I believe in miracles.
I try to change the world every day.
I love my husband, my friends, and my family.
I plan my next great adventure constantly.
I think most occasions call for a dress.
I write what I know and believe.
Last year, we snapped up $400 tickets to Venice for our anniversary in September. When I finally got around to looking at hotels, I found out that the La Biennale Film Festival was taking place at the same time. This meant that the Hotel Danieli was basically sold out, and since we wanted to stay on the island, I needed to find a new hotel. I focused my search on our favorite sestiere, Dorsoduro, and found Palazzo Veneziano. For me, this hotel is equally as great (in different ways, obviously) as Hotel Danieli, and I can confidently recommend either one as a great place to stay if you want to be “in Venice.” (I’m going to cover this next week in my guide to a romantic getaway to Venice, so stay tuned!) I’m making it a point to travel link up and share this year!
Our flight landed at Marco Polo at 9:15am. Customs took about an hour and we boarded the #5 bus to the island. From there, we hopped on a vaperetto to San Basilio (Zattere also works). By 12:00, we had deposited our luggage with the hotel and were on our way to grab water and snacks from the conveniently located Conad. (We love grocery stores when we travel.) You could walk to Palazzo Veneziano from the train station or the bus stop, but we decided to make it quick and easy with our luggage using the vaperetto.
The service was one of the best things about Palazzo Veneziano. From the moment we checked until the moment we checked out, we had everything we needed. On the days when rain is in the forecast, there are sturdy umbrellas available. When we were planning our airport trip, they were willing to walk us to the right vaperetto stop. If I was drinking water with breakfast, they offered to make me fresh coffee. When we wanted to store our luggage for the last few hours of sightseeing, it wasn’t a problem. The staff was always personable and always at the ready to assist with anything we needed.
Palazzo Veneziano Rooms
We actually had two separate stays while we were in Venice, so we got to see two separate rooms. (The night before we left, we decided to head to Prague during the height of the Film Festival to escape the crowds.) We had a deluxe double room for the first part of our trip and were upgraded to a duplex jacuzzi suite for the second part of our trip. Both rooms are spacious, beautifully decorated, and have every amenity you could imagine. Our rooms overlooked quiet side canals, but even if you were overlooking the Zattere promenade, the hotel is set far enough back that I don’t think any noise (if there is any) would bother you.
The ivory and aqua tones of the room are the epitome of relaxation, and I love the silver accents. (I am still obsessing over the textured wallpaper and textured drapes.) I love the velvet accents, the four poster beds, and the hardwood floors. The mixing of textures allows the rooms to feel luxurious with a nod to Venetian flair.
As far as practicalities, the whole room is wired perfectly with more than enough switches to control the lights (from anywhere) and plug in electronics for charging. (I am constantly charging my computer, two phones, a camera battery, and portable internet.) There is an armoire with plenty of shelving and a clothing rack for hanging clothes. We needed a few more hangers than what we had, but it wasn’t the end of the world. Everything, including bath amenities, is perfectly on brand.
The water pressure at Palazzo Veneziano is AMAZING. No joke. The first shower after a transatlantic flight is one of my favorite small luxuries, and this one didn’t disappoint. Most newer hotels seem to have weak water pressure, but not Palazzo Veneziano! Between the strong shower and the jacuzzi, my body was able to easily recover from all the walking we did. (Bonus: could the marble bathrooms be more beautiful?!)
We don’t typically eat breakfast, but since we made it a point to get out early for blue hour and sunrise, we were back at the hotel by 9:00 and usually starving. Our room rate included breakfast, and it was worth it. Though I didn’t manage to grab any pictures of it, it included a number of hot options, savory options, fresh fruit, and my new favorite almond torte. I would load up on protein with proscuitto, salami, and add in fresh fruit and torte (of course). My only regret is that we didn’t take advantage of it often enough. They usually offer deals that include breakfast – take them up on it! It’s a good value. They also have tables in a courtyard. There’s nothing better than a quiet breakfast in the fresh Venetian air.
Final Thoughts of Palazzo Veneziano
This hotel is truly one of the best deals in Venice. Seriously. For the size of the rooms, for the service, for the breakfast, and for the location, it was an incredible value. The rate may have been good because it is a newer hotel, but it is the cheapest room we’ve ever had in Venice. (The rate is even comparable to what we paid at the Hilton using Hotwire in September 2010. That rate is gone.) Our favorite restaurant is in Dorsoduro. The best gelato in Venice is in Dorsoduro. My favorite art galleries are in Dorsoduro. The Conad is in Dorosduro. And now, one of my favorite hotels is in Dorsoduro. If you’re looking for a fantastic stay INVenice that won’t break the bank but won’t compromise quality, Palazzo Veneziano is a great option.
