"Venice Never Quite Seems Real, but Rather an Ornate Film Set Suspended On the Water." ~ Frida Giannin

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 I was fortunate enough to visit Venice for the second time in two years  during July 2016 and this time it didn't rain the entire time!  I was there for five days following a Mediterranean cruise that left from Venice and visited Greece as well as Croatia.  I've never been really excited about the thought of visiting Venice and wasn't overly impressed with this incredible city after my first visit but definitely fell in love with this area that is like no other during my second visit!

Here is one of my very edited HDR images that I took two years ago when there was a slight break from the rain that happened most of the time I spent there:

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Going on a Mediterranean cruise was at the top of my bucket list at the beginning of the summer.  When I started to do research into this trip I realized bet leaving from Rome Athens or Venice were some of my options.  I chose to they've from Venice for two reasons.  I thought it would be easier to get to the cruise ship and I plan to spend some time at whichever port I chose to leave from.  I was most drawn toward Venice as Rome and Athens seem like a really large cities to me.  I was traveling solo and felt more comfortable in a smaller city like Venice. 

For those of you who are interested in a Mediterranean cruise leaving from Venice it costs 45 euros to get from the Venice airport to the port.  I gave the driver a €5 tip which I could tell he was quite shocked!  I was unpleasantly surprised when I exited the ship one week later and learned that a water taxi was my only option to get to my hotel.  The water taxi cost me €80.  I didn't let it bother me too much as there was no choice at that point. 

I stayed at a wonderful hotel right on the Grand Canal that had a balcony and an amazing view.  The view was so incredible I had to drag myself out of the room to go do things as opposed to just watching the action on the Grand Canal.  The sunrises and sunsets were not a disappointment either!  The name of the hotel I stayed at is called Hotel NH Collection Venezia Palazzo Barocci.  This hotel is in the San Marco area of Venice.  I would definitely recommend it to anyone who wants to stay on the Grand Canal.  The location was great as I could walk everywhere I wanted to go, the breakfast was good, the Wi-Fi was reliable and the beds were comfortable.  The staff was also very friendly and accommodating!

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Visiting the Magical Greek Island of Santorini Again With New Eyes

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 Going on a Mediterranean cruise was at the top of my bucket list this year.  My choices were to leave from Rome, Venice or Athens.  I chose to leave from Venice as I knew I would want to spend some time there once I got back.  I had only been to Venice for a couple of days a few years ago and it rained the entire time.   

I also wanted an itinerary that visited the Greek island Santorini.  Although I visited there two years ago I was very sad while I was there.  I learned that our Black Lab named Shadow, who was around 16 years old, was extremely sick as my plane was boarding in Athens.  I could not have made it home on time to say goodbye to him.  It would've cost $3500 for a one way ticket to get home. 

I did think about just going home as I felt terrible that my husband was alone.  We knew shadow had been very ill for a long time, but I really didn't think anything (or hoped) nothing bad would happen when I was so far away. 

                                                          Here is the post I wrote about what happened: 

What Do You Do When a Tragedy or Emergency Happens at Home While Traveling?

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Visiting the Koh Phi Phi Islands in Thailand for the Second Time

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I was so happy in the above photo because during our week in Phuket we dealt with a lot of weather like the below photo.  Those spots of water are not on the lens of my camera - the rain drops for really that big!  The good thing is it did not rain at night there and we were able to take a trip into the city of Phuket which I will write about later and I thought was extremely beautiful and interesting!

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Night Photo Shoot at the Yasaka-jinja Shrine in the Gion Section of Kyoto Japan

  Japan-1432866 I have heard of photographers going out and taking photos all night long to get the perfect shots and perfect their night photography.  Taking photos at night is one of my biggest challenges when it comes to using my camera.  I do love night photos so it is something I am working on.

While my friend and I visited Kyoto, Japan in June she wanted to go to an area called Gion to see if we would get lucky and see some Geishas.  We had just arrived in Japan a few days before so I was still a little jetlagged.  My friend also has a lot more energy than I do and she insisted that I go.  I was literally falling asleep while I was at this beautiful area in Gion exploring the Yasaka-jinja Shrine.  My photos could be a lot better, but I am very grateful now to my friend for convincing me to stay out until 3 o'clock in the morning.

 

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How I Made It Onto the Cover of National Geographic and Time Magazine on the Same Day

DSC01731_ppWhen visiting Chiang Mai in the northern part of Thailand, my friend and I found a wonderful 3-D museum called "Art in Paradise".  Both my friend and I love to take photos and we spent hours there.  I saw people of all ages having a great time at this unusual museum.  I will continue to visit the 3-D optical illusion museums as much as I can in the future.  As a matter of fact I am going to be seeking them out and may plan a trip around visiting them as I had such a fantastic time. 

In the photo where it looks like I am on the cover of National Geographic magazine.  I am sitting on the floor up against the wall.  Part of the painting is on the floor where I am sitting and the cliff is on the wall behind me.  If you look closely you can see a crease where my right hand is placed.

 

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Visiting the Amazing Monkey Park in Arashiyama Japan

Of all the countries I have visited Japan is now on the list of my favorites.  Although I only explored the amazing Kyoto area I would love to go back in see more of this lovely country.  The country is physically beautiful with so much interesting culture, but I found the people to be the most beautiful thing as they were so friendly and well mannered!

One of my favorite parts of visiting Kyoto was the Arashiyama area.  I'm a huge animal lover and the monkey park was one of my favorite parts of visiting Japan.  The monkeys were so much fun and being so well watched and taken care of by the staff.  I have visited monkeys in other areas of the world and you had to be careful because they were quite aggressive.  These monkeys we're very shy.  I had a hard time getting them to look at me when I wanted to take a photo of them.  They are very well fed so they are not looking for food from humans.  This attraction is rated number 13 out of more than 900 other attractions on Trip Adviser.

Although the monkeys in this park are not actively looking for food, you can purchase a small amount of fruits for a small amounts of money to feed the monkeys.  As you can see from the photos below I really enjoyed this activity!  They are so quick and we will take the fruit from you no matter how hard you try to hold onto it for a little bit longer!

The park is open from 9:00 to 5:00 most of the year.  During during the winter months between November and March the park closes at 4:00 PM.  The price for admission is approximately $5.00 USD for adults and $2.35 USD for children.


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