Babymoon Memories + 4 Maui Must Do’s

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A “babymoon” is still a new concept. I know this, because even as I type this post, auto-correct refuses to recognize babymoon as a real word! For anyone reading that still might be stumped, a babymoon is a relaxing vacation a couple takes before the arrival of their baby – a trip celebrating two becoming three!

With our love of travel and all things tropical, the decision was easy. A babymoon to Maui was exactly what we needed!

Babymoon Memories + Four Maui Must Do's

Babymoon Memories + Four Maui Must Do'sBabymoon Memories + Four Maui Must Do's

I had imagined that the trip would primarily be about us – Mike and I enjoying one last trip without the addition of our future kiddos. But we actually spent quite a bit of time talking about our girl.

Babymoon Memories + Four Maui Must Do'sBabymoon Memories + Four Maui Must Do's

We talked about how excited we are to meet her.

We dreamt about what she will look like and the kind of woman she will become.

We prayed that she’d grow to love the Lord and that we would become wise and loving parents.

Babymoon Memories + Four Maui Must Do'sBabymoon Memories + Four Maui Must Do's

While some couples may mourn over the fact that having children drastically cramps their travel style, we found ourselves transfixed watching families interact on the beach. We can’t wait to travel with our children and see it as a major travel upgrade.

I can’t wait to see the world through our precious Everly’s eyes!

Babymoon Memories + Four Maui Must Do's

PHOTOGRAPHER

The Maui Must Do’S

We completely fell in love with Maui! There’s a HIGH probability that we’ll be back some day with the kiddos. If you’re planning a trip there soon, these are “must do’s” you won’t want to miss!

Dedicate a Day to the Road to Hana

We originally debated whether or not visit Hana. The legendary road is full of twists and turns and the drive will take an entire day if you do it right. I’m so glad that we decided to make the journey! It was entirely worth it!

Babymoon Memories + Four Maui Must Do's

To get the most out of your trip, I suggest renting a convertible on the island. We were able to fully take in the sights and still enjoy the tropical breezes.

Babymoon Memories + Four Maui Must Do's

Download the Shaka Guide app! It’s programmed to recognize your location and will tell you when it’s time to pull over and visit a waterfall or beach.

Babymoon Memories + Four Maui Must Do's

Gorge Yourself on Fine Foods

Just do it. You’re on vacation! At 7 months pregnant, my definition of “fine food” included big breakfasts and all things sweet. Maui didn’t disappoint. From delicious lemonades, to Hawaiian shaved ice, and breakfast platters as big as your face – Maui had us covered!

Babymoon Memories + Four Maui Must Do's

The Gazebo’s legendary white chocolate macadamia nut pancakes!

Babymoon Memories + Four Maui Must Do's

Favorite Eateries: FLEETWOOD’S | WOW WOW HAWAIIAN LEMONADES | MAMA’S FISH HOUSE | SLAPPY CAKES

Stop at Every Local Fruit Stand

You must take advantage of the local fruit stands! Where else can you crack open a freshly picked pineapple! At almost every stand you’ll have your pick of fresh fruit, shaved ice, and tropical smoothies.

Babymoon Memories + Four Maui Must Do's

Our favorite stand to visit was easily the Halfway to Hana (I bet you can guess where to find it)! You haven’t tasted BANANA BREAD until you’ve had a loaf of theirs!

Find Makenna Cove

There is no shortage of gorgeous beaches on Maui. You can basically pull over anywhere and be mesmerized by the horizon. Still, our favorite beach was a tiny, little-known beach called Makenna Cove.

Babymoon Memories + Four Maui Must Do's

The views were spectacular and several sea turtles fearlessly fed among the rocks for the entire day! It was pretty magical.

Babymoon Memories + Four Maui Must Do's

Does anyone else have any sweet babymoon memories? I’d love to hear where you went!

Babymoon Memories + Four Maui Must Do's

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How to Pack for a Mediterranean Cruise

We’re quickly approaching the one-year mark since we vacationed in the Mediterranean.

It seems like only yesterday we were strolling through the streets of Florence and sun-bathing on  the deck of cruise ship!

How to Pack for a Mediterranean Cruise

If your’e anything like me, you LOVE to travel, but you loathe to pack. It can be an overwhelming task, especially if you plan to travel for over a week! Planning for our Mediterranean cruise was no exception. When it came time to finally stuff my suitcase, I decided that comfort and style had to be the rule.

I wanted to look put-together, but not so much so that I couldn’t go casual when need be.

Rather than pack 15 different outfits, I needed items that could be mixed, matched and re-worn without looking too repetitive.

AND… everything I packed needed to be easily folded away without needing to be ironed once unpacked (I mean come on… I don’t even iron at home)!

I found the following items to be the cruise-wear necessities. And they served me well!

Check below for current links to my fave’s!

