Our Travels

One city at a time.

Mirabell Palace and Gardens in Salzburg

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Charles Bridge, Prague

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Venice, the City of Waters

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Travel Tips

Don’t Let Language Barrier Stop You from Enjoying Your Trip

By on May 28, 2017


kalman imre, budapest
Statue of Kalman in Budapest – English and German description provided on tab

Traveling to another country is something that is probably ever-present in people’s bucket lists. After all, there is nothing more surreal than exploring a place that’s foreign to you and immersing yourself in its culture and traditions. Everything does seem dreamlike, that is, until language barrier decides to step in and spoil the fun.

Of course, this wouldn’t be a problem for you if you come from an interracial family and are well versed with a language other than English or your mother tongue. Nevertheless, not all of us are as fortunate. At the same time, not everyone was able to learn some Spanish, a spattering of French, and some other foreign language back in high school. So will you allow this problem to stop you from enjoying your trip? Certainly not! What should you do, then?

Whether your trip is for business or pleasure, it pays to learn the language spoken at the place where you’re going. You don’t have to be an expert linguist; learning just a couple of important words would be enough. You would be surprised how much better your traveling experience would be if you know how to speak even just a few words from the local language. It can actually enhance your experience in ways you never deemed possible.

Some say, “You can’t teach old dogs new tricks”, and that may be true in this case. You can’t expect to master the language, say French, in a matter of days. Hence, a good start would be learning how to speak a few greetings, numbers, directions, simple questions, and phrases such as “How are you doing,” “What’s your name,” “Please,” “Thank you,” “How much is that,” “Where is (so and so place),” and “Nice to meet you,” among others. You would find these simple phrases very handy when you take a cab, eat in a restaurant, or go shopping.

somewhere in Rome
Roaming in Rome, I ended up at Largo Argentina at dusk

Once you’ve got that right down pat, you could progress to a more (somewhat) complex level that would help you “survive” in that place vocabulary-wise. Of course, if you have plenty of time to prepare for the trip, then you can go ahead and have an in-depth study of the language by attending a class or hiring a private tutor.

Learning the language spoken at a certain country makes it easier for you to deal and interact with locals. Inasmuch as English is considered a universal language, you should never assume that everyone in that place speaks English. Some tourists complain that locals don’t treat them all too well, but maybe the language barrier has a lot to do with it. Therefore, if you want a slightly better treatment from locals, you had better learn even just a bit of their language. Believe me; your efforts won’t go unappreciated.

You can actually learn the basics of a language from the comfort of your own home. The Internet offers many different sources to get you started. Some websites doesn’t only teach words and phrases but these also let you listen to audio recordings so you’ll know the proper pronunciation of the words. This is a good way to pick up the basics of a foreign language.

Try to go to the mall and look for a bookstore or any specialty store that sells books, CDs, DVDs, videos, tapes, and even software designed to teach a new language. Some even offer comprehensive combination packages that would make the experience worth your while.

It may seem bothersome, but learning a foreign language offers countless benefits. What’s more, it can broaden your horizons, and perhaps, open up a growing list of opportunities for the future. So topple down that language barrier, learn a new language, and expose yourself to a world of self-improvement and self-fulfillment.

pantheon, rome
Ended up at the Pantheon

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Germany’s Most Beautiful Attractions

By on March 13, 2017

With its vibrant cities, rich culture, beautiful natural sceneries, and castles, Germany has something for everyone. Berlin is the most popular destination in Germany because of its fascinating sceneries and natural attractions. But aside from this fascinating city, the country also has other major cities with proud histories.

Berlin Wall

Among all the cities in Europe, Berlin holds the third spot. The city houses around 700 restaurants and 170 art galleries and museums. It is also the best destination for people who are into card games like poker, since the city holds the most number of casino hotels in the entire country. Visitors can go to Casino Berlin & Forum Hotel Berlin if they are into playing slot machines and table games. Berlin also has one of the biggest casinos, which is Spielbank Berlin. For those who can’t join live poker games can still enjoy the game by downloading party poker app on their mobile phone. Poker websites such as partypoker de offer players with a mobile app that they can use whenever and wherever they are. So even if you are inside Café Jacques with your family, you can still play the game while waiting for your food to be served.


