Everything I experienced my second day in Italy.

Second Day In Italy: Venice

The fun is only beginning!

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We wake up at about 8 AM, get on the water bus and head to the main island of Venice and head to St. Mark's Square.


St. Mark's SquareBrooke Burney


Our tour guide had scheduled a tour of Doge's Palace or Palazzo Ducale. Here, we met a local tour guide who gave us these devices, in which we would soon become familiar.


Waiting in line to enter Doge's PalaceBrooke Burney

They are radios that have a single headphone. The group wears them while the local guide speaks into a microphone which transmits through the radio so they don't have to yell over the other groups. Almost every other tour group that was there spoke another language, which was really interesting to listen to. But the Doge's Palace has immaculate architecture, incredible art pieces, and lots of history!


EntranceBrooke Burney


Courtyard of Doge's PalaceBrooke Burney


Complaint box Brooke Burney


Upper View of the courtyardBrooke Burney

One of my friends and I actually fell behind the group to take this picture as we wanted to see what was on the other side even though not many groups were going that way. Eventually, we decided that we were gone for too long so we had to run through tunnels and through an underground prison where we found the rest of our group.

After this tour, we walked through Venice, got on a boat and rode for thirty minutes to Murano. Here, we visited a glass shop. We watched a man make a vase and a glass horse while someone was telling us all about the art of glass blowing.


Murano Glass FactoryBrooke Burney


The whole thing took less than 20 minutes which was crazy to me. After the presentation, we perused in their shop. I was openly taking pictures of some of the works until one of the employees told me I couldn't. I don't want to post those pictures so here's a link if you want to look at some of their work.

After this, we went back to Venice where we had about three hours to eat and do whatever we wanted. Our tour guide suggested that we try squid ink pasta and I, adventurous as I am, had to try it.


Squid ink pastaBrooke Burney

It's actually way better than you'd think. It's kind of like chicken Alfredo but with bits of squid instead. After our few hours of leisure, we were to tour the St. Mark's Basilica. We were not allowed to take pictures but the inside of this church had almost, if not every, bible story painted on the walls and ceiling. Plus, the place where they hold mass is beautiful. It does not matter what religion you associate with, this church is a must-see. It's incredibly stunning.


St. Mark's Basilica Churchhttps://www.venetoinside.com/attraction-tickets-in...

After this tour, we finally got to ride the gondolas! The experience was incredible and completely worthwhile. Even though in the moment it didn't seem too exciting, it was totally worth it and I would do it again in a heartbeat.


Gondola dockBrooke Burney


In the canalBrooke Burney


In the canalBrooke Burney


The ride lasted about thirty minutes and the water was maybe three feet throughout the whole canal. Even though the Gondolas were everywhere, our tour guide took us to one of the prettiest routes. When we were finished, we had time to explore, so me and the three girls walked around where we got off the gondola which was about a mile from St. Mark's square. We looped around to a water bus dock which happened to be the one closest to St. Mary's Hospital which was built during the black plague.


St. Mary's HospitalBrooke Burney

When we got back to St. Mark's Square, we shopped around before we found a man who was feeding pigeons. Three out of four of us had gone to France four years prior and we HAD to reenact some pigeon pictures.


France, 2015Debbie Burney



Italy, 2018Karstin Allsup


By this time, it was about 7 pm so we met as a group and went to dinner. Afterwards, we went back to our hotel and our tour guide had told us that there was a beach down the street of our hotel. We had to walk across the island to get there but it was a straight shot. Even though it was dark at this point, we still wanted to put our feet in the water!

And tomorrow, Florence!

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Think Before You Click

The trap of social affirmation and our actual selves.
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Social media plays a huge part in each of our daily lives.

Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, you name it; they are ubiquitous across the world. From Barcelona to Bombay, anyone with a smartphone has an account on one (or more) of the above. And they’re great tools for connecting with people and for sharing thoughts, ideas, and pictures.

The problem with social media is that it can all too easily consume you. That may be putting it a little dramatically, but what I’m trying to say is problems arise when the goal, or purpose, of experiencing life becomes sharing, tweeting or posting.

