best use of the humidity and moisture.

We are dropped off at a viewpoint with another shopping lane to the right, and at the end of the lane will be the cable car to take us to the tender to take us to the boat. We aren’t ready to go back yet. We come to the Church of the Candlemas, which is beautiful, and we sit inside, soaking in a little sanctity.

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There is one more thing I want to find, and along this path, I find it, just the thing, perfect. My little granddaughter wants a “twirly” dress, a dress that will fan out around her as she twirls. I find the perfect twirly dress.

 

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Never mind that after lunch, I find the same dress at a lower price.

Lunch. Yes, by this time we are hungry, and I am looking to the left, at restaurants overlooking the big caldera. We are looking at menus; we know what we want.

AdventureMan finds the exact right place for us, up on the hill to the right:RestaurantStaniFromPath

We climb multiple sets of stairs to get to the terrace, and it is worth it. There is a table waiting for us, in the shade, with a spectacular view, views on both sides of the island.

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We order a mixed appetizer plate and a mixed grill platter for two. We know we have ordered too much food, but we have no idea how much too much. It is enough for six or eight! We sample each treat, and content ourselves with hoping the untouched portions will feed others, or at least the hungry cats.

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We take our time. After lunch, we dawdle our way toward the cable car,

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and head down the hill, taking only seconds to get to the dock where the tender picks us up.

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I wish you could experience L’heure bleu in Santorini. The colors are exquisite, and I can’t capture the magic of this twilight.

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November 18, 2016 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Beauty, Cultural, ExPat Life, Food, Travel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Viking Sea: Corfu

We are awake as we come into Corfu, the sun is rising and although the forecast was for rain, we have another beautiful day. All along, the forecasts have been iffy, but the beautiful weather has held. How long can this last?

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We take the panoramic tour, and although our guide is very good and very knowledgeable, we are uncomfortable in a group of 40, and drop off once we get to the city. Corfu is our kind of place, the old city has beautiful family-friendly parks, and wonderful narrow little streets, full of interesting shops. This is perfect, because although we are not big shoppers, we like to bring something special back for those we love.

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The truth is, we know little about Corfu. We wandered, bought a souvenir or gift here and there, but didn’t really get beneath the surface. We can tell Corfu is tourist geared; in each shop the prices are lowered and the proprietors quietly tell us, “It’s the end of the season, the last boats are here. Soon we will shut down for the winter.”

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We’ve wandered to a place we don’t know, and looking at the map doesn’t seem to help. We sit down for drinks at a restaurant, looking at the map and signage, and figure out that it is really hard to get lost; there is the old fortress and the new fortress, and we are between the two. To get back where we need to be – the Old Fortress – we need to wind back the way we came. Meanwhile, we had drinks; too early for lunch.

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When we found this square, I heard a voice in my head say “I could be happy living on this square.” I don’t know that is true, but I liked the feel of this out-of-the way, neighborhood-like little plaza, and I have lived in places with the same feeling. In the center, in the shadows, is an old well.

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By the time we get back to familiar surroundings, we are getting hungry, and find a lovely restaurant on the square where we can sit, watch people. The service is cordial and helpful, but not rushing us. When we order, he tells us the bread is still baking, and he won’t bring our salads until the bread is ready. That’s OK. When the bread arrives, hot and crusty, it is really OK, it is some of the best bread we have ever tasted.

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Melanzane salad, which is tantalizingly close to Baba ghannoush and yet not:

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Taramosalata, which is a paste made of fish eggs and maybe cream cheese, and sounds awful, but we ate this a lot in Greek restaurants in Germany, and I got to like it.

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Oh! The crusty fresh hot bread! I only wish you could taste this for yourself, it truly brings to mind “the bread of life.”

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AdventureMan’s Pasta Marinara, which had lots of seafood in it.

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My Moussaka was heavy and rich, tasty, but not a good photo.

We take our time, have a cup of coffee, and wander over to where we catch the shuttle back to the ship. We enjoyed Corfu.