Known as a beautiful, ancient city located on the Isar River, Munich has this modern convenience that perfectly blends with the ancient Bavaria. During the World War II, more than 70% of the city was damaged. But through the years, the city has been carefully restored to bring back its appealing splendor. Visitors can enjoy a lot of activities in the city including shopping, museum hopping, and night partying.

Plönlein with Kobolzeller Steige and Spitalgasse, Rothenburg


Many tourists love the authentic medieval feel of Rothenburg—a prototypical walled-town which has a dramatic architecture, good food, and interesting history. Rothenburg is also considered as the best paradigm of a medieval town in a highly-modernized country like Germany. It is a town that is well-known for its Markets where shoppers can find different stuff  all-year-round.


This is a place which offers visitors many historic attractions, including a collection of historic churches that has a very dramatic structure. Some of the most visited place in the city is the Prince Bishop’s (Residez) Palace, Court Garden and the Fortress (Festung) Marienberg, which can be reached by crossing a river and climbing a hill from the very center of the city.

Hofgarten dome
At the Hofgarten

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By on March 8, 2017


Some posts on my other blog, I mentioned about the musicians of Bremen having reminded of it by a statue at a children’s park in Fuerth. Click here in case you want to read it.

Was able to visit this northern German city a while back and as most of Germany, it is spotless.





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Travel Accessories

Efficient Styling on the Go with Convenient hair-dryers for Travelling

By on February 23, 2017

People who often travel as part of their job or those who simply love to travel a lot can still look their best even while on the move. A small and lightweight pack of their vanity essentials will ensure that beauty routines aren’t neglected during their trips. One such handy essential is a hair dryer that can help give your hair a salon finish look. Those who travel for business meetings can easily lose their crisp and professional look by sporting a damp and clingy hairstyle. Vacation goers may have more time to dry and style their hair as they please but this task can be painstaking without a hair dryer around. Here are some suggested hair dryer models that are convenient for travelling.

hair dryer

1.    Sedu Revolution Pro Ionic Dual Voltage Travel Dryer. This handy dryer weighs only 1lb but it can dry your hair faster than other travel sized dryers. It is also a versatile tool that offers multiple speed and heat options, dual voltage, and cool shot options. Travelers can also bring along the detachable concentrator nozzle for easier styling. There is no problem with fitting them together in the suitcase as this Sedu Travel Dryer model has a foldable handle and a clean, compact and travel ready design.

T3 Featherweight

2.    T3 Featherweight Journey Hair Dryer. This is a favored model for those who prefer the conveniences of a standard sized dryer in a smaller version. It features 2 speed/heat buttons, foldable handle, dual voltage capacity and accessories to boot. These include a concentrator attachment, Velcro cord wrap and travel bag that makes packing easier.

3.    Conair Power of Pink MiniPRO Tourmaline Ceramic Styler. More than just a compact hair dryer, this tool comes with attachments that allow users to style their hair while on the go. It has a 2 speed/heat setting, dual voltage, removable concentrator and diffuser, and a storage pouch. This dryer comes in a sleek and feminine look with its metallic pink body and white cord. Aside from being a stylish travel tool, the Power of Pink MiniPRO also supports the Breast Cancer Research Foundation through the $1.00 donation from Conair for every purchase of this model.

A travel hair dryer may be a necessity for some but not for all. However, one cannot deny that these tools are handy for travel. There are plenty of compact hair dryers that can fit anybody’s travel needs. So far, these three are some of the popular options in different price ranges. Travelers simply have to decide on how much they want to invest in their travel hair dryer while considering their hair styling needs during travels. With plenty of good options around, they will definitely find their match easily.

tousled haird, wind-blown hair
image via http://weheartit.com, hair-dryer

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Cruises | Winter Travel

Winter Get-Away Cruise Destinations

By on January 20, 2017

Vacations, road trips, and cruise holidays are popular during the summer season. Most people are used to the idea that summers are the best time to spend a holiday. But those who have experienced the cold and wet winter weather in the UK may want to re-consider their holiday schedules. Instead of cruising during the summer why not explore exciting destinations during the winter season. This way you can escape the dull winter weather and exchange it with warm and sunny ones. Here are some nice spots where one can cruise around and get away from the bleak winter weather of the  UK.

