6 Signs That You’re An Arizona Native

Arizona is a transplant state, so natives are rare. Everyone in my family is a “transplant” actually. We moved here in 1997 from the Midwest, but when people ask me where I’m from, I definitely don’t say Illinois.

My older brother and sisters have memories growing up in Lindenhurst, Illinois, riding their bikes down to the lake and bringing me back rocks. These are their memories, not mine, but I don’t doubt they happened. They remember snow and winters spent indoors. I don’t.

This is precisely why I consider myself native to Arizona, despite what my birth certificate says. My childhood took place in the desert! Often times, I find myself reflecting on how much I love this state. It really is unique for so many reasons—ones that I don’t have time to list and you don’t have time to read.

Arizona
You know that the plural of cactus is cacti.

But there are a few specific markers, I feel, that make it obvious someone is an Arizona native. If you can relate to any of the points below, I’m sure you’re an Arizona native too.

You are tough af.

More specifically, you can take the heat. It can reach up to 120 degrees in the summer here! Sure, we’ve learned to stay indoors, but there’s nothing more miserable than getting into your car after its been parked outside in the sun all afternoon in the middle of August. Most people can’t handle this, but we can.

Oh yeah, that also makes us pros at driving with our fingertips. A talent not many people posses.

You need a jacket when it’s 65 degrees outside.

Our blood is thin, O.K.!?

You know what freeways to avoid/take depending on the time of day.

Right away you know to avoid the I-10 at all costs because, on most days, it’ll make you want to drive right off a cliff. But it’s not just the erratic patters of the 10 you understand. You also know where the 51 and 143 go; you’d also agree that driving to Flagstaff on a holiday weekend is a death wish. And et cetera.

You pick and choose what route to take based on this knowledge. Poor, poor out-of-towners, stuck using the standard GPS routes in their rental cars. They don’t even know what’s coming.

You are not confused by streets changing names as you drive through the Valley.

Rural is Scottsdale. Arizona is Country Club. McQueen is Mesa. Cooper is Stapley. Main is Apache. Santan Village is Greenfield.

You get it.

You shorten the names of cities and streets.

Flag. Gila. Guad. AJ. If you know what these stand for, you’re native. (Bonus points if you frequently use the term “bfe.”)

You know that speed limits are merely suggestions.

Forty-five going south down Higley Road in Queen Creek? Whatever. But at the same time, you do know when it’s wise to play by the rules (in Gilbert and Tempe, for example).

So, I hope it’s clear to you now that you don’t have to be born in Arizona to be native. You just have to understand this wacky state and love it for its uniqueness. (You also need to live here for at least 20 years. I’d say that’s fair.)

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5 Alternative Ways To End The Phrase “When Life Gives You Lemons”

“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” This is a very common American-English idiom. The phrase reminds us to make the best out of any situation, no matter what hand we’re dealt. If you’re dealt something sour (lemons), make it into something sweet (lemonade).

The phrase means well, but it’s a bit overused. So I got creative. Here are five alternatives to “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade,” followed by explanations:

When life gives you lemons, be grateful. 

You just got free lemons, so be grateful! Lemons aren’t given out freely. Normal people have buy lemons at the grocery store, while other people invest in lemon trees for their backyards. You, my friend, just got handed free lemons. Realize that this is truly a rare gift.

When life gives you lemons, give them back.

Give them back! You were just given sour, yellow things that are actually useless. What would you even do with these? It’s not like you can eat them. Obviously life already knew this and was just trying to get them of her hands.

Life
Lemonade & Honey

When life gives you lemons, cut them up and add them to your water.

You already have a good thing going for you, so why throw it away for something new and unknown? Just toss the lemons into the mix and see what happens. You might create something great or you might just overfill your glass. Whatever, you won’t know until you try.

When life gives you lemons, be a little afraid.

Who is life? Why are you taking lemons from strangers? What if they aren’t even lemons? What if it’s all just an elaborate plan so life can place hidden cameras in your home and spy on you in your most vulnerable moments? It sounds a little looney, sure, but it might be best to throw the lemons out just in case.

Or, instead of throwing the lemons out to rot, just transfer the anxiety to someone else…

When life gives you lemons, give them to someone else.

