Our Maple Tree

Keeping up with The Maples


7 Comments

Passport to Italy: Venice Day One

Venice… the most beautiful city I have ever seen. There is no other city like it in all the world. The buildings, the canals, the bridges…. it is just breathtakingly beautiful. This city is an absolute dream. And yet, once you’re their, it’s hard not to see the reality of it, which is that Venice is overrun by tourism.

About 16 million people visit this city each year. I planned our trip in October, which is the off season, and when we arrived in Venice I was taken back by how many tourists their were. I felt like cattle moving through the city. People rubbing up against you, pushing you aside, somewhat unpleasant smells surround you – it wasn’t exactly how I pictured our time in Venice being.

But despite all the people, it wasn’t too difficult to lose the crowd and savor the city of Venice.

The 10 hour flight to Venice was well, long! Haha! It is difficult to sleep on a plane. Even more difficult when you are too excited to sleep! But Randy and I did what we could and got a few hours of sleep.

Our plane landed at 9:00 am (Italy time) which we then had to catch a boat ride, the vaporetto (which is like a city bus) to Venice itself. It was about a 30 minute boat ride for us. Luckily, our drop off was on the airport side of the island. Then we had to find our hotel. That was an adventure. It was fairly difficult to navigate in Venice, they don’t really have road signs and the ones they do have can be faded and hard to read. And we had all our luggage with us (backpacks mostly but they did get a little heavy after a little while).

We found the hotel, B&B Al Palazzetto, a bed and breakfast in a real Venetian home. The building dates back to the 1700’s and has very spacious, beautiful rooms. This was our rooms; it was huge!

rooms1_b

Me standing right outside our B&B. I love the wall in the background.

Venice 016

The yellow building on the right is our B&B. Just off a quiet canal just minutes from main attractions (depending on foot traffic of course).

Venice 002

The front door of our B&B. Isn’t it so charming? I love it!

Venice 014

Even though we were very tired we fought the urge to take a nap. According to Rick Steves, he says to stay awake all day to force yourself onto Italian time. So that is what we did.

I love how the buildings look like they are built on top of one another. See the mass of people on the right side?

Venice 004

The cool thing about Venice is that it is a spaghetti of narrow streets. You twist and turn through these narrows streets and you don’t really know where you are going because all you see are buildings and then all of a sudden you pop out onto a square with a beautiful church.

Venice 018

Venice 019

Venice 401

One thing they don’t tell you about Venice are all the different smells. When you walk over a bridge you will get a faint smell of the sea and then sometimes a sewer smell. Walking through the narrow streets you can smell trash and sewer. And if you are lucky you will find little doggie bombs. Obviously there is no grass in Venice so locals let their dogs do their business in the streets and they do not clean up after them. It is not pleasant. Remember to watch where you step when you are Venice. In the touristy areas it smells like BO and cigarette smoke. Everyone in Italy smokes. I have never been around so much cigarette smoke before in all my life. The worst part is, is that you can’t escape it. The smoke stays trap in the throngs of people and the buildings you are walking between. The smells are quite terrible in Venice, but sometimes when you are walking with the crowd (or being jostled by the crowd more like it) you can get the most tantalizing smell of fresh baked pastries. And you stop and admire the delectable goodies in the window and take a deep breath.

Venice 017

For lunch we went off the beaten track and found a wine bar or Enoteca. These types of restaurants serve a great selection of wines and small sandwiches and finger foods, all at a decent price. You usually go up to the bar, order what you want and stand at the bar and enjoy your meal. Or you can get it to go (wine in a Dixie cup for those of you wondering – and yes, they are allowed to drink wine during their work day and yes they are allowed to drink in the streets).

Venice 404

This is what our lunch looked like. Crostinis, paninis and local wine.

Venice 402

Venice 407

Venice 408

We walked all over Venice. We like this little street. So little!

Venice 009

At about 5pm we decided to eat dinner. We stopped at a Pizzeria.

Venice 010

It was a lot of fun to watch them make our pizza.

Venice 012

First pizza of our trip.

Venice 013

At this point we had been up for about 36 hours. We were worn out and couldn’t stay awake any longer. We walked over 20,000 steps this day, which is 10 miles. We got to bed at 6:30 pm that night.

Stay tune for day two in Venice!


Leave a comment

Impatiently Waiting

Randy and I have been extremely busy this past week! It has been hard to get here and write a quick blog. Sorry!

Our trip is only 3 days away! I know right!! I can’t believe it myself! We are so excited that we can hardly contain ourselves!

You would think that after almost 2 years of planning that we would have everything together and ready to go by now. That is simply not the case, unfortunately. I mean, we don’t have a lot to do and the things we have to do are things we can’t do until last minute. But our “To Do” list is rather large. Like clean the house, take out the trash, clean out the fridge, etc. But it feels a little stressful around the house right now. Our house has looked a little bit like this:

PACKING

And this:

MAPS

And I am sure that my co-workers hate me now because of my desktop.

counter

Yes, I have a live counter on my desktop until we leave for Italy! Sad I know! But I am just so dang excited!