When it comes to beach island holidays the Caribbean is often among the top of the tourists’ list. These islands are perfect for cruises because of the cultural diversity among the different islands. One can simply visit one island after another and enjoy a unique island experience in each of them. However, there are also things that are common in all of the Caribbean Islands and those are the beautiful and clear waters, sandy beaches and lots of sunshine.

puerto rico
Puerto Rican shores

Near the Caribbean is another great destination, The Mexican Coast. This place is ideal for those who to mix beach frolics with an active night life. You can spend a quiet time in the beach or engage in some water activities like diving and snorkeling by day, then spend the nights partying with the bands, dancing in bars or restaurants, and soaking-in their margaritas.

Those who would like more than just the sun and the sand can put Egypt in their list of cruise destinations. UK residents can reach it through a short flight, and they can have a long list of sites that they can visit during their trip. Aside from water adventures, a cruise to Egypt also offer some shore excursions that takes tourists to iconic sights like the Great Pyramids and the ancient tombs.

Nile River (image via http://i3.mirror.co.uk)

Not everyone who wants an escape from UKs winter weather would automatically go for sunny destinations. Some would simply like to make their environment more interesting or colorful. There are also great destinations that have cold weathers too, one is Scandinavia.

Those who would like to explore the Arctic region during winter can book a Scandinavian Cruise where they can have a good chance of seeing the Northern Lights or Aurora. They may also enjoy a hike in the fjord or view Arctic animals in their natural habitats.

There is no need to spend your winters sipping hot tea or keeping yourself indoors to stay warm when you have the option to get out and enjoy great cruise options. With plenty of choices available, one is sure to find a winter get-away cruise that would fit their needs.

(image via http://www.cruisenation.com)

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Travel Tips

Four Safety Travel Tips to Keep in Mind

By on November 30, 2016
milan, travel
Milan, September 2015


People travel for different reasons, for many though, travelling is their form of escape from boredom and the torture of everyday routine. There are people who have made travelling their way of life, but for most of us, we need travel to add dimension, excitement and adventure to our boring lives. When you travel and discover new sights or new places, you also discover new cultures and meet new people. You discover more about yourself and develop your character in ways you never thought it would. Yes travelling brings with it that heady, thrilling and addictive feeling, but when travelling you need to keep your wits around you.

A lot of things can happen while you’re miles away from home. It is very important that you are well prepared – mentally, emotionally and physically. Secure your travel fund and ensure that you have an emergency stash or plan B, C and D in case you run short of cash. Consider selling your unused stuff and gadget on a garage sale to add to your fund. Consider the length of your travel and your destination so that you can pack appropriate clothing or footwear. Be sure to bring enough clothing but leave some room for souvenirs too. Once you’ve reached your destination, never be neglectful. Here are some safety travel tips to keep in mind.

Blend in
Avoid being too flashy and attract unwanted attention from a city you hardly know. Travelling to a new place is not the time to display your Rolex and jewelries. Keep it low and prevent any criminalities from coming to you by blending in and keeping the ostentatious display off for now.

Tallin, travel
Tallin, Estonia, November 2015

Eyes on Your Bags
Leaving your stuff alone while dining out in a restaurant or in a terminal is a big no-no for tourists and travelers. Keep your bags on your lap or sling the strap around your leg. If you need some shut-eye while waiting for your flight, use those snap on straps to keep your bags close to your body so that nobody will have easy access to it. Secure your gadgets such as your tablet, phones or laptops. Be realistic and avoid being too trusting – there are always people who might want to take your valuables to make money for it.

Separate and Spread Out
While travelling, it is ideal to divide your finances – money and credit cards in different wallets or pouches. Avoid putting your wallet in your jean’s rear pocket – your front pockets or on your jacket pocket is your best option.

Keep Copies of Your Documents
Be sure to keep a copy of your important documents such as your passport, ticket and others. You can have it scanned, printed or emailed to yourself so that you’ll have them handy in case of emergency.