How to Pack for a Mediterranean Cruise

The Necessities 

1. A stylish pair of sunglassesThese are a must for any vacation! And Ray-bans are my absolute favorite!

2. A timeless swimsuitOn a fancy cruise, you’re bound to feel a little classy. Just about any all-black suit will do!

3. A floppy hat. Something that makes you feel sophisticated and care-free at the same time.

4. Strappy sandalsGreat for exploring the sights or slipping on before you head to the pool deck.

5. A light jacket. You’ll most likely experience fair-weather on your Mediterranean cruise, but if you’re cold-weather-wimp like myself, you’ll want a light jacket on hand. This cargo jacket from Madewell is a personal favorite of mine.

6. A sundressPick a dress that is multi-functional! It should be comfortable for the days that you are traveling, able to be dressed up with accessories for fancy dinners, or serve as a bathing suit cover.

7. A flow-y topWhat is flow-y you ask? Just the adjective my sisters and I created to describe a shirt that doesn’t cling to you, allowing you to snack as much as you like and still feel cute. 🙂 You will be snacking quite a bit on a cruise, so a flow-y top is necessary!

8. Linen shortsThis pair is both comfortable and stylish. I live in this exact pair AAAALLLL summer!

A Packing List for Every Adventure

I am a huge fan of lists and list making! (I may or may not be working off of a list to write this post! 😉 ) Maybe you’re not about to embark on a Mediterranean cruise, but if you’re adventure bound – chances are – you’ll need a packing list!

You can download my Travel Necessities packing list here for FREE!

How to Pack for a Mediterranean Cruise

 

Happy packing! 🙂

 

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The Four Most Picturesque Stops Along the Riviera

If you’re a travel junkie like myself, the word “riviera” probably calls to mind some stunningly picturesque images: aqua blue glistening waters, lush green landscapes, and little fishmens’ boats tied up along shore. After visiting the riveras along the Mediterranean coast this past summer, I can tell you that those quaint coastal towns live up to the hype!

There was something unique to love about each town that we visited, but I’d be lying if I told you that I didn’t have my FAVORITE! So in countdown fashion, here are my top four most picturesque stops along the rivera. You’re sure to fall in love with them too!

No. 4 Cassis, France

The Four Most Picturesque Stops Along the Riviera

The Count of Monte Cristo ruined my visit to Marseille, France. Where I expected to see cobble stone streets, active fisher’s markets, and family-owned bakeries, I found industrial shipping yards and shopping complexes. The once picturesquely historic city had been modernized. Thankfully, we took a short half-hour drive along the coast to Cassis, and our day was saved!

The Four Most Picturesque Stops Along the Riviera

Cassis had everything I was hoping to find in a quaint town in the South of France: bakeries, brightly colored store fronts, and a castle looming over the city through a thin layer of clouds.

The Four Most Picturesque Stops Along the Riviera

Breathtaking to say the least!

No. 3 Monaco

The Four Most Picturesque Stops Along the Riviera

If you’ve seen Casino Royale, then you’re familiar with the beauty of Monaco! Although it is the second smallest country in world (only 2 square miles in size) it’s home to the world renowned Grand Prix and Monte Carlo Casino.

The Four Most Picturesque Stops Along the Riviera

We paid homage to the great casino where I shocked my Adventureman by winning a round of roulette! (For your reference, I’d never played the game or even gambled before!)

The Four Most Picturesque Stops Along the Riviera

No. 2 Cinque Terre

Cinque Terre was my most highly anticipated stop on our trip! I mean, who wouldn’t fall in love with vineyard-studded hillsides colliding perfectly with turquoise water and faded pastel-colored buildings!

The Four Most Picturesque Stops Along the Riviera

Cinque Terre is comprised of five villages, connected by trails and a rail. We visited four of the five towns: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, and Vernazza. I highly recommend taking time to disembark in each village to truly appreciate the beauty of each one.

The Four Most Picturesque Stops Along the Riviera

No. 1 Portifino

Nothing prepared me for Portifino. It was a city I had never heard of. We almost skipped visiting it entirely to relax on our cruise. Man, am I glad we jumped off the boat!

The Four Most Picturesque Stops Along the Riviera

Portifino is a port city whose harbor is so small, we had to travel by taxi to reach it from our cruise ship. The city is literally a coastal jewel! The contrast in colors between the lush green landscape, blue water, pastel-colored buildings, and brilliant flowers is just dreamy!

Unlike Cinque Terre, this coastal jewel is relatively unknown. The minimal foot traffic gave the town an idyllic vibe.

The Four Most Picturesque Stops Along the Riviera

The Four Most Picturesque Stops Along the Riviera

The Four Most Picturesque Stops Along the Riviera

The best place to stay in Portifino is the historic Hotel Splendido. It’s a gorgeous cliffside marvel with sparkling black and white tiles, elegant staircases, and long patios bedecked with greenery overlooking the blue harbor. In the hotel lobby next to the bar, there are autographed portraits of the old Hollywood stars who have stayed there over the years.

The Four Most Picturesque Stops Along the Riviera

The Four Most Picturesque Stops Along the Riviera

We sat on the porch and enjoyed the BEST peach bellini I have ever had!

