Tips for your visit to Prosecco Road – #1 Hire a driver and local guide

Tips for your visit to Prosecco Road – #1 Hire a driver and local guide

If you like Prosecco wine, you’ll love Valdobbiadene. I promise you will.

Valdobbiadene was unlike any other wine region we'd ever scene. The vines followed the terrain we were never more than a stone's throw away from a winery.

Valdobbiadene was unlike any other wine region we’d ever seen. The vines followed the terrain we were never more than a stone’s throw away from a winery.

Our visit there this summer was one of our favorite and most memorable stops on our tour through Italy. We’ve wrestled for weeks about how to write about such an extraordinary experience and yesterday, decided one blog post was just not going to do it. So, this is the first in a series about our visit to the Prosecco region. We’ll start with our most important tip: Hire a professional drive and local guide.

Admittedly, we wouldn’t have even known about this place without the help of Massi the Driver and his wife, Deb from Italy Unfiltered.

We can't imagine visiting the Prosecco region without the expertise of Massi the Driver and his wife, Deb, of Italy Unfiltered.

We can’t imagine visiting the Prosecco region without the expertise of Massi the Driver and his wife, Deb, of Italy Unfiltered.

Italian-born Massi and his American wife, Deb, have spent a lot of time in Valdobbiadene (pronounced valdob’bja:dene). It took me a month to learn how to properly pronounce the name of this town (and another month to spell it) and I can’t imagine trying to navigate the it on our own. Nor would I have wanted to. By hiring a licensed driver and local guide, you not only don’t have to worry about reading street signs in Italian or understanding the rules of the road, but you can also enjoy the view and make the most of your time there.

Massi the Driver and his wife, Deb, of Italy Unfiltered knew exactly where to go and what to see and do in the Prosecco region in Valdobbiadene, Italy.

Massi the Driver and his wife, Deb, of Italy Unfiltered knew exactly where to go and what to see and do in the Prosecco region in Valdobbiadene, Italy.

Because they had been to many of the wineries on previous trips (all in the name of research, of course), they knew exactly which ones to visit, what their business hours were, and what we could expect at each tasting.

Deb and Massi knew all the best wineries to visit in Valdobbiadene and more importantly, how to get there.

Deb and Massi knew all the best wineries to visit in Valdobbiadene and more importantly, how to get there.

One of the other great things about having this dynamic duo show us around is that they knew many of the wine makers, by name. That meant a lot. At most places, if the wine maker was around, we were able to meet him or her, visit about what makes their wine unique and most times have a private tour.

Roccat winery, Valdobbiadene, Italy

Deb and Massi with the wine maker at Roccat Winery in Valdobbiadene, Italy.

Both Deb and Massi speak Italian and that also helped. A lot. While many of the wineries had English-speaking staff, some didn’t. No matter where we were, Deb and Massi were able to help interpret and ask our questions in the wine makers’ native language. They were also able to help us order food at restaurants, get directions to the bathrooms, and help us order wine to be shipped back home. And let me be honest, I absolutely love listening to people speak Italian. To me, it is the most beautiful language I’ve ever heard.

We loved having a private driver who would stop whenever we saw something we'd like to take a picture of, like this beautiful hydrangea.

We loved having a private driver who would stop whenever we saw something we’d like to take a picture of, like this beautiful hydrangea.

I also loved having a private N.C.C. driver (that’s a special license for tour drivers in Italy) who would stop whenever I wanted him to so that I could take a photo of something like a beautiful hydrangea. And the vines. And the sunset. And the church. And so on.

The benefit of having a knowledgable local was that Deb was able answer our questions about food and wine in the area and customize our trip according to our interests and abilities.

show us around and answer questions about the Prosecco region in Valdobbiadene.

Our guide, Deb, was able to show us around and answer questions about the Prosecco region around Valdobbiadene.

Deb and Massi took us to so many great places where we had unique views and incredible photo ops.

Deb and Massi took us to so many great places where we had unique views and incredible photo ops.

Trust me when I say that maneuvering your way around Valdobbiadene and the surrounding area is not easy and that hiring a driver and guide is worth the money. While our tour and transport services were complimentary this time, we wouldn’t dream of going back without enlisting the help of a licensed driver.

Deb and Massi were so much fun to be around and we will likely be lifelong friends.

Deb and Massi were so much fun to be around and we will likely be lifelong friends.

In addition, we really did have a fantastic time with this couple. We drank together, ate together, laughed together and made memories together that will a lifetime. And that, my friends, is priceless.

Other tips:

#2 Stay at an agriturismo

#3 Get to know your wine


Our tour of the Prosecco Road and transportation were complimentary from Italy Unfiltered and Massi the Driver. The opinions expressed are our own. If you are interested in booking tour or transport services with Deb and Massi, you can email them at dlarsen5@icloud.com

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Tips for your visit to Prosecco Road in Valdobbiadene, Italy. #1 - Hire a driver and guide.

