Tuesday, January 24, 2017


I shared the details of how we got to Venice in my last post, and this one is partially "how to get to Murano & Burano"- and partially "other fun things to do in Venice". 
Exciting, I know. Who doesn't like a 2 for 1 deal?

This post is huge because we did a LOT this day...we walked about 28,000 steps! We definitely earned every single bit of gelato we ate while we were there. 

OK so.
Part #1a: How to get to Murano
Much like all other transit in Italy- the waterbus system couldn't be easier. You can use the English ACTV site, where you can plan your trips. Don't buy tickets ahead of time, you can easily do it when you get to the F.te Nove stop. If you're planning on going to Murano and Burano, I'd recommend getting a 1 day ticket- that way you just have to buy it once, and it saves you money going back and forth around the islands! There are maps at the stops as well showing where/when each line runs (like the subways in the USA) in case you get confused.
We stayed in Cannaregio, so we just took a short walk to F.te Nove B, which we heard was the easiest location to leave from Venice to get to Murano. Murano has 6 easy stops that would get you to the touristy parts of the island- and if you accidentally get off on the "wrong" stop- everything is within walking distance, with bridges across canals to get you where you need to go. We got off on Murano Navagero- and made our way around the entire island.
how to get to murano from venice
A few tips:
1. Go. Early. In. The. Day. If you're "not a morning person"- get over it...or get used to being packed like a sardine into a waterbus! We were still jetlagged, so we naturally woke up around 5-6 am, and headed towards the F. te Nove to grab an espresso and a cornetto- and take an early waterbus over to the island. There were only a handful of people around, so we had our pick of where to sit!

2. Validate. Your. Ticket. Make sure to validate your ticket before you get on the bus- on some rides people come around to check to make sure you've done this, and you can be fined if you don't have the proper ticket/validation.

3. If your stomach doesn't love being on the water, pack a ginger ale or some ginger chews (Chimes are the best)- you can thank me later. 

We got to Murano pretty early...before 8 am I think- and at that time in the morning NOTHING exciting is open...which was actually fine for us. It was overcast, so we just walked around the island until we found a small cafe that was open, and ordered more espresso (duh).  There was so much color to be seen; I think I took about 80 pictures of old doors and bright homes and businesses.
murano venice italy
how to travel to murano, italy
love the contrast in color

Murano is famous for its glass goods and glass blowing, and proof of that was all over the island- like the insane glass sculpture below:
glass blowing in murano, italy

Slowly the shops where you can watch the glassblowers work started to open, so we wandered until we found a free one. Some studios will allow you to watch the glassblowing for free- and only ask for tips at the end or usher you into their shop to buy goods. Others do charge you an entrance fee. In our opinion it was cool to see, but we were glad we didn't have to pay an admission fee for it!

My favorite bit of the island was a studio we found that was COVERED in these hand blown glass roses in about 30 colors. Amazing, right?
glass blowing in murano, italy
Seriously- amazing art on every wall in the city!
glass blowing in murano, italy

Part #1b: How to get to Burano

It's about a 30 minute waterbus ride from Murano to Burano- which is completely beautiful! We left from Murano Faro and ended up at Burano SX- which I think is one of the main spots most waterbuses go to the island. Burano is super tiny, and not at all hard to get around!
how to get to burano, italy

Burano is known for it's insanely colored buildings- and it did not disappoint at all. It's basically impossible to take a bad picture on this island! About halfway into our time there the clouds finally burned off, which meant we could get even more vibrant shots of the houses (and by we I mean me). Michael was so patient with me and I screeched every time I saw a house in a new color. I mean you GUYS. NEON GREEN HOUSES. MAGENTA RESTAURANTS. WHAT!?!?
burano, italy

Packers colors, of course!
burano, italy

Obviously I had to hold my Fruti di Bosco gelato up to the colorful walls, because #instagram.
bright gelato in burano, italy
pink house in burano, italy

Other than taking colorful pictures and a little shopping there isn't a TON to do on Burano, so we hopped on a waterbus back to Murano and got some pizza, naturally. I think the pizza was like... 6 euros? The water was almost the same price!
pizza in murano, italy

After eating we waited for a waterbus so we could head back to Venice- as you can see the beautiful blue sky came out!

