Check Me Out on Etsy

It is so exciting to see my business come together.  My business name is currently being published in the newspaper to become official.  My amazing fiancé made a logo for me that I feel truly captures who I am.  Next up, we have Etsy!  I’ve had a shop on Etsy for a while now that featured my graphic design work, but now I have a shop specifically for my travel photography business.  Take a moment to check it out and let me know if you’d be interested in me working with your photos.

Liberated Traveler Etsy Shop

M Light Design Etsy Shop

I recently made a Venice print for myself.  Below are the images I used and the final product.  I think this is a great way to capture the essence of a place and its memories in one image.  Perhaps you need one in your home!

Building a Business

The Liberated Traveler has returned!  Although it has been a few years, I identify as the Liberated Traveler more than ever.  I’ve recently started the process of starting my own business under this name.  Sometimes we can’t travel as much as we’d like, so traveling needs to come to us.  The goal of my business is to keep our travels memorable.

Although I will offer a variety of keepsakes, my business’s primary service is travel photo editing.  When traveling to far off lands, we often capture hundreds of images that later remain locked in our devices.  Let those pictures out!  I will take your photos (whether taken with a camera or phone) and enhance them to professional-like quality.  From there, they will be available for download or purchase.  I will also put together keepsakes that will make the most out of your images that can be available for purchase.  Here is an example of how photos can go from lack luster to feeling like you are there again.


One of the travel keepsakes I’m most excited about is custom word art prints.  These custom travel word art prints are a great way to display the essence of a trip.  I take your photos and mask them with letters so multiple images can come together to create a print.  I’m excited to make a shadowbox from a couple trips I’ve gone on.  Stay posted for this exciting keepsake.  Here is a print I made for my aunt with her images.


Venice by Vaporetto: Rialto South

Bridge of SighsSouth

Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo-This is the most elegant spiral staircase I’ve seen.

Teatro la Fenice-The name Fenice (fe-NEE-chay) which means phoenix has more than one implication.  This theatre actually experienced a rebirth after a fire.  If you are interested in Venice or La Fenice, I highly recommend reading City of Falling Angels by John Berendt.

Gondola Parking Lot-So this may not be an actual sight, but if you like seeing something that is typical Venetian in an ordinary setting, a visit to the gondola parking lot may be a good stop for you.

Museo Correr-The Correr museum is filled with art and Venetian life.  This museum may not be for every person that visits Venice, but for the art enthusiasts, it is a good place to escape.  Some people buy tickets at this museum to avoid the long lines at the Doge’s Palace, but the ticket is good for both places.

Piazza San Marco-People are everywhere!  Try not to visit during the peak hours of the day or you may get burnt out pretty quickly.  My favorite time to visit the piazza is during acqua alta, the very early morning, or the late evening.  If acqua alta is rising above the banks of the canal, you will know it in the piazza because it is one of the lower places in the city.  If the water rises high enough, they put out planks to walk on.

Caffe Florian-Looking for an expensive drink with music?  This cafe is your place.  You can’t beat the view.

Campanile-This tower rising above the piazza is not the original.  The first tower came crashing down in 1902.  If you want to rise above the city you can hop in the elevator and look over the lagoon.  If you don’t want to hear bells ringing in your ears all day, you may want to avoid visiting  when the bells play.

Museo di Palazzo Ducole– The Doge’s Palace looks like an artistic cake with pink icing.  The palace has several sights worth visiting.  Even if Tintoretto’s Triumph of Venice doesn’t entice you, you might enjoy taking the sobering walk through the Bridge of Sighs to the jail cells.

Basilica San Marco-Under the onion-shaped domes is a gold masterpiece.  The mosaics are best seen when illuminated during special hours.  Beyond the basilica, make sure you also consider visiting the museum to see all the loot that has made this an eclectic masterpiece.

Bridge of Sighs-Sigh.  Imagine walking to your doom and only seeing glimpses of the majestic city.  What horrible torture.  Even if you don’t go into the Doge’s Palace, make sure you walk around the side to get a glimpse of the vintage-looking limestone.


Venice by Vaporetto: Rialto East


Church of Santa Maria dei Miracoli-Want to see what Venetian Renaissance looks like?  This marble church is considered a “jewel box.”  Pilgrims flocked to the church after the Virgin Mary performed several miracles.  Glide up the canal and hop off at this recently renovated church.

