Rolling On To Roma!

Posted by Justin Murphy

January 24, 2020 at 9:00 AM

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Leaving Florence we boarded a private transfer traveling through the scenic Tuscany region, stopping in the town of Orvieto for a wine & light bite pairing. It was great to get out and stretch our legs and break up the ride into two smaller segments. After lunch we rolled on over to Rome. 

 

Upon arrival into Rome we dropped off our luggage and freshened up a bit before we were met by our local guide to explore this great city through a panoramic walking tour hitting most of the highlights. We started at the Spanish steps, 

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winding through piazzas, to the Roman Pantheon, stopped to throw a coin in the Trevi Fountain (or trying to, I accidentally hit someone-WHOOPS), and ended the evening in Piazza Navona for some people watching. After our stroll we went to a local trattoria for some aperitivos and some really good red wine. After dinner, we went exploring on our own. I took this time to try quite a few different gelato stands HAHA.

 

Day 2 in Rome, I woke up early to have breakfast (cured meats, bread, and fresh fruit) before embarking on our journey through Ancient Rome. We boarded our private transfer and headed to our first stop-THE COLOSSEUM! It was much Snapseed (3)bigger than I had anticipated. We entered through the lower section to see where the gladiators were held before entering combat. Then proceeded to the upper decks to get a birds eye view of the arena. It was a site to behold and you could also get a panoramic view of the city from atop the Colosseum. We headed out the back to get a glimpse of the Roman Forum and then onto the Circus Maximus where they held in ancient times the hugely popular chariot races. From there we headed down the Appian Way, one of the oldest and most strategic roadways of the ancient republic. Getting a little extra insight into Ancient Rome we left the hustle and bustle of the big city to Castelli Romani, green foothills outside of Rome proper. Here we enjoyed lunch at a family run fraschettina (trattoria-style, informal eatery beloved by the locals) where I devoured the best carbonara I 

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have ever tasted in my life along with some delicious Frascati wine. After lunch we had a brief walking tour of the Castel Gandolfo- home to the Pope's summer palace! We made our way back into the city in the late afternoon to have the evening at leisure. I squeezed in a  few new hotel inspections and found the amazing LIVE Restaurant (city center and right next to the hotel). This was my favorite meal of the entire trip. For my first course I had the black truffle sea-bass carpaccio (OHH MY GOSH AH-MAZING). Second course was a caesar salad with fresh anchovies that I picked off of course LOL. My entree I had grilled salmon with some type of creme sauce that I wish I could spell, but it was delicious with fresh grilled vegetables. To end this meal we ALL ordered different flavors of gelato, and left with a shot of limoncello which is apparently the only way to end a meal in Roma. After this extremely busy day we called it an early night and went back to the hotel for a good night sleep.

 

The next morning, day 3, we woke up early again for early access into the Sistine Chapel, the Vatican, and St. Peters Basilica. We started with skip the line tickets IMG_6730to the Sistine Chapel which was actually way smaller than I expected, but never the less a sight to be seen. It was breathtaking to see all of the intricate work that was put into this artistic phenomena. Next we went up to the top of St. Peter's Basilica to see inside from above. Then we were asked if we wanted to climb to the top of the dome. It was a trek with over 551 steps to reach the top for an unbelievably spectacular view of Vatican City. I am deathly afraid of heights so I was hugging the walls, but it was an absolutely incredible experience. After reaching our viewing pleasure we descended the stairs to go in St. Peter's to see the many immaculate sculptures and Michelangelo's Pieta. Exiting St. Peter's basilica we walked around St. Peter's Square stopping to grab a traditional Roman pizza for another amazing meal. IMG_6750That afternoon we did some shopping and tried more gelato-I JUST COULDN'T GET ENOUGH! That evening we toured the Trastevere neighborhood, the Jewish Quarter, coming across a lot of stumbling stones, golden squares on the ground to remember those taken by the Holocaust. Trastevere is a very quaint residential area that has a charm all its own. For dinner, we joined Barbara, a local, in her home to have a one of a kind experience and ate way too much food and drank maybe too much wine-if that's even possible. We toasted to a wonderful time and to have experienced it with such amazing friends. It was the perfect exclamation point to end this wonderful journey. We laughed, we cried, and relived our time in this magical place.

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When you feel like it's a dream come true, it just keeps getting better!

The most important thing is to enjoy your Italy vacation.  Be  a  aIMG_6323 traveler, not a tourist. 

Sharpen your photography skills so you can capture "a snapshot in time" to remember the experience and preserve the memories forever  as you explore Venice, the city on water. Looking at my photos BRINGS ME BACK and its always such a beautiful memory! 

I truly hope you get to go to Venice.  If this sounds like the kind of ITALY trip you would enjoy, call me, I would LOVE to help you plan the perfect Trip of a Lifetime!  Please tag us when you show off your Venice Travel Adventure  @VIPTravelExperience! (P.S.  don't get too caught up in the photos that you MISS the moment).