Tips for your visit to Prosecco Road in Valdobbiadene, Italy. #1 – Hire a driver and guide.

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20 Things I Always Take With Me

20 Things I Always Take With Me

Thanksgiving is one of the busiest travel weeks in America, so whether you’re scrambling to pack a bag for a quick trip to grandma’s house, road-tripping to see the big game, or flying out on a weekend getaway to an exotic island (don’t we all wish), I thought I’d share the 20 things I always take with me when we travel.

First, let me start with the bag — yes, my favorite small, clear, plastic bag that I never leave home without. I got it for a few bucks at our local Walmart and I take it everywhere. It is about 8×4 1/2 inches and fits nicely into a camera bag, medium/large purse, backpack, or glove box. It keeps everything in one place, so there’s no searching through pockets or compartments to find something and I can see it all right through the bag.

It’s amazing how much you can pack into this small bag. When we were riding the high-speed train from Barcelona to Madrid this summer, I emptied my “essentials” bag on the tray in front of me and was surprised to learn I had jammed 20 items into that small bag. Here’s what I had that day, and what I almost always carry with me whenever we travel.

1. USB/phone cord – I typically pack extra cords in my suitcase but I always carry at least one USB/phone cord with me at all times. I use it to connect to my computer or an airport charging station and need it to use my portable phone charger. Don’t forget the electrical outlet plug, as well. Mine must have been in another bag/backpack.

2. Portable phone charger – This was a gift last Christmas from Steve. He knows I’m not the best about keeping my phone charged and truth be told, it has come in handy more than once, especially when we’ve been traveling.

3. Pen – I always accept free pens when a hotel or doctor’s office is giving them away. I keep one in my purse pocket and an extra this little bag just in case I lose the other.

4. Hair pick/comb – Great for long days spent touring. Things like wind and humidity mess me up and nothing feels better than running a comb through my hair to freshen up.

5. Medications – Of course, I pack all of my meds in their original containers when I travel. But when out and about, I take extras (things like Tylenol or Ibuprofen) in these small, disposable bags I got at a local pharmacy. These also come in handy when you need to take pills with a meal and don’t want to take the whole bottle or a pill case.

6. Hand sanitizer – I use lots of hand sanitizer and always have some sort of scented bottle with me at all times. Comes in handy after touching dirty restaurant menus, shaking hands, or holding onto railings on well-used escalators. I love the small, scented ones from Bath and Body Works. In my opinion, the two best scents are Eucalyptus Spearmint and Dazzling Diamond (which has just a hint of glitter for the girly girl in me).

7. Blistex – My favorite lip balm is this Blistex Lip Protector and Sunscreen. Steve prefers the original medicated lip balm in the green tube and keeps it well stocked at home.

8. Nexcare  – My new favorite adhesive bandage. These are water resistant and great for small cuts on my fingers.

9. Eye drops – I have lots of issues with my eyes and keep a small bottle of eye drops with me at all times.

10. Gum – Great for takeoff and landing when flying, peppermint flavor soothes and upset stomach, and comes in handy after eating onions at lunchtime.

11. Eye glass repair kit – Don’t use this often, but when I need it, I’m glad I have it. Tightens up the hinges on my sunglasses, and I’ve used the magnifier for other things, like removing splinters from my hand.

12. Cash – Always nice to have an extra small bill for things like housekeeping tips.

13. Nail clippers – Use these all the time. Hate long/broken nails on fingers or toes. Also good for cutting off loose threads.

14. Extra camera lens cap – Even when I’ve used those lens cap keepers (or leashes, as I like to call them) I inevitably lose a lens cap now and then. I ordered a few extras from Amazon and keep one in my little bag just in case. I have spent way too much money on my camera and lenses to risk scratching a lens because I didn’t have a $5 cap.

15. Elastic hair band – OK, this is really a must have for me. I buy these black hair bands in bulk and use them everywhere. I use them to wrap up all my cords (phone, camera, chargers, etc.). I put them around decks of cards. They hold bag tags on my bags better than most other holders, and are an excellent tool for adding additional security (latch it around the hooks) to my backpack and prevent it from being opened by a thief. Oh, and occasionally, I use one to keep my hair up.

16. Lip gloss – Just the little touch of minty, shine a girl needs. I love the Mentha Supreme 2X from Bath and Body Works.

17. Back scratcher – This one is seriously one of my favorites. Steve and Meg “bought” this for me a few years ago with the tickets they won playing skeeball and wack-a-mole at an arcade. They thought it was a silly, little gift. Little did they know that 5 years later, it would be one of the “essentials” in my travel bag. I love this one because it it metal (doesn’t bend and has a strong scratch) and it adjusts to about 3 feet long like a car antenna. Love, love, love.

18. Dental floss – Obviously, great for after dinner, but also comes in handy when you need to tie something together.

19. Zofran – Not everyone needs this, but I take medications that often make me nauseous. I also get car sick at times, and Zofran (a prescription medication) is a lifesaver. They come in small, detachable foil containers and I always keep an extra in my bag.

