Venice Carnivale, Here We Come! and Other Exquisite Pleasures

Is there any more delicious anticipation than that of the impending journey, or the one just begun? Laying out the clothes, shopping for tiny toiletries, fitting everything like a puzzle pieces into the bag, turning down the heat and locking the door one last time, whispering, “good-bye” not only to my house but to my life with all its contempt-worthy familiarities, laundry, cleaning, work, budgets, for crying out loud, it’s all boring me to tears just to think of it so I won’t as I sit in my charming AirBnB apartment in Venice, Italy, and anticipate the flavors and wonders to come when we join our group for Carnivale.

The pleasure of having a good friend pick you up and drive you to the airport goes without saying. Michael schlepped my bags over the berms of snow and ice between my house and the curb and into his car, then whisked me away for a pre-launch libation which, at 11 o’clock on Saturday morning, was more difficult than it might sound ln sleepy downtown Spokane, Washington, where I ended up to my surprise 11 years ago and still find myself living to even greater astonishment.

We knocked back a pint and headed for the Spokane International Airport, from where, *wink wink* no international flights actually depart. But the TSA agents are friendly which is more than I can say of almost anywhere else and there were no lines at the counter or security, enabling me to move from Michael’s car to the airport bar in ten minutes flat. See? Spokane isn’t so bad, after all.

I was super excited about this trip, as you can see, in my exquisite Anton’s Creations coat made by hand by Maggie Anton of San Francisco, CA, which I bought at at an art fair in Spokane last summer and paid in monthly installments until she sent it to me last November. It’s perfect for Carnivale, don’t you think? (And no, I don’t get a kickback from this endorsement.)

I enjoy every aspect of traveling. Missed connections, lost luggage, traffic jams–nothing plusses me, which is more than I can say for real life. Fortunately, everything went smoothly on this trip, and I was even able to get enough shut-eye on the 10 1/2-hour flight from San Francisco, where I met up with my travel partner, Amy, a long-time friend, fellow author, and executive coach whose decorative mask dangling from her daypack boasted “Carnivale” to all who had eyes to see.

One thing I already love about traveling with Amy: she is supremely organized. I tend to delay certain aspects of the trip–OK, almost all of them–until the last minute, which has resulted in some less-than-thrilling moments at the door to my AirBnb trying to find the lockbox and frantically calling my host, etc. But Amy had everything arranged from our water taxi (!!) to the AirBnB entry code.

Our water taxi awaited, driven by Davide who accepted our bags, took down the address of our destination, and sped us through the dark waters from the Marco Polo Airport to the city of Venice. A water taxi is every bit as thrilling as it sounds, its enclosed cabin protecting us from the chill night wind and the window wrapping our cushioned seat even overhead affording us views of the Medieval stone buildings and even the interiors of private spaces with their stunning painted ceilings.

After a tiny bit of confusion and lugging our bags up and down sets of stairs we found our apartment, entered, and immediately went out again for refreshment, walking up and down the narrow stone warrens and peering into windows until we found a place just lively enough but not too crowded for our tastes, one with a Trip Advisor 2017 banner on its door. We had to wait for a table but no worries: the affectionate host kept our glasses filled with a delightfully balanced and delicately-effervescent prosecco on the house while we bade our time on wooden stools sipping and chatting about artistic temperaments (mine) and how to tame them (one of Amy’s specialties).

Because we were jet-lagged and could feel a good night’s sleep coming on, we steered clear of the many delactable-sounding pasta dishes on the menu and opted for snacks, instead:

Yummy, sweet fresh oysters;

Sardines “saor,” which must mean “sour”; these were coated in delectable sweet pickled onions that tasted like the jars of herring in cream sauce that Husband Number 2 loved at the grocery store;

And “Cod Three Ways,” meaning in tomato sauce, in a barely-discernible anchovy sauce, and, the piece de resistance, whipped with cream and dolloped on a square of smooth, pudding-rich white polenta.

We declined the fabulous-looking desserts in the restaurant’s case so our dreamy-eyed waiter brought to us, instead, little glasses of limoncello and orange-raisin biscotti. And so ended our first night in Venezia, a memorable start to what is certain to be a pleasure cruise like no other. Come and join me here for Venice Carnivale 2019!