Nanjing Update – Seeing a Chinese Doctor

Good Morning!

As most of you know, we are back in China after our European getaway! I was gone for about a month visiting friends and family before meeting Taylor in Zurich. When I left China back in August, I had no idea how much traveling I’d be doing, when I’d be back, or that I’d literally fly around the world in a month! I feel so blessed to do what I love! Returning to Nanjing was a whole lot easier this time. I wish I would’ve known back in June that I’d be leaving for month in August. It would’ve made my transition way easier. Sigh. I really should trust that everything will work out. 🙂

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Our flight landed in Nanjing bright and early and we returned to our normal routine right away!

We started apartment hunting again (watch our Apartment Tour here) and we were welcomed back by our friends. We’re so lucky to have friends here who make living in China easier.

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A few days after we returned to China, my right ear started feeling achy and congested. sigh. I have suffered from swimmers ear and overall ear problems my whole life, but haven’t had any infections in quite a while. As you can imagine, I was really irritated! I’m not one to see a doctor right away. I’d much rather let my body try and fight it as much as it can before I start antibiotics or seeing a professional. I was drinking lots of water and letting it drain as much as possible. When it still wasn’t getting better, I went to the pharmacy and picked up some over the counter ear drops. Now, I’ve been taking ear drops for a really long time and these drops hurt so extremely bad that I knew something was wrong. Ear drops are supposed to cause you discomfort, but these were unbearable.

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So we went to see a Chinese doctor. I really really didn’t want to do this. I don’t do well when visiting American hospitals, so I didn’t know what I’d see in China. Taylor did some research with our translator Jake before picking which hospital to visit, and this one was one of the nicer options. We also took Jake along with us so he could translate for us.

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When you live in a city with millions of people, seeing a doctor can be chaotic. We paid 10 RMB to see the doctor upon arrival and were directed to the ears, nose, and throat room. Here, we waited maybe 30 minutes before my name appeared on the board that stated which doctor I needed to see. Once I found the doctor, I had to wait in line at his station to be seen.

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There’s nothing like waiting in a room with 30 other people who have ear, nose, and throat problems…

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HIPPA is not a thing here in China!

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Me looking at Taylor because I didn’t like the long metal object he was about to stick in my already achy ear.

The doctor examined my ear in front of everybody else in the room, which was awkward since I was the only American there and of course they were already staring at me. He told me that my ear was in fact infected, but my ear drum also had a hole in it (insert eye roll here). We’re not sure when it happened, but because my ear got infected, this is when my body decided to let me know that I had bigger issues. Side note: this happened to me years ago, so rupturing again is common.

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Once we were done seeing him, we walked downstairs and picked up my prescription on the spot. The whole experience cost me a total of 10 US dollars (without insurance), which is unbelievable. We were there for about an hour, saw a doctor, and picked up a prescription within an hour. This is unheard of in America!! Now, there was no privacy and it wasn’t warm and fuzzy, but you win some you lose some. I’m glad I went and overcame that fear, but I’m not eager to return. I do have to have the hole repaired through surgery, but I’m going to hold off until I return to the States for the holidays! I’m not quite ready to be put under anesthetics in China yet! 🙂

 

 

Our Airbnb’s in Switzerland & Italy!

Hello!

Today, I wanted to talk all about the Airbnb’s Taylor and I stayed in while we traveling around Switzerland and Italy! We’ve been using Airbnb for 5 years now, and we absolutely LOVE it. It’s super easy to use and it gives us the opportunity to travel to places we’ve only dreamt about. Hotels can be expensive and unpredictable. There’s nothing worse than over-spending on a hotel and having it be less than desirable. I think a lot of people are hesitant to use Airbnb because they’re unfamiliar with it, and they automatically assume they’ll be sleeping on a crazy person’s couch. I’m thinking about creating a Guide to Airbnb’s, because I think it could be really useful for those who want to learn more about it!

If you’re planning a trip to Switzerland or Italy and looking to stay in an airbnb, this post will be really helpful for you!

** There are two types of Airbnb listings that I’m going to be referring to in today’s post, shared and private. Shared refers to a space the host is also living in. Private, is a space that is separate from the owner’s home. 


Zurich: click here to visit the Airbnb listing

Location- You’re right downtown on a quiet street, and above a restaurant. It’s very easy to walk everywhere from here!

Wifi- The Wifi worked fine for us!

