Italy: Day 6 Venice

On our last full day in Italy and mom and I got up early to meet a friend. I have a Facebook friend, Anahid, who lives about an hour away by train from Venice. She was sending her kids off to school before coming in with her youngest.

Meeting international book buddies

She had claimed her English wasn’t good, but she spoke it amazingly well. Much better than my Italian! It was fun walking the streets, having my own personal translator, browsing the shops, and talking about everything from kids to books. A stroller in Venice is an experience, as almost all of the bridges have stairs. I got quite the arm workout!

When it was time for her to go home, I went with her to the train station. We ate lunch and sat, discussing books, until her train arrived. I’m so glad we were able to meet in person!

When I went back to the hotel, we hit the alleys again for more souvenir shopping. Tony found a t-shirt, I finally found a scarf I loved, and we found a mask shop. The shop was amazing, we were able to see them painting masks while we were browsing and they were all so beautiful. Mom, Tony, Chiara, and I all picked out a mask and had them bubble wrapped to survive the trip home. Tony and I went off on our own to wander. We sat by the canal for a while and were a little disappointed by the garbage in the canal. The sight that had us laughing was a condom floating in the water. Of course we got lost on our way back to the hotel, but we found a Lego gondola that we knew Arthur had to have!

Once back to the hotel, we packed up aand checked out. Our flight was leaving at 6am, you’re supposed to be at the airport 2 hours before international flights, and with the water buses schedule, we needed to be there the night before.

Riding the water bus

It was an hour and a half boat ride to the airport, and we played on our electronics after spending the first little while enjoying Venice at night.

Venice at night

We arrived at the Venice airport, possibly the smallest airport I’ve ever been to, and made ourselves as comfortable as possible till morning.

Italy: Day 4 Pisa

We let ourselves sleep in a bit this morning. Around 8am we were up, showered, and made our way down to have breakfast. I had my first Italian cappuccino, which was amazing. I ended up having two of them before we left for the train station.

We were on our own schedule today. Nothing pre-booked, just plans to go to Pisa. Mom and Josh went to the post office to mail home some souveirs, while the rest of us wandered the shops near the train station. We met up at the station and managed the ticket machine, then found our way onto the train around 10. Bit of a bummer for this hour ride, as we were standing or sitting on the stairs until just before we got there.

We ate a lunch at McDonald’s when we arrived, then made the 20 minute walk to the tower. Seeing it for the first time, I felt a bit like a kid. Here is something I’ve always seen in pictures, seen the goofy tourist photos, and have always wanted to see for myself! We bought our tickets to climb the tower, and had a few hours before our time slot.

Josh had a picture idea using his gelato

Somehow we got separated from Tony and Josh, so I left mom and the kids sitting in the shade while I looked around the grounds for them. This was the only awkward part of vacation, only mom and I had set our phones up for international. Josh did after this, but I did find them near the cathedral. We got mom and the kids, then took a tour through the cathedral. I didn’t see one ugly church in Italy. Some overly decorated ones yes, but nothing ugly! We found another angle to take some more pictures too!

Tony’s idea for a picture was my favorite

Our turn to climb the tower came, so we stored all our stuff in lockers, no extras can go with you, and we started climbing. This was a head trip! Walking up didn’t always feel like up. When going in to the lean, it actually felt like going down, and out of the lean was like the steepest stairs of your life!

Mom and Chiara at the top

Chiara was hilarious. Once we got to the top, a bit ahead of mom, Chiara was waiting for Nana to get there. An older Chinese lady came around the last turn, and Chiara put both hands in the air and said loudly, “Welcome to the top!” The lady started smiling and laughing, asking while pointing at Chiara, “I take picture?” So Chiara is in someone else’s vacation pictures, and I’m sure she’s referenced as “the sweet, funny American girl”

Down the stairs was another experience. Downstairs should always be fairly easy, yes? No! While walking out of the lean, downstairs felt like you were falling backwards and going up. Tony was last coming down, mainly because we were both staying with Chiara. She had hands on both walls and was taking her time. A fun experience for all of us!

