🇮🇹 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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How to Get the Best Deals on Flights ✈️

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 Hey, guys! ❤️

  I had several people respond positively when I said I might do a post on this subject, so here it is! 

 I am super passionate about traveling and seeing the world and it’s probably safe to say that most of you all would jump at the chance to travel some too, right? 

 But if you’re like most people, me included, money plays a big factor in our traveling plans. 

 I am a bargain hunter. If you’ve read my blog long enough, you know this about me! I wasn’t always this way, but after moving out and getting married, I realized how much things cost…and how I could score amazing deals on things. I usually find my best deals thrifting and clothes shopping, but travel is no exception!

  Two weeks ago, I found an amazing deal on a flight to Italy for not just my husband and I, but my grandfather and parents. Because of this, we are now getting to do something I’ve always dreamed of! 

 So, I’m going to share what worked for me with you guys! I hope these tips will help you to find some great deals on flights! If this post goes over well, I might also post about VRBO or some other ways we have saved booking accommodations and more for this trip in an upcoming post! So, here are my top tips for How To Get the Best Deals on Flights!👇🏻

1. Map It Out.


 Sometimes, you have no destination in mind, you just want to get away, I get it, but I suggest picking a place on the map and going from there. I chose Italy because it has so much to offer! Pretty much any country is older and more established than the United States, but when I got to thinking about it, Italy is full of sights and things to do, from Venice and Florence to Rome and the Amalfi Coast and so much more!

   By picking the place I wanted to go, it motivated me to learn everything I could about traveling to Italy and finding the best deals.

2. Multi City Flights VS Same City Flights

 I think a lot of times when we travel, we think inside the box. We fly out of one city and into our destination city, then we fly back out of that exact same city!

 What I came to learn is that a lot of times, that is not the best or the cheapest option.

 For example, for this 2 week trip I planned, I want to see a lot. Venice, Florence, Pisa, Cinque Terre, Rome, Amalfi Coast and Pompeii. In 2 weeks, just a little bit over. Is it crazy? Maybe. Can it be done? Definitely!

 I decided early on that it would probably be in our best interest to do a multi city flight, where we would fly into one city and out of a different one. This is a great plan if you have a lot you want to see, plus it saves you time and major cash trying to double back to your starting point. 💰 

 Here’s an actual screenshot of the flight we booked.

 We booked a flight going into Venice and coming back from Naples, which was much, much cheaper! $769 per person, ROUNDTRIP. 

 That’s freaking incredible!!! Just for perspective, tickets were anywhere from $1,200-$1,700 a piece, which leads me to my next very important tip!!!

3. Use Skyscanner, Viyama & Kayak.

  I had the most luck with Skyscanner. They compare tons of different sites to get you the best deals possible. If you use their app or go on a desktop to their site, they also have a feature that allows you to compare the lowest flight dates for an entire month! Google Flights can also do this.

 I just love Skyscanner for it’s easy navigation. Check them out first when looking for flights, international or within your own country!

4. Search In Private Browser.

 Whatever you do though, always search in private mode on your phone or computer! I tested this out myself and it is crazy! Our devices track cookies on websites and those sneaky airlines jack up the prices when they see that people have interest in specific flights. Not cool. So, keep it under cover. 😉

5. Check Flights on Wednesdays.

 On Wednesdays, we get the best flight deals. 💁🏼

 Seriously, though. I tested this trick out too when looking for flights. Wednesdays are when a lot of airlines post sales. The worst dates to look are on Mondays or Fridays.

 You have to be consistent too. I checked flights every Wednesday for almost the past year until I got the best deal I’d ever seen. I can honestly say this is the lowest price I’d ever seen for Italy.