Yes, it’s a jungle out there, but travel changes people – despite potential dangers on the road, people who travel become more compassionate, kinder, motivated and inspired. Just stay alert and be mindful of the culture, belief and practices on top of these safety travel tips to avoid any untoward incidents while travelling.

travel tips
image via http://delta.com

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Self-Pampering Vacations for Busy Bodies

By on May 20, 2016

People who adhere to busy schedules daily are often the same ones who lose their time for personal needs.  Maintaining a hectic schedule that juggles career and domestic responsibilities can have negative effects on a person’s health in the long run. A vacation with the whole family can be great, but one should also consider taking a personal break with the sole purpose of pampering one’s self. Read on for some Self-Pampering Vacation Ideas to reward yourself for all your hard work.

sell mobile phone
image via http://www.digitaltrends.com

Those who are concerned about personal vacation expenses can look into budget deals for an overnight stay at a Spa Resort or a weekend at the nearest Beach Resort. There is nothing like a warm bath and soothing massage to whisk away the stress of a busy week or month.  You can indulge in these treats and other relaxing activities like yoga or meditation classes that are offered in most resort spas.  People who are simply looking for some peace and quiet and some nice view of nature can book into a secluded beach resort and enjoy a book while lounging under the sun or take care of some personal tasks that they’ve been neglecting while sipping a Margarita. One of my friends even had time to look into phone upgrade options that she has been putting off for months. On top of that she also discovered that to sell mobile phone instead of simply disposing her old unit in the trash is worth it.

amanpulo, vacation
Amanpulo, Palawan, Philippines

The procedures for selling her old phone unit online were quite simple so she didn’t have any trouble arranging for it. At the end of her break, she was able to relax, accomplish a personal task in a breeze, and get additional funds that she can spend for her next pampering vacation.

These budget self-pampering breaks are important in taking care of one’s own well-being.  Enjoying a vacation doesn’t necessarily mean splurging on it.  Sometimes booking in a nice resort and enjoying all the amenities without any added cost, is the most restful vacation that one can ever have.

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Travel Tips | Uncategorized

Cultural Spots to Visit in Tel Aviv

By on December 19, 2014

The country of Israel is one of incredible beauty and rich cultural heritage. Tel Aviv epitomises this in a variety of ways, most of all through the number of historical sites it boasts – a dream for those with such interests.

With more than 2.5 million international visitors every year, and the second-largest economy in the Middle East, the popularity of this amazing city is constantly growing. People are excited about what it can offer – here, we provide a brief glimpse into some of the cultural spots you should visit.

The History of Tel Aviv Museum

Based in the first-ever municipality building of Tel Aviv, this museum showcases the last 100 years of an intriguing city. From the small suburb known as Jaffa to the vibrant, bustling and entrancing epicentre of culture it is today, this is the number one spot to visit if you’re interested in the origins of Tel Aviv.

The old mayor’s office, first occupied by Meir Dizengoff, has been restored after the building was shut down for a number of years, and visitors can enter to see the amazing views of Bialik Square. The architecture is all original, making a trip to the museum a genuine Tel Aviv experience.

Tel Aviv Museum of Art

The largest art museum in Israel is based in Tel Aviv, and it has been open since before the country itself even existed. It contains a host of incredible artwork from Israeli and international artists, of both impressionism and post-impressionism.
While many interesting exhibits come and go over time, there are works of a number of famous names that are based here permanently – such as Henri Moore, Picasso and Auguste Rodin. The new wing, which opened just three years ago, also has some notable architecture worth viewing.

The White City

Tel Aviv is home to the world’s biggest collection of Bauhaus-style buildings, with their colour earning the area in which they’re located the nickname of “The White City”. They were constructed in the 1920s and 1930s by Jewish people emigrating from Germany, and have been restored following its designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2003.

The intention of building these structures was to recreate the atmosphere of café-culture in Europe, but with a more modernist style. Today, the district has a fun atmosphere with restaurants and boutiques lining the streets.

Trumpeldor Cemetery

When visiting a city for the first time, most people’s idea of fun doesn’t generally involve paying a visit to the local cemetery. However, at Trumpeldor, you’ll find the resting places of a fascinating mixture of local celebrities including artists, politicians and other well-known individuals.

There are also a number of memorials of historical events, such as the 1921 Tel Aviv riots and the 1918 evacuation by the Ottomans. Overall it’s a fascinating insight into local history and the people that have inhabited this city.

Interested in booking a trip to Tel Aviv and visiting some of these locations? Contact Chic Collection for special offers.

