Kayti VS the World


31 August 2016

Japan Funbox Review


I don't do a whole lot of "box" type reviews despite the many options available for those who love travel or anything culturally diverse. But when I was contacted by Japan Funbox to do a review I couldn't resist, I mean, I am planning on going to Tokyo in a few months so I figured the timing couldn't be better! I was sent the Mini Japanese Candy Box or Japan Funbox* and I don't know why I get so excited about trying new food but I could not wait to rip this thing open.

This subscription box comes in three sizes, the Mini, the Original and the Family Size and starts at an affordable $14.99 a month which is pretty low compare to some other subscription boxes I've looked at and subscribed to. After receiving the Mini I might just have to order the Original because some of the snacks and treats I was sent were amazing.

ALFORT Chocolate - This was a bar of individual whole grain cookies coated in milk chocolate, and not the standard milk chocolate that you get from Safeway. I'm talking the World Market kind of milk chocolate. I'm not normally much of a chocolate person but I ate this entire bar in one sitting. I didn't plan to. It just happened.

Grape Whistle Candy - Yes, this candy does actually whistle. And it doesn't taste bad either. Kind of like a soft version of Smarties.

Pizza Potato Chips - So, to me these didn't taste like pizza. They tasted more just like... pizza flavoring. There's a difference. I'm not much of a chip person and these weren't bad, persay, but I would never buy them myself.

Pretz Tomato Taste Sticks - Okay, these actually tasted like pizza and they are addicting. And tiny. So you can eat a lot of them. It's a really soft cracker that literally tastes like a pizza stick. My boyfriend even liked them and I can never get him to try new food.

Ume-Pachi - This is supposed to be a sour plum fizzing candy but I can't really give much of a review of it because as soon as I put a little in my mouth I gagged. I found it to be extremely salty and nothing even loosely resembling a plum flavor.

Shuwabo - I would imagine this is kind of the Japanese version of Laffy Taffy? It has that same super potent artificially fruity flavor but it had some kind of crackling bits on the inside. Not a lot, but you could still tell it was there. Almost like an extremely toned down Poprock center.

After looking at the kind of stuff that comes in the Original and Family boxes, I might just have to order another one... And even better news you can get $3 off your first Original or Family box using code "3offget".

Have any of you tried travel or worldly related subscription boxes that you enjoyed? I would love to try out a few more!


24 August 2016

review of hotel quattro fontane in lido venice

Hotel Quattro Fontane

Since for the previous week or so we had been staying in Murano and Venice, arriving in Lido was a little bit of a shock. It had been a while since we had seen a car or a bus or anything other than boats as a mode of transportation for that matter. So, we stepped off the boat and immediately come upon a roundabout filled with cars, buses, bicycles and scooters. Having become quite accustomed to walking while being in Venice we decided to start the 15 to 20 minute walk to our hotel. In the same way that Venice is known for it's winding streets and alleyways, Lido is known it's beaches and laid back vacation feels.

The walk to the hotel pretty much runs parallel to the beach the whole way, we passed a few street vendors and a few little curbside bars and restaurants. The main building sits just behind the front gate and is easy to spot by the lush ivy climbing up it's walls. Since our room wasn't ready when we arrived we decided to leave our luggage, walk back into town and rent a scooter for the day. This was also when we learned that it's completely normal for a hotel in Italy to request to keep your passport for a short period of time to process your check in.

review of hotel quattro fontane in lido venice
review of hotel quattro fontane in lido venice

The Hotel

The hotel property is a lot larger than I expected. Each common area is ornately decorated with eye catching pieces that will leave you wondering... We still want to know what was inside the trunk in the East building. There is a large courtyard with a beautiful tree that looms over, providing shade and a romantic atmosphere. And the courtyard is filled with various flowers, plants and little lizards. In the Summer, you can spend the evening dining outside among the flowers and candlelight. One evening, after taking a jet lag induced nap, we were leaving our room to walk into town for dinner. When we stepped into the courtyard, we saw at least 20 of the hotel guests in wicker chairs sat among the flowers and plant life, drinking Prosecco and laughing as the sun slipped beneath the ocean waves. I remember wanting to stay but my stomach was taking me elsewhere...