We have had some down time. For instance, I finally decorated my front porch for fall. It took me too long to get that done! I usually have all my fall decorating complete before October even starts!

FALL DECOR

The rest of the house is a different story! But at least the porch is complete! I love the blue-gray pumpkins on the left! I found those at our Ingles grocery store of all places.

And Monday was my 10,000 day birthday! My husband has mad math skills. He found out that I was going to be 10,000 days old young on October 7 this year. It turns out that you only get about 3 of these in your life, 4 if you are lucky! So we celebrated a little bit. You must celebrate the small stuff, right?!

We found a s’mores cake at the grocery store. Woot woot!

CAKE

And we paired it with wine of course!

CAKE AND WINE

It was delicious! You know how much I love s’mores and pumpkin. Best flavors in the entire universe!

US AND CAKE

So this will probably be the last post for a little while for us. I would like to write a couple of times while we are in Italy, but we will see. If not, then I will have tons of posts to write when we get back! I can not wait to share our memories and photos with everyone! Be prepared to be bombarded with Italy awesomeness soon!

Happy Hump Day everyone! See you in Italy! Ciao!


Leave a comment

Our Weekend of Awesome!

Randy and I had one of the greatest weekends ever! To explain our weekend, I will need to give you a little back story.

I became a board member for the Blue Ridge Humane Society in January. This is the first time I have ever done anything like this. Randy and I were involved in the Rising Leaders program through United Way last year and that is how I met the board director of the humane society. They interviewed me and offered me a position on the board. So that is the story of how I became a board member.

Now, moving on. Every year the Blue Ridge Humane Society has one big fundraising event called Wags to Riches. It is a big deal – it is basically a gala. There is dinner, music, dancing, wine, auction items and black tie optional dress! I have been looking forward to this event all year long! I look for reasons to dress up!

So to start my day, I had a “spa day” (so to speak) with my dog. She got groomed and I got a mani/pedi. Tesla isn’t very happy in this photo. I was forcing her to sit with me to take this. And they actually spelled and pronounced my name right at Starbucks! Does that mean I go there too often? Nah! 🙂

spadaycollage

On to the gala! The event took place at the Hendersonville Country Club. There was food, wine, a live band, dancing, silent auctions, an ice sculpture, etc.

DSC_4480

DSC_4515

everyone collage

And Randy and I dressed for the occasion!

me and randy at gala

I got to wear my wedding dress! 🙂 How many times can a girl wear her wedding gown, right?!

jama collage

Isn’t my husband so handsome?! I am one lucky girl!

randy collage

I love how he tied his tie! It is called elder something… but that is not important! Look how awesome it is!

tie

We had a good amount of auction items at this event, but the big ticket item of the night was a vintage diamond ring! The ring was raffled off. We were only selling 100 tickets at $20 a piece to win this ring. Now my job for the evening was to wear. the. ring. all. night!  I know, right?! It was definitely the best job ever! You can see my astonishment here.  So it was basically my job to sell as many tickets as I could.

me and the ring

It was a lot of fun! But the best part was I got to wear that ring! And you bet I bought tickets (two actually)!

So the time came to draw the lucky winner of the ring. And you are not going to guess who won the ring!?!?!

I DID!!!!

I can’t believe it myself. Here is me finding out that I won the ring!

DSC_4499

ticket win collage

Now there were no shenanigans going on. It was an honest to goodness luck of the draw. There was no one more surprise than me!

But wow… I actually won something awesome! I need to get it sized to fit a little better but I LOVE this ring!

ring

After that, the night went by in a blur; talking to guests, dancing and cleaning up afterwards. It was about midnight when we packed up and started home.

The night was a success! We raised money for our shelter and raised awareness in our community. It couldn’t have gone better!

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to eat anything all night! I was starved! The only thing opened at midnight in Hendersonville was Taco Bell.

me at taco bell

Note to self: You are no longer in college; therefore; you can no longer eat junk food at midnight. It leaves you major heartburn at 4 am and it is not pleasant!

So that was our wonderful night! It was so much fun and I look forward to it again next year!

Sunday we got up early for first service and afterwards met our dear friend for brunch. Erica was visiting from Colorado! We miss her and her husband so much! I wish we could see them more often. But it was wonderful to see her!

erica pic collage

Isn’t she adorable!? I can’t wait to meet her sweet little girl in January! And yes… real women double fist ice-cream cones. Kilwins finally has their pumpkin ice-cream that I love so much! I will probably be stopping by every Sunday from here on out!

So that was our awesome weekend! Just 10 more days till Italy! And Happy Hump Day Ya’ll!