Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh Castle

Like I said in my last post about Paris, I’ve been looking through my travel photos and reliving the memories of past trips while we stay inside, social distancing. Last week, I posted photos of our first anniversary trip, and now I want to post photos from our second anniversary weekend exploring Scotland last November. Let’s start with Edinburgh, Scotland!

We rented a car and drove from Bristol to Edinburgh. It was a journey of about 7 hours, and our first time seeing a lot of the British countryside along the way. I love a good road trip.

Sightseeing

The evening we arrived, we visited the Edinburgh Christmas Market….

Edinburgh Christmas Market

European Christmas markets are so fun – we spent the evening checking out the shops, trying lots of different food, and enjoying the holiday music. And since we had driven up and knew we had extra room in our car, we were able to purchase some large prints by a local Scottish artist. Perfect.

Edinburgh Christmas Market

In the morning, we explored Edinburgh by foot. Here is the entrance to Edinburgh castle…

Edinburgh Castle

Like always, I’m drawn to the juxtaposition of the old and new. There’s a grand view of the modern city buildings below the castle….

Love a snapshot of two eras.

We listened to a Rick Steves audio tour: Edinburgh’s Royal Mile Walk. Since we had the tour on our phones, we walked the Royal Mile at a leisurely pace with lots of stops along the way whenever we liked. Totally convenient.

The Royal Mile

Here are some snapshots I took along the walk….

Edinburgh Bagpipes
Edinburgh Phone Booths

Lots of holiday decorations – I love the winter vibes.

Traffic cones topping the statues – this is a long-running thing in Edinburgh, we saw it in a lot of places! Here’s James Braidwood on the left, the founder of the first fire department in Edinburgh, and David Hume on the right, an Enlightenment philosopher born in Edinburgh.

Our favorite part of the walk was turning off the main route of the Royal Mile to explore a close, or alleyway: Lady Stair’s Close.

We would’ve completely missed this if we hadn’t heard Rick Steves mention it on the audio tour! The Writers’ Museum is a free museum just off Lady Stair’s Close that highlights some of the great Scottish writers. We loved it.

The museum is inside Lady Stair’s House, and walking through the house felt like a unique chance to explore how a wealthy Edinburgh home in history might have looked and felt.

After visiting the museum, I was totally inspired to find a bunch of Scottish lit to add to my own library (like Anne Donovan’s Buddha Da and a collection of Carol Ann Duffy poems). I’ve been excited to read literature from the UK while we are living here.

We had so much fun visiting Edinburgh, Scotland and can’t wait to come back. I would love the chance to see it in the summer, also!

I have some photos from our tour of the Scottish Highlands that I’d also like to share, so I will be back with those next.

Hope you and yours are staying safe and healthy –

kate

Continue Reading

You may also like

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! 🙂

Continue Reading

You may also like

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

Continue Reading

You may also like

Moving to the UK

Bristol England River

Big news! We moved to the UK! 🇬🇧

It has been a whirlwind of changes that happened crazy fast. So now we are based in Bristol while my husband works here & in London, and meanwhile I’m traveling for a new corporate job I’ve taken in the Netherlands.

Moving to the UK…. Lots of change! Exciting! Overwhelming! In the middle of it all, I’m trying to make an effort to slow down some and get to know this city.

Here is a pic snapped one morning while crossing one of the bridges downtown….

Moving to the UK

What makes a new place start to feel familiar for you? Any tips for settling in? So far we are trying to find new favorite restaurants, coffee shops, a local grocery…. you know the drill.

Exploring Bristol is so fun to do. Every side street has something new to find….

Bristol England

Love it.

My husband catches the train to London every other week. He loves traveling by train – they run frequently and (bonus!) no need to measure out your liquids like when taking a flight.

Bristol Train Station

As for me, I travel every other week to the Netherlands with a quick flight to Amsterdam and a 2-hour train north to Groningen. Here’s where I walk into work at the hospital in Groningen….

Groningen

We synced our work schedules to travel the same weeks and then hang out together in Bristol on our weeks in town. So far, so good! We think we can keep this schedule up for the rest of year.

moving to the uk

Moving to the UK has been such an adventure so far. Can’t wait to settle into this new season of life.

Cheers,

kate

Continue Reading

You may also like

Touring Hobbiton in New Zealand

This is a post from my “Photo Rescue” project where I’m rediscovering all my pictures from New Zealand. Read all posts about New Zealand here!


