Interview with Frank Ruffolo, author

 

Hello all–happy to have you visit. You’re here on a very good day, for I have with me none other than Frank A. Ruffolo, an author with many and varied talents.

I started reading Frank’s books a year or so before I officially “met” him online. The first one was “Gabriel’s Chalice”, which I found to be fantastic. Frank’s imagination takes me in a direction I was only too happy to go.

FrankR1

Interestingly enough, I now find myself in the position of editing his books, and I’m currently working on the sequel to this book, which is called “Tres Archangelis”. It’s super!

Okay, enough from me. Time to hit Frank with questions.

  1. What influenced you to write your books?

I listen to the voices in my head and try to develop a tale that includes current events or places I have been and elaborate and expand my thought process to capture the imagination of the readers.

Gotta watch those voices. I know I do–sometimes they tell me that beer is one of the prime food groups…

  1. Do you have a favorite character or theme?

My basic theme is good against evil. This includes all the genres I write in; action adventure, science fiction or murder mystery. My favorite character overall is Detective Jack Stenhouse for he says and does what most men think and dream–a mix of Sam Spade, Dirty Harry, Dirk Pitt and me.

I love Jack. He’s such a crusty guy, but with a heart as big as all outdoors–especially when it comes to Didi.

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  1. Do you have any other books in progress, or that you plan to write?

Wow do I! I just submitted to my publisher Linkville Press a sequel to my new murder mystery The Jack Stenhouse Mysteries. Jack is back in BLUE FALCON. He is recruited into a federal task force investigating the murders of key witnesses scheduled to testify before Congress against the President who is being impeached. Jack and the task force follow a trail of blood to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. I am editing a sequel to my sci fi thriller Gabriel’s Chalice titled TRES ARCHANGELIS. I am writing another sci fi thriller XANTHE TERRA and researching and writing three more another sci fi, another action adventure, and another murder mystery.

I can see that I will not want for editing projects in the near future–ha!

  1. When you’re not writing, how do you spend your day?

I work part time so when I am not working I edit, and do book promotion and try to find time to read.

Book promotion takes up a lot of time. 

  1. I see your interests include target shooting, gardening, and NASCAR. Care to elaborate on any of those?

My wife Christine and I have a vegetable garden. We have tomatoes and eggplant, broccoli, green beans, spinach, carrots, onions, lettuce and pineapple.

Pineapple? I’ll be right down…

I have a concealed weapons permit so target shooting keeps me in the ten range. I have, during the NASCAR Experience, driven a stock car at Homestead Racetrack three times at 150 mph. I have a need for speed. hehehehehe

The car thing–that sounds incredible! I would love to do that. Wait–I already do…on the interstate…

  1. What do you like most about your home state of Florida?

The obvious answer would be that there is no snow or winter clothes needed. Florida was nice about 25 years ago. I am over it. It is too hot for too long. In the summer you break out in a sweat just going outside to retrieve your mail. There is too many people the traffic is unbearable. Insurance for your house because of the hurricanes is price prohibitive. The only positive would be no state sales tax.

I pretty much picked up on that while editing the Jack Stenhouse Mysteries Book 1. I love my Pacific Northwest–sure, it rains a lot, but humidity is almost never a problem.

Well, that was short–but it was very informative. Now before I let Frank out of his chair, I am hoping he will share his social sites and the other places where we can reach him:

On facebook  www.facebook.com/frankaruffolo www.facebook.com/pages/Frank-A-Ruffolo-author/188729521194331

Twitter @ruffoloauthor

Website www.frankaruffolo.com

Publisher www.linkvillepress.wix.com/home

Google+  plus.google.com/u/0/+FrankARuffoloAUTHOR/posts

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I am going to make the attempt to do more interviews here–can’t guarantee anything. But if you’re interested, or would like to know more about Frank and his books, just comment on this blog.

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Presenting: Armando Minutoli – Author, Screenwriter, and all-around Good Guy

(Is this thing on…?)

Hello? I hope I still have an audience. I’ve made the faux pas of not blogging regularly, so I know my readers have gone off to look at pictures of cute kitties and people falling into their own wedding cakes.

However, I hope to have some folks return to my blog, because I really do have some cool stuff to impart. I’m starting out with my interview of Armando Minutoli, whose work encompasses both book and screenplay writing. After this, I hope to do more interviews and such like. This was something I was going to do at the start of 2015, but never got around to doing it. Hopefully I can rectify the situation this year.