Just let someone else deal with the burden of these stupid lemons that you don’t even know what to do with.

And there you have it. Now you have five different ways to shut someone down when they start a sentence with, “When life gives you lemons.” What are some of your own alternatives?

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Faithful Musings

First, it’s February! Hooray! One month down, eleven more to go.

I’m a bit ambiguous and secretive on my social stuff, but I guess not on my blog: I applied to graduate school. The entire process was stressful and took a lot of work.  The program I applied for is pretty competitive, too. Most applicants for this program have been focused on this field throughout their undergraduate studies, but I haven’t (my focus developed after graduation), which is where the anxiety starts to build.

I’ve completed what I can control. I took the GRE, requested letters of recommendation, wrote my statements, and paid the fees. Now my applications are off in the virtual world and everything is out of my hands.

To be quite honest, this is probably the easiest part about applying to graduate school—the waiting. Some may disagree, but to me, I’m soaking up the free time. I don’t have anymore deadlines to meet, sentences to edit, or transcripts to request. Everything is up to the admissions committees.

But when the end of this month rolls around, I’ll be sweating and waiting for an acceptance email or letter. That’s when the questions will start to fill up inside my brain: What if my application isn’t strong enough? What if I’m wait-listed? How will I even pay for this? Will I need a roommate? What about my cats? What will I do if I don’t get in? Can I even do this? and then my anxiety flies off the deep end.

During these super uncertain, “out-of-my-hands” kind of situations, I remember what Jesus said:

… ‘Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’ (John 20:29)

Who has faith for something they already posses? Who has faith for what they already know? Who has faith for what they already see?

Already, I feel calmer about the situation, laughing almost. Here I am, spouting off “what ifs” when, just on the other side of the sky, God already knows exactly how everything will turn out for me. He already polished His plan for this endeavor. Now, all He has to do is sit back and watch me work through each step. What does that mean for me? Simple. I just need to have a little faith in that plan.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

Basically, faith + hard work = results.

Wow, could it get any simpler than that?

NAU
puhlease!
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2017: New Year, Same Me (But I’ll Do Some New Things)

It’s been a while. Sorry about that. Life has a way of rushing in and stealing your time, you know what I mean? With school, work, relationships, and nightly marathons of The First 48 Hours, life swept right past me. So, I’ll try to be better at writing blog posts… *she says in hopes people actually read them*

ANYWAYS, 2017 starts tomorrow. Awesome. Did you make your resolutions?

New Years resolutions are controversial—you either love them or hate them. You might thrive on the ritual of compiling your list and writing out steps on how to achieve and maintain your resolutions or you think they’re dumb and most definitely a self help book marketing technique. If you think the latter, this is what I have to say to you…!!!! Fair assessment, but just hear my side…

New Year’s is my favorite holiday. Not because it’s right in the middle of two other festive holidays (Christmas/my birthday), no. It’s because New Year’s represents a physical break in the old and the start of something new. We change our calendars. The “6” in “2016” changes to a “7.” Our healthcare plans change and we file our taxes.

Okay, forget that last reason, but do you get my point? As far as resolutions go, we don’t really need to wait until January 1st to implement them—we have all year to make changes in our lives—but in case you need that extra push, the January 1st deadline helps. We are blessed to have the opportunity to live another year in this crazy place, so let’s make the best of it!

Superstition Mountain after it snowed on New Year’s Day 2015

Here are my New Year’s resolutions so far:

1. Pray moreI walk to talk to God more. I’m hungry and I’m not doing anything about it… As my life gets busier, my prayer life gets pushed to the side, but it should be the opposite! Do you think God would be O.K. if I wrote Him prayer letters instead? It’s easier for me to express myself in writing. I’ll just ask Him about it and get back to you.

2. Write more. After a long day, the last thing I want to do is flip up my laptop or pull out my journal to write something, but that’s really not okay. I have a bachelor’s degree in English, for goodness sake! What am I even doing with my life right now? Writing is my creative outlet and I nerd out over grammar, so I just have to make more time for writing.

3. Move more. I go through phases with exercise. Sometimes I run, sometimes I do push-ups, and sometimes I sit on the couch eating M&M’s while I watch Untold Stories of the ER—it’s just what I do—but I want to make a new habit and stick to it. So, I’ll get my body moving for at least thirty minutes five days out of the week. In fact, I did join a gym… let’s see how that goes.

