love more

A Wolf of Love and A Wolf of Hate

I felt like I was suffocating last Tuesday and I needed space to be able to breathe. So I rushed out to Forest Park for a long hike to one of my favorite hideouts, Pittock Mansion, a little before 4pm.

I wanted to see the world from up high to gain a little perspective. For the first time in the three years I’ve lived here, I caught Portland right at sunset on an unusually clear day.

pittock mansion sunset

I wasn’t alone. There were quite a few of us taking in Mount Hood’s fetching winter hat framed becomingly by an ethereal sky. It was freeing being up there—just what I needed.

Then, my stomach flipped and I swallowed down a knot as the pink began to fade. Suddenly my anxiety was worse than it was before the hike. Reality set with the sun.

There was a reason I hadn’t ever seen that view at sunset. Because it takes 45 minutes to get back home, and without a scrap of daylight the forest would be pitch black. We just had a time change, and I forgot that small but important detail.

I was the kid who was afraid of the dark and believed in the closet monster—not much has changed as an adult. My night-light looks a little different as a Himalayan salt lamp in my bathroom, but I can’t sleep with the closet doors open and every morning I fling them wide to set the evil spirits free.

In other words, night hikes aren’t my thing. Especially when I’m alone.

salt lamp

I had my phone and the logical voice recommended calling an Uber to rescue me, simply drive eight minutes to the end of the trailhead where Silvie the bike was waiting for me. But there was a part of me that thought it was all too fitting, to watch the sun disappear on Election Day and to face my fears of darkness.

So, I hiked back home in the dark. And when it’s nighttime in the forest, it’s very different from any other type of darkness you will ever experience.

The few people on the trail were scary as their shadows suddenly appeared, and rather than feeling comforted by another human’s presence, I wondered if they were going to hurt me. I trusted nobody.

The human alternative was the animal one. I realized I was trespassing, now that it was nighttime. At first I tried calming myself with music, but I shoved my headphones into my bag to be completely alert after a rustling off to my left gave me a small heart attack.

Denali, a pure gray wolf

Denali, a pure gray wolf

Though a coyote would be more likely, I kept thinking there were wolves in the forest. And, I should know from my wonderful friend Kate, that wolves are lovely animals. But in the dark, I was terrified. I saw many coyotes growing up and they used to run down my street when I lived in the canyon in Azusa, California. But wolves I had never seen, so why would I think they were there with me now?

The rustling ended up being anticlimactic—a ratty, chubby squirrel stocking up for winter, more afraid of me than anything. I released my fists and my breath, and continued through the darkness.

The creek is higher this time of year. It was hard to see where the edge of the trail was. Though I wanted to run to get home faster, and even tried for a smoother stretch of the trail I knew well, I refrained so I didn’t trip and fall into the icy waters.

Tree shadows were menacing as they danced in the wind, and their long limbs seemed to be reaching for me. To think, their colorful arms had been so welcoming on the way out to the mansion.

I was surrounded by danger and my body was charged with an instinct for survival. Strange, being that it wasn’t even 5pm yet. Stranger still, I had been in my husband’s arms in this same spot weeks before and felt so safe.

fall forest park

I turned around a lot, and I don’t think I’ve ever been so scared. But I kept moving forward, and I focused on everything I loved to overcome the fear of the darkness, until I saw the lights of Thurman Bridge at the end of the trail.

When I got home, I was shaking from the waning adrenaline and the cold. I had gone on an unexpected personal journey I wasn’t prepared for in my already emotional state. I ignored social media and the coverage on TV most of the evening, until it was finally time to face the results.

After that I retreated to the safety of my yoga mat and put on my headphones to shut out the world, the glorious pink one I had been admiring hours earlier. How whimsical and innocent it had seemed then.

You know, I tried to do everything I could to protect myself from this day, avoiding online content and social media like the plague. Still the depression and anxiety permeated my mind.

positivity during election

Earlier in the year I tried to make a positive stand. Because I knew this year was going to be unlike the previous years—there would be protests and rioting, even in peaceful Portland a young man would be shot on a bridge. I would get a text from a friend of mine, asking if we were okay.