We also stumbled upon Brown’s Castle. Let’s just say if we were millionaires, we’d have ourselves a new home! 😉

The Four Most Picturesque Stops Along the Riviera

More to Love in the Rivieras

There are so many incredible stops along the Mediterranean rivieras! I still want to visit…

…and the…

How about you? Where have you been or wish to go along the rivera?

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A Complete Guide to Havasuapi Falls: From a Girl Who’s Been a Time or Two

By now, you’ve probably come across pictures of Havasuapi Falls.

The pristine aqua-blue water, red sand, and majestic waterfalls are easily recognizable!

A Complete Guide to Havasupai Falls

I had the privilege of hiking in this paradise last weekend. Unfortunately, I can’t count it among my 30 by 30 destinations since I’ve been there before. Six times to be exact. I first hiked to Havasuapi when I was ten. My Adventureman has been over a dozen times throughout the years, taking large groups of friends. This year, we officially launched our adventure business – BG Wild so that we can share one of our most favorite places for years to come!

If you’re looking to adventure in this incredible place, then you’re in luck! From a girl who’s been there a time or two, here’s my complete guide to Havasupai!

Just the Facts

THE LAND

A Complete Guide to Havasupai Falls

A Complete Guide to Havasupai Falls

Havasupai Falls is located in northern Arizona in the southwestern portion of the Grand Canyon. It rests on Havasupai Tribal land and is governed by the Supai people. For years they’ve generously allowed tourists to visit their incredible country.

THE HIKE

A Complete Guide to Havasupai Falls

It’s a moderate, 10-mile hike to get from Hilltop (the beginning of the trailhead) to the campground. The most strenuous part of the hike is the first mile and a half of switch backs, which traverse at an incline down the face of a canyon wall. The remainder of the hike is lined by the gorgeous, red ribbon-striped rock. At the 8-mile mark, you’ll reach the Supai village. You should stop at the local restaurant and buy Indian Fry Bread. Trust me, it’s delish!

Just when you think that your hike is over, you continue the final two miles to the campground in DEEP red sand. Your burning calf muscles will be richly rewarded as you catch glimpses of the first three falls along the way!

A Complete Guide to Havasupai Falls

All About the Falls

The falls are constantly being reshaped by floods and storms. The most recent reshaping took place in a storm in 2008. There are currently 6 falls along the Havasu creek.

FIFTY FOOT FALLS

A Complete Guide to Havasupai Falls

The first in line is the stunning 50 Foot Falls. The water fans across a tall rock ledge causing vibrant green moss to grow all over it.

A Complete Guide to Havasupai Falls

Although the undertow created by the falls can be strong (CAUTION – NEVER swim directly under a water fall!) the pool surrounding the cascade is calm enough to swim in. If you look hard enough, you’ll find a hidden cave behind one of the cascades! Fifty-foot Falls gets a lot of sunshine and is located about a mere mile from camp. It’s my first choice for swimming and enjoying the sunshine in the beginning of the day!

NAVAJO and LITTLE NAVAJO

Immediately following 50 Foot Falls are the Navajo Falls. Depending on who you talk to, identifying the actual Navajo Falls can be tricky. The original Navajo Falls dried up following the flood of 2008, causing new falls to be formed with the shift in the creek. Our local Supai friends explained that Navajo Falls is the larger falls to the left and Little Navajo trickles over rocks to the right.

A Complete Guide to Havasupai Falls

HIDDEN FALLS

Hidden Falls earned it’s name by being off-the-beaten path. You can’t see Hidden Falls from the main trail into the campground, although it quickly follows Navajo Falls. To get to Hidden Falls, you’ll need to wade upstream through gorgeous turquoise water!

HAVASU FALLS

Havasu Falls is EASILY the most popular sight in Havaupai!

And it’s not hard to see why!

A Complete Guide to Havasupai Falls

A Complete Guide to Havasupai Falls

At Havasu Falls, you can bask in the sun at submerged picnic tables, jump from mini pool to pool, or take a plunge into the surge created by the gushing cascade. Gorgeous Cottonwood trees surround the falls offering shade in the warm season. If you catch them at just the right season (March-April), the breeze will shake cottonwood seeds loose from the trees giving the falls a truly magical look!

MOONEY FALLS

A Complete Guide to Havasupai Falls

Mooney Falls is an adventure-lover’s DREAM. You’ll be awe-struck and speechless the first time you see this 200 foot beauty! The falls is located at the end of the campground. You can view it from above, however actually hiking down to it is not for the faint of heart!

First, you’ll pass this forbidding sign. Then you’ll squeeze into the tunnel pictured on the right.

A Complete Guide to Havasupai Falls

As you exit the tunnel, you catch your first magical glimpse of Mooney!

A Complete Guide to Havasupai Falls

Next, you’ll work up your courage to back down a series or rickety wooden ladders and chains down the cliff to reach the base of the falls. Just DON’T. LOOK. DOWN! 😉

A Complete Guide to Havasupai Falls

Trust me. The view is worth the climb!

BEAVER FALLS

If you’ve made it down to the base of Mooney, then you’re a third of the way from the campground to the final falls – Beaver! Hiking to Beaver Falls is probably one of my most FAVORITE parts about Havasupai. The three-mile trek is green and turquoise oasis. You’ll feel like you’re an explorer discovering a new land!