4. Read more. There’s a trend forming in my life and it involves a TV, internet connection, and a couch. Yeah, I spend too much time watching YouTube videos—time I could spend reading. I got a couple books for Christmas, so might as well start there and eventually tackle the towering pile of books sitting on my desk.

And one final note—just to be honest with you—if I had a fifth resolution, it’d be to cook more, but I like even numbers; plus, we all know that me occupying my precious time at the stove isn’t going to happen anytime soon. I’m just too American for that.

~

Now that you’ve read my resolutions, maybe you got some ideas for your own? Or maybe you think mine are super dumb, but hey! You still read my post to the bottom, so you got something out of it (even if it was just a laugh).

What are some of your resolutions (or goals, if you prefer)?

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A Night in Wonderland

Nocturnal Wonderland was so much fun!

Okay, but what is it? This is a question you may or may not be wondering. Nocturnal Wonderland is a edm music festival thrown by Insomniac. There are several stages, all housing different subgenres of edm, accompanied by insane lights, around-the-clock people watching, and no judgements.

It really was a happy place for me!

I’ve only been to two music festivals in my life: EDC and Together as One, the latter being permanency discontinued for reasons unbeknownst to me. I went to these parties in 2009 when I was sixteen. This was also the time when I broke all the rules, so it makes sense that I went without my parents’ knowledge, right? Well, I’ll just say, actually making the adult decision to road trip to attend a massive—and being legally allowed to—feels right. Living right is all right, but I digress.

Last weekend—Labor Day weekend—was Nocturnal Wonderland! The party was held from 4pm to 2am on September 2nd, 3rd, and 4th. My best friend, Adam (also my boyfriend), and I bought a one-day ticket for Sunday about one month prior to the event. A few weeks before, we booked a room on Air B n B. Then we agreed to take his car. We were set.

Fast forward to Friday, September 2nd. I’m at my kitchen table awaiting Adam’s arrival from the west valley. It’s about 3 o’clock when he calls to inform me that he just got in a car accident on the I-10. Someone had rear ended his Mazda. It wasn’t even drivable. In fact, after the collision, the car that hit him—a white Mustang—was attached to Adam’s car. It wasn’t until after the tow truck started to pull the two cars across the lanes (and in front of the angry drivers) that the Mustang finally let go of the Mazda. I drove out to Phoenix to pick him up. I would now be driving my Mazda to southern California (yes, we have matching cars).

car
ADOT photo of the accident

We left for California on Saturday around 4pm and pulled into our weekend home sometime after 10pm. We actually “slept in” until 9am on Sunday! Those who know me know that that’s a big deal. The first half of the day we lounged around and watched Stranger Things, the new Netflix show that everyone is talking about. It’s actually intriguing. After getting ready, we left the house at 4:30pm, stopped at Starbucks (there was nothing else on the way) so I could grab coffee, and then drove to the festival.

I won’t go into crazy detail about what we did/saw at Nocturnal, but just know it was everything I imagined. Before the sun went down we explored the grounds, familiarizing ourselves with the locations of the stages, bathrooms, and other amenities (like the free water station). Once the sun started setting, we started dancing! I just love to dance to this music! There is no judgement and it’s just a wonderful sense of freedom. The bass hits and it’s just dope (I have no other word to describe the drop, despite having a bachelor’s degree in English). The lights are brilliantly handled, each hitting their cue right on point with the beat of the songs. It’s just overflowing smiles and happiness for me.

Here are some pictures:

Nocturnal Wonderland 1
Waiting for the sun to set
Nocturnal Wonderland 2
Labyrinth stage
Nocturnal Wonderland 3
Temple of Om stage (hardstyle in here)
Nocturnal Wonderland 4
Inside the glow in the dark tunnel

The next morning (and a few days later) my body and voice were angry with me, but they got over it. My heart was happy. We refueled at In & Out for lunch and headed back to the valley around 12:30pm. Overlooking the violent beating of Adam’s car, the weekend was a success.