The next day I made the mistake of getting on social media and was back in the dark forest again—my heart racing, my breath uneven. I didn’t feel safe, and I wanted to run even though I couldn’t see anything.

I felt the need to say something, but I certainly didn’t want to fuel the fire. So I posted something from a book I had read last month, exquisite words I had forgotten to post after I finished reading it…or, so I thought.

Now I see that it was meant to be posted the day after the election.

“In my heart, there are two wolves: a wolf of love and a wolf of hate. It all depends on which one I feed each day.” – From Buddha’s Brain

wolf of love

It doesn’t matter what your political beliefs are, who you voted for or who you voted against. What matters now is how we all move on and continue to live. What matters now is which wolf we are feeding each day.

The wolf lives inside all of us. The wolf of love is the beautiful creature that is respected for its power and grace. That’s the one I want to feed in my heart, and the one I hope the world will too.

love trumps hate

Love does trump hate, but we have to love from a place of strength and light to win fear and darkness. For now I’ll just remember dancing in the sunshine the week before…

children on lake

The Life Enthusiast Chronicles with Alexandra

People always amaze me, the way they can feel so much and do so many things. And, there are some very amazing people I am fortunate to know who live life differently…they seize it.

The Life Enthusiast Chronicles has been on vacation since June, but now the series is back in town. One Life Enthusiast has been on my mind for a while, because she has been making me smile on Twitter for some time.

Today Alexandra Jonsson from Sweden, who many of you know on Twitter as @Treememories, is here to enlighten us with her enthusiasm.

alexandra-tweet

Whether she’s making us laugh with her storytelling tweets or inspiring us with her beautiful thoughts, Alexandra is a pure Life Enthusiast. It’s just in her nature—and it shines through her words.

When I asked her to be on the Life Enthusiast Chronicles, Alexandra told me she had never written a blog before. That was when I realized…whoa, she doesn’t have a website either. I never noticed, because she had been using Twitter to write these mini-blogs for so long.

So, this is a very exciting day indeed. Let’s give Alexandra a warm welcome into the blogging community!

Connect with Alexandra on Twitter.

Inspire us, Alexandra!


What Makes Me Enthusiastic About Life
or
A Self-Evaluation, More or Less Serious and Silly

Of course, the first answer that popped into my head about what makes me enthusiastic about life is my children.

My second answer is people—well, perhaps not if someone is being a jerk, then I won’t be very enthusiastic about him or her. Also, not if I have to stand and talk in front of a bunch of people.

You see, I’m shy. Most people I meet say: “You’re shy?! No, you’re not.”

But yes, I am. I have a tendency to blush and I don’t really speak about myself, or give anyone I don’t know personal information. I steer the conversation to focus on them, letting me hide behind their words.

I’m certainly not silent—I smile and laugh and make comments, but I hardly ever put myself in the spotlight.

paper bag over head

Like, that whole speaking in front of a bunch of people problem. Kind people have given me advice that I should picture my audience in their underwear, or even naked.

OMG that is not helping! How on earth would that make me blush less?

Nakedness of strangers usually makes anyone blush, especially if the naked person is, how should I put this—you know…well…hot. And because I’m a writer I also have a vivid imagination, which immediately creates a scenario where after my speech I have to mingle and network with my naked audience.

I mean, what do you say to a naked person? Is it…

“Oh, I like your chest hair very much. How do you make it so curly?”
“I just love your skin colour! It matches your eyes so beautifully.”

will ferrell basketball

No, no, no and no. That’s terrible advice to give to a writer! Our imagination is way too vivid to deal with that. I’d much rather blush my way through an entire speech looking at a fully clothed audience—thank you very much.

But, apart from these two scenarios where I’m not very enthusiastic about people, I’m otherwise very enthusiastic about them.

You see, when I first started my university studies I studied to become an archaeologist. It was very fun the first week, as I dusted dirt and was digging my way down towards the hidden treasures beneath us.

