GIVEAWAY! West Elm Travel Set

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Today I'm here with a little something fun - I'm giving away a 4 Piece Travel Set from West Elm!


The set includes:
  • Ear Plugs
  • Jersey Eye Mask
  • Inflatable Neck Pillow with removable (aka washable!) Jersey cover
  • Jersey Storage Pouch

I use this set myself and it has served me well. I love that you can inflate/deflate the neck pillow, so you aren't stuck carrying it around for your entire trip. The eye mask is incredibly soft. And the little drawstring pouch fits everything inside for easy packing!

Entering is easy, just use the Rafflecopter below to enter! And follow along for extra chances to win. PLUS, share this Facebook post for 2 extra entries (4 chances total!)

Good luck! The winner will be announced on Monday.
xo

a Rafflecopter giveaway


*This is in no way sponsored or connected with West Elm or any of their sister or parent companies*

24 Hours in Memphis

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

We recently road tripped to Memphis to complete our Global Entry Interview & take a bonus pit stop at Ikea. Once I started researching Memphis (I've never been!), I realized that we had to stay at the Peabody Hotel.





It's super old and historic, has gorgeous high ceilings, and has the DUCKS! There's a whole history around this, but there are ducks that live at the Peabody. They live upstairs on the roof in a special duck penthouse, except every day from 11am-5pm where they live in the fountain in the lobby. They march into the elevator when they hear the John Phillip Souza march - it's adorable! If you are going to see the ducks (you don't have to be a hotel guest to go!), I suggest getting there at least 45min-1hr in advance and grab a seat. You can't be standing unless you're behind certain areas. We snagged a seat at the bar and had a drink while we waited for the little quackers to do their march :) I loved it!!!!


We ate dinner at South of Beale and it was so good! It was located in the arts district about 1 mile from the hotel & Beale St. It had a lot of vegetarian and non vegetarian options. It was casual, had a good beer list, and they give you this incredible popcorn (that I think might be laced with crack) when you sit down. I would definitely eat here again. Matt's side of mac & cheese was absolutely delicious!


We had a drink at the ultimate dive bar - Ernestine & Hazels. This place was a brothel back in the day, and it definitely hasn't been updated since. Like Santa's in Nashville, they serve 4 or 5 different type of bottled beer. It was awful and awesome all at the same time. 


Beale Street, or Memphis' version of Broadway in Nashville, was underwhelming at best. This photo was taken around 10:30pm on a Saturday night - I couldn't believe how few people were out and about! The street is blocked to cars, so pedestrians can wander in and out of bars. Many of the bars were charging a $10 cover, so we didn't head into any. But if you wanted to hit up some live music, this is the place.

 

This was pretty much it! We hit up Ikea the next morning on our way back, but I didn't take any pictures of the Ikea, since it looks just like all the others :) But good news, Nashvillians - this over an hour closer than the Atlanta Ikea. (it took us about 2hr 45min)

Have you ever been to Memphis? Did you see the ducks? What did we miss?
xo 

Wine Tasting in Niagara-On-The-Lake (aka, the cutest town in North America

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

In August, we did a Home Exchange in Toronto for a week. We also still had our Southwest Companion Pass then, so instead of flying into Toronto, we flew into Buffalo, NY and drove to Toronto (it's about a 2 hour drive). I went to Niagara Falls when I was 11 or 12 years old, so I have a faint memory of the Falls, but I thought it would be fun to visit again as an adult. When telling our friends who used to live in Toronto about our upcoming plans, they suggested we stop in Niagara-On-The-Lake for some wine tasting and dinner. And I'm so glad they did! We absolutely loved it.




Since we were there in August, it was SO HOT. Plus the mist from the falls made everything extra humid. We were basically drenched in sweat and mist all day. But it was still really fun to see the falls. I have to say, the Canadian side is SO much better than the American side. If you're feeling nerdy, Google pictures of what it looked like when they put up a dam in 1969 to stop the flow of water to the American Falls in order to study the rocks. It's crazy looking! They're apparently going to do it again in the next few years, and I can't wait to see what crazy stuff they find down there.






After we got our waterfall viewing on, we drove about 20 minutes north towards Niagara-On-The-Lake. Before we got into the town, we hit up a few of the famous ice wineries. Ice wine is special, because they pick the berries while they are still frozen on the vine, which makes a very sweet, concentrated dessert wine. Not necessarily my cup of tea, but it was fun to try.

We went to The Ice House & Inniskillin.











THEN we actually got to Niagara-On-The-Lake! It might be the cutest place I've ever been. This adorable downtown main street, perfectly sculpted landscaping, with cute shops and restaurants lining the boulevard. I loved it.








We found a brewery and did a tasting, and spent a few hours wandering in and out of shops. Adorable. This would be a great place for quiet getaway where you stayed in a B&B and did wine tasting every day. That actually sound idyllic to me... booking that now ;) 









Seriously - could this place be more adorable? We only spent the afternoon here, but I'd be happy with a luxurious long weekend to enjoy all of its cute corners.

Have you ever been to Niagara-On-The-Lake?
xo



This Week in Travel: Vol. 48

Monday, March 6, 2017


Fun Ways to Make Money & Travel (seriously)
Mad Cap Coffee in Grand Rapids, Michigan
I spent last week in Grand Rapids, Michigan for a work trip. I've never been to Michigan before, and while I was pretty busy for the most part, we did get to enjoy a few local spots! MadCap Coffee has been on my list for years, since a few other coffee loving friends had mentioned how great it was. I brought a bag of beans home and am enjoying another cup of their perfectly roasted beans as we speak. I was also able to hit up Perrin Brewery, which had a fun atmosphere, delicious food, and really unique beer. I'd suggest doing a beer flight so you can try a few of their brews!

