Cherry Blossom Festival (Washington, D.C.)

Washington, DC - Cherry Blossom Festival 1

04.15.2014- The Washington, D.C. Cherry Blossom Festival draws people from around the world each year.  We are lucky enough not to live a plane ride away from it and finally decided to check it out this year.  This past Saturday we headed down to D.C. to see what we’ve been missing.  We were rewarded with perfect weather, beautiful scenery, a prime blossom date, and close-up time with PLENTY of other tourists!  The beauty and fragrance of these trees surrounding the water basin made it worth the trip.  Throw in a couple of Washington, D.C.’s top Monuments (the Jefferson Memorial and Washington Monument) as backdrop, and you couldn’t ask for much more!

Cordoba: Callejon de las Flores

Cordoba- Flores

03.30.2014- This is the most photographed street in Cordoba:  Callejon de las Flores.  The pretty flower pots lining the alley walls leading to the bell tower of the Mezquita are a well-known corner of the city.  Just trying to get a photo without numerous heads in the way was a challenge.  Still, there’s a reason it is so well photographed, and it’s definitely worth a peek.

Amsterdam: Rijksmuseum

Amsterdam- Rijksmuseum

 

03.19.2014- I haven’t thought about Amsterdam for a while, but what a great city!  It may be more famous for what you can do there legally than its sights and museums, but it is a hub of culture and beauty.  I have been to some of the best museums of Europe in this city.  This was my favorite, but the Van Gogh is equally worth visiting.  I love the green between these two museums.  This photo was taken from there.

 

Barcelona: Sagrada Familia’s Crucifix

Barcelona- Sagrada Familia Interior

03.15.2014- I’ve posted pictures of Sagrada Familia’s ceiling before, but the entire church is awesome from floor to ceiling.  The stained glass and even the modern crucifix all just add to the  drama of this enormous place.  You could spend hours exploring in and around the church and not see half of the detail that has gone into its ongoing construction.

Lion of St. Augustine (St. Augustine, Florida)

Florida- St. Augustine- Lions 1

12.10.2013- Snow Day at work!  Finally some time to put up a post.  This photo was taken during our recent trip to Florida.  I hadn’t been to St. Augustine since I was a kid, and I forgot how much history is in the city (even if it is a bit kitschy).  The lions fronting the Bridge of Lions are one of the most photographed sites in the city, and I can see why.  They’ve been guarding this site since 1925 (with the exception of a brief removal in the early 2000′s when the bridge was being worked on).

Dolphins (Las Vegas, Nevada)

Nevada- Las Vegas- Dolphin 1

 

11.18.2013- So I’ve been seriously slacking lately.  Live and my day job have been crazy.  I really need to make a concerted effort to get back on track with my travel tips–and photos!  In the meantime, I at least want to post a quick photo tonight.  These are the Las Vegas Mirage dolphins.  This guy kept swimming by and checking us out as much as we were checking him out!

Jackson Square (New Orleans, Louisiana)

Louisiana- New Orleans- Jackson Square 1

 

10.31.2013- Happy Halloween!  While in New Orleans, one of the locals told me that while Mardi Gras and Jazz Fest are the city’s biggest draws, the best time of year to visit the city is, in fact, Halloween.  I can see why with all of the characters who abound in the city every day of the year!  I loved this city and can see why so many visit it time and time again.  Jackson Square is one of the most iconic spots in the city.  We caught it early in the morning before tourists and locals alike began to descend on the spot.

Sunrise at the Beach (Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida)

Florida- Ponte Vedra Beach- Sunrise Reeds 1

 

10.27.2013- Ponte Vedra Beach was probably the first ‘relaxing’ trip I’ve taken in forever.  We went there solely to get a little break at the end of our trip.  There’s a lot to be said for strolling down Bourbon Street in New Orleans or taking in the bright lights of the Las Vegas strip, but sitting on the silky sand of the beach watching the sunrise with nowhere else in the world you need to be is perfection.  I LOVE running around Europe and boating through Asia and riding a camel across a beach in Africa , but sometimes the beauty in ‘our own backyard’ goes overlooked.  It was nice to stop and take some of it in for a few days.

Oak Alley Plantation (New Orleans, Louisiana)

Louisiana- New Orleans- Oak Alley Plantation 1

10.23.2013- Just back from a trip to New Orleans, Las Vegas, and Ponte Vedra Beach.  They were all wonderful places to visit, and each had their draws, but New Orleans was my absolute favorite.  About an hours drive outside of the city in Vacherie, you will find several gorgeous southern plantations that can be toured.  Oak Alley is one of the most picturesque.  The huge oak drive leading up to the house is flanked by 300 year old oak trees.  This photo doesn’t even do the view justice.