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November 16, 2016 Posted by | Adventure, Cold Drinks, Cultural, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Food, Restaurant, Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Dubrovnik: The Best Day of our Trip as We Walk the Walls

You know how you build expectations? From the time I started reading about Dubrovnik, I was excited. For one thing, some scenes from Game of Thrones are filmed there, and we are great fans.  Even more, there is a great hike; Dubrovnik has restored and created a wall all around the old city which you can hike. It isn’t for the faint-hearted; it starts with about 60 stair straight up. Once up, there are more stairs, FitBit told me we did 30 sets of stairs on the wall. There were ascents and descents, some a little challenging.  A friend who had done it before told me to be sure I had shoes with a good grip because the stones could be really slick. Even on a beautiful sunny day, there were a couple slick places, so I cannot imagine what it would be like to hike it in damp or rainy conditions.

But we had perfect weather, sunny and warm, but not hot, even a little chilly in the shade. We were also the only ship in town, a rare occurrence in Dubrovnik.

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LOL, no, that is not our ship, but I loved this old looking ship. It isn’t really old, and I imagine it is an events location, a party ship, but I loved it.

 

We took the panoramic tour, but dropped off once we got to the Pile gate at the entrance to old Dubrovnik. The first entry to the walls is just inside the gate, to the left, with good signage.

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About halfway up the double sets of stairs taking people up to the wall, I stepped aside, yes, to catch my breath because there are a LOT of people struggling up these steep stairs, but also to take a documentary photo:

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When you get to the top, the views are spectacular.

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I had read that the best strategy was to head uphill, first, get the worst over with, but as we started left, we saw this sign:

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So aarrgh! We had to turn the easy way first. Never mind. Each step introduced a new and spectacular sight.

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We sighted the Dubrovnik harbor from the walls, and decided when we finished our walk that we would have lunch there, if we could find a good place.

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Once we finished our hike, we explored the back streets in Dubrovnik, zig-sagging our way to the port:

 

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November 1st is coming soon; the flower markets are doing gang-busters business as Dubrovnik citizens buy flowers to remember their dead on All Saint’s Day.

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As we enter the port, we spot a restaurant where crowds of people are sitting in the sun, the Konoba Locanda Peskarija, eating cauldrons of mussels, big huge pots of mussels steamed in a simple wine broth, just the way we love them. We find a seat; we already know what we will order. As we wait, a wedding party arrives to have their photos taken in the port.

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A beautiful Dubrovnik salad to share:

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And a heaping cauldron of mussels, so many mussels we couldn’t eat the all! It was served with a basket of wonderful crusty bread to sop up the wine broth.

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We couldn’t be happier.

As we leave, we run into our friends from the ship at the restaurant next door; they have made an art purchase they are celebrating. We always have great chats with this couple.

We wander around a little longer, avoiding, as much as possible, the beautiful wide street down the center of old Dubrovnik until the very end:

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We head to the old gate once more, and just outside the gate is a shuttle, waiting to take us back to the Viking Sea. It doesn’t get any easier.

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Tonight we have dinner in the World Cafe. We have discovered that the food is the same as in the restaurant, but here we can deal directly with the chef and servers, and have exactly what we want in the small quantities we prefer. We have found a very quiet table, no one seated in our laps, and we can have our own quiet and private conversations, dine at our own pace; this isn’t what we thought we would prefer when planning our trip, but it seems to suit us well.

November 16, 2016 Posted by | Adventure, Cultural, Eating Out, Exercise, ExPat Life, Fitness / FitBit, Food, Travel, Weather | , , , , , | 4 Comments

Mamson’s for Afternoon Tea

It’s late in the afternoon, and we are back on board. We don’t want to nap; we are trying to get on local time, which keeps changing, put the clocks ahead an hour here and back an hour here. We love the Explorer’s Lounge, so we head up there for “tea”. They have lovely not-too-sweet pastries at Mamsen’s that we adore.

 

More of the Explorer’s Lounge:

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Our tea:

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Our location:

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Back to the room for sunset on our way to Dubrovnik!

