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Student Trip to Europe: Part 2 | Venice, Italy

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Continued from Student Trip to Europe: Part 1

Check out this quick video for an overview of our first two days here in Italy:

Day 3:

Our time in Switzerland had unfortunately come to an end. The group and I met at the train station bright and early 7 am. We took our last train ride down the mountain and hopped on the bus, where we would start our journey to Italy.

The first pit stop we took was at Lake Como, where the students were given free time to explore. Cathedral de Como was one of the must sees, along with a famous to-go pizza slice place right beside of it.

One of my favorite places was our next pit stop along our route to Venice, which was at Lake Garda. We stopped at Sirmione and took a boat tour around the peninsula. It was a beautiful day out on the lake and the beach was filled with vacationers. Our boat driver took us under an incredibly tight drawbridge at the Scaligera Castle (which you can see in the video up above), that only one boat can go through at a time. We were able to get a full 360 view of the castle from the lake.

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Scaligera Castle from Lake Garda

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Entering the castle via boat

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Inside our boat cruise

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Some of our group + Frank (best tour director EVER)

After docking and unloading from the boat, Frank (our tour director if you hadn’t read Part 1) gave us a quick tour of the town center of Sirmione and allowed us free time to shop and explore. Where do you think I went…?? To the castle!!!!

We ventured up a staircase that lead to the walkways above the walls of Scaligera Castle. It was a 13th century fortress, totally surrounded by water, that played a huge role in the defense of Lake Garda.

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The Dungeon Tower

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Walking along the walls

After our free time ended, we headed to our next hotel in the Venice Region. Hotel Villa Giulietta was located on the outskirts of Venice, near Padua. The students were able to experience their first three course Italian meal at the hotel, with pasta, bread, pasta, pasta, and gelato for dessert! The downside to this hotel, and what everyone quickly began to miss about Switzerland, was that there was no air conditioning (and if you did have it in your room, it was broken) — and we had to pay for wifi. Huge adjustment from the first two days…

Day 4:

Day 4 started off dreary and rainy as we began our trip to Venice town center. By the time our bus dropped us off to meet our water taxi, it was pouring down rain and we had to purchase ponchos and umbrellas to protect our bags and phones. My shoes and socks were drenched…welcome to Venice, right? But we didn’t let that ruin our day! We took a water taxi to the island of Murano for a glass blowing demonstration, where they taught us the history and tradition of Venetian glass. This fascinated the students as the instructor made a glass horse right in front of our eyes, using only a handful of tools. We were allowed time to browse the Murano shop to admire all the glass. Chandeliers hung in the shop for upwards of 30,000 euros…they were incredible!

Finally, it was time to head to the best part of Venice! We met our local guide who led us on a walking tour. She was the cutest venetian, who hummed and sang into the microphone while she walked. Living in Venice her whole life, she has seen first hand the impact that tourism has had over the years to her city. She explained how people get around without cars, with such tight spaces, and especially if you live on the fourth floor of a building with no elevator. We also learned that because there are so many people in Venice, and such little space, it is common for them to seem rude and pushy without saying excuse me as they make their way through the streets. She gave us a heads up on these little things so we wouldn’t be surprised later in our day (and I’m glad she did, because we were pushed and almost ran over by workers with their delivery carts multiple times).

Following the walking tour, we met up with Frank, who gave us strict instructions on when to meet back at St. Mark’s square.

Frank's artwork & time instructions

Frank’s artwork & time instructions

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St. Mark’s Church

I led my group to the famous Rialto Bridge that is so often seen in movies. As we made our way there, I taught them how to read the “road” signs and markings on the buildings for directions. We were following the signs to Per Rialto and if they got lost, they were to follow the signs back to Per San Marco.

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San Marco (go right), Rialto Bridge (go left)

It was a beautiful, sunny day, which made for awesome pictures from the bridge once we arrived. We ate lunch at a nearby cafeteria as a group, then split up for some to go shopping and others to explore.

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Rialto Bridge

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View of canals from Rialto Bridge

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Venice, Italy

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Hattie & I

Doge’s Palace and Bridge of Sighs was next on my to visit list. This is one of the main landmarks of Venice. The apartments and rooms inside of the palace were beautifully designed with wonderful architecture and golden designs. As we walked over the Bridge of Sighs to the prison cells, you could look through the peep holes at the canal below. The New Prison, also part of the Palace, was a never ending maze of tiny cells. I thought we’d never make it out of that tiny, enclosed, underground space!

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Courtyard of Doge’s Palace

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24k gold on the ceilings

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Armor used

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Ceiling inside of Doge’s Palace

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View from Bridge of Sighs

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New Prison

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Prison cells inside the palace

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Writing on the walls

While the rest of the group went on gondola rides, I toured Venice some more and enjoyed an afternoon Aperol Spritz (a typical for the locals).

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Beautiful colored Italian buildings

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Gondola

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Grand Canal

We finished our day back in Venice at St. Mark’s Square, followed by our travels back to the hotel for dinner and rest. Time to pack and head to our next destination for day 5 — Florence!

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Our whole EF Group

Check out this map of the ground we covered in these 2 days. Our students were real troupers for being on a bus this long!

Thanks for reading part 2 of our overseas adventure! Be sure to follow or subscribe below or to the sides to see what’s next 🙂

XOXO

Student Trip to Europe- Part 2

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Army (Wife) Strong

I didn’t choose this life. I chose love. The life was just part of the deal.

What do I know about army life? Not a lot…but almost a year of dating and 3 months of being married to a soldier, I’ve learned some things along the way. The first and most important thing I’ve learned is, this life isn’t for the weak.

Currently, my husband and I live 7 time zones and 5,800 miles apart. I haven’t seen him in person in 58 days and in our first 3 months of marriage, we’ve spent 10 days together total. Welcome to the military.