The Hobbiton set tour was a must-do day trip for us from Raglan while we were staying on the North Island in New Zealand. I am huge Lord of the Rings fan, and this was something I’d been wanting to do for years!

We decided to arrive plenty early for our tour to avoid any last minute time stress. Hobbiton New Zealand is somewhat remote so there aren’t lots of choices for lunch, but luckily there’s a cafe right by the parking area. Perfect for early comers like us or for a quick bite after the tour!

We had a couple pastries and some coffee as we waited for our tour time….

Here is a picture from one of the gardens in the Shire. All the food in the gardens is real! All the trees on set are real, too, with one exception – the famous one at the top of the hill over Bag End.

Here is a picture of me in the middle of the open field used for Bilbo’s birthday party scene in the first movie. That’s the famous Party Tree in the background! Is this making anyone else want to rewatch the films? 🙂

Hobbiton Party Tree

So cool to see all the hobbit hole doors nestled into the hillside…

Hobbiton

The hobbit doors come in all different sizes as part of the practical effects used while filming. Standing next to a small Hobbit door makes you seem as big as a wizard….

Hobbit Door

…. while standing next to a normal size door makes you seem perfectly Hobbit-sized! So cool to see that in person.

Hobbit Hole

And last but not least… party decorations, Hobbiton style:

Hobbiton Party Decorations

You can check out more about the different Hobbiton Tours on their site here.

Continue Reading

You may also like

Hawaii Outfits and Photo Spots

Hi there! I put together all of our favorite vacation clothes we wore on our first trip to Hawaii and some of our favorite photo spots. You’ll find links to our Hawaii outfits with the photos below!

My favorite spot was Kawela Bay on the north shore of O’ahu. There we saw a massive banyan tree (you might recognize it from ‘Lost’ !) that was awe-inspiring to walk under. Plus, the beach on Kawela Bay is great if you want to relax somewhere less busy than Waikiki. We spent a day away from crowds in the waves there and took breaks to read under an umbrella. Not bad at all.

Hawaii Outfit

From the top! Hats are always a major part of my travel outfits to places with a high sun factor to help keep sun off my face…

Hawaii outfits

hat // swimsuit from athleta 2016 // pants

Location: massive banyan tree at kawela bay on the north shore, o’ahu, hawaii

And I was so excited to wear a long, flowy floral dress to a luau….

Hawaii outfits

floral dress // shoes

I tried to keep all my clothes pretty flowing and loose to keep cool in that humid heat….

Hawaii outfits

white top // pants // sandals // hat

Location: alawai canal, waikiki, hawaii

Hawaii outfits

swimsuit cover // hat

Location: kawela bay, o‘ahu, hawaii

Flower headbands are something I could really get used to…

Hawaii outfits

Love.

pink dress // blue flower headband from h&m, here is a pink one I love

Hiking Laie Falls was an adventure with beautiful views of the north shore in O’ahu!

Hawaii hikingfitbit // sneakers // crop top

Location: laie falls trail, laie, o’ahu, hawaii

Mens Hawaii outfit

mens tank top // swim trunks

Location: kawela bay, o’ahu, hawaii

Mens swim trunks | hawaii outfit

swim trunks

Location: kawela bay, o’ahu, hawaii

My favorite thing no matter what I was wearing? The fresh orchid flower leis! They totally completed my Hawaii outfits.  I saw them for sale everywhere, and I got mine for $7 at Target. Best $7 I ever spent.

Mahalo~

kate

Continue Reading

You may also like

Aloha from Waikiki, Hawaii

Aloha! I am in Hawaii this week and wanted to share a few photos from our first couple of days in Honolulu + Waikiki.

0BFEC15A-67D1-4DFF-9DB6-231E2FB91226

First things first, here are a couple of pictures of the famous Waikiki Beach…

9B8866A0-898D-44D5-A76A-406232192381

A7287DE4-DF0F-43C5-B004-642173F2316B

I love that view.

I also love the view of this infinity pool along the beach…

DB281822-9A72-40C4-BCAF-CDF86C207554

Awesome.

We went to a luau on our first night here, and it was so much fun. We went to the Paradise Cove luau and I’d recommend it if you are interested in learning a bit about Pacific Island culture while seeing a good show by talented locals and getting dinner.

We saw hula dancers and a man climb a tree to toss down orchid flowers (He made it look so easy!)