Then I found it was more exciting to speak to other archaeologists from our host country and the “diggers,” as we called the men who dug down to our level.

After a while the diggers’ muscles got quite big—it was summer and it was hot. Let’s just say it was pretty difficult for us girls to stay focused while the shirtless diggers were working. Then we spent most of our time hanging out with the diggers instead of working on the 2,000 year-old-roof we were all there for in the first place.

archaeology

When the summer was over we went back to cold Sweden, and we buried ourselves in our studies, hidden deep in the library. I knew I didn’t want to only work with people in the summer, and spend the rest of the year in some dusty library surrounded by dead men’s words and their remains.

It was then I realised that I was enthusiastic about people. So I became a teacher.

All of a sudden, I was surrounded by people who were constantly talking, asking, calling—not only during the day, but also in the evening and first thing in the morning. I decided that teaching wasn’t my cup of tea.

Then my friend said to me: “Write!”

So, I did.

alexandra-jonsson

It’s not that I hadn’t written before in my life, because I have always written in every possible way, genre, and form. But when she said that magical word “Write!” I started to write for real. And I was so enthusiastic about this, and I still am.

I love to create imaginary people and their stories, based on people and situations I have encountered—men and women and children, and jerks and bunches of people (hopefully clothed!). I find inspiration in so many people.

People I have watched get on a bus or I have driven by in my car, and people who have made me smile, laugh and feel. Characters I have seen in an actor who interprets them in such an interesting way. Musicians listening to music they have created to express themselves, artists looking at a finished painting they have poured their souls into, or authors sharing their deepest thoughts and feelings through words.

This is why I’m so enthusiastic about people, and that’s what’s make me enthusiastic about life. Because if there were no other people, then what would life be like?

embrace fall

5 Ways to Embrace Fall for Some Well-Deserved Wellness

I love fall. I do. But, this year I felt like summer was just gone too quickly.

I’m thankful that Portland winters are mild compared to the sub-zero temps I experienced in Wisconsin for five years.

wisconsin winter

Yet, the rain and grey rolled in early this year and I felt like I had been cheated.

Hold the phone…No more reading on the patio on a weekend afternoon with iced tea? Sure, I could do that now. But I’d be shivering on our soggy outdoor rug, ruining my book and spilling iced tea all over myself AND the book—soaking everything (because it wasn’t wet enough already).

Clearly this was the first autumn I wasn’t super pumped about, and I tried to figure out what the hell the problem was. It happens every year…get over it.

portland bridge

Well, I kept hanging onto a season that had passed. And it was messing with me.

I finally decided to embrace fall instead of pretending it wasn’t here to stay. In case any of you are feeling the “Fall Blues” like I was, here are a few things that worked for me.

1. Embrace Fall in the Kitchen

The same food you ate all summer isn’t going to cut it—both logistically with trying to grill in the wind and rain, and physically with your body craving comfort and warmth.

(Here are some awesome fall recipes from my gal, Laura at Food: A Love Story.)

crockpot

Buy a cooking treat

I’m leery about buying too many kitchen contraptions, but finally I shelled out $30 for a crockpot to make weeknight meals easier on us. Everybody around me was intrigued and annoyed by my excitement, which included hugging the box when it arrived.

crockpot recipes

However my Instagram posse understood and saluted my first crockpot recipe, breaking all previous records of social engagement with this soul-soothing kale white bean soup.

(Psst…Want to obsess over crockpot recipes with me? Follow my What a Crock! board on Pinterest.)

Rethink your healthy staples

I often depend on smoothies and salads for a health boost, but when it gets colder, I just can’t. There are still ways to enjoy them with a few seasonal tweaks—like a pumpkin smoothie bowl and a warm spinach salad.

pumpkin smoothie

If you’re still feeling greens deprivation, take Chlorella tablets. I bought them for travel, but I’ve been taking one a day since my fall diet changed to make sure I’m still getting ample greens.