6. Fly Out In the Middle of the Week

 When it comes to the dates you should fly out, always be flexible. Monday and Friday are some of the worst dates to fly out. 👎🏻

  I booked our trip leaving on a Tuesday. Tuesday and Wednesday seemed to be consitantly cheaper than most other days. 👍🏻

7. Be prepared to BOOK IT. 

 You should always be looking at flights, even when you don’t have the full amount saved up; it gives you an idea of what good and bad prices are, but in the end, when you have your cash saved up, be ready to book at a moment’s notice! When I saw the deal we got, I called everyone together because I had never seen the prices so good!

 After getting my passport, booking those airline tickets was the second most rewarding thing I’ve done in my life in a looooong time.

 So, there you have it! It’s not rocket science, but there’s definitely an art to it! The real trick is being consistent. ✌🏻

Don’t ever stop dreaming, don’t ever stop searching and keep it up until you can get to where you really want to go! 

  

How We Saved For Italy 🇮🇹 (And How You Can Too!)

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  Hey, guys! I have the most exciting news EVER to share with you all!

I’m. Going. To Italy!!! 🇮🇹 🎉

 Last night, I found the deal of a lifetime on airline tickets and took the plunge. I literally stopped everything I was doing, ran to my grandparents’ house and called everyone together for a conference because I hadn’t seen prices this low since February. Not only is my grandfather Poppy going to go, but my parents are too! This is amazing and something I’ve only dreamed about for so long. When I woke up this morning, I had to remind myself it was all real! I can’t wait! We’ll be going this next year! ✈️🌎

*Sidenote: If you want to find great deals on tickets, look today before they go back up. The tickets I found were under $1,000 roundtrip, which is absolutely unheard of. Use Skyscanner also, they are great and cross compare every other site so you know you’re getting the very best deal possible. ✔️*

 Now, I always strive to be upfront with my readers, so I want to share with you how we saved up for this trip. It sounds like a really hard thing to do, but really it just took some perseverance and delayed gratification. Here are my top tips for how to save up for your next trip!

1. Spend less on the things that don’t matter so you can spend more on the things that DO matter.

 This sounds like it should be common sense, but it is hard to put into practice, at first. A lot of times, I will find myself wanting to buy new clothes, go to an expensive restaurant or just buy something I really don’t need. A thing I started doing a few years ago was stopping for 5 minutes or so and just thinking about what it was I wanted, really long and hard. If it was clothes, I would carry them around as I shopped and ask myself, Is this something I can really see myself getting a lot of wear out of? What are some outfit combinations I could come up with, using this item? Is it something I can wear during different seasons? Can I wait and find this somewhere cheaper?

Usually, I found that after 5 minutes, the loud voice inside me screaming, “I WANT THIS!” would dull and I would realize that wasn’t really what I wanted most in the world. What I wanted was to travel the world.

 So, try this sometimes, when you feel like you really, really want something and you may surprise yourself. If you still want whatever it is, you should get it. 

2. Thrift, coupon, do whatever it takes.

  I have bought clothes secondhand about 90% of the time over the last few years, or gone to places like Marshall’s, Ross or places that have great deals on clothes. I use coupons when we go out to eat, but only if it’s a good deal and something we would have gotten anyway. (Hint: Those $5 off when you spend $30 coupons are not worth your time. 👋🏻🙄) Sometimes, Tim and I have split meals also to cut costs.

  I also buy hygiene and toiletry stuff only when we need it, but we never run out. I’m one of those people who has to have a back up in case we run out. 😂

3. Speaking of doing whatever it takes…

 I bought toilet paper at an estate sale once, which might sound weird, but I bought it in May and didn’t have to get anymore until this month. 😂 32 rolls for $3, ya’ll. WORTH IT.

 If you want to travel and take this huge trip you’ve got planned, sometimes you have to do things other people might look at and call crazy. I also have scaled back on the makeup I’ve worn this year. Since I petsit, I rarely see people anyway, so I started wearing less makeup, which meant buying less makeup, which also made my skin so much healthier. I saved so much money that way! 💰

 I also just recently finally caved and bought some new tennis shoes. I needed them, so I could justify the purchase, but I went for several months with a hole in the sole of them and a chunk missing from the heel. 🤷🏻‍♀️

 This is what I mean by delayed gratification. In our world now, you’re told that you have to have everything you want, right then and there, which is not true. If you use willpower, and occasionally do some things other people think are funny, you can definitely have what you want, in time!

