Weekly Photo Challenge: A Taste of Venice

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Afloat,” as well as Writing101’s Day 2 Challenge: “A Room with a View.”

You close your eyes to appreciate this perfect moment. You are comfortably seated next to your special someone on a luxuriously upholstered seat; a warm, gentle breeze is blowing, and it enhances this feeling you have of gliding on air.

The only discernible sound is the gentle lapping of water, until the dulcet tones of a piano accordion permeate the silence with a romantic Italian melody. Suddenly a rich baritone breaks into an operatic classic by Puccini (or perhaps it’s Rossini, you can never tell the difference) and your beloved leans in for a soft kiss.

You open your eyes and the sight of your singing guide in his striped shirt and straw hat makes you smile, and you look around, expecting to be surrounded by the fading pastel hues of historic grand palazzos and gently arched stone bridges…

But – hang on a minute…this can’t be right. Trees? Parkland? Che cosa?

COAFT Afloat

No, you aren’t among the heave of tourists travelling along the Grand Canal in Venice, nor are you even in Italy.  You are, in fact, enjoying a glorious late spring afternoon gondola ride on the Charles River in Boston, USA!

Who’d have thought?

PS while we’re on the subject of ‘Afloat’ (and still in Boston)…is this not the most adorable houseboat you have ever seen?!

COAFT Afloat 2

Gallery

Oh, range o’ ‘licious treats

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Orange you glad it’s photo challenge time?.”

If I have to break one rule here, it’s that ALL of these images have to do with food (it kind of goes with the territory of having a specifically-themed blog), but I have gone for a bit of variety in terms of where they were taken.

It’s amazing just how much food comes in all shades of orange (and how many random food-related shots I take at any given time)…!

Video

Poetry on Portobello

 

This is the story of a girl and her fellow

Who spent a sunny Saturday on Portobello

Among the many food stalls they perused

With tons of tempting treats to choose

They went for crepes with strawb’ries and Nutella

In response to Writing 201 (Poetry)’s Day 2 Challenge:

  • Form – limerick
  • Prompt – journey
  • Device – alliteration

More Portobello tempation…

Where to from here..?

Although I created this blog in April last year, I’ve only really been working on it in earnest for the last 6-7 weeks, thanks mostly to the talented and supportive team behind the Daily Post’s Blogging101 course, as well as the encouraging feedback I’ve received from the blogging community along the way. I’ve learned so much in a very short space of time, and I continue to be inspired by my fellow bloggers.

Ultimately I’m happy with my efforts so far, but at times I worry that Confessions is another one of my ‘phases’ and I’m going to eventually lose my blogging ‘mojo’ (hereby referred to as blog-jo) again – particularly after the daily incentives provided by the Blogging101 (and now Blogging201) course comes to an end. I can already see myself not spending as much time on my blog as I did in early January, and I know that once my university study recommences in a couple of weeks, together with my full-time job, time (and motivation) is going to be even harder to find.

While it may sound like I’m already admitting defeat, I’m hoping to try and combat the seemingly inevitable and keep my blog-jo going by considering the following (hopefully achievable) goals:

  1. Create an editorial calendar of Confessions for the next two months based on my extensive archive of food and/or travel photos. By nature I’m quite impulsive and ad-hoc with my writing – I’m not very good with detailed forward-planning (alas this doesn’t bode well for me when it comes to university assignments, either!) Believe it or not, most of my posts to this date have been a result of coming up with the story behind the image/s on the spot. But should I not have the time or energy to spontaneously come up with something new, I’ll at least have some ‘pre-prepared’ inspiration to fall back on. Think of it like preparing a week’s worth of meals on the weekend so you don’t have to cook so much during the week (nope…I don’t do that either). An editorial calendar will also allow me to ensure that there is plenty of variety in my posts.
  2. Post at least twice a week. Leading on from the first point, I know I will never be a daily blogger (I wish I had that motivation!), but I at least hope to keep posting on a regular basis. My ideal is to post something short and sweet in the middle of the week, and use the weekend to add more substantial posts and spend time exploring and engaging with my fellow bloggers.
  3. Listen to feedback, and create a ‘You Asked For It…‘ feature. You, yes YOU the fellow blogger/reader, are my biggest inspiration, that’s why I’m giving you a say in what my future posts will be. What’s the use of feedback and constructive criticism if you don’t do anything with it? I’ve put together a suggestion box to get an idea for the kind of Confessions you enjoy the most, and would like to see more of. Depending on the volume of feedback I get, I hope to build the results into a regular feature where the ‘winning’ suggestion (as voted by YOU) becomes the post. Of course this means the suggestion box will be updated on a regular basis as well!

