Posts Tagged With: GPS

Looking for Toilets, My Travels Through Europe: Venice

VENICE

Doge’s Palace has a public toilet.

See Venice while you can for many parts of it are sinking into the sea. It’s kinda like California slipping into the ocean at the rate of a half inch a year. But there are differences as well.

California has earthquakes, fires, has water shortages, is a hot bed of information technology, has a huge agricultural sector, gives free water at restaurants (if you ask for it) and lets you use restrooms at all sorts of places such as restaurants, supermarkets, and just about any sort of business where the public comes in.

Venice has no shortage of water. It’s everywhere sometimes it floods the main square that tourists infest, which is exciting if you’re wearing designer shoes.

Venice was founded in the fifth century when Attila the Hun was rampaging through Italy, sacking cities, slaughtering the populace, destroying the Roman Empire, and otherwise being rather unpleasant. Anyway, the citizens of Aquileia, a thriving city, saw no future in being massacred and high tailed to the nearby swamp. They reckoned the Huns, a tribe that grew up in east-central Europe, wouldn’t want to slog through the swamp just to extinguish a bunch a people whom they had no real quarrel with. The Aquileians were right and before you knew it, they were sinking pillars in the marsh to provide support for the buildings they were going to put up.

These swamp people called their new city, Venice after Venn diagrams, they were astoundingly into the theory of logic, and ice, a rare commodity in a Mediterranean* seaport in the Dark Ages. Anyway, the Venetians minded their own business for centuries. In disgraceful contrast, the other nations and city states, generally went around for centuries impaling each other with lances and other weapons.

All of a sudden a Venetian woke up and decide to make galleys. These were ships powered by men using oars. Think of fishing in a tiny lake. You used a rowboat. Only the Venetians galley were huge multi-decked rowboats requiring hundreds of oarsmen. Just as you want to protect your fishing spot and perhaps wanted the lake to yourself, the Venetians wanted the Mediterranean to themselves and used their galleys to sink the other nations ships.

However, instead of catching fish, the Venetians transported spices from the Middle East to the rest of Europe. The Europe of the Middle Ages and Renaissance had really no refrigerators to speak of. Thus, their food other rotted and stank, more than lutefisk even. So, the Middle Age diners really appreciated a good spice to cover up the bad food. And so the Venetians thrived.

Until suddenly, the Ottoman Empire conquered the Near East and shut off access to the spices. Moreover, Western Europe developed large sailing vessels that could whoop the pants off the Venetian galleys in combat and could travel long distances across the open sea. Venice went into a centuries long decline. You would have thought they could have used that declining time to come up with anything, like reclining chairs and public restrooms, but no.

Venice lost its independence to Austria in 1806. However, the conquered city still had lots and lots of pasta and fish. This made going to restaurants lots of fun. About this time, Signor Scampi added chairs to his pizzeria. What a great idea. People loved being able to seat down for supper. More and more chefs provided chairs for their customers. The trend toward chairs in Venetian restaurants continues to this very day.

Venice was a republic of sorts, although if you didn’t like the current governor–doges they called them–you were denounced, tried, convicted, and imprisoned or executed in one day. Movers and shakers you bet. People were so afraid of appearing unhappy, that they sported smiles all day long. Hence, the expression, “As smiley as a Venetian.”

My family and I as we got off the water taxi that took us from the port to St. Mark’s square. We headed to our first event, a gondola ride. We took our time, enjoying the architecture. Inevitably with a family of four, some of us had to pee. Where were the public toilets? Where was Waldo? Where was Ameila Earhardt? Actually, we found Ms. Amelia, but the need for the toilets remained unabated. Indeed the pressure mounted. We did find a fancy hotel near the gondola ride. After making our donations, we went outside to find the place where we would show our vouchers. According to the maps, the gondola extravaganza was supposed to be only ten yards away.

As the crow flies. As the drunken crow flies. We crossed a bridge and went to the gondola kiosk. The sphinxes periodically manning the booth ignored us. We recrossed the bridge in search of a caring employee. Nothing. We crossed back to the booth. Nothing. We ended up going over that bridge six times before we found an employee who put a round orange sticker on our shirts. We were good to go.

We got in line. We had a good position even though the gondola guys had sold hundreds of tickets for our time slot. Actually this wasn’t true due to a cultural misunderstanding. In America, people generally stand behind the last person in line. In Venice and in the airport coming back, standing in line meant standing to the side of people in line, generally near the front. Soon a vast semi-circle sea of people stood around the gondolas pressing ever forward as if  trying to get into a Who concert.

Eventually we got on a gondola and began our bumper-to-bumper (prow-to-bow on a gondola?) tour of the back canals of Venice. Many power boats made deliveries on alcohol to the back entrances of various bars. Cool, actually.