Tea up

No matter what you do, energy levels are bound to get low. And like me, you might find you have developed a late morning AND afternoon cup of coffee habit on top of your morning cup. Whoa, girl!

loose leaf tea

Stock up on tea—and perhaps a fancy new tea kettle—so you have plenty of herbal goodies to brew when you need a more subtle pick-me-up with bonus health benefits.

2. Embrace Fall in the Bath

Spices and oils aren’t just for your fall diet, they’re perfection for your skin too. Now is one of the best excuses to slow down and experiment with some R&R.

Pumpkin face mask

It never fails that I have leftover pumpkin from some dessert that only calls for a little. Oooh, pumpkin spice molasses cookies

pumpkin spice cookies

Rather than letting the leftover pumpkin spoil in my fridge, I mixed it with other gentle ingredients in my kitchen and slapped it on my face. A girlfriend of mine was horrified when I talked about this homemade mask, because she had used harsh chemical editions before.

This one works on my sensitive skin,  but test a small patch for a short duration to see how it goes.

Create your own spa

The amount of yoga and spa props in our tiny apartment might be funny to some, but I’m willing to give up closet retail space for my puffy friend, Bolster, any day. I recently picked up a bigger body version of an eye pillow I love, but instead of storing in the freezer, you nook this one in the microwave.

Nothing needs to hurting or sore to enjoy it—the wrap just feels really good to have concentrated warmth on your belly or feet while you read, write, or lounge aimlessly.

Incorporate some Ayurveda

Oil pulling? Tongue scraping? Neti pot? Oil massage? These are all practices of Ayurveda and I’m a big fan of them for routine self-care. Abhyanga oil massage is one of the most decadent things you can do for your body, using warm oil to soothe your skin, muscles, and joints.

To fight nasal dryness, I stepped up my game this year with Nasya oil—which has greatly helped stuffiness in my sinuses when I do this at night. I can actually breathe when I wake up, even before my morning Neti time.

3. Embrace Fall in the Elements

You can either fight seasonal changes, or sync up with them. And while shelter may seem like the best idea, nothing beats being one with nature in the fall.

(Read Andrea’s beautiful fall descriptions over at Harvesting Hecate to get in the mood.)

Exercise outside

Whenever I’m feeling especially cranky about the rain, I get my sorry ass outside for a run. Being out in the elements makes me feel better about it, versus trying to avoid the inevitable cold.

rain running

Plus, when you’re splashing through puddles you feel like a kid again—but to everyone else, you look like a bit of a bad ass.

Listen to everything

Autumn sounds are undeniably lovely, from the crunch of leaves beneath your feet to the chuckles of the squirrels as they dash in front of you with their loot. It’s truly one of nature’s masterpieces when you stop and look around. Everything is changing and turning inward, just like we are.

forest park fall

Be young at heart

Go ahead and jump in a pile of leaves (you know you want to!). Carve a pumpkin, dress up for Halloween—stop being such an adult all the time and play.

4. Embrace Fall in the Ensemble

The fading memory of simple summer clothing can be jarring when you’re grasping for the fluffiest blanket. Getting dressed seems more complicated than it was before, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun.

Shop ‘til you drop

Kidding. You don’t need to break the bank, but buying a couple of new pieces can lift your spirits. I immediately felt frumpy as I layered up—enter sassy new rain jacket and these fabulous wedge sneakers.

sneaker booties

Change out your closet

Pining over that flirty summer dress isn’t helping. While there are some pieces you can layer to get more mileage out of them, fall is really the time to look as crisp as the leaves outside. Rich colors and cozy structure will align you with nature’s will.

Invest in amazing socks

Slippers are typically made of synthetic materials that get icky as your feet overheat. Mr. H and I bought alpaca socks last March when we visited San Juan Islands. I had never spent $25 on a pair of socks in my life, but they are the best.

alpaca farm

They are the only fabric that shields us from our first floor apartment floors, they are the perfect temp (not too hot or cold), and basically your feet feel like they’re being hugged. Thanks, alpaca friends!

5. Embrace Fall in the Chill

By “chill” I mean don’t overdo it. The changes of fall can be quite a shock to the system already, so take the time to turn inward instead of trying to maintain the energy and commitments you had in the warmer months.

