Travel: Zurich

This Fall I had the pleasure of traveling to Switzerland on business, and as all of you know I never pass up an opportunity to see the sights when I travel. Four years ago I visited this beautiful country for the first time, and I was so excited to return. However, this trip signified something very special – my first solo trip internationally! I think about this adventure every day, and for those that follow me on Instagram you know I still have not stopped posting about it.

Days Spent: 5.5 days

The Adventure:

I waited with anticipation for my flight to Zurich from SFO, feeling ready to take on my first solo journey. With only a couple of days to explore on my own before the work portion of my trip began, I made myself a jam packed agenda that included lot’s of walking, tasting, and touring. Before I share some of my favorite parts of my trip, I want to share some insights:

  1. Zurich is a melting pot. Like Switzerland in general, there is a beautiful diversity there – you never knew what language a person would speak when they opened their mouth. Most of the time it was German, but seeing as Switzerland five countries you could never know for sure. Thankfully, everyone spoke English there so communicating was never a problem for me.
  2. Zurich is somewhere I could see myself living. Between the lovely city center, it’s surrounding neighborhoods, and hub for businesses, it seems like the perfect mixture of city and suburb.
  3. Zurich is surrounded by some of the world’s most stunning scenery. From the lakes to the alps to the bright green hills, I was in nature heaven.

When I booked my trip, I looked at the map of Switzerland and immediately began planning a way to check another European country off my list. To my surprise, I noticed a tiny country, the Principality of Lichtenstein, bordering Eastern Switzerland. I had to get there, so I booked a cheap day trip by bus which took me through Rapperswil, the road to the Alps, Vaduz, and Heidiland. A bus trip with other travelers was a great way to spend my time and meet some interesting people, especially since I was traveling alone. We didn’t spend too much time in Lichtenstein, but the journey there was worth the trip!

When I surveyed my friends and family for ideas on what to do and see in Zurich, I was surprised that nobody I knew had spent enough time there to give actual recommendations. Between the few that I did receive, and some extensive research, here are some of my must-do’s when you travel to Zurich:

  1. See Lake Zurich by boat.¬†I found a lovely two hour boat tour around Lake Zurich that circled the lake and the many small towns that line it. I fell in love with each stop, and although I did not get out and explore, I knew that my potential vacation home could be on this lake ūüėČ It was beautiful!

     

  2. Walk through downtown Zurich & up to Lindhof Hill. Most of my time on this trip was spent wandering through the cobblestone streets, wide eyed and loving my surroundings. Around every corner was something new and beautiful – like a fountain full of roses or a river with white swans. Lindhof Hill had my favorite vantage point of the city, river, and mountains.
  3. Milch Bar. Right off the main shopping avenue, Bahnhofstrasse, was a little coffee shop called Milch Bar that was tucked away in a quiet quiet corner. I remember my feet being so tired from walking, and this was the perfect cozy spot to relax (and Instagram, of course).

    4.¬†Sprungli Cafe. Swizterland is known for it’s chocolate. Have you ever heard of Lindt Chocolate? Well it’s made in a factory located on Lake Zurich! There are plenty of chocolate shops around the city, and I happened to stop into Sprungli one morning and did a little shopping ūüôā I may or may not have spent too much money on chocolate goodies.

The last time that I visited Europe was in 2014, and somehow between then and now I had forgotten what a magical place that it is. Now, after visiting Zurich, I’ll never forget!

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Travel: Portland, OR

Ever since I moved to the West Coast of the United States I have wanted to explore Oregon and visit Portland. After last summer’s trip to the coast, I was anxious to plan my trip to the city. My opportunity was met this Summer after being¬†invited to a wedding in McMinnville, OR which is about an hour outside Portland.

Days Spent: 4 days

The Adventure:

To my surprise, McMinnville, the town in which we stayed for the first two nights was famous for it’s wine trail – there were wineries and tasting rooms on every corner! Between wedding festivities, I had the pleasure of visiting Youngberg Winery, a stunning facility with an incredible vista – perfect for wine tasting. Lucky for me, they had free wine tastings on yelp, and I left happy with a bottle of Pinot Gris in my hand.

