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 ūüôā

 

Omni Mount Washington Resort

The morning of the Bucceri wedding we drove out to the Omni Mount Washington Resort¬†for a quick sightseeing adventure. Over the years I’ve seen pictures of this place and thought it looked stunning with the white building and bright red roof set amongst a green landscape of trees and mountains. While we didn’t stay here on our visit, it would have been an absolute dream if we did! Upon walking through the main entrance of the hotel you are immediately overcome with the most welcome and calming scent. I actually googled “scent of mount Washington hotel” (haha) and found they have their very own signature scent called Mountain Mist. I’m still trying to figure out how I can get my hands on this scent to mist in my own house…
Can you imagine how amazing these views would be in the fall?!

Fun Times in Newport, Rhode Island

Earlier this month we took a trip to the East Coast for a family wedding in New Hampshire. We were looking to explore some new-to-us places and landed on a visit to Newport, Rhode Island for a few days. Our time there was short so we packed in a few key activities that would allow us to see the best of the best.

Cliff Walk: Along the eastern shore of Newport lies a 3.5 mile stretch of beautiful coastal views and a handful of mansions that show the architectural historical side of Newport’s Gilded Age. If you have more time than we did you can tour the inside of these amazing mansions!¬†The Breakers¬†was my favorite and looked absolutely breathtaking. I’d recommend grabbing a morning coffee to-go and leisurely walking the Cliff Walk while taking in the views. On the morning of our walk there was barely a cloud in the sky with a slight coastal breeze – it was perfect.

A Sailing Adventure: Experiencing Newport from a sailboat just seemed like the quintessential New England adventure, so of course I was all about this! There are multiple options for sailing adventures in town that offer similar experience at roughly the same price points. We landed on a morning sail with Sailing Excursions on the Adirondack II and LOVED them. It was quite the adventure as it was a windy day! Book your trip online in advance as a lot of the times sold out.

Our only regret in Newport is that we didn’t have more time to explore! Everything about this little place was just beyond adorable. The houses, the wharf, the seafood… it truly was an exceptional little town and I’d love to spend more time here in years to come.

A windy selfie

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

A Travel Guide to Chiang Mai, Thailand

After a few days in Bangkok we boarded a quick 1-hour flight to the Northern Thailand town of Chiang Mai. Now this place was more our style (#betterthanbangkok)! We arrived at the tiny Chiang Mai airport and ordered a Grab to our AirBnb. Grab is similar to Lyft/Uber, although way more affordable in Thailand than back home. A Grab ride from the airport to our hotel was roughly 170 Thai Baht ($5.30 USD).

Our AirBnb was located in the “West End” area of the city known as Nimman. We could not have loved the location more! We were walking distance from amazing restaurants, coffee shops and the Old City. Speaking of the Old City… it’s a section of Chiang Mai that is square-shaped and surrounded by a moat. Yes, a moat. How cool is that?! We found Chiang Mai to be very walkable and easy to navigate. We spent a day exploring the temples in the Old City and just taking in the sights – its such an eclectic and beautiful city.

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

Breakfast at Bird’s Nest Cafe. Luke had a Thai vegetable hash and I had a banana pancake with fresh fruit. 
Here’s that moat I told you about earlier.
Must stop every now and then for the local beers. 
During our time in Chiang Mai the air quality was the worst in the world, yikes! 
Brunch at the SS1254372 Cafe was the most beautiful meal in the most beautiful space. 
Our recommended itinerary for three days in Chiang Mai.

Day 1
Breakfast at Bird’s Nest Cafe
Explore the Old City
Lunch at Khao Soi Arak
Think Park Night Market (we came across this on our first night and had SO MUCH fun here – it’s a great place to try a few different food stands, shop and hit up a bar)

Day 2
Breakfast at SS1254372 Cafe
Hike the Monk’s Trail to explore Wat Pho Lat
Explore around the Chiang Mai Riverside (Ping River)
Dinner at David’s Kitchen (we had an incredible meal here to celebrate Luke’s birthday)

Day 3
Coffee at RISTR8TO (Chiang Mai has amazing coffee everywhere – RISTR8TO blew us away!)
Explore the Nimman neighborhood
Lunch at Dash
Drinks at a rooftop bar (we visited Yayee and Rise – we tried to visit Sala Lanna but it was empty (??) and Myst Maya but we didn’t love that place at all)
Dinner and shopping at the Night Market(s)

A Travel Guide to Bangkok, Thailand

Actually getting to Bangkok was one gigantic disaster. We started our journey with a delayed flight that forced a missed connection. We got rebooked on a different airline, but that flight was also delayed, causing us to yet again miss another connection. We got bumped on all our flights and found ourselves sitting on the floor at the Sea-Tac airport with nothing booked. At one point when the airline we were supposed to be flying on refused to help us out, Luke and I looked at each other at a loss for words. We are stuck at the airport with no flight to get on. We eventually sorted out logistics and with a total re-route, found ourselves headed in the right direction. We would arrive in Bangkok 24 hours behind schedule. We found two silver linings though! Our first silver lining was that we had a 7-hour layover in San Francisco and we were able to escape the airport to try a new brewery. We also ran into my sister who happened to be on a connecting flight there at the same time. What luck?! After San Francisco our second silver lining was a 12-hour layover in Seoul, South Korea. We had a few hours to explore a new-to-us city and try all the Korean street food.

When we arrived at Suvarnabhumi (BKK) and made our way to catch a taxi at Ground Transportation. You wait in a queue for a taxi and check in at a kiosk. When your number comes up, you walk to a parking spot with your corresponding number to catch your taxi. The cost was roughly 600 Thai Baht ($19 USD). There might have been a cheaper option into town, but it was late and we were exhausted after so many layovers. We wanted the easiest and most straight forward means of transportation.

