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  • Mark Shupe

TOP 2022 TRAVEL HIGHLIGHTS PART 3 The fun never stops!

Giardino Giuisti Gardens - Verona

Number 11 Padua or Padova. It’s your choice!

Padova is the Italian name for this fabulous town in northeast Italy. In English, it's known by it's medieval name, Padua.

At Padua’s centre there is a aquare with an oval shaped canal surrounded by statues of famous town folks! Many, many statues. There was one of a famous sculptor sculpting another sculpture! There was a huge variety of statues in different poses and expressions. There were several statues of favourite Marks! You could spend a lot of time there. The square, Prata della Valle is the biggest square in Italy.

The pride and joy of Padua.

A sculpture of a sculptor making a sculpture!

One of the many statues of famous Marks.

Saint Antonio’s church was worth a stop for its courtyard and decorations but I spent most of my time outside enjoying the large Donatello statue of horse and rider.I toured the Padua botanical gardens, the oldest in use medical gardens in the world, and a huge collection of meat eating plants. I liked it so much I bought a sweatshirt with a map of the labyrinth of garden paths on the back. I then went to Padua University, not to study but to hang out with Galileo a bit. Its one of the oldest university’s in the world.

A statue by Donatello!

Then I went into a museum complex that included the Scrovegni chapel. Never heard of it? Neither did I, but It’s pretty special. Before you entered you had to wait

20 minutes in an air stabilization centre so undue moisture wouldn’t harm the paintings. This felt like a mini Sistine chapel, with biblical scenes played out on the walls, and a huge mural on the back wall of demons eating naked people in torment, so, you know, peaceful and contemplative. There was one picture of Jesus that looks like he’s about to throw a punch. Either he held himself back or those money lenders were a lot nastier than we ever suspected. All of these sites were in easy walking distance from the train station. The frrescoes in the chapel were painted around 1305 by Giotto. They are some of the best I have seen.

There was too much to see in Padua in one day. Here is a link to an excellent website that gives more detailed information.

Logistics. Easy train ride from Venice. A nice change of pace from Venice if Venice is too crowded. It was this time; last time I visited in February, it wasn’t too bad.

Number 12: The many charms of Verona.

If that surprises you haven’t been following my blog. And if you haven’t why haven’t you? My first two blog items are about Verona, A long night at the opera, and me and Juliette down in the courtyard describe two fascinating sites. You can’t get quality entertainment like that for free almost anywhere else. In addition, Verona, has a magnificent river castle, posing nicely here at sunset.

I enjoyed maybe the most the Giardino Giusti gardens, which is greenly gorgeous and filled with the sense of myth, including a large mythical head that used to literally breathe fire and surprise unsuspecting guests.

Despite what my spouse says, this is not me in the morning. Well not every morning.

Train connections from Verona are easy. You can get to Milan, Padua, Venice, Bologna. I took an afternoon and went to Lake Garda. Exquisite. The area around the Verona arena and local squares, (one with a statue of Dante!) were stylish, clean and full of eateries.

Number 13: Bayeux, Come for the battlefields; stay for the tapestry.

I’d been dreaming about seeing the Bayeux Tapestry since I first went to Paris about ten years ago. We had hoped to fit in a day trip from Paris, but there was just so much to do on the first time in Paris. This time I got to visit with my daughter, who also agreed it was one of the highlights of the trip. The Bayeux tapestry, is like a 1000 year old comic book drawn onto a hundred foot long tapestry. It depicts one of the most famous battles in History: The Battle of

Tiny protion of the Bayeux Tapestry

Hastings, when the Normans defeated King Harold of England, and started the long reign of kings and Queens from William the Conqueror to Charles III. According to my mother, my ancestor was also at the battle as second in command to William the Conqueror, with the position title "Arrayer of the Forces.” I can't hundred percent certify this is true, but it is cool to think about when you are looking at this famous tapestry.

The tapestry is kept in a darkened, climate controlled room due to its age and delicate stage. We couldn’t take direct pictures so I have included a picture from a postcard.

Bayeux is the closest town to many of the D-Day landing beaches. We booked too late and were able only to get a half day tour, and we didn’t get to go to Juno Beach where Canadians led the storming of the beach.

Omaha Beach at low tide.

We did go to Omaha beach, one of key storming points. It was extremely calm the day we were there, and was hard to imagine the horrors that happened during the landing. The tour guide told us may tales of heroic deeds that happened that day, including how one troop of soldiers had scaled nearby cliffs to take out some German batteries.

The hill behind Omaha beach.

The graveyard for American soldiers was well kept but sobering with the long rows of crosses.After our tour, we went to a World War II Museum in the town of Bayeux and lost ourselves there for two hours in the museum. Extremely informative. Bayeux itself was a charming small town, an we enjoyed our visit.

Logistics: direct train from Paris

Number 14: Paris food Tour in the Marais, a district on the Right Bank

Not actually in Paris, but a recreation of me eating a Macaroon!

Our guide was a dead ringer for the actress Emma Stone, including gravelly voice. She was from Toronto, but had fallen in love with Paris on a visit and had immediately moved there. Her enthusiasm for the city showed in the enthusiasm for the tour. I wish I had more photos to show of the tour, but I was too busy eating samples! Most of the people on the tour didn’t want to eat too many of the samples, saving their appetite, but If it’s food, and it’s free I’m a eatin’ it! We started at an old bakery that continued to use old time methods. If you have been to France, you know the bread there is by a factor better than what I get at the homestead. She took us to a little market area that we would have never found, showed us how to identify a great macaroon from an ordinary one. (First hint: the dome must be well shaped!)

I'm not sure what my daughter is eating here, but I'm sure it was tasty!

We learned the famous Laudre macaroon stores no longer make their macaroons in Paris! Say what? We sampled speciality chocolates, and fusion Moroccan/Parisian dishes. We went to an ancient delicatessen for meat and cheese. We had the most extraordinary French Onion Soup, and we ended the tour with wine tasting. It was a great way to learn more about French food and markets, but it was also a great way to learn details of history and the Marais on a more intimate level. Daughter thought this was one of the top five highlights of our trip from Paris to Vienna. P.S. We also learned later that night that bees love French Wine, because one got extremely buzzed drinking mine!

Logistics: Walked from our hotel to tour start and then just followed Emma Stone!

French onion soup, the tasty way!

One of the food stops shown below.

Next week: Another interruption to this travel series. Cause it was comic expo time in Calgary!

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30 avr. 2023

While you do travel to the best of places, it seems you have even better travel mates putting up with your efforts at being... a statue. Even in the afterlife, I fear the idea of you being still and not being able to laugh or make people laugh with... or at... you. Thanks for taking us on your journey! Sarah Butland

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