Read more

Topics: why use a travel agent, First Time Tips to Italy, LOVEITALY, Italy Vacation, Italy Travel, luxurytravel

Venice, Italy and all of its Charms

Posted by Justin Murphy

January 17, 2020 at 8:45 AM

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Last month I was able to experience my mom and business partner's happy place that reignited such a passion for travel in her. The one and only ITALY. Though Italy is such a vast and diverse destination, a piece of my heart will always be left in Venice. This is the first excerpt of a 3 part email series detailing my time in this magical world across the Atlantic.  I spent 4 days getting lost in Venice (which is very easy to do) which is another thing that I believe gives this quaint city a charm about itself. The first day I just explored the main sites- Rialto Bridge, St. Marks Basilica, Doges Palace, and the winding canals ending the day with a cichetti crawl with our very own local friend.  Cinzia is very passionate about her home and she took us to some of her favorite spots to enjoy lite bites and an Aperol Spritz (venetian favorite).   I hope I get to introduce her to you!!

 

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The second day was one of my favorites! We spent the morning wandering the less touristy parts of Venice and were invited into a local's (Lucia) home for an authentic venetian lunch (TONS OF FOOD ). During lunch we were surprised with one of Lucia's friends who is a poet. He asked us each to come up with a wordand he made it into a poem. My word was Love and my poem was "Justin that owns in his eyes, the deep sweetness of a child, a happy & thoughtful child"  Italians like to call it a "light" lunch, but it was at least 4 courses. Seared salmon on bread, buffalo mozzarella, 2 types of pasta, and entree was a grilled sea bass (AMAZING). We had the afternoon/evening on our own to explore a bit more. That night we had a private behind the scenes tour of St. Marks Basilica (amazing after all the tourists leave). We walked in and took a seat in complete darkness when all of a sudden the gold inlayed mosaics started to light up with splendor. It was truly a magical experience. After the light show we toured the basilica and the below with a local guide. 

 

The third day we embarked on a traditional venetian boat to explore the Venetians lagoons. We wound through Murano made famous by the glass blowing. Circled around Burano, known for its lace making, which is a photographers dream with its brightly colored building and picturesque canals. 

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We stopped on the island of Torcello, which was the first of the islands to be inhabited in 452 AD, for lunch. It was another delicious 4 course meal. After lunch we made our way back into the city. On our way back to the hotel we enjoyed a private chocolate tasting with a local chef that makes her own special tiramisu (DELICIOUS). After our calorie intake was met we continued on to a traditional Carnival mask workshop. The master artisan demonstrated 3 different techniques and explained what certain types of masks meant and how it all came to be. It was extremely interesting. After we toured his shop, a few of us left with our very own masks.

 

On our last day we left the hotel early for a photography tour, stopping at a traditional oar maker's shop, and exploring the Jewish ghetto. Enjoying the wonder of strolling Venice's scenic streets and back canals. Soaking in all that this magical city has to offer and getting one last look before continuing south to Florence to continue our Italian Adventure.  

 

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When you feel like it's a dream come true, it just keeps getting better!

The most important thing is to enjoy your Italy vacation.  Be  a  aIMG_6323 traveler, not a tourist. 

Sharpen your photography skills so you can capture "a snapshot in time" to remember the experience and preserve the memories forever  as you explore Venice, the city on water. Looking at my photos BRINGS ME BACK and its always such a beautiful memory! 

I truly hope you get to go to Venice.  If this sounds like the kind of ITALY trip you would enjoy, call me, I would LOVE to help you plan the perfect Trip of a Lifetime!  Please tag us when you show off your Venice Travel Adventure  @VIPTravelExperience! (P.S.  don't get too caught up in the photos that you MISS the moment).

Read more

Topics: why use a travel agent, First Time Tips to Italy, LOVEITALY, Italy Vacation, Italy Travel, luxurytravel

Forward To Florence

Posted by Justin Murphy

January 16, 2020 at 11:38 AM

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Italy Trip:  Part 2
I boarded a morning train ride in First Class Venice to Florence. It was only about 2 and a half hours where they served beverages and snacks. Upon arrival we were picked up by private transfer and checked into our hotel in a perfect city center location.

 

After dropping off our luggage and freshening up a bit we were brought to 

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a private cellar lunch with local tuscan delicacies. I had a delicious glass of Tuscan red to start off with the duck confit crostini. The next course was short ribs that was marinated in red wine for 24 hrs- DELICIOUS!

We finished with a pistachio truffle gelato with chocolate. After lunch we joined our local guide 

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Francesca (AMAZING) for a Private Florentine Artisans tour. We were taken on a behind-the-scenes tour observing local artisans of the leather school, met a goldsmith in a Florentine mosaic workshop, and ended the tour in a jeweler's workshop. We wrapped up the night at a trattoria near our hotel for MORE WINE and lite bites.