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Health Vacations

Popular and Fast Rising Health Tourism Destinations

By on August 14, 2014


Spa resort, Thailand

Medical science has never been better. Innovative technologies and breakthroughs have almost made medical scientists “gods” with their abilities to prolong life, change gender, facilitate pregnancy, and more. The only factor that seems to limit one’s medical options and healthcare is the patient’s ability to pay for the cost of the procedure. With many countries’ direct efforts to resuscitate tourism in their country through health tourism, patients around the world are getting a shot at getting cheaper medical care. To be able to prepare well, a patient or medical tourist needs to know which health tourism destinations have the best medical service providers for their need.

If you have a serious medical condition or you simply want to enhance your physical attributes, you have many options. Here are some of the top health tourism destinations and contenders that deserve consideration.

India: It is shockingly cheap. Many Americans continue to be shocked by the low prices of medical care here. With its excellent facilities, it is dubbed as the “world’s premier medical destination” for the past 25 years. Almost half a million medical tourists come to India each year to receive medical care, particularly for cardiac and orthopedic procedures. Coming here help them save about 50 percent of the total cost if performed in the US.

Australia: The country is perceived as one of the most popular when it comes to aesthetic dental procedures. This, despite the fact that the cost of dental implants Melbourne is higher than in other parts of Australia (or the world, perhaps). It is quite understandable given that the procedure involves minor surgery, and the results are lasting. Dental implants offer a permanent solution to missing teeth, wherein a custom-made tooth (that looks like the real thing) is attached to an ‘anchor’ that has been surgically implanted into a person’s jawbone. So if you have missing tooth (or teeth) and want a foolproof solution that’s almost the same as the real stuff, go to Melbourne, Australia for dental implants.

Thailand: A reputable leader in elective surgery and first-rate medical infrastructure. This destination has been serving international medical tourists for over a decade now. It boasts of its UK and America-trained health professionals. It is associated with the leading and largest unified hospital group in South East Asia known as the Bangkok Hospital Group.

In Mexico…

Mexico: It is right there in the backyard. Due to its proximity to US and Canada, Mexico is a preferred destination for many medical tourists from these two affluent nations especially for dental and cosmetic procedures. About 150,000 to 500,000 medical tourists come here yearly to take advantage of savings estimated to be between 50 and 75 percent.

Costa Rica: It is WHO-recognized for quality healthcare. It even ranks higher than US, but cheaper. So what is to stop Americans, Canadians and other rich neighbors from accessing medical care from this country? Approximately 15 percent of the tourists coming here take advantage of its cosmetic and dental care that is 50 to 70 percent cheaper than in the US.

Malaysia: It has a special burn treatment center and cheap health packages. Among the well-known low-cost health packages that includes a battery of tests – blood chemistry, chest X-ray, bone density scan and treadmill test – are the so-called “well-man” and “well-woman” packages. This merely costs about $340 that is very different from the usual $2,500 in the US.

Singapore: WHO’s best health care system in Asia and the 6th in the world. The Biopolis, a biotechnology research center, has a stem cell bank. Singapore has liberal laws on the use of human embryonic cells for research and treatments. It’s a world-famous destination for a whole range of medical procedures such as cardiology and cardiac surgery, hepatology, orthopedics, neurology, oncology, gastroenterology, ophthalmology, and of course, stem cell therapy.

Hungary: The country with the “most number of dentists per capita than any other country”. These dentist are found all over the country which is why medical tourists from all over Europe are coming here for major dental care, full-mouth restorations and implants, and cosmetic oral surgeries. Hungary is also well remembered for its mineral springs, baths, and spas.

You’ll notice that most of these leading and fast-rising health tourism destinations are not just luring medical tourists because of the less expensive life-saving and elective medical procedures. These places are also great vacation places that offer patients great and cheaper ways to recuperate. The meaning of health or medical tourism truly comes to life in these destinations.


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Venice Revisited

By on May 20, 2014


italy-austria border
By the border of Italy and Austria at dawn.

Visiting any city in Italy means going the scenic route. No matter how many hours that route would be, 5, 7 or 9, it’s a surefire beautiful and awesome opportunity to take drive by shots. It means even waking up as early as 5 in the morning while on board the night train to catch a glimpse of dawn is so worth it.