One of my favorite parts about the trip to Portland was the hotel at which we stayed in downtown off 3rd – The Society Hotel.¬†I knew I wanted to stay somewhere a little bit eclectic, so we opted for this renovated sailor’s hotel in Old Chinatown. It had welcoming management, a rooftop seating area, views of the city from our room, and the cutest cafe on the 1st floor. We definitely picked the best spot for our first Portland experience!

I’m looking forward to my next trip to Portland so that I can skip the lines. We waited in many lines on this trip to try out all of the hot tourist spots, which wasn’t our favorite in the middle of a heat wave. However, there was one innovative spot that we loved and was worth the wait – Salt & Straw. The flavors were so diverse and delicious – we opted for a lavender & brownie cone + a ice cream flight with flavors such as rose & hopped cider.

A highlight for me was our last day when we visited the International Rose Test Garden, where there are over 7,000 rose plants looking and smelling good! It was so lovely to stroll through the rows of flowers, and take lot’s of photos!

While everything can’t be my favorite, I really enjoyed walking around many different neighborhoods within Portland, and visiting a few breweries like Fat Heads.¬†Another great city checked off the bucket list!

Portland, OR = check!

 

Travel: Nashville, TN

Every time that I visit a new city, my traveler’s soul is filled to the brim with happiness! After this month, I’m one step closer to reaching 50 states before I turn 30, and my husband Mike and I were able to put another pin on our travel map together. Our trip to Nashville has a special place in my heart for so many reasons, and I’m excited to share with you why!

Time Spent: 5 days

The Adventure: Five days was the perfect amount of time to spend in the greater Nashville area. We explored everything the city had to offer, taking part in so many fun activities thanks to our amazing local tour guides, who are friends of ours from our time at Biola University.

Okay, so let’s dig into my favorite activities in Nashville, and why this place needs to be the next city on your bucket list:

  1. The epic bar scene.¬†I had never experienced a social scene quite like Broadway Street in Nashville before. When we were walking through downtown I had a smile on my face as we walked by building after building filled with happy people and live music. Personally, my favorite of each place we visited was¬†Nudie’s Honky Tonk – it was the first bar we went to and in my opinion the music was the best. I’d also give a special shout out to Crazy Town, which had an outdoor area with a nice view of downtown at night.
  2. Girl time at Cheekwood Estate & Gardens. One morning we spent a few hours at Cheekwood walking around the gardens and mansion, finding endless spots for photos and Instagram stories. It was so refreshing to walk the grounds, and experience a classic piece of Nashville history. As we toured the mansion, we learned that the owners founded Maxwell Coffee – a fun surprise!
  3. Slowing down at the Farm.¬†We were lucky enough to spend some time in Franklin, TN, where our friends had a multi-acre farm ready for us to ATV, Dirtbike, and enjoy the outdoors. The ride to the farm took us down country roads with gorgeous lands, homes, and animals. Spending time on the farm was the perfect opportunity to slow down from our non-stop weekend and experience God’s country. We definitely sang a round or two of “God Bless America” while we were there.
  4. The Pedestrian Bridge. The entire time we were in Nashville I was looking for that perfect skyline view, and I found it at the Pedestrian Bridge! Right next to Broadway Street we found a walking bridge where you can see sweeping views of the city, and I was in heaven. I think if I had the option I would have sat on a bench looking at the views for hours! Fun fact: the famous music video “Save a Horse Ride a Cowboy” was filmed on the Pedestrian Bridge.
  5. Southern Culture. Each city across the globe has it’s own personality and culture, and in Nashville I experienced a dose of that southern hospitality. From interacting with the locals, to eating at Loveless Cafe, to learning about this history and importance of music in Tennessee, to driving through all of the neighborhoods (and seeing Carrie Underwoods house), Nashville now has a piece of my heart. Experiencing the southern culture reminded my how different each part of the United States is, and why I love every sub-culture that it has to offer.

Enjoy this short video encapsulating our unforgettable Nashville adventure! 

Travel: Orono, Maine

Although I grew up in New England, my family never quite reached the Maine border when we traveled, always stopping for camping adventures in New Hampshire. When my brother started attending University of Maine in Orono, I finally made a couple treks up north. In May, I flew to the East Coast to attend my brother’s graduation, and spend some good old quality time in his college town! Here are some of my favorites.

