Tag Archives: Travel

Relocation: One Penske Truck at a Time

Oh hey guys. Sarah here. Sorry it’s been a while, but things have been pretty crazy with the move back to the Midwest. If you’re thinking to yourself, how crazy can it be just loading your life into a truck and driving it 16 hours? Well, if you want to go ahead and grab yourself a 5 hour energy and a Red Bull, I’ll tell you. And don’t skimp on the good stuff. No amount of coffee will be enough for this ride.

Let’s start back at the end of August. The sun was shining and a yet-to-be named yet storm system was gaining strength out in the Gulf just in time for us to pick up our first Penske truck from the local dealer in Sarasota.

And then, as if Sarasota was showing it’s emotion at our leaving, the rain started to fall. Hard.

As Matt waited for the truck to arrive in the rain, I headed back towards the house to meet the movers, pausing briefly as I drove through an already flooded road just outside the Penske lot.

Timestamp: 7:30 a.m. on Wednesday, August 31, 2016.

Per the advice of Brock at the Sarasota Penkse (let’s go ahead and name each one by location for future clarification purposes), we waited to pick up the car hauler until after the truck was loaded. That meant 3-4 more hours of rain before we had to drive a moving truck and a CR-V back through the flooded road, which was now a full-on river.

Should we have seen the signs we were set for an adventure when we were blocked by floodwaters at the only road that would lead us to Penske?

Or perhaps when they told us the trailer we rented wouldn’t fit on a 22-foot truck and we’d need to swap it out for a different one before we even left? Perhaps. But we documented our exit from the Sarasota Penkse with a hopeful smile as the weather guy reported that I-9 was now a Tropical Storm projected to make landfall as Hurricane Hermine near the panhandle of Florida by Thursday.

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We’ll be on our way to Tennessee by that time, we optimistically thought. 

We were just north of Ocala when this happened.
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And if you’re asking yourself, well how far did you make it before the first truck broke down?

This far.

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A mere two hours in the rain to a truck stop just north of Ocala.

And unfortunately that’s as far as we’d make it for a few hours. Lisa’s husband, or brother or ex-husband informed us that we were not going to make it far with this particular sounds like its going to die, floor boards are melting my feet, jerking, shaking, AC and radio shorting out truck that is currently packed to the very edge with all of our belongings.

Now the good news is we were just 10 miles away from the Ocala Penske where they informed us that they had another truck of the same size waiting for us. We could spend the night in Ocala or they could call another set of movers to come over that night and ‘swap the load.’ We opted for the latter to try stay ahead of the storm, still hoping to make our reservation in Atlanta that evening.

Here’s a snapchat snapshot of what followed:

So they swapped the load and we set off for Atlanta Wednesday night but only made it as far as Valdosta to sleep for the night. The truck seemed better but as we set out Thursday morning, we ran into similar problems around Macon. After a brief stop at the Macon Penske dealership we were told nothing was wrong with Truck #2 and on we went.

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By this point I was googling Penske dealers out ahead of our drive and basically calling them to tell them we were coming. Just before the mountains on Thursday afternoon, we made a call into the Dalton, GA Penske and told them we were bringing our second truck in for service as there was no way we were going to make it through the mountains with it.

I’ll never forget the look on the lead mechanics face when he came into the break room and gave us the news as if we were getting a terminal diagnosis from a physician.

Unfortunately we’ve seen this issue on a lot of these trucks before guys and it’s not good. It looks like this truck was just serviced for the same issue a few months ago and they didn’t fix it. It’s not good guys. It’s at least a 4-day job. But you came to the right place. We are the place all of the other dealers bring their trucks because our technicians are diamond certified. 

And then he said the words that became oh-so-familiar to us so quickly.

Guys, we’re going to have to swap the load. 

Why don’t you go enjoy a nice dinner on us while we see about getting the movers here. 

And then he said the words that would save us for the rest of the trip.

We’re not going to give you another 22-foot truck. We’re going to tow a new 26-foot truck down from Chatanooga. It has air brakes and less than 17,000 miles on it and should be a more comfortable ride for the remainder of your trip. 

So we went and enjoyed a nice dinner at Chilis and tried to find humor in the last two day’s events.

Timestamp: 9:00 p.m., Thursday, September 1, 2016

Timestamp: 8:00 a.m., Friday, September 2, 2016

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Our new truck was amazing and we finally made it to St. Louis Friday evening, just a few days later (and a few more swapped loads) than we originally planned.

I’ll be back for part two where we unpacked boxes and found out how much of our stuff broke in the aforementioned load swapping.

