๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น 10 Tips: Venice, Italy ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น

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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! ๐ŸŽ‰ Also, I’ll include our 4 day itinerary at the end of this list! ๐Ÿ‘‡๐Ÿป

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 โ‚ฌ40-54, 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! ๐Ÿ˜ 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! ๐Ÿ˜‚

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… ๐Ÿท๐Ÿ˜‚

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 โ‚ฌ89, 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! ๐Ÿ˜‰

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! ๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น๐Ÿท๐Ÿ•

Here is a brief itinerary of our time in Venice! ๐Ÿ‘‡๐Ÿป๐Ÿ‘‡๐Ÿป๐Ÿ‘‡๐Ÿป

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. ๐Ÿ˜ณ๐Ÿ˜‚ We also rode the vaporetto all over, including down The Grand Canal, and got gelato. ๐Ÿง

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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\\ S a v a n n a h |In a| W e e k e n d //

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 Savannah, Savannah, Savannah. It’s a place I’ve blogged on before, but since I recently spent a weekend there for a cousin’s wedding, I thought I’d do another post with things to do! Second time’s the charm, in this case! 

  Coming to the city with fresh eyes, I’ve narrowed it down to some stuff that you can easily fit in for a short weekend getaway! ๐Ÿ‘‰๐Ÿป๐ŸŒŽ 

Here are my top picks for things to do in Savannah when you only have the weekend!

Bonaventure Cemetery


 Creepy? Maybe. Gorgeous? Definitely. Bonaventure was something I didn’t get to really appreciate until this time around. September’s mild temperatures were preferable to July’s sweltering heat, for sure. I got to walk around and really explore, seeing some really unique tombstones and taking in the history.


 Bonaventure also gives free tours every second Saturday/Sunday of the month around 2:00pm, which can be really informative! If you want to see a peaceful place with Spanish moss galore that is picturesque, Bonaventure is the ticket! ๐ŸŽŸ

Carriage or Trolley Tour ๐Ÿด ๐Ÿš‹ 


 My first time to Savannah, we did a trolley tour and this time around, we did a carriage tour. I’d recommend either one highly! The carriage horses are treated very humanely. Teddy here took us all around the city and we heard so many interesting things about Savannah’s history!

 The trolley tours are also great and you can get on and off as many times as you want! If you want a more intimate tour, take a carriage tour. If you want to cover more ground and experience a lot in a day, do a trolley tour!

Stroll Down Jones Street/River Street


Do one or do both, but get out in the city and walk around!

 Jones Street is residential, but has been voted several times as the #1 Most Beautiful Street in Savannah. Walk around there or any of Savannah’s side streets to get a feel for the beautiful architecture, landscaping and local life. River Street is more commercial. You’ll definitely want to go down there to see the barges come in with cargo, grab some candied pecans and even see some vendors selling things on the weekend! 

Visit Tybee Island


 For some beach time, go to Tybee Island. ๐ŸŒดYou can walk along the beach, check out some stores and local eateries and even tour Tybee Lighthouse if you want! Less commercial than downtown Savannah, it will give you a dose of the beach for your weekend!

Leopold’s Ice Cream & The Olde Pink House


 For food, you have to go to The Olde Pink House for lunch. It’s a 5 Star restaurant and you can also tour the rest of this historic home that was built in 1771 after you eat! 

 Leopold’s is also a must for dessert! Their ice cream is delicious and they have been around for nearly 100 years! Other notable mentions for food: The Cotton Exchange Cafe, Cafe M, Huey’s & The Pirate House. 

The only restaurant I would not recommend is Paula Deen’s. I know, utter blasphemy coming from a fellow Southerner’s mouth, but it wasn’t worth the hype. Subpar food, not that great of service and, you didn’t hear this from me, but I saw employees going to the bathroom still wearing their aprons, which is a no-no. ๐Ÿคข

 
 Whatever you choose to do on your next trip to Savannah, I’m sure you’ll have a great time! The Southern food, charm and sightseeing can’t be beat! ๐Ÿน

\\ T e n n e s s e e //

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  As much as I want to travel, I will always love my home state and, more specifically, East Tennessee. โœŒ๐Ÿป

  That’s why I was so excited when I came across this Tennessee flag shirt while out thrifting! ๐Ÿ˜ฑ $3.99, ya’ll. Amazing. The Levi jean jacket was only $8.99! I had to get it; normally you pay anywhere from $15-$25 for a good jean jacket! This one fits me better than one I had from 8th grade; that one was still huge on me the last time I tried it on, so I donated it! ๐Ÿ˜‚


 This was my OOTD from today, my birthday. ๐ŸŽ‰ We went up to Cade’s Cove and had fun walking around and taking in the beautiful views of the mountains.