To get to Beaver, you’ll wade through the runoff from Mooney Falls…

A Complete Guide to Havasupai Falls

…cross a wooden bridge…

A Complete Guide to Havasupai Falls

… and pass through a seemingly endless field of vines!

After a long hike, it’s time to reward yourself with a swim at Beaver! Cliff jumping is a must try!

How to Book Your Reservation

Havasupai Falls has become a major hotspot in recent years. To visit the falls you must purchase a permit and camping reservation – no day hikes allowed. Depending on how you choose to book your reservations, obtaining hiking permits can be almost impossible!

There are only two ways to reserve a spot: you can either book individually through the Supai tribe or do so through a licensed outfitter/guide. Whether you go individually or with an outfitter, you’re in for a great experience. Here are the pro’s and con’s to either choice.

Booking Individually

The PRO’S:

  • It’s affordable! A three night stay is only $150 per person.
  • Rugged camping at it’s finest. Chances are, if you’re hiking in on your own, you’ll probably only be packing what you can carry on your back. A small tent, a sleeping bag, and some easy snacks and meals. You’ll feel a huge sense of accomplishment knowing that you conquered the falls in beast-mode! 😉
  • Flexibility. When you travel with an outfitter, you may have to adjust your desired travel dates and itinerary based on when your outfitter has scheduled trips. If you’re planning your trip on your own, you have the flexibility to build your own adventure.

The CON’S:

  • It’s nearly IMPOSSIBLE to book a spot. As I mentioned earlier, Havasuapi has become hugely popular in recent years. With only 300 camping spots available per night, your chances of booking on your own diminish quickly. In February of every year, the tribe opens up their phone lines to accept reservations. Their phones are ringing off the hook for days on end with no call waiting or “sorry – we’re sold out” messages. Usually the tourist office sells out of spots for the entire year within 3 days. Booking on your own can be a frustrating and anxiety-filled experience! Even if you do get through, you may not be able to get the number of spots or the dates that you were hoping for.
  • Rugged, but not relaxing. Yes, traveling in “beast-mode” can be quite an accomplishment, but it’s not relaxing. After an exhausting 10-mile trek, you’ll have to set up your camp and get dinner started. And, since there’s no fire permitted within Havasupai, your dinner will probably consist of granola bars, beef jerky, and fruit. It’s possible to send grills and other heavy gear down on the pack mules for an additional charge, but we don’t recommend that. The 10-mile trek is very harsh on the animals.

Booking with an Outfitter

A Complete Guide to Havasupai Falls

Ok. Now it’s time for my shameless plug. 😉 As I mentioned, my Adventureman and I started up an outfitter company, and in my completely unbiased opinion… if you’re going with an outfitter… we are HANDS DOWN the best option! Here’s why:

The PRO’S:

  • We can GUARANTEE you a reservation! The tribe designates a small portion of their reservations each year for outfitters. This means that even after individual spots have sold out in February, our spots remain locked in. We take care of your permits and reservations so that there’s no hassle or headaches for you!
  • We’re the most affordable outfitter. Our trips aren’t as cheap as when you book individually, however we beat out the competition by several hundred dollars. Our goal is to keep our trips as affordable as possible.
  • We honor and respect the Supai, their land, and their animals. Over the years we’ve developed relationships with many of the Supai people. We consider them friends. We’re grateful that they allow us to visit their land and seek to abide by their rules to help them maintain the falls for generations to come. We also care deeply about their pack animals. To date, we’re the only outfitter that pays additional fees to transport our food and gear by helicopter to the village, rather than on the backs of the mules.
  • Our food is incredible! Since we’re able to helicopter our gear down to the village, we can provide a pretty extraordinary spread! No granola bars and beef jerky here. We’re talking steak, lobster mac and cheese, pancakes, and more!
  • We offer massages and yoga. Yup! You read that right! We bring along professional massage therapists and yoga instructors on our trips. Because, why not?
  • Our guides are fun, outgoing people. We hire our friends – the people we know and trust to be fun, outgoing, inclusive, and knowledgeable. We guarantee that you’ll love them!

A Complete Guide to Havasupai Falls

The CON’S:

At this point, BG Wild travels to Havasupai seasonally. We only take trips at the most optimal times of the year (March – May and September – October) and typically on the weekends. We’re often asked if we can change our dates or book additional trips, but since we pre-book our spots like the general public – we’re not able to make changes once our spots are set.

A Complete Guide to Havasupai Falls

So come with us!

We’d be honored to show you Havasupai! It’s truly an unforgettable place. We’re sold out of our spots for 2017, but you pre-register for our 2018 trips on our website.

Happy hiking!

A Complete Guide to Havasupai Falls

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How to Do Rome Right: The Do’s and Don’ts

How to Do Rome Right

Rome has been on my bucket list since high school! I fell in love with the ancient city reading history text books and watching classic black-and-white movies. I could hardly wait the full two weeks of our Mediterranean adventure to meet it’s finale in Rome!

