City Girl Travels to Italy

I’ll be traveling to the Veneto and Emilia-Romagna for 40 days this fall! I will be blogging and vlogging about it, so if you want insider tips on European travel, click the follow button on the right. Also, follow my Instagram @countryboy_citygirl

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I thought I might use this post to share my travel experience with you, so you know I didn’t fall off a cabbage truck yesterday. I have a lot of experiences and tips to share. Really, what good is all this knowledge if it’s not shared?

Traveling for me began early as it was a vital part of my schooling and job. In both undergrad and graduate school I interned for the USDA and traveled to conferences all over the US and Territories for recruitment and research presentations. Once I started working (in the middle of nowhere) full time after grad school, I traveled monthly for training, meetings, or shopping. I’ve been to almost every state in the Union and to several of our Territories. I have visited both Canada and Mexico for extended periods of time. I’ve also traveled extensively in the Caribbean, Central America, and Europe. I’m a complete Italophile, so since about 2006 I try to get to Italy every other year.

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Traveling monthly for work (for the past 17 years, especially the years I traveled for two weeks of every month) I got really good at carry-on packing and perfected my travel routine. I recommend that anyone looking to travel develop their routine. Mine, for example, consisted of my using preferred airline/ hotel/ car rental agencies rewards programs for ease and perks. Using TSA pre-check was an integral part of my routine because it got me through security super fast. Have your travel outfit planned for both comfort and style in case there is a delay.

Travel Routine

  • Travel Apps: I use the TripCase app to save all reservations and itineraries. You just forward the reservation emails to them and they do all the work. Use your airline app as they notify you immediately if there is a change. Same with car rental and hotel. I also use the Uber app.
  • Earn $$: Pay for your travel and related items with a credit card offering cashback or miles. I’ve used (Capital One) Quicksilver and Venture, and I prefer Quicksilver.
  • First class treatment: Enroll in TSA pre-check to get ahead of the line. If you travel often in the US it’s worth it. Make sure to enroll with your airline as well or you might get snubbed.
  • Choose wisely: Choose a hotel chain and car rental agency with locations EVERYWHERE (I use Hertz and prefer Marriott over Hilton but have rewards cards with both). Another thing to remember when choosing is how important a free breakfast will be. It can really help your budget to choose a hotel like Hilton’s Hampton Inn. They have eggs and bacon 🙂
  • Skip the lines: Booking ahead and using your hotel and car chain apps make it a breeze to check in remotely. With Hertz, I have my car with keys in it waiting for me when I arrive, as they text me the stall number. I just get in and go. With Marriott I check in from my phone and use a Mobile Key to go straight to my room, skipping the check in line entirely. I use UBER as much as possible (some airports don’t allow it) so I don’t have to wait for a taxi in the line at their airport.
  • Dress for success: Proper outfit + crossbody bag + tote bag + carry-on luggage = success. I usually wear flats & sock liners, leggings, and a tunic. I take a huge scarf that doubles as a jacket and blanket. I wear a crossbody bag that fits in my tote so I only have two items when I walk past the ticket counter. I carry-on to avoid delays waiting for my bag. In my tote I carry rosewater spray, sleep mask, empty water bottle, tablet, charger, and snacks (yes you can bring food through security). No matter what happens, I’m ready.

See you in Italy. xo

I’ll be using #CBCGblog and #CityGirlTravels to tag my posts on traveling well in the future. Search for them on Google, Instagram, or Facebook.

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Airport Travel Tips

 

 

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Early morning airport travel tips:

  • Only take what you can easily carry yourself.
  • Never sit near a trash can in the airport.
  • Always wear shoes with socks.
  • Have one place where you keep your phone, wallet, and boarding passes and always put them there. Ideally, strap your wallet to your purse so it’s never left behind.
  • Count the outerwear pieces you are wearing/carrying at every checkpoint and in getting on/off the plane and always reach the same number (for instance: 1) Jacket, 2) scarf, 3) bag, 4) purse.
  • Carry your own water bottle rather than buy bottled water.
  • Be nicer than necessary or expected.
  • Look for ways to help fellow travelers; for instance, if the woman walking out of the restroom in front of you has inadvertently tucked the back of her dress into her pantyhose, let her know. Hypothetically, of course.
  • Sit near an electrical outlet in the gate area with a small multiple outlet surge protector and offer slots to fellow travelers if you see them hunting for a place to plug in.
  • Say thank you to airport employees who started work at 3am to provide you with coffee and chewing gum.

Thus ends this edition. I’m paying it forward for Patti Digh.