 

My second day in Florence I woke up before dawn for a 15 minute trek to

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the Piazzale Michelangelo crossing the famed Ponte Vecchio Bridge to see the AMAZING sunrise over the city. A magical view-DEFINITELY recommended for early risers.   After breakfast, we met Francesca again in the hotel lobby and went to visit the Accademia Gallery to see the Statue of David. WOW, he was much bigger than I expected. We were amazed at St. Johns Baptistry  doors and went inside to get a closer look of the bible stories on the ceiling mosaics. After visiting the Baptistry we visited the Duomo to see the inside of this magnificent structure, and had the opportunity to climb to the top of the dome for a panoramic view of the city. 

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I lunched at this amazing little pizza joint right near the hotel, the margherita pizza was so good that I ate the whole thing by myself . I spent the rest of the afternoon just walking around this beautiful renaissance city exploring on my own. Later that evening we attended a cooking class in a locals house where we learned how to prepare gnocchi and were introduced to their typical ingredients & spices used on a daily basis. AMAZING EXPERIENCE- but I am a very picky eater and I don't like potatoes so I didn't eat much. 

Waking up my last morning in Florence I had breakfast in the hotel before checking out and meeting our private driver in the lobby. We stopped in the small town of Orvieto at a beautiful vineyard and bed & breakfast, Locanda Palazzone, for a tour of the vineyard and wine tasting paired with lite bites. We sampled 2 whites and 3 reds along with a bean stew, fish, and duck confit crostini. All of the wines were delicious and I brought back 6 bottles (2 whites & 4 reds).   We walked  around the vineyard enjoying the views and we were on the road again rolling on to Rome! 

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Read more

Topics: why use a travel agent, First Time Tips to Italy, LOVEITALY, Italy Vacation, Italy Travel, luxurytravel

Venice - The Travel Experience of a Lifetime

Posted by Tammy Murphy

August 20, 2019 at 2:42 PM

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Venezia, a city unlike any other! Not just in Italy, but NO OTHER.  Show me a bucket list of travel destinations and I will be SHOCKED if Venice is not on it.
 

City on Water

I will NEVER forget the MAGICAL moment stepping into the water taxi andIMG_0413-2.jpg watching the city come to life.  Typically you will arrive in the morning and as your water taxi motors you to your hotel, you watch in amazement . . .  supplies arriving from the mainland and just the idea that there are NO CARS.  It is fabulous . . . the Grand Canal, the quiet hidden canals, narrow bridges!! Travel CAN change your life and it sure did that for me!

DON'T

Relax, breathe, slow breathing now, you're in the greatest travel destination I can think of!!  It's Italy and its slow and easy here.  Don't expect FAST service, enjoy the slow eats and slow living.  It's part of the Venice charm!!   Don't attempt to see all the sights I include on your itinerary . . . This is just plan B, C, & D depending on area you are in.  Don't miss the Bellini or Proseco!

No stress way to enjoy your Venice vacation

  • Book early so that we can get you a quaint hotel in a great location with back access (you really don't want to pull your luggage on cobblestone streets).  
  • When is the best time to go to vacation in Venice?  ANYTIME!!   I like  April/May, it's always busy, but LESS busy and the weather is great. 
  • Take a locally guided tour of the HOT SPOTS and see them properly.  Sometimes if you don't know the story behind things, you can't fully appreciate the beauty and significance of it. How many times have you looked at something iconic and wonder "what's so great about that?"
  • Hire assistants to transfer you at the airport, to the train station (and sometimes to your gondola  ha ha-you can and WE DID get lost-we could see it but with the alleys that just end, we just couldn't get there). I do believe in no-stress traveling.
  • Hire drivers that will be waiting for you at the end of the train tracks.
  • Take a walking guided tour with reputable, Italian based company.  Don't you want to hear unique stories of locals that were born and raised in Venice.  Oh the stories, they are amazing!  Skip the ques and get access to the sights, guides have pre-ordered priority access (included in tour) and you will make your way straight up to the mezzanine.  Get a close up view of the17110033096_e18d30173f_z.jpg gold mosaic St. Mark's Basilica with marble inlays (this time I happened upon the Basilica right in time for mass-it was so beautiful).  Soak up all of the history, guides will take you a step back in time to the city's glorious past!!  As you walk along the corridors of Doge's Palace, your guide will share fascinating history of the Republic of Venice. Truly, don't skip the guide for St. Mark's Basilica and Doge's Palace.  Oh and Cross the Bridge of Sighs and imagine for a moment the sadness of the prisoners taking their last look at beautiful Venice.  Ask about the most famous prisoner.
  • Pick a couple of must-see spots, enjoy them, take it ALL IN!!  
  • IMG_0279-2.jpgPrivate, serenade Gondola Ride (most people think they all include serenade, not so).  Definitely a highlight for me, the sweetest and most passionate serenade you can imagine--feels like you are the only people in Italy.
  • Because everything in Italy revolves around food, take a Cicchetti Crawl.  Enjoy appetizers while sipping wine in a typical bacari and wander from the Cannaregio District to Strada Nuova and to the Rialo area.  With private tours, the owners will have your tapas and wines ready and waiting as you arrive.