Santa Maria Formosa-One of my favorite Venice moments took place just outside this church.  It was Palm Sunday and a group of men were playing guitars in the campo.   Formosa means “shapely saint Mary.”  A vision appeared of a seductive Mary near this location.  Was it Mary, or a courtesan?  Nonetheless, a beautiful church stands in the spot of the original.

Ca’ del Sol Mask Shop-Hiding one’s identity is tempting while in Venice.  What happens in Venice stays in Venice?  Even if you aren’t visiting during Carnevale, you can get your fill of mysteriousness at this mask shop.  While I was visiting Venice, I was able to get a behind the scenes glance at how simple paper mache is turned into glamorous masks.  What style would you pick?



Venice by Vaporetto: Rialto North


Rialto Bridge-The famous bridge is full of beauty and charm, until all the tourists come toppling in.  I’ve never seen a bridge so full of people.  I would avoid the shopping thrill here because it is filled with touristy shops.  The nearby Ruga can offer some deals, but the best merchants are found in other location.

Come to the bridge in the early morning or late evening.  There will still be people, but not hundreds.  I think some people have a hard time appreciating the beauty of Venice because of the crowds.  Don’t visit when they do and you will find yourself speechless that you are in a city this magnificent.

Rialto Market-If you don’t like the smell of seafood, this market may not be the best for you.  I love markets and I seek them out wherever I travel.  Food reveals a culture, and seafood is the key to unlocking the Venetian way.  If you are staying in an apartment, make sure you do some of your shopping here.  If not, stroll through the fresh produce and catch of the day to see what life is like in this corner of Italy.

Venice Post Office/German Exchange-Maybe you’ve got some postcards to mail, and if not, stroll past the previous trading grounds for German metal makers.  This dates back to the 1500s.  How many sites in the states can say that?

Strada Nuova-This street is big for Venice standards.  There are all kids of opportunities for shopping or eating.  My favorite cicchetti can be found off this major street.  Osteria al Bomba is difficult to find, but worth it in the end.  The alley that lead to the osteria was barely large enough for me and my belly.  Check out my post to learn more about this delicious stop.

Ruga Vecchia San Giovanni-If shopping is in your future, you may want to walk past the shops of the Rialto to the Ruga just past the bridge.  I’m not saying the prices will knock your socks off, but they will be more affordable than tourist city in the Rialto and San Marco.

Venice by Vaporetto: Rialto

Rialto Bridge-045Exploring Venice by vaporetto allows you to take advantage of this easy form of public transportation while seeing the majestic city from the water.  Let’s explore the sights of Rialto.  All places mentioned in this series are within one kilometer of the water bus stop.  Venice is a very walkable city, so there are many sights within reach from each stop.

This time around, I will disperse information across six days:

Monday-Map of Sights

Tuesday-Sights North of Rialto with Explanations

Wednesday-Sights East of Rialto with Explanations

Thursday-Sights South of Rialto with Explanations

Friday-Sights West of Rialto with Explanations

Saturday-Suggested Walk from Rialto

Let’s get started!


Rialto Bridge

Rialto Markets

Venice Post Office/German Exchange

Strada Nuova

Ruga Vecchia San Giovanni


Church of Santa Maria dei Miracoli

Santa Maria Formosa

Ca’ del Sol Mask Shop


Palazzo Contarini del Bovolo

Teatro la Fenice

Gondola Parking Lot

Museo Correr

Piazza San Marco

Caffe Florian


Museo di Palazzo Ducole

Basilica San Marco

Bridge of Sighs


Museo Fortuny

Like the photos you see here?  Check out more in my portfolio.

Venice Vaporetto 101

VeniceThe Venice Vaporetto is by far my favorite public transportation.  The stop is a dock and the vehicle is a boat.  The breeze and spray make it a great way to cool off in the summer.  Some people may be intimidated by the system, but it really is efficient and much more affordable than a gondola or taxi.  I do have to warn you that it is not as handicap-friendly as public transportation we might see in the states.  Then again, Venice is not very handicap-friendly in general.  If you are looking for a how-to or some simple tips, read below for more information.

Getting Ready for the Vaporetto

Finding a vaporetto stop is typically easy unless you are nestled in the back canals.  It can be handy to pick up a map that contains the city layout along with the vaporetto routes.  Even if you aren’t staying in a hotel, you can probably sneak in to pick one up.  Their website also has a downloadable copy of the map.