After thoughts: I tried to “grow up” from this type of music, but I hit a wall. There is no “growing up” from dance music because it just makes me feel good. I won’t be attending a festival like this when I’m a mom and a professional, but right now I’m 23! I have a right to be young. Ever since I almost died, I pushed myself through the years that followed. Sure, I did a lot of necessary maturing and learned crucial life lessons, but I figured I’d “been there” and “done that.” It’s about time I acted like a 23-year-old though, you know? Sometimes it’s okay to break that 9pm bed time to dance until 2am.

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What It’s Like to Be Intubated

In 2010, I was intubated*, immobile, voiceless, and deaf. Bed sores are an issue for motionless patients, so to curb the threat, my nurses would turn me throughout the day. They’d stuff these pink, triangular shaped pillows underneath my sides, angling my body to the left or the right. I hated the triangle pillows. They made me uncomfortable.

At this time, I knew I was somewhere with people, somewhere safe, but this was the extent of my knowledge.

Every night, I woke up to someone banging the bottom of her fist on my chest, hard. Not like a punch, but with enough force that I felt vibrations in my ribcage with every contact. This is annoying, I thought. What is the purpose of this? My thoughts weren’t that eloquently developed, of course, but that was my general feeling. I couldn’t move, so I was forced to just wait it out (this was like a theme while I was in the hospital, or something).

Anyways, this hitting me on the chest thing became the norm, at least for some time. Just as my nurses would periodically turn my body throughout the day, they’d also hit me on the chest at least twice a day. When I later reported this to my mom, I was told the nurses were hitting my chest to loosen up any fluid that could be resting in my lungs as a result of the tube down my throat. But like I said, I found this out later.

The attacks on my chest were annoying, but it wasn’t the worst thing I felt during this time. It was that dang tube causing me the most trouble.

I could feel the tube all the way down my throat. It felt like a bunch of small, sharp pebbles and broken glass grinding against the soft tissues inside my chest. The sensation intensified whenever I was moved, as if someone was pressing their palms on those figurative shards, pushing them down even further. The feeling was inescapable, so I had to embrace it. Just like how you have to embrace the pain when you get a tattoo or stub your toe, I had to embrace the pebbles until they somewhat subsided.

To minimize the peddble-torture inside my chest, I remained still (easy enough, since I was basically a quad at this time), but our chests move every time we breathe, so the pebbles were always active; they were unavoidable and I accepted this (you know, embrace the pain). This process of acceptance took time. It seemed like, whenever I came to a point where the pebbles and I could coexist, in came a nurse to turn me.

Perfect. All that mental work to coexist with the pebbles was tossed away. I’d have to learn to live with the pebbles all over again. Back to square one (or pebble one?). Alas, this was my life in the PICU (pediatric intensive care unit), at least for half of my time there.

One day, I woke up and the pebbles were gone. I felt like I had just been raised up to heaven by God Himself. I came to find out later (another theme?) that I had actually been trached—a tube was surgically placed in an opening in my windpipe, freeing my throat from the pebbles’ chains. The tube was connected to a machine that mechanically raised my lungs up and down, filling and releasing oxygen. This was perhaps alarming to my family, but I was thrilled. My family would just have to deal with it… this situation really was all about me anyways.

Why didn’t the doctors just trach me to begin with? I was finally comfortable! This makes me question what doctors really study in medical school…

Intubated in the PICU
Intubated in the PICU

Final thoughts: Intubation is something I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy, and not just because I don’t believe in contriving revenge. It’s because intubation sucks, especially when the patient is aware of it, like I was. During my three-month stint in the hospital, I wasn’t inflicted by much external pain. The worst part of my hospital stay, aside from being a 16-year-old spending her summer in the hospital, was being intubated.


*Intubation is a procedure where a doctor inserts a flexible tube through the patient’s mouth and down into the trachea (the large airway connecting the mouth to the lungs). [Source]. Intubation comes after the oxygen mask, but before a tracheostomy.

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I Never Thought I’d Be “That Person”

You know the one that has to deal with a mess of medical issues? Just when one issue is at bay, another one arises? The girl who has at least two doctors appointments a month? The girl who has to factor in co-pays and prescription costs into her monthly budget?

Yeah, that girl. That’s me. I never thought it would be me, but yet, here I am.

