Glide Down the Grand Canal of Venice with WomanGoingPlaces

 

WomanGoingPlaces invites you to hop on our boat and glide down the Grand Canal of Venice. Click on the video below to join our journey on one of the most glorious waterways in the world.

If you have never been to Venice, our film will show you the magnificent marble palaces that line the canal, the graceful gondolas, the bustling boats   – all part of the vibrant flow of life on the water. Even if you have been to Venice, this film will bring its beauty back to you.

We head down the S-shaped curve of the canal in the direction of Arsenale and St.Mark’s Basin.

Boats

As you can see, the Grand Canal teems with traffic. Vessels of all shapes and sizes – passenger boats, small outboards, sleek speedboats, timber taxis, luxury liners, barges, and of course, gondolas – all going at different speeds and in different directions, horns honking and waves lapping. There are no traffic lights, no order and probably few rules, and yet there is a harmony and rhythm to it all – as if all the boats were choreographed into a gigantic ballet on the water.

Vaporetti, the water buses, are the public transport system. They ply their way up and down the Canal with stops all along the waterway. You can hop on or off at any of these stops. But surprisingly not all stops are on the same side of the canal and depending on the destination, the vaporetto may criss-cross the Canal cutting in front of other passing boats.

As well as passenger boats, the Canal is also full of boats servicing the daily needs of the city. There are police patrol boats, postal boats delivering mail and parcels, vessels with goods and supplies, even construction barges with cranes and excavators.

Gondolas

Long, elegant black gondolas row slowly by. Tourists lounge on the cushions taking selfies on sticks, and singing along in camaraderie with the accordion player.  There are still gondoliers rowing the Grand Canal as their fathers and grandfathers did before them. And the craft of making gondolas has also been handed down for generations and is still being practised in Venice today.

Palaces

No city in the world has as many palaces as Venice. There are almost 100 of them along the Grand Canal. These magnificent buildings were an expression of the power and wealth of Venice as the greatest European seaport, and the centre of a trading empire, for 700 years between the 11th and 18th Centuries. Venice’s rulers, noblemen and merchants sent their fleets of ships around the world to bring back silk, spices, precious stones and fabulous riches.

Venetians sought to flaunt their family’s wealth and power by building ever more splendid palaces in the most prestigious part of Venice – the Grand Canal. These palaces were not only the family homes but also the trading headquarters for their businesses. The  uppers floors were the family residence. But the bottom floors were the warehouses for storing the goods and the offices for running the business. Because of the width and depth of the Grand Canal, ships from distant lands were able to sail right up the Canal, tie up next to the palace, and deliver goods directly to the family warehouse.

Still today, all along the canal, are small docks where gondolas and boats can tie up at the entrance of buildings. As you pass, it is easy to imagine the life in past centuries. Aristocratic ladies coming out of their palaces wearing gorgeous gowns, and the 14-inch heels they used to wear to keep their dresses above the dirty streets as they step into gondolas to be transported to a ball.

The Rialto and Accademia Bridges

We pass under two of the four famous bridges that span the Grand Canal. The 16th Century Rialto bridge is the oldest of these bridges. Designed by Swiss engineer Antonio de Ponte, the arching stone bridge allowed tall ships to pass under it. This is why the Rialto fish market was able to flourish right next to the bridge for over 1000 years.

The Accademia Bridge is in the final loop of the canal just before it enters St. Mark’s Basin. It is adjacent to the Gallerie dell’Accademia which houses the world’s greatest collection of Venetian art.

The previous Accademia bridge was a wooden structure designed by Miozzi and built in 1932 to replace the original bridge steel built in 1854. The citizens of Venice loved Miozzi’s bridge so much, that when it rotted and was in danger of collapse, it was replaced in 1985 with a precise copy of his wooden bridge.

Arsenale & Biennale

We are approaching our final stop – Arsenale. Here, at Arsenale, lay the core of Venetian power – the mightiest medieval shipyards the world had ever seen – capable of producing a new ship each day.

Now the massive structures of the shipyards with their soaring wooden ceilings that housed tall galleys, have been turned into breathtakingly beautiful art galleries.