Undeniably, Rome is incredible. While you’re sure to fall in love with this city, it’s important to note that there are ways that you can either enhance your Roman holiday or seriously hinder it. Here are a few of the DO’s and DON’Ts you’ll want to keep in mind for your visit.

DO throw a coin into the Trevi Fountain, but DON’T expect to get a killer picture of the moment. 

The Trevi Fountain is easily one of Rome’s most iconic attractions! The first thing I did once we dropped off our bags was dig out a coin from my purse and practically drag my Adventureman through the cobble stone streets until we found the fountain.

It was awe-inspiring for sure, but SO CROWDED! People were standing shoulder-to-shoulder just to catch a glimpse of it. Maybe you’re like me and you envision the perfect photo op that makes it seem like you have the fountain to yourself as you make a wish! There was no such moment for me! I made a heroic attempt, but as you can see, not everyone in the frame was ready for the picture!

How to Do Rome Right

Even now, I’m dumbfounded by the gorgeous crowd-less pictures I see taken at the fountain. If you know the magical incantation to make the crowds disappear… please share! 😉

DO pay for a joint tour of the Colosseum, Roman forum, and Palatine Hill.

Some of Rome’s most popular ancient ruins include the Colosseum, Roman forum, and Palatine Hill. While the Forum is free to walk through, the Colosseum and Palatine Hill require an admission fee. We chose to pay for a 3-hour guided tour that included exclusive access to all three attractions and we are SO glad that we did!

How to Do Rome Right

With an all-inclusive guided tour, we were able to schedule our day and skip the lines to enter each area. Rather than walk through the ruins on our own and have to guess what each ancient structure once was, we were given a full explanation from a history expert.

By far the best perk of our guided tour was the special access it granted us within the Colosseum. Inside the Colosseum there are many different viewing platforms. General admission only grants you access to a few of these spots. Our tour allowed us to enter all viewing areas: the top of the amphitheater, the area encircling the arena, and the underground maze beneath the arena.
How to Do Rome Right

How to Do Rome Right

DON’T walk out onto the Colosseum arena (or maybe do… just don’t get caught).

I had high expectations for the underground portion of our Colosseum tour. I fully assumed that we’d be permitted to walk among the center ruins – right beneath where gladiators once fought. Much to my bitter disappointment, we were only allowed to look across the ruins from under the eaves!

At the same time our tour was taking place, a group of archaeology students in yellow hard hats explored the center area at their leisure. I frantically looked for a discarded hard-hat in hopes of impersonating an Indiana Jones in training. No such luck. But if you should find yourself in possession of such a hat… you have my blessing! Just don’t get caught!

How to Do Rome Right

DO pre-book your small group Vatican tour.

Visting the Vatican is NOT overrated! There is so much to see. We opted to pre-book a small group tour of just our group of six. One of the best decisions of the trip! Like with the Colosseum tour, we were able to schedule our tour time, skip the enormous line, and be guided by a genuine expert. Our guide took us through the Vatican museums, the former pope’s apartments, the Sistine Chapel, and finally to the breathtaking St. Peter’s Basilica.

How to Do Rome Right How to Do Rome Right

DON’T eat in the tourist hotspots of the city.

Just don’t. The food is overpriced and very Americanized. You’ll miss out on the authentic Roman flavor – sadly, like we did! You will inevitably need to eat in a tourist area, because.. well … you are a tourist checking out the sights and you will be hungry! But do your research and find out the hidden culinary gems that Italy is known for! If you find yourself in a restaurant packed with locals, you know that you’re in the right place!

How to Do Rome Right

DO rent a place using VRBO in Rome’s Centro Storico neighborhood.

We were so glad that we opted to stay in a home for rent over a hotel or hostel! Our house was situated in the heart of the Historic Center, just a few blocks away from Trevi Fountain and the Pantheon. The house was beautiful, private, and surprisingly affordable when compared to nearby hotels! We felt like locals in one of the tourist capitals of the world!

How to Do Rome Right

DO go with friends.

For years I imagined that I’d honeymoon in Rome. In hindsight I’m glad that we didn’t. Honeymoons are for privacy and relaxation, but Rome is for active exploring. Sure, it’s a city of romance, but I couldn’t imagine experiencing it any differently than with four of our dearest friends!

How to Do Rome Right

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The Top Reasons Why Barcelona Should Be Your Next Adventure

I’m not going to lie to you. Barcelona NEVER made it onto any of my adventure lists.

When I found out that our Mediterranean cruise launched from Barcelona, I had to jump onto Google to confirm that yes, indeed – Barcelona is a city in Spain! I’ll admit that I was initially disappointed when I learned that we’d be spending five days in a city that I had hardly even heard of.

But Barcelona took me by COMPLETE surprise! It was nothing like what I expected and everything I could have hoped for in an adventure-rich destination. Here are the reasons why I think you’ll fall in love with Barcelona too.