Okay, I’m going to stop rambling (hahaha) and get to the point now.

~~~~~~THE INTERVIEW~~~~~~

(To be honest, some of this interview was taken from another one that was published on Smashwords in June of this year.)

When did you first start writing?

I started writing in 1990 when I returned from a Pilgrimage to a small then-Yugoslavian (now Bosnia-Hercegovina) village named Medjugorje, where the Blessed Virgin Mary has been appearing to visionaries since June 1981. Because of the wonder I experienced there, I was inspired and compelled to write about my miraculous experiences.

I’ve been there too–something definitely going on there.

What were your personal experiences in Medjugorje?

Broken inside, I was in search of God. Friends recommended that I visit Medjugorje, referred to by many as a “Place of Miracles.” The Blessed Virgin Mary was appearing to young Visionaries. I witnessed many miracles both privately and with other pilgrims, what I call “kisses from heaven”. Experiences that sparked spiritual growth and emotional healing in me. A profound confirmation of God’s existence and His unconditional love for all of us.

Wonderful! My experiences there were very positive too.

What are you currently working on?

This year I published two works of fiction:  “The Hester Street Kids” (Historical fiction—NY Mafia in the 50’s) and “Schism, Something Is Amiss in Heaven Again!”  (Spiritual fiction), both of which have been receiving Five-Star Reviews.

Presently, I am writing a screenplay adaptation of a vampire novel with a religious impact of faith in God. And, in discussion with film producers interested in producing the The Hester Street Kids, film adaptation, which I also wrote.

Also I’m seeking producers interested in doing the film adaptation of “Schism.”

Hopefully the author of said vampire novel will get her rear in gear and get to working on her part (hurr harr…)

Can we get a brief synopsis of your more recent books?

“The Hester Street Kids, A Story about Immigrant Life In New York Under The Hands of The Sicilian Mafia….” This is a historic Drama/Thriller. Set in New York’s Little Italy in the 1950’s, this character-driven drama is mysterious, sensual and driven by a female protagonist. It weaves lies with love, treachery with truth, and explores the ultimate meaning of moral fortitude, honesty, passion, and loyalty.

Wonderfully written! I enjoyed it immensely.

“Schism, Something Is Amiss In Heaven Again!” Hopefully it will give the reader some insight into the major questions about God , His existence, and our free will. Encased in an entertaining story line with dynamic characters.

It is a really terrific book. Editing it let me really explore the story line and the characters. I highly recommend it.

Which one of your books would you recommend first, and why?

I recommend my latest book; “Schism, Something Is Amiss In Heaven Again!”, which I believe addresses questions of faith, trust, and free will in an entertaining, uplifting, and hopeful way.

Me too.

What is your favorite genre to read? To write?

I love thrillers with strong, heartfelt characters. I also enjoy fiction and non-fiction that feed my thirst for knowing God.

A very worthwhile pursuit.

What motivated you to become an indie author?

It is exceptionally difficult to secure a literary agent or traditional publishing company today. Just to get them to read your work is a miracle in itself. Frankly, I think that the publishing industry is having a collective nervous breakdown. Expenses are high for them, so they direct their focus on the works of writers who already have some public prominence, i.e. a film celebrity or a cable news pundit. So many wonderful, informative, and entertaining stories go by the wayside waiting to gain their interest.

I agree wholeheartedly. This past year, I have read some fantastic work, and I hear from many authors who have the same problem. Their literary jewels stay in the box, as it were, because they can’t seem to hit the market on their own.

What have been the challenges of self-publishing your work?

Like any new venture, self-publishing requires learning-curve and money to secure specialists. There are many factors in preparing and marketing a book for publication: accounting, commissioning editors, marketing, production editors, digital formatters, distribution, sales. And, freelances hired on a project basis: indexers, translators, proofreaders, copy-editors, project managers, jacket designers. I was fortunate that I had many of the skills, and with the help of friends was able to complete my book projects… the pressure, however, is enormous.

That is a lot of work. Small-press publishers have the same problem, which many of their authors don’t seem to understand. But that’s a story for another day.

What is the greatest joy of writing for you?

Writing gives me the opportunity to meld my varied life experiences into entertaining fiction that delivers a message. All of us have something to share .. writing is my vehicle for that.

That’s what I enjoy about it too.

What do your fans mean to you?

It is enjoyable and edifying to know that my written words have touched the reader in some way. Adding to the scope of their world in some way. Maybe challenging them to look at things from a different frame of reference. Causing them to think, adding their own input into the story…kind of a collaboration between the author and reader, in effect causing the story to grow with greater dimension.

What else besides writing keeps you busy?

Assisting my wife in her ministry of recruiting and sustaining seminarians to the Catholic priesthood. Also, I recently became a member of The Knights of Columbus and intend to join my brother Knights in related outreach ministries.

Very worthwhile endeavors. Best of luck with both!

You are a native New Yorker who has relocated to Florida. Was it much of a transition?

Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, where everything is pretty much at one’s finger tips (the publishing industry, the film industry, the arts etc.), it was difficult to adjust to South Florida’s laid-back atmosphere. But the weather (with the exception of hurricanes) for me, like many others, is a big factor. Sun most every day, no frost, snow, etc. And, miles of beaches…

I could take that sort of weather as a vacation spot–but I love rain.