Overall Comfort- This one was a little too uncomfortable for me. The bathroom was down the hall (private not shared), and it was basically a mattress in a dorm like room with the little kitchen in the front. However, it was very clean and it served our one-night purpose. We booked this knowing about the lack of amenities and that it wasn’t going to be anything luxurious.

Owner Communication- He made sure we knew where we were going and provided us details about the location. All communication was via the Airbnb app.

Price- $106 for one night


Lugano: click here to visit the Airbnb listing

Location- This apartment was a shared space! The location was close to the train station and also close to downtown Lugano. It was in a great spot!

Wifi- The wifi worked really well here!

Overall Comfort- The apartment was very clean and cozy. Because it was shared, we slept on a pull out couch, which I wasn’t a fan of. We booked it knowing this ahead of time, but I just didn’t enjoy it because of not having my own space. I felt bad leaving my stuff all over her living room. I would rather have my own room and ability to relax. However, it is SUPER expensive in Switzerland, so the price was amazing.

Owner Communication- The owner and her boyfriend were super friendly and made us feel welcomed during our entire stay. They really made an effort to get to know us!

Price- $79 for one night


Lake Como: click here to visit the Airbnb listing

Location- This was another shared space, but more private than the last! It was within walking distance to the train station and downtown Como.

Wifi- It wasn’t the fastest, but it worked!

Overall Comfort- I felt like I was in a hotel room! We had our own room and bath and the owner provided us with waters and snacks upon arrival. This was such a neat place! The decorations made it extremely cozy, and you can tell that the host genuinely likes to make his guest feel comfortable.

Owner Communication- He met us at the front door and helped us with our bags, gave us tourist brochures, and made sure we were absolutely comfortable. He was so sweet! You should definitely check this place out if you’re visiting Como!

Price- $171 for 2 nights


Venice: click here to visit the Airbnb listing

Location- This private Airbnb was right downtown in all the action! Most hotels in Venice are outside the city, so we were super lucky to find this hidden gem. It was easy to explore Venice by foot! It was challenging to get to with all our bags, but the owner met us at a common location and helped us with our bags.

Wifi- The wifi was great here!

Overall Comfort- If you’re looking for a place to stay in downtown Venice (which is rare) this is an amazing Airbnb! The room had been restored, and it was stunning. Such a cool historical, private, and comfortable place to stay! There was also a washing machine here, which I found super convenient since we hit this place about halfway through our trip. If you click on the pictures via the Airbnb link, it doesn’t do this place justice.

Owner Communication- He was fantastic! He rents several Airbnb’s throughout Venice, so he knows what he’s doing. He gave us so many great restaurant recommendations, showed us around the airbnb, and made sure we were comfortable. He was a wonderful host!

Price- $181 for 2 nights


Florence: click here to visit the Airbnb listing

Location- Our Florence Airbnb was also private, and it was beautiful! We could walk anywhere we wanted, and we were around some amazing restaurants and a large market.

Wifi – Amazing Wifi!

Overall Comfort- This was our favorite Airbnb during the whole trip. It was so cozy and Italian. The interior was carefully restored and absolutely stunning. Seriously. Check out the photos in the link, because it’s so cool. You have to stay here if you’re visiting Florence.

Owner Communication- The host met us at the apartment when we arrived and he was so cool. He stayed and chatted with us for about an hour and told us all the ins and outs of Florence. He gave us a city map and circled everything we needed to see, and also gave us some really useful tips! He was a fabulous host!

Price- $184 for two nights


Viareggio:  click here to view the Airbnb listing

Location- This shared Airbnb was right next to the beach! It’s a little bit of a hike from the train station, but you can take public transportation. We had our own room and bath, but they were renting other rooms throughout the house. Being able to see the ocean from our window was fun! 

Wifi- The Wifi was okay here. Not the strongest, but it worked.

Overall Comfort- This was my least favorite Airbnb of the whole trip. The location was amazing, but comfort-wise it wasn’t that great. We had to carry all our luggage up several flights of spiral staircases. This was extremely difficult. The room was super small, and the bathroom was one of those where the sink and toilette are under the shower head. Does that make sense? There also wasn’t enough hot water for both of us to take a shower during the same evening.

Owner Communication- The host helped us find the house and greeted us upon arrival. We didn’t see much of them after we checked in.