1. THE FOOD

Oh the food – by far my favorite reason to adventure to Barcelona! Since it is a port city, Barcelona has adopted many different flavors throughout the years. Whether you’re eating at a steak house, a French-inspired cafe, or an authentic Spanish restaurant – fresh seafood is always on the menu!

Spain is known for it’s tapas, or small plate meals. You’d think that serving small plate sizes would be considered a downside, but it’s actually an ingenious way to feast!

At our favorite restaurant, Cervecería Catalana, the vast variety of pre-prepped tapas were displayed behind a glass counter. As a group of friends we’d order several different platters, fall in love with the selections, then have plenty of room left in our bellies to fill up on more!

Top Reasons Why Barcelona Should Be Your Next Adventure

Tapas bar
Photo source

Delicious tapas like the beef tenderloin montaditos, grilled green peppers, and brie cheese covered in nuts and jam were my favorites!

Top Reasons Why Barcelona Should Be Your Next AdventureTop Reasons Why Barcelona Should Be Your Next AdventureTop Reasons Why Barcelona Should Be Your Next Adventure

 

 

 

 

 

2. THE UNIQUE ARCHITECTURE

Barcelona is particularly known for it’s stunning and unique architecture. Antoni Gaudi was the mastermind behind Barcelona’s most jaw dropping structures. Gaudi’s work is more than unique, it was before his time, other-worldly even!

Top Reasons Why Barcelona Should Be Your Next Adventure

Gaudi’s La Pedrera, Park Güell, and Casa Batlló are all marvels… BUT…

Top Reasons Why Barcelona Should Be Your Next AdventureTop Reasons Why Barcelona Should Be Your Next AdventureTop Reasons Why Barcelona Should Be Your Next Adventure

 

 

 

 

 

…when it comes to being exceptionally unique, La Sagrada Familia Basilica takes the cake! This church has been under construction (and still is) for over 130 years! Our heads were on a constant swivel trying to capture every detail!

Top Reasons Why Barcelona Should Be Your Next Adventure

Top Reasons Why Barcelona Should Be Your Next Adventure

Top Reasons Why Barcelona Should Be Your Next Adventure

3. THE HISTORY

It was a humbling moment when the girl who had to find Barcelona using a map tried to wrap her mind around the long and colorful history of the beautiful city!

What I found to be most impressive about Barcelona’s past was the city’s unrelenting commitment to their unique cultural identity. Barcelona was once part of a region ruled by kings and queens called Catalonia. Despite being conquered, occupied, and even warring with Spain itself, Barcelona has maintained a culture that is unlike the rest of the country. Today, some locals still speak Catalan as their primary language.

Top Reasons Why Barcelona Should Be Your Next Adventure

And oh – if walls could talk! Every building seems to have a story to tell. The Gothic Quarter is especially spell-binding.

Top Reasons Why Barcelona Should Be Your Next Adventure

4. THE CITY IS A WALK-WORTHY OASIS

Barcelona’s city planners deserve a well-earned pat on the back! Despite it’s status as a bustling city, the streets of Barcelona never felt overcrowded or dirty. Every street is lined with a lush collection of trees and plants that make you feel like you are walking through a park.

Top Reasons Why Barcelona Should Be Your Next Adventure

Needless to say, we happily did a lot of walking!

On one such walk, we stumbled upon the famous Mercado de La Boqueria – the market of choice for both locals and tourists.

Top Reasons Why Barcelona Should Be Your Next Adventure

We probably spent all of two hours walking up and down the colorful aisles as vendors sold everything from whole legs of lamb, to fresh eggs, gelato, fish, bread, produce, and culinary spices!

Top Reasons Why Barcelona Should Be Your Next Adventure

Top Reasons Why Barcelona Should Be Your Next Adventure

A City to Remember

So whether you’re in it for the food or the rich history, Barcelona has something for everyone! For a city that was dead last on my list, I would EAGERLY adventure there again! So what are you waiting for?! Book your flight tickets!

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New Years Resolutions and Birthday Cake

I love that my birthday falls in January.

New Years Resolutions and Birthday Cake

I love that each new year of my life coincides with the exact moment when EVERYONE is energized about a fresh start. As New Years resolutions are being made, I find myself taking inventory of my life up to that year. I dream about what the next year holds and create birthday goals.

Today I turn 27. Upon initial reflection, I couldn’t think of a reason to get too excited about the number. But then I realized, I am three short years away from 30! A milestone! I can’t pass up the opportunity to set a massive, turn of the decade goal. So here it goes blogging world – you can keep me accountable!

30 By 30

It should be no secret that my Adventureman and I love to travel. We’ve been to some pretty amazing places, but are itching to explore even more! I want to maintain this passion for adventure, knowing that travel experiences are invaluable and can’t be bought in a store.

So… I will travel to 30 destinations by 30. 

Into this collection of 30 destinations, I will count all trips I have taken up until this year that match the following criteria. ( My birthday, my rules. 🙂 )

My destinations must be…

  1. Trips that have taken place after high school.
  2. Places I have spent a minimum of one day exploring.
  3. Adventures that have been photographed for proof!

I’ve completed 20 destinations so far.