 Cade’s Cove was full of early settlers, starting around the late 1700’s, early 1800’s.  On the Cade’s Cove Loop, there are several old log cabins, churches and outbuildings to explore. 


 If you’re ever in East TN, I’d totally recommend going up to the mountains, just anywhere. It’s gorgeous.


 This church in particular gave me some major Walking Dead vibes. ๐Ÿ‘€ (Who else is so ready for the premiere of Season 8?!)

 

To finish the wonderful day off, we went to Little Tokyo in Seymour and had some delicious hibachi. ๐Ÿ’ฏ You can’t ever go wrong with Asian food, in my opinion. It’s almost always my birthday meal of choice. ๐Ÿฑ๐Ÿš

 Anyways, just wanted to share some snapshots from my day and hope you all have had a great weekend!

\\ Tennessee Valley Fair // 2017

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  Last night we did one of my favorite fall activities: we went to the Tennessee Valley Fair! ๐Ÿ—๐Ÿ‚

 

 I wore flannel for the occasion and got a corn dog, because you can’t NOT get a corn dog. Was that a double negative?! Oh, well, the corn dog was definitely a POSITIVE. โœŒ๐Ÿป

 The fair was just what I needed after a busy week and it always falls the week before my birthday, September 17th. It’s just become something fun I always look forward to. Aside from the food, there’s rides, people watching, pretty lights and the ferries wheel, livestock shows and cute animals and petting zoos…it’s the best! ๐Ÿ˜


 I always have to stop and see the chickens! And the rabbits!


So cute!


 Going to the fair is such a fall thing. It’s definitely one of my favorite things, other than your typical drinking hot chocolate, making s’mores around a fire ๐Ÿ”ฅ ๐Ÿซ and football, which I don’t care anything about, so that activity is wasted on me! ๐Ÿ˜‚


  I love just walking the midway and taking everything in. What’s a favorite fall activity that you all have? As far as clothes go, is there a certain thing that gets you in the mood for cooler weather? For me it’s definitely boots and scarves! 

๐Ÿ‰\\ Knoxville Asian Festival //๐Ÿ‰

A Musing

  Today was bliss. ๐Ÿ˜Œ

  I got to go downtown for the second year in a row to enjoy the Knoxville Asian Festival. It’s the highest concentration of Asian foods, Asian people and cultures, wares and merchandise, and performances that Knoxville sees in a calendar year. โ›ฉ

  I hope to one day be able to go and see countries like Japan, China and India, but for now this is pretty cool!


  I got henna done by a UT student who just moved here from India! ๐Ÿ˜ฑ I always want to geek out and ask people from other countries a million questions, but I slowly asked her questions about India and the culture and had a really good time. She wanted to take a picture with me before I left, which was so sweet! I loved listening to her accent while she brushed the henna on my hand; the Indian accent is so melodic!

 

  I also got my fix of matcha bubble tea, my favorite! ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿต There is so much good food at The Asian Festival. 


 My friend Elizabeth tried some dango, which are these rice balls that come in sweet and savory variations. I love street food.


  My cousin also showed up and snapped this picture of us partaking in the traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony, which was great. Thanks, Rachel, shoutout to you, awesome cousin! ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป๐Ÿ˜ธ


  I also took an old piece of paper that has been in my possession since I was a little girl. My parents used to take us to this Chinese restaurant which a man named Jerry owned. We always loved going to see Jerry. I didn’t appreciate Asian food back then—I know, such a shame!–but we loved Jerry and he loved us. He wrote this for me and I have always wanted to know what it says. He actually came to my wedding a few years ago when Tim and I got married! โค๏ธ

  A woman at the Chinese booth was able to translate and it basically says: “I love you Avery!”, along with the date, January 1st, 1992 and some blessings and prayers for a great year, which I thought was incredibly sweet. The woman was amazed that I had kept it for so long and I explained the significance to her. 

