🇮🇹 10 Tips: Venice, Italy 🇮🇹

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Venice is one of the most amazing, unique places on earth. We spent 4 days + 4 nights there and even in that amount of time, we probably barely scratched the surface of what there is to see and do there!

But I thought I would pull together 10 tips for when YOU visit Venice! 🎉 Also, I’ll include our 4 day itinerary at the end of this list! 👇🏻

Tip #1: Get lost!

When it comes to Venice, there is so much to see! Even with a map, you’re going to get lost. While most of the time, that seems like a bad idea, in Venice, it’s the exact opposite. If you wander through the streets and bridges going over canals, you will find some great things. You can never go wrong with the pastry and coffee places you find, the small hole-in-the-wall churches usually have decadent mosaics and paintings on their ceilings, and you can stumble upon hidden landmarks!

Take for instance, Liberia Acqua Alta. This place is apparently very hard to find, and due to our short time in Venice, we had sort of ruled out seeing it…until we just found it on accident one day! We had set out and decided to tackle a different area of our Venice map we hadn’t seen when we found it! So, get lost. Wander and see what you can find!

Tip #2: Get a Venezia Unica Card.

These are cards that not only provide unlimited use of the city’s vaporetto system, but also have other benefits, like seeing popular tourist destinations AND even free WiFi for a day if you are under 29!

My husband Tim and I got the “Rolling Venice Card” for 72 hours which included as many rides on the vaporetto as we wanted and WiFi for a day! It was well worth it because even though Venice is a very walkable city, you will want to see it from the canals also! This card also covered our water transport to the outerlying islands of Burano and Murano, which are a must see!

The important thing to note here though is this: TheVenezia Unica Card DOES NOT cover transportation from the Marco Polo Airport to Venice.

For that, you will have to book a desperate transfer via an Aliguna Waterbus on the Blue Line, which was right around €40-54, if I remember correctly.

Tip #3: See Burano and Murano! But if you have to pick one, pick Burano!

Now, this one is subject to opinion, but out of the two islands, I liked Burano the most! It is great for pictures and has the colorful buildings and even a lesser known Leaning Tower that Instagram dreams are made of! 😍 However, if you are going based purely on seeing the lace making or glass making, go to Murano for the glass making.

It is amazing to see the glass creations there and for some reason, it just seemed more visual and was cooler to see than the lace making on Burano!

The vaporetto ride from Venice to Murano is shorter than the one to Burano. I think our ride to Murano was about 10-15 minutes while the ride to Burano was closer to 30-45 minutes from Cannaregio where we stayed.

Tip #4: Check out a mask store or atelier!

A trip to Venice isn’t complete without seeing a mask maker and exploring one of their stores! Even if you don’t come during Carnivale, Venice’s February celebration where people dress up in costumes and masks, it is one of the biggest trades known strictly to Venice!

We visited a store called Sogno Venezia Atelier and the owner Julia had a wealth of information on the art of mask making and she makes all her own costumes!

Masks are only part of Venice’s allure and mystery, but be sure not to miss out on learning more about them!

Tip #5: Stay in Cannaregio!

This is also just opinion, but I felt like Cannaregio was the best and most central location for us when it came to staying in Venice! We were not far from the airport, we were away from the touristy areas and in more of an actual Venice neighborhood, but still within walking distance of the sights, and we were close to the Ospedale stop, or Hospital! You never want to think you’ll need it, but it was nice to know it was close!

We also were near plenty of markets, which we went to to buy fresh produce and things to make meals at home sometimes!

Tip #6: Go during the shoulder or “off” season.

March is considered a slow time in Venice. It is typically a little chillier and right after Carnivale, so flight prices drop. We scored our tickets for around $700, which was a great deal when compared to anywhere from $1,000-$2,200!

If I can suggest though, go in late March or be prepared for cold temperatures. We layered a lot. March is also the time for “high water”, so you will see higher water and even flooded streets in Venice due to the rain. We had to use catwalks to walk over the water sometimes, but if worse comes to worse, they do have these strange looking rain boots you can purchase everywhere. They look a lot like Saran Wrap that just goes over your feet! 😂

Tip # 7: Ride down The Grand Canal.

This is just a MUST. And kind of a given, but you have to see Rialto Bridge from the canals. It is a beautiful sight, not to mention, a relaxing ride. You will get some of your best pictures riding the vaporetto! They have these awesome little back sections of the vaporetto boats where you can go out a door and literally be in the open air. Just hold onto your phones! You don’t want to drop that into the canal!

Tip # 8: Take a gondola ride…but during the day.

