Stonehenge Day Trip

Stonehenge Heel Stone

Crossed off a big thing on my sightseeing wishlist recently! We did a Stonehenge day trip in December and it was just as fascinating as I was hoping. We visited as a day trip from Bristol, but a Stonehenge day trip is also doable from London.

Stonehenge Day Trip December Sunset

We drove from Bristol and after we parked, we had to choose whether to take the shuttle the rest of the way out to the site or walk – we chose the walk! It took us about 35 minutes at a leisurely pace. You can see Stonehenge in the distance in this photo…

Walking to Stonehenge

I really enjoyed the walk as a chance to take in the landscape and scenery…

Gate to Stonehenge

…and we passed some sheep along the way….

Stonehenge Sheep

So peaceful.

We caught the sunset at Stonehenge a few days after the winter solstice. The stone circle was built to frame the midwinter sunset as well as the sunrise at the summer solstice. The circle marks the passage of time each year.

Stonehenge Day Trip

Walking around the stone circle at this time of year – when the days are shortest and the air is chilled – left me feeling like part of a bigger cycle. Like I’d reached the middle of winter and was now ready to start planning for spring again.

Stonehenge Day Trip

The coolest thing to us was seeing that sunset line up with the Heel Stone. It lines up perfectly on the solstice itself, but it still seemed almost synced and special to us a few days after. Here is a photo with the Heel Stone in the foreground and the stone circle + sunset lined up behind it….

Stonehenge Heel Stone

How cool is that view? I am so amazed by the engineering and understanding of the solar cycle that went into the planning and construction of this place.

Phone Photo of Stonehenge

Most of the site is organized to help remove modern visuals (for example, the parking lot and main road to the site were moved further away in 2013). It really helped me get a sense of how the stone circle might have looked in the wider Stonehenge landscape through the ages.

Even so, I still totally love how this photo turned out – juxtaposing the ancient monoliths with the modern motorway and car lights juuust visible in the background:

Stonehenge

Awesome.

You can plan your visit and find tickets online here at the English Heritage website. We decided to go for the yearly membership with English Heritage in order to explore more of the sites, castles, monuments etc they care for – I’ve just started reading through their guidebook and I can’t wait. While I’m learning about all the sites to see, I’d love more suggestions of places to see in England – leave a comment! 🙂

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Lanzarote Weekend Getaway

Lanzarote Sunset

A warm weekend getaway to Lanzarote was just the thing to brighten up my February.

Lanzarote is just off the coast of Africa, west of Morocco, and it’s one of the Canary Islands – an autonomous community administered by Spain. The island is known for its volcanic landscapes, year-round sun, and active holidays for athletes. This vacation was all about the warm winter weather for us.

Sun Setting Over Lanzarote

We stayed in the Sands Beach Resort in Costa Teguise which was perfect for us to be right by the ocean but still surrounded by restaurants, outdoor pools, and resort amenities like the grocery store. Exactly the kind of relaxed vacation I wanted for a chance to rest and recharge.

Here are some photos from the resort…

Sands Beach Resort Lanzarote

I love those tiles and architectural details.

Lanzarote Sands Beach Resort

Lanzarote is home to a lot of marathon, triathlon, and other events throughout the year – so there were quite a few triathletes and training groups in our hotel over the weekend. The resort had a great heated lap pool and I was glad to get a swim in while I was there….

Lanzarote Lap Pool

After a morning swim, we’d head out for brunch. I like to stay protected from the sun but I don’t love head-to-toe sunscreen, so I let a UPF 50+ dress from Coolibar and a hat do the heavy lifting for me. I totally love Coolibar lately for sun protection clothing and have been really happy with this dress and some running shirts/sleeves from them.

Coolibar Dress

We had brunch a couple of times at the on-site Mai Tai Pool Restaurant which was uncrowded and quiet this time of year. Perfect place to read in the sunshine and take in the sea air!