4. Drop the car payment. 

 It seems like everyone and their mother has a car payment, but hear me out on this one. 

 Tim and I bought our cars used. I know some people can’t resist a shiny, new car, but that is usually anywhere from $100-$300 extra dollars a month that you could otherwise be saving. I bought my car 2 years ago, used. I had it paid off in exactly 1 year. So, for the last few years, we’ve just done routine maintenance on them, but have no car payment each month, which has helped TREMENDOUSLY.

But don’t just stop with the car payment! Take that cell phone bill and chop it in half. I was paying $120 at Verizon just for myself, so I switched to Sprint and now pay only $80. The more you do this and re-evaluate what you’re spending, even if it’s only by $20, the savings will add up each month! 🎉

5. Re-evaluate your job.

 This one is tricky, but something you should do. Maybe you work from home, so your costs are low, but maybe sometimes, you might have a long commute to a job you hate anyway and gas money eats into your paycheck. Sit back and be objective.

 I had to do this almost a year ago and haven’t looked back since! I was working part time at a bakery, maybe 6 hours a day. 🍰 I didn’t like it at all, but I noticed that my petsitting business was taking off like crazy. I did some figuring and realized, if I dropped the part time job at the bakery and went to petsitting fulltime, I could double or even triple what I was making for hardly any extra effort at all! 

  Sit back and think about these things before you jump, but sometimes, the answer that makes the most sense is right in front of you.    

6. Resell items on Etsy, EBay, Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist.

 This takes a little more discipline, searching and work, but we have made usually on average, an extra $100 a month doing this. You don’t even have to go out and buy things to resell, first look through what you have. What do you not use anymore? Someone out there, most likely, is willing to pay for it and may even need it!

  Old clothes, knick knacks, musical instruments, whatever it is, put it out there. We have really enjoyed the Etsy platform. I go to a lot of estate sales in my free time between petsits, so I find things I think are cool, buy them for cheap, take pictures, and then list them! It’s that easy! Etsy gets your items viewed around the world. We have sent things as far as Norway and France! 😱 I love thinking about the new homes our things go to! 

 If online posting isn’t your thing, that’s no excuse—have a yard sale! Do whatever it takes. You also get a nice, clean, more organized house out of it! 👍🏻

7. Take Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace.

  This is in no way a plug and I am dead serious. It will cost you $100 up front, but taking his class helped us SO much. It helps you with budgeting, being accountable and just getting you motivated to get out of debt if you are in it, save money even if you aren’t and just handle your finances better.

 We were doing great saving before, but I have to say, after taking his class, it kicked us into high gear.

  I hope these tips have helped! 😄 I want you to know that this is possible for anyone. It has taken us years to get to this point, but you CAN do it. And I know saving and waiting can suck, but there is nothing like the feeling you have when you realize you’ve done something, with no help, by yourself and for yourself! ❤️✌🏻✈️

P.S. I might drop another post on tips for finding the best airline ticket prices, since I’ve been doing this kind of research for over a year. 😂 Who would like to see a post on that?

Love you guys! 

\ \ 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! 

\ \ A t l a n t a, G e o r g i a / /

A Musing

 Atlanta, Georgia. The ATL. 💯 It is full of things to do.

 Atlanta is somewhere that is so close by, I forget about it sometimes. Usually, it has been a destination we cruise through(or sit at a standstill in depending on if it’s rush hour traffic or not) on our way to Florida when we go to the beach. It’s about a 3 hour drive from Knoxville, so it makes a great day trip or weekend getaway.