What is your general outlook on life?

I believe that to have a happy life, one must focus on the positive things and gifts in one’s life, including friends, family and the country at large. Taking one day at a time…. With the realization that God always makes it good. “But for the Grace of God Go we!”

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Thanks, Armando. I appreciate you taking the time to answer my questions…and being patient enough to wait for me to finally publish them.

Here are his social/buysites:

medjugorje

http://www.amazon.com/Medjugorje-Pilgrims-Journey-Second-Addition-ebook/dp/B006JPNBHE/ref=la_B001KC80X6_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1450895322&sr=1-2

 

 

 

 

Hester Street

http://www.amazon.com/Hester-Street-Kids-Armando-Minutoli-ebook/dp/B017EIX8CC/ref=la_B001KC80X6_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1450895322&sr=1-1

 

 

 

 

 

schism

http://www.amazon.com/Schism-Something-Amiss-Heaven-Again-ebook/dp/B017DX9YQW/ref=la_B001KC80X6_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1450895322&sr=1-3

 

 

 

 

Website: http://www.themorningstarpress.com/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/288382.Armando_Minutoli/blog

 

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A powerful story indeed: “Set Free from Darkness” by Susan Klarkowski-Rasmussen

A “beauty for ashes” story of life after murder – what you will never read in the headlines.

Set Free From Darkness, by Susan Klarkowski-Rasmussen

RELEASE DATE: September 20, 2015

SYNOPSIS:

In 1987 I had dreams of marriage and a family. I had a wonderful husband, a beautiful daughter and a nice home. I wanted to know the God that could create a child so perfect. I began exploring my spiritual options.

While researching New Age philosophies I would go through mental illness psychosis leaving me with the worst fear I could ever know. I was afraid of my thoughts and myself. With misdiagnosis and failed hospitalizations I ended up taking the life of my 10-month-old child.

Set Free From Darkness will take you from tears to victory. I set out “to know the God that could create a child so perfect” and He answered my prayer but in a much deeper more complex way.

He loved me enough to allow my heart to be broken so I could begin a journey to learn to love and forgive.

AUTHOR BIO:

Susan Klarkowski-Rasmussen has a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, believes in the full gospel of the Bible, complete with the Spiritual Gifts, and retains the respect for others who are on their journey seeking the “light”. Growing up with legalism, rules and regulations she has come to view God in a much broader way.

Susan is happily married and has been the shepherd of four goats, two dogs, one cat and a rooster. She and her husband, John, live near Green Bay, Wisconsin. She would be the first one to admit that she did not have what it took to live out this story, but for some reason she was chosen. Now she is grateful to be on this side of the pain, sharing a story of hope and restoration. “There is something that happens inside a person when what they hold dear is stripped from them. If once they can let go of the guilt and sadness, a healing takes place that creates a strength unknown to many.”

Susan will tell you she didn’t do anything special…she just got up every day and somehow managed to take another step.

Susan would like to share some thoughts with you, dear readers:

I wrote my book to tell this story and in part to come to terms with my own pain.  I begged God for years to please never let anyone find out about me and the crime I committed.  But I knew deep down that what I feared owned me.  As long as only a few people knew about me I could continue to work in the community and live my life but always lurking like a shadow was the possibility and probability of being found out.  While I did not have a handle on it for myself, I felt I had to explain my story to one person at a time until I suppose the whole world knew and understood

One big problem with that plan – I still had not come to terms with my own guilt and shame.  As time wore on and the book came together I had come a long ways to the reconciliation of my own peace of mind.  The one thing left was this, how would I handle the criticism that was sure to follow the telling of such a delicate subject.  I knew I would find people on one side of the fence or the other. Either they understood because they too have had mental illness or a family member with an illness or they would be outraged due to ignorance on the subject.  I was ready for both of those. 

What surprised me the most were the people that would literally say – Nothing. The silent friendly fire.  Maybe that is another reason a “silencer” on a gun was given thatname.   Do the damage but not so anyone can hear. So it left me to my own imagination to come up with the reason for the silence.  Oh we would talk about the weather, sports, whatever but they acted like I had never handed them a copy of the nightmare I lived.  That right there was the one item I really needed to understand and come up with a strategy deal with it.

 After a good long time and a few major meltdowns it finally came down to this – Other people’s opinions were not my concern.  If someone understood or if they didn’t understand or if they were not going to acknowledge it, it had little to do with me but more to do with their relationship with God.  Once I understood that, I was no longer held captive by what other people thought about me and my story, whether they understood or didn’t understand or were somewhere in the middle. 

I did not survive this ordeal and write the book to convince anyone, merely to present a side of the story very seldom told.  And whether you agree or disagree it doesn’t make it any less true.  When the chips were down, it was me and my family and close personal friends, but then when I was alone, it was just me and no one else left with my disgrace, until I got reintroduced to Jesus.  

I have found total restoration with the help of God the Father, Jesus the Son and the power of the Holy Spirit.  I get it now, our problems no matter how we view them, big or small, are momentary trials and will be replaced someday by a crown.  I stand before God today and one day in the future for He knows I speak only the truth in my book.