Day fares for gondola are cheaper than at night and you’ll get less grainy, higher quality pictures. Now, while the vaporetto is great, gondolas are amazing because they take you down the tight, little back waterways of Venice that are quiet, secluded and interesting. We saw hidden passageways, passed a private courtyard where a couple was drinking red wine and they toasted us… 🍷😂

It was all very Venetian and we wouldn’t have seen any of it if we hadn’t gone for a ride! The fare is generally €89, but you can ride up to 6 people in a gondola and that total is split amongst riders, it is not per person!

Tip #9: Go to Cemeterio Island.

I did not take many pictures at Cemeterio and some people think cemeteries are morbid, but I thought it was a cool experience! If you like seeing how Venetians live…and how they died, Cemeterio is an interesting place to go. It is a 5 minute ride from Cannaregio across the channel.

There are beautiful monuments there and even windows that just face off into the sea. While wandering around, we came across a landing of black and white tiles that just gently sloped into the canal and we discovered that it is there that boats dock to offload coffins.

It’s impossible to realize all the things that are different about Venice until you really stop and take a look.

Tip #10: Talk to some Venetians.

Whether it was talking to our waiters at the trattoria down our street, Julia at the mask shop, or anyone we encountered, the Venetians are an interesting people. They are very passionate about things and are set in their ways. They certainly won’t go out of their way to help you, but they are nice if you catch them in a good mood.

If I had to rank all the towns on their “friendliness” that we went to, Venice wouldn’t have the top spot, but more on that later! 😉

Bonus Tip #11: Get used to “Italian Time”.

Italians have their own clock that they go by, whether it’s getting somewhere and meeting up with someone or just eating dinner. Dinners are usually 4 hour affairs with multiple courses and you have to ask for your check, which was strange to us Americans.

One reason for this is that Italian waiters are paid a living wage. In America, waiters barely make $3 an hour and live on tips, so it’s all about turning tables. Get used to taking your time in Italy and you will enjoy your trip so much more!

Those are all my tips for Venice! 🇮🇹🍷🍕

Here is a brief itinerary of our time in Venice! 👇🏻👇🏻👇🏻

March 14th: Landed in Venice

*On this day, we basically ate dinner near Rialto Bridge(very touristy, but the pizza was good) and went to our VRBO home to catch up on the time change! Not much accomplished this day.

March 15th: Murano & St. Mark’s Basillica

*We rode over to Murano to see some glass making and also checked out St. Mark’s Basillica and square! We did a lot of wandering this day and got a lot of ground covered!

March 16th: Burano, Riding a Gondola, and Riding Down Grand Canal

We rode over to Burano early and also had lunch there! Poppy had fish with the heads on. 😳😂 We also rode the vaporetto all over, including down The Grand Canal, and got gelato. 🍧

March 17th: Cemeterio, Libreria Acqua Alta and Sogno Venezia Atelier

We saw a bunch this day! We explored Cemeterio, Libreria Acqua Alta and I bought a Venetian mask!

Stay tuned for my next blog on Florence, Pisa & Lucca!

And there is a quick video I made of Venice, which is on my IGTV, or Instagram tv! I hope you’ll check it out!

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A+

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I was never an A+ student. I was always one of those kids that people thought was a “straight A” student because…I don’t know. I had both my parents? I wasn’t ever really acting out and I was shy? I don’t know, but it still makes me laugh.

I was a B and C student, average, at best. I never really “succeeded” in school, but from a young age, I remember just not caring. The only reason I found myself wanting to be “better” was because I didn’t want to disappoint someone else.

I was more creatively inclined. I was in band and loved music. I was great at English and Creative Writing, but I sucked at math. There came a time though, when I was in high school that I started to realize…how pointless and dumb some aspects of school were. I liked learning things, but I thought life was a better teacher. Experiences were a better teacher. And I should want to be better for myself, not for everyone else. I needed to break apart from the huge, people-pleasing streak I have in me and start doing things…just for myself.

It’s taken a while to get to this point in my life. Did I get a college degree? No. But am I happy? Yes. I can truly say that I have a job that I love. I am self-employed and own my own petsitting business and not a day feels like work to me.

I guess I just wanted to write an inspirational post today because I thought someone else out there might need to hear it.

Don’t ever feel like you have to live up to a single letter on a page or report card. Don’t ever do something if your heart isn’t in it. And don’t try to better yourself just because you think that will make someone else happy–you have to want it too.

It hasn’t been but in the last 5-6 years that I have started making deliberate choices for myself and I’ve gotta say, it feels good.