Throw away the map

  • Then throw the map away and wander, wander the Jewish Ghetto, hidden alleys, campo, piazza, cross the bridges.  Enjoy the fact, that you are walking in a maze.  Allow yourself to be surprised by venice in every turn. Enjoy getting lost in Venice.
  • Use all of your senses, not only see all of the beauty, but take time to hear the beautiful Italian conversations, the chiming church bells, the serenades. Smell the wonderful fragrant, fresh fruit stands, or the earthy scent of truffles or pastries, spices as you pass the restaurants and salt water in the canals.IMG_0410.jpg

When you feel like it's a dream come true, it just keeps getting better!

The most important thing is to enjoy your Italy vacation.  Be  a traveler, not a tourist.  Sharpen your photography skills so you can capture "a snapshot in time" to remember the experience and preserve the memories forever  as you explore Venice, the city on water. Looking at my photos BRINGS ME BACK and its always such a beautiful memory! Justin Murphy shares some cool photo tips in this previous blog article.

I truly hope you get to go to Venice, call me, I would LOVE to help you plan the perfect Trip of a Lifetime!  Please tag us when you show off your Venice Travel Adventure  @VIPTravelExperience! (P.S.  don't get too caught up in the photos that you MISS the moment)

Read more

Topics: #girlstrip, #bestvacation, #viptravelexperience, travel planner, planning the right trip, travel concierge, travel consultant, #passportpassion, why use a travel agent, Best Vacation Value, #group travel, Italy Vacation, Italy Travel, Italy Photographer, Italy Travel Tips, Anniversary Travel, Honeymoon

Hiring a Professional Chauffeur: "Let Us Handle It"

Posted by Justin Murphy

August 7, 2017 at 5:45 PM

 

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Whether you’re catching a flight for a business trip or splurging for that dream vacation of a lifetime. Trying to keep a schedule while taking in every little experience you can get your hands on from event to event, hiring the elite, skilled, professional help of a chauffeur service is the always the way to go. Chauffeuring is an extremely handy, affordable, view finding means of transportation that provides exorbitant benefits, and no one knows those benefits better than our on the ground, experience based, knowledgeable company’s drivers. Having served satisfied customers of the all over Europe.

 

“ I cannot express to you enough, how much this trip meant to all of us!!"

-Tom


"We saw wonderful places and the views were so much better and I know we would not have been able to see as much as we did, if we had tried to drive ourselves or small group!!"

-Sara


"Our favorite part of the whole trip were the drivers! They were all awesome!! Especially in Ireland our driver searched for 3 days to get the perfect authentic shillelagh”

-Linda


"Thank you for suggesting the private driver in St. Thomas/St. John." We saw so much more than we imagined AND hearing the stories and suggestions of local, good eats--great value!"

-Lynn  

Having a driver serves multiple benefits from punctuality to the ability to seamlessly handle rough weather with a drivers’ years of experience, hiring a professional chauffeur service for your next trip could change the way you feel about transportation to the airport, make a country side tour much more insightful, an exploration into hidden gems only the locals know about, and with that one on one experience that lets you decide what you want to do and where you want to go offering wide range of other locations off the beaten path waiting to be explored.

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Highest Trained Professional, Personable Drivers:

  • All of our suppliers’ professional chauffeurs are held to the best of safety standards that make other transportation services pale in comparison. Any destination, anytime, you can be stress free that no matter what comes your way your driver has been trained and is ready for it.

Our Drivers are On Time, Every Time:

  • These highly trained professionals are always on time. Our suppliers can solemnly swear that they do everything in their power to ensure they are present and awaiting your arrival and you waiting in line somewhere trying to rent a car, or standing on side of the road in the rain waiting to catch a cab (believe me, it happens).

Luggage Support:

  • Our entire registry of suppliers offer the most personable of drivers that take care of every one of your travel needs. While their drivers can’t go in and meet our clients at the baggage claim, our friendly greeters are more than happy to assist in gathering, carrying, and transporting any luggage you may no matter how big or small.

 

We Offer Suppliers All Over the World:

  • Be proffessionally Chauffeured is perfect for almost any occasion. It just adds that little extra touch of luxury to any type of destination for any motive including business meetings, bachelorette or bachelor parties, themed trips, medical appointments, or just a fun night out.

 

Bad Weather, No Worries:

  • The extremely trained professional drivers of a chauffeur service are qualified in handling any type of inclement weather, reassuring any worries of staying on schedule. We make sure you’ll make it to your destination safely and on time.

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As I hope you can see by now, hiring a professional, vetted chauffeur has many diverse benefits that insuring the decision of hiring the service a no-brainer. These are just the few reasons we want to help your next experience in a new land something that you’ll always remember and to adventure somewhere you’ll never forget. So call VIP Travel Experience the next time you need a reliable ride.

 
Read more

Topics: #girlstrip, #bestvacation, #viptravelexperience, travel planner, planning the right trip, #passportpassion, why use a travel agent, Best Vacation Value, Italy Vacation, Italy Travel, Italy Travel Tips, Anniversary Travel, Honeymoon

Venice, Italy - The Trip of a Lifetime

Posted by Tammy Murphy

August 1, 2017 at 7:30 AM

tm_4717.jpg

Venezia, a city unlike any other! Not just in Italy, but NO OTHER.  Show me a bucket list of travel destinations and I will be SHOCKED if Venice is not on it.
 