And if you are wondering whether we would ever use Penske again after three trucks and as many days of moving, the answer is maybe. I don’t plan on ever moving ourselves again so that shouldn’t be a problem, but I will say their roadside and customer service made up for the crappy line of 22-foot trucks they acquired.

Until next time!

 

Cookies and Catch Up

Great news, guys. The Murphalewski Bed and Breakfast just wrapped four straight weeks of out-of-town guests. That means 7 midwesterners are entering the winter season a little bronzer than usual and many local restaurant staffers here in Sarasota are actually starting to think I have friends. It’s a win-win!

Now you may be asking if I’m glad the four-week rush is over. Truth is, I loved having our friends and family stay with us. Each visit came with a reminder of how blessed we are to have friends and family that love us enough to leave crappy weather behind and sit on the beach all day. We realize our location may benefit us this time of year but regardless, we appreciate the time and effort (and flight delays) spent coming to visit.

So what have I been doing with all my free time since the last houseguest left on Sunday? Baking cookies of course.

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It seems like the only thing I have to show for the last 4 weeks, aside from the slightly increased body fat percentage, are pictures of cookies long ago eaten by co-workers.

It’s not like me to leave you hanging over a holiday weekend without some sort of ode to a sweet treat on the blog, but I’ve been sidetracked. You see, I’ve been trying to come to grips with the fact that our entire shopping district has been lit up like Rockafeller Center on Christmas Eve since October 24th. I’ve been wrecking my brain trying to figure out in what world this is acceptable but then I remembered a saying my dad always says this time of year.

You know, this might be the last nice day we have to put the Christmas lights up so we better get to it. 

Wait. I’m sorry. He usually waits until an ice storm is in the vicinity around December 20th to say that. And they still live in Illinois so…

So in spite of the extremely prematurely lit palm trees and unseasonably hot temperatures, I thought I’d share a few photos from the last four weeks to catch you up.

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but how about that sweet lady in the background?

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IMG_5484sugar cookies, royal icing, baking, breakfast at tiffany's cookies, bridal shower, dessert, tiffany blue sugar cookiesIMG_5482sugar cookies, royal icing, baking, breakfast at tiffany's cookies, bridal shower, dessert, tiffany blue sugar cookiesAnd now you know what my photostream looks like. I’ve got two weeks until Thanksgiving and our next visitors so if you need me I’ll be either running or napping in preparation. Happy Friday!

 

Florence: Day 2: Under the Tuscan Sun

It’s Day 2 in Florence and you’re up early and ready to head out for a hike. And even though you packed enough workout clothes for nearly every day of your trip, you find yourself in them for the first time in over a week. You make a mental note to wear less luon when you get back to the states, likely short-lived but an effort nonetheless.

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It’s also the point in which you are reminded how much more organized your new husband is with clothes than you are. You make a mental note to try harder once your back home but when you’re reminded by seeing this photo approximately one month later, you realize you like the luon, that goal was also short-lived.

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You hike up towards the villas stacked in the hills surrounding Florence with the hope to see the panoramic landscape below. Only problem is your hike leads you on a two to three-mile uphill tour of narrow roads with thick, high walls. It’s still beautiful, and a great way to burn off the gelato, but you’ll soon realize you chose the local scenic route and they probably don’t care about seeing the properties of all their neighbors on the morning walks, either. Florence, firenze, Italy, honeymoon in italy, honeymoon, wedding, travel, duomo, ponte vecchio, tuscany, la scaletta, palazzo pitti, boboli gardens, renaissance art, michaelangelo, museo de accademia, michaelangelo's david, tuscany, piazza de michaelangelo

It’s on your way down that the you finally catch a glimpse of what every book about a recently divorced woman who decides to search for her identity again in Italy, describes. Sweeping valleys filled with grape vines, sunshine-colored villas you swear you’ll come back and rent with your group of friends for your 40th birthday and Italian cypress trees. Lots of Italian cypress trees. Florence, firenze, Italy, honeymoon in italy, honeymoon, wedding, travel, duomo, ponte vecchio, tuscany, la scaletta, palazzo pitti, boboli gardens, renaissance art, michaelangelo, museo de accademia, michaelangelo's david, tuscany, piazza de michaelangeloFlorence, firenze, Italy, honeymoon in italy, honeymoon, wedding, travel, duomo, ponte vecchio, tuscany, la scaletta, palazzo pitti, boboli gardens, renaissance art, michaelangelo, museo de accademia, michaelangelo's david, tuscany, piazza de michaelangeloFlorence, firenze, Italy, honeymoon in italy, honeymoon, wedding, travel, duomo, ponte vecchio, tuscany, la scaletta, palazzo pitti, boboli gardens, renaissance art, michaelangelo, museo de accademia, michaelangelo's david, tuscany, piazza de michaelangelo