This is now where the annual Venice Biennale is held. Every two years, Venice hosts the Venice International Art Biennale, the oldest and most prestigious contemporary art exhibition in the world. This year, the 56th Venice International Art Biennale is being held. It is open until 22nd November and is quite extraordinary. In alternate years, the Venice Biennale of Architecture takes place.

We have arrived at the last stop and it’s time to hop off the boat.

But use our video to take you down the Grand Canal whenever you wish.

Video filming and editing – Augustine Zycher

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Feed native birds in an Australian rainforest

 

WomanGoingPlaces went for a walk into a 60 million year-old Australian rainforest.

This forest is so ancient, it existed even before Australia was a separate continent, when it was still part of the massive land mass of Gondwana.

So it’s remarkable, that by simply driving one hour out of the city of Melbourne, we were able to hurtle back in time to these ancient origins.

The rolling hills and valleys of the Dandenong Ranges National Park are still covered by thick patches of cool temperate rainforest. But there is easy access for drives and walks, and many lovely spots for picnics. We began our walk at Grants Picnic Ground in Sherbrooke on the Monbulk Road (route C404).

Glorious crimson rosellas flew out of the trees and landed on our heads, our arms and our hands. We cupped a handful of seeds and they calmly nibbled them from our palms.  Green King parrots with their red bellies swooped down and settled on outstretched arms and were in no hurry to fly away. Sulphur-crested cockatoos, dazzlingly white with neon yellow plumes strutted around us. They vied with pink and grey galahs to snatch the seeds that fell to the ground.

We then took a dirt path leading us deeper into the forest along the Hardy Gully Nature walk. This is quite an easy walk, but there are many other different walks available, ranging in difficulty and duration.

Very quickly we found ourselves in a lush fern gully, walking beside spectacular Mountain Ash. These eucalyptus trees are the world’s tallest flowering plants and can reach over 100 metres in height, with massive thick bases 30 metres wide.  These giants of the forest provide shelter and food to over 100 species of mammals, birds, reptiles and frogs.

Between and below the eucalyptus trees, are thick layers of of ferns. We are immersed in a world of green, lacy fronds. Bright green mosses cling to fallen logs and cover the base of trees. And we can hear water trickling  down through the ferns, over the moss and into small streams.

The smell of the air is unforgettable. It is a mix of eucalyptus leaves, tree bark, and the wet earthiness of ferns and undergrowth. It is a smell so distinctive and so clear that it seeps into your memory and just settles there.

The raucous laughter of a kookaburra breaks the stillness. But is it really a kookaburra?  Perhaps it’s the world’s best mimic – the Superb Lyrebird?  The lyrebird can perfectly imitate not only the warbling of other birds, but also the sounds of a chainsaw, explosions, musical instruments, dogs and babies crying! Occasionally you can spot one in the undergrowth, and see the magnificent tail feathers of the male on display in the shape of a lyre, which is how the lyrebird got its name.

Fossils reveal that the lyrebird has lived in these rainforests for over 16 million years.

But rainforests are shrinking dramatically. We must do everything we can to preserve these irreplaceable, incomparably beautiful forests.

Post and Editing of photos – Augustine Zycher

Photographer – D. Zycher

Photos of lyrebirds courtesy of Parks Victoria

For further information on visiting the Dandenong Ranges National Park contact

Parks Victoria http://parkweb.vic.gov.au


 

 

 

Go Yachting in Australia – A Great Activity For Women

 

You’ve always wanted to go yachting but you don’t have a boat or a friend with a yacht. Here’s what you can do.

For $20 or less, you can become a temporary member of yachting and sailing cubs all around Australia. This enables you to go out on a boat as part of its crew.

It’s a spectacular way of seeing beautiful beaches along Australia’s magnificent coastline.

In Victoria alone, there are 89 clubs and about 400 clubs overall in Australia. Many offer one or even two days a week that you can go out for a sail. So there are opportunities for sailing in different parts of the country.