So if you like my story or don’t like my story, remember I did not write it, yes of course I wrote the book, Set Free From Darkness, but I’m not the original Author of it.  The first 50 pages can be difficult to read, they were horrific to live, but I assure you, you will soon see God’s restoration in my life. 

This is a book of hope as I truly believe “all things work out for good.”  Early on, if someone would have told me that I would be saying that good came out of this I would have said “they” were out of their mind.  I can attest however that so many things have come full circle since the start of this story.   It is an important story that sheds light on what is generally feared out of ignorance.

 Beautifully said, Susan. I hope all the best for you.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

CATEGORIES: Non-Fiction/Memoir/Mental Illness

PAGE COUNT: 143

ISBN: 978-1517064228

IMPRINT: Veritas

BOOK PAGE:

http://ravenswoodpublishing.com/bookpages/setfreefromdarkness.html

EMAIL: suerazz@rocketmail.com

AUTHOR LINKS: http://www.susanklarkowski.com/

AMAZON US: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0153JRYEM

AMAZON UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B0153JRYEM

BARNES & NOBLE: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/set-free-from-darkness-

susan-klarkowski-rasmussen/1122621730?ean=2940151094610

KOBO: https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/set-free-from-darkness

GOOGLE PLAY: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Susan_Klarkowski_

Rasmussen_Set_Free_from_Darkness?id=z8GBCgAAQBAJ&hl=en

SMASHWORDS: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/575087

iBOOKS: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/set-free-from-darkness/id1037868483?mt=11

CREATESPACE: https://www.createspace.com/5707409

PAPERBACK: http://www.amazon.com/Set-Free-Darkness-Susan-Klarkowski-

Rasmussen/dp/1517064228/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1441778474&sr=8-1&keywords=set+free+from+darkness

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One last day in Venice

We were up fairly early on Sunday–we’d passed by a church (wow–are those rare (not)) the day before and found out their Mass times, and decided on the 11am one.

After breakfast in the hotel, we chugged it over to the bus stop and waited in the frosty morning air for the Number 5. Paul was worried that maybe it didn’t run on Sundays, but it wasn’t long before it came by.

We were told the day before that if you wanted the bus to stop, you had to actually flag it down. It doesn’t stop unless you do. Strange.

This time around, there weren’t as many bodies crowding in as there had been the day before, and we were able to see the world as we rode along. It was interesting–and a little alarming–to see police officers blocking a street here and there.

Then we started to see runners, and I remembered–today was the Venice Marathon. I wondered vaguely where the route would take the runners…

Off the bus and over to the vaporetta stop, for a ride to St. Mark’s Square. And–oh look. Runners:

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And guess where the route went–that’s right, exactly across where we needed to go. Us and a zillion others. For those of you unfamiliar, St. Mark’s Square has no go-around from the water side. Crossing the stream of runners was the only option.

Solution: the police were at a certain cordoned-off spot on the route on either side of the runners, and when there was a break in the stream, they’d let a few people across. We took our lives in our hands doing so–those runners would run over a person before they would stop. It was especially tricky getting a guy in a wheelchair across–not because of the runners, but because the police had to clear a spot on the other side so he could find safe haven.

I was pushed back by the cops a couple of times for reasons given in Italian, but I finally made it, with Paul not far behind.

 

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We walked through a relatively quiet St. Mark’s Square on our way to the church. As we passed through, we saw the barriers up for the runners–but no runners as yet. Near as I can figure, the runners would be doubling back somewhere and would be coming through later.

We reached our church of choice:

The Chiesa di San Moisè (or San Moisè Profeta) is a Baroque style, Roman Catholic church in Venice, northern Italy.

The church was built initially in the 8th century. It is dedicated to Moses since like the Byzantines, the Venetians often considered Old Testament prophets as canonized saints. It also honors Moisè Venier, the aristocrat who funded the reconstruction during the 9th century.

Thank you, Wikipedia.

We could take pictures from the outside, but not inside–we were used to that, of course. So–stock pictures once again (the inside ones).

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These were pretty cool–handwrought maps of various towns in Italy on the foundations of the church. Not a lot of detail, but they were fascinating to examine up close.

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This was over the main altar. I found the picture on Wikimedia.

This Photo was taken by Wolfgang Moroder.

 

 

We wandered around the area for awhile, since we still had some time before church started. Paul was looking for something for his mom, so that kept us occupied for a little time.

Shall I drop some more pictures of Venice in here? Oh, why not:

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(Actually, this picture was taken in Murano.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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We got into the church with plenty of time to spare…which we used up by goggling at the artwork around us. Paul was especially – intrigued, I guess is the best word – by a statue on the wall to our left. The figure was either a very thin, haggard-looking woman, or Death–or Pestilence. We couldn’t really figure it out.

A lot of the paintings on the walls were nearly black with age and exposure. I certainly hope they get some restoration work done on them.

The priest was a study in character; “hawk-like” was really the best description of his face. Youngish–I think–clean-shaven of head and face, the classic Roman nose, and eyes that watched from under heavy, lowered brows. He didn’t look like he had much patience for people who arrived late.