City on Water

I will NEVER forget the MAGICAL moment stepping into the water taxi andIMG_0413-2.jpg watching the city come to life.  Typically you will arrive in the morning and as your water taxi motors you to your hotel, you watch in amazement . . .  supplies arriving from the mainland and just the idea that there are NO CARS.  It is fabulous . . . the Grand Canal, the quiet hidden canals, narrow bridges!! Travel CAN change your life and it sure did that for me!

DON'T

Relax, breathe, slow breathing now, you're in the greatest travel destination I can think of!!  It's Italy and its slow and easy here.  Don't expect FAST service, enjoy the slow eats and slow living.  It's part of the Venice charm!!   Don't attempt to see all the sights I include on your itinerary . . . This is just plan B, C, & D depending on area you are in.  Don't miss the Bellini or Proseco!

No stress way to enjoy your Venice vacation

  • Book early so that we can get you a quaint hotel in a great location with back access (you really don't want to pull your luggage on cobblestone streets).  
  • When is the best time to go to vacation in Venice?  ANYTIME!!   I like  April/May, it's always busy, but LESS busy and the weather is great. 
  • Take a locally guided tour of the HOT SPOTS and see them properly.  Sometimes if you don't know the story behind things, you can't fully appreciate the beauty and significance of it. How many times have you looked at something iconic and wonder "what's so great about that?"
  • Hire assistants to transfer you at the airport, to the train station (and sometimes to your gondola  ha ha-you can and WE DID get lost-we could see it but with the alleys that just end, we just couldn't get there). I do believe in no-stress traveling.
  • Hire drivers that will be waiting for you at the end of the train tracks.
  • Take a walking guided tour with reputable, Italian based company.  Don't you want to hear unique stories of locals that were born and raised in Venice.  Oh the stories, they are amazing!  Skip the ques and get access to the sights, guides have pre-ordered priority access (included in tour) and you will make your way straight up to the mezzanine.  Get a close up view of the17110033096_e18d30173f_z.jpg gold mosaic St. Mark's Basilica with marble inlays (this time I happened upon the Basilica right in time for mass-it was so beautiful).  Soak up all of the history, guides will take you a step back in time to the city's glorious past!!  As you walk along the corridors of Doge's Palace, your guide will share fascinating history of the Republic of Venice. Truly, don't skip the guide for St. Mark's Basilica and Doge's Palace.  Oh and Cross the Bridge of Sighs and imagine for a moment the sadness of the prisoners taking their last look at beautiful Venice.  Ask about the most famous prisoner.
  • Pick a couple of must-see spots, enjoy them, take it ALL IN!!  
  • IMG_0279-2.jpgPrivate, serenade Gondola Ride (most people think they all include serenade, not so).  Definitely a highlight for me, the sweetest and most passionate serenade you can imagine--feels like you are the only people in Italy.
  • Because everything in Italy revolves around food, take a Cicchetti Crawl.  Enjoy appetizers while sipping wine in a typical bacari and wander from the Cannaregio District to Strada Nuova and to the Rialo area.  With private tours, the owners will have your tapas and wines ready and waiting as you arrive.

Throw away the map

  • Then throw the map away and wander, wander the Jewish Ghetto, hidden alleys, campo, piazza, cross the bridges.  Enjoy the fact, that you are walking in a maze.  Allow yourself to be surprised by venice in every turn. Enjoy getting lost in Venice.
  • Use all of your senses, not only see all of the beauty, but take time to hear the beautiful Italian conversations, the chiming church bells, the serenades. Smell the wonderful fragrant, fresh fruit stands, or the earthy scent of truffles or pastries, spices as you pass the restaurants and salt water in the canals.IMG_0410.jpg

When you feel like it's a dream come true, it just keeps getting better!

The most important thing is to enjoy your Italy vacation.  Be  a traveler, not a tourist.  Sharpen your photography skills so you can capture "a snapshot in time" to remember the experience and preserve the memories forever  as you explore Venice, the city on water. Looking at my photos BRINGS ME BACK and its always such a beautiful memory! Justin Murphy shares some cool photo tips in this previous blog article.

I truly hope you get to go to Venice, call me, I would LOVE to help you plan the perfect Trip of a Lifetime!  Please tag us when you show off your Venice Travel Adventure  @VIPTravelExperience! (P.S.  don't get too caught up in the photos that you MISS the moment)

Read more

Topics: #girlstrip, #bestvacation, #viptravelexperience, travel planner, planning the right trip, travel concierge, travel consultant, #passportpassion, why use a travel agent, Best Vacation Value, #group travel, Italy Vacation, Italy Travel, Italy Photographer, Italy Travel Tips, Anniversary Travel, Honeymoon

Professionally Pack Your Suitcase Make Sure You Never Leave Something at Home Again!