One Short Note on Staying In Venice
It’s important to note that this is a great place to stay if you’re looking to stay IN Venice but not be in the middle of the crowds of San Marco and Rialto. I’ve never experienced crowds in Dorsoduro. I know some people who opt out of experiencing Vencie at all because they’ve heard about the crowds. This hotel is a great way to miss the crowds and experience the magic of Venice. Anyone who tells you staying in Mestre or the mainland is the same as staying in Venice is lying to you. It’s not the same at all. Just look at the pictures below. We got up at 5:00 to roam the streets and take pictures of the city before it woke up. That’s not something you can do if you don’t stay IN Venice.
Yesterday I posted a quote on my instagram from MLK Jr. on courage. Courage is the power of the mind to overcome fear. This seemed especially apropos because I’ve been thinking a lot about courage lately. I know I’ve posted on being fearless previously, but I think courage is something drastically different. I believe that a successful (and examined) life requires us to be courageous.
As many of my readers know, I run a non-profit focused on college access for all students in urban schools. This job, while rewarding, is subject to local and national politics, policies, and other things that have nothing to do with college access. I’ve always prided myself on being about the students and immersing myself in the direct service of helping students, but I eventually realized that – in order to have and continue having a broader impact for students – I needed to start being a part of conversations on the national level.
I started submitting conference proposals. My first year, I put in a presentation letters of recommendation with two of my favorite people (one from admissions and the other a teacher). We were blunt and honest about the fact that most of the time, adults fail students in this process. I thought it would make people hate me (I’m sure some do; here’s looking at the woman who told me I was appalling and stormed out of the room), but we received a lot of positive feedback. Many people rated our session as one of the best they had ever attended at the state conference.
I was further emboldened. I took that proposal to the national conference, where it was accepted. We received the usual throat-clearing, but we received rave reviews for our honesty. In addition to recommendation letter development, I submitted proposals on how to create and leverage a college access village, essay writing, and most recently, the new application for access, affordability and success.
Ah. The Coalition. The single most controversial thing in college admissions right now.
It took courage to publish this piece about it in the Washington Post. It took courage to read the critiques of me (and my work) on our profession’s Facebook group (I did start to opt out of that). It took courage to take the stage multiple times over the past year to talk about what the Coalition meant for our students – and students like mine – the marginalized, the underserved, the underrepresented.
Yet I did it.
I did it at the Super Conference with three ACACs. I did it at WACAC. I did it at AP Nationals. I did it at NACAC. I did on a College Board webinar. And, I ended 2017 with it at College Board Forum. I didn’t talk about the application, however, I talked about the realities of the challenges facing low-income students. I’m going to share a few of those realities with you right now, lest you think that this presentation is about an application. (This is relevant, I promise.)
At least 24% of our students don’t know if they will be a first-generation college student (and that’s not to say that the ones who answered yes or no understand what the term actually means)
40% believe that dual-credit is more rigorous than AP because it’s “taught by a college”
69% believe that you should have many activities, rather than one or two where you make an impact.
41% believe that it’s more important to be a club member, rather than a leader.
If you read those stats, you should understand that helping these students understand the college process can’t and shouldn’t start with a college application. It should start well before then but it often doesn’t. It’s not about an application. It’s about a fractured process that isn’t serving students well. It’s about a knowledge gap that exists in our schools with fewer and fewer resources.
As a result, in the last year, I’ve lent my voice to several institutions and organizations who are trying to work towards equity in the admissions process. This is a space where my voice is desperately needed because it is underrepresented in the college admissions profession in general. This is a space where few people will ever understand how devastating (and debilitating) it can be for students when your district sends out the wrong essay prompts to English teachers for a college essay writing unit. This is a space where people call for rec letters to be dismissed without realizing that’s the only place where I can successfully communicate for my students. This is a space where adults are comfortable blaming kids for failures without ever looking in the mirror to acknowledge the role that adults might play in it. (And the only place where people can shut down their offices two weeks in advance of deadlines and feel comfortable blaming kids for not adhering to arbitrary, fake deadlines.)
I am, in many ways, the thorn in the side of the profession. And I intend to stay that way, regardless of whether it’s popular or not. I am an insanely zealous advocate for students – all students. It’s fundamental to my being.
So. Imagine my surprise when not once, but twice in the last year, I have been approached to “choose” who I am going to serve on behalf my students. The first time it happened, I slept on it, and then gave it a thorough tongue lashing about how my position was the best possible position to inform students and counselors about options. (Because it is. I serve more than 16,000 students year in a myriad of settings.) I felt a myriad of emotions. Disappointment. Frustration. Sadness. Ultimately, my email served its purpose and everything worked itself out. The second time this happened, I felt all of those emotions again, but with added rage. I thought about resigning – no one gives ME an ultimatum. I thought about quitting. I thought about slinking off into the January deadlines and immersing myself in student work.