Success is measured, often times, by people who believe the letters they are assigned on a piece of paper, the people who fall in line and do as they’re told.

Even though I got B’s and C’s and sevvvvvveral D’s and F’s, I knew that wasn’t me. I didn’t let it define me.

I know some might say that I didn’t have “work ethic”, but I do. I just genuinely hated algebra. 😂

If there’s any advice I can give, having been on this earth for 27 years, it’s don’t sweat the small stuff. College doesn’t define you either. Do what you think you were meant to do. The rest will fall into place. ✌🏻

🌎Ancestry DNA Results🌎

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I am so fascinated with the world. All the different countries and cultures, just how vast it is…the different types of people all around the world, what they like to eat, what they think about, common traits, what they do for fun.

I believe that you need to know where you’ve been to know where you’re going—so I finally did something I’ve been wanting to do for a while now—take an Ancestry.com DNA test! 😱

I went into it only knowing a few things. For my entire life, I’ve been told that we are very Irish, Scottish, German and Cherokee Indian. 🇮🇪 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 🇩🇪

I think taking these tests is so neat because…sometimes, you come out on the other side and your world is turned upside down. Sometimes, there are wild cards and you’re not at all who you thought you were! I’ve actually watched quite a few YouTube videos of people revealing their Ancestry results and thought that it was such a neat idea! I’m planning on doing a video myself probably later this week, if you’d like to see the video format! 🎥 Keep an eye on my YouTube channel! 👀

Without further ado, here is a break down of my crazy results!

I am actually 38% Great Britain, which also includes Scotland and Wales. 🇬🇧

This was very surprising to me. My entire life, I had just assumed I was maybe more Irish than anything else. ☘️As it turns out though, my husband is more Irish than all of us! 😂 He was 46% Irish, which is unheard of and almost half!

The next highest percentage was Irish though at 28%. 🇮🇪 I guess I just always thought and everyone assumed because of my red hair that I was very Irish!

12% Scandinavian was very interesting to me and I had no previously knowledge/suspicions about that at all! This would include Norway, Denmark and Sweden. 🇳🇴 🇩🇰 🇸🇪

10% Europe West would include Belgium, France, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Luxembourg. 🇧🇪 🇫🇷 🇩🇪 🇳🇱 🇱🇺

That made perfect sense for the German! That is mostly from my mom’s side. The Irish was from my dad’s side, Great Britain from both sides.

I told my husband that being the majority Great Britain was actually spot on because I’ve always favored their quick witted, a’la Monty Python type of humor! My grandfather commented also on my love of tea.

Now…here comes some really interesting stuff! Since my husband was almost half Irish, he didn’t have as many variables or smaller percentages, but I had quite a few that really shocked me! 😱

5% Europe East, which includes—brace yourself—Poland, Czech Republic, Austria, Russia, Hungary, Slovenia, Romania, Serbia, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Lithuania, Latvia, Bosnia, Herzegovina, Croatia. 🇵🇱 🇨🇿 🇦🇹 🇷🇺 🇭🇺 🇸🇮 🇷🇴 🇷🇸 🇺🇦 🇧🇾 🇲🇩 🇱🇹 🇱🇻 🇧🇦 🇧🇦 🇭🇷

5% is a small percentage, but still quite a bit in my eyes! Half of these countries I know nothing about and some I had never even heard of! That’s about to change though, I really want to read up on them now!

2% Europe South, which is Italy and Greece! 🇮🇹 🇬🇷 It’s a little percentage, but this excited me since we are going to Italy! I can claim I’m not whole, just 2%. 🤷🏻‍♀️😂

2% Finland/Northwest Russia 🇫🇮 🇷🇺

I’ve always thought Finland had a fun sounding capital. Helsinki. Heelllllllsiiinnnkii.

<1% Middle Eastern, which would include Syria, Iraq, Saudi’s Arabia, Jordan, Oman, Yemen, United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, Israel. 🇸🇾 🇮🇶 🇸🇦 🇯🇴 🇴🇲 🇾🇪 🇦🇪 🇱🇧 🇮🇱

This was shocking to me. While there have been some not so peaceful relationships between my country and the Middle East, this interests me so much!

<1% Iberian Peninsula, which is Spain and Portugal 🇪🇸 🇵🇹

🤔

And last, <1% Caucasus, which is Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, Iraq, Syria and Turkey. 🇦🇲 🇦🇿 🇬🇪 🇮🇷 🇮🇶 🇸🇾 🇹🇷

I was really excited about my results! I can’t wait to do a YouTube video about it!

