Category Archives: Travel

June 9, 2017

SPAIN TRIP | ONE

I survived my first trip overseas with my in-laws! I kid, they are a breeze to hang around.  Dustin, his parents, youngest sister and I had a fantastic trip exploring Madrid and Barcelona for six days!  Since Rebecca Joy’s Spring Break fell a little earlier than we could make it out there, they went ahead to explore Seville for a few days then met us in Madrid late Monday night.  We landed around 9:00am and went straight for the hotel, which wasn’t ready yet but we dropped off our luggage and sleepily walked what felt like 399 miles all over Madrid until we were let in to sleep a few hours and get cleaned up. That night we joined up with the rest of the gang and went to a really nice dinner near our hotel.

The following morning we had tickets to tour the Royal Palace of Madrid and then a private tour of the Prado Museum. I would recommend the palace tour (I mean it’s a palace, can’t go wrong with looking at past royalty’s belongings) but the museum I could have done without.  I feel a little bad about saying that especially since it’s been said to be the best single collection of Spanish art but the European 12th century – early 20th century art just isn’t my jam.  One thing that did stand out that I enjoyed was The Garden of Earthly Delights because not only is it risque but our tour guide spent about 30 min (or more, no joke) just covering this one painting and the result was pretty hilarious though one or more of the Winchesters felt pretty uncomfortable..I think if I only went in there and saw all of Hieronymus Bosch‘s art I would have been just fine. However, Dustin and I have a friend who’s an art history buff and loves the place so do some research and see if it’s up your alley.

After a full day and one night in Madrid we hopped on a high speed train to Barcelona.  We bought some wine to bring with, sipped on that and checked out the sights till we all fell asleep. Then we were in Barcelona!

Spent that evening getting our bearings on our neighborhood which was just North of the Gothic Quarter and then walked down to explore that area and get dinner. The next day was all about Gaudi!

First stop was Park Guell.  When we arrived it was raining so we bought some cheesy tourist umbrellas, cause ya know, we’re prepared like that and set out to learn all about Gaudi and Eusebi Güell‘s attempt at a gated community turned municipal garden. You didn’t know it was originally supposed to be a high-end neighborhood either? Yea, that was news to me too! Apparently they couldn’t get investors and the construction just sorta stopped after only two houses were built. neither of which were designed by Gaudi but he did end up buying one.

Front entrance of the park was this adorable pavilion

Gaudí’s work was influenced by his passions in life: architecture, nature, and religion.  He considered every detail of his creations and integrated into his architecture such crafts as ceramics, stained glass, wrought ironwork forging and carpentry. -Wikipedia

Oh hey, you’re famous!

Tiles along the front entrance’s elaborate staircase

Above in the background is the terrace.  It’s open social area is surrounded by built-in benches in the form of a sea serpent. Underneath the terrace is a space that was once used for open air markets.

On the ceilings of the bottom area were compass-like mosaics that represented each season.  Again seeing more of nature’s influence on Gaudi’s work.

Dustin’s youngest sister, RJ, recently got a Canon Rebel.  During the trip I was teaching her the basics of using the manual setting. I’m not a super pro or anythign but I felt like the big lady on campus teaching a youngster about photography-loved it!

Having a copper-smith father, Gaudi took interest in the art early on in his life and then before going off to school he worked in his family’s workshop as well. Made sense after learning how he never drew his plans but rather made 3-dimensional scale models and getting into the details later as  he created the project.   We were able to see examples of these models at Casa Mila. Which is not pictured here but worth seeing! We did the night time light show, again raining but still really pretty.

Just when we left the park it was clearing up and ended up being a really pretty day for our next stop, Casa Batllo.

For this tour we did their audio guided option which was pretty neat! You were each given a cell phone like device with headphones and went to each stop and listened to recordings about the house. The furniture and accessories had been moved out but if you held up the device it would show you how it looked back in the day.  Gaudi’s always adding nature elements into his designs but this specifically was a lot of under water influences, felt like we were walking through a mermaids house!

A shroom shaped fire place area for a date and the date monitor to hang out by. Yes, date monitor! eek.

