One day in Ravenna

We stopped over in Ravenna on the way down to the ferry port in Piombino. It was worth every minute. I had not realized how many mosaics and works of art and lovely churches there are and many are on the UNESCO world heritage site list.

 

In the center of the old town there is the Piazza del Populo with restaurants, gelaterias and the town hall. We stayed at the quaint Palazzo Galletti Abbiosi, renovated from the 18th century, with tiny rooms yet a lot of ambiance and a decent breakfast. You buy a combined ticket for 5 UNESCO buildings that are worth visiting.

We enjoyed the mosaics museum as well which even offers a reduction in certain restaurants. Yet what was interesting were the examples from different areas and epochs, some modern mosaics are truly amazing.

Don’t forget to visit Dante Alighieri’s tomb. He wrote the Divina Commedia and spent his exile in Ravenna. The theater is named after him and there are many plays, as well as summer concerts in June through August.

One of the best places to sample regional food and wine is the enoteca or wine house Ca’de Vèn in the pedestrian zone, following the suggestion of the young lady in our Palazzo. They have all sorts of fancy food, but they recommend piadine, simple sandwiches with Parma ham and a soft white cheese not quite like mozzarella. The wine is very full-bodied and aromatic.

For other meals we can strongly recommend the Osteris Piatto Forte in the Via del Ariani, 10, right in the courtyard with one of the tinier UNESCO buildings that is unadorned on the walls but has a beautiful mosaic ceiling.

Do take the time and enjoy this wonderful town!

Tasty tuna pasta

One of the fastest meals I can do of a warm summer evening is pasta.  I am sure to always have a can of tuna in my storage drawer and the rest is so simple. So have a go:

for 2 persons:

150 g pasta    cooked al dente, about 8 – 9 min.

 

150 g tomatos in chunks

1 can of tuna, shredded

150 – 200 g  frozen peas / corn/ cauliflower/ carrots

salt, pepper, oregano, herbes de Provence

 

Once you have cooked the pasta and let the vegetables simmer for about 10 min. in a pot, seasoned it to taste, you simply pour the sauce over the noodles and enjoy!

Buon appetito!

 

Carmen in Bregenz

Driving down to Bregenz on the Austrian side of Lake Constance or the Bodensee as German speakers know it is definitely not far, in fact, only little more than two hours from Munich. Yet it is an entirely different landscape, especially since the theater stage is set on or even in the water. This year 2018 the stage-scape was sculpted by the Londoner Es Devlin and never have I seen a more spectacular one. Some of the playing cards or rather “fate tossed between two female hands” seems to still be flying through the air whereas others offer a kind of balcony and the lowest ones lower into the water at the dramatic end.

The cards also change colors and views of their back or colors and suit, at times even dissolving in the rain.  The three levels have three different names so the actors, dancers and singers know when to be where. The hands reach up about 20m high. The whores have especially heavy make-up, khol-black around their eyes and the dissolving cards remind one of runny mascara when crying. When Carmen is finally strangled and drowned by her unhappy lover Don José, she actually wears an oxygen tank underneath her flashy red dress. I gasped to see her struggle for so many minutes. My guess was a kind of James Bond breathing device and I guess I wasn’t too far off.

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We had a wonderful meal at the lake restaurant and a spectacular sundown. Enjoy a lovely walk around the lake.

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On the day prior to the opera by Bizet we “did” Dornbirn where our hotel was located: We first visited a very interesting Rolls-Royce Museum and a tour by the collector’s children.

a fantastic view down the mountains from the “Karren” Seilbahn or incline and a long soak in the great pools of the Waldbad, the forest pools. Whichever other negative points, like the tight legroom of the bleachers and the chaotic parking signs, yes, I’d do it again!

Hemingway’s mojito – now is mint bloom!

One of the top classic cocktails, and now that the mint flowers are blossoming, a fine time to mix some mojitos against the heat wave Europe is experiencing :

fresh limes, cooled, partially peeled and cut into round discs

cane sugar and a pestle to grind the discs of lime with the teaspoon of sugar

ron añejo, one shot glass

fresh sprigs of mint

crushed ice / cold water and ice cubes

Put several rounds of lime into a mojito glass, a teaspoon of cand sugar on top and grind with the pestle. Add the rum, the crushed ice, some sprigs of mint and a cocktail stirrer. Enjoy while it ‘s hot!

Earnest Hemingway loved this cocktail especially,  as every Cuban tour guide will be eager to point out. He was known for his drinking habits, his intrepid nature when in Cuba or in the Spanish Civil War. Whoever looks for clues, will be able to find them in his short stories: one tenth meaning and nine tenths buried in the underneath currents of meaning like an iceberg.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Everybody knows of his physical prowess and his symbols of love, friendship, those bewildered repetitions when his characters must adapt  to a new environment, the search for love, light, orderliness, human warmth,  not agony or the strain of war. As to a list of good reads, I’d offer you a library shelf or two, my faves were “A Clean Well-lighted Place”Farewell to Arms“, For Whom the Bell Tolls“, “Fiesta“, “The Old Man and the Bridge“… take your own pick! Oh yes, and for fun, look at his old boat, tiny but double sturdy!

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Photo by Ruel Madelo on Pexels.com

 

 

 

 

 

Coco Malé

I’d like to be

under the sea

in an octopus’s garden   in the shade

sings Ringo Starr in his “Yellow Submarine” – how true, the best place in the world at times!