Have any of you all ever done an Ancestry DNA test? If you have, were your results what you expected or not? How did that make you feel?

Let me know in the comments below!

👇🏻👇🏻👇🏻

| P i c k i n g in C l i n t o n |

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  Today was a fun day. I’ve been a little emotional amidst all the #metoo stories showing up on social media today, plus sharing my own personal stories of abuse.

  It was nice to getaway for a few hours and hang out with my husband, Tim. ❤️


 We went to Clinton, Tennessee to look through all the antique stores and also eat at The Apple Blossom Cafe there, which has great food. 🍔🍛🍗


 Clinton is such a pretty place. 🌹

  Tim and I wore our matching leather jackets today. We’re that couple. 😂🤗 #sorrynotsorry



 I’m going back to petsitting and business mode now, but it was nice to go have some fun for a little while! I’m looking forward to getting a break this weekend. We’re also having a cool, Financial Peace Class reunion at our church.

 Tim and I took the class back earlier this year, it’s Dave Ramsey’s famous class. I am so excited to share our story with everyone there! That class helped us to save up for our upcoming trip to Italy! 😍🇮🇹

 When it gets closer to the time that we leave, I will definitely do a post on packing for a European trip. I need to research what the weather is going to be like there in March. 🤔

 I’m also excited because we have some video gadgets we got for this trip so we can try our hand at some vlogging in conjunction to blogging! 📽🎉

  I love editing video. It’s been something I’ve liked doing since I was a kid and my dad gave me his huge, old, shoulder mounting JVC Camera. 😂 I used to run around the front yard with that thing, making skits with other kids in our neighborhood! Makes me crack up now!

 So, I may start practing making some vlogs. If I make any, you all will be the first to know! 👍🏻

Exploring Cemeteries

A Musing

  Lately, I’ve been thinking about life and death a lot. 💀 

  I really don’t know why. Other people might find cemeteries creepy, but I never have. I actually like looking for old tombstones and wondering about the lives that the people underneath them led. 

 

  While going around and meeting people for petsitting, I had some downtime yesterday and went back to explore an old church I’d passed. I came to find out it was built in 1893 and was on the list of National Historically Registered places. It had a copper steeple, turned green with age, lead, stained glass windows and a gated cemetery full of old grave markers from the 1800’s.


 I find it really sad when you read the markers and see that it was a baby who died within the same year or you do the math and figure out that someone was very young when they died, 17 or 18 years old sometimes. Those ages used to seem so old to me, back when I was those ages, but now…it’s so incredibly young. And I’m sure people look at me, at the age of 26 and think the same thing. It’s all about perspective. What you know and where you’ve been. 


  It seems like death is one of those things that no one talks about on social media, but it is inevitable. I guess I think about it sometimes because I want to make sure I’m living my life to the fullest.

  I couldn’t help but notice some weird things at the cemetery too. 👀

 Like some of the tombstones had the people’s professions on them. It made me laugh. Defined by our professions, in life and in death. Who wants to see “Garbageman” on their tombstone when they die?! 😂 Maybe they would make it sound better and put “Waste Technician”? 

  I just think we put too much stock in what we do for a living. I’ve always been more of the “I work to live” not “I live to work” persuasion. 

\\ B u f o r d  H i g h w a y // Atlanta’s Asian Mecca

A Musing

  I’m baaaaackkkk! 👋🏻

   My cousin Rachel & I went on a short weekend trip to Atlanta. I’ve been to Atlanta several times since it’s relatively close, but this trip was different. The past times I’ve come, it’s been for my husband’s work conference, a thrifting trip my family took us on where we went to all the best Goodwills (SO much fun! ❤️), or a loooong time ago when we came and went to The Coca Cola Factory and to a Braves game. 

  This trip, Rachel and I set out to explore the Asian communities in Atlanta, in particular, the areas on Buford Highway near Duluth where so many restaurants, stores and karaoke bars are prevalent. We have both always loved anything Asian, but especially the culture, traditions and the food. 🍱

  So, here are some of the best things we found on our adventures!

Umma’s House Korean Restaurant
75 5th Street NW, Atlanta, GA, 30308

 Umma’s, a restaurant specializing in Korean & Japanese fare, is located in downtown Atlanta, close to the Georgia Tech campus and center. For that reason, they had great deals on food for cheap. The bento box I got was only $7! 😱 I had leftovers and it was so good. 