  My husband and I stayed in Atlanta this past week for a convention, but also got to run around. Here are some things I recommend anyone should do, followed by a list of things we like to do because we like to do more weird/obscure stuff sometimes that may not be everyone’s cup of tea:

Traditional Atlanta Itenerary:

1. World of Coca-Cola Museum


  I remember going as a kid to The Coca Cola Museum, which is worth a trip even if you’re not a huge Coke fan. We stood out in the sweltering, August heat in a mile long line to get in, and once in, we got to learn about the bottling process, the history of Coca Cola (Cocaine was an ingredient, in some form or another, in the original formula. 😱) and test sodas from around the world in a testing room with sticky, checkered floors. Coca-Cola is a part of Atlanta’s history, so you should definitely check this out!

2. The Dwarf House/Original Chicfila 


461 N Central Avenue, Hapeville, Georgia 30354

 The original Chicfila, though I’ve heard that disputed by some locals. In any case, this weird restaurant is worth a visit! Chicfila was founded in Georgia, so make the pilgrimage and do not pass go. Whatever you get, get some Chicfila sauce to go with it because that stuff is the bomb. ✌🏻

3. Piedmont Park or Olympic Centennial Park


 Get your park fix by going to one of these parks! Also, nearby to Piedmont Park is The Atlanta Botannical Gardens, which are beautiful. If you go to Olympic Centennial Park, you can catch a carriage ride through downtown or check out Skyview, a ferris wheel that gives you a beautiful view of the skyline, especially at night. (For romantic points, Groupon Skyview and get the VIP experience, which includes a private car + chocolates. ❤️) 

4. Jackson Street Bridge


  Jackson Street Bridge is one of the best places to get a view of the Atlanta skyline. It is actually where they took promotional pictures that are depicted on the first seasons of The Walking Dead. 💀 Go at sunrise or sunset for the prettiest views.

Untraditional Atlanta/Surrounding Areas Itenerary:

1. See Alexandria and Woodbury from AMC’s The Walking Dead


 Senoia, Georgia, a hidden little gem of a town, is also the set of The Walking Dead! Since we live so close, I thought, why not?! We have to go and see this! Senoia itself was used as the fictional town of Woodbury, where The Governor reigned supreme in Seasons 3-4. You can actually see Alexandria from Woodbury a/k/a Senoia. Senoia is about a 2 hour drive from most parts of Atlanta, but worth the trip if you’re a fan of the show.

  Unfortunately, you can’t get as close to the walls of Alexandria since they are still filming, but just looking at them makes the series come even more alive and you keep expecting Negan to show up and ask for a tribute from the community or see walkers roaming around! 

2. Thrifting (You knew this was coming, right?)


  My husband and I love us some Goodwill. ✌🏻 And lucky for us, Atlanta has like 30+ stores. I have found designer brand clothing and some really cool stuff, so if you like to thrift like us, here are some of my favorite locations to thrift:

1460 Northside Drive NW Atlanta, Georgia 30318

3906 Roswell Road, NE Atlanta, Georgia 30342

2585 Chantilly Drive, NE Atlanta, Georgia 30324

 The first two are Goodwills and the last one is an LGBT thrift store which has some of the coolest stuff!

3. IKEA


IKEA, because IKEA. I love looking here because we don’t have an IKEA, which is such a bummer, because their lighting department and room setups are a-m-a-z-I-n-g.

So, if you find yourself in Georgia, do some of this stuff that’s touristy or off the beaten path! 

New England Trip 2016

A Musing

Okay, so…I didn’t do too well with the hints and the suspense and build up, so—surprise! 🎉 We’re in New England! We decided to take a trip up this way to explore beautiful Maine and Massachusetts this year. We being my husband and I. 

This guy. Right here. This is Tim pretending to be a statue at Hammond Castle in Gloucester, Massachusetts! More on that in a minute.


So, my husband just lets me plan trips. It’s pretty awesome. He’s like, “Let’s go somewhere!” and I ask him where and he says, “I don’t know, let’s just get out of here!”