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This night we checked the menus for all the restaurants and decided to try one called: The Restaurant. They seemed to have some really nice choices. No reservations. So we headed up around seven, and were seated. Other people sitting close; one party of seven having a good old time, and very loud. I can’t even remember what we ordered. Once again, no control over how much was coming, no control over timing. When we said we wanted to split a creme brûlée, the waitress brought us each one, and said “I know you really want to have your own.”

No. No, we didn’t. We don’t like waste, and we love good tastes, but we like them in moderation. Clatter and clanging of the dishes and flatware, too much noise, too little privacy and we don’t even get our say over dessert. One time in this restaurant was enough.

We walked off the creme brûlée – no, we didn’t eat the whole thing, but the evening is so lovely and we love the walks around the decks.

November 15, 2016 Posted by | Adventure, Arts & Handicrafts, Customer Service, Food, Restaurant, Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Zadar Lunch At Konoba Dalmacija

We’ve been roving the back-streets, because, as you know if you have read other travel articles on this blog, what gets our blood going is learning how other people live, what we have in common, how we differ. As we roam the backstreets in old Zadar, we start to get hungry, and AdventureMan sticks his head in an unlikely doorway and finds a treasure: Konoba Dalmacija.

 

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Inside the wall is a hidden restaurant, full of trees and outdoor tables, perfect for today.

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We are in the center of several low rise apartments, and some have hung out their laundry. This is really a local’s restaurant.

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Local beer for AdventureMan:

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Local wine for me:

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The waitress was wonderful. The first thing we asked was if they would accept Euros; we had been told that in Croatia some places only accepted Croatian money. We never had any problem using Euros. She said yes, of course they took Euros, and we placed our orders. There was a fish we used to buy and fix in Tunisia, D’aurade, and they had this fish in Croatia, called Dorada, meaning golden eye. I had a Croatian salad and D’aurade, AdventureMan had the pork tenderloins with mushroom sauce, which tasted a lot like a German Jaegerschnitzle.

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My salad was very good, my fish was yummy, but the oh, pork with mushroom sauce was OMG! OMG! OMG! Delicious.

As we were waiting and eating, local people came in to eat, and one old man who had salad and soup, and it seems he must have the same meal every Sunday after church.

Then, in rushed a young Japanese man shouting “Warning! Warning! I am coming in five minutes with fifty people!”

And, sure enough, following closely behind him was a very large group of Japanese who followed him to the inside restaurant.

We quickly signaled for our bill, paid, and left. They were going to have their hands full!

Zadar on a beautiful sunny Sunday afternoon was a treat. Entire families came out near the ship, playing in the park, having coffee in the park cafe’s, visiting the Sea Organ and Salute to the Sun and taking photos of the Viking Sea. We were delighted to be in Zadar.

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November 15, 2016 Posted by | Adventure, Cultural, ExPat Life, Food, Restaurant, Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Viking Sea First Port: Koper, Slovenia, “Koper is a Very Small Town”

AdventureMan looks out our sliding glass door and says “We’re already here! I can see Koper from here!” We’ve signed up for a tour, and we aren’t scheduled to meet for an hour or more, so we head for breakfast, find a quiet, sunny table near the stern and then get ready to head into town.

 

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We haven’t found a lot of information on Koper, Slovenia. It wasn’t on our original itinerary. Actually, the whole reason we signed up for this tour was because it ended in Istanbul, in a country we love and have visited several times. Months after we booked, the itinerary changed, after the coup and bombings in Turkey. Probably a good bet, our better instincts tell us, but all the same, we are sorely disappointed to miss out on Istanbul. Our first trip to Istanbul was in 1975, and we were enchanted. It influenced later choices. We still hope to be able to visit again.

But Viking needed to come up with some other options, and Koper was one of them.

One thing Viking does really, really well is destinations. They give you a lot of background, and I love the way they group us. First to sign up get the earlier tours. As you get off the ship, they give you a group number, and they warn you that if you want to tour with friends, make sure that group shows up together. It is a very efficient system – once a group is formed, off they go.

So off we went.