Lanzarote Plant Life

We also tried a few restaurants in Costa Teguise, and our favorite was La Bohemia. The Iberian pork was a highlight – the perfect Spanish thing to try! Comes with lots of different salts like paprika, mustard, sea salt, wasabi, red wine, and herbs…

Lanzarote Iberian Pork

Yum.

There’s a history of art and architecture on the island (artist César Manrique’s home is open for tours here) and we definitely enjoyed the art installations that populate the place. We saw lots of interesting architecture and installations as we walked around in the evenings…

Love it.

I also love taking in the sea air on those evening walks. So does my husband….

There are tons more things to explore in Lanzarote like camel rides, underwater museums, and the volcanic landscapes of Timanfaya National Park. Our weekend was all about relaxing – but I’d totally love to come back and check out more of the things Lanzarote has to offer.

xo Kate

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A Roman Holiday, part 1

I got to spend 11 days in Rome, and enjoyed exploring around the vast city that has been home to so much civilization and culture.

Rome has everything from quiet gardens around the Villa Borghese…

borghese gardens.

…and ancient ruins from the Roman Empire…

forum romanum.

…to modern iconic Italian vespas, political flags, accordions, music….

vespa.
accordian.

There are so many facets of Rome, an ancient place where so much history and so many influences have left their mark. I can’t wait to share more photos of some different aspects of the city. : )

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Sights and Sounds of Florence

I got to spend one Saturday in Florence, Italy – a city steeped in the history of art, music, politics, and Italian culture.

In the pedestrian streets around Florence’s famous art galleries, every square foot is filled with musicians and souvenir reproductions of famous paintings for sale….

Uffizi courtyard.

Walking through the city, there are pops of color and ornate architectural details all around you. You’re embraced by the legacy of inspiration that once surrounded da Vinci, Michaelangelo, Donatello, and so many other artists….

biciclettanatural split screen.

There’s something surreal to the changes of colors in the city throughout the day. In the early, misty morning, Florence’s famous bridge, the Ponte Vecchi, was cool and indistinct….

bridging the Arno River.

…but by the warmer afternoon, the shops and walls along the bridge had changed into their famous palette of warm yellows, greens, and oranges….Ponte Vecchi

Florence had a very Italian feel, and it was awe-inspiring to be in the birthplace of so many famous works of art. : )

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Hiking along the Italian Coast

*edit* – you can check out a new video all about sketching and hiking Cinque Terre on my Youtube channel here: Hiking & Sketching Cinque Terre

 

I shared a few photos from our hike through Cinque Terre, Italy here. The seaside, the views – it’s lovely. : )

Cinque terre

We started out early in the day by grabbing some fruit at one of the small streetside markets….

Italian coast
Our hike wound along the coast of the Mediterranean through 5 towns, some vineyards, and natural cliffs. In the middle of one orchard, we came across an Italian man selling fresh lemonade to hikers….

homemade.

fresh lemonade.

For lunch, we stopped in the harbor of one of the towns with some grab-and-go pizza….

Lunch while hiking Cinque Terre

Throughout the hike, we overheard people talking in all different languages – Italian, English, German, French, and more. It was an interesting mélange of people from all different places – all come to enjoy the Italian coast….

hilltop.

Everyone we passed would say “excuse me” in a different language. Scusi, permesso, entschuldigung, pardon…

Hiking cinque terre

Cinque Terre is famous for its beautiful scenery and seaside hikes, but its mixture of different visitors makes for a really unique atmosphere, too. : )

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One Tuesday at Cinque Terre, Italy

In April, I got to spend my spring break – 11 days – in Italy. The trip was rich with history, culture, and especially food. : ) We spent most of our time in Rome, but made this day trip out to hike Cinque Terre where there are some beautiful hiking routes along the Italian coast.

riomaggiore.

seaside.
This hiking area is full of sweeping views, crisp and salty Mediterranean air, seaside life…

perch.
The main hiking trail also takes you through 5 small coastal Italian towns, where you find your way through small, winding, complex Italian alleys….

street.