Underground Cisterns (Istanbul, Turkey)

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10.02.2013- The underground cisterns in Istanbul are some of the most overlooked sights in the city.  With their long history, eerie lighting, and beautiful columns, they’re definitely worth taking a few flights of stairs under the city to visit.  They’re also extremely photogenic!

The Pantheon (Rome, Italy)

Italy- Rome- Pantheon B&W 1

 

09.25.2013- The Pantheon is one of the most incredible structures in all of Rome–and there’re plenty to choose from.  Built around A.D. 125, the roof is still the world’s largest unreinforced concrete dome.  It’s definitely withstood the test of time–wars, elements, disasters…  I like seeing it in black and white.  It feels like this picture could be a snapshot from any year in the life of this incredible building.

The Acropolis (Athens, Greece)

Greece- Athens- Acropolis from Below 1

 

09.15.2013- Athens’ Acropolis is one of the most recognizable sights in all of Europe.  If this hill could talk, it would relay thousands of years of history.  The rise and fall of empires, the change from paganism to Christianity, destruction and reconstruction.  When I was in Greece in 2009, they were hard at work restoring the sights on the Acropolis.  This work began in 1975 and is still ongoing.  In a few years, when it’s complete, I hope to get to see it again, fully restored.

Windmills on Mykonos (Mykonos, Greece)

Greece- Mykonos- Windmills 1

 

09.11.2013- On September 11th, I wanted to pick a photo that was a little more tranquil.  These peaceful windmills on the Greek Island of Mykonos seemed to fit the bill; plus the white and blue was a nice touch.  Today I’ll leave my narrative on the photo at that.  However, I hope everyone take a moment to stop and reflect on the people that were  lost on that awful day 12 years ago.

View of Fira (Fira, Santorini)

 

Greece- Santorini- Fira View Over 1

09.10.2013- Fira comes in a close second to Oia in a competition for the most beautiful town on Santorini.  That’s some stiff competition, though.  A visit to the island is not complete without a stop in Fira.  The main thoroughfare is pedestrian friendly (no cars), has many cute shops to explore, and several eateries to choose from.  Have a drink in one of the bars with a view and soak in the caldera.  This is a great spot to take in the sunset.

 

Sunflowers (Maryland)

United States- Maryland- Sunflower Closeup 1

08.20.2013- There is a field of sunflowers near us this time of year that is so photogenic, I can’t keep myself from snapping a few every time I’m near it.  This flower is nearly perfect, it cheers me up just looking at it.  The credit, though, goes to my husband–he is definitely the photographer in the family!

View of Cesky Krumlov from the Castle (Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic)

Czech Republic- Cesky Krumlov- View from Castle Walk 1

08.11.2013- Cesky Krumlov is one of my top 10 favorite “smaller cities” of Europe.  It’s this picturesque little town in the southern Czech Republic that a lot of people don’t even know exists.  Prague is the big draw to the Czech Republic, but if you’re going all the way there, I’d DEFINITELY take the time to detour to this beautiful little place.

Lake Bled from Bled Castle (Bled, Slovenia)

Slovenia- Lake Bled- From Bled Castle 1

 

08.06.2013- Lake Bled has some of the most crystal clear water I have ever seen.  The whole lake looks an icy blue, especially from above when the sky reflects off of its glass-smooth surface.  I love this place.  I could spend a week relaxing here–and I never relax–and not get bored with it.  There is boating, swimming, a path around the lake you can stroll, jog, or bike, a fun toboggan run that goes down the hill facing the lake, and and more amazing desserts than you could eat you way through!  Bled is known for its cream cakes; it’s honestly worth the visit just for that alone!

Phuket and Side Trips Video Tour

Over the course of 3 days, we relax at the resort, soaking up some sun and taking advantage of the gourmet cuisine and free entertainment; venture off the island, and head to Phang Nga Bay for kayaking, cave exploring, and a visit to the famed muslim floating fishing village, Ko Panyee; and take a trip out to the gorgeous Phi Phi Islands for some sun bathing, snorkeling, sightseeing, and general monkey-ing around.  Phuket, Thailand has a lot to offer; this video explores the island and some of its best day trips.   Along the way, we’ll also see the film sights of the 1974 James Bond Classic, “The Man with the Golden Gun” and the 2000 hit, “The Beach” with Leonardo DiCaprio.

Riomaggiore (Cinque Terre, Italy)

Italy- Cinque Terre- Riomaggiore- Waterfront 1

07.19.2013- Riomaggiore is the lowest village in the Cinque Terre–5 villages along the northwestern Italian coast.  Taking a boat ride out along the cost from Riomaggiore up to the northernmost village, Monterosso al Mare, is a must.  The coastline is beautiful, and the now-regulated colors of the villages are breathtaking.