Posted by Justin Murphy

July 27, 2017 at 8:30 AM

 

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So I think what most of us, travellers, stress and dread the most about our vacation is the packing, or at least for me it is. Trying to figure out how many bags to brings, how many outfits, pairs of shoes, jackets, etc. Well I'll give you one tip to right off the back: GET ORGANIZED BEFORE YOU PACK! This usually includes making a check list of everything you will need.

Here is a link for an example of a packing checklist: Packing List

  1. packing flowchart.jpgNarrow it Down. Gather all of your clothes that you need to bring, want to bring, and think you mightneed. Now cut your choices in half, and then separate what you'll definitely need from things you want to bring. Now put together different outfits and lay them out on your bed, spare bedroom, or couch, etc. Now time for the tough part, you need to make choices. Choose which outfit goes with each day. A plan saves you time later so you dont have to decide each day what you want to wear. Contrary to what you might think you don't need 3 outfits for 1 day. Now that you've narrowed down all your outfits take what you didn't choose as an outfit and put that back in your closet. (Travel Tip: Pack clothing that be used for multiple things, ex. yoga pants can double as pajama pants or a sarong can double as a  swimsuit coverup, or scarf)
  2. Drape longer pieces like pants. Fold pants in half (leg over leg) and lay flat at bottom of suitcase and line up waist lines with center of suitcase (ex. 2-3 per side) with the pant leg draped over the sides hanging out of the suitcase. (After you have put all of your rolled clothing on top of the pants inside the suitcase wrap the legs over the top of the rolled clothes to keep it tightly packed all together.)
  3. Roll don't Fold. Tighly rolling your softer, wrinkle-resistant garments, like T-shirts and cotton pants, and place them along the base of the bag. Jeans should be rolled, too. Also if your suitcase has separate pocket/storage for undergarments those should be rolled as well.
  4. Fill In With Smaller Items. Look for nooks and crannies to fill with smaller items, like bras and socks. (Travel Tip: Stuff the cups of your bras with rolled-up socks to maintain bra shape and snake belts around the perimeter of the bag.) Then cover the whole pile with a dry-cleaning bag that can double as a dirty clothes hamper while you're on vacation plus thanks to the bag’s slippery surface, clothes won’t stay in one place long enough for creases to set.
  5. Choose Shoes Wisely: As a general rule pick three pairs of shoes, like a casual sandal or loafer, sneakers, and an evening shoe –go for styles that can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion. Wear the heaviest pair en route and pack the others along the sides of your suitcase in resealable bags. (Travel Tip: If shoes are dirty you can put in gallon ziplock bags or strech a shower cap around the bottoms to keep them together and protect them from dirtying your clothes.
  6. Pack Your JewelryAre you tired of spending tons of time untangling bracelets, necklaces, and earrings from one another after you unpack? Stow inexpensive jewelry in a seven-day plastic pillbox or a 35-millimeter film canister. Wear any fine jewelry en route to ensure it won’t get lost or stolen.
  7. Last But Certainly Not Least, Cross Pack! If traveling with another person try to cross pack between each other's suitcase putting at least 2 outfits in the other's suitcase. Also if checking bags make sure to have at least a clean pair of underwear, 1 outfit, and a swimsuit in your carry on just incase your luggage doesnt make it the same time you do to your destination.
Bonus!
Airplane Tote Packing Tips! 
  1. Laptop. A laptop computer is always a good idea to bring especially if traveling for business, just be sure you'll have a safe place to store it in your room when you get to your destination. Access to the internet in this day and age is crucial. 
  2. Small Pouch for Toiletries/Essentials: small pill case with allergy medicine, travel Advil, Chapstick, travel lotion, travel tissues, floss, etc. Just remember if bringing any liquids on board they must be less than 3 fl. oz. I carry this pouch with these contents daily. While traveling I make sure to have lotion and chapstick with me because my hands and lips get dry on long haul flights. I also MUST have headache medicine. I once had a migraine in flight and no one around me had medicine. It was absolutely AWFUL.
  3. Reading Material. All that time strapped in your seat on a flight I often like to take the opportunity to journal, read my bible, book, or magazine (Travel Tip: This time is also great to look over your printed out itinerary from VIP.) Otherwise, I'm working on my computer on the flight. If driving I don't carry these things in my tote and opt to pack them in my suitcase instead.
  4. Small wallet. My daily wallet is much bigger, but when you travel you should always try to bring less. A little pouch is all I need to hold cash and essential credit cards.
  5. Headphones & iPhone Charger. These are two essentials to all of my travels, and they MUST be in my carry-on. I've been stuck on long layovers one too many times with low battery and no charger to have learned my lesson. Also, in case I had to check luggage and it gets lost, I don't want to be without a charged phone. (Travel Tip: An old glasses case that is not being used is great for storage for earphones and chargers it also makes them easier to find and not get all tangled.)
  6. Sunglasses with a little pouch or case. Sunglasses are a must for me on any vacation, but I strongly reccomend them for all my caribbean travelers. Also bring something to clean them with.
  7. Water bottle & Snacks. Make sure it is empty until through customs and security. A water bottle is an absolute must, and it also helps to have something insulated to keep cool longer. A good example is a stainless steel and insulated, keeping water cold (if you put ice in it) for up to 24 hours and hot up to 6 hours, and snacks because traveling hangry is bad for everyone involved.
  8. Light Layers. A Light cardigan. I get cold on flights, so I always bring an extra layer. (Travel Tip: I've noticed window seats are colder than aisles.) I try not to bring a super thick layer because I don't like carrying heavy or bulky stuff through the airport. The extra layer needs to fit nicely in the tote, along with everything else, without taking up the entire tote. 
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Topics: #girlstrip, #bestvacation, #viptravelexperience, travel planner, planning the right trip, different travel styles, travel concierge, travel consultant, #passportpassion, why use a travel agent, Best Vacation Value, #group travel, Italy Vacation, Italy Travel, Italy Photographer, Italy Travel Tips, Anniversary Travel, Honeymoon