Souvenir shopping of course, and Tony was very happy with his leaning shot glass. Chiara found herself a hat she loves, it has leaning towers all over it. We slowly made our way back to the train station, bought tickets, and luckily had seats for the return trip. Our legs were done after the stairs!

We found a restaurant in Florence, on our way back to the hotel. Probably the priciest place we ate the whole trip. Very good, and I was proud that I was able to order my meal speaking Italian. Mom on the other hand told the waiter “merci” when he brought her food. They did have my favorite wine the whole trip though!

Back to the hotel, where we packed as much as we could. We wanted to sleep in as long as possible before our train to Venice the next day.

Geocaching: Souvenirs

image

This is another pointless, and yet freakishly satisfying, part of Geocaching. As I said before, there are a lot of types of caches, in a lot of different places. On your main profile page on geocaching.com there is a link to your “Souvenirs”. That is where you will find all of your badges.

These souvenirs, or badges, are earned for several different things. First, and easiest I think, is to get state souvenirs. All you have to do is get a cache in a state and you get that souvenir. So far I’ve grabbed OH, NJ, SC, IN AND WV. Tony and I are trying to grab at least one cache in each state we pass through.

There is an International Geocaching Day badge above. Also an easy souvenir to get, but only available once a year! August 15th is International Geocaching Day and the only requirement to this souvenir is that you find and log any type of cache on August 15th. Easy peasy!

The rest of my souvenirs were from the “Road Trip 2015”. This was a list of badges that they made available, during specific dates. For instance, they wanted you to get an Earth Cache, you needed to get a D5 or T5, hardest to find and/or get to, attend a geo-event, find a cache with ten or more favorite points and find a mystery/puzzle cache. There was a very reasonable amount of time to find these caches, so don’t think you would need a week to get it all done at once.

The added bonus to doing the “Road Trip” is that once you complete the caches they required, you get the Road Trip souvenir. I was a little over excited about getting this souvenir!

Yes, they are just little digital stickers on your page. If you feel like spending the money, you can purchase the actual pins from the geocaching store, but it is strangely satisfying seeing the souvenirs that you’ve gotten. Try it and see!

Happy caching!

Ticket Stub Shadow Box

This is another of those pins that I’ve had on my board for a long time. I’m so happy it’s finally done! I’m a bit of a hoarder. Not in the tv show kind of way, but in the I don’t want to throw it away because it’s a memory kind of way. Movie tickets are one of my weaknesses! This amazing pin gave me the perfect way to hang on to them and keep them from turning to dust in a drawer.
To start, you need a shadow box that is an actual wood frame. I guess it doesn’t have to be wood, but it will make the cutting process easier if it is wood. Walmart has an 8×10 walnut shadowbox available right now for $9.87, but you can get whatever size and style suits you.

image

Then you need to dig out a dremel or a sharp knife. Tony handles the power tools in this house, so he took care of this part. You need to cut a slit that is 1 1/2″ – 2″ wide and 1/4″ thick. All I could think about while he was cutting is that it smelled like incense. The particular shadowbox that we used had a plastic spacer type thing to hold the glass in place, so Tony had to line it up and cut another slit in that. It did not smell as pleasant as the frame itself.

image

Then you need to find a background image that you like. If your shadowbox will be holding more sports ticket stubs, you may want a stadium background, but as mine was for movie tickets, I found a theater background. When I printed it, I gave it a washed out effect. I think it looks better, but that is a personal choice. I just used a glue stick to attach it to the back of the shadowbox.

image

I got my Cricut out to make some adhesive letters, but any letter stickers would work. I decided to put the letters on the glass so that they would remain visible, even after it’s full. The backdrop itself will slowly cease to be visible. You can spell out anything from “Admit One” to “Take Me Out To The Ballgame” depending on what kind of tickets you’ll be putting in.

image

Starts adding your tickets. Yes, those are tickets to Frozen Sing-a-Long, and it was a blast!

image

Finally, give your shadowbox a place of honor and keep adding to it. I still have a few more drawers I have to raid, after all, I’ve been collecting tickets since Star Wars Episode 1 was in theaters!
Could you use one of these in your life? Are you a collector of fun momentos like myself? Let me know what you think!