Category Archives: Travel

June 9, 2017

SPAIN TRIP | GAUDI AND BEYOND

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.

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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

 

January 27, 2017

GREECE | LEFKADA ONE

These first 27 days of 2017…

Don’t think I need to explain why this here blog has been the least of my worries but if you’re wondering it’s been a Six Flag ride of pros n’ cons that goes something like-
Pros:  late night dance parties, celebrations of love, news of being an aunt twice this Summer
Cons: friend and family drama, 3k worth of vandalism on my car, crazy politicianS

Break’s over and most issues have been resolved so lets jump back in where I left off.  Thinking it’s about time to wrap up our Greece trip~

After Santorini it was Lefkada time! We had to fly back to Athens, rent a car then drive 5 hours to the only island in Greece you can get to by car. At first I wasn’t too keen on all that driving but after getting a killer BMW and being able to see all the terrain, I’m glad we did it.

Got my babe, map and money-lets go!

Through a friend’s recommendation we stayed in a beautiful villa that was private and had the sweetest hosts that gave us all the recommendations.  It was close to a market and had a private pool though we weren’t able to use it because the weather was never great when we were at the villa.  Definitely grateful for the nice weather we had in Santorini and Athens but it still sucked we couldn’t do everything we planned in Lefkada due to thunderstorms.

Dress with a view! Picked up this cotton dress in Santorini, planning to use as a fancy cover-up come Summer.

However, we didn’t let that stop us!

Packed up the car each day and set out on adventures. One day we went to find a waterfall and hike a trail and on the way into the trail head we passed through hundreds, maybe thousands, of olive trees. Some looked decades old!

After several stops for olive tree gazing we made it to the trail  head and were greeted by this huge bonsai looking tree-

Quick climb up the big bonsai then the real climb.  It wasn’t raining at the time but had right before so the water was nuts. There were bridges down leaving us to climb through a few feet of water with other visitors, most French or Italian men, that were daring me to go first!  OH HELL NO, YOU GO! But we did it and while it was pretty scary we didn’t have any missteps and made it to the fall.

Nidri Waterfalls | Lefkada, Greece

I took a ton of photos but they all kinda look gross because the water was so muddy. YooHoo water is what I kept calling it.  The ferns and moss were real pretty though.

Dustin was (always is, actually) so patient with all my “stawwwp! need to grab a pic of that, and that, and that, oh and that!” Like these silly looking Greek sunflowers we saw off a windy road~ all petals everything.

One of the rainy days while driving around to find a dry spot we were starving and spotted a restaurant that seemed legit.  After parking I spotted these lamb and harassed them for a few then went in and had the best meal of the trip.

Greek food was… repetitive … so it was really a matter of who did it best. Can’t beat olives from trees you parked by and fish soup that was caught just over the cliff side. Also those fried zucchini things were bomb. Little fact, my favorite food is french fries and in Greece they did’em right! Hand cut, salty, crispy-potato perfection.

The staff at Greco Levante were so kind. We were two of maybe six people dining likely due to weather and the time of day so the chef wasn’t that busy and took the time to come over and sell Dustin on the soup and make us laugh with his silly sarcasm and jokes.

Soft pinks and cacti, they know the way to an American girls heart.

Another day venturing out when it was nicer we stopped back at Greco’s olive oil stand for more olive oil. Can’t remember what we paid but it was a steal. We gifted two and kept one bottle for ourselves which we save for special occasions or to let a friend try real olive oil.

Greco Levante | Lefkada, Greece

This last photo was such a moment. We stopped to get some photos of the rolling hills and in the corner of the frame I spot this unicorn! Ok, it’s a regular horse but still! It was a sweet lil surprise!

Packed a lot in the three days we were there so there’s two more posts coming, beach day and city day!

~~Happy chilly Friday from ATL~~

November 29, 2016

GREECE | SANTORINI TWO

It’s the second part to our stay in Santorini! We were there for a total of three nights, spending each night in a different Airbnb. Here’s the second night’s cave home:

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Don’t be fooled, that door is very short! I know because I knocked my head on it two different times. In case you’re wondering, yes I was warned and yes it hurt!

This spot was really interesting. We only had the bottom half which wasn’t much from the outside (compared to night one’s upgrade!) but the interior, specifically the “disco room” as our porter called it, was hip as hell!

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After we got settled in we went to grab some breakfast and do some more exploring.

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Stetson hat, vintage Coach bag, Anthropologie jumper, Bussola sandals

Then we loaded up on SPF and headed to Jojo’s down at Black Beach.

Jojo’s vibes were everything I ever invisioned of from a Greek beachside hangout-all the rattan, neutrals, driftwood,various swimming pool options, beer on tap, hanging chairs and on and on!

We had been told that if you ate at their restaurant, the regular chairs are free so we grabbed a a quick lunch and headed down to the beach and found a set literally ON the beach. Perfection.