Enjoy a little couch time

In the warmer months, besides our faux leather sofa sticking to my bare legs, lounging around the house doesn’t happen much because it just feels wrong.

When the blankets come out and the cats launch into cuddle mode, give yourself permission to catch up on books and movies. If you’re a creative type, think of this as “inspiration time” not a waste of time.

cats on suitcase

Hunker down at home

For me, the fall transition basically went a little something like this: Italy, San Francisco, sick as a dog. I hadn’t had an epic three-day migraine in years, but it hit me the week after I got back from a conference.

nurse cat

Migraines are my body’s way of saying “stop.” And, it works. Traveling this time of year can amplify the ungrounded feeling, so especially at the turn of the season, a smoother transition means staying at home to explore the previously mentioned tips.

Let things go

It seemed like right after Labor Day weekend, summer vanished in the business world for me. Everyone came back from vacation, full throttle, and I got swept up in the “must do everything perfectly and immediately” mode. Don’t.

A more laid back approach is something you should hang onto from the warmer months. Unnecessary stress will drain you, and this time of year the immune system is working harder anyway. Let it go…get your cuddle on, or take a walk in the beautiful scenery and breathe.

fall hike

Since making an effort to embrace fall, I have been much happier and relaxed. For the go-getters out there, I think this time of the year can be especially tough because we are being asked to slow down. Slowing down is a good thing—a chance to take care of ourselves for a change.

Do you have any good tips for embracing fall? I’d love to hear them…go!

san francisco bridge

A Little Ditty About Meeting My First Blogger in San Francisco

About two years ago I made a wish that I hadn’t had a chance to fulfill. The wish was this: If I’m ever in the same place as another blogger I know, I’m going to meet them face to face.

What was it…ten years ago that meeting someone from the internet was batshit crazy? The possibility of meeting some psycho perv was a real threat. Now, it’s totally legit to meet up.

san francisco travel

I like to think of my good blogger friends as pen pals. Remember those? A pen pal was someone you talked to like nobody else in your life. The distance and anonymity of it all made it a safe space to share true pieces of yourself.

Well, finally it happened. I met my first blogger.

I was at Dreamforce, one of the biggest user conferences in the country. It was my first time, a strange thing to say being that I’ve been immersed in the B2B marketing world for almost three years. Finally, I had a company that sent me to witness the insanity firsthand.

salesforce dreamforce

It’s funny because I remember talking about Dreamforce with one of my close blogger friends who lives in San Francisco around this time last year. The chaos was amplified for her—just as it is for everyone living in a city already bursting with people—when nearly 200,000 businesspeople invade the streets.

I sent an email to my girl, Jilanne Hoffman, with a subject line she couldn’t refuse…I’m in San Francisco! Coordinating was challenging between our hectic schedules, but we made it work.

dreamforce 2016

And by day three of the conference, I was over all things business. It was the focus from the moment I woke up until I went to sleep at night. At least at home there is some down time, but at a conference like Dreamforce, you’re always on.

I was also over crowds. I’m an honorary extrovert, meaning I worked hard to become one in order to survive the real world. It was clear every afternoon when I dropped everything to escape to my hotel for yoga and some breathing room.

yoga in hotel

In other words, I was more than ready to feel like me again. To hang out with a friend and talk about writing and life in a quiet residential neighborhood where people shopped for groceries on a Wednesday night, instead of cramming into a U2 concert.

Yes, I skipped U2 at Dreamforce to go have chamomile tea with a friend. I told you so…introvert incognito.

oakland bay bridge

What’s crazy is on my way to see Jilanne, I had some serious deja vu in the Uber.

Some of you may recall a post I wrote in the spring last year called 1am in a Cab on a School Night. Strangely, it was one of the most popular posts I’ve ever written on this blog.

This time I was in an Uber instead of a taxi, on a clear San Francisco night instead of a rainy Portland one. I was also in a very different emotional state—last year I was saying goodbye to a wild piece of me, and this year I think was missing that wild piece of me.

portland reindeer sign

But the conversation and soundtrack were just as good. I’ll call the Uber driver what he was…a cool cat named Dwight. He was a native San Franciscan, with the knowledge of the city prevalent in his eyes. And, he had great taste in music.