After the ride, I had the clever idea of finding where our evening Vivaldi concert would be. Although the venue had St. Mark’s as part of its address, our consensus was to use GPS. GPS resolutely marched us to and around tiny alleys away from St. Marks. We came to an epiphany; GPS sucks in narrow alleys.

We did find a small pizzeria where authentic Chinese waitresses provided efficient and cheerful service. This restaurant might have had a restroom. We’ll never know. None of us felt brave enough to pass a shrieking toddler to look. Oh how, weak and naive we were.

But we were smart and experienced enough now to head back to St. Mark’s Square to find Saint Mark’s Cathedral. (By the way, twenty-four years earlier I had the good fortune to visit this square during the Carnival season. I saw many wonderful acts, many in Italian and some in English. I also did the Hokey Pokey with a bunch of Americans. My contribution was, “You put your left ear in. You put your left ear out…)

Anyway the biggest tourist attraction in Venice is St. Mark’s Cathedral, named after St. Mark. My family went there for a full mass on Saturday evening. Mass was in Italian, but the choir was from Britain and sang in English, which was cool. But no restroom. During mass, touring around the cathedral is forbidden. So is flash photography, at least in theory. Sitting is forbidden during the tourist hours. So, you can’t sit in a pew and look at spectacular mosaic in the ceiling. And there’s no public restroom inside.

After mass, we went outside to find our concert. My gosh, it was literally twenty yards away. There was a big sign saying, “Vivaldi Concert tonight.” Fuck you, GPS.

The concert was fantastic. We were in the second row, only fifteen feet away from the musicians. The concert hall had seats for only about forty people. The energy and the skill of the musicians, well oh my gosh they were great. And they played Vivaldi’s the Four Seasons, one of my favorites. (I had listened to Vivaldi’s Two Seasons a couple decades earlier from a slow-arriving herd of Parisian violinists. No comparison, these Venetian folks were the real McCoys.)

And the concert venue had a public toilet. Sure I had to clamber up a two-foot high step, but I had been toughened, and so it proved no obstacle at all.)

A great concert, two public toilet, and mass at one of the most famous cathedrals in the world, the day had been good.

Next day we stampeded the doge’s palace in St. Mark’s square. The doges had  lived there. It’s also where the nobility conducted the affairs of state. Venice was by the standards of its times, a rabid democracy. At first, nearly all the men could vote. Then sometime during the Middle Ages, the nobility in an admirable display of voter suppression struck all but a few thousand men from the voting rolls. The criminal justice system occurred in this building as well. With a strong Protestant work ethic, this Catholic government (the Reformation wouldn’t occur for centuries) heard, convicted, and sentenced people with assembly line efficiency.

Which they needed to do as they apparently had and still have, thank goodness, one public restroom. Would you want to spend hours uncovering quilt when you needed to pee. How did I know of this restroom? Twenty-four years earlier, I had toured the doge’s palace with a reasonably empty bladder. Only after leaving the palace did I look at my tour guide. It said, “Don’t forget to visit the public restroom at the palace. People restrooms are scarcer than hens’ teeth in St. Mark’s Square.” The tour book was right. A few hours later, I found myself wandering the Square saying, “A toilet! My American ExpressTM travellers checks for a toilet.” So this time I was able to comfortably whiz away while surrounded by centuries of history.

We then took our self-guided tour of St. Mark’s Cathedral. For love of God, Montressor, book your tickets in advance. Plate tectonics moves faster than lines at the Cathedral’s kiosks. The cathedral was as beautiful as it had been the previous day.

Our ticket to the doge palace gave our free entry to the city’s art museum. Let me tell you the energy spent railroading enemies of the state to their death did not diminish in the slightest the output of the land’s magnificent artists. Lots of busts of Napoleon, which was exciting for me as I am a direct descendant of his and it was nice to speculate how all this art and city could have been mine if only he had won the Battle of Waterloo.

Then tragedy struck. The men’s bathroom in the museum was, was . . . oh the humanity, was blocked of for cleaning. Well fuck. So we went outside to look for a public bathroom. We saw a sign for one. We did! We did!

We didn’t find it. We looked for hours. In desperation, we went into a restaurant. Number Two Son approached the proprietor*. The conversation remains burned in my brain.

“Do you have a restroom?” asked Number Two Son.

“Yes,” said the evil proprietor.

“May we use it?”

“No.”

“How about if we eat dinner here?”

“No.”

