I am back to life and back to reality…and since it’s still summer, I’m not complaining about it one bit!
I know I say this every time I take a blog break, but friends, I miss you!! I’ll see something/eat something/use something/discover something while I’m away and instantly think to myself “I can’t wait to tell my friends!”. You guys really are in my heart when I’m not here blogging. I know it sounds cheesy, but it’s so TRUE! After 12 years together, we’re basically family, right?! #ithinkso #wearefamily #anyoneelsesingingsistersledgerightnowintheirhead
Two weeks ago today, Andrew and I set off with Tab and Erika for a super fun, totally amazing, relaxing trip to Italy and Greece. We’re home now still full of amazing food, still pretty tan, a tad bit jet lagged and living off all the fun memories. Today, Erika and I are both blogging the first parts of our recaps. You can of course see mine below and then Erika’s HERE.
A little this and that before we dive in:
1: Erika and I were together 24/7 the whole time, but I bet our posts are a tad different. That always happens, right? You’re with someone, but their pics and experiences are a little different, so make sure you check out her post too.
2: I’ve had the pleasure of eating food from all of the world and have enjoyed some amazing things, but friends, I really do think this was THE BEST FOOD I’VE EVER HAD!! I mean to tell you…IT WAS INSANELY DELISH! We used the word “fresh” so many times on this trip when describing food and drinks that by the end, we joked that we all four needed tattoos that said #fresh to commemorate the occasion. (The funny thing is that Andrew would have done it, but I’m still too scared of my mom to get a tattoo…hahahaha! #sadbuttrue )
3: We were gone 12 days, and it would NOT have been possible without our amazing parents! When we travel, our kids always stay with either my parents or Andrew’s and this time, they got the combo. Friends, my kids had the very best time! I can’t even begin to list the things they did, ate, the people they saw, and the amazing time they had while we were gone. I just wanted to make sure they got a shout out for hanging with the Shull four while we were away. I love those four parents of ours so much!
4: I mean…I tried to take as many pics as I could, but it’s so different (at least for me) when the kids aren’t on vacation with us because I’m not trying to capture as many moments as I am when they are. I mean, Andrew is cute and all, but I can’t take as many pics of him as I can those other four cute Shulls, so for those of you who like a more condensed travel blog post, you’re in luck! There are not as many pictures as there were last year when we went to Ireland and Scotland. I’m pretty sure it took me 45 posts to share all of those. #sigh
5: Looking back on this vacation, I think it struct the PERFECT balance between “doing” and “relaxing”. Typically, when we travel, I think my family’s trips lean more one way or the other, but this one truly was a great balance. We did, we saw, we learned and then we relaxed…really and truly about 50/50. This was the Slaughters first trip to Europe, so we all wanted to make sure they saw things, but we also all wanted time to relax…because as parents of 8 very busy kids, that doesn’t happen very often. I was really proud of us because we did get a great mix of both. I think this itinerary in particular really lends itself to that.
One last thing, why this trip? We actually booked this vacation in April 2018 because on our Disney Land & Sea Vacation, we had talked about how fun it would be to do an adult-only cruise. This Greek Isles cruise is very popular with my clients and one I’ve always wanted to do myself, so we booked it. Andrew and I would love to do a Greek land vacation someday soon too (instead of a cruise), but since I had heard so many great things about this one (I love the itinerary so much!), we thought it was the perfect adult-only cruise for the four of us (but one I could have totally done with my kids too!!). I am planning on sharing many of the details from our trip, but of course, some things won’t be shared as they are reserved for our clients. If you are interested in becoming one of our clients, we would love to help you! You can always reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to connect with you and help create your next trip!
Whew! Okay, ready for some pics?
A little land, a little sea, a whole lot of feta cheese consumed, and four very happy people…
At the airport about to board our flight from Dallas to Rome!! We had talked about this trip for so long that it was a bit surreal to actually be going!! We departed Dallas and then hit the ground running (literally) at the Rome airport. Thanks to a little delay at the Dallas airport, our connection was TIGHT from Rome to Venice, but we made it (thanks to nothing short of several small miracles) and then flew to Venice…
…two girls SO HAPPY to be off planes and in VENICE!! Sunglasses and lipstick help hide the fact that we hadn’t slept 😉 .
We hopped on our water taxi, checked into our hotel, changed clothes and then hit…
…LUNCH! Yes, yes, YES! Our first meal did not disappoint!! We had wine, we had pizza, and we had pasta galore! We were tired and hungry, but boy, this really perked us all up! After lunch? We walked around and checked out Venice. The name of the game was “stay awake as long as we can until bed time”…
…oh Venice, your canals are beautiful!!!
At every single turn (literally), there is a cute bridge and canal. We walked, we looked, we loved.
Side note, Andrew thinks about you guys while we’re gone too because probably four times on the trip, he told me to tell YOU that your hubbies all need these shoes. He kept saying how comfy they are!! You can find my top HERE.
