A Trip to Chicago, IL

We recently returned from a week in the Midwest visiting Luke’s parents. We spent most of our time in Chicago showing my dad around as this was his first time here. This trip looked A LOT different from past trips due to COVID-19. For weeks and weeks leading up to the trip we were unsure if it was even going to happen. We even second guessed the trip many times. Our flights were changed numerous times as the airline consolidated flights for the week. I was scared to even get on an airplane during a pandemic! When we finally decided to go ahead with it, we had a lot of conversations on how to proceed with our travel plans as safely as possible. Chicago was in Phase 4 of re-opening and we had a game plan. We brought plenty of face masks, disinfectant wipes and hand sanitizer. We planned activities where we could maintain distance from others and also planned on only dining at establishments that had outdoor seating. I was quite impressed with how safe I felt in Chicago. Most places we visited had temperature checks and everyone had social distancing in place. By the end of the trip it felt like my face mask was a permanent fixture to my face – a small price to pay for safety though.

While it wasn’t’t the trip we had initially planned on, it ended up being a great time with family and I’m grateful we were able to make it happen. We had non-stop flights on Alaska Airlines and they kept all middle seats open. They thoroughly cleaned everything and scaled back their in-flight meal service to only offer bottled water, a few sodas and snack packets. Face masks were required by everyone – which quite honestly felt safer than visiting Safeway or Fred Meyer down the street from my house where half the shoppers don’t even bother with them. While I understand traveling is controversial right now, I feel good about how we handled everything and the safety precautions that we took. The number one reason for this trip was to see family that live outside of Chicago and since it is summer, we spent time in the city together.

Where we ate:

Ersi Brewery (This was our first dinner after landing at O’hare. The weather was perfect, the patio was spacious and the food and beers were just what we needed after a day of traveling.)
Piece Brewery and Pizzeria (A great spot for pizza and beers in Wicker Park)
King Crab House (What a gem! We were walking around Lincoln Park and spotted this cute place in the neighborhood. I put my name on the list for dinner and even got to pick out where we wanted to sit on their patio.)
Kaiser Tiger (A fun spot with plenty of outdoor seating)
Kennedy Rooftop (This was our last dinner of the trip. Their patio had just recently opened and we snagged the best table there was – unobstructed views of the entire Chicago skyline!)

Other places that we love in Chicago: Velvet Taco, Le Colonial, The Publican, Giordano’s, Public House, Cindy’s Rooftop, Eastman Egg Company, Gaslight Coffee Roasters

Places that are on our list for our next visit: The Purple Pig, Girl & The Goat, Au Cheval

Where we drank:

Paradise Park (A fun spot with a huge patio to grab a few drinks)
Island Party Hut (After a boat tour on the lake we stopped here for a few beers. They have an expansive outdoor area and we found large bench to sit on right by the river.)
Big Star (We stopped in here or a few margaritas to get out of the sun)
Pilot Project (Creative and delicious beers in a beautiful outdoor space)
Sully’s House (We came across this place on the way to another place. When that other place didn’t work out, Sully’s welcomed us with open arms – and a very socially distant patio.)
Murphy’s Bleachers (We originally booked this trip before the pandemic, so we planned on catching a Cubs game on the trip. While the Cubs game didn’t happen, we walked around the outside of the ballpark and stopped in here for lunch and beers.)

Activities:

A lot of walking (We walked all through Lincoln Park taking in the sights of the city and the tree-lined neighborhood streets, Millennium Park, Wrigleyville and Wicker Park.)

Boat Tour (Wendella boat tours now require masks to be worn at all time and they’ve also restricted the number of passengers to allow for social distancing)

New York City for Thanksgiving

This past Thanksgiving Luke and I spent some time in NYC. My cousin lives on the Lower East Side and we thought it would be fun to spend the holiday weekend with her. She graciously hosted us in her tiny (yet very comfortable and cozy apartment) and even played tour guide for us – ensuring we saw everything we haven’t already seen in the city. I’ve been to NYC a handful of times and so has Luke so our main goal of this trip was to just relax, take our time and hang out. I was coming straight off my Uganda trip, so my body legitimately had no idea what time it was or where in the world I was. It took me a solid two days to finally catch up to everyone else, haha. It was a fun trip, but my bank account would tell you otherwise.

In my eyes, New York City is always a good idea and visiting this magical place will never get old.

Where we ate:


Bistrot Leo (They had a traditional Thanksgiving dinner menu and it was delicious)
Russ and Daughters (My first Jewish deli and definitely not my last)
Uncle Boon’s (Some of the best Thai food outside of Thailand)
Chelsea Market (It’s fun to walk through Chelsea Market and grab a bite to eat amongst the crowds)
Egg Shop (A delicious eggy breakfast spot)
Frank (We had a fun group dinner here and some of the best gnocchi I’ve ever had)
Emmy Squared (We split a Detroit-style pizza, burger and Brussels sprouts salad – and it was SO GOOD!)
Bluestone Lane (We stopped in here for some chais and ricotta-strawberry toast)
Levain Bakery (Fueled up on cookies and baked goods after a sunny walk through Central Park)

Where we drank:

Grey Lady ($1 oysters and beers from Nantucket)
Amsterdam Ale House (A cozy spot for beers after walking through Central Park)
Skinny Dennis (We stopped in here after the basketball game and was blown away by the whiskey/coffee drink)
Three’s (Amazing brewery in Brooklyn with very creative IPA’s)
Strong Rope (Another Brooklyn brewery)

What we did:

Chelsea Piers Driving Range (On our last day it started snowing during a walk so we hopped over to Chelsea Piers to hit a few buckets of golfballs)
Union Square (There was a Christmas Market going on here!)
5th Avenue Shopping
Central Park (You can’t visit the city without a walk through this beautiful park)
MoMA (We got lucky and enjoyed free admission on Friday night. Although it was admittedly very chaotic with so many people in attendance.)
Vessel @ Hudson Yards (A few years ago when I first took Luke to NYC this area didn’t even exist!)
The High Line (A walk along the High Line is always fun in my book)
Walk across the Brooklyn Bridge
Brooklyn Nets vs Miami Heat game @ Barclay’s Center

A Travel Guide to the Sunshine Coast

Our final stop on our Australian adventure was a few days at the Sunshine Coast. We flew from Melbourne to Brisbane, rented a car and then drove about an hour and a half north on the M1. Luke found us this amazing private oasis and we both agreed it’s quite possibly our favorite place to-date.

We had envisioned this part of the trip to be a lot slower and more relaxing than the week before. While we loved our time in Sydney and Melbourne, we also wanted to experience the slower pace of the coastal life. We got unlucky with a few days of rain which really forced us to slow down, haha. After the rain and I’m talking more rain than I’ve ever seen in my life!! we were able to explore Noosa and get in some serious beach time. Noosa stole my heart and I couldn’t be happier that we picked such a gorgeous place to relax on our last few days.

Brekkie at Murray’s in Maroochydore
Noosa Heads Main Beach
Can you spot the sleepy koala?
We loved seeing this little one on our walk through the Noosa National Park, near Tea Tree Bay.
We found the perfect snack – zucchini chips and a beer at Grill’d!
Very happy faces after a few Noosa beach days.

Our recommended itinerary for three days at the Sunshine Coast:

Day 1
Spend the day exploring the Sunshine Coast Hinterlands – Unfortunately we didn’t get to do this because it was raining buckets for the first few days

Day 2
Visit the Eumundi Markets (keep in mind the markets are only open on Wednesdays and Sundays)
Make your way to Noosa
Walk up and down Hastings Street popping into shops – Grab lunch at a place that speaks to you (we found a fish & chips special at Zachary’s)
From Noosa Heads Main Beach, walk the path up Noosa National Park – We walked to the Fairy Pools and back to the main beach
Relax on the beach at Noosa Heads Main Beach

Day 3
Spend the day at Noosa Heads Main Beach – Get there early and find a spot under the trees
Consider surfing lessons! If you’re not that adventurous you can also rent boogie boards on the beach
Depending on where you stay, drive up/down State Road 6 for ocean views along the Sunshine Coast – We drove from Noosa down to Mooloolaba
Dinner at The Savvy Squire the beers were amazing and the location is right on the Mooloolah River

A Travel Guide to Melbourne, Australia

We arrived in Melbourne from Sydney and ended up taking an Uber from the airport to our AirBnb. We almost never do this! We were having a hard time with the Myki ticket machines at the airport (Myki is the card system the train/tram/bus uses). The Myki machines refused to accept our credit cards and the busses don’t take anything but Myki cards. There was a SkyBus option but it was $20/person one-way and we’d still have to do a transfer to a bus. So an Uber it was! Once we got into town I popped into a market and purchased a Myki card and loaded money on it – once I had it, it was easy peasy from there on out!

We eventually arrived in the Abbotsford neighborhood and instantly fell in love with this lovely AirBnb. We had a spacious bungalow on the back of the hosts’ property, the most comfortable king sized bed and a few complimentary umbrellas for the rain we’d encounter in the coming days. It was perfect for us. We short a 5-10 minute walk to the train and then it was only anohter 10 minutes to reach the city center. We mostly took the train around town if we weren’t walking. I can’t say enough good things about the neighborhood we chose to stay in! Great coffee shops, restaurants and local shops. Something we always look for in AirBnb’s is that “local living feeling”.

Melbourne was so funky and just downright cool. You know that I love a city filled with graffiti and Melbourne delivered! It was inherently different to Sydney – like a Seattle vs. Portland different. More artsy, very gritty… Melbourne was a vibe. My favorite part of visiting Melbourne was the element of surprise. For example, you could see a restaurant or storefront and the facade gives an appearance that it might be a small run-down place… until you step inside and see this expansive architectural wonder. There were sooooo manyyyy surprises, we dubbed Melbourne “the city of hidden gems”.

Hoiser Lane street art
A favorite neighborhood scene
The soft scramble eggs on toast obsession continues…
A first glimpse at the Brighton Bathing Boxes

Our recommended itinerary for four days in Melbourne:

Day 1
Coffee and a light breakfast at Three Bags Full
Stroll around the city center
Hop on the 35 “city circle” tram line – it’s free and will take you in a loop around the city
Roam around Chinatown (it’s expansive!) and grab dumplings for lunch – We loved Shanghai Street
Pop into Melbourne Central – we found so many local clothing shops and the food court looked amazing
Visit the Public Library, it’s a beauty!
Dinner at Daughter-in-Law

Day 2
Coffee and a light breakfast at Stagger Lee’s
Go on a self-guided walking tour of Abbotsford, Collingwood and Fitzroy
Visit the Queen Victoria Market (grab lunch here, too)
Stop by Moon Dog for amazing IPA’s
Grab dinner and sip on local beers at Stomping Ground Brewing or Bodriggy Brewing

Day 3
Coffee and a light breakfast at Dr. Morse
Explore the hidden gems and laneways of the city (Hoiser Lane and Degreaves Street being the most popular)
Dinner at any of the following restaurants: SundraEmblatipo 00Smith + DaughtersLazerpigLeo’sCarlton Wine RoomBar SaracenLee Ho FookSupernormal (we met a girl in Sydney and her chef boyfriend recommend all these places to us – he said it’s the list for ultimate foodies)

Day 4
Coffee and a light breakfast at you place of choice! Check out this list of quintessential Melbourne coffee shops
Visit the Brighton Bathing Boxes
Walk form Brighton Beach to St. Kilda Beach
Lunch at Lentil as Anything
Explore St. Kilda and Luna Park
Supernormal Canteen for dinner
St. Kilda Pier for the Penguin Parade

Also consider: a day trip out of the city or a two-day trip along the GOR to visit the 12 Apostles.

A Travel Guide to Sydney, Australia

We recently arrived back home after spending two weeks in Australia and WOW what an incredible country! We split our time evenly between Sydney, Melbourne and the Sunshine Coast – spending about 4 days in each area. It’s the tail end of summer there, so kind of like a September for us, like a really hot September.

We arrived at SYD on a Saturday morning and took the train to Central Station where we hopped on a local bus to our AirBnb in the Paddington neighborhood. Once we got to Paddington (Paddo to the locals) I couldn’t believe my eyes, it looked like we were transported to the Garden District of New Orleans! The neighborhood was lined with beautiful trees and beautiful houses. We stayed in this AirBnb and loved it. The place was on the smaller side, but fine for us since we were out about for most of the day anyways. The location was very convenient for us (halfway between the city and the beach) and the local bus stop was just down the street. Speaking of the bus, we took it everywhere in town! We added our travel credit card (we use Chase Sapphire Preferred) to our phone and then just “tapped” on and off the bus – it couldn’t have been easier!

Sydney felt so unique but also felt like a blend of some of our favorite major cities. Luke and I ultimately decided that we thought Sydney was a mix of London, New Orleans and San Francisco – but throw some hot sun in there, too! We loved, loved, loved our time in Sydney and were quite sad when it was over.

See below for our recommended itinerary for a few days in this amazing city!

The Sydney Harbor from the Royal Botanic Garden.
This is the Paddington neighborhood we stayed in.
I told you it looked like New Orleans!
Australia really knows how to do a good breakfast (brekkie).
I scored this avocado toast for $4.50! I know.
Luke had banana bread with ricotta creme cheese and honey –
we’ve already re-created this since we’ve been home.
This was the start of our coast walk from Coogee Beach to Bondi Beach.
The views on this walk were just incredible!
Seeing the Bondi Icebergs was just a dream.
They are as beautiful as all the pictures I’ve seen over the years.
Bondi Beach through the trees.
We spent the afternoon at Bondi Beach.
We had been watching a lot of the show Bondi Rescue (haha) and this was a MUST for us.
It was incredibly crowded but we lucked out with a decent spot and a rented umbrella.
One morning we took the local ferry from Circular Quay to Manly Beach.
It was such a great way to see the city from the water (one of our favorite things to do in any city we visit).
One morning we took the bus to The Grounds of Alexandria and I was BLOWN AWAY with this place. It’s an “only in Sydney” kind of place and I recommend you don’t miss it. We had breakfast here and then spent some time walking around the grounds and taking in their rotating exhibit. The exhibit on display when we visited was Elton John themed. This place is just magical.
A few more examples of how Aussie’s just nail brekkie.
Eggs on toast (this became an obsession on the trip –
Aussie soft scramble eggs are actually heaven on earth) and seeded bircher muesli.
Another fun spot was the Slims Rooftop.
The rooftop is inspired by Slim Aarons and overlooks Hyde Park.
We walked around Darling Harbor one night. It was cute. Dare I say… Darling?
Our recommended itinerary for four days in Sydney:

Day 1
Explore the Harbors and Quays: Sydney Harbor, Darling Harbor, Circular Quay
Explore The Rocks neighborhood
Visit and grab lunch at The Rocks Market (open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday)
Visit Endeavour Tap Rooms for some Pale Ale and IPA refreshments
Walk to the Royal Botanic Gardens and walk over to Mrs. Macquarie’s Chair
Drinks at the Sydney Opera Bar

Day 2
Take the ferry to Manly Beach
Visit 4 Pines Brewery for delicious beers
Spend the day exploring Manly and visit the beaches
Lunch at Fishbowl for amazing poke bowls
Ferry back to Sydney
Slim’s Rooftop for evening refreshments and snacks

Day 3
Start your day with brekkie and then a takeaway coffee from Coogee Pavilion
Coast Walk from Coogee to Bondi (about 2.5 hours)
End at Bondi Beach and enjoy a beach afternoon (I rented an umbrella on the beach to be sun safe)
Lunch and refreshments at a fun spot across the street from Bondi Beach – We liked Bondi Beach Public Bar for flatbreads and beers
Dinner at Nomad (make reservations in advance, so many locals told us this was the best place in town for dinner and we’d have to agree!)

Day 4
Brunch and explore at the Grounds of Alexandria (In my opinion this is an absolute must-visit and and “only in Sydney” kind of place)
Explore the Newtown area for fun shops, restaurants and breweries
Rock’s Brewing
Young Henry’s
End with dinner at a local neighborhood spot. We chose the Four in Hand Pub in Paddington

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 Naxos, Greece

The last stop on our Greek holiday was the island of Naxos. When we were researching what islands to visit in Greece we happened to watch an episode of Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown: The Greek Islands. It’s because of Anthony Bourdain that we decided to spend 5 days on this less-than-popular island. We were craving some serious down-time, relaxation and local living. Naxos seemed like the perfect place that checked all of our boxes. I think we can both agree that Naxos was likely our favorite portion of this trip, in large part to its laid-back vibe, lack of tourists and overall affordability.

We booked tickets on the Blue Star Ferry from Santorini to Naxos for about 40€/a person. The ferry ride was relatively quick, only 2.5 hours. When we arrived in Naxos we walked right off the boat and right into the main area of town. No other transportation needed! We walked right up to our studio, got checked in, and were ready to start exploring. Our studio in Naxos couldn’t have been more perfect. It was walking distance to everything, had a view of the water and we found out there was a free breakfast every morning at their cafe across the street. Plus it was about 70€/a night! We instantly fell in love with Naxos. There was a vibe you picked up on right away, you just knew this place was going to be chill. We took the local bus everywhere, just like Santorini. You can rent a car or ATV, it appears we like local busses though.

Bus Tip: Unlike Santorini where you can purchase bus tickets directly on the bus, you have to purchase bus tickets in advance on Naxos – either through the main Bus Station or in a local market.

Scroll to the bottom of this post to see our recommended Naxos itinerary

Our recommended itinerary for four – five days on Naxos:

Day 1:
Breakfast in town
Wander around Old Town Naxos and get lost in the streets
Take the local bus to Plaka Beach for the afternoon
Lunch at a beach restaurant near Plaka Beach
Dinner at Meze 2
Drinks at Gemma

Day 2:
Breakfast in town
Take the local bus to the villages of central Naxos (Filoti and Chalki)
Lunch at Duetto in Filoti (the best lunch of the entire trip!)
Kitron tasting at Vallindras Kitron Distillery in Chalki
Dinner at Taverna Kastro
Drinks at Rum Bar or Like Home Bar (both have water views!)

Day 3:
Take an all-day trip on a Catamaran with Naxos Yachting
Dinner at To Spitiko

Day 4:
Visit the Temple of Apollo at sunrise
Breakfast in town
Dinner at Metaxi Mas

Day 5:
Breakfast in town
Take the local bus to Agia Anna Beach
Lunch at a beach restaurant near Agia Anna Beach
Visit the Temple of Apollo at sunset
Dinner at Kozi

We’re a bit light on the food recommendations as we had breakfast at our hotel every morning and we picked up gyro pitas and souvlaki pitas at small shops along the way for under 3. We firmly believe that the majority of the restaurants on Naxos are amazing. Walk around and find a place that speaks to you, you won’t be disappointed with the food here!