And it didn’t help that some young guy with a silly grin on his face decided to make the tourist round while Mass was going on. The priest gave him a couple of long, silent looks, but the guy didn’t get it. He finally drifted on out–but the tension was there on the part of the good Father. For a few minutes, I thought he was going to jump out there and haul the guy away.

With no further incidents, Mass continued as normal–all in Italian, of course. I tried to follow along, with an attempt at pronouncing the words, but that became a simple babbling on my part. Yeah–Italian–I ain’t got it.

Our major destination for the day was the Doge’s Palace–naturally smack-dab in the middle of that mess of people watching the Marathon. Xenophobes need not apply. You like personal space? It won’t happen here, I can guarantee you that.

Once we finally got in, it was a different story. So much space! So much breathable air! The entrance opened up onto a large inner courtyard, simple in its construction, which ably hid the grandeur to come:

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A lot to explore around the outer walkways:

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This was the entryway into the lavish rooms that we would be seeing. Not to be outdone by the riches within–this is known as the Golden Stair:

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Absolutely magnificent!

But thoroughly eclipsed by the paintings and such that we saw on the inside.

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We walked through many rooms like these–tell ya the truth, we got lavish’d out.

The armory was interesting:

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And the view outside fantastic:

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Then we got to cross the Bridge of Sighs and went into the prisons:

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Your last look at freedom

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Personally, I thought the graffiti down through the ages was cool:

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Once we’d visited the prisons, our tour was over. The freedom we’d felt inside these walls was rudely eclipsed by the imprisoning bodies once we got back outside.

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There were sixty bazillion people trying to get from Point A to Point B, and at least that many trying to go the opposite direction. I have not been in such a press of bodies since the last time I went to an outdoor rock concert in the Oakland Coliseum in California. It was nuts!

By the time I got out of there, I’d traded eyeballs with someone and had gotten an extra elbow.

(I managed to get it past airport security, and it makes a pretty good doorstop.)

According to the picture gallery from both our cameras, we didn’t do much else after that. I believe we just got on another water taxi (the vaporettas being insanely populated–see below) and headed back to the airport stop.

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We made an early night of it, after having dinner in a little restaurant down the street from our hotel. Our flight was going to be around dawn the next day, so we wanted to at least try and get some rest.

(Paul didn’t sleep–he couldn’t, so he stayed awake reading all night.)

***

Next day–a flight into Amsterdam (where the bathrooms not only have seats–they have dispensers by each toilet where you can get antibacterial cleaner for them!), then a straight shot home.

Not being sleepy, I watched quite a number of movies on the little screen in the back of the seat in front of me. This was after the attendant had to re-set the thing–it kept looping ads and stuff on its own–in Spanish.

I watched “What We Do in the Shadows”, which I’d wanted to see for some time, “Pixels”, “Into the Woods”, and “An American Werewolf in London”. The guy in the row in front of me played Solitaire the whole ten hours home. How does anyone do that??

Oh, it felt so good to be home. Daughter Dearest met us at the MAX line just east of the airport, and in no time we were inside our home, being joyfully ignored by the cat. Well, she’s a cat, so…

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

I hope everyone has enjoyed this time with us. Our next trip will be Scotland–I’m already looking into bed-and-breakfasts and the like.

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Venice, Day 2

From here on, I am relying solely on memory–we have been home for almost two weeks, and I didn’t have time to write the rest of the trip while the experiences were fresh in my mind.

So–Saturday morning, and time to disembark for the last time. This process was done by luggage-tag color. Passengers picked up tags the night before and attached them to their large luggage pieces, which were picked up that night – the colors determined what time people were let off the ship and reunited with their stuff. At least that was the plan.

Everyone milled around, not wanting to get involved in anything, and waited until their tag’s color showed up on the TV displays. Then we lined up on the promenade deck and had our passenger cards scanned one last time. Pretty good process–unless, of course, the computer decided to kick up. Which it did. Leaving was a much slower process than we had originally expected. Oh well–we didn’t have anywhere we were going.

Once we got off and picked up our luggage, we decided that the direct route was the best way to get to the hotel–we hired a land taxi. Zip, zap–and we were there.

Wow–cross that bridge from old Venice, and you’re suddenly out in the wide open spaces. It wasn’t rural by any regard, but it was definitely less building-littered.

P1060792 This was the view down the middle of the street by our hotel.

 

 

 

 

We were far too early to get our hotel room, so we arranged to leave our luggage in a locked room in the lobby area and roll back into Venice. The lady behind the desk was very helpful–we were able to pick up two 24-hour metro passes for a minimal amount so that we could ride about every conveyance in the city without dumping more euros in a machine. She then told us that the bus stop was “right across the street” (her words).