It was my first trip (other than driving two hours to Memphis for our Global Entry interview) since Costa Rica in November. I truly don't think I've gone 3 months without traveling in the last 10 years at least... but more likely 12 or 13 years. After a nice, luxurious break, the next two months will definitely be crazy over here. We've got New York, London, Amsterdam, Panama City Beach, going home, having visitors, going to weddings, having another work photo shoot (locally, at least!) so it's going to be a wild ride. 

I hope everyone has a great week and keep your eyes open for a few posts later this week!
xo


5 Interesting Things About Tamarindo, Costa Rica

Thursday, February 23, 2017

I know I keep going on and on about Costa Rica, but we really loved it. It was such a quick and easy flight (we flew on Southwest but many airlines fly there) and you felt like you were worlds away - I would highly recommend to anyone looking for a tropical getaway!


1. You Can Use US Currency
You can pay in Colon, the local currency, or US dollars, and occasionally by credit card ;) If paying with USD, they will calculate based on the most current accepted exchange rate. What's funny is they might give you change back in Colon (which I think is kind of fun). I remember living in London and people asking if we accepted Euro at the store I worked at, when England uses the GB Pound. I thought it was hilarious that they would even ask! I guess this is proof it happens some places... but good luck finding a US store that will take Costa Rican Colon ;)

It's smart to bring cash and assume you'll use it - because everyone will accept it. Credit cards were excepted a lot of places, but not everywhere like we're used to in the US.

Side note - 5 & 10 Colon coins are made out of aluminum. I could literally bend them with my fingers, which is crazy! But when you think about it, 5 colones is almost worth 1 penny.... but not quite. I actually think they're on to something since our pennies cost us more to make than they are worth! But seeing bent coins made me laugh.

2. Everything (Local) is Very Affordable
When we visited in November, the exchange rate was a little less than 500Colon =$0.90 US. To make it easier, we just rounded up to $1 = 500c so we could do fast math. We went to dinner at Bamboo Sushi Club, and Matt ordered the Tuna Steak Special. I realized after he ordered, we never asked about the price! We joked about how it was going to be $50 or something crazy, but assumed it would be around $25, which isn't the end of the world. When the dish made it to the table, the tuna steak was HUGE. Easily 12oz. When the bill came, we had to laugh - the tuna meal was just under 7000Colon, or around $12 US. Insanity! Can you imagine getting a fresh, perfect tun a steak for that price at any restaurant in the US?

On the flip side, some items at the grocery store were very expensive - anything imported has a high premium price. Luckily, all of the local, seasonal food is what makes Costa Rica such a delicious place, so stick to those!


3. It's Developed - But Also Undeveloped
The water is safe to drink. The food is safe to eat. It's a safe place to walk around at night. Everywhere has running water and free wifi and all the comforts you're used to! But then you look, and many of the roads are unpaved and there are no sidewalks or actual traffic rules. I liked this about Costa Rica, because it felt like a real place - but I also could drink water from the tap without worrying :)

we were walking on the "sidewalk" 

this is the center of town, and has a large section of paved road - but it drops of if you notice the huge mud puddles
4. It's Wild!
We saw so many different types of birds, monkeys, sea snakes (don't worry, they were dead), tons of huge iguanas, crabs, and other kinds of animals! The jungle comes right up to the ocean, so it's really a unique little eco system. The only animal I hoped to see but didn't was a sloth... but maybe next time. What's cool is that we didn't do any type of tour or excursion, these were just animals we saw around town. So fun!
not the best photo, but this little bird was so pretty!
5. It's Casual
And I mean casual. It's the epitome of laid back surfer culture. Very no shoes, no shirt, no problem, attitude. Leave the heels at home, ladies, you won't be able to use them here (and you wouldn't want to since the roads are muddy and rocky and unpaved!) Even at the nicest restaurants, people were wearing cut off jean shorts and t shirts or tank tops. More about packing for Costa Rica here.

Matt "dressed up" for dinner ;) 
As you can see from the number of posts, we really loved Costa Rica. I think it was the perfect combination of tropical, comfortable, easy to get to, and easy to be there. It would be easy with kids, everything is very family friendly!

Pura Vida!
xo




Visit Canada's National Parks for FREE in 2017!

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

CANADA! 

I don't know why I'm so obsessed with getting to Canada these days... it just seems like such a untouched treasure trove. Every picture I see is different from the last one. There are gorgeous snow capped mountains, crystal blue water, tons of wildlife, and millions and millions of miles of terrain. Canada is a little larger than the US, but with so many hidden gems. They have about 10% of the population we have down here, leaving lots of room for beautiful landscapes :)

When I read about the FREE Discovery Pass, I knew I had to sign up, even though we don't officially have any trips planned up north.


This pass gives you free access to any of the Canadian National Parks for all of 2017! If you are a border state, I'd say it's a no brainer for you. If you've even considered planning a trip to Canada in the near future, you should sign up, too! And even if you aren't sure - you have nothing to lose. Just sign up and then you can see all THIS for FREE!

Banff National Park via

Jasper National Park via

The Bruce Peninsula National Park via

They're offering the free pass as a part of their 150th Anniversary of becoming a country. I signed up for my free pass about a month ago, and it just came in the mail today.

I've wanted to visit Banff National Park and Lake Louise for years -  it just looks so incredibly beautiful. So maybe this is my excuse ;)




Get your free 2017 Discovery Pass here!