Mother Nature comes to call…The magic of Madeira…A year ago…Venice, Italy…

This short video illustrates how quickly the fog rolled over our area.

Saturday, we looked forward to taking photos of the full moon when it was cloudy on Friday night, the 13th.  The full moon would not reappear on another Friday the 13th until the year 2049. We put our hopes into taking photos on Saturday night’s photos when the moon would still be in its almost full glory.

As we stepped outside onto the veranda, we were amazed by this view. We’d seen fog roll in during the day, but not to this degree in the evening.

With our camera charged and ready, we busied ourselves after dinner, comfortably ensconced on the sofa in the living room with a clear shot of the sky through the glass doors to the veranda.

This area was soon hidden by the fog.

Mindlessly lost in searching for vacation rentals in Australia and New Zealand, I jumped when Tom suddenly spoke, “Hurry, let’s go outside!”

It all happened so quickly that we were glad Tom spotted it when he did.

Startled, I looked outside to see a massive wave of bright white fog wafting toward us. No moon photos tonight, I thought. But, I was hardly disappointed as we stepped outside to the veranda for more awe-inspiring views on the island of Madeira.

 Looking out beyond the homes, we could no longer see the ocean.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, in our old lives, Tom spent hours each weekend fussing over his homemade lake water pumping system used for watering our huge lawn. After he’d rigged his creation, he enjoyed watching it at work and repositioning the sprinklers as he tinkered in the yard on his days off work

The fog rolled up the mountain as well.

With no such household tasks, while we live in vacation homes around the world, a conscientious person such as Tom has managed to find other ways to pique his interest in our day to day lives.

To the higher far right of us, we saw the pink sky of the sun setting behind the mountain.

Here in Madeira, he’s adopted a number of new passionate observatory habits: watching the changing weather, the clouds, the sky, and the ocean from the veranda. Several times each day he asks me to join him to see his latest “find” and I happily oblige as I grab the camera.

On the hairpin turn road below our house, a cat looked lost in the approaching fog.

At times, his sightings are astounding. At other times, they’re as simple as a passing freighter or a puffy cloud resembling an animal. In any case, I always stop whatever I’m doing to check out his most recent point of interest.

To the left, we watched as the house below us became shrouded in the fog.

On Saturday night around 9:00 pm, he suddenly blurted out that we’d better hurry and go outside. I took his suggestion with my usual enthusiasm, jumping up from my seat to follow him outside to the veranda.

The street lights illuminated as we watched.

As shown in these photos and video, we had the opportunity to watch the low hanging fog and clouds, so typical for Madeira, as they rolled in from the ocean. The longer we watched the foggier it became. In no time at all, we were in a full “fog out.” We were glad we’d dined in rather than driving through the fog on our return.

Soon, we could hardly see a thing.

Over the remainder of the evening, up until midnight when Tom came to bed, the sky never cleared. The moon never made another appearance that night or on Sunday night when there was a normal cloud cover, not more fog.

Tom on the veranda during the “white-out.”

With limited knowledge of meteorology we assumed that the high heat and humidity, unusual for Madeira, when it reached 88F, 31C attributed to the fog rolling in from the sea. 

Again, to the left, this area became fog covered.

As we stood on the veranda watching the fog approach us I heard a strange crackling sound. With Tom’s hearing loss due to years of working on the railroad, he wasn’t able to hear the peculiar sounds. If any of our readers have especially good hearing, they may also be able to hear these unusual sounds in the video. 


When playing the video, it’s easy to hear the sounds of the goats next door “baaing.” For whatever reason, they continued to “baa” more frequently than usual as the fog rolled in. 

During this occurrence, the temperature dropped dramatically, more than it usually drops at night. In this case, it dropped to a considerably lower temperature and higher humidity than we’ve previously observed.

Sunday, at noon, the sky had cleared and I ventured out for my usual walk up the steep hill discovering this gorgeous lily begging for a photo.

On Sunday morning, when I awoke a 6:00 am I peered outside wondering if the fog remained overnight. In part, it had when the hills were shrouded in fog, later clearing for a perfectly sunny and cooler day at 75F, 23C, the average temperature for this time of year.

In a funny way, this reminded us of those snowy days in Minnesota, with a total “white out” when we were safely at home reveling in the beauty of the falling snow as it covered everything in its path.

Mother Nature, what a gal!  She never fails to offer us opportunities to become enthralled with her ways. The question is…will we take the time and effort to stop whatever we may be doing to notice the treasures she so proudly bestows upon us?