So we head back to the water-taxis with my bladder full as Boulder Dam after a rainy season. And there it was, Harry’s Bar! My gosh, the famous Harry’s Bar. Ernest Hemingway, Winston Churchill, Orson Welles, Aristotle Onassis, and other luminaries used to get drunk here and it was quite all right. And carpaccio was invented here. Contessa Amalia Nania Mocenigo was told that for her health she had to give up cooked meat. The clever bar owner sliced sirloin steak as thin as possible drizzled a sauce made of mayonnaise, dry mustard, Worcestershire sauce, lemon juice, olive oil, and a soupçon of milk. A place fit for an exclamation point!

I went in to whizz. I asked to use the restroom. They answered politely and pointed the way. I expressed my gratitude after I came out. I said how excited I was to be at Harry’s Bar. They smiled and thanked me. We went back to our ship. A palace, an art museum, culinary history, and two public restrooms. Life was good.

* = Mediterranean is hard to spell. So is proprietor.

Paul De Lancey, Intrepid Explorer

 

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with 180 wonderful recipes is available on amazon.com. My newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, is also available on amazon.com

Advertisements
Categories: history, international | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Bad Advice Friday, 3-24-17

Today is once more Bad-Advice Friday. I shall be dispensing bad advice to all comers. The advice will stupendously bad.

GC asks: Is there a reason for putting a banana in meat loaf?

Dear GC: Yes, it’s absolutely essential training if you want to murder someone and get away with it. Sure you could shoot someone dead, but then you’d have to dispose of the murder weapon and those pesky policemen are sure to find it–yes, diligence can be annoying in others–and match up the bullets in the victim to your gun and before you can say, “Bob’s your uncle,” you’d be in jail. No, it’s better to suffocate your victim by shoving a banana down his throat. Then pull out the banana and cook it in your meatloaf. Not only will you have gotten away with murder, but you’ll have a tasty meal as well. And isn’t good eating a worthy goal in itself?

**********************************

CC asks: What should I have made for dinner tonight?

Dear CC: It depends. If you like the guests, let the professionals do the cooking. I suggest having Lasserre in Paris cater the event. Certainly, hiring the top chefs in France at a moment’s notice and hiring a supersonic private jet fly them to your kitchen will probably bankrupt you. However, this will be a dinner that you and your guests will savor for the rest of your lives.

However, if you despise your diners, I suggest almond chicken with a bechamel/X-LaxTM sauce and a habañero/mango smooth. Bon appétit.

***********************************

KJS-O asks: How best to pimp-my book?

Dear KJS-O: Book promoting techniques come and go. I recommend one that has stood the test of time, robbing a bank and taking hostages. I guarantee national coverage, especially if you rob a bank in a big city. Be sure to look your best for the cameras. All America will be watching you and judging you by your appearance. By all means, demand an interview with a TV reporter. This will give you the opportunity to read from your book. And remember to stay poised; you won’t be giving another interview for ten-to-twenty years.

******************************************
JAS asks: Do you know the way to San Jose?

Dear JAS: No, but neither do ants know the way to anything. However, they always find your food in minutes, even if you’ve just turned your back on it for one minute to get a TupperwareTM container. That minute turns into ten as you yourself turn into a cussing banshee trying to get a top that matches the container bottom. Anyway, the ants will find your food you left on the counter top in those ten minutes, guaranteed. How do they do it? They have no GPS. They just march forward in ever widening circles until they find your food. Which they do every time, so there must be something to it. So, I suggest driving in ever widening circles until you find yourself in San Jose. Be sure to visit the Winchester House while you’re there. It’s great.

******************************************

MB asks: What color should I paint my toe nails?

Dear MB: Your toe nails should match your belt, particularly so if you find yourself interviewing for a job while wearing flip-flops.

***************************

RAS asks: Should I cut off my big toe for no reason?

Dear RAS: Absolutely not! Cutting off your toe should be for a reason. For example, you’re at your friends’ party. They ask you to take off your shoes. You are a polite guest, so you do so. Then you stub your big toe. My gosh the pain. You go off on a ten-minute swearing tear until the pain subsides. Your friends are pointing to the door. You are no longer welcome at their house. Wouldn’t it be so much better to cut off your big toes in advance than commit this grievous faux pas over and over again. You have only two big toes to lop off, but you can lose dozens of friends if you don’t.

****************

SL asks: What color should I make the sky on April 1st?

Dear SL: I’ve always been partial to green. Hire a small plane. (Don’t forget to hire a pilot as well!) Pour green paint out the plane. Then count on your friend, the one with a huge fan to keep the green paint suspended in air.

************************

Doctor Paul De Lancey

(Please click on my name and submit Bad Advice questions to my Facebook page and simply make a comment to this post. I look
forward to hearing from you.)

