Thursday, June 29, 2017

Sunday Fun-day in Slovenia!

What a busy morning! A lecture from Prof. Yasha, team presentations and a meeting with the Mayor of Bled, Mr. Janez Fajfar, who graciously gave up part of his Sunday to give us insight into the economy and tourism trade in Bled.  Some intrepid folks hiked up to the castle (I heard it only took "four more minutes" ;-) and people have posted amazing pictures!) but I was feeling characteristically unwell, so I took a short nap.  Then we were back on the bus for a fun afternoon in Ljubljana.
Ready to go!

Boxed lunches from the hotel: this ham and cheese sandwich, bread and an assortment of accoutrements that included butter, cheese, and some kind of meat pate spread that reminded me of liverwurst. An apple, cake for dessert, and a bottle of water. (Did I miss anything? It was a lot of food!)

There are beautiful surprises around every corner.  Look at that fountain!

Takla, before.
Takla, after.  (Poor baby!)

Dean Shawky likes a Segway tour!

Dance lessons on the rooftop of Nebotičnik, in the cafe.

When the lady says dance, Bill dances.  (Do not thwart Kozeta.)

See my beautiful coffee to the bottom right?  That might have something to do with me not getting over jet lag as quickly as I should have ...

This #AccidentalSelfie is my personal best.  HAHAHA

Kathy, Jocelyn, Nafeesa and Kozeta.

Little Free Library in the park.  Wooden crates of appealing books, comfy hammock chairs, cushions.  Sometimes it was empty and sometimes it was totally full.   I sat happily on a park bench and wrote some postcards.

Tired and happy!

Prof. Yasha hired a fantastic tour guide and a boat to take us through Ljubljana's canals.  We heard a totally different explanation of the dragon story from our guide, but I still enjoyed reading this one. 

What a great way to see this pretty city!

Beautiful Ljubljana, Slovenia

Street view.

This wallpaper lady on an industrial background.  We saw a bunch of these.

Bird's-eye view out a window at University of Ljubljana.

Bleary from a night of strange sleep and a long bus ride, not to mention a delicious but large gourmet lunch, our cohort nevertheless was riveted by the beauty of Ljubljana. 

Prof. Lev Kreft gave an informative presentation (I wish I'd asked for his slide deck) and helped us gain a better understanding of the political influences in present-day Slovenia. 

Navigating In Venice (and Is This the Best Gelato?)

We were together as a big group during most of our time in Venice.  At some point a big group split off to see the Rialto Bridge, I joined the group going for a gondola ride, and after that everyone else wanted to go back to the hotel, and that left me and Fred in search of the amazing gelato place that John had found.  There wasn't a line, so Fred negotiated with the lady, who let him have four flavors in his two scoops.  But then he had to try to choose:

Decisions, decisions!

I'm not going to say the choice was easy, but I did make it: baci (chocolate hazelnut) and pistachio for me, please!

It was delicious.

Then we needed to find our way back to our awesome hotel. Prof Yasha chose this place wisely and with us in mind.  Venice is confusing to navigate; it's easy to be right around the corner from where you want to be and not realize it.  So we knew we could always find our way back to the hotel by following signs to Piazza San Marco and regrouping from there. 

Then Fred and I saw a sign like this:


It makes logical sense now. Since San Marco is straight ahead, it doesn't matter if you go right or left, both parallel streets are going in the same direction, so they are both correct.  But this sign gave us momentary pause and we even got out my paper map. (I could have turned on my GPS on my phone, but I wanted to try to figure it out ourselves, my lousy sense of direction has not been improved by the GPS in my pocket!)

Fortunately, we weren't far from the Piazza. Fred helped a nice family have a photo that included them all and the gorgeous background.... 
made some pigeon pals...

And we went back to the hotel.  Getting ready for dinner, I peeked out my window to take a picture of the view and got a bonus shot of Kristopher and Jocelyn!
Look at that.


Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Early Saturday Morning... Rialto Market in Venice

For the few of us willing to get up early on Saturday, Prof Yasha graciously took us on one more fabulous Yasha Tour to the locals' fruit market near the Rialto bridge.  We walked from our lovely hotel and the views of the often-crowded popular spots were really worth waking for.  It was an easy walk because there weren't many people out yet.

Cheers to the bride and the groom--they got up early for some uncrowded shots of Piazza San Marco! Just them, the photographer and the friendly pigeons. (We stayed out of their shot!)

There it is, Rialto Bridge!

 Lily must have taken this one, because she's not in it. The Early Birdies, L-R: Me (Bridget), Lan, Il Maestro Professor Yasha, Bill.

Vendors were just starting to unpack around 7:30.

Spices, rice, dried pasta.


We bought some of these figs and some grapes, but the lady yelled at us in Italian...maybe she was not ready for customers?

Squash blossoms and watercress, big delicacies in the States!

Dried fruits and veggies.

We considered taking the Vaporetto back to the hotel, but Prof Yasha surprised us with a taxi ride!  We could see the vendors for the market unloading and the gondoliers getting ready for a busy Saturday. We watched 2 large cruise ships pull in to the port as well, and before we knew it "our" part of San Marco was crowded.

What an amazing view of the city--thanks, Prof Yasha!

Santa Maria della Salute.  When I return to Venice, I'm going in!

We had enough time for a quick pastry and cappuccino before loading our bags on the boat Prof Yasha hired to take us to the Airport.  Here are Rob and Vikram running to board before 10 am sharp departure!

Ciao, Venice!

That gorgeous orange cocktail!

Prof Yasha was right, this is truly the best cocktail--an Aperol Spritz.
It's as bright and summery as that tablecloth at the street cafe in Venice! (Hi Lily and Lan!)

How does it taste?

Like long days of sunshine, with a side of bubbling laughter and that heavy-limbed feeling you get when your work day is done, you've clocked 11 miles on your FitBit, and you're ready to relax with your favorites.

(Maybe I am biased because I had my first one with Jocelyn...but they are delicious, different and not too heavy. The perfect drink before dinner...or after dinner.)

Here's how you make one:

Add ice to a large balloon glass, and add:
3 parts Prosecco
2 parts Aperol liqueur
1 part acqua frizzante (that's fizzy water)
Garnish with an orange wheel.

Italians have enjoyed Aperol since 1919, when it was introduced at the Padua International Fair, but Spritzes were not common until the 1950s.  In the 2000s Aperol sponsored the Moto GP World Championship.  There is our tie-in to Akrapovic!

Gelato > Leonardo da Vinci

While standing outside the Leonardo da Vinci museum, the only thing on our minds was the incredible gelato... This shines a surprising light on prioritizing immediate relevance when hot and hungry 🍦 

Monday, June 26, 2017

You call THAT a ceiling?

THIS is what a real palace should look like, talk about serious wealth. Even though the Doge was supposedly only living in 10 rooms of this palace, we all know where he was spending his time

My Dinner is Staring...

Given the choice I probably wouldn't opt to have fish heads on my plate, but "when in Croatia"... Do as the Croats do right?

Malvasija Wine Tradition

Malvasija wine, the "Queen of Istria". What a delightful tradition that in Istria, when someone comes to your home you off them a glass of wine, regardless of time of day or occasion. I do wonder how they determine who to offer wine to? We should email Tin!
I.e. "Hey there!" ... "Hellooo".... "Come in for a glass of wine and a casual conversation?".... "Well I am just delivering the mail, but tradition is tradition."

We Ain't No Bob the Builder

Uljanik needs no Bob the Builder, just some haphazard American MBA students with open-toed shoes.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Venice, Italy
Gondoliers, Gondoliers!

What does it take to be one? A lot apparently! To begin you need almost 300,000 Euros: 250,000 license fee and 30,000 to 40,000 euros to buy a gondola. AND your father and grandfather had to have been gondoliers as well. Another way millionaires found a way to take and keep public waters for themselves.

The ride was fun thou!