I phoned the Royal Melbourne Yacht Squadron in St. Kilda, Melbourne, and asked if I could take part in a sail. I was told to come along that afternoon, pay a fee of $20, and I would be assigned to a boat.

I knew nothing about sailing, but this was not a problem at all. Because it is entirely up to you whether you just want to sit back and enjoy the sail, or whether you want to have a more hands-on experience. Either way, the clubs, boat owners and crews are very welcoming.

And that’s how I came to take part in my first ever yacht race, a Twilight Sprint which began at dusk and ended at sunset on the waters of Port Phillip Bay.

I was on a 57′ S&S Swan yacht called the White Swan. And because we were in what is called a ‘pursuit’ race, White Swan was handicapped to start last because of her speed and size.

There was another guest on the boat. Diana had just completed her first sailing course because she thought it would be  a great idea to be able to sail to different countries when she retires.

Skipper of the day, Lee Maddison steered us out of the St. Kilda Marina into the bay. As we got into position for the start of the race, the skyline of Melbourne’s city centre rose up on our right. The gold cap on the striking Eureka Tower caught the fading sunlight and became a glittering beacon.

We set off and the crew went into frantic motion. Letting down sails, hoisting up sails, letting out ropes and winding them in. On a boat, ropes are called sheets – a whole new vocabulary. The excitement rose even higher as we began tacking or jibing, that is, quickly switching the position and tautness of the sails in order to make the most of the wind and trap its power to propel the sails.

As you do this, all crew members have to swiftly move from one side of the boat to the other to help balance the boat. You have to remember to duck as the boom swings from side to side.

At times, it was like being on a sea-borne roller coaster as the boat rose precipitously out of the water. And then suddenly, we were skimming along at an angle of almost 45 degrees. That was when I decided to stow my camera away and hang on with both hands.

Acting Skipper Lee maneuvered us very capably through it all, rapidly catching up on the other boats and flying past the markers.

White Swan finished in second place, even though we had started the race 25 minutes after the first boat began.

And I had an exhilarating, wonderful sail. Take a look at the video I took of the yacht race.

An additional benefit to signing up as a temporary member is that it entitles you to have dinner in the Royal Melbourne Yacht Club’s Members’ Dining Room. So after the sail, relax and join the crews for drinks and dinner overlooking the marina and the city lights.

Increasing numbers of women are taking up sailing. Yachting Victoria is now taking the initiative to increase the number of women taking part in sailing and to promote as many woman-friendly clubs as possible. They have set up a website www.womenandgirlsinsailing.com.au . Contact them to find out what’s available. You can decide on your level of involvement – a day trip or sailing courses, club membership, joining teams and racing. You can also search the internet for yachting and sailing clubs and call them to find out what they offer.

Woman-friendly: Definitely for women travelers wanting an exciting experience.

Videography and editing by Augustine Zycher

 

See our Noticeboard for more contacts both Australia-wide and in Victoria that will give you information about how to begin sailing at the various yacht clubs around Australia.

 

 

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Go Mushrooming & Wild Mushroom Bruschetta recipe

Serves 4-6 as an entree or light lunch

 

  • 1 large loaf of Italian bread, sliced thickly – ciabatta is ideal
  • 3 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 3 tbs extra virgin olive oil or more if required
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 500g mixed mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped, plus extra for garnish
  • I small handful fresh oregano, chopped
  • 1 small handful fresh thyme, chopped
  • wedge of parmesan cheese, for garnish
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

 

Toast your bread in a toaster or on the grill. Once toasted, spread with a little of the mustard, then set aside on your serving plate.

In a large pan over medium-high heat, heat 3 tbsp olive oil. Once hot, add garlic and fry for two minutes until golden.

Add the mushrooms, salt and pepper and another sprinkling of olive oil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for about   10-12 minutes, stirring often. Add the parsley, oregano and thyme, cook for another 5 minutes.

Add a little more olive oil if needed to moisten the mix.

Serve the mushrooms warm, on top of the bread slices.

Grate fresh Parmesan over the top and dress with some extra salt, pepper olive oil and parsley.

Enjoy!

T’Gallant – www.tgallant.com.au


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