Let me give you an example. I have a friend who recently traveled all throughout Europe. Wherever he went, from Paris to Austria, he Instagrammed his journey. It was great being able to follow him and share in his experiences. It was cool to see the monuments and attractions from just one degree of separation. But what wasn’t cool was what he told me during one of our Skype conversations when I asked him how he managed to post so much: “Yeah man, I always try to duck into a McDonalds somewhere to get some Wi-Fi ya know. And you got to find a hotel with it too, cant live without the net bro."

I mean, really? Here he was, traveling to some of the most beautiful parts of the world, having adventures most people will only experience once, if ever, in their lifetimes, and he was worried about Wi-Fi and checking his like count? I was appalled.

Now, I know this is an extreme example, but it got me thinking. How much of what I do online, what I post, what I share, is actually the real me? We all have that other side, the social media persona who only eats the greatest food, sees the coolest sights, and has the best of times. Online Abhi doesn’t struggle with missing his family, he doesn’t workout for hours to burn that terrific meal he just ate, he doesn’t get stressed about impending due dates or deadlines. He just always seems… well, perfect. But that’s not me, and if you were to just look at my online presence it would be quite a skewed image of the man I truly am.

This isn’t an attack on social media. It’s just... a thought. Why don’t we all, or at least most of us, take less time to think about what we can share and rather focus on going out, doing and enjoying things. When you’re truly having fun your mind is far from any thoughts of likes or comments. The "old" saying rings true -- if you have time to post about something while you’re in the middle of it, there’s no way that thing was really that special.

So next time you post something, just think, is it for some type of social affirmation or truly because you have something to offer the world? Let the answer guide your click.

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5 Vital And Helpful Tips I Live By When Packing For A Trip

Try and pack smarter, not harder.

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If you are anything like me, you tend to overpack thinking you are being a great packer and being ready for any scenario that life may throw at you. Well, that is, unfortunately untrue, and I have learned that you are only doing more harm than good. Over the years, I have come up with five tips I always use when traveling and have been proven to work. You've heard of the five golden rules of life, and, well, these are the five golden rules/tips of packing.


1. Start with a packing list.

This is the best tip I could give to anyone else who is getting ready to travel. Making a list is very useful, especially when stressed about your travel. You will not forget anything because you have it all written down. A packing list is a great way to keep organized when packing.

2. Use space bags.

Now, this is a tip my dad lives by. Space bags are great when you are packing because it protects your clothes and makes room to put a lot in your suitcase. The crazy story of a time when my dad was traveling, and his friend's bag was soaked with the shampoo he brought on the plane. All his clothes and everything inside the suitcase was ruined. So always use space bags because you never know what could happen on the flight. You can buy a space bag here.

3. Pack the essentials first.

I will be honest and say that I do over-pack a lot. I use the line "just in case" as an excuse to pack my entire house. But I have learned that packing for "just in case" is a waste of time. When you first sit down to pack, lay out all your essentials. For example, clothes that you will wear during the trip. You will be surprised to see how effective it is.

SEE ALSO: 10 Reasons Chicago Is The Best City In The World

4. ALWAYS pack an extra outfit in your carry on.

This tip is one that I have been very grateful that I used. A while ago during my trip to Canada, my check-in bag was missing and delayed for multiple hours. Luckily I had an extra outfit to keep me fresh and not feel gross. It is always crucial to this in your carry on In case of emergencies such as your bag getting lost.

5. Put identification on your suitcase.

Everyone in the airport somehow tends to have the same black or red suitcase that you have, which only means confusing when you're trying to find your check-in bag. To quickly identify your suitcase, put a sticker, or tie a ribbon on the handle. You can easily pick up your suitcase and leave. This will prevent any sneaky people trying to steal or claim that your suitcase is theirs.

P.S.: Use a bright color ribbon or a different sticker. Also, tie the ribbon properly to make sure it's secured.


I live by these five packing tips every time I travel so I hope you can use them the next time you take a trip!

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