In 1904 Josep Batlló hired Gaudí to design his home; at first his plans were to tear down the building and construct a completely new house. Gaudí convinced Josep that a renovation was sufficient and was also able to submit the planning application the same year. The building was completed and refurbished in 1906. He completely changed the main apartment which became the residence for the Batlló family. He expanded the central well in order to supply light to the whole building and also added new floors. -Wikipedia

The central well as mentioned above

One of the main rooms that faced the street

The top of the below photo that I couldn’t capture because of all the-unaware of personal space and hey look there’s other people taking photos too-tourists around…I wasn’t annoyed at all :P

A cutie and some chimneys

One of my favorite areas in the apartment was a staircase which led up to the rooftop, reminded me of Santorini

Just chilling on the roof terrace with my cool and not dorky at all audio guide equipment :P

After all the Gaudi we were starving so we set out for food. Of course Dustin and I were all about a taco spot we found so we hit up there for some margs and food and enjoyed resting our feet.

Spicy + sweet, the way we like’em!

This night was the light show I mentioned and we ended the day with all the tapas. Phewwww, just writing this out makes me realize how much we packed into every day! So glad to finally be sharing. I know I’ve left some stuff out, probably rushed this a bit but I’ve got to get going on the recap or I’ll never do it.

Next up; more Barcelona!

February 15, 2017

GREECE | LEFKADA THREE

Last portion of the Greece trip to cover is the exploration of downtown Lefkada’s narrow roads and shop-lined alleys.

The day we went walking and shopping around was raining on and off some times pretty hard. Which probably sounds like the most unideal time to go, which it is but when it comes down to choosing to use a clear day for shopping or beach-I’ll always choose beach!

Each stop on our Greece trip was a different neighborhood and shopping district experience. In Athens it felt like a big European city, Santorini was pure magic and unlike anywhere I had ever been and Lefkada was a sprawling island of smaller beach towns saturated in cafes and shops.

It was easy to get lost but with the help of Eagle Scout master navigator, Dustin, we cruised from one plant-lined alley to another and actually made it back to the car despite it starting to all look alike.

All these photos were shot on my phone and are unfortunately not the most clear but if you look closely this gate is so beautiful!

This moment was one I was happy to capture. Perfect timing, no one else around. Just Dustin and I huddled under the world’s cheapest umbrella and two friends making due on their moped.

Cactus gets a bath :)

See what I mean by ‘all starting to look the same’?

Since it was raining it was very quiet.  But it opened my imagination to think of friends having conversations between the two buildings outside the windows or a curtain blowing out in a Summer breeze with no interruptions.  I appreciated the streets to ourselves :)

If the three posts don’t already show it, Lefkada is out-freakin-standing!

On the way back to Athens to our cheap hotel room for the short night before flying home we made a pit stop in Corinth.  First we got one last Greek salad and chicken kabobs then we went to the archaeological site.

Did you know a traditional Greek salad doesn’t have lettuce but is rather on a bed of tomatoes? We didn’t! Neither of us can eat many raw tomatoes so we shared the feta/onions/cucumbers/olives every time we ordered :P

This site was pretty free-range. Only a few things roped off allowing you to get really close to structures. There was also a museum that was loaded with artifacts. Not pictured (because I got in trouble) are the real remains of two soldiers they discovered in the early 2000’s in the real grave! That was really cool as was all the treasures, housewares, statues and snail shells we kept finding around outside by the hundreds if not thousands. Def snuck a few of those home, shhh!

If you’re on a Greece trip and can swing this DO IT but it’s not something to go way outta the way for. With 227 inhabited islands there’s plenty to see and do there ;)

Greece, DONE! Whoop!

Hope everyone had a lovely Valentines Day! We sipped champagne, made a good din and did household things. The fancy dinner is set for Saturday!

Back-logged outfit posts to come <3

January 31, 2017

GREECE | LEFKADA TWO

In the last post I mentioned we had weather that restricted our plans and while that’s true it also led us to some random adventures, which we’re always up for! Plan was to (in no order) explore city one day, beach hop another then rent a boat and private beach hop a different day. The boat didn’t happen because of the threat of storms but all the beach hopping did!