So, I did a TON of research on Google, VRBO, you name it. And I decided, “You know what? I’ve never been up to the way, way, really Northern states in this country. I like seafood. Where can I go that is really far up North and has seafood?”

And thus New England trip was born! 👶🏻


The first place we stayed was in Rockport, Massachusetts. It’s a few hours from Boston, a few hours from Gloucester (where aforementioned weird castle is), a few hours from Salem—it’s basically a few hours from everything. It being in November, we were traveling in their off season. What is off season, my friends? WELL. It may mean, as my husband pointed out, several things are closed, but it ALSO means—the world is your oyster. No fighting people through tourist traps, no people looking at you weird when you Instagram your food (Guilty, your honor.) or crowds of any kind.

We stayed on Bear Skin Neck, a small spit of land in Rockport. It is BEAUTIFUL. Imagine that Charleston and Gatlinburg (It’s a small mountain chalet town near where I live, look it up.) had a baby, and you have Rockport. It’s very Cape Cod. In fact, it is so Cape Cod and it was so deserted while we were there, it felt like we were on a movie set, possibly like the town where they filmed Jaws. Sorry, that’s the only movie I could think of set near water..except Titanic, but…not feeling it.

It’s got houses in every pastel color of the rainbow, but it’s beautiful. Cape Cod shingles, ropes and anchors everywhere, and the BUOYS. Don’t even get me started on the buoys.


I LOVE THEM. ❤️🦀 If you want an authentic Cape Cod feel, look no further than this place. The VRBO we rented was over an ice cream shop and charming. It was a cozy little attic apartment with all the amenities. People were also starting to decorate for Christmas, so there was even more boatloads of charm. 🎄 

More specifically, stay on Bear Skin Neck if you can. Everything is within walking distance! It was awesome. 


I definitely want to come back already! 😫

We initially flew into Portland, Maine for this trip. The seafood we ate on the way to Rockport, Massachusetts was phenomenal. A place in Saco, Maine called Skipper’s Seafood. 


It looked like a Captain D’s, but it tasted like H-E-A-V-E-N. Tim got a crab melt sandwich and I got a shrimp roll. Both were amazing. I don’t think I ever really had real seafood until this trip! My grandfather, Poppy, says cold water fish just tastes better to him. I have to agree! 


When we weren’t eating seafood, taking pictures of buoys and enjoying Rockport all to ourselves, we drove to Gloucester, which is only about 12 minutes from where we stayed. It’s the home of the Gorton’s Fisherman. 😱 And we visited Hammond Castle, the home of an eccentric inventor in the 1920’s. You have to call for tours inside, but the grounds are open and worth a look! We may have reinacted various Monty Python scenes there…🤗


As for Salem, it is just a 30 minute drive from Rockport and worth a visit, just for the history and because it’s SALEM. We went and saw The Witch House because, it’s what you do. Being from Tennessee, we usually tear down things that are 50+ years old, so the fact that this house is still standing and was built in the 1620s is a MAJOR accomplishment.


I have loved every minute of being here. ❤️ Travel invigorates me! This was a longish entry, so I will do a PART 2 addition that includes some more information on the last half of our trip in Portland, Maine! It ain’t over yet! 👍🏻

Charleston, South Carolina

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It’s a city that conjures up images of true Southern hospitality. Gorgeous homes with trailing ivy, flower boxes, and promenade porches that stretch for miles. Wrought iron balconies that grace the sides of buildings that wouldn’t dream of being pastel anywhere else…but somehow, in this city, it works.


Charleston is about a 5-6 hour drive from where I live, in good old Tennessee. It’s a coastal town and you can see that influence everywhere, from the palm trees, to the ever-changing weather. It is full of history, charm, amazing seafood, and friendly locals. Everywhere you go, whether it’s a restaurant you’re trying out, a store you’re popping into, or if you’re taking a stroll around the French Quarter, people are warm and inviting.
Being raised up in the South as I was, I find it not as culturally shocking as some people from up North might. The tea here runs sweet, just the way we like it, the history may be a little dark during the days of The Civil War and the slave trade, but it is a history worth learning about, and the culture here is a rich and thriving one. 