We thanked her and went right across the street–to a mailbox. What?? We walked up and down, looking, and were soon joined by another family who was equally baffled.

Oh enough of this–I went back into the hotel and asked her to clarify.

Okay–the stop is “200 metres to the left across the street”. I do not know a metre from a mud puddle, and I think she guessed that–so she came back outside with me (with yet another family trailing her), and pointed to where the bus stop was.

Thank you–that’s about a city block.

What’s lovely is that we did NOT miss the bus, and it was not crowded.

Yet…

There were quite a few stops between where we were picked up and the end of the line. I’m astounded as to how many people can cram onto a bus. This was one of those few times when it didn’t bother me overmuch–for one, I had a seat, and for two–we were all going to have to get off at the same spot.

There is a terminus of sorts at the edge of the city proper, beyond which no vehicles can go. The whole of Venice–the historic bits anyway–belongs to the pedestrian. And with all those bodies, there is no way anything bigger than a stroller would fit anyway.

Venice is a very clean city–shopkeepers make sure the area in front of their places of business is always swept and free of litter. Rarely did I see junk in the canals either. Nice to see in a large city.

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I never got used to seeing doorknobs in the middle of doors. Hobbitses…

Once we got into town, our first order of business was to get out of town–we wanted to see Murano and the cemetery, both of which were a vaporetta ride away.

P1060839 This is one of the zillions of vaporetta/water taxi stops–we’re on a vaporetta and coming up to the dock. It floats on the water too–and when the water is choppy, it can make for an adventurous crossing between boat and dock…

 

 

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First stop was the cemetery–no pictures allowed. High walls, no places to sneak a peek into the place from outside the walls (unless you’re a high-jumping fish). We went in and looked around for a bit. Nothing spectacular.

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Back to the vaporetta and on to Murano. We were really hoping that we could get in one of the glass factories and have a tour, but it didn’t look like that sort of thing was available. So we just ambled about, goggling at things and taking pictures.

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We were very enamored of this glass sculpture:

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After tooling around a bit on the main drag, we hit the residential streets. So quiet…

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It was difficult leaving such a quiet area, but I’m sure the residents didn’t care much for strangers wandering their streets. So we went back to the main drag, found a place for lunch, and watched the world go by for awhile.

Our next stop was St. Mark’s Square–this time we wanted to do it up right. Back onto the vaporetta, and another scenic ride down the Grand Canal to our stop.

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St. George and the Dragon–sorry, from here it looks like St. George and the alligator–or sturgeon…

 

 

 

 

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Aside from getting a shoeful of canal water, this day has gone very nicely. What’s interesting, speaking of canal water, is that some people and businesses have to relocate during the winter due to rising waters. It was easy to see in some places:

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Most shops in the city sold the Murano glass, carnival masks, jewelry, and high-end clothing. Then there were the street vendors with booths, who sold T-shirts and the usual schlocky tourist stuff.

And then there were the independent hawkers on practically every corner. They sold selfie-sticks, weird little things that whistled, and balls of glob that splatted when they were thrown to the ground, then rearranged themselves into a glob again. Yep–got one of those for my son a few years ago. Minutes of fun–it didn’t take long for the glob to forget how to reassemble itself. Wheee…

What a maze of streets! It’s a good thing we’d gotten a map from the nice people at our hotel. We wandered all over, taking pictures of buildings without names and plazas without signs, lofty residences and simple door fronts.

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P1060865 If you’ve ever wondered where all the pigeons that used to be in Trafalgar Square wandered off to–it was here…Zillions of them.

 

 

 

Dinner time came around, and we made ourselves comfortable at a canal-side restaurant. What a lovely end to a wonderful day!

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Saw this advertisement in the bus stop, and thought how wonderful it would be to be a part of it. Foreshadowing…

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We took a regular water taxi back to the hotel–or, rather, to the airport. It was less than a half-mile walk from there to the hotel, where we retrieved our stuff and were off to slumberland in no time.

Tomorrow: our last day in Venice

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Venice, Day 1

10/23

(In my travelogue I’d written “Friday–whatever the date is”. Yep–we’d gotten to that point.)

As I write this, we are passing a lighthouse out in the far distance. Two more hours and we should see Venice on the horizon.

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We woke up this morning to much gentler waters. It was my turn to have the semi-difficult night’s sleep last night; the cold virus hit me late yesterday afternoon. However, it was short-lived–I don’t feel much of it at all now. Made for a meds-induced sleep though.

(In case I don’t mention it later, the cold was just taking a short coffee break…)

Paul was already up, dressed, and had had breakfast by the time I awoke for the final time this morning. Once I was dressed, we went up to the buffet room so I could have my breakfast. I’m really trying to keep the calories down from now until I get home. Hard to do, restaurant/prepared food being what it is. Salads, fruit, some protein, keep the carbs and fats low. I’ve already scaled my six flights of stairs for the morning. Depending on what we do in Venice this afternoon, there may or may not be a repeat of that this evening.