It’s crazy when I think about it. When I was younger, this type of life seemed completely out of my reality—I was immune to it. I really just felt bad for people who were born with medical issues, you know? Did you catch the magic phrase? Born with.

Never did I think I could acquire something. And even after I did, I never thought I’d get ANOTHER something.

The hard part isn’t actually dealing with the issues because, in all honesty, I’m quite the able person. I can run, jump, think, write, speak—everything you’d expect a 20-something to be able to do.

And that’s just it. I can do what people expect. My symptoms are invisible.

What’s so hard then? It’s the internal suffering. The silent struggles. No one, not even those who are closest to me (although they try), can understand what it takes to put on that “pretty smile.”

I will say though, it gets easier everyday. Everyday my faith in God gets stronger and I trust Him more and more. I know I am taken care of, but the physical world is hard. I still have bad moments.

It was only a couple weeks ago that I actually realized I’m “that person.” I’m different. I’m not an “average” 20-something, but not just because I continue to stump doctors with my medical mysteries…

I’m different because I’m determined, hard-working, driven, weird, motivated, empathetic, and—because of those ceaseless internal struggles—I’m also pretty strong.

I touched death. What else is there left to test?

Come at me world. I’m ready.

Gooseberry Falls, Two Harbors, Minnesota
Gooseberry Falls in Two Harbors, Minnesota
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We’re Halfway through the Year Already

We’re halfway to 2017. Can you believe it? Part of me is excited because the end of the year/New Years is my favorite time of year, but the other part of me is freaking out. This is way too soon! I have stuff to do and deadlines to meet!

I returned from Italy towards the later half of April, so I’ve been home for about a month and a half. Honestly, it feels like I’ve been home for three. As soon as I stepped foot in this metropolitan wasteland, life started rolling again at its crazy, high-speed ways. It was an interesting transition because, in Italy, life was on hold, as I couldn’t do much with the ideas and plans I had. I couldn’t make any calls or attend any appointments! But as soon as I got home, life never stopped rolling, as I had anticipated.

So what’s new?

Job.
Heath.
Grad school apps.
GRE studying.
Baptism.
Serving.
Vacations.

Seal Beach, California
Seal Beach, California

A whole lot of stuff. At times, I’m finding myself overwhelmed by this never ending list of responsibilities. How am I going to find enough time to write this? When will I get a break where I can just do NOTHING? Well, I realized a long time ago, life starts picking up its pace every. single. year. This occurs right after high school graduation, at least it did for me, when times begins to rarefy itself.

While I was in high school, I wanted to do SO much, and I just knew that age would enable me to do so: I can’t wait ’til I’m older so I can move out and do whatever I want. Ha ha ha. First of all, past Cara, with each day that you age comes more responsibility; meaning, even though we can do something, doesn’t mean we should. You catch my drift?

I recently found my old iPod and, since then, I’ve been listening to throwbacks. It’s amazing how one simple melody can hurdle you back through some type of time vortex, landing you right in the middle of a memory from the past. You feel a surge of emotions—from buoyant elation to some forlorn heartache. You can remember all the words or all the beat drops (if its EDM). You recall faces, feelings, funny things people said—all of it. Sometimes I can only reminisce in those frequencies for a short period of time because the memories are just too heavy, but that’s just me.

My point is though, time doesn’t stop for anyone. I learned that when I was discharged from the hospital back in 2010 and I was reminded again after I returned from Europe in April. Time is no joke, yet time isn’t linear either. If it was, we wouldn’t be able to hop on a giant musical note and ride that melody into some remote recess of our memory. I’m getting pretty philosophical here, but isn’t this world just extraordinary?

So, with that crazy thought, how are you going to slow down the rest of this year? I know how I am. Most importantly, I’m going to live in every moment. When I’m writing a blog post, for example, I’m not going to stress about my statement of purpose. When I’m brainstorming for my statement of purpose, I’m not going to melt at the thought of the quantitative section on the GRE. I’m going to reassess my goals and establish steps to help me reach those goals. Where am I at with everything? What do I need to do to get to point Z?

I don’t know what “slowing down the year” looks like for you. Maybe it means partying less and spending more time with your family, or it means turning off Netflix and catching up on some research. Whatever it is, just know that, five years from now, you’ll be taking a trip right back to this very moment on a musically-tuned vessel. What do you want to remember?