A song started playing as we began our journey away from the madness of Union Square toward the residential sanctuary of Potrero Hill. He seemed surprised when I wanted to talk beyond the formalities.

I asked: “What song is this?”

Dwight raised his eyebrows: “You like this kind of music, Miss?”

“Love. I love jazz.”

“Well, alright.” He laughed. “It’s John Coltrane. Called Equinox. I always listen to it after a long day. It’s the perfect song because of its cool expansive qualities.”

I smiled. Cool and expansive. That’s all I wanted to feel that night after a long day.

I’ll admit I was a little nervous as I waltzed into a Whole Foods cafe away from the mayhem downtown, and it took me a minute to adjust. I texted Jilanne to let her know I was here, and there she was sitting at a corner table with a glass of wine.

After a welcome hug, I slid into a chair next to Jilanne and it felt like we were chatting in our own real life WordPress comment box. It wasn’t weird, it was comforting actually. Years of virtual conversations meant we already knew each other well enough to skip the small talk—and we only had an hour in our schedules, so we had to make it count.

But I still love the first question Jilanne asked me, her eyes wide: “So what the heck are you doing at Dreamforce?”

dreamforce fun

I laughed. It was a fair question. When we know each other as bloggers, we usually don’t know life’s logistics, like occupations. But honestly in that moment, I didn’t know why I was at the conference.

It definitely seemed out of place to me then as I was meeting a fellow writer at a cafe on a calm evening. Once I was sitting at that table I had shed the “business suit” and the persona that went with it. I was just a writer again in my flare jeans and blouse that mimics floral curtains from the 1960s.

blogging friends

Anyway I won’t rehash our conversation here now, but I will say that Jilanne is just as I imagined her to be—quirky and lovely. If you want to see what I mean, read her post on The Life Enthusiast Chronicles from last year.

That evening talking with a friend was what I needed to return to myself. I left the cafe and climbed into another Uber to head back to my hotel, feeling cool and expansive.

And I made time to hang out with the sea lions before I hopped on the plane back home.

pier 39

Have you ever met a blogger in real life? If not, would you if you had the chance?

wandering venice

The Soul Citizen of Venice Finally Lives Out Her Dream

I’ve had this recurring dream throughout my life where I get lost in the alleys of Venice. This dream started sometime in my early twenties, and I have no idea why.

Was it a movie or a picture that triggered it? I can’t be sure. Maybe I was born with this soul connection that made me an honorary citizen of Venice. A soul citizen, if you will.

things to do in venice

You see, my dreams have been vivid for as long as I can remember—I was the creepy sleepwalker kid that punched my sister if we shared the same bed. I’ve met people in my sleep and never remembered it.

On a positive note, I have seen and felt the most incredible fabrications of reality. And I have a silly habit of “swim flying” in the sky, which is an interesting way to get around.

The only time my dreams were tame was in college, when I was seeing a therapist who doped me up with antidepressants. But those drugs stole my dreams away, left me lost in a fog of apathy instead of the exquisite alleys of Venice.

venice italy travel

When I first met Mr. H, he said: “You’re not depressed. Why are you taking those?”

I said: “I have anxiety.”

He said: “You can beat it without that shit.”

And, he was right.

summer in venice

I got off antidepressants and my dreams returned—sometimes they were night terrors that sent me sprinting across the room in the middle of the night, sometimes they were unconscious explorations that inspired my first novel, and sometimes they were magical and nonsensical, like wandering Venice without purpose.

Yet the crazy dreams were mine, all mine, sensations and visuals my brain conspired to create just for me.

Beyond the dreams, this other Venice thing happened at my wedding over 11 years ago. For those of you that don’t know this fun fact about Britt and Mr. H, we got hitched in Vegas.