Two things happened, however. 1) I spent the last few weeks of the month working with our students who sincerely don’t understand the process and it reaffirmed why I need to advocate for them. 2) A college readiness teacher gave kids the wrong scholarship essay prompts, told students to turn the essays into her (instead of putting them into the scholarship application), and then went on leave with no further direction on how to apply to this very generous scholarship that few of our students even qualify to apply to.
Not today, Satan. Not today.
I screwed up all my courage and wrote an email affirming my position, refusing to choose, and putting everyone on notice that I was not to be messed with on this. The response I got back was what I expected, “Sorry, but we are going to require you to choose based on this circumstance…” Except their circumstance didn’t actually apply to me and I told them that. I also did my research to find out that it wouldn’t apply to me in the future. How this plays out is get to be seen, but I can assure you that I’m resting a little bit easier knowing that I didn’t just give up.
Life is hard, friends. It’s particularly hard for the least among us. The ones whose voices are drowned out by the people who believe that the playing field is equal, that people just need to “work harder,” and the ones who think that racism is dead and equality has been achieved. (Please watch this keynote by the fantastically courageous Shaun Harper.)
Be courageous and strong. Lend your privilege to the least among us. Stand up and say no when a situation demands it. The conversations that I have had to engage in for the last year or so are not comfortable. At times, they are straight up uncomfortable. They require me to be vulnerable. They require me to be honest.
It’s unreal how the symbolic turning of the calendar gave much such immense gratitude, but truly I was so glad to welcome 2018. I might have cried at midnight. If you want me to explain why, I will not be able to. I just needed to let all the emotion that has been welling up inside of me out. I did, and I was ready for January 1, 2018.
The beginning of a new year is always marked by college applications, and this year is no exception. It’s been moreso than usual since I’ve been the college advisor at one of my schools. IN the six years that I’ve been doing this, colleges have moved their deadlines, which helps prevent the common application from crashing, but it also creates more deadlines and makes the application process longer for me. Typically, by now, most applications (but for January 15 deadlines) would be done, allowing a bit of respite. No such luck this year.
Yet, in spite of all the work, I’m feeling good-ish. I was finally able to leave the house this week. I went to a HIIT class and a yoga class. I started a new calendar. And, I finished my 101 in 1001 list, thanks to encouragement from Brianne and Stephanie. Since I don’t journal the same way I used to, I don’t make resolutions. I tried to do something different last year and choose a word of the year, and it lasted three months. Still, I liked the intentionality of it. (No pun intended.) The word that kept coming back to me for 2018 was balance. I initially laughed at myself for even entertaining that idea. I’m terrible at balance, and I think everyone who reads here knows that.
Yet, at some point this week, I realized that balance isn’t achieving the perfect life. It’s living by one of the quotes I loved in college.
“You have to take the good with the bad, smile with the sad.
Love what you’ve got, and remember what you had.
Always forgive, but never forget.
Learn from your mistakes but never regret.
People change, things go wrong, but just remember life goes on.”
So, all of these things (acknowledging that days come with highs and the lows, recognizing that we’re all perfectly imperfect, and that sometimes the best and only thing we can do sometimes is try), is part of balance. To that I say…
(may you involve balance)
(In the spirt of balance, my 101 in 1001 list is divided up into sections and oddly ended up fairly balanced itself. This wasn’t intentional First W of the year? I’ll take it.)
As I look back on my 2017 wrap up post, I can’t help but feel disbelief at everything that has happened this year. In some ways it’s gone so fast and in others, it feels so slow. This year might have been my most challenging from a professional stand point. It was marked by personal, professional accomplishments as well though. The word of 2017 was deliberate, and while that sounded good… I’m not sure how well it worked out. Let’s see, shall we?
We spent our 4th anniversary in Venice and Prague after finding a cheap ticket. The morning after arriving home, I left for NACAC where I co-presented with two amazing women and heard the best mic drop moment with “Wealth doesn’t equal knowledge.” (THE mantra for 2017-2018!) I also was quoted in The Atlantic on a piece that would later result in the testing agencies doing the right thing (next year).
Usually when I look back at these posts, I feel so much good (like I did with the 2016 wrap up). This year, however, it is exactly what this year felt like – tumultuous, anxiety-ridden (apparently I’m not the only one), and stressful. I’m not sorry to see 2017 come to a close.
I will say that I could not have made it through 2017 without reading Steph’s consistent posts about the state of the world. She helped me feel that I was not alone in my rage, in my frustration, or in my feelings. She found ways to mobilize humans, encourage the goodness of humanity, and give words to issues that I could not. She’s one of my very favorite bloggers – and that has been the only constant for 2017.