 

I’m not quite sure how we got there, but we eventually made our way to the piazza de Michelangelo towards the end of our hike. We’d visit the real guy later that afternoon so it was neat to watch the buses drop off hundreds of tourists at the top of the city after we had sort of carved our own path (literally) along the scenic route. Florence, firenze, Italy, honeymoon in italy, honeymoon, wedding, travel, duomo, ponte vecchio, tuscany, la scaletta, palazzo pitti, boboli gardens, renaissance art, michaelangelo, museo de accademia, michaelangelo's david, tuscany, piazza de michaelangelo Florence, firenze, Italy, honeymoon in italy, honeymoon, wedding, travel, duomo, ponte vecchio, tuscany, la scaletta, palazzo pitti, boboli gardens, renaissance art, michaelangelo, museo de accademia, michaelangelo's david, tuscany, piazza de michaelangelo Florence, firenze, Italy, honeymoon in italy, honeymoon, wedding, travel, duomo, ponte vecchio, tuscany, la scaletta, palazzo pitti, boboli gardens, renaissance art, michaelangelo, museo de accademia, michaelangelo's david, tuscany, piazza de michaelangelo Florence, firenze, Italy, honeymoon in italy, honeymoon, wedding, travel, duomo, ponte vecchio, tuscany, la scaletta, palazzo pitti, boboli gardens, renaissance art, michaelangelo, museo de accademia, michaelangelo's david, tuscany, piazza de michaelangelo

We took the short way home, just down a little winding road in the above picture and got cleaned up for breakfast at the same place we went the morning before.
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Seeing Michelangelo’s “David” was perhaps the only time we paid too much to skip the line the whole trip. At this point we hadn’t pre-booked anything and had managed to see quite a bit by just the one person gets in a random line and the other walks to the front to make sure the random line actually gets us in the door strategy. David is a pretty popular guy in Florence so we figured he was worth it.Florence, firenze, Italy, honeymoon in italy, honeymoon, wedding, travel, duomo, ponte vecchio, tuscany, la scaletta, palazzo pitti, boboli gardens, renaissance art, michaelangelo, museo de accademia, michaelangelo's david, tuscany, piazza de michaelangelo Florence, firenze, Italy, honeymoon in italy, honeymoon, wedding, travel, duomo, ponte vecchio, tuscany, la scaletta, palazzo pitti, boboli gardens, renaissance art, michaelangelo, museo de accademia, michaelangelo's david, tuscany, piazza de michaelangelo

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Thanks to Michelangelo, I no longer feel self-conscious about my arm veins. Florence, firenze, Italy, honeymoon in italy, honeymoon, wedding, travel, duomo, ponte vecchio, tuscany, la scaletta, palazzo pitti, boboli gardens, renaissance art, michaelangelo, museo de accademia, michaelangelo's david, tuscany, piazza de michaelangelo Florence, firenze, Italy, honeymoon in italy, honeymoon, wedding, travel, duomo, ponte vecchio, tuscany, la scaletta, palazzo pitti, boboli gardens, renaissance art, michaelangelo, museo de accademia, michaelangelo's david, tuscany, piazza de michaelangelo Florence, firenze, Italy, honeymoon in italy, honeymoon, wedding, travel, duomo, ponte vecchio, tuscany, la scaletta, palazzo pitti, boboli gardens, renaissance art, michaelangelo, museo de accademia, michaelangelo's david, tuscany, piazza de michaelangelo

That afternoon, we checked out the nearby leather district with intention to actually buy something. I can’t even remember the place, but suddenly I lost Matt and was somewhere in Vegas, trying to find my way out from the random corridors that let me to watches, jewelry and leather goods I could only afford if I got to take home half the pot of the guy with the gold pinky ring for being his good luck charm.
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I did learn how they get gold-leaf on leather, though!

