Sisters in Paris

Heather and I were lucky enough to get to spend a week together on an epic girls trip to Paris, France this past October. We’ve both been separately, but this was our first time visiting the city together. We stayed in an AirBnb in Montmartre and loved our little neighborhood so much. I’m happy to share the actual AirBnb booking if anyone is interested… we loved the space and the location but the bed was extremely uncomfortable and we had some of the worst nights sleep we’ve ever had. We were consistently up all hours of the night tossing and turning. So maybe you don’t want to stay there, haha 🙂 Bad sleep aside, the location was great and it was easy to take the metro anywhere in the city and even easier to just walk anywhere as well. I listed out everywhere we ate and all things we did over the week. Anything with an asterisk next to it means we LOVED it!

Where we ate:
Pink Mamma * (delicious! we shared a pizza and drank some delicious red wine. make sure that you walk to the top floor and check out this beautiful space)
Odette * (we stopped here for a sweet treat, the location couldn’t be any cuter if it tried)
Laudree (mandatory stop for sweet treats in a collectible box)
Bouillon Chartier (we had a quintessential Parisian meal here one night)
Frenchie Bar a Vins (I’m a HUGE fan of FTG, so I loved visiting their wine bar)
Ob-La-Di * (we had breakfast here one morning and loved every sip and bite)
Kozy (if you’re looking for their brunch it only happens on the weekend, oops!)
Cafe Kitsune (fueled up on a delicious iced chai one afternoon)
La Bossue (we had our final petit déjeuner of the trip here and it was heavenly)
Corto (a small inconspicuous place near our AirBnb that happens to have out-of-this-world-delicious-steak-tartare)
Creperie Framboise (because crepes)
Wine and snacks in the park

What we did:
A LOT of walking!
A LOT of metro riding! (we purchased the Paris Visite 5-day pass and it basically pays for itself in a few days. taking public transportation is my favorite way of getting around a city)
Shopping at Merci * (I fell in looooooove with this concept store)
Galeries Lafayette (go for the high-end shopping but don’t miss the incredible rooftop views)
Stamp Market * (check the hours before you go… I found handfuls of beautiful old stamps here)
Paris Flea Market  (the flea market was not a highlight for us… most stalls were closed so there wasn’t a lot for us to see)
Explored the artists square in Montmartre (we purchased a small watercolor for our mom here)
L’Atelier Des Lumières * (I cannot recommend this place enough, it was the most beautiful artful experience I’ve ever had)

And in no particular order, here are our photo favorites from a week in our favorite city. I hope you enjoy 🙂

One Day in Amsterdam

My sister and I recently got back from a week in Europe – just us girls! It was the trip of a lifetime for us. We’ve never taken a trip so far away, just the two of us. We’ve also never spent every second together for an entire week, haha! The trip ended up exceeding my expectations and reconfirming that my love for all things European runs deep.

We decided on a week in Paris with a quick day trip to Amsterdam via train. I’ve been to Amsterdam before, but it was Heather’s very first time stepping foot in the Netherlands. We took the early morning train from Gare du Nord to Amsterdam Centraal station. Since we arrived at Centraal station we were a quick walk over to the center of the city to start our exploring! Surprise to absolutely no one, we started our day off with pancakes at a cute little spot called… Pancakes! In all honesty we were starving and it was the first place we saw upon leaving the train station, haha. It ended up being exactly what we needed though. The pancakes were DELICIOUS and the mint/lemon/ginger tea was a refreshing wake up!

We spent our entire day walking. We walked quaint and quiet streets with our favorites being Groenburgwal, Raamgracht, Kloveniersburgwal, Oudezijds Voorburgwal and Herengracht. I particularly loved strolling those streets because my most beautiful photos from that day are of the canal houses located there.

One area that I wanted to spend some time in was De Pijp, located directly south of the city center. I’ve heard that it’s a fun neighborhood to explore, so I’m happy we to got to spend some time there. We visited the Albert Cuypmarkt and indulged in fries with fritessaus (so good!) and then stopped in Bakers and Roasters for some coffee to keep us going!