Watch my Hiking & Sketching Cinque Terre travel vlog here.
Read all posts about Italy here.

Interesting architecture and inspiring personal touches accent the walls and streets throughout each of the towns…

mixed media.
italian.

Tomorrow, I’ll be posting about some of the food we came across as well as the atmosphere of our hike Cinque Terre! See you then. : )

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In and Around Karlštejn Castle, Czech Republic

A couple of weeks ago, I took a day trip out from Prague to Karlštejn to see Karlštejn Castle. The small town is just a short train ride away through some of the Czech countryside, and the vibe is so different from the bustle of the capital.

The views around Karlštrejn are so scenic and calm….

calm waters.
czech countryside.

Along one of the main streets of town, everyone has a driveway like this:

driveway.

That main street connects to a moderate hiking path up a hill that leads to Karlštejn’s famous 14th century Gothic castle….

castle.

I really enjoyed the walk up to the top of the hill with its picturesque views!

royal view.

At Karlštejn Castle, I took a 2 hour English tour explaining the history of the place and the old royal families, but no photos were allowed inside. The whole place is full of historic relics, royal portraits, twisting paths and staircases.

staircase.

Back down in the village after the tour, people were out enjoying the breezy weather. The whole town has a relaxed and unhurried feeling, perfect for a short day trip.

bike ride.

I loved getting a chance to see some of the Czech countryside and the old castle. : )

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Walking through Prague

I had a couple of days off work this week, and I spent the extra free time wandering the streets of Prague. I love taking in the city by exploring and meandering. : )

Today, I started my walk near the Vltava River….

cafe.

The restaurants along this part of the riverside have a great view of the Charles Bridge and Prague Castle.

restaurant with a view.

Later, I tried this traditional Czech/Slovak bread. It’s a good, quick snack – perfect for my walk. I loooved the taste of cinnamon.

czech bread.

Then I walked up and down these streets, near the castle…

one way.
downhill.

…where I came across this bakeshop selling goodies through the window!

windowsill.

Where did you walk today? : )

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Hungarian Architecture

I am so honored to be Freshly Pressed! Thank you to WordPress and to you blog readers – so exciting! I love reading all your comments – so uplifting to hear your memories of Budapest, your plans to visit. This city has made such an impact on us all. : )

A few final words about my Hungary visit – I was so struck by the inspirational architecture around every corner! Every street looks different, every building has its own personality.

From shingled roofs and old, colorful buildings…

hungarian architecture

…to bright, vivid paint…hungarian architecture

…and beautiful patterns…

patterns.

…or even purple accents and highlights…
color accents.

… and the soaring marble of St. Stephen’s Basilica.
overview.

dome.

The interplay of colors and attention to architectural detail – both inside and outside the buildings – is fabulous. I could walk up and down the same street 10 times and notice something new with every pass. : )

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A Central European Road Trip

I just got back in Prague earlier today after a business trip to Budapest, Hungary. I’m in love with Budapest itself, and the road trip getting there was great, too!

From Prague to Budapest is about a 5 hour drive – across the Czech Republic, through Slovakia, and into Hungary.

From the road along the way, we could see large clusters of old Soviet-constructed buildings around the outskirts of cities. These are outside Brno, Czech Republic….

soviet structures.
The Soviets’ theory was to build uniform apartment buildings so everyone would be equal, but today it’s an odd feeling to pass so many identical buildings.

We stopped to refuel in Slovakia, in the midst of vast cornfields….
sky over slovakia.

At one point, we could see Austria and it’s windmills in the distance….
austrian windmills.
Coming into Hungary, we passed through an old, mostly untended border checkpoint. Because of the open border policies of the Schengen Agreement, this disused border station is falling into disrepair.
open border.

The road trip across part of Central Europe was a great way to see some of the countryside here. : )

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