 

Here’s everyone lined up to learn about fishing traditions…

C048AFBB-00DE-49A7-9537-EB3C97CB89C1

We tried our hand at spear throwing…

…admired the plant life…

CA42E308-B918-4F5D-8BED-06BFA5A28987

…and enjoyed the sunset!

606425CC-689B-48A2-9AF9-5E472DBFDBA0

The food has been great so far, too. I have been eating all the fish tacos. Haven’t met any here that I didn’t like!

We also tried this frozen treat, banán a dairy-free soft serve made from local bananas and fruit that tastes a bit like frozen yogurt. Yum.

3ADCD7CE-680E-46D3-A981-2C9A8FBD5566

Now we are up on the north side of Oahu and excited to explore the area up here! I’ll share more photos from here later and in the mean time I’ll be posting over on instagram.

9E04B441-0EEC-417E-A756-883498884364

Have you been to Hawaii? What was your favorite thing to do? 🙂

 

kate

Continue Reading

You may also like

A March Day Trip to Sequoia National Park

Earlier in March, we did a Sequoia National Park Day Trip from Morro Bay, CA. There are lots of cool things to see and do in both Sequoia and the nearby Kings Canyon National Park, but our mission was to see some of the tall sequoias in the National Forest and especially the General Sherman Tree.

Sequoia National Park Day Trip

My number one hot tip for journeying up to Sequoia Forest in March? Check the weather forecast first!

We were definitely caught off-guard to leave Morro Bay in the upper 60 degrees F and find ourselves in Sequoia facing this:

Sequoia National Park Day Trip

And this!

Sequoia National Park Day Trip

All the cloud/snow/fog in that photo is obscuring the mountainside – we were at an elevation of about 6,000 ft here.

We weren’t deterred. We rented some snow chains for our tires and my husband put them on. He is from Minnesota so I figured, he knows what he’s doing!

Sequoia National Park Day Trip

He told me afterwards he had never put snow chains on a car before, but he had put them on a lawn mower. Apparently, in Minnesota they attach snowplows to lawn mowers to clear snow in the winter! Me (from Atlanta) and the man renting the snow chains to us (from California) were both gobsmacked to hear this.

When we made it to the pull off for the trail to the General Sherman tree, the lot was sparsely populated and looked like this:

Sequoia National Park Day Trip

Still not deterred! We made our way to the tree in 6 inches of snow.

Worth it:

Sequoia National Park Day Trip

The General Sherman Tree is the biggest living tree by volume in the world – 275 feet tall, and 36 feet in diameter….

Sequoia National Park Day Trip

It was awe-inspiring to gaze up and take in the size of this tree surrounded by so many tall, beautiful sequoias in the forest.

We made it back down the winding mountain roads safely, turned in our snow chains, and headed on. On our way back we stopped at In-N-Out and chatted the whole way about what an odd but amazing day it had been.

Sequoia National Park Day Trip

This was definitely a unique experience for me and I think I will be retelling the story of our Sequoia National Park day trip for many years!

p.s. – But seriously… did anyone else know that there are places where they put snow chains on lawn mowers?? I learn amazing things all the time.

 

xo

Kate

Continue Reading

You may also like

Disney Vlog + 3 Tips for Visiting in 2018

Disney tips

As promised, here is the vlog from our Disneyland trip plus 3 tips for visiting Disneyland in 2018!

These are the 3 Disney tips that really helped keep our day fun and efficient:

  1. Disneyland App + MaxPass
  2. Start Fastpasses Early
  3. Rent a storage locker

I talk them through in more detail in the video starting at the 1:53 mark.

Let me know in the comments if these tips work for you or if you have any other Disney advice!

A dream is a wish your heart makes….

xo

Kate

Continue Reading

You may also like

Disneyland during Spring Break

Disneyland

Last week, we took my sister to Disneyland during her spring break! Wanted to share a few pictures.

Here she is in front of Aurora’s castle…

DSC02414

We started off the day with my favorite ride: the new Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout (the old Tower of Terror!)…

img_4018.jpg

Got some awesome souvenirs, we all l-o-o-o-ved our Disney mouse ears – I got sparkly ones!

But maybe the coolest ones were these light-up Star Wars ears….

Disneyland

Had a good time hanging out with the Frozen crew and getting our snowfies

img_3961.jpg

And here we are with Tinkerbell (clap if you believe!)

IMG_3992

I’ll be back on Thursday with the vlog + my top three tips for visiting Disneyland for a day.

May the force be with you,

Kate

Continue Reading

You may also like

1 2 3 7