Imagine my surprise when my dad gave us a wedding present that we could enjoy right after the ceremony—a gondola ride at the Venetian.

the venetian

Still, we never thought we would see the real deal and we settled for the sparkling chlorinated Venice canals from our wedding day.

Most people would kill to see Venice. As I mentioned in my first Italian travel post, I just didn’t have the bug like everyone else.

venice for couples

When we randomly decided to go to Italy, we did our best to avoid the typical American race across a European country by limiting our stops.

It was a showdown between Cinque Terre and Venice for a day trip from Florence, and Cinque won.

get lost in venice

I had heard negative feedback from other people I knew that went to Venice: It was touristy, pricey, the food sucked. These are all things I later found to be true, including eating overpriced frozen food as our last meal before boarding the train.

Except this espresso didn’t suck…

coffee in venice

And, this chocolate orange cannoli definitely didn’t suck…

cannoli

But I also feel these things—crazy tourists, high prices, mediocre food—are a given when you go to one of the most fantastic places in the world in the summer.

Hands down, these were the most expensive cappuccinos I’ve ever purchased in my life. The people-watching and live music were pure perfection though.

cafe in venice

That’s why I’m taking the high road with a whimsical perspective on the city so many have visited before me. Because at the end of the day, Venice is TOTALLY a tourist trap.

Exhibit A…

venice clock

There are truly as many pigeons as there are tourists, and sometimes they join forces. Like this young bird woman with a pigeon on top of her hat (crapping on her head, no doubt), dutifully documenting the whole affair with her selfie stick.

Because who would believe her otherwise?

pigeons and venice

But if you really want them, I can sum up my Venice tips right here:

  1. To Avoid Tourists  Don’t visit during peak season. Or, spend the night since the crowds thin out after the last train leaves for the day. But be ready to fork over some bucks for a hotel!
  2. To Avoid Overspending  Don’t go to Venice. Kidding, use the vaporetti (water buses) to see the city the way it’s meant to be seen, and wander around (wear comfy shoes!) for a day trip.
  3. To Avoid Sucky Food  Don’t forget to pack your own food. There is too much portable deliciousness in Italy to play the victim here—plan ahead. Unless money isn’t an option and you can dine at the fancy pants restaurants.

venice canals

Anyway, I’ve never been one to ignore my dreams and I felt a quiet pull inside knowing that Venice was within reach as soon as we arrived in Italy. I felt it strongly in Florence, and even stronger in Cinque Terre.

Fate called on the tour bus back from Cinque, after a long day of hiking and swimming, sunshine and seafood. One of our tour guides was giving Venice tips to pretty much everyone but us.

His advice was always the same: “Just get lost. When you go to Venice, that’s what you do.”

romantic venice

Mr. H turned to me and said what we were both thinking…when will we ever have a chance like this again? The pull was so strong that my heart was ready to explode.

Fortunately there was room on the train the next morning and we saw the fabled place I had dreamed about.

venice

Instead of repeating the gondola ride from our wedding, we splurged on a private water taxi. There wasn’t a huge difference in the price, since both options were astronomical.

The main reason is that we were fortunate to have an amazing opera singing gondolier during our Vegas/Venice trip on our wedding night, a memory we didn’t want to taint in any way. The real-life gondoliers don’t exactly serenade you, and you probably don’t want them to try.

gondola ride
Because Venice is meant to be savored from the water that is slowly reclaiming its earthly beauty, we decided the 15-minute private water taxi ride to St. Mark’s Square was worth the (gulp) 65 Euros.

Truly, it was worth every penny.

water taxi venice

venice water taxi

venice taxi

venice in a day

Sometimes we are linked to a place in the world and there’s no need to understand it. So why not take the chance and see what happens—if anything happens at all.

Nothing spectacular really happened to me. I’m just happy to be a soul citizen of Venice who finally got to live out her dream.

venice alleys

Are you a soul citizen of any place? Or, is there a place you visit over and over for some reason?

P.S. This post wraps up my Italy travels and I hope you all enjoyed coming along. Be sure to check out Rome, Florence, and Cinque Terre if you missed them! Next time, I’ll be back to American Britt.🙂