We’re supposed to dock at 2pm, which should give us plenty of time to nose around town a bit. First order of business is to figure out the easiest way to get to our hotel for tomorrow night (it’s near the airport, a good number of miles from the city itself). We’ll be staying on the ship tonight and disembarking in the morning. At that time, we’ll get our stuff shifted and spend the rest of the day blowing off the rest of our euros (which isn’t much).

An aside: It doesn’t matter where you go anywhere in the world, people in elevators are the same. Conversation ceases when they step into the little room and push the button for the floor they want. The doors close, and all eyes focus on the box that displays the floor number, as if it is the most compelling thing we have ever seen in our lives. Either that, or we stare at the wall/floor/ceiling–anything but eye contact with other people. Sometimes I almost laugh out loud–but that would violate the sanctity of the elevator room…hee hee.

Things I am looking forward to when I get home:

  1. Being able to hang out in my PJs
  2. Not having to vacate my room so someone can come and clean it up
  3. Firm footing–no more shipdeck rolling
  4. Solitude
  5. Seeing my daughter/friends/cat again
  6. Computer!

These are not necessarily in order of importance.

***

We are now sitting in the most forward room on the ship – the Galaxy of the Stars. Every once in awhile I check the horizon for signs of land. Nothing yet. There’s a game of Trivial Pursuit going on–again, we didn’t sign up for it (got there too late), but we knew the answers.

I’m out of things to write, so I will go off and do something else before – tah dah! – lunch.

The buffet area is really the best place to get meals, because I have control as to what I put on my plate. And today it will be another large salad (no dressing) and of bit of cheese or chicken for protein.

Horizon Check: water…

At least the clouds are gone. The air is fresh and cool out there–absolutely wonderful! I am staying inside, though–no sense inviting this cold virus to get its claws into me any more than it has.

As we got closer, the seagulls guided us into port almost as well as the pilot. They took turns flying even with the ship for awhile, then would flap a wing and fly off to other business.

It took a good hour to get from where we first passed land to where we docked. As we floated along, many of the landmarks that make up Venice came into view.

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And practically everyone on the ship was on on the left side of every deck, taking pictures. I’m surprised we didn’t tip over…

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I noticed something odd–well, odd in my view because I hadn’t known about them. At least two towers are leaning–mayble not as bad as in Pisa, but definitely noticeable. (I never came across info on them while we were there, so I just now looked them up.)

P1060685 From Wikipedia:

The Basilica di San Pietro di Castello (English: Basilica of St Peter of Castello), commonly called San Pietro di Castello, is a Roman Catholic minor basilica of the Patriarch of Venice located in the Castello sestiere of the Italian city of Venice. The present building dates from the 16th century, but a church has stood on the site since at least the 7th century. During its history the church has undergone a number of alterations and additions by some of Venice’s most prominent architects. Andrea Palladio received his first commission in the city of Venice from the Patriarch Vincenzo Diedo to re-build the facade and interior of St Pietro, but Diedo’s death delayed the project.

After St Mark’s Basilica became Venice’s official cathedral (it had previously been the private church of the Doge), San Pietro fell into a state of disrepair. It was firebombed during the First World War and only through the efforts of conservation organisations has it been restored to its former state. Its ongoing conservation is now managed through its membership of the Chorus Association of Venetian churches.

The church is located on San Pietro di Castello (from which it derives its name), a small island off the eastern end of the main city of Venice.

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The Chiesa di Santo Stefano (Church of St. Stephen) is a large church at the northern end of the Campo Santo Stefano in Venice. It was founded in the 13th century, rebuilt in the 14th century and altered again early in the 15th century, when the fine gothic doorway and ship’s keel roof were added. The tall interior is also Gothic and has three apses.

Once the ship checked in and was opened for disembarkation (there were a few shore excursions, but we didn’t sign up for those), everybody lined up along the promenade deck. Leaving the ship this time was a little different; instead of mass-trotting down to the fourth level and exiting off a gangplank, we left via a tower the dock officials had rolled up to the side of the ship. Once folks got into the tower, they had the choice of stairs or an elevator. Convenient!

Once we got free of the marina, we had a look around to see the best way to get into Venice proper. I had to laugh when I saw a “People Mover’ in the near distance. Suddenly we’re in Disneyland?

Well, it was legit–a small train/shuttle that would take us into town. Since we didn’t know any better, we got in line, paid our €1.50, and hopped aboard. Off we went–a whole one stop and we were off…only three stops to the (very short) line.

Actually, knowledge of this conveyance helped on our way back–but we felt pretty foolish at this point in time. Less than a mile’s walk–well, what did we know?

We threaded through the labyrinth that is Venice, trying to get to St. Mark’s Square. On the way, we ran into Hard Rock Cafe’s outlet store, so I was able to get my shirt–yay!

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Observation:

Things I won’t miss:

  1. The ever-present smell of cigarette smoke
  2. Crowds
  3. Selfie-sticks–those wands that enable people to take pictures of themselves in front of monuments, etc.

One thing I have to say–Venezians must have some bonzer leg muscles. All those stairs and steep bridges! I was pooped out after three hours or so of these streets.