20. Lens cleaner – We buy these disposable lens cleaners at Sam’s Club and use them on our glasses, sunglasses, cell phones, computers, camera body, rear view mirror, etc. They are small and easy to carry and we use them often.

 

I also carry a few other things that sometimes do or don’t fit in my clear, plastic bag, including: Kleenex, a rescue inhaler in case I have an asthma attack, and my pulse oximeter that can show my heart rate and oxygen levels, in case I need to check those. So there you have it, my travel essentials, most of which fit in a small, plastic bag.

We’re curious, what are your “must haves” when traveling? Let us know by clicking on the “comment” link at the top of this post. We’d love to hear from you.

Travel Tip #5 – Wrap shower caps around dirty shoes

Travel Tip #5 – Wrap shower caps around dirty shoes

I sometimes fret about my dirty shoes touching my clothing when I pack my suitcase. Typically, they are pretty clean when I leave for a trip, but sometimes get dirty during my stay. If I don’t have time to clean them, I usually put shoes in a plastic bag (like the ones I get at Wal-Mart), I place them dirty side in on the sides of the suitcase, or I just put them face down on top of everything.

However, if I’m at a hotel, I love grabbing one of the complimentary plastic shower caps and wrapping that around my shoes. Works great for me — but then again, I wear a size 8. My husband, on the other hand, wears a size 12 and just sticks to placing his in the bag sole side up or in one of the dozen or so neatly folded plastic bags he usually brings along [you can read more about that, HERE].

Travel Tip #2 – Put all of your cords in one see-through bag.

Travel Tip #2 – Put all of your cords in one see-through bag.

I nearly did not make it to our honeymoon. Seriously. Just minutes before (or maybe even several after) we were supposed to leave for the airport for a week-long honeymoon in paradise, I couldn’t find my camera’s charging cord. Not only was the camera cord lost, but I was losing my mind.  I raced through the house like a crazy woman, searching every nook and cranny for that darn cord. I darted from room to room with tears welling up in my eyes at the thought of seeing Costa Rica for the first time without my camera. I emptied nearly every drawer in the house and searched every bag as my husband stood helpless in the living room, wondering if he was ever going to get his new bride in the car and on the plane.

Eventually, I found the cord,  threw it in my backpack, calmed down, and we enjoyed an amazing week in the land of pura vida. And I have the pictures to prove it. See how relaxed I look?

Calm and relaxed at Tabacon Hot Springs in Costa Rica. (Photo by Steve Teget for postcard jar.com)

Calm and relaxed at Tabacon Hot Springs in Costa Rica. (Photo by Steve Teget for postcard jar.com)

So happy I had a charged camera to capture the beautiful flowers in Costa Rica. (Photo by Ann Teget for postcard jar.com)

So happy I had a charged camera to capture the beautiful flowers in Costa Rica. (Photo by Ann Teget for postcard jar.com)

Steve had a glorious day of relaxation at Manuel Antonio Beach in Costa Rica. (Photo by Ann Teget for postcard jar.com)

Steve had a glorious day of relaxation at Manuel Antonio Beach in Costa Rica. (Photo by Ann Teget for postcard jar.com)

When we got home, I realized I had issues. With cords. I never put them in the same place. They were typically tangled. And, I was always scrambling at the last minute before a trip to find every connection I’d need. It drove my husband nuts and I had to find a solution.

So I did. To best organize all of the cords I need for a trip, I keep them all in one place — an inexpensive, clear, plastic bag I found at our local Wal-Mart for a couple bucks. I neatly fold each cord and secure it with a hair band that is soft and easy to remove. In addition, I’ve purchased duplicates of almost all of my cords, so that I have one set that I use around the house, and one set that is ready to go in my carry-on bag whenever we leave for a trip.

I make sure I have extra batteries, ear buds, phone chargers, camera cords, and USB adapters and can I just say that preparing to get out the door is SO MUCH EASIER. Just ask my husband.  (Note from Steve:  It is so much better now.  So much.)

How do you manage all of the electronics and cords you need for a trip? Leave us a comment below, we’d love to hear from you.

Travel Tip #1 – Use plastic wrap under caps.

Travel Tip #1 – Use plastic wrap under caps.

Don’t you hate it when you return from a great vacation and find that your liquids and gels have leaked through supposed “leak proof” containers? We’ve tried lots of different travel bottles and tubes and some work better than others. But the guaranteed way to prevent spills is a little tip we learned from our daughter, Meghan.

After filling a bottle with a liquid or gel (shampoo, lotion, contact solution, vodka, or whatever) place a small piece of plastic wrap over the top and then replace the lid. For the return trip, you can wash and reuse your original plastic wrap, pack extra pieces, or, if the hotel has a complimentary shower cap, just tear off a piece of the cap to secure your bottles. Works great and prevents having to wash a sink full of sticky bottles when you get home.

How do you prevent leaks and spills when you travel? Please leave a comment below. We’d love to hear from you.