You can purchase tickets at some vaporetto stops, the airport, or online.  If you are coming in from the airport, it might be easiest to just purchase it there since you will also probably have to purchase a bus ticket to get to Venice.  Actv (the vaporetto company) offers tourist cards that will most likely work best for your travels.  There are different options based on the length of your stay.  Once you purchase a card, you have unlimited use until the time expires.  Make sure you validate your card, or you might be paying for some bigger fines!

How the Vaporetto Works

You’ve got your ticket, now what?  This is where having a vaporetto map can be helpful in creating a plan ahead of time.  If you don’t have a map, there are maps posted at the vaporetto stops.  Unfortunately I don’t have a picture of the vaporetto map, but you can click the link so you can follow along.  Let’s do this step by step:

1. Find the vaporetto stop you are currently at.

2. Find the vaporetto stop you want to go to.

3. If it is on the same line (color/number), then this will be really easy.  Simply look in the direction you want to go until you find the last stop.  You will use the last stop to help you determine which direction you will go.  When you arrive at the vaporetto stop, you will want to find the sign that indicates that direction.  For example, if I was at San Marco-San Zaccaria and I wanted to go to San Giorgio, I would get on the line 2 boat in the direction of Tronchetto.  The vaporetto system is nice because most of the stops list all places the boat will visit.  This is a good way to double check that you are going the right direction.

4.  If you need to change lines, don’t fret.  Let’s say I’m at my home vaporetto stop of San-Marco-San Zaccaria and I want to go to Burano.  I look at the map to see how I can make the fewest connections possible.  I notice that I will take line 41/42 or 51/52 to Fondamente Nova to get on line 12 and exit at Burano.

Want some practice scenarios?  Check these out and look for the answers at the bottom of the post.  Remember, there is more than one way to get where you want to go, but typically we want the most straightforward approach.

1. Rialto to Salute

2. Ferrovia to San Toma

Rialto Bridge-045Important Reminders

After entering the boat, make sure you put your ticket in a safe place.  I have never been on a vaporetto where they check your tickets, but I’ve heard from others that they do check.  Hold onto it to verify you paid your way so you won’t be paying more later.

One of the most important points to remember is to watch your valuable items.  The vaporetto is a common place for pickpockets because we are easily distracted and the boats can become quite packed.  Try to keep your hand over your purse or pocket with your wallet, or wear a moneybelt.  Zippers and buttons are no match for pickpockets.  To learn other tips, check out my blog post about the topic.

Using the Vaporetto

Now that we have a better idea of how to use the vaporetto, we will be ready for the first installment of Venice by Vaporetto tomorrow.  The first post will feature the Rialto stop and all of the wonderful sights within a kilometer.

Answer Key

1-Look for Line 1 in the direction of Lido.

2-Look for Lines 1 or 2.

Travel Journey of the Week: Provence

Gordes2Traveling in the spring is my favorite time to explore.  Since I’m moving my Spain trip to the spring, I thought I’d share another trip that is great to do before the hot summer days set in: Provence.  Share your experiences with us.  Here is how you can contribute:

1. Each Sunday, a place will be set as the theme (it could be a city, landmark, national park, etc.)

2. If you are familiar with the place and would like to contribute, you will write a post and title it Travel Journey of the Week: Provence.  If you’ve already written a post about Belgium, feel free to share it in the comments section!

3. Your post can be any medium that works for you; videos, photos, descriptions, itineraries, personal memories, poems, ticket stubs, etc.

4. Finally, be sure to provide a link back here so everyone can connect and share their own take on the place: ‎

Travel Journey of the Week: Provence

If you’ve never been to Provence, here is a snapshot of a possible itinerary along with some photos.  I included the days of the week because seeing the markets of Provence is definitely a highlight.  Our home base was Avignon.

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Sights to See


Isle Sur la Sorgue

Market Day



Hill Town


Ochre Cliffs


Pont du Gard



Drove Through/Lunch


Old City

Roman Ruins


Aix en Provence

Market Day



Market Day

Roman Ruins

Forum Square

Van Gogh Walk



Maries de la Mer


Spain in the Spring

spain mapI’ve made a slight travel itinerary adjustment.  Rather than packing everything in one trip this summer, I am going to split my travel between spring break and summer break.  I will be visiting Barcelona and Madrid with a day trip to Toledo in March, and I am eager beyond belief.  I originally thought it would be more economical to pack everything in one trip since I was already flying over to Europe, but this was a misconception.  Instead I will spread the joy throughout the year.