30 by 30

That means I have 10 adventures left to complete! Roughly three new destinations per year – totally doable right?!

Oh the places I hope to go!

Canada…

Peru …

Bora Bora…

Croatia…

So what about you? What destinations are at the top of your travel list?

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Mom’s Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins: The Best Travel Snack

Mom's Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins: The Best Travel Snack

Today’s post is dedicated to one of my favorite people in the whole entire world who is celebrating a birthday this week…. my mom!

I’d run out of words to describe how genuine, loving, talented, and wise she is. Words can’t communicate how much I appreciate and admire her! A truly tangible memory I have of her love  is how she’d faithfully bake the most AMAZING banana chocolate chip muffins for my sisters and I as kids.

They were the standard after school snack and we never tired of them.

My sisters and I have been out of the house for years,  begging for my mom to share her famous recipe. She withheld it, not for the sake of secrecy, but so that she could perfect it before she passed it on.

Now finally… I’ve got it!

The Best Travel Snack

These muffins are the ultimate travel snack! They’re small, freezable, and healthy-ish. That’s right – healthy-ish – because everyone needs to live a little.

Mom's Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins: The Best Travel Snack

In place of margarine, my health conscious mamma substituted apple sauce and coconut oil.

                       Mom's Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins: The Best Travel Snack    Mom's Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins: The Best Travel Snack

For 6 cups of regular flour, mom substituted 3 cups of almond meal flour. For an even healthier muffin, you can swap half of the regular flour with whole wheat flour.

And then there are the chocolate chips.

Some would say to set a limit on the number of handfuls you put in there… I’m not such a person. Go chocolate-chip-crazy!

Mom's Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins: The Best Travel Snack

There you have it! Bake up some muffins for your next road trip!

Print

Mom's Banana Chocolate Chip Muffins

Makes 3 dozen.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup organic apple sauce
  • 1 cup coconut oil
  • 6 bananas frozen, then thawed
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 3 tsp vanilla
  • 3 cups almond meal flour
  • 3 cups white flour or whole wheat flour
  • 3 tsp baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 handfulls chocolate chips or more!

Instructions

  1. Blend the apple sauce, coconut oil, bananas, eggs, milk, and vanilla in a blender until liquified. 

  2. Stir sugar into the mixture.

  3. In a large bowl, mix the flours, baking soda, and salt. 

  4. Add the blender mixture into the bowl and mix with either a Kitchen Aide or hand mixer. 

  5. Stir in chocolate chips.

  6. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes until a toothpick can be inserted and come out clean. 

SaveSave

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Eat Your Way Through New Orleans in a Weekend

New Orleans is an amazing city rich in history and diverse activities. It truly warrants more than a weekend’s visit to fully appreciate it. However, if a weekend’s all you got – it’s important to make it count! This travel guide will help you to make the most of your time and keep your appetite for unique cuisine happily satisfied!

Eat Your Way Through New Orleans in a Weekend

Brunch

Whether you’re a fan of sweet or savory, New Orleans has got you covered!

Stanley

Eat Your Way Through New Orleans in a Weekend

You’ll find this gem at the heart of New Orleans within the French Quarter. If you’re staying anywhere near the Quarter, Stanley is within walking distance right off the historic Jackson Square park. You’ll brush elbows with artists, street performers, tourists, and locals in this alive and bustling part of the city.

Growing up, I had two loves: ice cream and sugary breakfasts. You can then imagine my elation when I read the menu and learned that both of the sweet options came with ice cream as a topping! I sampled both the pancakes and the bananas foster french toast – they were incredible!

Eat Your Way Through New Orleans in a Weekend

Bananas Foster French Toast

New Orleans is known for it’s seafood, and Stanley delivered on all of our seafood expectations!

Eat Your Way Through New Orleans in a Weekend

Eggs Stella – and yes – that is a whole crab on that plate!

The District

Eat Your Way Through New Orleans in a Weekend

I can’t think of this place without salivating. If you’re not already a doughnut fan, The District will quickly win you over the the dough-side (you see what I did there)! They have shelves full of “fancy” and “extra fancy” gourmet doughnuts.

Eat Your Way Through New Orleans in a Weekend

Another love of mine is chocolate and peanut butter. If I were stranded on a deserted island, I’d have a jar of each and live quite happily. I gobbled up that Peanut Butter Cup beauty in record time!

Eat Your Way Through New Orleans in a Weekend

Still not a doughnut fan? The fried chicken slider or Monte Cristo croquenut is to die for!

Eat Your Way Through New Orleans in a Weekend

Monte Cristo

Dinner

There are so many great places to dine for dinner, but if you must choose one and are willing to pay for a great experience, then you need to head over to Kingfish!

Kingfish

We entered Kingfish as a party of 7. We wanted to make the most of our dining experience so everyone ordered something different. Every single thing, from the appetizers to the specialty drinks, were great! What took home the cake, though, was the barbacoa platter!

