Adventures,  Fun Things to do,  Restaurants,  Travel

A Breath of Fresh Air

Florence and Venice were a breath of fresh air. I was finally free and starting to feel like me again and not the grungy doggy babysitter I had become. I walked, walked, walked about 10 miles a day. I was missing my physical activity. I did a little strength training at Elizabetta’s but that’s all. I needed cardio.

I went to an awesome restaurant my first night after the long train journey. I was starving and found an asian fusion restaurant & cocktail bar – Habitat Firenze. It was a happening place. Yes, I was in Italy having sushi :/ I’ve been having pasta for months and needed a break and my waste line needed it too.

Second day – I spent the day getting my hair pulled. Hours of waxing (yes it hurts, but is so worth it). Desperately needed it. I had waited way to long, so the Brazilian was a bit brutal 🙁 From now on almost monthly.

Third Day: Just wondered around. Lots of street vendors. It is a leather shopping Mecca. Purses, jackets, pants, etc. I had already bought my purse, but now I wish I wouldn’t have. I did buy a little change purse. I fell in love with a red leather jacket and again my luggage saved me because I can’t fit it. Plus, I don’t need it because after Venice all my destinations are warm.

Thursday I went on a full day tour called Tuscany Highlights: Pisa, Siena, San Gimignano by Get Your Guide. I was able to see the beauty of Tuscany’s cities and met some fantastic people and relaxed for a bit.

First in the tour we followed the scenic roads to Siena to see monuments and piazzas, as well as, admire the cathedral in Piazza del Duomo.

We then continued to a wine villa in the Chianti countryside. Enjoyed a short tour of the estate and learned about its history in the medieval chapel before our tasting and lunch on the panoramic terrace.

And finally what I was most excited to see was the famous leaning tower of Pisa

Last day in Florence, I continued to fight my urge to buy that red leather jacket. The last thing I need is more clothes. I succeeded, but if the price would have been right, it would be another layer.

I saw the beautiful Duomo/Florence Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. It was designed by Arnolfo di Cambio and is the third largest church in the world (after St. Peter’s in Rome and St. Paul’s in London). It was beautiful. Then, just wondered around and took in the city, people, beautiful buildings, and finally Palazzo Vicchio. Went back to the hotel to grab my things the gentleman at the desk was so kind to let me leave after check out and was off to the Italia train line to Venice.

I did wish I had bought the red jacket once in Venice :/ It was chilly. But walking, walking, walking again I warmed up. I did, however, break down and buy a leather purse. Got a great price and it matched my change purse. I just had to buy Italian leather and the price was right. Plus, a little more packing space. I was able to fit it in a larger carry on I have, but it is filled with stuff. I also added to by silver chain I always wear. I got a little colorful cross and some earrings. Again more jewelry I don’t need (I think I have a shopping habit 🙂

I absolutely loved Venice. I could wonder around all day and did. I think I enjoy anything near water. (Notice most of my destinations are bordered or surrounded by water.) I also went on a tour there. I stayed at the Residenza d’Epoca San Cassiano. It is in the San Polo district right across the river from San Marco. I would sit out on the patio with some wine and just watch to Gondola’s and boats go buy.

Restaurants and high end shops galore (Gucci, Prada, Etc. because most are Italian). Tho, it’s still cold everyone bundles up and sits outside to dine as did I. Every restaurant has a meal deal of the day. Usually 2 courses and a salad. I’d often order it and take half home to have the next day.

(Also, beware, usually bread and water are extra and you can get a house wine for slightly more than the large bottle of water you get. And they don’t tell you. Usually they’ll bring bread or a bottle of water is sitting on the table and if you touch it, you just bought it. And there’s no tip expected as in the US. If you look at the bottom of your receipts there is a service charge and overall they get paid more in the hospitality industry.)

The Rialto Bridge

Canals and small alleys everywhere and either a walkway ends in water or you need to find a bridge to cross. Thank god my phone has GPS or I would still be lost 😉 Even with that I often got lost because it too would get confused. It is truly beautiful, every inch.

I also went on a Get Your Guide tour there to Murano, Burano, and Tortello. Murano is famous for the glass. I know my grandmother loved it and had a ton. We watched a glass demonstration. It’s a true art and the pieces are gorgeous. After watching the time and attention it takes for each piece I understand why they are so expensive.

Next, Tortello. It is historically relevant because it is where Venice began, but boring. We should have spent less time there and more at Burano, which was fantastic with the colorful houses. Legend has it that the reason the houses are bright colors is so the fisherman coming home after days out on the water could recognize theirs. It’s a huge fishing village. Little restaurants and cute shops everywhere. I was only able to go to a couple shops and we were leaving. I wanted to eat their.

Oh and Carnivale, how did I forget about Carnivale. I went on a special Carnivale dinner cruise around the lagoon on Sunday night. The food was fantastic, but it was more of a couples thing, especially around v-day. I think I might have to bite the bullet and find a man. At least an event man 😉 Carnivale Masks are in almost every shop. I have a ton from Mardi Gras, but I bought a bendable one I could pack for the boat and an awesome, flashy, sequin dress. It’s just the beginning and I started to see more and more masks and costumes my last couple days.

I spent my last day in St. Marks Square wondering around shops, over bridges, down dark alleys (it was a little rainy and hazy), ate at a fantastic restaurant Muro Venezia San Stae, had my last gelato, bought a bottle of red wine and sat on the patio watching the gondolas go by.

Finished packing and got to bed somewhat early, so I could get up early for my boat taxi to the main airport (Marco Polo).???? Only to get there and realize I was at the wrong airport (Niki why don’t you pay more attention to things ;() I was supposed to go to Treviso Airport Saint Angel. I was too late to take the bus, so I had to pay a fortune for a taxi 🙁 So much for my cheap RyanAir (whom I hate) tickets and perfect solution to get to the airport (water taxi). All my bargain shopping and I think I payed more 🙁

Italy was fantastic despite all my blunders. Traveling is not easy, but it is worth it. Especially solo travel. It’s all you 🙂

I have a thirst for adventure. Always Have, Alway Will. My tag line is YOLO (You Only Live Once) or in my case ++++ times, yet I continue to live my life to the fullest. Since, we're here for only a short time, I take advantage of everything that comes my way. I want to seize every moment, see and experience all can. I have been very blessed. So far I've had the opportunity to travel to over 30 countries, fought (in a cage) yes fought, lived through a tragic head-on collision with a semi, strut my stuff on a stage in 4" heels as a bodybuilding bikini girl. (I'll get more into those later) Yes, most would say I'm crazy, but I continue to push the button. My new, crazy obsession is to travel the globe taking on and conquering new challenges. I want to surf in Sayulita, Mexico, run a marathon in Greece, bungee jump in Macau, etc. (My bucket list is long). As I embark on my challenges, I plan to share with you my trials and tribulations leading up to these challenges, budget travel tips & tricks (I'm a very thrifty traveler), fun exercises to prepare me for the task ahead, new exciting things to see and do in the locale I'm in, restaurants to try, the people I meet, etc. Join me in my adventures :)