Time Spent: 5 days

The Adventure:

Orono Brewing Company & Nest

OBC is an awesome brewing company in downtown Orono that is small, but mighty. We loved our time there drinking a flight of nice brews, and laughing endlessly over one of their retro trivia games. My other favorite location on the main strip in Orono is their coffee shop – Nest. I went there twice! I would definitely be a regular there if I was a UMaine student.

Acadia National Park & Bar Harbor

Acadia National Park – check! Another National Park added to the list, and it didn’t disappoint. We drove a little more than an hour from Orono to see the sweeping views of mountains and the sea, did a quick hike (got to love those classic New England Trails), and spent some time in downtown Bar Harbor. A couple foodie highlights for us were the clam chowder and lobster rolls at the Thirsty Whale, and Black Raspberry ice cream at Ben & Bills Chocolate Emporium.

The Bog Walk

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A favorite excursion of ours during our time in Maine this year was checking out the Bog Walk, which is a one mile wetland trail that is peaceful, uncrowded, and beautiful. It’s perfect for a little day retreat with a friend, or even a solo walk to clear your mind and be in nature.

Our trip to main can be summarized by the notable quote: “Maine. The way life should be.”

Travel: Campinas, Brazil

It’s time for a very overdue and wonderful reflection about my nine day trip to Brazil this Spring. For me, the trip came quickly after committing to make the journey, and somewhere in between came two months of preparation and fundraising, which went as smooth as can be! Unlike other trips that I’ve blogged about, this one was unique in the sense that it was not by any means a vacation – it was a service trip and an opportunity to enrich the lives of the children, students, and professionals that we encountered.

Time Spent: 9 days

The Adventure: 

As I write, it’s hard to know where to begin. My first trip to South America was an amazing and remarkable experience that I will never forget. Normally I have some sort of expectations as to what my travels will bring, but with Brazil I went in with open eyes, an open heart, and no expectations which allowed me to be fully in the moment.

Volunteering at the City of Youth through Hope Unlimited for Children included multiple photography projects for their marketing department, painting one of the homes that 12 children live in, spending time with staff to encourage them in their efforts, and celebrating the children in a variety of ways. One of my favorite evenings from our trip was our birthday party celebration for kids that had birthdays which fell between January and March of this year. Did you know that many of the children that live in the impoverished communities have never been celebrated? Could you imagine not celebrating or not even knowing your own birthday? We made this a celebration of epic proportions – $5 to pick out your candy, popcorn and soda watching Bella e Terra (Beauty and the Beast), ice cream, and a special dinner at the mall afterwards. We loved spoiling these kids!

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When I think about the most impressive part of the trip, I remember being so amazed at the scope of what they do at the City of Youth – from housing 110 children, to hosting vocational courses, to providing physical, emotional, and spiritual therapy to the 3-18 year olds who live there. The staff and leadership at this organization and phenomenal and SO compassionate towards these children. Often times hearing their stories made us emotional, but I find that moments like that were what brought us together.

We refrain from posting any photos of the children from the organization to social media because they are considered at-risk youth. Otherwise, I would love to share more photos of the kids I photographed during my time in Brazil. For anyone who is interested in learning more about my trip, or to gain access to my private share of photos, please don’t hesitate to reach out!

Travel: Raleigh, NC

It’s funny the way that life unfolds¬†– the roads you travel, the decisions you make, the inspirations you have. For us, what was a fleeting thought that said “Hey, we should go see a UNC Chapel Hill Basketball game” turned into buying tickets, flying to North Carolina, and road tripping down the east coast for 8 days.

We began our South East Coast adventure in Raleigh, NC and stayed at a hotel local to Chapel Hill and Durham because we knew we had a lot to cover in a short amount of time!

Time Spent: 2 days

The Adventure:

Our red eye flight landed¬†on a sunny and beautiful North Carolina morning, and all we had was our backpacks in hand – we did not want the burden of luggage weighing us down. After renting our road trip car, we drove¬†downtown for a “Welcome to Raleigh” breakfast at a local spot – Morning Times. I remember ordering a hazelnut latte, a egg and cheese biscuit, and grabbing a window seat. Oh, and let’s not forget my impulsive lavender lemon cookie purchase so early in the morning – totally worth it.

