Monday, August 22, 2016

Renting A Car & Driving In Portugal

Renting a car in Portugal was easy, and totally worth it. Ok, slight correction - DRIVING in Portugal was easy - the car rental part was a bit of a hassle, but still worth it.

We started our driving adventure of Portugal in Lisbon. I had researched a few different car rental companies, and had finally settled on a booking with Budget Rental Car, through Expedia's website. Since we were planning on driving pretty extensively throughout the trip, and since RW was going to be traveling with us for half the trip, we ended up with a slightly larger car than we normally would rent in Europe.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Cabo da Roca & Óbidos, Portugal

Cabo da Roca and the little town of Óbidos were two spots in Portugal that I absolutely loved. We visited both spots on the day of our trip dedicated to driving from Sintra up to Porto.

Cabo da Roca

TRAVEL TIP: Road travel in Portugal often takes longer than estimated when you're using smaller roads instead of highways. Along our trip from Sintra to Cabo da Roca, we got stuck on a small, winding road behind a large (especially for European standards) RV from Germany. The drive ended up being an adventure in itself, as the couple in the RV actually needed our (and other motorist's) help in a couple of tight spots! Make sure you give yourself plenty of drive time, especially if you're going on a tour or have a reservation somewhere!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Off The Beaten Path in Portugal

One of the things we like the most about exploring a new place is checking out places that are along our journey from one place to another.

Hitting the road - and using an actual map rather than GPS!

Knowing we like to do this, we planned basically an entire day each for the drives between the Algarve and Sintra, and from Sintra to Porto, even though we'd spaced out our overnights so we never had more than about 200 miles to drive each day.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Travel Photo Tuesday: Huntington Library, Pasadena CA

Another one of my favorite Los Angeles spots is the Huntington Library and Gardens in Pasadena, CA. The grounds are really magnificent! They have gardens structured from around the world - the photo above is from the Japanese garden, which is probably my favorite one. They have many different halls of artwork, a tea room as well as a few more casual places to grab a bite to eat, and a lovely museum shop as well!

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Santorini, Greece: Blue Angel Villa and TravelKeys Vacation Rentals Stay & Post-Stay Experiences

Blue Angel Villa. The saga continues! I recently wrote about our booking and pre-stay experience with TravelKeys for the Blue Angel Villa in Santorini, and here I'll continue with a review of our stay and some post-stay drama. Quick recap: Shorty fell in love with the villa, which we then booked for 7 guests for 4 nights at $3,170.

Panoramic view from the rooftop of the villa - it was stunning.

Another quick disclaimer: I am not trying to nitpick the details of the villa in this review - I am just trying to give an honest review of what we were expecting from our booking process and what we ended up with when we arrived. The bottom line for us was that we were expecting something much different based on what had been presented to us, and when the reality didn't quite match, it was disappointing.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Santorini, Greece: Blue Angel Villa and TravelKeys Vacation Rentals Booking & Pre-Stay Experiences

On our trip to Greece, the place that Shorty was the most excited about was Santorini. In fact, the whole trip was based almost entirely around her desire to wake up to the gorgeous Santorini views on her birthday. She spent a massive amount of time researching places to stay. Which town was best? Which side of Fira offered the best views? Was a villa or hotel better? And in her research, she found photos of a villa that she absolutely fell in love with: the Blue Angel Villa in Fira, Santorini.

 The view that Shorty fell in love with and weaved many daydreams out of!

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Travel Photo Tuesday: Gloriette at Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna Austria

The Gloriette is a gorgeous building built at the top of the hill behind Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna, Austria. I have visited there each time I've been to Vienna, and have many nice memories of hiking up the hill in the heat to get to the cool and relaxing cafe inside! There's also an old fashioned hand water pump behind the structure where you can refill water bottles! I can't wait to see it again when I visit Sis for her wedding a year from now!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Travel Photo Tuesday: Angel's Flight in Downtown Los Angeles

Angel's Flight is a unique piece of Los Angeles history! It originally opened in 1901 as a way for the wealthy residents of Bunker Hill to make it down into downtown Los Angeles, and then it was refurbished and reopened from 2010 to 2013, then was closed to investigate safety issues, which are still ongoing. It's unfortunately not running today, but you can check in and see if it's up and running again by following the Angel's Flight Railway page!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

6 Day Wander in Florence and Milan, Italy

Quick break from my Portugal posts, because my dear friend, X, is taking a long overdue trip to Italy this summer! She will be visiting family in Rome, but also wants to see some other parts of Italy while she's there, particularly Florence and Milan. We recently had dinner when I visited NY for work, and I was more than happy to offer to do some research on itineraries for her! You could also take this itinerary and add a couple days at the front or end in Rome and/or Venice, and have a pretty solid 10-12 day trip to Italy!