I’m sure many of you have been to Spain already, so I’m looking for some advice.  If you haven’t been, you are welcome to post questions here and I will do what I can to cover them.  Here is what I’d like to know:

As readers, what do you want to see most in my live posts?  It is easy to write follow-up posts later, but what do you want to read about as it is happening?

Which is better: tapas tour or cooking class?  Do you have any recommendations for companies in Barcelona or Madrid?

What is overrated and perhaps something that should not be a priority?

I’m taking a Rick Steves’ tour, so here is the basic itinerary.  Am I missing anything that I must see?

Day 1: Welcome to Barcelona

Barcelona, the proud capital of Catalunya, may be the most festive city on the Mediterranean. Meet your guide and group around 5 p.m. at our centrally-located hotel for an orientation meeting — then we’ll join the party with a stroll along the surprise-filled, people-packed Ramblas boulevard before having dinner together. Sleep in Barcelona (3 nights). No bus. Walking: light.

Day 2: Gaudí Day

Today is devoted to the swirling, Modernista architecture of Antoni Gaudí. We’ll tour the greatest works of Barcelona’s master builder, including the towering, dizzying Sagrada Família church and his Casa Milà apartment building. The remainder of your afternoon is free to explore more Gaudí delights throughout the city. This evening we’ll wrap up our day learning about what goes into Catalan cuisine including a visit to the lively, legendary La Boquería market, before setting you free for dinner on your own. No bus. Walking: strenuous.

Day 3: Barri Gòtic and Picasso

This morning, we’ll explore Barcelona’s maze-like Gothic Quarter, from its Roman foundations to the spires of its candle-, relic- (and geese-!) strewn cathedral. We’ll end our tour at the Picasso Museum, Europe’s best collection of Picasso paintings, where we’ll trace the story of this hometown boy-genius’ art as he evolved from a kid who painted like an adult…to an adult who painted like a kid. This evening we’ll toast to our last night in Barcelona with a paella dinner together. No bus. Walking: strenuous.

Day 4: Montjuïc and a Speedy Train to Madrid

We’ll start today with a panoramic bus tour of Barcelona, beginning atop the historic Montjuïc Hill. After a visit to the Museum of Catalan Art, it’s “all aboard” for one of Europe’s speediest trains (the AVE) to Madrid. Upon arrival we’ll meet our bus for a tour of Madrid’s major monuments and classy boulevards. Once we’ve settled into our hotel in the heart of Madrid, we’ll take a neighborhood orientation walk, ending with a tapas-style dinner together. Sleep in Madrid (4 nights). Train: 3 hrs. Bus: 4 hrs. Walking: moderate.

Day 5: Madrid’s Royal Palace

Today, we’ll take a historical walking tour starting at the very center of Madrid, the bustling Puerta del Sol. From there we’ll walk to — and through — the sumptuously-decorated Royal Palace. With 2,000 rooms, tons of luxurious tapestries, and a king’s ransom of chandeliers, this is truly one of the great palaces of Europe. You’ll be free for dinner on your own tonight, but first we’ll prepare your taste buds with a Spanish wine tasting. No bus. Walking: moderate.

Day 6: Masterpieces of Madrid

This morning we’ll tour one of Europe’s premier art museums — the masterpiece-packed Prado — where you’ll see paintings by Velásquez, Goya, El Greco and others. Then we’ll visit the Reina Sofía, Spain’s greatest modern art museum, home to Picasso’s Guernica. The rest of the afternoon is yours to stroll through the majestic Retiro Gardens (Madrid’s most popular park), do a little shopping, and maybe even catch a performance of flamenco. No bus. Walking: strenuous.

Day 7: Toledo

A short bus ride after breakfast will take us to Spain’s old capital city of Toledo (and back in time about 500 years). We’ll take a traffic-free walking tour that includes Toledo’s magnificent cathedral, the historic Sinagoga del Tránsito and El Greco’s The Burial of the Count of Orgaz in Santo Tomé Chapel. This afternoon you’ll have time to enjoy the winding medieval streets of Toledo. We’ll catch the bus back to Madrid for our final dinner together to share travel memories and toast new friends. Salud! Bus: 2 hrs. Walking: strenuous.

Day 8: Tour Over After Breakfast

Madrid’s airport is an easy bus or taxi ride away — or you may want to continue your Iberian adventures on your own. Hasta luego!


Time to start working on my Spanish!