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Las Cruces, NM to Phoenix, AZ

We left Las Cruces, NM pretty early so we could get into town, check in, change, and go to the Mid-Week Meeting in Phoenix this evening (Hebrews 10:23, 24). 

On this portion of I-10 we drove through dust storm warning areas. 


We passed the Mae West Peaks and saw some awesome rock formations. 


We also drove through Tucson and admired the surrounding peaks 

When we passed the Saguaro National Park I made a literal note to go back and explore there soon. 

It was so serene. 

During this drive we found out where truck stop coffee comes from… a tanker. That would explain the bitterness. 

We beat rush hour and checked in to the Ramada in Glendale, on the north side of Phoenix (see review warning/notes below). 

Meeting with the Bellair Congregation was lovely. Their Hall is beautiful and the people were very warm. We met a family who just came back from the North Rim and they gave us tips on what to see at the Grand Canyon. 

I would NOT recommend the Ramada in Glendale, Arizona:

  • Very sketchy people in the parking lots at all hours of the day and night. 
  • Non smoking rooms reeking of smoke. 
  • Huge stains in the carpet. 

Tomorrow we head to the Grand Canyon!!

Spying Out Venice, Italy

We will be in Italy this fall attending an English congregation about an hour from Venice. Here is some info about La Serenissima.

 

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Venice (Venezia) is in Northeast Italy

 

 

This post is from Gracia’s Travels blog. See link at bottom of post.

 

We had an overnight in Venice before we boarded our ship.  We had no agenda for this visit…just wander the streets and alleys.  Since we had been to Venice before, we tried to visit some of the more far off corners of the island.  Every turn brought a photo opp.  The weather was overcast and threatened to sprinkle but, having no heavy shadows, was good for pictures.

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DSC02378 C Basilica San Marco  DSC02380 C Campanile

DSC02382 C  DSC02385 C San Georgio Maggiore

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DSC02563 C    I have another 130 pictures of Venice.

But I don’t want to wear you out.  Next, we board the ship and set sail for Dubrovnik.

 

Read more from Gracia’s Travels at https://graciamc.wordpress.com/2015/03/14/venice-hard-to-take-a-bad-picture-here/

 

 

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Venice is in the Veneto Region

 

Spying Out Ferrara, Italy

We will be doing need greater work in this area in the fall. Just wanted to document some sights to see and things to do while we are there.

 

 

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Location of Ferrara in Italy

The following was written by the blogger at Gracia’s Travels. See link at bottom of page.

 

Ferrara was another day trip from Bologna.  It’s a larger city and the Old Town sites here are more spread out than in Ravenna.  And as the old saying goes … timing is everything.  Several sites were closed when their signs said they were open, and some sites had limited hours.  So, we walked quite a bit farther and had to do some backtracking.

Castello Estense, built in 1385, is in the center of town.

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Much of the castle is now used as government offices but the royal suites are open to visitors.  The rooms are empty but the ceilings make up for that.

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The orangery overlooked the moat and a market that was set up in front of a castle entrance.

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A pleasant walk from the castle brought us to Palazzo Schifanoia, built in 1385.  Frescos from 1470 depict the months, seasons and signs of the zodiac.

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Our guide book noted that these frescos are unusually unreligious in tone and the only ones of their type in Italy.  One room had this ornate ceiling.

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We walked down Via Volte through what was once the Jewish ghetto (1627 –1859).

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As in other Ghettos, because so many people were packed into a small area, residents added more space by adding rooms that span the narrow lanes.

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DSC02232 C Piazza Cattedrale

We made our way back to the center of town to the Piazza Cathedral…

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and went into the 12th century Duomo.

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The Cathedral faces Palazzo Municipal which is linked to the castle. It was the home of the Este family until they built the castle and moved next door.

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The 15th century Palazzo dei Diamanti was starred in our guide book so we walked north a 1/2 mile to find it closed, although the sign said it should be open.   It houses an art museum which would have been interesting but at least we could see how the building got its name … the façade is covered with spiky diamond shaped stones.

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The photos are deceptive.  It’s a very large building.  Notice Will in the doorway.

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There was a pretty park across the street.

On our walk back to the train station we passed through a part of the old city walls.

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DSC02279 C    There is a lot to see in Ferrara.

We would have run out of time if all the sites had been open.

Next stop, Venice.

 

See this post on their blog at https://graciamc.wordpress.com/2015/03/01/a-day-in-ferrara-italy/

 

 

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Ferrara is in the Emilia Romagna Region