It has been six years ago since I last set foot on Venice. Then and there I have loved it and knew that coming back would be a very welcome option. Despite the fact that I would walk for hours wouldn’t deter me to explore this floating city…and, it’s exercise, too! Going up on the bridges, up and down, getting lost here and there would surely make one lose calories! Except, of course, if one eats pizza the whole time! ^_^ Here are some of the many beautiful things we saw in Venice, probably you’ll get some tips when you go for a vacation.

venice island 1
Drive by, an island seen from the train.

We got to the main Venice island shortly after 8 in the morning, yes, we took the night train which left Vienna close to 9 o’clock the previous night. We got to sleep on the train’s beds! 😀

We soaked in the smell of this Italian city, the sun barely shining yet, the scenery that welcomes tourists getting ready for a lot of walking. Of course, I sat, wonder and do what I love most, take photos of whatever I could. This trip was to actually rendezvous with H’s highschool friend whom he had not seen since…graduation.

Vaporeto passing by…

 The city of bridges is still as pretty as I remember, probably much colorful this time! It was still spring so the cold and blue skies were a perfect tandem to enjoy the long walks. The shade provided by the colorful buildings are a refuge when the sun gets a bit too hot. Or, one can actually cool down with a cone or cup of gelato that every Italian city offers on every corner! You just have to pick the best one! Yes, no matter what time of the day, a gelato is perfect to make you feel better! 😉

Gelato Panna cotta

Our quest started then and there, conquering bridges, stone and wood…we went left then right, between stores to open plazas . We’ve met people going back, going ahead, selling stuff, performing with their instruments or simply singing their hearts out.

bridge, city of bridges
Wooden bridge
venice bridge
Stone bridge

While I boast of having a good memory, I seem to not remember seeing love locks on any bridge 6 years prior. This time though, the Ponte dell’ Academia have a number of them already. It would be interesting to know how this would fare, and here’s hoping it won’t fall from all the weight accumulated  by the locks. Remind me which city did such happen? Paris?

love locks
Love locks at Ponte dell’ Academia

Brunch was toast, pizza and a handful more italian delicacies under the Campanile at Piazza San Marco (featured on my food blog). The danger of dining al fresco is obviously being bombarded by pigeon droppings, good thing we never got any. 😀 There was a huge crowd (like always) at the plaza, probably because there was a mass being held at St. Mark’s Basilica (to which the bell tower belongs to).


Venetian experience won’t be complete without riding a gondola, despite it being a bit expensive than the usual fare. (That’s 80€ for half an hour). There are of course, water taxis, waterbuses or vaporettos you can take  to go around Venice. It would cost 7€ one-way for an adult and the same amount for children on a roundtrip, the tickets are valid 1 hour after validation. Note also that kids under 6 are free.

Gondola’s front tip
gondoleros, venice
Gondoleros at the Grand Canal

The highlight, probably, of every walking visitor in Venice is the Ponte di Rialto. It is the oldest bridge across the Grand canal, one of only four in the said canal. While there are a lot of shops on the bridge itself, both sides are open for people to walk about, gawk at and probably spend many hours wondering what if they actually find true love then and there. Uuugggghhh, sorry just got carried away.

rialto bridge
Rialto bridge

The bridge is truly a busy site…and sight. Like in any other italian city, there are those selling imitation bags and whatnots. They’d go scrambling when the Carabinieri comes by. It’s amusing to watch. 😀

While there, don’t forget to grab some murano beads, masks (they’re really neat) and what other souvenirs the colorful City of Waters offer its consumers.

tables out
Tables out, pizza time!

So finding some quiet streets and a good place to eat is not hard to do in Venice. Fresh produce, like below, is abundant and that goes well with your pasta and wine! I’m not sure what the rule of thumb is when dining in Venice but I suggest to try the restaurants  far from the Grand Canal as the ones there might cost much higher. (It must be the view!)

Fresh catch

Tired yet? Nah, with a beautiful backdrop of the sun, you can forget how far you’ve walked for 10 hours and just go on. And I haven’t started about the night landscape yet! 🙂 I would do that soon along with the musicians I’ve recorded and other details I could share.

In conclusion, I’d like to reiterate that Venice is so worth being listed as a World Heritage Site, along with its lagoon. Its colorful history and buildings will make you fall in love and wanting to come back all-over again, no matter if it’s summer, spring or fall.

venice, water transport

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