Venice, Italy and All of Its Charm

Posted by Tammy Murphy

July 25, 2017 at 8:00 AM

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Venezia, a city unlike any other! Not just in Italy, but NO OTHER.  Show me a bucket list of travel destinations and I will be SHOCKED if Venice is not on it.
 

City on Water

I will NEVER forget the MAGICAL moment stepping into the water taxi andIMG_0413-2.jpg watching the city come to life.  Typically you will arrive in the morning and as your water taxi motors you to your hotel, you watch in amazement . . .  supplies arriving from the mainland and just the idea that there are NO CARS.  It is fabulous . . . the Grand Canal, the quiet hidden canals, narrow bridges!! Travel CAN change your life and it sure did that for me!

DON'T

Relax, breathe, slow breathing now, you're in the greatest travel destination I can think of!!  It's Italy and its slow and easy here.  Don't expect FAST service, enjoy the slow eats and slow living.  It's part of the Venice charm!!   Don't attempt to see all the sights I include on your itinerary . . . This is just plan B, C, & D depending on area you are in.  Don't miss the Bellini or Proseco!

No stress way to enjoy your Venice vacation

  • Book early so that we can get you a quaint hotel in a great location with back access (you really don't want to pull your luggage on cobblestone streets).  
  • When is the best time to go to vacation in Venice?  ANYTIME!!   I like  April/May, it's always busy, but LESS busy and the weather is great. 
  • Take a locally guided tour of the HOT SPOTS and see them properly.  Sometimes if you don't know the story behind things, you can't fully appreciate the beauty and significance of it. How many times have you looked at something iconic and wonder "what's so great about that?"
  • Hire assistants to transfer you at the airport, to the train station (and sometimes to your gondola  ha ha-you can and WE DID get lost-we could see it but with the alleys that just end, we just couldn't get there). I do believe in no-stress traveling.
  • Hire drivers that will be waiting for you at the end of the train tracks.
  • Take a walking guided tour with reputable, Italian based company.  Don't you want to hear unique stories of locals that were born and raised in Venice.  Oh the stories, they are amazing!  Skip the ques and get access to the sights, guides have pre-ordered priority access (included in tour) and you will make your way straight up to the mezzanine.  Get a close up view of the17110033096_e18d30173f_z.jpg gold mosaic St. Mark's Basilica with marble inlays (this time I happened upon the Basilica right in time for mass-it was so beautiful).  Soak up all of the history, guides will take you a step back in time to the city's glorious past!!  As you walk along the corridors of Doge's Palace, your guide will share fascinating history of the Republic of Venice. Truly, don't skip the guide for St. Mark's Basilica and Doge's Palace.  Oh and Cross the Bridge of Sighs and imagine for a moment the sadness of the prisoners taking their last look at beautiful Venice.  Ask about the most famous prisoner.
  • Pick a couple of must-see spots, enjoy them, take it ALL IN!!  
  • IMG_0279-2.jpgPrivate, serenade Gondola Ride (most people think they all include serenade, not so).  Definitely a highlight for me, the sweetest and most passionate serenade you can imagine--feels like you are the only people in Italy.
  • Because everything in Italy revolves around food, take a Cicchetti Crawl.  Enjoy appetizers while sipping wine in a typical bacari and wander from the Cannaregio District to Strada Nuova and to the Rialo area.  With private tours, the owners will have your tapas and wines ready and waiting as you arrive.

Throw away the map

  • Then throw the map away and wander, wander the Jewish Ghetto, hidden alleys, campo, piazza, cross the bridges.  Enjoy the fact, that you are walking in a maze.  Allow yourself to be surprised by venice in every turn. Enjoy getting lost in Venice.
  • Use all of your senses, not only see all of the beauty, but take time to hear the beautiful Italian conversations, the chiming church bells, the serenades. Smell the wonderful fragrant, fresh fruit stands, or the earthy scent of truffles or pastries, spices as you pass the restaurants and salt water in the canals.IMG_0410.jpg

When you feel like it's a dream come true, it just keeps getting better!

