Member Postcards

A Tale of Two Cities: Venice & London

Indagare member Carroll Pierce recently returned from a trip to Venice and London with her husband and one of her daughters. Here are her impressions from the trip.

First Stop: Venice

My husband, daughter and I met up with friends of ours in Venice, where Indagare arranged an excellent guide for us. She wowed us every day with her adorable and chic guiding outfits. We appreciated her facilitating our entry into the Biennale and her thoughts on the best non-Giardini/Arsenale exhibitons. She also made sure that our tour of Basilica of St. Mark coincided with the daily hour the lights are turned on to highlight the mosaics. The men are both boat guys so they loved hearing about the Serenella-built boat we took during our touring.

We ventured to the islands of Murano and Burano for a day trip, which really highlighted the exuberance of Venice. We ate at Lineadombra, Antiche Carampane and Alle Testiere, all of which were fantastic. My husband’s beef tagliata with arugula at Trattoria da Arturo is forever seared into my memory; it was simple and delicious, and I'm going to attempt to replicate it. The day of our arrival was so warm and sunny that we had a long, late lunch on the Gritti Palace terrace, where we also stayed. It was the perfect choice for us, especially because it was the first time to Venice for two of us.

Another day, we had a late lunch on the roof of the Hotel Monaco & Grand Canal. While the terrace was already closed for the season, the day was warm enough for the doors from the dining room to be open. The food was overpriced for what it was, but we were basically paying for the view, and that was worth it.

We ate dinner at Acqua Pazza three times. It's not that it was exceptionally good, but just that by day's end, when we had eaten rich, late lunches, we only wanted a quick, nearby bite, and pizza and arugula fit the bill.

We were able to get tickets for a Vivaldi Four Seasons concert the night of our arrival. While we were questioning our choice after the long flight, our "seize the moment" attitude paid off and we were riveted for the duration of the show.

Second Stop: London

The Connaught

sets the bar for how a hotel should be run! Check-in was done in our room, which was so much more efficient and discreet. We never had the sense that there were any more than six guest rooms in the hotel, despite it being fully booked. There is quiet and calmness throughout and the abundant red amaryllis and moss flower arrangements were stunning. There is almost no place better than Hyde Park for a run, but the Connaught gym is a close second. Each Sweet N' Low packet in the restaurant had its own protective sleeve with the Connaught emblem on it, epitomizing their attention to detail and brand management. Bravo!

Tom's Kitchen (now closed) is a longtime favorite of mine—cozy, comfortable and delicious. Amaya was perfect for Sunday supper. We met friends for lunch at Balthazar (; 4-6 Russell Street; 44 (0)20 3301 1155), which provided a taste of "home" in London, and the food was exactly what we'd expected and hoped for. We took a friend to dinner at Nopi and had four seats at the chef's table downstairs where we delighted in innovative food and ingredients and an engaging wait staff. One night we met friends staying at Blakes for drinks in their downstairs bar. I loved the dark, Asian-inspired interior and they liked the location for the peace and quiet.

My husband, daughter and a friend took a last minute trip up to the Harry Potter Studios (; Studio Tour Drive; 44 (0) 845 084 0900), just forty-five minutes from downtown London. The tickets were sold out on line, but the Connaught concierge was able to figure out tickets and transportation. They loved it, and felt that three hours there was not enough.

The highlight of our time in London was spray-painting in the grafitti-legal tunnel by the London Eye. Graffiti artist Banksy bought the space as a communal and legal place to spray-paint. Our young friend living in London hauled us over there, complete with a bulging bag of spray-paint cans and a radio. We're not really that cool, but during that moment we felt cool!

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