After the 5 hour drive from Athens to Lefkada and checking into our Villa that first day didn’t leave too much time to beach bum it up but we threw on our swimsuits anyways and bolted to Kathisma Beach.  Didn’t end up swimming but did watch the sunset from the rocky shore, grabbed a Mythos and hung out until we were hungry.

I mean just look at those layers of beauty!  I wish you could hear the sound the water made rustling around all those stones.  Sounded like one of those rain sticks that are made from a dried cactus and have the beads loose inside, this!

On the other side are some folks camping out in tents~dream camping spot!

Skipping around here but after day one came the real rainy day when we went to the Fall. Afterwards we had to stop for gas and I wanted to get a drink from inside.  While walking under the pump I thought the over hanging was higher than it was and went to stand and crushed the top of my head, jamming my neck and biting down so hard on my teeth it hurt my gums and knocked the breath out of me. I was so taken aback (read: embarrassed) that when the guy pumping our gas and Dustin asked if I was ok I said yes but really wasn’t. After getting back into the car I realized how badly I had hurt myself and lost it. So many tears!  After some Greek Ibuprofen and ice pack, I took a breather walk and found all these pretty stones by a beach I don’t even know the name of since I was that out of sorts. Even with puffy eyes, a swollen noggin, achy neck and nose I was unable to breath from, I managed to get this snap of said pretty stones. HA!

And collected handfuls to take home, including that center stone that’s pink and dark grey ;)

Next day, after getting a lay of the land, we set out to pack in as many beach stops as possible.

Agios Nikitas Beach | Lefkada, Greece

We caught wind of a small beach near Milos Beach (a private, by boat only spot), Agios Nikitos, that was walkable. Turned out to be the perfect alternative!

While walking down the narrow cobble stoned town that led us to the beach we noticed visitors carrying yoga mats. “Why the yoga mats?” we wondered. Well, it’s to protect your bum from all the rocks!  Smart thinking locals, smart thinking…

Stetson hat, Hershel Supply bag, towel from Athens, Target swim top and Old Navy bottoms

Found the least rocky area we could and set up a little spot earlier in the day before it got crowded with other visitors that were in the know about “where the Greeks go to vacation” most of whom were from Europe. We found ourselves being the only Americans at several spots in Lefkada.  Whereas in Athens and Santorini we were definitely not. We thought of it as a good thing, being that we were in the know thanks to our Atlanta buddy who’s Greek-American.

Lounged and swam and then went for an adventure. We knew that Milos beach is typically reached by boat but we were real close to so we climbed around the rocky shoreline to see if we could spot the private beach from around the bend. After climbing and realizing we’d have to go back, get our stuff, climb back over, set up, enjoy, pack up and hike/climb back-we opted out and just got a few snaps and went back to our set up and swam around some more before heading to beach 2/3 that day.

Back to Kathisma to rent chairs with drink service!

And collect more stones…While these are pretty smooth, Dustin and I both agree when swimming and walking around, water shoes are a must. Even the littler stones I’m stepping on here hurt after a minute or two.  Learn from my mistake and buy decent ones, my dumb looking water shoes were so cheap they actually backfired on me and COLLECTED ROCKS!  D wore his Chacos and those were ok, also trapped pebbles between foot and sole but were great when it came to climbing and jumping.

Dustin going for a jump! That rock was fun, a hike and leap or two and then you jumped off and swam to shore and did it all over again. We are such water babies!

Kathisma beach | Lefkada, Greece

Along the beach are several bars and restaurants blasting techno and serving seafood. None of them were anything to brag on in particular but fun atmospheres and can’t beat THIS VIEW ^

After Kathisma beach it was Porto Katsiki to watch the sunset. We sat in two places, first directly on the beach with other sunset gazers and then climbed up to a bridge that was unfortunately closed for safety reasons, we heard this was likely from an earthquake as there were around 2-3 other spots that weren’t open because of the same reason. Still got all the views from the top of the walkway down to the beach, I mean:

THIS. If you look closely you can actually see the bridge I’m talking about in the top right of the mountain-side. Yep, not safe in the slightest!

Looking back on my notes we were in Lefkada for about 2.5 days. I’d say we packed in as much as we could considering we wanted to not feel too rushed along the way.

Coming up: Day three of exploring the little beach side town