20 Travel Tips: Italy Edition

It’s hard to believe that a year ago I was on the trip of a lifetime in Italy! Following the trip last year, I did a recap post featuring photos and brief overview so as not to bore you all with the details. HOWEVER, if you so wish to hear more about the trip, feel free to comment or email, and I will be happy to share! 

In honor of this anniversary, and to spark my own nostalgia, I decided to put together a list of helpful travel tips for first-time travelers to Europe. I’m absolutely by no means an expert on the topic, this is simply what I learned on my first trip abroad. Prior to my trip I did a TON of research on things to know before traveling abroad, so I highly recommend you do as well.

  • Europe is full of history and each city has so much to experience, so don’t stress if you can’t visit absolutely everything you want to see. This is something I had a hard time accepting during my time in Italy especially being the type-A, history nerd that I am. The whole point of going on vacation is to relax (and see the world obviously), but you can’t enjoy yourself if you’re constantly stressing over where you’re going to go next.
  • Piggybacking off of the previous tip, don’t feel like you have to plan everything out, especially meals. At the beginning of each day, Ry and I would pick out the main attractions we wanted to see, and wander around the areas. You never know what you’ll find by simply exploring! We found some of our favorite restaurants on the trip by doing this.
  • Be sure to validate your train tickets prior to boarding. Our primary means of travel from city to city was by train. The vast majority of the time, we bought our tickets at the station; I’d read a few articles prior that stated Tren Italia’s website isn’t always reliable so it’s best to purchase directly at the station.
  • Carry a small, cross-body purse and keep it in front of you — Pick-pocketing is huge in the cities and they know a tourist when they see one.
  • If you’re looking for a quick, early meal, think again! Dinner in Italy generally takes place after 7 pm and is more relaxed than meals in the US.
  • Many churches and other religious sites require ladies to have their legs and shoulders covered when you enter.
  • Bring a reusable water bottle to drink for free at the various water fountains sprinkled throughout Rome.
  •  Walk as much as you can and wear comfortable shoes.
  • Watch out for scams such as people putting jewelry on your wrist, helping take your luggage off the train, asking you to sign petitions, etc.
  • Drink the house wine — it’s often cheaper, but still delicious!
  • Learn the language. You don’t have to be fluent (the locals don’t expect you to), but pick up a few general phrases that will help you out along the way. I used the free Duolingo app before I went, and it helped immensely.
  • When in Rome, visit the Trevi Fountain later in the day or at night, it’ll be way less crowded.
  • Don’t eat near a major landmark — the closer you are, the higher the prices.
  • Cappuccinos are a morning only drink in Italy.
  • Instead of a gondola ride, opt to climb to the top of San Marco’s Campanile in Venice for some incredible views.
  • Casa di Giulietta is what Verona is most famous for, but did you know that they have an Arena similar to the Colosseum where concerts and plays still take place? We had an amazing lunch at a cafe near the Arena and it was a stellar experience.
  • Don’t miss out on the opportunity to climb to the top of the Duomo in Florence. If you’re asthmatic (like myself) be sure to bring you’re inhaler – that’s 463 steps!
  • It is incredibly easy to get lost in Italy. Download a map (or carry a paper one) so you don’t have to rely on WiFi.
  • The pizza, pasta, wine and gelato are most definitely as good as everyone says they are. Definitely go all in on the food when you’re there; you’ll walk it all off during your visit!
  • Italy is truly a magical place to visit. Make sure you aren’t spending too much time behind the phone/camera, and take it all in!

If you have any questions or need recommendations, leave a comment or feel free to email me! Where are you headed next?

-K

Keeping It Current

Life has been absolutely crazy since I’ve returned from my trip, but I’ve finally had a chance to sit down and catch you all up on some current happenings and obsessions.

Lush // Recently, I made two new purchases from the handmade, organic cosemetic store Lush – the Big Blue Bath Bomb and Cup O’Coffee face and body mask. I’ve previously tried a bath bomb and enjoyed it so I thought I’d try out another.