Amsterdam, to me, is the absolute most picturesque place my eyes have ever seen. I’m perfectly happy to just throw on a pair of comfortable shoes and explore by foot – which is exactly what we did 🙂

 

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 to 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!

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

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 –
 

A Travel Guide to Barcelona, Spain

Where do I even start with Barcelona? Luke and I loved everything about this Spanish city. It’s definitely one of my all-time favorite places in the world now. The trip had a questionable start, as we were both feeling under the weather (Luke had food poisoning and I had flu-like symptoms) but we pulled through and hit the ground running on our first day. Each day got better and better with sunny skies, delicious food and lots and lots of walking! My favorite part of Barcelona was visiting Park Güell. Luke’s favorite was everything!

Where we stayed: Four Points Sheraton (while we usually go the AirBnb route, we snagged a deal on this hotel and our stay there was fantastic)
What we loved: The sun, getting lost all over the city, leisurely walks by the water, sangria, tapas, paella, jamon in a cone, pintxos, the boqueria market, public transportation, Spanish pottery, Gaudi architecture.
– Photos © Holly Copeland –
 

A Travel Guide to Dublin, Ireland

Dublin was the start to our second trip over to Europe (see our last one here, here and here). Somehow I felt right at home walking around this small city. It was a pleasant surprise discovering that you could walk from your AirBnb all over town without even having to look at a map – that’s how easy it was to navigate in Dublin. Everything was so bright and colorful and old and new. Dublin is truly a mix of past and present. We were lucky enough to visit on St. Patrick’s Day to celebrate Luke’s birthday and partake in all the festivities. Since we’ve been back everyone has asked us about our experience – they all suspect the place was CRAZY! Truth be told, Europeans know how to do life. While the city was a bit crazy and crawling with people it was more like controlled chaos. We found the parade to be more family friendly. We loved our stay, but could have done without the wind and sideways rain, haha.

Where we stayed: An AirBnb near Spencer Dock

Where we ate: The Boxty House, Seven Wonders, Oneill’s Pub, Madigan’s, Zozimus, The Stag’s Head, The Larder, Klaw (I would highly recommend them all!)
What we loved: Temple Bar Pubs, The Little Museum of Dublin, Guinness Storehouse, St. Stephen’s Green, Trinity College, Grafton Street shopping, Irish accents that were sometimes hard to understand, walking everywhere, pub culture.
What Holly didn’t love: Driving a manual transmission on the other side of the car on the other side of the road.

– Photos © Holly Copeland –
 

Paris Memory

Luke and I stayed in the perfect Parisian apartment. It was located in the 11th arrondissement and your quintessential Parisian living quarters. The main entry to the building was through a large blue door with a doorknob placed in the center (a typical front door in Paris). Once you made your way past the entry the most beautiful old-wood staircase with blue rails was there to greet you. It was the most perfect Parisian blue that just happens to match the large front door.

It was a workout to make your way up the stairs – but also hard to complain, because you’re in Paris and about to walk up to the most perfect apartment. The wood was smooth and antiquated; an indication of years and years of use. It made me wonder, how long have these stairs been here and what kind of activities have these stairs seen to make them this weathered? There are so many questions behind each and every detail. I always find myself wondering the history. A question that you can literally ask yourself anywhere in the world – but find yourself asking even more in Paris.

During our stay we trekked down these very stairs to explore the streets of Paris. We trekked up these stairs when we needed to rest in the apartment after long days of walking the city. We also trekked up groceries from the corner market and boulangerie. These stairs witnessed croissants, macarons and bottles of cheap red wine making its way up to the top.

Lastly, these stairs witnessed two Americans having the absolute time of their lives and not wanting their Paris adventures to end. I didn’t think I would ever miss reaching the top of these stairs, with very few breaths left to take, but I do, very much.