By the time we ended up in Bangkok we had almost two full days to explore and that ended up being enough for us. I’m glad that we got to experience the city, it just wasn’t really our style in the end. Bangkok is a sprawling city filled with a lot of people and a lot of garbage and pollution. In a single word I would call Bangkok chaos. When we walked the streets of Chinatown I couldn’t believe my eyes… there was just so. much. stuff. Think any kind of trinket, knock-off item, toys, accessories, etc. You name it, it was there in excess. On the positive side, the temples were beyond beautiful, the food was incredible and the public water taxi was a fun experience.

We stayed at the Chillax Heritage Hotel and had a great experience. When we arrived on our first night we went walking in search of dinner and drinks. We found a lively street behind the hotel and enjoyed a few beers and dinner at a restaurant that offered outdoor seating (as we found most restaurants offer). We were also within walking distance of Khao San Road, which was such a fun street! If we had more time in the city I could see us having dinner and listening to live music there.

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

 This photo is what happens when you leave your temple clothes at the hotel, haha!
The photos above are from our visit to¬†Wat Pho. We didn’t realize that Wat Pho is not only one of the most popular sites to visit in Thailand, but also in the world! After our visit it was no surprise, the temple is mind-blowing.
Another “borrowed” outfit because the temples clothes are still at the hotel…
The above photos are from our visit to Wat Arun. Of the temples we had on our list to visit, Wat Arun was the one I was most excited about. We actually caught our first glimpse of the temple from across the water at The Deck by Arun Residence (the papaya salad pictured above is from there, so good!). We ate lunch on their deck and had the most beautiful temple view.
Bangkok at night from Above Eleven.
Having a hotel with a pool was key! After hours of sweating through our clothes it was nice to be able to take a mid-day break and go for a swim!


Our recommended itinerary for two days in Bangkok:
 

Day 1
Pick a few temples to explore (Wat Pho and¬†Wat Arun – the Grand Palace was on our list too, but we¬†didn’t end up making it there)
Lunch and local beers at The Deck by Arun Residence
Spend the day “getting lost” by hopping off and on the public water taxi on the Chao¬†Phyara River (make sure to hop on the orange flag¬†boats)
Explore Soi Rambutti for street food and local beers
 
Day 2
Breakfast at The Coffee Club (multiple locations across Thailand)
Thai Massages at Darin Spa
Ride the Sky Train (we got off at the “Asok” stop and walked around that area for hours checking out local restaurants and bars)
Drinks at the Above Eleven rooftop bar
————————-
A few places we had on our list but just didn’t have enough time to get to: The Sixth,¬†Chatuchak Weekend Market¬†(we didn’t get a chance to visit the market as we were in Bangkok during the week)
Also check out this 3-day guide to Bangkok, it’s full of so much good information!

A trip to the edge of the continent

A few weekends back Luke and I had plans to trade in the vehicle we’ve been leasing for the past three years. We were trading in our Ford Escape compact SUV for a new Honda Accord sedan. While we loved having an SUV, we found that we didn’t need all the extra room and the gas mileage was honestly not good. We averaged 15 mpg, yikes! The day before our trade-in we decided to take the Escape on one last adventure… We took a spontaneous road trip to the Oregon Coast to Cannon Beach (my favorite beach town in Oregon). That day ended up being one of the nicest days I’ve ever experienced at the coast and I’ve been visiting for nearly my entire life. It was a beautiful sunny day and we didn’t even bring jackets with us. Keep in mind, it’s January! Oregon weather really surprises you every now and then.

The views from Ecola State Park were incredible.
While I’m never one to complain about sunny weather, there was so much sun it was washing out my photos, haha!
The view of Haystack Rock never gets old.
We ate at Tom’s Fish & Chips. We’d never been here before and just wanted something simple with a few cold beers.
Even though it was a simple meal, it was delicious and hit the spot.
Of course the pup had to come along, too!

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 –

 

A weekend off-the-grid at Lost Lake

Luke and I recently spent a glorious weekend at Lost Lake with our friends (my sister even joined!). We didn’t have cell service or WIFI the entire weekend and I couldn’t have been happier about it. Taking a few days to go off-the-grid is always good for the soul. My phone stayed place in my overnight bag and I took photos with my camera. It was just the refreshing weekend that I didn’t even know I needed.

Our days were filled with a hike around the lake, plenty of snacks and naps¬†(okay, my sister and I were the only ones to actually nap…). We cooked (or rather assembled) all of our meals and even made a fire to roast marshmallows.

One morning we woke up early and took our camping chairs down to the lake to scout out the best spot to eat lunch and swim in the water. Our friends ran into some people they knew from their kids’ school as we drank beers while wading in the water. Their friend brought up a very interesting conversation about chance encounters with people you know. He referenced an article he read and summarized that when you run into someone familiar in a place that isn’t familiar (i.e. running into someone you know in a completely different state, or miles and miles away without the prior knowledge of each other being there) it triggers happiness in your brain. It instills a sense of belonging and gives you the feeling that you have a place in the world. It really got me thinking, how many more of these encounters could we make over time if we open ourselves up more and step out of comfort zones? Deep thoughts at the lake. ūüôā

It was my first trip out to Lost Lake, which I actually find surprising, considering that I grew up in a family that explored most of the northwest. I grew up camping all along the Oregon and California coast. We even took “Sunday Drives” to explore new areas of Oregon we hadn’t been to before. There’s still so much more of this beautiful state that I haven’t seen yet – it’s all on my list!

We stayed in one of 7 cabins at the lake (we were in cabin #7).
– Photos ¬© Holly Copeland –