Bussola sandals

Black beach for a reason!

While we bobbed in the salty Mediterranean we scooped up colorful stones to bring home. This collection grew and grew during the trip. So glad I thought to grab stones along the way (thought it’s nothing new, been obsessed with rocks my whole life!) because I recently made a terrarium and used a few handfuls from Greece which made it even more special! *See Instagram for the finished product.

Stetson hats, Target bathing suit, FP cover up, Bussola sandals

So I know I just said Jojo’s was everything I dreamed of but Wet Stories (yea, terrible name…) was a minimalist’s beach dream, those cacti, HEART EYES!

my current phone wallpaper

After a day on the beach, it was winery + sunset time! We changed back into our clothes and headed to a winery that was recommended, Santos, but they were randomly closed and so we mapped it over to Venetsanos Winery.

It was CRAZY WINDY, like blowing off the food on our plates windy.  Several people sitting around us had their wine glasses blown right off the table! We figured out that if we set the glasses in between the two plates and pushed them it, it anchored them down. It was a real struggle though especially not wearing the appropriate amount of clothes.. but the delicious treats, setting sun, Greek wine and spending time with my “bb” was glorious!

During the chaos of the wind shattering glasses and the terrible service-they threw away our food and Dustin’s wine while we were getting sunset pics- we connected with two ladies from the states, Cat (NYC) and Lara (currently London). They were so fun and leaving around the time we were and asked where we were going and we said, “FIRA!” and they were all “that’s where we’re staying, we love it!” and since they were going to call a cab we offered to give them a lift,  When we arrived they suggested we hit up Tropical for cheap drinks and fun music. DONE!

Many drinks and making additional friends later, we all needed some FOOD. Brick oven pizza it was! So glad we were able to connect with fun folks!

Onto the last full day~aka Dustin’s 30th~aka third Airbnb cave home:

This lil spot was so bright and open, I loved it but Dustin and I both agreed, nothing beats that first spot!

After our final settling in we went to have another Greek breakfast feast. I got really into Greek yogurt with seasonal fruit and honey. Tasted so much better there!

If you’re wondering if the moving around so much in such little time was annoying, well, it was and wasn’t. We were thankful to get legit Oia cave homes in such short notice but it would have been nice to leave hanging clothes up rather then hand carrying them to the next spot. But on another hand, getting three different experiences was also rad. So, if you’re up for it, do it! If you are more than happy with one sleeping environment, steer clear and book far in advance.

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I for real didn’t make the sky that blue! au naturale!

Salt Optics frames, Free People dress

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Santorini has a reputation for having lots of cats everywhere but if you saw in my Athens post, they also had a ton of cats hanging around. So it’s safe to say, Greek cats aren’t afraid to chill wherever they dang well please! Wait, that’s all cats…

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To celebrate Dustin’s 30th we wanted to do something adventurous. We spoke with our host and she suggested a sunset cruise on a catamaran, yes please! That didn’t set sail till 2pm so we had time to kill which meant walking more stairs to see different angles of our hillside hood.

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All aboard the catamaran!

The cruise included dinner and ALL YOU CAN DRINK. It was about $280usd and so so so so worth it. The food was prepared on the boat and was a top meal on the entire trip-ridic good.

“Dustin, what are we doing for your 30th birthday?!”

That’s Amoudi Bay where we walked the 300 steps and road donkeys. We sailed all around the islands and saw so many different layers of volcanic eruptions and erosion. The boat stopped at three different beaches-anchored out in water-and let us jump off and explore around. In addition we stopped at a “hot spring” that wasn’t hot at all. We laughed and joked around with other tourists about how lukewarm (at best) it was. The Mediterranean is cold y’all!

Salt Optics frames, FP cover up, H&M top

Buzzed and salty, we had a bit of fun posing in front of the setting sun :)

Confession, I totally flooded the bathroom and let someone else take the blame. Oops! After getting in a final swim I went to shower off in the cabin and for whatever reason the water wasn’t draining but I figured it was some button outside the shower so I went about my way and got cleaned off. When I got out of said flooded shower all the water went into the bathroom area, panicked I started pressing buttons and flipping switches. Nothing worked.  So I dried off and fled. I was drunk (hello, all you can drink..) and was in fight or flight and I chose flight! A women we had befriended was walking in after me and I said “gosh, someone flooded the place!” and after her trip to the bathroom she told one of the boat folks and they got it figured out. Yea I’m a jerk for not fessing up but everything in there was waterproof so no damage was done and now I have a funny story to tell :P

Man, what a couple of three days.  To say Santorini has magical powers would be an understand. At the time of this trip we were in between homes, staying at friend’s places and living out of suitcases. Our marriage was suffering because of it and this trip was just what we both needed!

Can you believe there’s ANOTHER leg of this trip? I’m having so much fun reliving it!