Italy - Florence, Milan and some surrounding areas, with Rome as a starting point

6 - 8 days, 5 - 7 nights
Base trip is 6 days, 5 nights, with two optional additional days/nights


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Taruga Tours: Benagil Cave Tours in the Algarve, Portugal

As I started to write about the Algarve, Portugal, I realized there was really an entire post's worth of what I wanted to write about the awesome tour we took to see the sea caves off the coast. At least, there's an entire post worth's of photos to share!

I actually learned about this tour originally from Pinterest - I found this amazing pin of a gorgeous sea cave in the Algarve that I immediately wanted to visit.

The cave photo that made me want to do a tour!

Monday, June 13, 2016

Algarve, Portugal

Next up on our Portugal itinerary was part of the southern coast of Portugal know as the Algarve region. It's the most popular tourist destination in Portugal, so, of course, we debated long and hard on if we should go, as we tend to like off-the-beaten path places a bit more. But, we were going slightly off season, and there's also a very Moroccan/African/Arabic influence in the Algarve, which we wanted to see. Plus, it boasts gorgeous beaches and coastlines, along with the first ever navigational school, Prince Henry's School of Navigation, in Sagres (established in 1418), so we ended up deciding to spend a few nights in the region.

Panoramic view of the Sagres coastline.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon was both the first and last stop on our tour of Portugal in October 2015. (Itinerary HERE!

We didn't spend a ton of time in Lisbon, as we wanted to check out as much of the country as possible... so we had a half day in Lisbon the day we landed, and another half day when we returned from Porto. We will definitely return to Lisbon to check out more of the city, as what we did see of the city was fantastic.

Panorama of Lisbon from one of the many view points.

Friday, May 20, 2016

London: Meantime Brewing Company

I've mentioned Meantime on the blog before, but hubby and I were talking about beer and London a few days ago and it reminded me just how much we'd loved our tour. So, I figured they deserve their very own post!

Hubby and I, along with SD, hit up a tour at the Meantime Brewing Company last October. SD suggested it, and since hubby loves Greenwich so much, we figured it was a perfect way to spend a Saturday afternoon! The tour costs 20£, and was absolutely worthwhile.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

8 Nights in Portugal: An Overview

When hubby and I started planning our trip to Portugal last October, we changed our itinerary about a half dozen times. We knew we had 8 nights, but there was so much we wanted to see!

 Landing in Lisbon

We went back and forth - should we do four nights each in Lisbon and Porto, with accompanying day trips and exploring from each base? Should we work our way around the country with a night in each location? How hard would it be to incorporate a quick overnight to Gibraltar and Morocco? In the end, we decided this hopefully wouldn't be our only trip to Portugal, but we wanted to get a small taste of different parts. We settled on two nights each in Lisbon, Lagos, Sintra and Porto, with the nights in Lisbon book-ending the rest.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Travel Photo Tuesday: Red Beach, Santorini

Greece was amazing! We had a really great time on our girls' trip, and I'm sure there will be many blog posts to come on this amazing trip. Today's photo is from one of the really unique beaches we made it to on the islands - Red Beach on Santorini. The coasts and beaches there were so amazing due to all the volcanic rock.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Greece Girl's Trip: The Packing List

We're going on vacation! Yes, yes, I know it's not exactly unusual for someone who writes a travel blog to be going on a trip. But. This is a girls' vacation, and I am thrilled. There are a couple of us going who don't travel regularly, so a few weeks ago, they asked me what I would be packing.

 For this trip, swimsuits and a sun hat are a must! (I don't typically bring a hat like this with me unless I'm going to be beaching. Also, I'm bringing two swim suits, because I've been to humid climates where suits don't dry overnight, and there's very little more annoying than putting on a wet bathing suit!)