We got back to Venice and recharged at our Airbnb for a bit before heading out to explore some more..which leads me to:
Part #2: Things to do in Venice!
So obviously you can spend your entire time in Venice just getting lost in the canals. Some are gorgeous, some are super smelly, but all have character and so much history! At first I was a littttle creeped out by all the narrow alleys and canals (#strangerdanger), but once you get used to the vibe you realize how safe the island is. 
canals in venice, italy

We headed down to Piazza San Marco, where we were blown away by Basilica di San Marco, and Palazzo Ducale.
Basilica di San Marco, Venice Italy
Basilica di San Marco, Venice Italy

Palazzo Ducale, Venice Italy

Palazzo Ducale, Venice Italy

Can we talk about the architecture here? GAHHHHH.
venice, italy

SO many gondolas! We didn't end up taking one partially because they were pretty expensive and partially because we wanted to walk around more during the daylight- but they sure were gorgeous to look at!
gondolas in venice, italy

Next we headed over to the Grand Canal and the Ponte di Rialto- which was amazing from the front...but under construction inside!
ponte di rialto- venice, italy
gondolas in venice, italy

This is what we SHOULD have gotten for dinner...
pizza in venice, italy
...but instead we enjoyed some lemon gelato since it was getting HOT in the sun!

Like I said earlier, you could spend the entire day just walking around the canals!
After being around San Marco we were SO glad we got our Airbnb where we did. San Marco area is really busy, touristy, and full of a lot more shops. Cannaregio was so quiet- and still had plenty of restaurants and bars!
canals in venice, italy
We ended up getting a later dinner and some wine at a place our Airbnb host recommended. We didn't really love it- but that was kind of the theme of the food in Venice- it wasn't that epic. The food everywhere else in Italy was SO much better...I've actually had better Italian meals here in Madison (love you, Osteria Papavero) than the meals we had in Venice. Thus, I can give you ZERO Venice restaurant recommendations- sorry!

Whew! So there you have it- Venice in a nutshell!

- Don't be afraid to book an Airbnb away from the Grand Canal or San Marco area. Everything is super safe and walkable- and will be much cheaper away from those touristy areas.
- Buy the day pass for the ACTV waterbuses for Murano/Burano- and go early in the day! 
- Don't spend too much for food in Venice-cheap pasta/pizza is about as good as expensive pasta/pizza.
- Eat lots of gelato, and take lots of pictures :)

Have you been to Venice/Murano/Burano?
What were your thoughts on them?

xo, laura

To see my first post about Venice, go HERE.
Find me on Instagram HERE


 I'm FINALLY sharing photos from our trip, one post at a time!

In total our trip was 2 weeks, and was like...85% planned. We had flights and places to stay booked- but everything else was kind of a one-day-at-a-time mentality. I know some people feel strongly about having strict itineraries, but after travelling abroad in the past I realized that things happen; people get sick, you miss trains, and missing out on things you've paid for can be a HUGE bummer. These posts will be a series explaining how we went about booking things, and what we did!
If you're travelling to any of these locations and have questions, please comment or email me - I would LOVE to chime in with ideas or tips!

We flew from New York to Milan on Delta- and we have 0 bad things to say about our flight. Comfy seats. Movies. Food. Free wine. Friendly people. It went by super fast, and we were to Malpensa super quickly.
We chose to fly into Milan because the tickets were insanely cheap. We didn't spend anytime in Milan other than transferring at the train stations, but the cost was too good to pass up. I found these flights on SkyScanner and then booked directly through Delta...it was just a one way ticket, since we flew out of Athens on our way home.

We chose to each carry on a small bag and a backpack, which made it easy to travel since we didn't have to wait at the luggage carousels. 1 carry-on was a rolling bag and 1 was a duffle- so we stacked the duffle on the rolling bag when we walked (or ran) through train stations and airport terminals. This was efficient for the majority of the trip, but for future trips we might search for a second soft sided rolling bag like the one we already have.

