The travel bug bit Bill Beaty at a young age when he realized there was
a big world beyond his small Oklahoma home town. Between work and
vacations, he's made more than two dozen trips to Europe, the middle
east, and Hawaii, and he spent two years in Japan courtesy of the
U.S. Army. He and his wife, Lenna, live near Dayton, Ohio where they
are saving for their next trip to Europe.
Not everyone goes to Venice in November, but we were visiting Rome. Exploring
the canals seemed like a good idea.
November? The guidebook said to watch out for rain and high tides, but how
bad could it be?
We hardly noticed either the boots at the hardware store or the tables along
the streets. Coming off Vaparetto Number 1 and pulling our luggage up the street
(a term applied to any narrow alley in Venice), we walked by the low tables and saw
the green boots at the Piazza San Apostoli hardware store. Of course, it was
raining. It had rained since we got to Italy. Nobody cared. We were two of the
twenty or so tourists coming off the water bus and hunting our hotels among the
endless alleyways of one of the world's most exotic cities.
The next morning we'd learn why everyone needed boots and why the tables weren't tables
but were essential for navigating Venice...
Venice is somewhere at or below sea level, and has no cars or trucks. Even
bicycles aren't allowed, giving the first time visitor a sense of an easy going,
laid back renaissance paradise. Streets are little more than alleyways, and
everyone can count on getting lost. We followed the guidebook directions to
the hotel (Turn left at the candy store) and found our two star hotel on a side
street less than five feet wide. We suspected the owners bribed the author of
the guidebook to give the hotel that second star and some flashy words on the
website. According to our book, this was the absolute must stay hotel in one
of the world's most exotic cities. We felt lucky to have a reservation.
The next morning we awoke and looked over the rooftops. Still raining. No
problem. We had umbrellas. We had coats, and even an old rain hat. We were
ready for anything.
At the door of the hotel the desk clerk, identified as "the concierge" in the
guidebook, said, "Where you going?"
"Uh," we'd planned on going somewhere around the Rialto Bridge."
"No," he said.
"What do you mean? No?"
"Flooded. Everything that way's flooded."
Then he points the other direction, toward the train station.
"Maybe that way, but not Rialto."
We had two days to see Venice! High tide or rain and a little flooding weren't
going to stop us.
We turned a corner, crossed one of the small canals, and there was the water,
at least a foot deep, and there were the tables, arranged into elevated
walkways. Unlike the hotel desk clerk, Venice didn't let a little water
scare the tourists away. The tables, thousands and thousands of them, were
elevated walkways, and when the water closed one of the streets, the walkways
appeared. They were everywhere.
We found the Piazza San Marco, St Mark's Square in English, and the sidewalk
cafes were under water. The tables, arranged into walkways, snaked from one
building to another. Tourists were lined up body to body making their way
into St Mark's Cathedral, the Doge's Palace, or one of the hotels or restaurants
around the Piazza. A few hardy tourists sat at tables, just above the water,
sipping coffee, a bargain at seven Euros ($8.40) a cup and watching other tourists
make their way between buildings atop the walkways. The famous pigeons were
somewhere else — somewhere dry.
There was even a boot pecking order. The policemen and a few other natives
wore hip boots. Only Italian women can look fashionable in hip boots. Green
rubber boots identified other natives. Tourists wore bright yellow or blue
tinted plastic boots bought from street vendors or provided by their three or
four star hotels. Our two star hotel didn't provide boots. They recommended
we not go out.
Even in the rain Venice is like no other place in the world, and without the
crowds it probably has a magical quality. If you go, pull on your boots or
find a path where the water is only a foot deep, and go ahead, taking pictures
as you go.
When you're tired, which comes quickly from crossing all those
bridges, duck into a little bar or coffee shop and join the other tourists
in studying your map and guessing where you'll go next. You know that tomorrow
morning the rain will stop, the sun will be out, and the pigeons will return
to the Piazza.
Copyright © December 2003 Bill Beaty and Low Carb Luxury
Title photo Copyright © 2003 Bill Beaty and Low Carb Luxury
Refrigerator Nut Fudge
Are you a chocolate lover? Try this sugar free yet decadent-tasting recipe
for a lovely, occasional treat, packed with healthy walnuts and a hint of
Prepare an 8 inch square baking dish by greasing it with butter or spraying
it with a butter flavored non-stick spray. Set aside until ready to use.
- 2 Tablespoons soy flour
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 3 Tablespoons butter
- 8 ounces cream cheese
- 1/2 cup granulated maltitol
- 2/3 cup granulated erythritol
- 4 (1 ounce) squares unsweetened chocolate
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 9 packets Splenda
- 1 1/2 cups chopped walnuts or pecans
In a medium sized sauce pan, whisk soy flour with heavy cream until
the mixture is smooth. Add the butter, cream cheese, maltitol, erythritol, chocolate,
Place the pan over medium heat until the mixture becomes warm enough for
the chocolate and cream cheese to begin to melt. Lower the heat to the
lowest possible setting.
Continue melting the ingredients for the fudge, stirring as necessary. When
the mixture is melted and smooth, add the vanilla and packets of Splenda.
Taste the fudge. If it is not as sweet as you like, adjust the sweetness, by
adding sweetener of your choice.
Beat the fudge for a minute or two with a heavy spoon. Add the nuts and
thoroughly combine. Pour the mixture into the prepared 8 inch square baking
dish. Spread it evenly into the baking dish, using the back of the spoon to
smooth the surface. If the surface looks a bit greasy with the melted butter,
press a paper towel into the surface to remove the excess.
Cool the dish to room temperature. Refrigerate for several hours or until
chilled and firm.
Remove the fudge from the refrigerator. Cut into 1 1/2" squares.
Makes 36 (1 1/2 inch) squares of fudge. Each square is 3 effective grams of carbohydrate.