Saturday, January 21, 2017

Portugal: The Hotels

Looking for hotels can be a really fun or really frustrating part of a trip. For our Portugal trip, it was fun! There were a ton of options, so it took a bit of time and research to make sure we were ending up somewhere decent, but within budget. Our budgets were low for Portugal (we were shooting for $800 for the 8 nights), and we had no trouble sticking to our budget! We spent more in Lisbon, but were able to make up for the pricier Lisbon hotels with cheaper Lagos, Sintra and Porto hotels. Here's where we stayed and what we thought of each place!

Our room with a balcony at the Hotel Florida in Lisbon!

Friday, January 20, 2017

Porto, Portugal

Capping off our trip to Portugal was a visit to Porto, in the north of the country. We arrived to Porto in the early evening and checked into our hotel, then went exploring for snacks. We stumbled on an amazing little spot for a glass of wine and tapas style appetizers on Rua das Flores called Cantina 32, and spent a lovely hour sitting out on the pedestrian street with glasses of wine and beer and an amazing cheese platter. They also had amazing lemonade and lupini beans! Highly recommended! 

Cheese platter and sausage croquettes - make sure to get extra pumpkin jam!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Santa Cruz Island Kayaking with Channel Islands Outfitters

Living in California, it's easy to take for granted all of the amazing scenery and activities there are locally. Off of the coast of Ventura and Santa Barbara counties are a series of channel islands that make up the California Channel Islands National Park. We look at them every time we drive up the coast, and we'd toured near them on some whale watching trips, but we'd never been out to visit them!

SD came to visit California for work a few weeks ago, and we decided to do something we've been wanting to do for a long time - take a ferry out to the Channel Islands and have an adventure!

Heading out for our adventure!

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Visiting the Incredible Quinta Da Regaleira in Sintra, Portugal

While researching Portugal and Sintra, there was one image that popped out to me as something I had to see in person - the Masonic initiation well at Quinta Da Regaleira.

Image from Flickr

I was immediately thrilled and enchanted by the idea of this spot - a winding staircase with moss covered stone walls and hidden passageways... and was determined to find it when we were visiting Sintra.

The Quinta Da Regaleira is beautiful and magical. The entire property is gorgeous - with outstanding park grounds full of paths and tunnels, lakes and grottoes, fountains and structures, including a chapel.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Trips I'm Planning: 11 Days in Austria & Croatia

A few months ago, I got the amazing news that my dear friend Sis is engaged! It's been a while since I've gotten to spend time with her (almost 5 years since our time in London, to be exact), so I am really looking forward to visiting her in Austria and being present for her special day.'s_Cathedral,_Vienna
St. Stephen's Cathedral, Vienna

Hubby and I have been wanting to explore a few different parts of Europe, and he's never been to Austria, so at first I thought we'd explore Austria some more, or take a train to Prague for a few days, or check out Budapest or some cities in Germany. But he's had a hankering to see Croatia, and Sis has been on a couple of incredible sailing trips there, so we figured - why not check another country off our bucket list! 

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Magical Sintra, Portugal

We decided to stay in Sintra for two nights of our Portugal trip almost on a whim. We wanted to stay somewhere close to Lisbon, but not *in* Lisbon, which made Sintra and Cascais very appealing choices. After I researched the area a bit, we decided on Sintra, since there were a handful of things we wanted to see there: Pena Palace, the Castle of the Moors, the Quinta Da Regaleira, Sintra National Palace, Monserrate Palace and Park... there are some amazing things to check out in Sintra!

 Castle of the Moors, Sintra

I, of course, had way too many things I wanted to see in the one full day that we had in Sintra - especially considering we arrived later in the evening on our first night, and were driving RW to the Lisbon airport halfway through the day. It's ok, though, because we still got an amazing sampling of Sintra, and a return trip is definitely in our future.