The Mediterranean Sea, Barcelona, Spain
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Lesson in Egyptian History

A few weeks before I left Italy, my dad and I visited Castello del Buonconsiglio, a castle in Trento, just thirty minutes north of where I was staying in Rovereto. The castle was erected in the 13th century and was originally called Castelvecchio (“Old Castle”). But enough about the Italian history. Let’s talk about the Egyptians.

Pieces from a sarcophagus from sometime between 1550 and 332 BC
Pieces from a sarcophagus (1550-332 BC)

Housed inside the castle is an Egyptian antiquities collection, which was donated by a Habsburg official named Taddeo de’ Tonelli. There was a lot of interesting and unusual pieces in this collection, including jewelry, amulets, fragments of mummies (like a foot and also some fingers), and their sarcophaguses. When my dad and I walked into this collection, we were a bit surprised, as this is a castle in Italy, right? But the collection was actually pretty interesting…

As you may already know, religious influences were ingrained in the Egyptian culture. It also was a polytheistic religion, or one that celebrates many gods, and these divinities were highly worshipped. They were enriched with extraordinary powers, represented in human form, animal form, or even as a creature with a human body and an animal head. Their actions strongly influenced human life. Considering these facts, it’s not surprising that the religion wasn’t based on sacred books or scriptures, but instead on capricious beliefs and traditions throughout time.

Funerary mask
Funerary mask

An everlasting material, gold was used as a symbol for the gods. In fact, “Horus” was one of the pharaoh’s titles, which means “of gold.” The pharaoh was seen to the Egyptians as the living god on earth; he was the only link between the divine and human worlds. Aside from that, the pharaoh’s responsibility was to govern Egypt, maintaining justice, truth, and cosmic order. The picture to the right depicts a funerary mask, which was placed on a mummy of high status to evoke a divine image: gold for the flesh, blue lapis lazuli for the hair, and electrum, a bond of silver and gold, for the bones.

Egyptians also worshiped animals. Not all animals, but only those with special traits that were considered a embodiment of the divine. These sacred animals were worthy of an eternal destiny through mummification, just like the pharaoh. In later years, these sacred animals were offered to the gods as votive gifts. People bred animals near the temples and, to send their requests to the gods, a small fee was paid and the animal was killed, embalmed, and then buried.

And the best part of the entire exhibit? A mummified cat!

Mummia di gatto (664-343 BC)
Mummia di gatto (664-343 BC)

This is an actual mummified cat—no joke. After a series of tests completed in 2009, in the fall of 2011, at CT scan was performed on this cat by a team at the Mummy Project in Milan. The results revealed that this mummified cat is in fact real; the domestic cat had been mummified for eternity, which means it was considered a family member by its owners. The cat died young, sometime between six to eight months of life, and its skeleton is complete.

That’s all for our history lesson today 🙂

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A Weekend in Venice with the Pops

My dad is in town! He arrived late Thursday night, but I didn’t get to see him until Friday because of flight delays and his subsequent decision to spend the night in Milan, but nonetheless, my dad has arrived. It’s wonderful for many reasons, but most notably, because he’s my dad.

On Saturday morning, we left his bed & breakfast around 8:45 a.m., in route to the train station in Rovereto. We switched trains in Verona and arrived in Venice one hour later, the total ride being a little over two hours.

Grand Canal
The Grand Canal

Saturday

We stepped out of the train station and realized—we’re in Venice! After we took a minute to take in our surroundings, we walked to our b&b, which was a ten minute walk left of the bridge pictured above (shout out to my dad for planning everything perfectly). Our place was a one room apartment that we booked on Airbnb, so after connecting to wifi, we walked to the store and bought some groceries so we could make a few meals to save a little euro. After lunch, we left our b&b to begin our adventure. Our first stop was San Marco—the principle public square of Venice. This was also when we experienced our first ride on a vaporetto, the main transport in Venice.

Ceiling of the Basilica

San Marco is the tourist hub. So. Many. People. And, since my dad and I are a couple of experienced travelers, we didn’t spend too much time there. However, we did check a few things out before we made our exit. One major item we saw was the Basilica. We stumbled across it, actually. Surprisingly, the line to get in moved fairly quickly and we waited only fifteen minutes until we gained entry. Probably only about a minute after we got inside, a man made an announcement that the church was closing. The place was beautiful though and we snapped a few quick shots and left. We walked around the piazza a bit longer, but there were tourists everywhere and it’s just not as fun exploring in that kind of environment, so we left, in route to another island.