TIP: Lido is all about slow living. So, take a break from exploring one evening, pour a glass of wine and spend an evening underneath that large courtyard tree enjoying the ocean air.

review of hotel quattro fontane in lido venice
review of hotel quattro fontane in lido venice

The Room

The rooms, also ornately decorated, have everything you could need for a comfortable stay. Our room didn't have a shower but it did have an unnaturally long tub. Everybody loves a good bath so this was a welcome exchange for us. Our room had large windows that opened like french doors over the courtyard. One morning we were there, we got caught in a Spring storm and hung our clothes in front of the window to let them dry. I remember the sun finally coming out and filtering onto the bed through the lace in my dress, little flecks of faded sunlight that told us we could get back on our way again, exploring the island.

review of hotel quattro fontane in lido venice

The Island

I didn't find that any part of Venice lacked that old world charm, but Lido was like the California of Venice. There were motor vehicles for one thing, sandy beaches littered with bikini-clad designer-name-beach-tote bearing vacationers. The island is pretty small and easy to explore via scooter (we were able to rent one for 24 hours for around $35 which we thought was a STEAL, it costs twice that much in Capri).

There are quite a few gelato spots around town that have some pretty extensive flavor lists. There was also a beyond amazing Indian restaurant righ t on the main strip called Buddha Soul that I cannot recommend enough. One night, Chris stayed in with a fever (worst time ever to be sick on vacation in Italy) and I went out to dinner by myself. The waiter acted like it was the most out of thi world thing that I was eating alone but I thought it was nice. I arrived late (to Americans anyway) at around 8:30pm and decided to sit outside to watch the town slowly fade from bustling day time beach goers into late night gelato stops and bar hopping (of which there were only a few so there wasn't a lot of "hopping" per say). I tried several things off the menu and they were all some of the best Indian food I've had at any restaurant (doesn't beat at authentic at home cuisine of course, but what does!).

TIP: There are a few scooter rental places in Lido, I recommend the one on Via Negroponte 14/b, 30126. The service was amazing and the price was the best we saw during our whole time in Italy.

review of hotel quattro fontane in lido venice
review of hotel quattro fontane in lido venice

The Breakfast

I have this weird fascination with room service and I really hope I'm not alone in that. So when I found out that we could have the option to have breakfast delivered to our room, I jumped all over it. It was relaxing to have breakfast in front of those french door style windows over the courtyard in our pajamas but I would still recommend heading to the dining room. Also, when you order breakfast to your room, you choose from a menu and some things do come at a surcharge whereas when you take breakfast in the dining room it is served buffet style and there are no surcharges.

I personally thought that the dining room breakfast surpassed the room service breakfast in quality AND quantity. There was wide variety of options from eggs, breakfast meats, scones and pastries, cereal, waffles, etc. Similar to an American buffet breakfast but the quality was much better.

Book This Hotel If you want to spend some time on the beach but still be in close proximity to downtown Venice. Hotel Quattro Fontane is suitable for all travelers solo and otherwise.

Rooms Starting at $167*
*price based on current exchange rate

Kayti VS the World was invited as a guest of the Hotel Quattro Fontane however, as always, all opinions are my own

FRIDAY FINDS: 07/22/2016

22 July 2016

Can't wait to try out these new matte lipsticks

Need this bowl.

Oh my god, West Coast Harry Potter fans rejoice

Every country should do this.

Modcloth has released a bridal collection and it's beautiful AND affordable.

Six beautiful things you need on your desk right now.

This quiz can guess your gender, age and average income based on what apps are on your phone. It was spot on for me! Twenty somethings unmarried female making over 52k! What did you get?

Uhhhh wow. When this place opens up later this year it will deserve an entire blog post dedicated to just the food. I'm literally going to order everything. Every. Thing.

This skirt.


20 July 2016

food tips for italy

The Bread Is Not Free!

A lot of times, sitting down at an Italian restaurant you will be served water and a basket of bread. If you're from America, you probably assume this is free. It isn't. You will be charged something called coperto, which is essentially a cover charge or bread and butter charge as some call it. Even if you aren't served bread you can still be charged coperto simply as a "cover" for sitting down in the restaurant. These charges are not always easy to spot unless you're looking for them. They are generally around $2 per person. But if you're somewhere in say, Piazza San Marco like Caffe Florian, your cover charge includes a "live music" charge (even if you're sitting inside, unable to see) and totals to about $10 per person. If you're just one person, or perhaps a couple, this fee doesn't seem that bad. But for a group for 8 to 10 people, you could see how this charge could get out of control.