We should have caught on a little sooner, but we didn’t. The guide was charming, but we stayed by the ship for about 15 minutes as she told us a little about Slovenia, and then we spent 10 minutes by an olive tree while she told us how very small Koper is, and how small Slovenia is, and how Slovenia looks like a chicken. Then we walked past a very old church, not much information, then we walked to a school where Italian children attended and she told us a little more about how small Koper is and how small Slovenia is.

Have I mentioned before that AdventureMan and I are not very good at being herded?

By this point, AdventureMan and I are trying to figure out how to make a get-away. We let the group go ahead, and peel off down a small little alley (Koper is very small.) We find some delightful sights; Koper reminds us of a very small village we loved in Germany, Neuleiningen). We walked a little and found ourselves on the other side of the peninsula, and walked back to the big town square. (Koper is very small.)

 

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There are some quaint sights in Koper, which is a lot like Germany thirty years ago.

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The town square

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We are back on the ship by lunch time – Koper really is a very small town. We head for the spa, and have a wonderful time soaking and enjoying the sauna, the cold tub, the churning big pool and the hot tub, the snow room, and again, the sauna. Soooooo relaxing.

The sun goes down.

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This is our night to eat at The Chef’s Table. We figure it is a little dressier, but we figure wrong, people on this ship are not dressing. That is fine with us. But once again, we are seated very close to other people, so close we can hear every word of their conversation, and, if we talk in normal voices, they can hear every word of our conversation. Portion sizes are small, which we don’t mind, but maybe a little precious, which we do mind. Like a tiny thimble full of very icy pieces of raspberry. Sorry, I don’t get it. In addition, there was once again the clattering and clanking and the talking among people serving and the odd spacing of the courses and sorry, get me out of here. It was noisy, it was not relaxed. Not special, for us.

Once we finish, we take a walk around the ship, lots of decks, then back to the cabin to listen to the waves slosh against the ship as we head for Zadar.

November 15, 2016 Posted by | Adventure, Food, Restaurant, Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Dinner at La Palanca, Giudecca

There is a freedom to being retired, a lovely freedom, you begin to care a lot less about “should.” Like, “OMG, we’ll only be in Venice for three days we SHOULD ________” and there are a million things to fill in the blank. We’ve actually been in Venice before, and that takes off a lot of pressure. When we feel, in late afternoon, like a nap before dinner, we don’t feel guilty, we take that nap.

After napping, we know where we want to go, we’ve read about it on Trip Advisor and passed it several times, La Palanca, right by one of the vaporetto stops. La Palanca does not serve dinner, but they do serve little snacks, and after our wonderful lunch at Rosa Rossa and our Tiramisu at the cafe, we aren’t interested in eating a big dinner, a snack is fine with us.

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This is the only photo I could take; this is the bar where people are gathered. There is a party of ten or so back where we are sitting, all old friends and neighbors, drinking, eating snacks. Just after I took this photo, more and more people come in, almost all standing around this counter where wine, beer and little open faced sandwiches are served continuously. We were there a couple hours, we never felt out of place, although everyone else knew each other. One man had his little dog with him, and the dog was a big hit.

If we were going to live in Venice, I think we would like living in Guidecca, where there are not so many tourists, and life seems to be more normal. We like the neighborhood feel, and we don’t mind the vaporetto rides.

We shared a grilled caprese (tomatoes, basil and mozzarella di bufolo) sandwich, then, later, saw a tray of shrimp with onion coming out, and AdventureMan got a couple of those. The onions and the shrimp were pickled; it was a small treat, but memorable.

La Palanca does a great lunch time business, and had we not gone to Rosa Rossa, we would have tried to eat a lunch here. They get great reviews.

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After leaving, we took a last vaporetto ride by night, and by the time we returned, the neighborhood party at La Palanca had spilled out onto the large sidewalk along the canal. It was a Thursday night, maybe they are all celebrating that the weekend is near.

November 15, 2016 Posted by | Adventure, Cultural, Eating Out, ExPat Life, Food, Italy, Living Conditions, Restaurant, Travel, Venice | , | Leave a comment