Depending on your “hangry” level, you may want to share this meal with 3 to 7 of your closest friends. The large platter includes cornbread, coleslaw, fire-roasted green tomatoes, homemade chips, and a pigs head. Yes – I said pig’s head! Maybe you’re like me, and you had no idea that barbacoa meat came from cow and pig cheek! Once we got over our shock, we all cut off a piece and agreed that it was the best barbacoa we had ever tasted!

Eat Your Way Through New Orleans in a Weekend

Other very noteworthy menu items include the artichoke and collard green gratin, seared gulf fish, molasses cured duck breast and black drum tacos!

Nightcap

If you’re looking for good jazz and a low key alternative to the madness that is Bourbon Street, then make your way to Frenchman Street. The entire street is lined with concert venues and jazz clubs. We wandered into D.B.A., following the rhythmic tunes that were birthed in the heart of New Orleans.

During peak times, this club is standing room only, but well worth cuddling up next to a stranger with a choice beverage.

Midnight Snack

New Orleans ranks up there with New York as “a city that never sleeps”. So if you’re up that late, why not get a snack? Good thing the historic Cafe Du Monde is open 24/7! What began as a coffee stand in 1862 has now become one of the most famous landmarks in the city! Situated right off of Jackson Square, donning classic green and white striped awnings, you can’t miss it!

You will order beignets – since that’s all that they serve – and you will love them!

Eat Your Way Through New Orleans in a Weekend

I hope that some of these foodie tips have inspired you to take a journey down south – even if it’s just for a weekend. Bon appétit, adventurers!

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5 Ways to Live Like a Local in the African Bush

5 Ways to Live Like a Local in the African BushWhy You Should Travel Like a Local

I am a BIG believer in “living like a local” while traveling. Seeking to understand and participate in culture as a globetrotter is essential for two reasons:

  1. You will make friends. When you demonstrate a sincere interest in a culture, the locals will be more inclined to like you. When they like you, they’ll become your friend. Who doesn’t want those?! This leads us to benefit number two.
  2. Your travel experience will be greatly enriched.  Your new local friends will show you the off-the-beaten-path attractions and authentic restaurants. You’ll be able to view the world through their eyes and gain a deeper appreciation for your destination. No more wallet-gouging tourist traps for you!

Our recent trip to Zambia was an excellent test case for “living like a local”. For anyone hoping to visit the beautiful country one day, I’ve compiled a list of ways you can assimilate into local life!

1. Start a Conversation

You probably won’t master a new language before traveling to a foreign country, but just knowing a few key phrases can not only help to get you around but also communicate genuine care toward the natives. (Again, trying to make friends here!) Zambians are especially appreciative of your efforts to communicate with them. They’ll give you grace!

There are 72 different languages are spoken in Zambia – wow, I know! We visited the western and southern provinces along the Zambezi River where Lozi was the primary language.

5 Ways to Live Like a Local in the African Bush - Lozi Phrases

2. Dress the Part

Dress is especially important for women traveling in Zambia, as I learned from my sweet friend Muvianna. For modesty’s sake, legs must be covered at all times by a traditional garb called a chitenge. These brightly colored bolts of fabric are actually really fun to wear. You can usually purchase them from various vendors in the markets of major cities.

5 Ways to Live Like a Local in the African Bush

Just wrap and tie!

3. Give Respect

This is hopefully a given as you travel, but it’s important to brush up on your destination’s respect code before you depart. For example, common hand gestures in the States can be considered EXTREMELY vulgar and disrespectful in other countries!

Hand gestures are key in communicating respect in Zambia. Whenever tribe members pass on the paths, they always exchange a verbal greeting, accompanied by a slight bow (deeper if it is an elder or headman) and the traditional handshake.

First you clap, while bowing slightly. Think golf-clap.

5 Ways to Live Like a Local in the African Bush

Then, you extend your right hand to shake, while your left rests at the midpoint of your right arm.

How to Live Like a Local in the African Bush

While clasping hands, you’ll rotate your hand up and down as your new friend does the same. This could go on for a while – let the native determine the end!

How to Live Like a Local in the African BushHow to Live Like a Local in the African BushHow to Live Like a Local in the African Bush

End with another golf clap.

5 Ways to Live Like a Local in the African Bush

4. Eat Up!

One of my favorite parts about traveling is sampling the traditional foods of my destination. And I’ll be honest, I haven’t loved everything I’ve tried, but I’ve never regretted the taste! While brushing elbows with locals, it’s really important to eat the food they offer. Especially in Zambia, where a big meal is a luxury and to feed a guest is an honor.

The traditional food in Zambia is nshima. It is made from cornmeal which many natives grind themselves.

5 Ways to Live Like a Local in the African Bush

Once ground, natives use water to mold the cornmeal into mounds. Many natives subsist completely off of nshima and collard greens, but on special occasions, they may also add a meat.

5. Be a Learner

Having a humble and teachable spirit goes a long way in making friends and living like a local. Ask questions. Be inquisitive. You’ll learn endless fun facts that will enrich your overall experience!

5 Ways to Live Like a Local in the African Bush

Maybe you won’t be traveling to Zambia anytime soon – but hey – these tips are pretty transferable to any destination!

What are your tried and true tips for traveling like a local?

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