Am I dying without him? No. Do I miss him? Every second of every day.

Everyone that learns about our situation immediately becomes sympathetic or starts apologizing, and I’m just like whyyy? I’m not sorry and you shouldn’t be either. Of course it hasn’t been easy though. The first time I didn’t hear from him for two weeks, I thought I was going to lose my mind. But in that time, I found solace in my friends, family, and other military wives. I learned quickly to occupy my time with hobbies and things that he would love for me to do while he was away — hiking, watching Game of Thrones, and travelling.

It takes two to make this work though, and I couldn’t do it without him and his patience. He encourages me to be strong and brave, and I pride myself on accomplishing those things while he is deployed. How do we make it work? It’s easy. Anything from sweet nothings, I love you’s every chance we get, daily pictures, keeping up on our favorite shows together, and care packages. My phone never leaves my side, because you never know when he’s going to call or text. Aka communication.

And for those days that I don’t get to hear from him, it’s okay for me to miss him. I get to lay around in his army jackets, read his old books, and spend time with his parents and friends in his hometown. Don’t be afraid to miss your loved ones!

Beside every soldier is a strong woman, who will stand by him in every aspect of life. His fight is her fight and together they can face anything.

I get to call myself an Army Wife, not just because I married into this life, but because I have taken full control of it. I captain this ship while he’s gone. I sold my house and almost everything I own to move overseas with him at the end of the year. But that’s okay because to me, a home doesn’t have windows, doors, and a nice garden…it has two handsome eyes, warm hugs and makes me laugh. And I’ll be with my home soon enough!

If you too are a military wife, stay strong! Each day is one day closer. And if you know someone going through a “deployment” relationship, reach out to them and remind them that they’ve got this!

XOXO

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Student Trip to Europe: Part 1

Over the summer, I was given an amazing opportunity by EF Tours to take a group of my students to Switzerland and Italy. It was the most incredible, exhausting, interesting, sight-seeing packed 10 days of my life.

Most of my students had never been outside the US before, and 3 of them had never traveled on an airplane. They were able to experience a lot of firsts over the course of our trip and it was life changing, for not only them but for myself as well. I would do this trip a million times over just to see the joy and amazement in their eyes at seeing the world for perhaps the first time.

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So who is this girl?

***Update: This was my very first post that I wrote back in March of 2017. I hope that you will read this post first to get an idea of my why for blogging. Oh how far I’ve come in a few short months and how much my life has changed…but you’ll see if you keep reading my posts 😉 so sit back and enjoy!***

Yall I’m so excited for all the things happening in my life and I felt that the best way to share them was through blogging! I’ve become a huge fan of reading through travel blogs to find out information about places I’m travelling to and I thought…why not start a blog about my own travels?! So here it goes.

Last December was the first time I’d ever left the United States and it was the most eye-opening experience of my life. It was all for a boy (minor detail), but nonetheless I learned so much about myself and the world. I grew up in a very and I mean very small town. Like where we didn’t get our first stop light until I was a sophomore in college…Anyways, most people in my small town have never traveled outside of the country. It was a huge deal for my family and I, so of course my parents (even though I’m 24) were worried sick. My mom stayed up all night long watching my 6 hour flight path from Chicago to Brussels…bless her heart.

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Boarding my flight out of the country for the first time!

Long story short…and don’t worry you’ll get lots of details of my trip in later posts…but I caught the travel bug and now I’m in love with the world and with exploring. Just this year alone I have been to Europe twice and in 15 days I’m packing up my bags and headed to Norway! Lots more posts to come and of course there will be lots of pictures, details, and itineraries for all those interested in maybe exploring some of these places one day. Stay tuned

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Top 15 Differences Between Europe and America

**Disclaimer: Please note that all the below opinions are just that – opinions. They come from mine and my student’s experiences based on where we live in America and where we have traveled to in Europe. I’m aware that these may not apply to other parts of our country or even other parts of Europe**

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Bittersweet Goodbye To My First Home

Two posts in one week….yes, unusual for me, I’m aware. Maybe it’s because I have more free time or maybe it’s because I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting lately. Either way, writing has become soothing to me and my go to when I need to put my thoughts in order.

Tonight is the last night in my very first home and it is so unbelievably bittersweet. When I first started looking for a home to buy last summer, Stephen was hardly a figure in my life. I had given up on men and the thought of settling down on my own made me content enough at the time. I found the perfect home mid November and I knew the moment I walked in the door that it would be mine one day soon. I couldn’t wait to spend the next years of my life in this home with the perfect career. I moved in as fast as I could. I remember the first couple of nights sleeping on an air mattress with my girl Sky because I couldn’t get my bed furniture moved in by myself. All I had was my Christmas tree, a lit fire, and my air mattress.

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Serenity in Sardinia

The latest Adventures of S & S included an exciting honeymoon to the beautiful island of Sardinia. Check out this short clip for a summary of our trip, then keep scrolling down to read all about it!!


Overview of Sardinia

  • Country: Italy
  • Recommended Hotel(s): Grand Hotel Poltu Quatu (Poltu Quatu), Hotel Panorama (Olbia)
  • Best Bites: The famous Sardinia tortilla bread, mussels, octopus
  • Activities: Snorkeling, kayaking, scuba diving, hiking, dolphin watching
  • Beaches: Baia Sardinia, Phi Beach (party beach), Porto Cervo
  • Language: Italian, most people spoke English well enough
  • Surprising Parts: $$$, very little sea life due to minimal vegetation underwater, topless beaches
  • Best Assets: differing landscapes – mountains, beaches, deserts ; beautiful Juniper trees all around; lots of villages and small communities

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