Price- $176 for two nights


Rome: click here to view the Airbnb listing

Location- We ended our time in Italy with a great private Airbnb! Again, it was downtown and we could walk to everything. If you can’t tell, this is important to us. 🙂

Wifi- The wifi didn’t work well here, but that was the only setback. Only one of our devices could stay connected.

Overall Comfort- This was a wonderful Airbnb! We had a private room and bath and it was very clean and cozy! If you’re visiting Rome and want to try Airbnb, this is the place to do it! It was just like staying in a hotel!

Owner Communication- One of the best parts about this Airbnb, was that the host met us at the train station and drove us (short distance) to the apartment. Along the way, he pointed out different shops, restaurants, etc. that would make our stay comfortable. There was a café below the apartment that gave us free cappuccinos and one pastry each morning, because the host had a partnership with them. He also had a friend who owned a local restaurant just a few minutes away, so he made reservations for us and it was amazing! The owner of the restaurant took the best care of us too!

Price- $154 for two nights


 

I hope you enjoyed reading about these European Airbnb’s!

If you’re interested in trying Airbnb for your next adventure, please use this link to receive up to $51 off your first trip! www.airbnb.com/c/taylors175

Rome, Italy

Rome was the last city we visited during our Switzerland and Italy adventure! You can click the links below to catch up!

Zurich, Lugano, Lake Como, Venice, Florence, Cinque Terre/Pisa

When I think of Italy, I immediately think of Rome. For this reason, I knew I wanted to visit the city during our adventure. Taylor was a little hesitant, because in his mind we could visit Rome when we did all of southern Italy one day. Neither of us know when we’ll be back in Italy, so we added Rome for my sake. I think it was the perfect last stop for us!

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There is so much history here, and you could spend days roaming the streets and reading about the Roman Empire.

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Obviously, we had to visit the Coliseum! You can’t miss it! If we visit Rome again, I’d like to do an audio tour of the Coliseum, because I think we would’ve learned so much more. There are plenty of signs about the history, but they can be difficult to keep up with.

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Since Rome is such a popular city in Italy, be prepared for all the tourists. There are soooo many people. If you don’t show up early to buy tickets into your favorite attractions, expect to wait at least an hour. We arrived at the Coliseum when it opened and we still waited at least 30 minutes in line. You do have some options to skip the lines with guided tours and booking online, but we weren’t planning out days to use these options. There are tons of people outside of the main attractions badgering you to skip the line… don’t fall in their trap. If you are going to skip the line its because you planned ahead!

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The cool thing about Rome, is that a lot of the debris from the past is still protected and visible to see. It’s crazy to think about how solid and massive some of these buildings were for that time period!

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We walked over 30,000 steps during our one full day in Rome! Now, you absolutely do not have to do that many because there are great public transportation options, plus tours that will save you the steps. We wanted to see places off the beaten path, so we walked everywhere. We refueled with some amazing roman pasta!!

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After eating an incredible lunch on the backstreets of Rome, we walked to the Pope’s home! 🙂

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We decided to explore the Vatican Museum, because Taylor really wanted to see the Sistine Chapel and see Michelangelo’s famous ceiling painting. Michelangelo hand painted this massive ceiling in the Vatican between 1508 and 1512. Photography was strictly forbidden in this room so I could’t get any photos, but I took some pictures all over the rest of the museum. It was gorgeous!

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The one downside to Rome was all the vendors. They were AGGRESSIVE. I’ve never been so annoyed in my life. They will try and scam you at all costs. At one point, I had to tell someone to leave me the heck alone because I was so over it. They kept harassing (yes harassing) me about my shorts, telling me I wouldn’t be aloud into the museum and I needed to buy a scarf to cover myself. Taylor and I have been to a lot of places that require special attire, but we knew this wasn’t one of them. As long as you dress modestly you’re fine. So many woman were scammed into buying these scarfs thinking they wouldn’t be aloud inside. Nobody even blinked twice at my shorts. I hate people like this that ruin a beautiful place by being pushy.

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Once we were done walking around the Sistine Chapel, we went to see the Trevi Fountain! I don’t think there’s ever a good time to go, as we went twice and it was packed both times. You have to force your way into a seat along the fountain.

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**Me being hit by someone else’s coin.