Now, a little commentary about Venice transportation… There are three modes of transportation: the gondola, the water taxi, and the vaporetto. The gondola is what you see in movies—the long, skinny boat propelled through the waterways by an Italian wearing a black and white striped shirt. The gondolas are really just for the experience and they are quite expensive. I saw a sign that stated the price as 80€ ($90) for a thirty minute ride during regular hours and 100€ ($113) after midnight! The water taxis are fairly expensive too, but they provide the most direct route. If you were in a hurry, you’d want to flag down a water taxi. Since my dad and I had no where to be, and because we’re adventurers, we took the vap (term coined by my dad). To ride the vap, we had to learn the routes, lines, and the stops. It’s basically the same as a subway system, but on water. And, in the most humble way possible, I’d just like to say that my dad and I are pretty much experts at riding the vaporetto. It was really fun figuring out our routes and the times/docks for boarding.

That evening, we took the vap to an island in Murano, which is an area in Venice known for its glass making. We got there around 5 p.m., so most of the shops were closed. We walked around a bit, located a restaurant, and ate dinner. The restaurant actually had pasta senza glutine for me, which was nice. We made our way back home sometime after 8 p.m. and arrived back at our b&b around 10 p.m.

The vap routes/lines
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A vap stop in Murano
Murano
A nice sunset and a glass sculpture in Murano

Sunday

This was our favorite day in Venice! After a good recommendation from my friend Pála (another au pair in Rovereto), we planned our journey to the island Burano—known for its lace making, as well as its brightly-colored fishermen’s houses. We had to take the vap again to get there. This time, my dad and I were a bit more intentional with planning our route. Before we even left our b&b we had the route established. We figured out that, to get to the island, we would have to take two vaps, which made our trip to Burano an all day affair.

Vap crossing
Vap crossing

Burano was incredibly beautiful. The houses were all different colors and so full of character. Everywhere you turned, there was another picture. Honestly, you could just turn around in a circle and stop anywhere in your rotation to take a picture and it would turn out great. My dad and I saw so many people walking around with their fancy cameras, so obviously this is a well-known spot for photographers (I, of course, forgot my Canon back in Rovereto). On the island, my dad and I walked around, looked at shops, ate some lunch and a delicious coffee/gelato thing, and took tons of pictures. Around 3 p.m., we headed back towards our b&b. Here are some pictures:

The first minutes of our arrival in Burano
The first minutes of our arrival in Burano
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People live here
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So many areas to explore
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It would’ve been awkward if someone walked out of that house in that moment

We arrived back in our area in the late afternoon. We had a few stops to make, including buying soap because neither my dad nor I remembered to bring some for this weekend trip. As we walked off from our vap stop, we passed a store called “Beautyfull,” which is kind of funny because—I’m assuming—they meant “beautiful.” English… it can be so tricky. Anyways, after purchasing some soap, we walked on to eat some gelato and then wandered into the Venetian Ghetto, which is where Jewish people were compelled to live between the 11th and 18th centuries.

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Some street signs in the ghetto
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More evidence
Do you see the Star of David?
Do you see the Star of David?

We called it an early night and arrived back home around 7 p.m. For the rest of the night, we just rested our tired legs. The next day, Monday, was the day of our departure. It was a pretty hilarious morning, but normally all moments with my dad are hilarious. We are great at making jokes. This morning, a cup of yogurt exploded in my dad’s backpack, so that was fun for him to clean. Eventually though, we made it out of the b&b, grabbed some coffee, and made it back to the train station in good time. We arrived back in Rovereto after 2 p.m.

* * *

What a wonderful weekend in Venice! That place is so cool. I’m thankful I got the chance to visit and even more so because I got to explore it with my dad. That made it extra special. For the rest of this week, I’m excited for my dad to explore Rovereto and the surrounding areas, and I hope to accompany him on a few of these adventures. In a few days, we’re off to Spain. I’m so grateful for this experience!

See you soon, America!

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