Journey with Jo

Follow me as I blog about my various journeys across the globe, making budget travel look luxurious!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016


July 20, 2016 0 Comments
I think I am content with saying that Venice was one of my favorite legs of this journey. I value human connection, so it goes without saying that the people I encountered made it all the better, but beyond that, it is simply just a picturesque place.

My host, Mama Vera, was the best I had during my time abroad. She truly earned the title of Mama, because she treated me with such love and kindness that only a mother can exude. Upon the arrival to her cozy apartment, I was greeted with a big hug, a cold glass of water and an hour long conversation of getting to know her, her story and her city. During my three day stay, we had countless conversations about everything ranging from relationships to family and dare I say his name, Trump. 
Meeting Mama Vera was truly a blessing and I look forward to visiting Venice again so that we can reunite.

My buddy on the flight to Venice. Isn't he ADORBS?!?

View from my window in Venice

Mama Vera :)

My visits into the actual island of Venice is where I truly fell in love. There are no words to describe this beautiful city filled with ancient canals and smiling faces. My first day into Venice, I had no plan whatsoever. I decided to just go into the city and get lost within it. That's exactly what I did, and it was amazing. There's something about not knowing what lies ahead that thrills me, sometimes. In this case, I had a feeling it would be all good, and it was.

Thickest pizza I've ever seen

St. Peter's Basilica

Best Calamari Ever

My Gondola Rider

Mama Vera

On my second day, I took a 5 hour boat tour to the neighboring islands of Murano, Torcello, and Burano. At our arrival in Murano, we were able to observe a glass sculpture making demonstration. Watch the video below to see the awesomeness in action:

Murano has specialized in fancy glasswear for centuries and is one of the best places in the world to obtain it from and this is why:

**Disclaimer** We weren't allowed to take photos, so I had to err on the side of sneakiness when taking these. Kindly excuse the poor quality ;)

Torcello and Burano were great to visit as well. What was particularly interesting about Burano was that many people, and by people I mean tourists, come in there to parade around and take pictures, buy things, etc., but they still have a sense of normalcy. Little kids were out playing in small alleyways, men were sitting outside their homes smoking and cracking jokes, women were hanging up clothes outside on the line. It just still felt really homey and authentic

Leave it to me to find your neighborhood cat

All in all, I had a great time in Venice and I am sure that my belly would say the same. If you get a chance to visit there, I'd highly recommend it. Too beautiful to put into words.

Sidenote: I've gotten a bit more in tune with the tech-y side of me, so I've learned how to embed videos. Check out below for a few more hightlights

Snapchat Venice Reel

Walk Through Burano

Monday, July 18, 2016

Greetings All!

So, when I created this blog, I did so with the intentions of it being all about my travels and helping others do the same. During the last phase of my Euro Trip, I decided that I would forgo updating the blog while out there, in an effort to truly take in the experiences.

July 5th is when I learned, via Faceback on the killing of Alton Sterling. I made a purposeful and conscious effort to not watch the numerous re-sharings and postings of the video, because I knew that was something I physically and mentally couldn't take watching.

The morning of July 7th is when I was waiting for my flight back to NYC, and yet again browsing through Facebook. I stumbled upon a video, not knowing what it was about and was instantly saddened again. Watching Philando Castile's soul escape from his body while the officer pointed that gun at him broke me down in a way that was truly irreversible. The tears couldn't stop flowing while sitting in that airport, while thinking about the countless black lives lost senselessly to police brutality. I felt so much rage within me, and I dreaded coming back to a country that has proven time and time again that they'd rather not want me and my people there.

After that day, I've truly been in a state of mental depression and turmoil, as I'm am sure millions of blacks living in this country have been as well.

The reason why I'm sharing this is two-fold:
  1. Many people have been asking for updates on the blog. And I do apologize. The fact of the matter is that reminiscing on my great adventures and updating pictures was far less important to me, when I thought about the plight my people were facing here. I could not bring myself to do it, when there were far more pressing issues plaguing my thoughts.
  2. This is something that is important to me. When my people suffer, so do I.

Now I could truly get deeper with this. I could share my viewpoints and express thoughts and sentiments on everything that is happening (as I've been doing with many friends and family members over the last few weeks). However, this is not the platform from which I want to do so. I do, however, encourage healthy discussion below, via the comment section or feel free to reach out to me any other way. I am in a much better head-space now that I can continue with the purpose of the blog, but I'd be remiss if I didn't address this at all.

I will end on this note, from one of the most conscious brothers to grace this planet, Mr. James Baldwin:


Friday, July 8, 2016

Palermo was a place I never thought of when I was initially planning my solo Euro-trip. I happened to stumble upon it while doing a Google Flight search to see what city it would be cheapest for me to fly back home to. When I saw the low 200-something price tag linked with a one way flight to NYC, I immediately booked it without an afterthought.

Being that it was the last leg of my journey, I purposely decided to not plan much to do for the two full days that I would be in Palermo. I wanted to be able to do me and be free from the constraint of having to be somewhere at a certain time. With that being said, the only planned excursion I did was a Walking Food Tour.

The tour consisted of myself and about 6 other travelers, being led around the streets of Palermo with a local tour guide. At the start, he gave us all "passports" from which we would get stamps along the legs of our routes, after trying out the different foods.

All in all Palermo was a good stop, because it gave me the respite that I needed after being on the go for almost two straight weeks of city-hopping. It's not a place I intend on going back to, but the traveler in me revels in the fact that it's another place I can add to my list. Additionally, I met some of the nicest people, just from walking the streets. I'm at a place now where I'm not afraid to ask people to take their photos, so here goes some shots of the friendly faces I encountered.

Isn't His Smile the Cutest?

Check out the Snapchat Reel below of my time in Palermo. It's worth noting that at the end there is an emoji which expresses a not-so-nice thought of America.

The end of my trip, unfortunately, was marred by my finding out of another death at the hand of police. At the airport, on my way back to the states (July 7th, 2016), I was scrolling through Facebook, when I stumbled upon the video of Philando Castile being murdered. I broke down so hard  when I saw it, and had the worst feeling in the pit of my stomach. After seeing that, I had absolutely no desire to board that plane.

So while the end of my Euro-journey felt very liberating, in the sense that I accomplished a major travel goal of mine, I also felt equally detained headed back to a country that time and time again shows how little they value people like me.