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Our time in Rome was so special, and we couldn’t believe it was the last stop on our European adventure! We are so thankful for careers that allow us to still do what we love most together. If you’ve been reading all the posts about our time in Switzerland and Italy, thank you so much!! I love writing and sharing my photos, so I hope you enjoyed it. 🙂

Viareggio/Cinque Terre/Pisa

Our next stop on our European adventure was a cluster of small cities! Originally, we were only supposed to visit Viareggio because it was a small beach town in Italy that Taylor wanted to see. We thought it would be a great halfway point in our journey, and we’d get the chance to chill out for two days. BUT THEN Taylor found out that Cinque Terre was a close train ride and Pisa was right around the corner, and our plans to relax were quickly changed. sigh.

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We arrived in Viareggio late afternoon, checked into our Airbnb and walked across the street to the beach for a few hours. It was a little chilly and the clouds were dark, but thankfully it didn’t rain! Viareggio is a small beach town that a lot of local Italians visit during the year, not so much a tourist destination. There was a fantastic pier that overlooked the sunset and it was so beautiful!

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When we woke up the next morning it was pouring, and Taylor bought train tickets to Cinque Terre. Thankfully, the sun was shining by the time we arrived! Cinque Terre isn’t actually just one destination, it’s a whole cluster of towns within one area. We visited the city of Vernazza, which I believe is one of the most popular. After being there, I can see why.

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You can take a super short “hike” (10 minutes one way) up to the famous view of Vernazza. It looks just like a postcard.

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We arrived in Vernazza around lunchtime, so we searched for a place to eat before swimming. We decided to eat on the top of this mountain that overlooked the water. It wasn’t the best Italian food we ate, but the view was incredible. You should go here for drinks if you’re in the area!

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I wanted to swim really bad, so that’s what we did! 🙂 I can’t stay away from water! I’ll be shocked if we don’t own a home by a body of water in the future.

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Before heading back to Viareggio, we stopped at Manarola, which is just a neighboring small town in Cinque Terre. We didn’t spend much time here because we had a train to catch, but we bought a bottle of wine as a souvenir that we’re planning on opening later in life.

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The last thing we saw this day, was the famous Leaning Tower of Pisa. It was about a two hour train ride from Cinque Terre, but in the same direction of Viareggio. There is literally nothing else in the city of Pisa except for this tower, so please don’t book a weeks’s vacation to Pisa. LOL 😉

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I didn’t want to be that person who stuck their hand out to hold the Leaning Tower, but I felt like I’d regret it later on if I didn’t!

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That ended our time on the coast of Italy! I adored Cinque Terre, and I really want to return to spend more time seeing all the towns. I think we could easily spend a few more days there in the future! Our last stop is Rome! Thank’s for following along this far. Please don’t forget to read the beginning of our journey!

Zurich, Lugano, Lake Como, Venice, Florence 

Florence, Italy

Taylor and I are officially back in China, so that can only mean one thing. Our Italian blog posts are nearing the end! If you missed the first few posts, you can read them all here:

Zurich, Lugano, Lake Como, Venice 

The fifth city we visited was Florence! After we packed our bags up in Venice, we took another train and rode to our next destination. We really enjoyed taking the trains everywhere in Europe. It’s so much easier and cheaper than flying. Florence is located in central Italy, within Tuscany.

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I’d say that Florence is known for architecture and food. It’s here where we ate the best Italian food of our lives.

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The man behind all the travel plans. 🙂 I’d be lost without him…literally. He puts so much effort into planning our adventures together.

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If I’m being honest, Florence wasn’t my favorite city that we visited during our European adventure. We were still coming off a high of visiting Lake Como and Venice, and Florence was just okay in my book. I’m not dying to go back, and I really don’t know if I’d make an effort to return. I’m glad we came, but I wouldn’t spend more than two nights here. Like I said before, the food was INCREDIBLE, but that was the highlight of visiting Florence.

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When visiting Florence, you NEED NEED NEED to eat at ZaZa’s. This place was so incredible that we ate there TWICE. This is unheard of for us. The even crazier thing about this place, is that it’s ranked in the 200’s on Trip Advisor for some reason?? I guess there’s just so many places to eat in Florence that the competition is hard. The lasagna was the best I’ve ever eaten and so was the homemade gnocchi. Seriously. You have to eat here.

We also stumbled across a unique wine shop one night called DiVino. You purchase the bottle size you’d like (or glass) and they’d fill it up with whatever local wine they had available. The first time we went, we purchased a standard 750ml bottle and filled it with cabernet. Our total was 4.50 euro and the wine was delicious! We returned the next day and it was only 3 euro since we already had the bottle! Such a genius idea!

