|Subject: Re: Travel "Finds"|
An interesting topic, and I'll look for Little Venice the next time I'm in London!
I don't have a hidden place that I came upon in a city, however, my husband Tony and I created some magical moments in Kyoto on one of our visits there.
He knows how much I love arts and handmade things and before our trip bought me a book about families in Kyoto that have been making various items for centuries and the current members of their families still handmaking these items. The book gave a description of the items, the family history and current member producing them and their photo's and addresses.
So with the book in hand, we wandered the streets and alleyways of Kyoto visiting people and talking to them about their craft. We met a family who makes only crackers and learned why japanese crackers are covered in soy (salt for the farmers). We met a family who have been hand making brushes for centuries - from mops to make-up brushes. I met people who made lacquer combs for the Geisha and those that create the silk for kimono's. I had them all sign my book for me and they were all so flattered, almost embarrassed by the attention, that I would travel so far to meet them. One of the best moments was visiting a man, about 75 years old, and very famous for his tempura. We went to his tiny, centuries old restaurant, handed down through his family. We were seated in a tiny tatami room and brought his most special tempura's. After dinner, we talked with him at the tempura bar (Tony speaks some japanese)and learned some history. When we were ready to leave, he put down his cooking tools, washed his hands, changed shoes and came out from behind the bar and walked us to the door and stood in the doorway bowing and waving to us as we walked away. He waited there until we were at the end of the alleyway and turned the corner as is the traditional japanese way to say goodbye to your most honored guest.
On that trip we stayed at a Ryoken, a very traditional japanese inn and the overall experience was absolutely magical.