The most important thing is to enjoy your Italy vacation.  Be  a traveler, not a tourist.  Sharpen your photography skills so you can capture "a snapshot in time" to remember the experience and preserve the memories forever  as you explore Venice, the city on water. Looking at my photos BRINGS ME BACK and its always such a beautiful memory! Justin Murphy shares some cool photo tips in this previous blog article.

I truly hope you get to go to Venice, call me, I would LOVE to help you plan the perfect Trip of a Lifetime!  Please tag us when you show off your Venice Travel Adventure  @VIPTravelExperience! (P.S.  don't get too caught up in the photos that you MISS the moment)

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Topics: #girlstrip, #bestvacation, #viptravelexperience, travel planner, planning the right trip, travel concierge, travel consultant, #passportpassion, why use a travel agent, Best Vacation Value, #group travel, Italy Vacation, Italy Travel, Italy Photographer, Italy Travel Tips, Anniversary Travel, Honeymoon

Memories Fade, But A Photograph is Timeless!

Posted by Justin Murphy

July 20, 2017 at 8:35 AM

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Smart phones these days can take great photos and videos, but there are a few simple things to know to make sure your memories are captured best. Try a few little tricks, shooting great photos/video with your smartphone will be as easy as 1-2-3 and the footage will look like it was taken by a professional.  YES, you have amazing potential to capture incredible photos/videos right in the palm of your hand.
 

Ample Lighting is Crucial

Try to capture your photos in brightly lit areas to  avoid unnecessary shadows over faces and grainy/blurry areas in your picture. Most smart phones these days offer touch focusing if you find your camera/phone is focusing on the wrong area of your portrait, just tap on the screen where you'd like it to focus. Once you're finished setting the focus on the most aweinspiring aspect of your photo, your camera's automatic exposure control will have an easier time making small adjustments if lighting conditions begin to change. Now with all of the improvements to the smart phone cameras, they do most of the hard work for you.

Be Aware of Background Noise

The quality of your audio effects is just as important, if not more, than the quality of your visual effects. It’s oh so common to hear wind and other unnecessary environmental noise that will completely drown out or distort any important audio while shooting a video outside. Try to shoot your video in a quieter place or protected from wind and other audible distractions, or maybe indoors if possible with less ambient noise. If you have to video in the elements, stay close to the audio source you're recording and try to shelter the phone’s microphone (without covering it completely) with your hand or body to protect it from other sounds. You can even purchase microphone for your iphone.

Keep it Steady, Eddy

Keeping your phone or camera as steady as possible is probably the most important part of capturing a clear focused photograph or video. A selfie stick (or tripod for cameras) comes in handy and will help to keep your shots clear and steady. If handheld, try your absolute best to keep your camera as steady as possible, using both hands will help to keep it focused. The shot doesn’t have to be perfectly steady, especially with all the advancement in your cameras and smart phones, but the steadier the better.

Try to Avoid Shooting Portrait (Vertical) Video

We live in a tecnocentric world now, everything we do get's blasted all over the internet due to facebook, instagram, snapchat, and various other social media applications and nearly all of them focus with a landscape (horizontal) orientation template. Laptops, websites and social media probably won’t tell the whole story due to the automatic cropping or "drag to fit" features. Try holding your phone horizontally and you’ll get everything you need in your snapshot.


Try to Avoid Using the Zoom Feature on Your Phone

As tempting as it may be to use the zoom feature to expand your shot, try to avoid it because the lens isn’t zooming optically therefore the picture is getting bigger but the pixels are going to getting blurry (if you try to blow up a 3x5 picture into a 8x10, you will see a visible blur because the picture wasnt formatted for that dimension). Using the zoom feature only enlarges the picture digitally, causing unsightly pixels. There are multiple clip-on lens adapters that work great for wider shots and some even add great effects like fisheye, bubble, etc.


There's an APP for that

Most built-in camera apps work well, and there are plenty of downloadable apps that will take your photography skill to the next level, allowing you to tinker with color, focus, exposure, fast and slow motion, depth effect, and time-lapse images.  Ask your friends which apps they love, and try a few.  You will enjoy reliving your vacation with these tips to improve your video and photo skills. I like to use Camera+ for scenery and either FaceTune or Airbrush for portraits. (pictured below taken with iPhone 5s using Camera+ app in France)

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Have Fun With It!

The most important thing about capturing photographs is to use it to take "a snapshot in time" to remember the experience and preserve lasting memories, so have fun, explore the world and make sure to tag us when you show off your photography skills @VIPTravelExperience! The more energy you put into it, the better your photos will be. Capture as much as you can and remember to look for those special active and meaningful moments as well as those gorgeous scenic landscapes that will look great in your photos.  (P.S.  don't get too caught up in the photos that you MISS the moment)

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Topics: #girlstrip, #bestvacation, #viptravelexperience, travel planner, planning the right trip, different travel styles, #reunion, travel concierge, travel consultant, #passportpassion, why use a travel agent, Best Vacation Value, #group travel, Italy Vacation, Italy Travel, Italy Photographer

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