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I felt so uninspired to take photos here. I’m not sure if it was because taking photos of architecture isn’t my thing, or that museums are difficult to photograph, or if everything looked the same. Maybe I’m crazy? If you’ve travelled all over Italy, let me know your thoughts on Florence, because I’m really curious. I don’t want to hate on Florence because we really did have a good time. If art history, architecture, and good food are you’re thing then you’d probably love this city!

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If you do find yourself in Florence, you need to walk through the gardens overlooking the city! The view gives you an incredible lookout for miles!

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The second thing you need to do is go and see the David statue, which was created in 1873! One thing to note is that there’s the real, authentic David, and then there’s a mock David. Please make sure you go see the real one, and not the fake! You can find the beautiful marble statue in the Accademia Gallery. The replica is in the Piazza della Signoria.

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With an abundance of museums in Florence, your time there can get expensive! When we were deciding which museums to purchase tickets for, we both agreed that that Museo Galileo would be the most interesting. Taylor is all about science and navigation, so this was absolutely perfect! 🙂 Tickets were 10 euro each, and it took us about an hour to see everything. We had the best time looking at all the early maps and scientific inventions!

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That’s it for our time in Florence! Next stop, the beach!

Venice, Italy

Good Morning!

Today’s post is all about exploring the streets of Venice, Italy! If you missed the first 3 cities, click the links to catch up!

Part 1: Zurich

Part 2: Lugano

Part 3: Lake Como

After spending two nights on Lake Como, we boarded another train and headed to Venice. The train ride took two hours and once we arrived, we started searching for our Airbnb.

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Venice is EXACTLY like the pictures you see. There are no cars, only boats as a means of transportation. Venice is where you see all the famous gondola photos. There are cobblestone streets and a lot of bridges, so keep that in mind if you’re carrying luggage. This was a really rough & long walk for us, since we had to drag our suitcases up and down stairs, cobblestone streets, and weaving through a ton of tourists. It was worth it though, because our Airbnb was in the heart of Venice. (I’ll be writing specifically about all of our Airbnb’s in a separate post.)

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We chose not to do a gondola ride during our time in Venice. Although it’s the famous thing to do here, neither of us were just dying to do it. Incase you’re wondering, it’s 80euro ($92) to ride before 7pm and 100euro ($115) after! That is per boat, not per person. I’m assuming you’ll have to tip the man too, so bare that in mind. If it’s a dream of yours to ride the gondola, then I think it will be worth every penny for you. It looked like a lot of fun!

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Venice is like a maze. There are so many different streets and alleys that you never really know where you are! It’s super easy to get lost. However, each alley has something unique and charming about it!…. or a dead end

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The weather was beautiful the whole time we were visiting. However, with the sunlight reflecting off the water and an abundance of tourists around, it was HOT. I think this was the hottest city we visited during our trip. Even at the end of August, Venice was packed!

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We had a great time walking through the alleys and taking in the beauty of Venice! It actually feels unreal being there. If you visit, I’d highly suggest getting out of the tourist area and visiting the residential area. It was way less crowded and perfect if you’re looking to take photos without hundreds of people standing in the background.

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Although we didn’t take a long romantic gondola ride, we did ride a gondola across the river. This was so much easier than climbing all the bridges! It was also only 2euro per person. If you know Tay’s love for saving money you could have guessed we took the 2 euro ride.

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Before we left the city we grabbed some pasta to go for the train ride, It was wonderful and super cheap!

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Venice was seriously beautiful. If you’re planning a trip to Italy and not sure which cities to visit, add Venice to your list.

**I do have a few remarks about Venice that I need to put out there. First, there’s not much to do. There’s a few historical landmarks and of course the famous gondola ride, but other than that it’s a city for wandering. My second remark is for all the woman out there. This entire city is one big maze and a bunch of paths and alleys. With that being said, this is a place where it would be easy to find yourself in a sticky situation if you’re not paying attention or alone. I never felt uncomfortable or in danger while here, but I was also with a man and he knew what he was doing. I never see anything about this when it comes to Venice, but I think it’s worth mentioning! Think smart, pay attention, and always follow your gut!

My next post will be all about Florence! Stay tuned! 🙂