Come Hungry! There Are Lots Of Courses

I can not tell you how many weird looks my boyfriend and I were given when we sat down and ordered an appetizer and a small pizza to share. Italy is famous for it's slow dining experiences, sitting down for hours of indulgent food and wine, talking and laughing into the late hours of the night. Don't get me wrong, I love eating. I love food. But when we sat down next to locals and watched them order an appetizer for the table and then they each ordered their own pasta, meat dish AND PIZZA. We were blown away. Then they proceeded to all order dessert. Italians certainly have a thing or two to teach Americans about enjoying life, they really take their dining experiences to a whole different level.

Take Advantage of the Wine

Ordering wine when dining out at a restaurant in America can get expensive, but in Italy? So affordable. And so necessary. Here, I would probably pay about $8 to $10 on average for a glass of house wine. But in Italy? I found I was able to order a glass of house wine for about 3 Euros. And it's Italy, you're not really visiting Italy unless you drink the wine.

food tips for italy

If It's Monday, Call Ahead

Something that we forgot on more than one occasion, is that many businesses and restaurants are closed on Mondays. Unfortunately, we would forget this little morsel of information and hop on the ferry to say Murano or Burano only to find the restaurant we spent an hour searching side streets for was closed. So, moral of the story. When making plans on a Monday - always call ahead.

Try A Cappuccino

I pretty much refuse to drink cappuccinos at home. It's just a tasteless lump of foam on top of a burnt shot of espresso usually. Obviously this isn't true everywhere. I live in Washington and Seattle's coffee game for the most part is pretty on point. But, I've found that a good cappuccino is a hard thing to come by. Not in Italy! Almost EVERYWHERE you go will serve cappuccino and pretty much at every hour. Even after dinner, they ask if you'd like a cup of coffee or cappuccino. Every morning I drank two, and then if I was feeling crazy - I had another after dinner. You hardly even need sugar. Italy knows how to do coffee. Coffee and food.

If It Looks American, It's Not Italian

We noticed that in a lot of more touristy areas there would be the random restaurant that would have a menu that was almost entirely pictures and almost entirely meals that you might see at a Denny's. There two reasons why you should steer clear of these places. The first being, it's not Italian fare. And it's not going to be what you're expecting. You can't go to Italy, order American food and expect it to taste just like American food. That's not how it works. You're in Italy, order Italian food. The second reason is this, it will be overpriced. Basically, if everything is in English, don't eat there. If the entire menu is pictures, don't eat there. If anything on the menu or in the title of the restaurant says "American", don't eat there.


01 July 2016

a review of villa lina in Murano

Villa Lina

Navigating our from the airport through the maze of water taxis and canal boats to find Villa Lina was my first experience of Venice. And Italy all together for that matter. Needless to say, we were less than prepared. I didn't print out a map or even an address of where I was going because (having T-Mobile) I counted on cell coverage to use data. But of course, the one island that I was on had spotty service at best. We arrived late, even for Italy. Late and jet lagged, we wandered around the glowing backstreets hoping to happen upon Villa Lina. Because at least I remembered what the building looked like. After 30 minutes of that we decided it would be better to ask for directions. We spotted a mom and daughter eating ice cream and kicking around a soccer ball. And after some failed Italian and some silent prayers they were able to help.

I don't think I'll ever forget the sound of that little girl's laugh. She was recounting a story to her mom about a turtle (in Italian of course) while they walked us to Villa Lina. I wish I could have understood the whole story. She laughed almost the entire walk there. We rounded the last corner just as it began to grow dark. We said our first "ciao" to native Italians and they went on their way. Evi, the charming and gracious hostess of Villa Lina, greeted us at the end of the street. She led us through little doorways, showed us the skeleton keys we had to use. I was falling in love.

a review of villa lina in Murano

a review of villa lina in Murano

The Hotel

The building itself is beautiful. A pale pink that I've come to associate with Murano. Villa Lina is inside the skeleton of an old glass factory, which is just perfect and beautiful. As soon as we stepped onto the property all we could smell were flowers. That's one of my strongest memories about Murano. No matter where you went, everything smelled like a garden. The front yard sits right on the lagoon so you can watch the water taxis and locals float by every so often. The garden is lush, with a small lemon tree and an even smaller orange tree. There are two chairs at the edge of the property where you can sit and watch the sun set over Venice. It is a dream in the evening.