After settling into our hotel that morning and taking a quick nap we were up and ready for our first official “southern” lunch with a friend I met at Dell EMC. Quick note – you’ll notice that a lot of our trip was centered around eating… lot’s of eating. She took us to Mama Dip’s in downtown Chapel Hill, and we weren’t disappointed! Luckily for us, we were able to walk off that fried chicken¬†and explore UNC Chapel Hill’s gorgeous campus before the game that night.

Dressed in light blue, we joined 21,000 die hard UNC Chapel Hill fans at the Dean Smith Center for a game against Virginia. Mike and I can both attest to how amazing this experience this was – the energy, the school spirit, and the basketball talent was unreal. All of our inspiration for this trip came to life in this moment, and it was worth every penny!

Our second day was spent primarily in Durham, NC visiting some hot local eateries like Elmo’s Diner, Monut, and Cocoa Cinnamon. After hours of divulging, we explored Duke University & the gardens on campus. I’d been to this Harry Potter styled college before, and it was just as gorgeous as I had left it! We finished the night at Buku in downtown Raleigh, which is a tasty restaurant inspired by world street food – highly recommend! To end the night we asked our waiter for a great spot for drinks, and he pointed us to Foundation Cocktail Bar, which was once a speakeasy in the roaring 20s – how cool! The bartenders were experts in their craft, and we had a blast trying their drinks and asking them all sorts of questions.

We were certainly blessed on our visit in North Carolina by the gorgeous weather, amazing food, and the UNC basketball blowout. You’ll see us again, NC!

 

Travel: San Francisco

Love the place you live.

Last Summer we put pen to paper and wrote down all of the fun activities and towns to explore in the San Francisco Bay Area (check out our¬†Our Bay Area Bucket List). Since we created this list, we have¬†had a great time checking everything off! More recently¬†I also decided to kick off 2017 with a “Food Bucket List” and slowly eat my way through the Bay Area thanks to the recommendations of my wonderful foodie friends.

Favorite Destinations

Point Reyes:¬†Visiting Point Reyes was one of the first items that we checked off our bucket list as it came highly recommended by a friend. Before we drove along the coast, we drove to Point Reyes Station, explored the little downtown area, and visited Heidrun Meadery. Heidrun is the only place in the world that makes its mead via the champagne process. It was fascinating to take a tour of their small factory, and learn about how mead is made! Did you know that mead is a honey based¬†beverage? Let’s just say I took a few bottles home with me.

Half Moon Bay: To our great surprise, our family and friends treated us to a night at the Ritz Carlton in HMB to celebrate our one-year anniversary. We spent the weekend riding horses on the beach, drinking chai, and walking along the gorgeous paths along the waterfront at the resort. We left our weekend with hearts (and bellies) full!

Favorite Food

Teahouse in San Francisco: I had the perfect opportunity to try out one of San Francisco’s many tea houses when one of my best friends from Boston came to visit. Amidst a long itinerary was a stop at the Samovar Tea Lounge¬†in the SOMA district. What I loved about this tea lounge was the location and the menu. We sat on their rooftop deck surrounded by the downtown buildings with perfect weather as we sipped¬†on our international tea pairing – we split the Chinese & Russian Pairing, and of course I had to try their Chai Tea. Since my first visit I’ve been back twice!

Russian River Brewing Company: Let me describe the perfect Sunday afternoon for you – taking a gorgeous road trip north of San Francisco, hiking around a lake, playing spikeball with friends, and sipping world class beer. I don’t know about you, but that sounds pretty ideal to me! And it was. We had Russian River on our bucket list because of one specific beer – Pliny the Elder.¬†Another one of my favorite breweries I’d like to give a shout out to is the 21st Amendment Brewery in SF – visit if you are ever downtown!

We’ve just begun dining our way through our food bucket list, and I can’t wait to expand more on our favorites. To see a running list of where we’ve been so far, click here.¬†

Favorite Activities

Red Sox VS A’s Baseball Game: Although it is more likely that you would find us at AT&T Park, the home of the San Francisco Giants, we put the Oakland Coliseum on the bucket list this summer – check! Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of visiting 14 different parks, and I was happy to see my home team, the Boston Red Sox, play as I visited my 15th.

Hiking Our Local Trails: One huge plus for us living in the Bay Area is that we are surrounded by mountains that fill our weekend plans with lot’s of hiking! Our favorite hikes to date have been Castle Rock, Fremont Older, Mt. Tam State Park, and Rancho San Antonio.¬†