Venice - Budapest

Dear friends and family,

Venice is fairly unchanged in the last 10 years (we have been back at least one time since) and we don't really remember too well what it was like 30 years ago, except that it was shabbier and more smelly. The same beautiful buildings are still there in the same place, still beautiful and in a more or less frozen state of decrepitude (at least from 10 years ago), although I'm certain a lot of renovation and repair has been done over the years.

Bob Morgan, Ewa and Felicite could not have been kinder and warmer hosts. We are sorry we never were able to touch base with our friends Franco and Maria Ferrari. We heard from Susan Filter that they are going to Romania also. Maybe we'll run into them there!

Robert Morgan in his studio. (Don helped him document and color correct each of his paintings.)

On the Zattere.

Traffic jam.

We walked all over Venice; hardly ever choosing to take a vaporetto. It is such a pleasure for us to walk, especially in a city like Venice. The little streets and campiellos (small courtyards) are beginning to look familiar. I asked Bob, who has lived in Venice for probably 35 years, if he thought there were any little alleys or campiellos which he hadn't been through in Venice, and he said yes, although not many.

Era and Bob crossing by traghetto, with a somewhat reluctant gondolier.

We went to the Fortuny Museum today, our first visit there. The Fortuny dresses and fabrics were gorgeous. Also, they had an exhibition of samurai armor, always fascinating. I was interested to see them; curious to see the presentation. They had an impressive and very large collection of stunning armor on display. The colors melded beautifully with the Fortuny dresses, capes and hangings. A similar aesthetic. Bob told us that the Fortuny Museum used to be an art school, and that he had met Susan Filter there - long ago.

Our meals with the Morgans have been lovely mostly vegetarian and light suppers; a very nice counterpoint to our mostly heavy Italian pasta and sometimes meat lunches. Our last meal with them was quite amazing and elaborate: a roast guinea hen with a delicious, mouth-watering aroma and flavor, some beautiful organic cabbage, which Ewa had cooked with lots of fresh dill and lemon, baby potatoes, a salad, some of our Imagery wine which he had lugged from California.

We ate early as Don and I had to catch an overnight train to Budapest. I had read on TripAdvisor all sorts of people saying that whatever you do, don't take the overnight train from Venice to Budapest. When Don heard this, he immediately wanted to take it. Bob and others have been teasing us about thieves squirting knockout gas under the doors and through the keyholes, then rifling thru your luggage at their leisure. We also had to go to the ATM machine and gets loads of cash, as we have to pay for our Budapest apartment in cash (euros). Bob also regaled us with a story of visiting Poland and getting pickpocketed by a team of thieves on the bus. (I am typing this on the train right now, and I think Don and I will sleep on our valuables, although I'm really not that worried about it.)

Bob was so kind and insisted on accompanying us to the train station and carrying and wheeling my luggage. It involved wheeling to the vaporetto stop and then making a transfer. Don said he wanted to make sure we caught the train and didn't come back to stay with them for a still longer time.

On the train now in our little private sleeping compartment. Bob laughed when he saw our Hungarian train. He said they had forgotten to open the windows when they had to spit. Quite a contrast to the sleek Austrian train on the other side of the platform. Everything does look a little retro, but clean enough and neat. I stood as our train pulled out of Venice to salute the magical city. It's dark outside and our compartment does make a bit of a rattle. I just closed our door and the conductor admonished me to lock it. There are 2 bolt locks on the door and we are using them both.

No air conditioning or heat; thus the extra scarf as covering.

More later.

We did survive the journey to Budapest with life, limbs and worldly possessions more or less intact, although we were woken by uniformed guards numerous times in the middle of the night. The first was border control as we passed into Slovenia around 3 in the morning; then Croatia about 20 minutes later; then leaving Croatia about an hour and a half later; then Hungary about 10 minutes after that; and shortly following, another Hungarian official inquiring if we had anything to declare. No, surprisingly, we had not managed to pick up anything in Slovenia or Croatia. At each interruption Don's smile became broader and broader. He was so pleased at the absurdity of the situation. Sometimes he is really strange.

Our fabulously comfortable and luxe apartment in Budapest. Movie mavens (Era's movie group), note Leonard Cohen poster to the right.

Much love,

Era and Don