As for the interior, it was not at all what I expected. A clean, simple atmosphere with splashes of modern artwork and furniture. The mix of traditional and modern furnishings gives Villa Lina a unique character I haven't experienced before. I could not get over the stunning marble staircase.

TIP: When you see the shiny red couch in the living room that looks like it would be the least comfortable thing to sit on... sit on it. Once I sat on it, I fell in love and didn't want to move again.

a review of villa lina in Murano

The Room

The rooms are modest but accommodating. When we walked in everything was clean and bright. And the blue and white color scheme worked well with the whole "romantic Italian dream". We didn't have a view of the lagoon but I loved our Murano rooftop view just as much, if not more. I loved waking up to the sun just beginning to slip over the neighboring rooftop and spilling out onto the bed. We slept with the windows open and the shades drawn and when the sun rose, so did we. The mornings were hazy and beautiful. We stumbled still half asleep out onto the terrace and watched the sun settle over Venice.

TIP: Even though the armoire looks like it's just an armoire, there is actually a mini-fridge in there. So when you order farrrr too much food at dinner and want to take it home but think you don't have a refrigerator (like I did) - take it home. You have a refrigerator.

a review of villa lina in Murano

a review of villa lina in Murano

a review of villa lina in Murano

The Breakfast

When you choose your seat on the terrace, Evi will come out like a breath of fresh air and offer you something to drink. I think I had about three cappuccinos each morning I was there, and to be honest I could have another right now. The breakfast selection is traditional Italian with Evi's own personal flair. There are the staples: fruit salad, cereals, yogurt, toast. And then of course a selection of meats, cheeses, cakes and pastries. The fresh croissants and cakes were delicious. And I don't know what it is about Italy but every single bit of yogurt we tried was amazing. Italy knows what's up with yogurt. Has anyone else experienced this??

But food aside, the terrace is something to speak of itself. Surrounded by flowers and shaded from direct sunlight until late morning. You can watch from afar as the city of Venice starts to breathe and come to life. Evi will check on you from time to time, generous and sweet as always. If you ask her, she will flood you with worthwhile suggestions and ideas for your stay.

a review of villa lina in Murano

The Owner

Evi was a pleasure and a treat, and I nearly cried when she kissed me on the cheek the morning I checked out. She is such a sweet woman (like most of the people we encountered in Murano). If you give her the chance, she will mesmerize you with her suggestions and ideas for your time in Venice. Things to visit, places to eat, excursions to make. And she will give you a touching personal story for each. Right now, it is Evi, her friend and her husband who run Villa Lina. But her daughter is also returning to Venice to help turn Villa Lina into an event destination. She walked me through the remodeled guest utilities center downstairs near the garden. There is a full industrial kitchen, a bathroom and accommodations for a wedding or party. A large part of Villa Lina's charm comes from Evi herself. She will make you feel like family and you will never want to leave.

a review of villa lina in Murano

a review of villa lina in Murano

The Location

The islands of Venice are all so different, but Murano was definitely the perfect place for us to start. Slower than most of the other islands, you could walk Murano for hours and not get bored. Beautiful churches, amazing displays of Murano glass, and amazing food without a stampede of tourists. Sure, they're there. But in much smaller doses than in the heart of Venice. Murano is definitely a place for taking your time to enjoy the beauty around you. A place for eating slowly and quite literally stopping to smell the roses. It's a short canal ride to downtown Venice and the water taxi runs all night. We found this perfect for when we were jet lagged and trying to adjust. We could take an afternoon nap and head into Venice pretty late and still be able to get back to Murano at around 1am. Public transportation shuts down where I live at around 7pm, so this was a welcome change.

Book This Hotel If you are looking for a B&B that gives you access to bustling downtown Venice with a relaxing sanctuary to steal away to. Villa Lina is most suitable for couples, families, and solo travelers. Villa Lina has also started accommodating for weddings, parties and other events.

Rooms Starting at $112

Kayti VS the World was invited as a guest of the Villa Lina however, as always, all opinions are my own
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