You can definitely tell the difference between tourists and residents around here–residents are talking on their phones, while tourists are taking pictures with theirs.

But–what magnificence! Every time we turned a corner, there was yet another incredible sight. I can hardly wait for us to be able to explore tomorrow; this is why we booked an extra day in Venice.

We got delightfully lost trying to find St. Mark’s Square, and simply touched on the area when we got there. This was an area that we were destined to spend a lot more time in the next day.

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Paul was smart concerning our voyage (which is what it truly was) back to the ship. He felt like we should give it at least an hour and a half to get back on time. We had a dinner reservation on board at 6:30pm, so we had to keep to a schedule.

Okay–vaporetta, or water bus. Great concept, but it has got to be the slowest way to get anywhere. Reason being, all of the stops it has to make. Oh, the crowds on board! Xenophobes would have jumped overboard in the first few minutes, I’m sure. And when they made their stops at the floating stations, they smashed against them so hard it was almost impossible to keep our footing (we almost always stood). Fortunately all of those other bodies kept us upright. :-/.

We got to our own vaporetta stop with about 15 minutes to get back on board and to the restaurant. As Paul walked his normal speed, I sprinted several times in order to keep up or pass him.

Then the stairs back up the rollaway tower. I was completely out of breath once we got to the restaurant.

I still kept the calories down as much as I could–although I did have dessert.

We went up top to see Venice by night, but our view was blocked by two other cruise ships. Bummer.

Here are our best:

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Now we’re back in our cabin. I’ve finished packing, and Paul’s doing his. Tomorrow we’ll have the adventure of figuring out how to get to our hotel from here.

Tomorrow: Good-bye NCL, Murano, and St. Mark’s Square

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A two-fer!

You get the afternoon of 10/21 and 10/22 in its entirety!! And I’m not even charging you extra! You lucky people.

10/22

Wow–hard to believe we’re in the last days of this trip.

My handwriting is going to be even more of a challenge to decipher than usual–this morning’s sea is choppy, with much spray from the bow as the ship hits the waves head-on. Where I’m sitting, outside on Deck 11, there is a definite jerk to the pattern of the ship’s traverse. I am currently on the port side; earlier I was in the library reading. Not so much of the feel of the waves there, but the quiet was often interrupted by loud thumps above our heads–as if the crew was dropping bowling balls at random times.

Would they actually do that? I probably would–which indicates that I would not have a long career in the cruising profession.

Last night, after my final entry into this travelogue, I took to the promenade deck and circled eight times, giving me 2.8 more miles of exercise for the day. Just as I finished my last two laps, the ship pulled out from the dock, and I was able to join Paul on the top deck. Good-bye Piraeus!

 

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We then had dinner. I indulged in one last dessert–or at least I thought it would be my last. It was a chocolate crepe, and it tasted like crepe paper. It’s extremely rare on a cruise ship for something like this to happen–it just was no good at all. So–one more dessert after this one, and that will be it unless I really jack up the exercise.

Paul wasn’t feeling all that well, and sleep had been rough the night before, so we went on back to the room for the night.

For the record–those shows and things they have on board are not interesting to me. I’m only too happy to get away from people and noise after a long day of crowds and sightseeing.

Oh–speaking of which–as I sit here, there is a live music thing starting up nearby. Sigh…I was hoping to find a quiet spot outside for awhile. Well, I’ll just deal with it.

Today is a Day At Sea, which means an ascetic’s diet for me. Plus, as mentioned, much exercise. No elevator–stairs only!

After breakfast, Paul decided to stay in our room in order to rest and try to get over this cold virus. I gathered my book and writing stuff–and that is how I’ve spent my morning.

Now I think I will see if I can get some of my manuscript written.

***

Lunch, a few stair climbs, and back to writing. I  have written just over 48 pages on this trip, and somewhere around 8,640 words. I’m seeing the conclusion of this book in my sights–hooray!

It’s too wet to go outside. I made that mistake earlier. Miserable out there, but it’s supposed to be much better tomorrow. From our window we can see the flumes of water as the bow slices through the waves. Yep–looks pretty active out there on that sea.

We will arrive in Venice in the early afternoon–I’d better make sure those camera batteries are charged.

Okay, what next? Oh yes–dinner.

Done and done.

We did something different tonight–we actually went to another show! Paul was feeling up to doing something besides lying in bed recuperating (which he has done quite nicely).

At 7:30pm, we went to the Stardust Theater, which was already filled almost to capacity. We found a couple of seats in the nosebleed section right before the show began.

The show was called “Elements”–and what a show it was! Choreography blended in with magic acts, and some really spectacular aerial ballet. The costumes were dazzling and the special effects breath-taking (except for when those bright lights flashed directly into my eyes–didn’t care for that part).

No pictures again–copyright stuff. Here’s a random picture from the internet:

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Yeah, it was something like that–only better.

The sea was choppy when the show was over–it was amusing to see everyone stumbling in the same direction at the same time. Choreographed lurching–we gots it!

The evening was still early when we got back to our cabin, but I got ready for bed anyway. We weren’t going back out, so why not?

I started reading yet another book–I have four reviews to write when I get home.

Tomorrow: Day 1 in Venice

 

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