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Our last night in Florence, after a snack of cheese and wine ate with a baby sugar spoon, we went to dinner at local spot Trattoria Casalinga. We’d heard good things about the family run restaurant and promised ourselves that even if we got stuck with the menu only being written in Italian, we’d just wing it. And wing it we did. Florence, firenze, Italy, honeymoon in italy, honeymoon, wedding, travel, duomo, ponte vecchio, tuscany, la scaletta, palazzo pitti, boboli gardens, renaissance art, michaelangelo, museo de accademia, michaelangelo's david, tuscany, piazza de michaelangelo Florence, firenze, Italy, honeymoon in italy, honeymoon, wedding, travel, duomo, ponte vecchio, tuscany, la scaletta, palazzo pitti, boboli gardens, renaissance art, michaelangelo, museo de accademia, michaelangelo's david, tuscany, piazza de michaelangelo

We started with mixed crostinis and more antipasto than we realized we were ordering and enjoyed a tortellini with sugo (don’t ask but it was delicious) and a cut of veal (once again don’t ask but it was delicious).

We normally didn’t have room for dessert, but when we watched the grandmother of our waitress carry a fresh batch of her special merengue cake to the dessert counter below, we pushed through. And I’m so glad we pushed through. Florence, firenze, Italy, honeymoon in italy, honeymoon, wedding, travel, duomo, ponte vecchio, tuscany, la scaletta, palazzo pitti, boboli gardens, renaissance art, michaelangelo, museo de accademia, michaelangelo's david, tuscany, piazza de michaelangelo Florence, firenze, Italy, honeymoon in italy, honeymoon, wedding, travel, duomo, ponte vecchio, tuscany, la scaletta, palazzo pitti, boboli gardens, renaissance art, michaelangelo, museo de accademia, michaelangelo's david, tuscany, piazza de michaelangelo Florence, firenze, Italy, honeymoon in italy, honeymoon, wedding, travel, duomo, ponte vecchio, tuscany, la scaletta, palazzo pitti, boboli gardens, renaissance art, michaelangelo, museo de accademia, michaelangelo's david, tuscany, piazza de michaelangelo

Stick with me because next up, we head to Rome!

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Florence: Day 1: A ridiculous amount of renaissance art

Today we kick off a two-day tour of Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance, home to Michaelangelo’s “David” and checking the box on everything I expected Tuscany to be.

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In just an hour or so on a high-speed train we arrived in Florence (Firenze) and made our way from the train station across the Ponte Vecchio bridge to Hotel La Scaletta.

Florence, firenze, Italy, honeymoon in italy, honeymoon, wedding, travel, duomo, ponte vecchio, tuscany, la scaletta, palazzo pitti, boboli gardens, renaissance art, Tucked away in a nook near the Palazzo Pitti or Pitti Palace was our gem of a hotel. The staff was wonderful, the tiny lift that could only fit the two of us OR our luggage was adorable and the views were breathtaking.

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After brunch and a cappuccino at a nearby cafe, we spent most of the morning browsing what’s said to be a ridiculous amount of renaissance art inside the Pitti Palace.

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Home to the Medici family as early as 1549, it took us hours to get through all of the residences of the family and their assistants. I was pleasantly surprised that Matt and I shared similar taste and tolerance for renaissance art, perhaps one of the few things our pre-marital questionnaire did not reveal ahead of the wedding. Crazy to think that it took us until the modern wing of the museum to see anything American.

That afternoon we ventured around the central part of the city towards the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, or the Duomo. Even with photos, it’s hard to explain how beautiful this gothic-style cathedral really is but perhaps mentioning that every green, pink and white detail you see is made of polychrome marble.

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We stopped for an aperitivo at local sweet spot Gilli and enjoyed the people watching in the Piazza de Republica. It reminded us both of Chicago, both the high-end shops and the group of twenty-something girls from Chicago drinking Champagne at the table next to us.

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That evening we had a dinner reservation on the roof of our hotel. I was expecting nice views, but the meal was one of the best we had the entire trip. The waiter was wonderful, the wine perfect and well the sunset, I’ll let you be the judge of that.

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Next time I’ll introduce you to my guy David and tell you more about how much I didn’t want to leave this pretty city.

In search of bolognese

Today we venture south to Bologna, a medieval looking city with a center that’s more Chicago State Street than Little Italy.

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Bologna is referred to in a number of ways. La Grassa (the fat one) celebrates the first bolognese sauce that originated in the city. La Dotta (the learned one) refers to the university that was founded in 1088. And La Rossa (the red one) illustrates the red terracotta medieval buildings with their miles of porticoes and apparently some left-wing politics as well. (source)

We arrived by train and after checking out our very modern accommodations at Hotel Metropolitan, ventured out to check out the open markets.

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We quickly realized there were far less tourists in Bologna than Venice and after an hour or so roaming the streets surrounding the main piazza, far more American retail stores.

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We stopped for lunch at an outdoor cafe near the museum and had our first really memorable meal of the trip. Perhaps not as much as this kid who enjoyed a foccacia sandwich larger than his entire torso. Bon Appetito!