Big Blue promised a relaxing, oceanic experince; however, I somehow missed the fine print where it said there would be literal pieces of seaweed in the bathtub with you (see image below). If bathing with seaweed relaxes you, then this is right up your alley! As for me, tiny bits of the water plant give me anxiety so it wasn’t the best experience for me. Also, the cleaning of the seaweed was a pain; I don’t usually like to give the bath tub a good scrubbing after my soak, but I felt the need to after this one. I give it a 7/10 for the scent and the beautiful color it leaves the water.

As for the Cup O’Coffee face and body mask, a ton of bloggers I follow have raved about the product so I had to give it a try. I bought the smaller version as I have sensitive skin and am allergic to most things under the sun and, you guys, I’m obsessed! It smells amazing (if you like the smell of coffee), and makes my skin feel unbelievably smooth. The only thing I recommend is not using it before bed as it does have caffeine in it and will keep you up all night – trust me, I learned this the hard way.

The Skimm // I like to start off my mornings with a cup of coffee and The Skimm. Interested in staying up to date on current events without biased BS? Join me and the rest of the Skimm community by signing up here today!  It’s quick, easy, and super entertaining; I promise you won’t regret it!

Zara // Now onto my favorite latest obsession: Zara! Since there aren’t any that are close to where I live, I jumped on the chance to explore one of the stores in Florence while in Italy. Needless to say, I loved it and picked up the two tops featured in the photo above. Have I mentioned how much I love neutrals?

Game of Thrones // Last summer, I got hooked on Game of Thrones, but barely made it through the second season before life got hectic. Just the other night, I re-downloaded HBO Now so that I can finally watch it all the way through before the new season starts.

That’s all for me this week! What have you been up to?

-K.

 

Italy Recap

Whew, it is good to be back to the blog! Those of you who follow me on social media know that I’ve been MIA for the past month due to my travels and preparations for said travels. Upon returning home from my work trip to Chicago, I came back to the office briefly only to head out on my two week trip to Italy to visit my boyfriend shortly after. Although I just returned home on Saturday, I’m itching to go right back!

We traveled to several cities including Venice, Verona, Turin, Rome, and Florence. The country is absolutely spectacular! I could make this post super long about how beautiful each city was and how much I love the history that was teeming within each one, but, instead, I will show you.

Here are a few of my favorite photos from our first big trip together:

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I’m finding that I’m having a difficult time readjusting to long distance, but I wouldn’t trade the past two weeks for the world. Traveling with your significant other, especially when you haven’t seen each other in months is absolutely incredible. I’m so grateful to have spent this time with Ry exploring this beautiful country, and I can’t wait for more adventures!!

– K.

Keeping Up With Kourtney

Keeping Up With Kourtney

Hi Friends!

Since it has been a minute since my last post, I figured I would take this time to catch y’all up on what has been going on in my world. Life has been very crazy to say the least.

School’s out forever {almost} // This last semester is seriously kicking my butt. My grades have been excellent, but senioritis is really getting me down. Tomorrow I receive my cap and gown at the commencement fair, and my mom is already planning my graduation party. The paper chain my roommate Auj and I made to countdown the days until graduation is getting shorter and shorter, and it’s finally hitting me how close to the end I am.

Volunteering // For my capstone class for my major, I’m required to spend 90 hours volunteering for a cause of my own choice;If you do the math, that’s approximately 15 hours a week. I chose a local domestic violence shelter, and today just happens to be my last day. I can’t share much info due to confidentiality, but I can say I’ve met so many incredibly strong women during my time here. I definitely intend on coming back to volunteer more.

Dance Competition // Sunday is my last dance competition ever at the University of Michigan. I can’t decide if I’m more excited for the competition itself or the tropical smoothie and jam session on the way there. I’m only competing in our one jazz number we’re taking, but I’m really excited to be on stage again!

Job hunting // With graduation quickly approaching I’ve been applying to jobs like crazy. Unfortunately those I’ve heard back from are uninterested right now since I have yet to graduate and they’re looking to fill the position ASAP; Thus the search continues! If you or anyone you know is looking for an employee in PR or communication, let me know!

Cover photo // The cover photo for this post was taken by my wonderful boyfriend of his backyard during his adventures in Italy. The only thing I edited was the text, and yes, I’m sanely jealous I can’t be there.

So that’s my life right now; crazy hectic! I hope you all have a fabulous weekend!

– K