Photo from one year ago today, June 16, 2013:

For hours we walked the streets of Venice crossing over the canals on many occasions. It was actually more beautiful than we’d expected. With the outrageous cost of riding on the gondolas, most of which were “stuck in traffic” we opted to walk instead. For details of the day in Venice, please click here.

Part 2 Venice…One more city knocked off our dream list….Also, update on our new home…

With the hot sun, the massive crowds, the going rate of $125 to $150 a couple and as evidenced here, the gondola traffic jam, we decided to forego the 30 minute ride in the clogged canals.

Today, we’ll post our remaining photos of Venice, first updating our current status which we’ll write about tomorrow in more detail, with much enthusiasm.

A simple doorway renovated for modern day.

We arrived in Boveglio, Lucca, Tuscany yesterday around 5:00 pm after a long and difficult drive from Venice, estimated by Google Maps to be a 3 1/2 hour drive which ultimately proved to be a 4 1/2 hour drive.

Another old door.

Reading road signs in Italy is different than reading road signs in the US. Its not about the language difference since there’s nothing to reading a word written in Italian, following a map. The difficult part was the fact that roads are not clearly marked. One can drive for a half hour before seeing a sign that confirms (or not) that one is on the correct highway.

Hard to resist. Fun to see.

Plus, there is considerably confusing maneuvering through small towns along the way to stay on the correct road.  We only had to turn around twice, luckily catching it before we got too far.

Inside yet another square on our lengthy walk to St. Mark’s Basilica.

Thank goodness for Google Maps and our MiFi which worked great providing us with a good signal along the highway, during the last hour. The mountainous drive from Florence (Firenze) to Boveglio took us through 29 tunnels!

 Inside the courtyard of the Universita Ca Foscari was a decoration made of trash.

The scenery inspired me to take photos but the massive guardrails prevented getting any good shots. Unfortunately, we couldn’t stop to take photos with no shoulder or rest stops on the many toll roads we traveled.

 The Universita Ca Foscari entrance.

As for the rental car…I stood in line for one entire hour at the Budget Rental window inside the Marco Polo Airport while Tom waited outside with the luggage. Meeting a friendly couple from Chicago while in line, the wife was so kind to go outside to watch our luggage while Tom came inside to show his driver’s license.  

Leonardo da Vinci exhibit was being held at the museum.

Tom will be the sole driver of the tiny Fiat six speed vehicle. I must admit I’m not the best driver (OK.  I said it.). Although in an emergency, I could drive a stick shift but it has been 30 years since my last attempt. With the long drive “UP UP UP” to our summer home in Boveglio, with NO guardrails, no thank you.

More delectable looking confections.

We awaken this morning in a mountaintop paradise, the sound of nearby church bell chiming on the half hour and hour (not always consistent), in a 17th century renovated stone house in the true Tuscan style and we’re once again relishing in our unique surroundings, filled with contentment and joy.

Lots of activity.

Tomorrow, we’ll post photos, tell you the sacrifices we must make while here, missing some of our familiar creature comforts and the enhancements to our lives that only this step back in history can bring.

Water buses along the Grand Canal.

I’ll tell you one tidbit now…they don’t take credit cards in this area for gas, groceries or restaurants.  Last night, starved after our long day, we found our way to the tiny town of Bennabio where the owner, Alessandro, of the town’s only restaurant Il Cavallino Bianco, opened an “account” for us, telling us we can pay our bill before we leave Boveglio in two and a half months. 

 As done in France, passersby over the Grand Canal at Ponte delle Accademia, place locks on
the bridge posts as a token of love, writing their names on the lock and throwing the key into the water.

Having used most of our Euros in the past month with no nearby bank and it also being Sunday, we appreciated not only a perfect meal (he cooked exactly following my restrictive diet) but speaking no English, we somehow managed to communicate. 

This huge wood carving of a face was interesting.

During dinner, the owner of the local grocery store across the street from the restaurant stopped by to also extend credit to us for our time here.  It certainly pays to know Lisa and Luca, the owners of our summer home, popular and well loved residents of this quaint community.  More will follow tomorrow.

More buses on the waterway.

So here are our remaining photos of Venice, now almost seemingly a distant memory as we immerse ourselves in our new home, soon heading to the town of Benabbio to grocery shop in the tiny store owned by the lovely Vivienne. Photos to follow!

Here’s the rest of our Venice photos!