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Matt enjoyed a tagliatelle with bolognese and I had a salad with poached egg, asparagus and peccorino cheese with a side of bread and wine, naturally.

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That afternoon, we boarded the San Luca Express for a ride along the portico that led up to the Basilica Santuario della Madonna di San Luca overlooking the city. We had originally planned on walking the trip but after hearing it would take two hours to walk the world’s longest portico, we both decided riding was the best decision of the day.

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If the views from the top of the city weren’t breathtaking enough, a walk inside the basilica will do it.

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It was at the top of San Luca that we had our first aperitivo on the trip. Partially pictured: the tiny round teeter-totter that was the seat at this quaint pizzeria.

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Our stop in Bologna was quick, but we were grateful to experience the University town before heading down to Florence for the next few days and falling even more in love with this beautiful country.

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Ciao!

Visiting Venice: Day 2

It’s day 2 in Venice and by now you’ve established that a day well spent begins with a cappuccino and a chocolate croissant.

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To give you a little history on Venice. Years ago, ok centuries, the Venetians decided that a big old swamp with a few islands looked suitable for establishment of a city. So the barbarians may have had something to do with it, but after surviving a few plagues and purchasing a lot of flood insurance, Venice became one of the most beautiful, and rapidly sinking, cities in the world.

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After breakfast, you hop on a water taxi, or vaparetto, and take a ride out and around the island to San Marco, or St. Mark’s Square. Today, you’re sort of reversing your steps from the airport yesterday, every tiny little step you lugged that brand new but fully-loaded luggage over to get to the hotel.

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You determine the ferries are very similar to the CTA and minus the language barrier, feel fairly confident navigating them with little to no conversational Italian speaking skills yet established.

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You arrive at San Marco and suddenly realize your hotel is in a much quieter part of town.

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It’s a good thing you take way too many photos of gondolas, gondoliers and gondola riders, because you will save yourself 100 Euro when you run out of time to take a ride later that afternoon.

The basilica at San Marco is a must so you climb a steep and narrow staircase to the museum on the upper level where for a small fee they allow you to go out on the marble-tiled roof for a great view of the square. Your legs will tingle the whole time as your new husband leans and stretches himself way too close to the edge.  You make a mental note to adjust your life insurance policy when you return to the states.

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View between the Doge palace (Palazzo Ducale) and prison, along the Bridge of Sighs.

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Grand Council Chamber in Doge Palace, said to be the largest room in Europe.

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By now you’re starving so you wander the winding streets surrounding San Marco until you settle on a trattoria, or rather, you get tired of getting heckled to try said trattorias so you choose the one where they seem to need you the least.

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You wrap up your trip in Venice with dinner at another local spot and a quick stop for gelato. Your next few days would determine that the best evenings are ended with gelato and the best food in Italy is not in Venice.

Next up, Bologna!

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Visiting Venice: Day 1

Today you’re off to Venice. Get excited!

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Wait. Not yet. First you have to get to Chicago. And then Toronto, dontchaknow.

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Add in a brief stop for Fruhstuck (thanks 4 years of German class) in Frankfurt and you’ve made it.

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But you’ll get there eventually. And you’ll be pleasantly surprised by both the quality (very good) and cost (free!) of the wine Air Canada will serve you on the way.

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Merci. Danke and Grazie.

You’ll attempt to follow your new husband’s directions and try to pretend the sunrise over the atlantic is actually a sunset to prepare yourself for the 7-hour time difference, but considering it’s your first time ever crossing the Atlantic, you’re just thankful to focus on the free movies instead of the potential water landing.

venice, italy, honeymoon in italy, venezia, travel, wedding, canal, bridgeYou take a bus from the airport and arrive to the island mid-morning. It’s just a short walk to the hotel and as soon as you step foot inside to be greeted by the friendly staff, it starts pouring outside. A beautiful and perfectly-timed rain shower.

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You get a caffeine fix from the staff while you wait for your room to be ready. A cappuccino for her and an espresso for him before heading out to explore in an effort to avoid complete jet lag.

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Obviously bright-eyed, you spend the afternoon exploring the narrow streets lined by canals and the cutest little boats you’ve ever seen.

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The rain lasts just long enough for you to still think it’s pretty. It’s the last sign of clouds or precipitation you’ll experience for the next 10 days.

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You make it to dinner and based on a recommendation from the concierge where the menu is in Italian and the waitress doesn’t speak English. A perfect end to a very long day and the beginning of a wonderful honeymoon.

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