 

My cookbook, Following Good Food Around the World, with 180 wonderful recipes is available on amazon.com. My newest novel, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms, a hilarious apocalyptic thriller, is also available on amazon.com

Categories: bad advice, Winchester House | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why the Latest End of the World Didn’t Happen

NoApocalypse

It’s getting embarrassing. People confidently shout to everyone that the end of the world will end tomorrow. Then tomorrow comes. And it doesn’t end. Again. Oh sure, you might have gotten a migraine or you found no hot coffee waiting for you when woke up, but that’s not entirely the same thing as the complete destruction of seven billion people. Be fair, it isn’t.

So what happens to the doomsayers? Humiliated, they slink off to their innermost lairs, tails between their legs, until enough time has elapsed for them to come out and forecast with complete uncertainty the next apocalypse. This, of course, is a shame as most of the end-of-the-Earthers are the nicest people you’d ever meet. George, who predicted the end of the world in 2012 makes doughnuts at his bakery and has a smile for everyone, including those who pay for their purchases entirely with pennies. Sarah, a newcomer to doom, runs a charity to provide hearing aids to northern Greenland.  Prudence, a veteran with seventeen predicted apocalypses under her belt, provides the voice that says, “Recalculating,” whenever your GPS notices you’ve taken a wrong turn.

All these people are wonderful folks. It’s always a great loss to the community whenever hide because of yet another highly visible, spectacularly, amazingly, world shakingly–oops sorry, bad choice of words there–End-It-All Soothsayers. What can we do to soothe their bruised egos?

Give them excuses

1* It’s the president’s fault.

2* It happened at night. No one noticed.

3* It happened, but we all got better.

4* It happened. It did! It just happened in a parallel universe. You know the one that takes our orphan socks from the clothes dryer.

5* It can’t happen until the Cubs win the World Series. Maybe this year they will and the apocalypse will back on track.

6* Apparently we don’t need the apocalypse, we have ComcastTM.

7* The Earth didn’t get slammed by a giant Coca PebbleTM, because an immensely huge space alien, I mean a hundred times the size of Jupiter, ate the last box of immensely huge Coca Pebbles.

8* We were on Daylight Savings Time.

9* Dr. Who saved us.

10* It happened, but no one will give the doomsayers any credit. It isn’t fair.  Just because people won’t dwell on the negative, preferring to rebuild their lives and face the slaggy, radioactive world with a joyful song.

– Paul R. De Lancey, comforterCoverFrontFinal

Check out my latest novel, the hilarious apocalyptic thriller, Do Lutheran Hunks Eat Mushrooms? It’s published by HumorOutcasts and is available in paperback or Kindle
on amazon.com.

Categories: humor | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lamb Burger

New Zealander Entree

LAMB BURGER

INGREDIENTSLambBurger-

1 small onion
1 Roma tomato
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound ground lamb
½ teaspoon lemon zest
½ teaspoon marjoram
1½ tablespoons mayonnaise
1 teaspoon mint, crushed
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon rosemary
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 avocado
4 hamburger buns
4 lettuce leaves
4 slices beetroot (Optional? Depends on whom you ask.)

PREPARATION

Cut onion and tomato into thin slices. Add onion and olive oil to skillet. Sauté for 5 minutes on medium-high heat or until onion softens. Add lamb, lemon zest, marjoram, mayonnaise, mint, pepper, rosemary, and Worcestershire sauce to large mixing bowl. Mix with hands.

Make four patties. Fry patties at medium-high heat with lid on for about 6 minutes or until the insides of the patties are done to the desired level of pinkness or brownness. Flip patties once.

While patties are cooking, cut tomato into ⅛” thick slices. Peel avocado and remove pit. Cut avocado into four slices lengthwise. Toast hamburger buns. Put a patty on bottom bun. Put tomato and sautéed onion slices and 1 lettuce leaf on each patty. Top with beetroot slice, if desired. Add top bun. Combine the bottom and top parts of the burger. Repeat for the next 3 burgers.

TIDBITS

1) Sheep is an anagram for . . . sheep. Lamb is an anagram for balm. Lambs do not use lip balm. They do not have opposable thumbs, so they can’t hold the tubes of lip balm.

2) Sheep can be shorn for their wool. Wool makes nice clothes and blankets for people to use. People get haircuts. However, sheep do not wear wigs made from human hair, not even if they wonder what it would be like to be a redhead.

3) Law enforcement can track you with your cell phone’s GPS. Smart sheep can do the same, so Mary’s little lamb doesn’t need to follow Mary anymore. This is why you don’t hear the nursery rhyme anymore.

– Chef Paul

4novels

My cookbook, Eat Me: 169 Fun Recipes From All Over the World,  and novels are available in paperpack or Kindle on amazon.com

As an e-book on Nook

or on my website-where you can get a signed copy at: www.lordsoffun.com

Categories: cuisine, humor, international | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: