A Travel Guide to Ao Nang, Thailand

After some time in Chiang Mai we hopped on a 2-hour flight to Ao Nang in Southern Thailand. When we arrived at the airport we snagged a shuttle heading in the direction of our hotel. The whole process ended up being an absolute nightmare. The transportation system at the Krabi airport was extremely disorganized. They had us wait in a line, board a shuttle with our luggage, then un-boarded us to wait in another line, board a different shuttle and cross your fingers you’re in the right spot. The shuttle driver we ended up with didn’t slow down for speed bumps or corners or anything actually. Luke and I looked at each other and thought this could possibly be our last night on earth, haha, so dramatic. We made it to our hotel a few hours later than expected, but we were off the shuttle so we were happy!

We spent the next four days in Ao Nang with a goal of ultimate relaxation. While I wouldn’t call our time in Ao Nang relaxing… the town was busy, vibrant and bustling! Not quite what we thought it was going to be, but we still loved our time there nonetheless.

We stayed at the Kokotel Krabi Oasis and were able to walk everywhere that we wanted to go. The hotel offered free shuttles to the beach and back, which was a nice perk. They also offered free breakfast every morning that we definitely took advantage of.

Upon arrival in Ao Nang our plans were loose. We knew we wanted to take a boat to the islands and to Railay Beach. Other than that, we just wanted to take it easy and see where the days led us.

Scroll to the bottom of this post to see our recommended Ao Nang itinerary!

Swings everywhere!

Our recommended itinerary for four days in Ao Nang:

Day 1
Breakfast in town
Walk up and down the main street checking out the restaurants and shops
Grab a fresh fruit shake from a sidewalk stand (we loved the banana shakes and had them daily!)
Dinner at Kodam Kitchen (make reservations as the place fills up quick)

Day 2
Breakfast in town 
Take a speedboat trip to the Hong Islands (there are tour companies everywhere. we used this tour with My Thailand Tours and loved them – they’ll pick up/drop off at your hotel!)
Relax with Thai massages in town before dinner
Dinner at the Ao Nang Night Market

Day 3
Breakfast in town
Take a long tail boat to Railay Beach and spend a few hours sunbathing, swimming or kayaking (there are kiosks around town to purchase long tail boat tickets to take you to Railay Beach and back)
Dinner at The Hilltop (make reservations and they’ll pick up/drop off at your hotel!)

Day 4
Breakfast in town
Repeat anything above that you loved!
or
Visit the Tiger Cave Temple 
Visit the Phi Phi Islands

Portland from the Aerial Tram

Last month I had my yearly doctors appointment at OHSU. I was seeing a new doctor at the Women’s Clinic and had never been to their main location. When I made my appointment the scheduler told me that instead of parking “up on the hill” I could park on the south waterfront and take the Aerial Tram up. Of course that option sounded the most fun, so I went for it! I snapped a few quick photos on my iPhone because the views are just incredible from the tram. Next time I’ll make sure to bring my good camera with me!

Rowena Crest Viewpoint

For years, I’ve been wanting to drive out to the Rowena Crest Viewpoint and take in the famous view of the horseshoe curve. The Rowena Crest Viewpoint is located about 15-20 minutes east of Hood River, Oregon. During the summer months we try to make it out to Hood River at least a few times, as it truly is the most magical little town filled with breweries, wineries and great spots to eat (hello, Solstice Wood Fired Pizza!). I should do a post about Hood River soon… part of me feels like I could never do it justice though, as Hood River really is that magical of a place. Another time.
Chek out a few recent Rowena Crest photos here, here and here that might add inspiration for you to make it out here! It really is a lovely viewpoint and if you find yourself near Hood River, I highly recommend the quick drive out here to take in the views. I’m continuously in awe of Oregon’s beauty – we truly live in a beautiful state. On this particular visit it was hot, hot, hot outside so we didn’t attempt any nearby hikes – that, too, is for another time.
– Photos © Holly Copeland –

 

Five Year Anniversary Photos

Luke and I celebrated our five year wedding anniversary this past June. We thought (okay, I thought!) it would be fun to have professional photos taken because the last time we had nice photos taken of us was for our wedding.

We used the same photographer from our wedding, which I thought was extra special. Linnea is just the sweetest person I’ve ever met and she takes all the awkwardness out of smiling in front of the camera. We seriously had so much fun taking these photos with her. The wind was blowing and it seemed like my hair flew in front of my face before every shot and we couldn’t help but laugh each time it happened.

We didn’t purchase any new outfits for our session; we both wore outfits thats we already own. We wanted it to feel like “us”. Seriously, I told Luke “wear whatever you want, wear whatever makes you feel like your best self” and I did the same.

We received the online photo gallery last night and we seriously love every single photo that Linnea sent us! I’m sharing some of our absolute favorites below. They are just so fun, colorful and so “us”. Now we just need to narrow down which photos to frame, and figure out where in the heck in our small house these will go!

 

We chose the location (the Taylor Street Electric Building) because of the beautiful graffiti walls. In recent travels we’ve come across many cities that are covered in graffiti and we love the grittiness it portrays. Some of our favorite travel memories are in cities with colorful wall art and graffiti (think NYC, Paris, Athens). Since traveling has been a huge part of our relationship, it just felt like the perfect location for us.

I used to drive by the Taylor Street Electric Building years ago when it was surrounded by a chain length fence, full of debris and standing water. Even then, I thought it was a cool and edgy backdrop for a photoshoot. To my surprise, I drove by the location about a month before our shoot and found the area entirely cleaned up. The inside of the building was converted into a parking lot for local businesses, but the graffiti on the walls remained intact.

All photos by Linnea 

 

A Travel Guide to Santorini, Greece

After a few days exploring Athens we hopped on an evening flight from Athens International Airport to Santorini International Airport. We flew Ryan Air (hello, cheap airfare!) and had a bit of a flight delay, arriving in Santorini close to 1:00am. Thankfully we had transportation arranged through Ersi Villas (where we stayed in Fira) so we didn’t have to worry about finding a ride in the early hours of the morning. Our driver was kind enough to point out all the important information like restaurants, laundry, bus stops, etc… the only issue is that it was dark and the roads were winding, so we couldn’t get our bearings and everything seemed so far away. When we woke up the next morning and met with our villa manager, he directed us where to go and we were pleasantly surprised to learn that everything in Fira was no more than a 10 minute walk. Whew!

We chose to stay in Fira (the capitol of Santorini) because of its central location on the island. From Fira you could hop on a bus at the Fira Central Bus Station and get anywhere on the island in about 20 to 30 minutes for 1.80€ to 2.50€/per person each way. We noticed that a lot of visitors rented ATV’s to get around the island, which looked like a ton of fun!

Bus Tip: If you take the bus from Fira to Oia or Kamari Beach (or anywhere else for that matter) start your bus journey from the Fira Central Bus Station in town. We made the mistake of picking up the bus not far from our villa then having to stop at the bus station and pay for another bus to our destination. Starting your journey at the Central Bus Station ensures that you don’t double pay. Also, you pay when you get on the bus, no ticket needed in advance.

Before arriving in Santorini we received a lot of feedback from friends and co-workers that had visited the island and the reviews were definitely mixed. We were surprised to learn that a lot of people didn’t particularly care for Santorini (what?!?). All of the feedback was that it was overrated and overcrowded. While we did find Oia to be especially overcrowded, the rest of the island was very pleasant. We visited in May, before tourist season (tourist season is mid-June to September) and believe this was definitely in our favor. We couldn’t have been happier with our time on Santorini – it truly is one of the most beautiful places our eyes have ever seen! We would hands down recommend visiting, just make sure you do so before all the tourists arrive 😉

Scroll to the bottom of this post to see our recommended Santorini itinerary!

You can rent a donkey to take you up/down the Old Port. We did not do this… It was hot and I felt bad for these poor animals. I would never pay for an animal to walk me up and down stairs. I am an animal lover through and through and I wanted to take all these donkeys home with me and let them roam free and graze all day. Unrealistic, I know, but my heart hurt for these poor animals, forced to work hard in the heat.
Also, stray cats everywhere!
There were dogs everywhere (hello, dream vacation!). This one followed us and even took a break with us.


Our recommended itinerary for three days on Santorini:

Day 1
Breakfast at Zafora in Fira (or any place in town that speaks to you)
Spend the day getting lost in the streets of Fira
Walk from Fira to Imerolgivi and take in the views
Grab lunch at Anestis Tavern (it doesn’t have the caldera view, but at only a few steps away from the views it will save you money and you’ll get a delicious and authentic meal)
Dinner at Mama’s House

Day 2
Spend the day in Oia
Wander aimlessly through the winding streets and stairs to catch the famous views from every angle
Grab a pita gyro at Niko’s Place
Drinks on the third level at Flora
Dinner at the Red Bicycle
Grab a good spot near the tip of the island for those famous Santorini sunsets

Day 3
Breakfast at Creme de la crepe in Fira
Walk down the steps to the Old Port 
Lunch at Taverna Sirtaki in Old Port
Take the Cable Car back up to Fira (5€/person)
Take the local bus (from Fira Central Bus Station) to Kamari Beach for the afternoon
Walk up and down the street on the beach to find your favorite restaurant/bar with a sun-bed (we loved Korda’s at Kamari Beach Hotel)
Dinner at Rastoni (stop by the day before or earlier in the day and leave a small deposit to secure a table with a view)
 
A few other activities that looked like fun were a sunset sailing adventure and visiting the red beach. 

A Travel Guide to Athens, Greece

When we booked our trip to Greece the first thing we had on our minds was what islands to visit. We envisioned this trip to be relaxing and peaceful, haha. We knew we’d have to start and end in Athens for logistical reasons and to get the best flight deals. We spent two and a half days in Athens at the beginning of the trip and a half day at the end of the trip. I have to say, Athens was my jam! I was extremely surprised at how much I loved this city. It’s old, gritty, full of graffiti, friendly locals and amazing food and culture. I most definitely see myself re-visiting Athens again in the future.

We arrived at Athens International Airport mid-morning, collected our luggage and followed the signs to the metro station. We purchased two one-way tickets from a ticket machine for 10€/each into the city center. We rode the metro for approximately an hour before we arrived at our destination, the Monastiraki stop. It was quite an easy process overall! We located our AirBnb, got settled and took on Athens by foot – jet lag or not! Speaking of our AirBnb, we couldn’t have been happier with the space and the location. It was beyond affordable and centrally located so you can walk to just about anything in the city.

Now for the fun part, all the photos! I had a blast taking a million (okay more like a few hundred) photos of everything in sight. I hope you enjoy and are inspired to visit this one-of-a-kind city.

Scroll to the bottom of this post to see our recommended Athens itinerary!

One of many Greek salads and grilled octopus at Ergon. Absolutely delicious.
We had grand plans for hiking Mt. Lycabettus, but between the jet lag and the heat we opted to take the funicular to the top and walk down. We arrived at golden hour and scored some awesome city snapshots. I’d recommend staying until sunset to watch the sun fall over Athens.
You can’t visit Athens without visiting the Acropolis, am I right? Make sure that you arrive promptly when it opens, at 8am. This ensures you have the least amount of tourists, as the place does fill up rather quickly. You can purchase tickets at the entrance for 20€/person.
The Panathenaic Stadium is the site of the first Olympic Games and is the only stadium in the world to be built entirely of marble. Here’s a little secret… you can take a morning jog around the Panathenaic Stadium before it opens to the public.
Breakfast at spiti mas. Luke and I shared an Athenian Pie. This particular pie was filled with minced meat, peppers, onions and cheese. We’ll be forever trying to re-create this breakfast at home.
Cocktails at A for Athens. We enjoyed cocktails from their rooftop bar with the most magnificent view of the city you’ll find. We visited A for Athens on our first day and on our last day. You must get the A for Athens Cobbler – hands down the best cocktail of my life. I even emailed them once we arrived back home asking how to make it, that’s the effect it had on me! (ps: they emailed me back with tips on how to re-create the cocktail at home!)
Six d.o.g.s ended up being our favorite spot to grab a drink and a quick bite to eat.

Our recommended itinerary for two days in Athens:

 

Day 1
Wake up early and visit Panathenaic Stadium before it opens to the public
Breakfast at spiti mas
Grab street food for lunch
Catch the changing of the guard at Syntagma Square
Fuel up on a fresh juice at Avocado
Visit Mt. Lycabettus at sunset

Dinner at Ergon

 

Day 2
Visit the Acropolis at 8am
Breakfast at Ydria Cafe, grab a table in their garden
Lunch and a drink at six d.o.g.s
Explore neighborhoods: Monastiraki, Plaka, Psyri
Dinner at Lithos Tavern
End the day with a cocktail at A for Athens

A Travel Guide to Charleston, South Carolina

Charleston was just charming. Charleston was also extremely hot and humid. I’m no stranger to the east coast and humidity, but humidity in the south is on another level. I decided that as long as I could pull my hair back I could deal with it. It just meant stopping in air conditioned shops every 20 minutes to cool off, or carrying around paper towels in my purse to “freshen up” every now and then. Being an Oregonian in the south sends a shock to your system. Just keeping it real, friends! ALSO speaking of shocks to your system, we found a spider approximately the size of a small crab in our Airbnb kitchen and I just about booked an early flight home. I actually had nightmares that evening that spiders got me in my sleep and woke up in a panic.

Okay, complaining aside, this beautiful old city is full of the most charming and colorful houses around every corner. I could walk the city for hours (and we did) snapping photos of everything in sight. I’ll let the photos do the talking though. Scroll down for a Charleston photo overload!

What we ate/drank: Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit, Fleet Landing, Another Broken Egg, Pearlz Oyster Bar, Charleston Beer Works, Early Bird Diner, Tattooed Moose, Meeting at Market, The Watch (places we wanted to try but didn’t have enough time: The Darling, Husk, 167 Raw, Butcher & Bee, The Obstinate Daughter, Lewis BBQ. The food in Charleston is beyond! You really have to pace yourself here).

What we loved: The southern charm, beautiful pastel houses, small town feel, the delicious sourthern food and local beers, walking around with no destination in mind, browsing the candle selection at Candlefishcruising around the harbor, visiting the beaches, lounging on the rooftop of Skinny Dip, visiting the Kiawah Island Golf Resort where we spent a day swimming in the ocean and the pool and catching up with Luke’s friends.

– Photos © Holly Copeland –

A Travel Guide to Asheville, North Carolina

We recently got back from a weeklong trip to North and South Carolina. We visited Asheville, NC and Charleston, SC for the first time. Both places had long been on our travel bucket list and we’re so happy we got to see them both!

After a long day of traveling, we landed in Charlotte, NC on Saturday evening. We found a bar to watch the Cubs game and then called it a night, as we had plans to wake up early on Sunday morning and make our way over to Asheville, NC (a 3 hour drive). We arrived in Asheville right in time for the breweries to open. Perfect timing. This is actually what put Asheville on our radar. We love a good beer (we’re definitely spoiled in Portland) and we heard Asheville has an impressive brewery scene. We spent a few days checking out the local spots around town and felt quite satisfied with everything we squeezed in. See below for where we ate and drank and what we loved about this small but mighty little town!

Where we ate: White Duck Taco Shop, Homegrown, 12 Bones Smokehouse, Tupelo Honey, TacoBilly
Where we drank: Asheville Brewing, Wicked Weed, Green Man, Hi-Wire
What we loved: Local breweries, southern food, walking around town, visiting Omni Grove Park Inn and pretending like we were staying there, venturing outside of Asheville to the western NC mountains and the small town feel of this funky little town.

– Photos © Holly Copeland –

Visiting the Family Castle in Northern Ireland

Growing up my Grandma Georgia would tell me about our Irish heritage and how our ancestors came over from Ireland. They were the O’Kennedy’s in Ireland, and upon moving to New York they dropped the “O” from their name. She told me about the castle that our family once lived in and had a photo of the castle framed on her wall. I always knew I would visit the castle someday, at some point in my life. Growing up I wish I would have paid more attention to her stories, or tried to remember in more detail. When I started to show an interest in learning more she wasn’t able to recall the details. I reached out to her younger brother, my Great Uncle Ed, in hopes that he’d have something to share with me. A few months after I made contact with him, an envelope showed up in my mailbox with two photos of the castle with his hand-written notes on the back detailing the year he visited and the address of the castle. Receiving those details were an absolute dream come true. The castle is named Necarne Castle, but is also referred to as Castle Irvine. I kept the photos in my passport holder on this trip, to see how much, if any, the castle had changed since our last family members were here.
The castle is located about 3 hours north of Dublin, in the town of Irvinestown, Northern Ireland. After a stressful drive north, I peeked at the GPS when we finally arrived to Irvinestown and were about 5 minutes away from the castle. I got a bit nervous. I’ve been wanting to see this place for the better part of my life and I couldn’t believe I was so close. The GPS told us to take a left and the road was closed and blocked off. We got a bit creative and re-routed our path to the old equestrian college that was on the castle grounds. We arrived a few minutes later in the parking lot. As we got out of the car and walked in the direction of the castle I had a thousand thoughts floating around in my head. I had always envisioned what the castle would be like and I hoped the reality lived up to my expectations. We had to walk around the equestrian college’s facility so there was some paths, stairs and walking around buildings. I just wanted to be there already! Once we finally had the castle in view I couldn’t believe my eyes.
Necarne Castle was built in the 17th century and the last time the castle was occupied was 1945. There hasn’t been any restoration work done since then. It’s in critical condition and continues to deteriorate. The windows and doors have been boarded up for decades. It’s sad to see such a beautiful building falling apart, with no plans to save it. Northern Ireland now owns the castle and through extensive research on my part, I’ve found that there is no budget to save Necarne Castle. There are many local groups advocating for restoration, but it doesn’t seem there’s an interest. I can only imagine how amazing the castle was in its prime. I’m thankful to have seen something that was such a special place to my ancestors.
– Photos © Holly Copeland –

Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland

Back in March while we were in Europe we rented a car (the trusty Renault!) and drove from Dublin up to Northern Ireland. We only had a few days of driving around we so picked one big bucket-list spot to visit in Northern Ireland – Giant’s Causeway. This place. Wow. Luke and I both agreed that this is seriously one of the most amazing sights we’ve ever seen. Giant’s Causeway was formed after a volcanic eruption and the result is over 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, most of them hexagonal in shape. The best part about visiting the Causeway is that you can walk all over the columns! We spent over an hour taking in the natural beauty around us and walking up and down the rocks. I must have walked away with 100+ photos!
– Photos © Holly Copeland –