 

This was an Easter trip – unforgettable! We met a marine biologist working for Nature for the owners of the Coco Island near Malé, Maldives. She explained all the plastic garbage / rubbish/ microplastic awfulness in the Oceans of the World.

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Meanwhile I am the proud owner of two cute stuffed turtle fellas and have actively filmed and photographed as many turtles as I could. I have also checked out the corals, dead near the Family Islands in the Great Barrier Reef, ditto in the Red Sea in the Coral Park, ditto but less less awful in Malé, near Denià I didn’t see much due to the wild tempestuous weather leaving a long deep scratch that took a year to heal (no big deal).

And yes, this is the place I’d like to be most. Not only because of the snorkeling, but because of the lovely people and the great meals and the wonderful surroundings and the fantastic bungalows etc. I made more friends here than in other places, which is why we are planning to come again. I also know of others who similarly make repeat visits.

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The cotton turtles are only a reminder of what still needs to be done to save these and other animals from disappearing from the face of our planet. Treating trash and residue lightly or not recycling will have fatal consequences for us all some day. Yes, I am worried about my carbon footprints, but I have not yet learned to fly on my own, anybody out there who knows how?  I just can’t wait to go back in the near future.

 

Total ticketing tourist tricksters

Okay, my Austrian girlfriend had put this tick into my ear: you ought to go to Bregenz and see the See. No, sorry, see the lake-theater (German: Seebühne) built right into the water. How cool can you get! Very!!

Yes, I can very much recommend it if you like Austria (CHECK, our backyard, unless our politicians come up with stupid ideas),

 

if you like operas (CHECK, especially if hubby is more into the mainstream operatic ones featuring real songs he can sing) (can he sing?),

if you don’t mind being cramped up for about 2 1/2 hours on the hard plastic seat (CHECK, don’t forget fat cushions and yoga class beforehand) (forget about breaks or walking or standing up in between),

if you had a yummy dinner (CHECK CHECK at La Scarpetta in Dornbirn and the Kleines Gasthaus am See, bliss, except fot the three screechers & wailers whose parents couldn’t care less about their offspring’s wails),

So, if you don’t mind all the above- mentioned things, then a weekend trip from Munich to Bregenz (about 2 1/2 hours cramped in a car) and lots of extra cash is just the thing!

Our Travel Agency took out a chuck by charging our credit card the minute we booked with them.- that is a NO-NO. Normally, your card gets charged for 20%  immediately as a kind of promise and the rest about a week or two ahead of the event. Our agency  pretended now to know about this etiquette, but I had a long talk with them. After all, there such things as a Terminüberweisung and the bank will make sure the money is transferred right on time.

The hotel chosen in Dornbirn was the right size and category and not too far off from the Seebühne, about 20 km along the B 190, but had definitely seen better days and did NOT have AC. Nor did it have appeal. However, it boasts a very good breakfast, albeit missing the more expensive choices, but I don’t breakfast that much anyway, and the employees are nice and offer cushions and shuttle bus and those things you didn’t know you’d need.

Our escapism took us first to the interesting Rolls-Royce museum in Gütle (8,-€ adult), then the Seilbahn/ incline up the Karren of Gütle (Oh yes, the view iS WORTH it! free overlook in plastic over the precipice) and a great lunch of Lumpensalat (a sausage – cheese – red-onion- vinegar – oil dressing kind) with good beer and even better Almdudler (what? you don’t know the famous lemonade with herbs?).

The hot afternoon was spent in the Waldbad / Gütleright next to the river or creek without much water in this drought, but interestingly full of big and small smooth rocks and pebbles. The Waldbad offers many treats for families, well run.

 

 

“Carmen” by Bizet is most certainly in all the operatic books and Wiki. The scoop was the fantastic Bühnenbild/ backdrop done by a lady from London with two gigantic hands tossing the cards of fate. At times, the cards will be lowered at ground level to go partially underwater, so the crowd gets emphatic with skirt tossing and head banging and running and splashing each other, which is just the build-up of suspense to Carmen’s tragic end (how did the singer manage that death scene???) – no, I’m not cheating, you go there yourself, please!

 

 

 

 

Cherry cupcakes

What can be more delicious than some cherry cakes from scratch? And it is really simple.

So here goes:

about 3 handfuls of cherries, pitted  or  one jar drained

one large cake pan lined with paper or two cupcake pans lines with paper cups

Mix in a large baking bowl, till fluffy:

200g margarine or butter

200 g sugar

aroma: vanilla sugar or 1 tsp. of Grand Marnier

2 – 3 eggs, one by one till fluffy

 

Sift on top:

200g flour

2 tsp. baking powder / soda

Stir in carefully, making sure all ingredients are well-mixed. Put spoonfuls into your cups or tin. Bake at approx. 190° C / 375 ° F or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Personally, I am like a Poppins and can always sniff out a finished cake or tart a few minutes before my timer can ring. Cool down slowly, the cakes can be left in the warm oven with the door opened.

Frost if desired or if you are making it as a whole cake, try out some Streusel:

100 g each of flour, sugar and butter, mix till you have a crumbly mixture and crumble it over he top of your unbaked cake. Along with whipped cream, deeelicious!

Ah yes, my latest fun line:

Und wenn ich die Schokolade im Dunkeln esse, finden mich vielleicht die Kalorien nicht.

(If I eat chocolate in the dark, the calories will perhaps not be able to find me)

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cherry cupcakes