After our late lunch, we walked and walked. Of course, we headed right towards St. Mark’s Square. We had tickets to go inside the next day, but we enjoyed just seeing the exterior and watching all the people. Nothing says “Venice” to me more than St. Mark’s.
Ah! Venice, I love you! I was so happy to be back!! The last time we were there…
…I had a mouth full of braces and a baby boy in my tummy 🙂 .
After more walking, popping in and out of shops and focusing on not falling asleep, we decided to sit down for a drink and some people watching right here.
My favorite travel buddy 🙂 .
On our way back to the hotel, we found the cutest little cafe with sidewalk tables and stopped for dinner. We ordered the best bruschetta I’ve ever had along with four really yummy pastas (we all split them).
The sun stayed out pretty late, so we enjoyed it as we made our way post-pasta to (finally!) get some sleep.
Side note, I loved these shoes so much that I wore them EVERY SINGLE DAY on our trip. I don’t wear socks with them, they wash and dry so easily and they are COMFY and LIGHT!!
We made it back to our hotel and crashed for the night.
The next morning (Saturday), we were up bright and early, enjoyed breakfast at the cutest little spot inside our hotel and then put on our jeans and brought jackets for our tickets at St. Mark’s…
The weather was really nice the whole time we were gone (upper 80s, no rain or wind), but too hot for sightseeing in pants, so I was thankful that I only had to wear my jeans a bit (to be dressed appropriately for going into the cathedral). We had tickets to go in at 10:00, so on our way there, we strolled through…
…the fish market and the Saturday morning fruit and veggie market. It made me want to SHOP and COOK!! Everything displayed was so beautiful and looked delicious!
I just love a Farmer’s Market!!
We had “skip the line” tickets and were able to walk right on in to St. Mark’s. We did the audio tour of the cathedral and it was by far one of the highlights of the trip for me. I recommend the audio tour so that you really understand what you’re seeing. I wish I could have taken photos for you to see just how beautiful it is. If you ever go to Venice, it’s a must! We were in there quite a long time. There was a children’s choir singing inside which made it all the more special.
After our tour, we walked the opposite direction to check out other parts of Venice and stopped for lunch…
…right on the water!
That’s quite a view for lunch!
Directly behind where I was sitting.
More pizza? Okay! The calamari was exceptional here as well.
We walked to the Peggy Guggenheim Collection and on the way, stopped for gelato! Coconut for me, please!
So, we bought tickets and went inside the Guggeheim, but why don’t I have any pics???? I have no idea. If I’m being honest, it probably wasn’t my favorite thing, and I’m not sure if I would recommend it. I was hoping there would be more personal affects inside (it was her private residence), but it was almost entirely art (which is great…but I was kind of hoping for furniture/rugs/china/etc to go along with it). Hands down the best part was the location. Her place is right on the canal and as you toured, you got to go out back and it was spectacular! I should have taken a pic. #sigh
Right across the street was the tiniest little bar that was just oh so cute! We popped our head in (not many people can fit in there at one time) and took a selfie. It was just original, and I liked how it was nestled in there.
We continued walking…we walked A LOT! We stopped and went into some art galleries, looked at all of the Venetian masks, the pottery and more as the day continued. Then, we decided it was time…
…to take a gondola ride! #wheninvenice
I mean…how fun, right?!
I love hearing the gondoliers talking to one another as we pass by. It’s just all so charming!
Through the canals and under the bridges we went!
Our ride was about 30 minutes or so. It was such a fun way to spend our last night in Venice. We followed it up with dinner…
…right on the canal! This place had all the ambiance thanks to its location! As we enjoyed our supper, the gondolas went by.
I see you mushroom risotto and cheesy tortellini!
The next morning, we had breakfast at our hotel and then…
…boarded our water taxi for our cruise!
We were so excited!
All aboard! We were on and ready for the FUN to begin! A seven night Greek Isles cruise? Yes, please!
We dropped off our stuff in our cabins and found our way right to the pool. With my Kindle in hand, I was ready to set sail on a bit of relaxation.
Our ship didn’t leave port until a bit later, so we were able to enjoy dinner with a lovely view.
A yummy supper with some Venice out the window!
For this sailing, we picked the Norwegian Star as it has my favorite itinerary. We were on board and ready to hop off every day and see something new and exciting (no days at sea!!). The cool thing to me about “ship life” is that you meet people and they become your friends during the week. If you’ve never sailed before, that is something to be excited about. With every sailing, we meet new people who you continue to bump into all week and you really do become friends. By the end of the week, we were cheering on friends at karaoke, having drinks with other new friends, sharing inside jokes…it’s all kind of crazy how it doesn’t take much to make you feel like a little family on board. Anyone else? It always surprises me how easy it is to meet people and connect with them when you’re all sailing together.
That wraps up PART ONE. A little Venice and a little on board life. I’m sure I didn’t cover everything, but don’t worry, there are more posts in the future where hopefully I will. If you have any specific questions about this vacation (or other ones!) and how our travel agency can help you get there, then please email us email@example.com . In the meantime, I’ll see you guys back here tomorrow!! I’m happy to be home with you! xo