 All in all, it was a fantastic weekend and a great Asian Festival this year! If you are ever in Knoxville, you should definitely attend! It’s usually the last Sunday in August from 10-6pm and so much fun! โค๏ธ

Chattanooga Adventures ๐Ÿšƒ

A Musing

  This weekend, we went to Chattanooga for my mom’s birthday. ๐ŸŽ‰ Chattanooga or Chatt Town is one of those places that is so close, you forget about it if you’re a Knoxvillian like me. I’ve been there on field trips, passed through there on the way to other places, or stopped there just for a pit stop on the way home sometimes.


  I had a lot of fun going there yesterday though, mostly because I got to go with my family. 

   We ate at Urban Stack, known for their burgers ๐Ÿ”, at lunch.


  We also did The Big Tour—and I’m calling it that because you need the whole day to do it and it is worth it! We saw Rock City, Ruby Falls and rode The Incline Railroad.

 

  Ruby Falls was something I have never seen in person, just on magnets or lisence plates that other people have bought over the years. It’s 145 feet tall and they still have no idea where it is coming from. You see, it’s under and inside Lookout Mountain, which is a huge mountain overlooking Chattanooga. In fact, you can see 7 states from the top of Lookout: Tennessee, Virginia, Georgia, Kentucky, South Carolina, North Carolina and Alabama.


  They say the man that found Ruby Falls in the 1920’s heard the waterfall before he could see it—he was traipsing around in the cave with only a lantern! ๐Ÿ˜ฑ It is one of the largest underground commercial waterfalls in the world, so it’s definitely worth a visit!

  

  We also walked all around Rock City, where they have cool rock formations, including Fatman Squeeze, which really has to be experienced to be believed! ๐Ÿ˜‚


 The Incline Railroad at Lookout Mountain is another thing you have to do! It is the steepest inclined railroad in the world.

   I rode it for the first time ever yesterday and it made me nervous! It has a 72.7% grade at the top. When you climb in, you are going into a rail car at an angle, so instead of a flat floor, you have steps going down to the seats.


  You slide down past people’s homes, under a bridge and down to the bottom. This was looking back up when it was almost starting to level out, but we were still halfway to the bottom! 

  The Incline was started in 1895, but the cars were last updated in the 1980’s. I can see why they probably started it—there were mostly dirt roads back then and I don’t picture horses making the trek to the top of Lookout easily. Back then, The Incline was all about necessity, but now it is all about fun! 

 If you’re looking for a fun day trip to Tennessee, definitely check out Chattanooga! There are a lot of other attractions, including the famous Chattanooga Choo-Choo Hotel, worth checking out! 

Knoxville, TN: Local Favorites โค

A Musing

  Knoxville, TN. It’s a place I’ve called home since 1990. Born and raised there, I’ve seen the town change quite a bit, but one thing remains the same: the entrepreneurial spirit.

I โค local, hidden gems. I know that some of you all may not have even heard of my hometown, but if you get the chance to visit, there are definitely some local eateries you should check out! 

Honeybee Coffee Co. (For your caffeine fix! ๐Ÿ”‹)

700 Sevier Avenue, Knoxville, TN 37920


Other than K-Brew, this is one of my new favorite coffee shops to spring up lately. โ˜•๏ธThe atmosphere is on point, the coffee is good and simple and it’s a huge space—no fighting anyone for a plug to charge up here! I wish they served pastries, though I understand they’re still fledglings and a start up—maybe we can expect some scones as they get more settled in? In any case, this coffee joint in South Knox is right on the water and serves up an awesome view of downtown Knoxville and it’s close to Ijams, a forest oasis right near the city!

Pizza Palace (For pizza! ๐Ÿ•)

3132 E Magnolia Avenue, 

Knoxville, TN 37914


Ahh, Pizza Palace. I like pizza and though it ain’t no palace, their service makes you feel like royalty. ๐Ÿ‘Œ๐Ÿป I actually just went here about a week ago for the first time! I know, right?! My parents always made fun of me and I was like, “Umm, you’re part of the problem here!”, but my husband remedied that situation real quick. 


Pizza Palace, which has been around since 1961, serves a mean pizza. ๐Ÿ• Others swear by their spaghetti and onion rings. It’s all alright, alright, alright, to quote Matthew McConaughey. Honorable mention for pizza also goes to Harby’s on the lower end of Broadway. They have delicious pizza too! ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป

Have any of my readers out there been to Knoxville? Tell me where you’re from and some of the best places in your hometowns!

I may occasionally write some posts like this while I’m dreaming about traveling to some other places!