  Umma’s also serves authentic Bubble Tea, which is very hard to find in my hometown of Knoxville. Rachel got a Strawberry Smoothie Bubble Tea and I got a Green Tea Iced Latte Bubble Tea. I love matcha. 😻 Definitely check this place out! But find closer parking than we did! 😂 Or you can always use Uber! We did for the first time and actually ended up riding with someone who works for Uber Corporate! Our $5 ride back to the car + talking to him and our driver was worth it!

Han Il Kwan Korean
5458 Buford Highway NE
Atlanta, GA 30340

  Han Il Kwan, a rather ordinary looking Korean Restaurant located next to the Mighty Tidy Carwash on Buford Highway, was anything but!

  Again, I was astonished by the huge portions some of these places had! Maybe also because I didn’t have my husband to help me eat my meals, I always had leftovers! 😂

  I tried Bibimbap for the first time here and it was delicious. Filled with rice, noodles, bean curd, egg, spinach, carrots, tofu, cucumber and more, it was brought to me on a sizzling platter. Rachel got one of their soup specials, which was extra spicy 🌶, and it came with kimchi and more in little dishes to try. My meal was right at or under $10. Just don’t make the faux pas I did and mix your rice in if you get Bibimbap. The owner came over and told me,”You’re supposed to mix in the rice!” 😂

  In my defense, it was too pretty to mess up!

Sweet Hut Bakery & Cafe
5150 Buford Highway NE
Atlanta, GA 30340


 To check out an Asian cafe, head to Sweet Hut Bakery on Buford Highway. It was a little chaotic and busy, but they serve Asian desserts as well as more traditional American ones. We tried Strawberry Milk Tea 🍓 there and Taro, a dessert I had never tried before, but was very good!

K-Pop Store
5953 Buford Highway NE
Doraville, GA, 30340

  Now, for retail, you have to check out one of the few K-Pop stores they have in Atlanta! My cousin Rachel adores anything Korean and K-Pop, so we went to this little store in Doraville and were not disappointed.

  They had everything from posters, cds, booklets, pictures, keychains, stickers, lights, paper dolls, apparel, everything. The next closest thing would be going to any of these K-Pop groups’ concerts, that would be the only other way you would see that much cool merchandise. I got stickers from a group called Red Velvet and we both got some Korean facial masks to try! (The chopsticks are some ivory ones I picked up at an Asian supermarket because I’d really been wanting some. I got 10 pairs for $2!)


 Here is the blueberry facial mask in action. I felt like Iron Man. 😂

 All in all, it was a very fun, cultural trip! It’s the next best thing to actually going to an Asian country, which I am hoping to do someday. (After my trip to Italy! 🇮🇹)

 Atlanta has every kind of Asian culture represented, from Malaysian, Chinese, Taiwanese, Japanese, Indian, Korean to so many more! If you love Asian culture like we do, we would highly reccomend you check out Buford Highway near Doraville and Duluth on the outskirts of Atlanta!


P.S. Also, I’d like to give a shoutout to the VRBO we stayed in near Candler Park and Little Five Points! The owner Scott was amazing and it was so convenient and close to everything. 

\ \ H e l e n, G e o r g i a / /

A Musing

  Seeing is believing. Some places are just so weird and unbelievable that you have to see them in person. Helen, Georgia is one of those places. I decided that it needed an entry all of its own! 🇧🇪🍻🌲

  

  If you were looking at these pictures and didn’t know any better, you would think you were looking at the perfect, quintessential German town, but this village with Bavarian charm is right in the middle of the mountains in Northern Georgia. I think, personally, it’s a lot like Gatlinburg, a mountain town in Sevierville and in my own backyard, just if it had German influences. 

  

  This town is close to a lot of hiking trails, rivers where you can go tubing and plenty of other activities. Downtown itself, a tiny little Main Street, is full of hotels, B&B’s, German restaurants and some tourist trap souvenir shops. There are a few more authentic shops close to the beer garden near the main square, fortunately, that sell some German snacks and little kitschy souvenirs and pottery, which are a little better than your standard airbrushed tees and marijuana bottle openers you find in the usual tourist crap stores. 🙄

 

  You will also be surprised to know that there are quite a few German people who own shops in this town and even live near by. I guess it surprised me because it’s a knock off of Germany and if I had to choose between Real Germany and Fake Germany, Real Germany would win every time. 👍🏻

  Seeing little mock European towns like this makes me appreciate the people who loved a place like Germany so much that they brought it to them, and at the same time, it makes me want to visit the real, authentic thing. 

  So, if you find yourself in Northern Georgia, definitely stop by Helen! It is everything I like in a road trip pit stop: Bizarre, unique and interesting!