Top Tips for Visiting Magical Varenna

Varenna, ItalyVarenna, ITALY–

In my books, it’s a crime not to visit Lake Como if I’m anywhere near Milano. 

Not that Milano isn’t wonderful…(more of that later), but Varenna is a peaceful haven, a sleeping princess.

Every time I visit Varenna, I leave feeling inspired and incredibly relaxed. There’s just something about it…


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Daily Adventures #1


San Francisco, CALIFORNIA–

When I’m not traveling, I get major travel withdrawals. I feel grumpy, discouraged, and majorly stuck in a rut when I do the same thing every day.

I recently bought these cool adventure prompters called “Anywhere Travel Guide” to help me try new things and hopefully keep my travel bug satisfied until my next trip.


I need a good reminder to keep exploring no matter where I am because let’s face it…there are amazing new things to see and try no matter where you are or how long you’ve lived there.

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Thoughts Aboard a 30-year-old Elephant

IMG_2816A sweet wrinkly creature with a long nose that could double as a vacuum is about to become my new mode of transportation. Our elephant, Bobo, makes me want to laugh, but I don’t. He’s incredibly majestic and honestly his sheer size is just a little bit intimidating!

To sit on his back, I have to climb up a whole story to the second floor! Nothing could have prepared me for the pure exhilaration and awe of sitting atop an elephant. I put my foot on his back, and I’m surprised how dry and tough his skin is and he’s got these funny long hairs growing at random. Once on board, I feel as small as a pesky ant.

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Venetian Selfies


It’s morning in Venice. The sun is beautiful, the sea is sparkling and the tourists are starting to swarm.  I came to Venice on a whim last night, stayed in a youth hostel, and have been contentedly wandering the streets since 7am. By 9am the tourists are piling into the city from the cruise ships, engorging the streets and small bridges. I duck into a bar that’s just opening and order a cappuccino and brioche and shamelessly eavesdrop on the older Veneto shopkeeper and the Polish barista about my age gossiping quietly about some other regular customers and shop.

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Dreaming of the Tuscan Countryside

The rolling hills in Tuscany have a magically silky flow. Time stands still as the wind blows through my hair and Tuscany is just outside the car door.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how travel opens our minds. I’ve always believed that travel was what made me bold and confident. I’m starting to realize why: it’s a catalyst that enabled me to open my mind and loosen the grip on my tightly held paradigms and perspectives. It has helped me to free myself to be other versions of myself that I didn’t know existed.

Travel is amazing, but don’t forget that the boldness and confidence you have found while traveling was inside of you all along, just waiting to be discovered.

This week I’m challenging myself (and you!) to be our bold, fun-loving, and spontaneous traveler selves no matter where we are! Happy Tuesday!


The Power of the Moment

Photo: Flickr user S. Honig
Photo: Flickr user S. Honig

It’s so easy to get caught up, zone out, jump ahead to the future or stress out…but this moment will never return again.

In this moment, you can change, act differently, do that thing you’ve been putting off. You can smile.
These are the moments where you can choose to alter the course of your life…even just with a small change. There is the “you” from the past–from yesterday, last month, 2 years ago. But the you today is what you choose. I think we forget; we forgo our power to choose in this moment.

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Being a Tourist vs. a Local

Santa Croce, Florence

I have an obsession with being a local. Wherever I travel, I want to blend in so well that I could be mistaken for a local. As you can imagine, that works well in some countries, and not at all in others! When I’m in Italy, it’s a little easier since I speak Italian and I lived there for a year and a half. I get a deep sense of gratification when others mistake me for an Italian (or a Brazilian when I’m living in Brazil) but there’s always a level of frustration.

I feel a little cramped. A little less free because I’m always wondering what others are thinking. If I “make the cut” or I’m just another lousy tourist.

Traveling in Italy for 3 weeks last month changed my perspective. I stayed in my adopted hometown of Firenze (Florence) for one week. I stayed in the apartment I used to live in when I studied and worked in Florence a few years ago. I did my “local thing.” Went grocery shopping. Visited my friends’ houses. Went to my favorite restaurants and coffee spots. This trip, I also had to do a few touristy things to take pictures for my travel company. I visited hotels and talk to them about what they offer for their clientele : tourists.

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Doing What You Love Despite Fear


Lacy Edney

I was having class with my English student today, and he pointed out what I’ve been avoiding and denying for months: I’ve stopped writing.

It’s been my passion, my outlet since I was 12 years old, but somehow I’ve gotten a silly case of writer’s block. I don’t even know if I can call it writer’s block. It seems to be fear and closing myself off from my day-to-day life. It’s artist’s starvation.

In an attempt to get out of this rut, I’m going to be posting short tidbits about my day-to-day life and some inspiration thoughts. Hopefully it will draw my travel stories out of their shells!

How do you work your way out of paralyzing fear? 


The Spartan Proposal

Smoke sputters out of the taxi into the darkness. It’s quiet and the air is humid against my skin as I step out of the cab, somewhere in the middle of this labyrinth that is Athens. I feel like I’m in the middle of nowhere. It doesn’t feel like Athens here.

Blurring Athens at Night, photo by Flickr user alexcoitus

My dad is nervous to let “his little girl” go. I can see it in his worried dark blue gaze. He shoves extra green bills my way and gives me a big hug as his eyes get glossy. They are off to the airport, back home, back to America.

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Weekend Wisdom: If We Wait Until We’re Ready


Great inspiration to keep you moving towards your dreams. We all get scared sometimes, and that is precisely when we need to face our fear and keep taking those baby steps forward. Cheers!

Originally posted on Life Out of the Box:

LOOTB inspiring quotes: if we wait until we are ready we'll be waiting for the rest of our lives

If we wait until we’re ready, we’ll be waiting for the rest of our lives.

Photo location: In the air flying from Oaxaca, Mexico back to California

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