We arrived in Malpensa a little after 8:30 am, got our bearings, and bought tickets for the train that leaves directly from the airport to Milano Centrale. So easy- you can't miss it! Milano Centrale is the big train station in Milan where we caught a connecting train to Venezia Santa Lucia (Venice). There are automated train tickets in all stations, which we chose to use instead of going to ticket windows (with unfriendly ticket attendants). There are always sketchy dudes trying to tell you they'll help you buy tickets from the automated machines- just ignore them. They'll either try and charge you or steal your credit card :)

Here's the train station at Malpensa:
Malpensa Train Station

We ended up getting cheap tickets on one of the nice trains with comfy seats and snacks. Just one of the benefits of buying your tickets day of instead of booking in advance!
I was a little apprehensive about the train system only because I had heard mixed reviews about buying tickets beforehand or not- but when we got there it was So. Dang. Easy. The automated machines I mentioned are super user friendly, give clear options, and print tickets out instantly. Once you validate your ticket at the machines by the trains, you're good to go.
If you're travelling to Venice and you're planning on being by the water and the canals - make SURE you book your ticket to Venezia Santa Lucia. The other station, Venezia Mestre is the mainland station, which you don't want!
Here was our view stepping out of the train station in Venice:
Venice in October

We booked an Airbnb in Venice that was amazing. It was a private room & bathroom in a family's apartment- and our host Eugenio was fabulous and completely gave us privacy after giving us the initial tour/rundown of the place. We stayed in Cannaregio which is on the north side of Venice. It was safe, clean, and an easy 20 minute walk to all the major sites in Venice. There were tons of shops and restaurants right near by- so we had everything we needed!
Here's the view from our Airbnb:
Venice Airbnb

Everyone is different, but other than location (duh) we made sure to find an Airbnb that was smoke-free..since EVERYONE in Italy smokes! We also made sure free WiFi was included and that there were no pets.

Building across from the entrance to our Airbnb:
Venice Airbnb

It was overcast, but we didn't mind walking around in our light jackets exploring the canals and old buildings near our place:
Venice Canals

Jetlagged, we realized we needed some food, water, and espresso asap so we stopped and got some fresh pasta (served to us by the crankiest man ever - shown below behind Michael:
Espresso in Venice
Fresh Gnocchi with cheese and pasta with Pesto

After dinner we explored the streets some more, eventually ended in the Jewish ghetto- soaking in some history from the buildings and synagogue.
Exploring Venice

Exploring Venice

Exploring Venice

Exploring Venice

Exploring Venice

To end the night, we stopped at a bar and enjoyed (more) espresso and an Aperol Spritz. We just watched people bustle about with their pets and kids as the sun went down- it was completely perfect way to ease into the trip!

NEXT TRIP POST: Venice Day 2: Murano & Burano.

Have you been to Venice? What did you love (or not love) about it?
xo, laura

for more B&B Wedding Series posts, go HERE

Tuesday, January 17, 2017


Everyone says that between Thanksgiving and New Years is "engagement season".  So that means a buuuunch of people are planning their weddings right now. If you're thinking about a photobooth, I wanted to share my experience in case it helps at all!
 Like I mentioned in my last post, we didn't have a professional photographer at our wedding reception. Instead we decided to put money towards a photobooth- which seriously paid off.

I found Meir Photography on Thumbtack, and after meeting Greg in person, I knew they were they company we had to go with. He had all the options and pricing so clearly laid out- no sneaky hidden fees or costs..plus we could personalize the strips with our wedding hashtag for free. We chose to have an "open air" photobooth (rather than enclosed) so that more people could fit in it, and others could enjoy watching people pose and be ridiculous!

The night of our party one of Greg's team members set up the booth insanely quickly- and had a TON of props for everyone to use- from hats to signs to glasses. One thing a heard from a bunch of people was that this was the best photobooth they'd ever been to at a wedding because EVERYONE in the photo got a copy of the photostrip! Even if there were 10 people, every single person got a copy.

The booth attendant also printed out an extra copy to be glued into a photobook where people could write down well wishes and notes to us. We were so busy the night of we didn't really realize how many people used it-so when we looked through it the next day we were completely floored.

We had endless pages of hilarious pictures and notes from our friends and family. As the night went on (and the beer went n) the comments got funnier and funnier. We've shared it with a bunch of people and have gone through it ourselves aboutttt 20 times.

Whether you're looking to capture photos from the night in a way that's more affordable that a full photographer- or are able to have a photobooth on top of a photographer, make sure you find someone you can trust and understands what you're looking  for in the night. If you're in the Madison/Sun Prairie area and are thinking about a photobooth- we seriously can't recommend Meir Photography enough.

Did you have a photobooth at your wedding- or are you planning to have one?
What was your favorite part about it?

xo, laura

*find more wedding posts here*

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