What do you think? Am I being too defeatist at this relatively early stage of my blogging career? Have I set myself realistic-enough goals? I’d especially love to hear from those of you who have fought a downturn in your blog-jo – did you get past it, and if so, how? Are you still dealing with it?

Please do share your wisdom (and confessions) below!

“This (giant) pretzel is making me thirsty!”

I made a promise to myself that I would begin to take part in the Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge as soon as I could immediately make a mental connection between the theme and one of my photos. When I saw that this week’s theme was ‘Scale’, I knew there was only one possibility.

Flashback to October 2008:

As part of our Top Deck European Odyssey tour, we had made a very quick morning stop in Salzburg’s beautiful Old Town soon after departing the quaint storybook-town of St. Johann in Austria’s Tyrol region.

We were dropped off near the Kapitelplatz and given a little over an hour to explore the area before we began the long drive to Prague. Given that it was barely 9am in the morning, not a lot was open apart from a little kiosk and a couple of food and market stalls that were slowly setting up in the main square.

While I made a beeline for the kiosk to get a Viennese hot chocolate (it was a tad chilly), my hungry Other-Half quickly caught a whiff of fresh bread and followed his nose directly to the source: a food stall selling pretzels in a wide range of delicious flavours. Not only were they freshly baked, but they were also bigger than a human head!

I couldn’t resist the urge to capture him in his element devouring the giant pretzel in front of the random ‘man on a giant golden sphere’ sculpture.*

COAFT Salzburg 01

Spot the tourist: giant pretzel in one hand, Red Bull in the other…

To this day he still salivates when reminiscing about that giant pretzel…

COAFT Salzburg 02* later identified as Stephan Balkenhol′s “Sphaera”, part of a Salzburg Foundation Art Project.

La lingua di cibo (take that, Rosetta!)

If you could wake up tomorrow and be fluent in any language you don’t currently speak, which would it be? Why? What’s the first thing you do with your new linguistic skills?

As soon as I found this Daily Prompt from almost a year ago, I knew there could only be one answer.

Since I was eight years old, learning basic conversational Italian from my Year 3 teacher Mrs Ciccone (no direct relation to Madonna, alas), I have been in love with Italy and anything and everything Italian. While the twice-weekly, hour-long lessons only lasted one (and a bit) school years, when I began working at an Italian cafe-restaurant ten years later, I was surprised to discover how much of it had stayed with me.

One of my favourite parts of the day working at the cafe was when my boss’ dear Italian father would come by to take care of any light maintenance or cleaning before we opened and patiently wait for me to make him an espresso. He was very shy (presumably on account of his speaking very little English), so he would initially only politely nod his thanks each time I made his coffee. Imagine my delight several months into the job when I handed him his daily espresso, and he looked me in the eye with a shy smile and said “thank you” in very careful English; I responded with a very nervous “prego” and he chuckled and said “bene…very good! – high praise, indeed! From that moment on we were great friends.

I picked up a bit more basic Italian during my time working there, thanks to the authentic Venetian menu, and (as cliché as it may sound) Dean Martin constantly playing in the background. By the time my dream opportunity to visit Italy came true another ten years later, I could greet strangers, ask how they were, say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’…and find my way around a menu enough to not accidentally order tripe, or some other ghastly substance (for the record, if you’re not a fan, stay away from trippa).

My first visit to Italy was a bit of a ‘blink-and-miss-it’ trip as part of a Top Deck European Odyssey bus tour, but it was was the perfect introduction and no less a dream come true to find myself at the foot of La Torre di Pisa, gazing in awe at the Duomo in Firenze, tossing a coin in la Fontana di Trevi in bella Roma, or enjoying un giro in gondola in Venezia. 

In 2013 (less than five years later), we found ourselves – blissfully – back in Rome and Florence, only this time around we had a few days to spend in each, which gave us a lot more time to explore these great cities on our own terms. As wonderful (and delicious) as our first six days in Italy were, they were only a prelude to the magnificence of the final part of our trip – a three-day, four-night cooking class and villa stay in Tuscany.

Oh, the memories (i ricordi). I am determined to one day carry out my Frances Mayes-inspired dream of living Under the Tuscan Sun for at least six months (perhaps minus the seemingly-endless renovations part).

Therefore, in order to converse freely with my new neighbours (and possibly avoid being swizzed by dodgy tradesmen), I would love to become fluent in la bella lingua Italiana.  

*Note: I apologise in advance for any errors in my poor attempts at translation – they are completely unintentional, and your corrections are welcome! 🙂