Pictured above is The United Daughters of the Confederacy building, which also houses The Charleston Market, which is open most days from 9:30-5:30pm. (The first picture on this post was taken at the top of those stairs!) Standing up there, I saw a sign that said, “United Daughters of the Confederacy: We are closed.” (Every time I have ever been to Charleston (3-4 times), it has been closed. It is apparently a museum with rather spotty hours.) 

It may be awkward for some people to get a grasp on, but when you come down south of Kentucky, Confederate traces are everywhere, in parks, cemeteries, monuments and more.

In any case, if you go to Charleston, I encourage you to soak up the history. And the market! 


On any given day, you can see people hocking their trades, whether it’s sweet grass basket weaving, artisans who have made one-of-a-kind puzzle boxes, candied pecans, jewelry—it’s a very cool place to get your souvenirs! And it is the perfect place to catch a horse and buggy(Yeah, ya’ll. We call them buggies down here.) tour of the city. On our most recent trip to Charleston, I had a conversation with our tour guide and was sad to learn that the horse and buggy tours may become a thing of the past, if the mayor has any say in it. I don’t know about you, but I can’t picture Charleston without them!


If parks are your thing, Charleston has a lot of beautiful parks you can stroll through. My favorites are The Battery, Washington Square Park and Chapel Fountain Park. They provide nice, shaded areas in the humidity of summer, great people watching, and interesting statues, fountains and views to indulge in.

I also LOVE exploring old cemeteries. Call me weird, but it’s just another way I can take in the history of a place. According to our tour guide on a ghost tour(Which you HAVE to go on, trust me! http://bulldogtours.com/), Charleston’s real estate can get pretty pricey, so they are always looking for more places to build…which means any graves 100 years or older can potentially be evicted! 😱 I thought that was an interesting fact.


Also, you must visit Rainbow Row on East Bay Street for all your Instagram worthy selfies and pictures of architecture. It is a gorgeous section of town where you can not only see this famed row of houses, but other colonial style homes as well.


My favorite plantation tour was Boone Plantation. Though you don’t get to see much of the house’s interior, the grounds are STUNNING. This was a spot they used for shooting The Notebook, and it has also served as a spot for several celebrity weddings. (Ahem. Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively.) The tree lined drive is amazing and it’s a great place to take pictures.


Oh, yeah, and see more horses! This one was super friendly and so cute. 🐴


As for places to stay, I recommend The Meeting Street Inn, which is right in the heart of Charleston and gives complimentary wine and cheese tastings in their posh lobby every day around 3. Fancy, fancy. It is a boutique hotel and worth every penny because it is unique, classy, and puts you close to everything. 

If you can’t swing that, because they book up FAST, try staying in Mt. Pleasant at Shem Creek Lodge or anywhere on Patriot’s Point. Some of the hotels on Patriot’s Point even provide a free trolley service over to Market Street! And even though you won’t be right in Charleston technically, the waterfront restaurants and activities going on will still be within walking distance and be really fun!

As far as my favorite places to eat, I love this little gem in Mt. Pleasant called Page’s Okra Grill.


Best fried green tomatoes I have EVER had. Dessert wasn’t bad either. For downtown Charleston, I always enjoy some SheCrab soup at Charleston Market House. I tried Poogan’s Porch and…I really, really wanted to like it, but…I wasn’t a fan. 

When it comes to WHEN to go to Charleston, I have been at all different times of the year, July, October. I have to say, October is my favorite. It is mildly cool, as opposed to stifling hot. 


So, cheers to Charleston! One of my favorite cities! Have you ever been there or wanted to go there?