Now, that's sort of a loaded question. I'm a firm believer that what you pack is pretty personal and varied, so this list is what I would bring with me. In addition to that, what you pack is also pretty dependent on where you're going, and when. Perfect case in point: I'm packing for a spring trip to the Greek Islands. If I were packing for a fall trip to London, my bag would be drastically different! My best advice is to take your itinerary (even if it's rough!) and try to figure out what you'd be comfortable in for each day/adventure.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

London to Brussels: The Chunnel Train

The Chunnel train is something that both Hubby and I were super excited to go on. We both love public transportation, and trains, and it seemed like the ultimate one - a train that goes under a channel!

 Inside the "standard" class car on the Eurostar train.

TRAVEL TIP: Buying train tickets in Europe for "long" trips (1.5 hours +) is almost always cheaper if you buy in advance online. Also - if you don't have a credit card with a chip (a lot of US banks are now issuing them), leave time to go into the ticket booth, as the ticket kiosks usually only take chip cards. When we were in Belgium, we missed two trains from Brussels to Bruges because we had to hunt down the ticket office and then stand in line!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Travel Photo Tuesday: Tower Bridge, London

Tower Bridge, London

It seems as if I've been on a bit of a London kick lately! We had a really nice time in London last October, I think when you have good friends in a place it makes that place 8x better for you. Anyway, Tower bridge is one of my favorite places in London - there's just something about it that I love so much! I took this shot from a boat back to London from Greenwich - something I highly recommend!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Travel Photo Tuesday: London Eye

The London Eye & Big Ben

Walking along the river in London is one of my absolute favorite things to do there. I don't know what it is - there's just a lot of life and bustle and so many things to see! Stop off for a cup of coffee or tea, a beer or cider, a bite to eat, or to just sit for a few minutes and people watch... so many options!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Travel Photo Tuesday: Brooklyn Bridge

One of my absolute favorite places in New York is the Brooklyn Bridge. There's just something about it - the light posts, the wooden planks, it's just really neat. I took the train from Manhattan to Brooklyn, then walked back to Manhattan. The skyline views were awesome, and you could even see the Statue of Liberty in the distance!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Travel Photo Tuesday: Bruges

Bruges was a super cute, VERY touristy town. We enjoyed our time there, but would likely not stay for more than a night if we were to visit again. Also, it's pretty pricey there! We ordered mussel frites one night and paid about €20, while in Cannes later in the trip, we paid €12 for more mussels!

Friday, March 18, 2016

Greece: A Girls' Trip Itinerary!

Shorty has a big birthday coming up, and she's been dreaming of a trip to Greece for years now, so she decided to make it happen and just go!

She put together the itinerary she wanted to do, the things that were the most important to see on her first trip to Greece, and then she sent it to a bunch of us, and we all picked the parts that we're able to make it to. It ended up working really well that way, because everyone had different dates, responsibilities, budgets, and this way there was no pressure on it!

Thursday, March 17, 2016

London: Getting Around

Let me first say this: London is crazy. It's a very cool, vibrant, amazing city, and it was so incredible to see our friends, our first trip there in 2012 was NOT a relaxing trip! We got better with the additional visits, and now I feel like we're pros!

 The Piccadilly line on a map of London

When I was thinking about what I wanted to express about our trips to London, one of the biggest things ended up being something I really wasn't expecting - getting around the city.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

London: The City and Sights

London is a very interesting place. 

It's beautiful, with a mix of old and modern, clean and dodgy, quiet and crazy.

When we returned from our first trip in 2012, there was a lot about London that we hadn't liked. The rush. The rude people. The occasional feel of being in "just any" big city.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Travel Photo Tuesday: Rarotonga, Cook Islands

Today's Travel Photo Tuesday is from Titikaveka beach in Rarotonga, Cook Islands! Hubby and I spent 8 nights in the Cook Islands for our honeymoon, and it was the most relaxing and near perfect vacation I've ever been on! This afternoon was warm, peaceful, and a little windy - and was towards the end of our trip. We spent it wandering around, snorkeling, and relaxing!

Monday, March 14, 2016

Someday, I'll catch up.

Wow. So things have been absolutely insane over the last few years. We've been doing our fair share of traveling, and I've been very neglectful of writing about it!

What have we been up to the last couple years?

I made a New Year's resolution to do at minimum a small trip every month, and I did pretty well! Not only did we do some really fun weekend trips, including a road trip to Arizona, and a quick overnight trip to Savannah while I was in Atlanta for work, but we also snuck Europe in there in October when I went to a business conference in Cannes. Hubby and I tacked on London, Bruges, and Paris to Cannes, and it was really fun.

Bruges, Belguim, October 2013