Sebastiano T. Italy location.  Campo Santo Stefano.
Ah, here’s another pharmacy!
Ornate décor over doorways was appealing.
Many old apartments buildings lined the way to the square.
The food,  feast for the eyes, let alone the palate.
Tight quarters.  Lots of boats.
Statue of Marco Polo.
This was as close as we got to the gondolas.
A square we entered when trying to make our way to St. Mark’s visible in the background.  We walked for two hours to get to St. Marks over many bridges, down many narrow streets.
More French looking than Italian, this window display of masquerade items was beautiful.
Murano glass figurines from a shop window.
Clock Tower.
Piazza of St. Mark…pretty impressive, eh?
Taking photos of people taking photos.
People and pigeons, everywhere.
Basillica di San Marco.
Tricky photo.  Murano glass sailboats taken outside the store with the reflection of Piazza of St. Mark reflecting in the glass creating a cool backdrop.
Outdoor restaurant in the Piazza of St. Mark.  Notice the attire on the waiter in the center.
Basilica di San Marco.
More detail on the Basilica di San Marco.
Clock at the Venetian Arsenal.
Gold angels at the top Basillica di San Marco.
Another view of the Basillica di San Marco.
Piazza San Marco.
Side view of Basillica di San Marco.
Piazza San Marco.
Basillica di San Marco.
Atop the Venetian Arsenal.
One of the many structures at the top of Basillica di San Marco.
We got a better view of this statue on our return trip, Island of St. Giorgio Maggiore, Chiesa Di San Giorgio.
Shuttles lined the docks to return passengers to one of the many giant ships at the port.
A great shot at every turn.
Waiting at the dock for our shuttle to depart.
Not appearing to be rough, the waterway was rough due to the boat traffic.
Views along the waterway on the return to the ship.
As the Norwegian Spirit shuttle boat took off to return us to the ship.

Part 1 Venice…One more city knocked off our “dream list”…

As our ship made its way to the port of Venice, our mouths were agape in surprise as a feast before our eyes.

In writing our post yesterday we mentioned our busy day was subject to change and change we did! After all, we’ve determined that flexibility and adaptability are a way of life these days.

One historic building after another.

Running into our friends Nicole and Gerry shortly after we posted our 48-hour schedule, they asked if we’d be interested in getting off the ship earlier in the day to wander around Venice with them. 

The waterways were exactly as we had perceived them, crowded with a never-ending in a maze of canals.

They offered to get maps, charting out our day inquiring as to various transportation options were available to get us on our way to the much desired St. Mark’s Square location. With so much on our minds to accomplish in such a short time, plus greatly enjoying their company, we opted to let them take over the planning for the day and evening while we’d joyfully follow along.

Look at the crowds!

We agreed to meet at 2:45 pm, allowing us ample time to first lounge by the pool plus get our packing out of the way. Mission accomplished. We loaded up our passports, a bottle of water and a camera and off we went.

Every direction we turned there was another waterway.

Our goal was to walk the streets of Venice traipsing across endless bridges over the canals, see as much as possible, taking photos along the way, ultimately ending up in St. Mark’s Square after which an additional 15-minute walk we’d work our way to the Norwegian Spirit boat shuttle in a designated area along the shore, Riva Degli Schiavoni.

What a view!
The buildings along the canals were often unique, but most were attached.
The cathedrals are breathtaking.

The shuttle arrived every 30 minutes, would bring us as close as possible to our ship upon return, requiring another 15-minute walk.

As our ship continued on to our docking location.

Unbelievable shops, restaurants, hotels, apartments, and massive historical buildings lined our way on the lengthy rather vigorous three-hour walk.  Not quite the three-hour walk as in Petra, Jordan but nonetheless, quite a walk on a yet another very hot and crowded day.

Need I say, we have no regrets.

 All these photos were taken as our ship maneuvered through the main channel approaching the cruise ship pier in Venice.
Moving furniture is often done by boat in Venice, the preferred method of transportation
As we approached the pier for the cruise ships, they were lined up back to back.

Arriving at the pier in Venice an hour earlier than expected, we took our time getting off the ship to meet Nicole and Gerry for what proved to be a very interesting and enriching day.

We wondered if there would be a “parking spot” for our ship.  We squeezed into a good spot.

Today, as I write this, we must get off the ship in a half-hour, leaving many more photos of Venice to include tomorrow when I complete the Venice series while in our new home in Tuscany, busily unpacking and settling in.

Back tomorrow!