View of the Amalfi Coast (Amalfi, Italy)

Italy- Amalfi Coast- View 1

 

07.12.2013- So I’ve been very lax lately about getting a photo of the day up.  Work has been crazy and I’ve been working on another travel video and 2 travel tales: the video’s on Phuket/day trips and the tales are on Cambodia and Puerto Rico.  I just haven’t had time to finish and post them.  In the meantime, though, here’s a photo from my favorite country, Italy.  The Amalfi coast looks like this up and down the coast, jagged cliffs with little houses clinging to the side of them and boats dotting the coastline.  The rugged beauty in this photo makes me want to go back!

Spain Door Knocker (Madrid, Spain)

Spain- Barcelona- Door Knocker 1

 

06.26.2013- I came across the door knocker while wandering Madrid and it just stood out to me.  It was so detailed and the lion almost felt like it was looking right at me.  I want one of these for home!

View from Boboli Gardens (Florence, Italy)

Italy- Florence- View from Boboli Gardens 1

 

06.16.2013- My favorite place in all of Florence wasn’t the Duomo or Michelangelo’s David in the midst of the hustle and bustle of the city but in peaceful corners of Boboli Gardens.  It feels less like being a in a city and more like being in the middle of the Tuscan countryside.  There are sculptures interspersed throughout the garden, and the views over the city are beautiful, as well.  Hiking up to the top of the garden for this view is very, very worth it.

Retiro Park (Madrid, Spain)

Spain- Madrid- Retiro Park Boats 1

 

06.10.2013- Retiro Park is a great place to relax amid the hustle and bustle of Madrid.  We rented a row boat one afternoon and spent a lazy hour floating across the pond in the sunshine taking in the scenery, and then wandered the shaded paths surrounding it.  On your walk, you’ll encounter everyone from performance artists to exercise instructors to street vendors.

Plitvice Lakes from Above (Plitvice Lakes, Croatia)

Croatia- Plitvice Lakes- From Above Path 1

 

06.06.2013- Plitvice Lakes is one of the most amazing naturally recurring phenomenons you will find anywhere in the world.  It is an entire park of terraced lake and waterfalls.  If that wasn’t enough, calcium deposits in the water calcify everything submerged in them making the water a brilliant blue color.  It’s the perfect place to explore since there are raised walkways built over the entire grounds at the most scenic points.

Beijing Video Tour


Over the course of 2.5 days we visit Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven, the Great Wall at Mutianyu, the Olympic Park, and the Summer Palace.
Beijing is the capital of China and one of the most populated cities in the world with over 20 million residents. Since the city’s history dates back 3 millennia, there is plenty to see and do here. It’s a world away from the United States and the perfect site for travel video #2.

Pena Palace (Sintra, Portugal)

Portugal- Sintra- Pena Palace 1

05.25.2013- Sintra, Portugal is known for its scenic views and the castles and mansions that dot the area. The Pena Palace, though, is the star. Home to the royal family until they were exiled, its colorful exterior and the views it provides of the surrounding area are not to be missed. Only a short train ride from Lisbon, Sintra makes a perfect day trip.

Bayon, Angkor Thom (Siem Reap, Cambodia)

Cambodia- Siem Reap- Angkor Wat- Angkor Thom 1

 

05.24.2013- The Angkor Temples are truly spectacular.  Actually, nearly all of the temples in the Siem Reap area are impressive in their own right.  The temple of Bayon at Angkor Thom really stands out, though.  With 54 towers covered in stone faces, it is truly a work of art.  To top it all off, the temple is nearly 800 years old.

Hong Kong and Macau Video Tour

Over the course of 3 days we visit Central (Victoria Peak, Hong Kong Park, Shopping, and Star Ferry), Kowloon (Waterfront, Symphony of Lights, and the Temple Street Night Market), Lantau Island (Po Lin Monastery and the Big Buddha), and Macau (casinos and the historic district).

Hong Kong and Macau are two of Asia’s most interesting locations.  As Special Administrative Regions of China, they have freedoms not found elsewhere in the country and a completely different look and feel.  I think they’re the perfect locations to focus on for my first travel video.

Little Girl Feeding Ducks at Lake Bled (Bled, Slovenia)

Slovenia- Lake Bled- Little Girl Feeding Birds 1
05.07.2013- I love this little girl enjoying the sunny weather at Lake Bled feeding the ducks.  It’s a reminder that no matter where in the world you may be, nationalities and locations don’t matter to a child.  Whether it’s the U.S. or Slovenia, kids just enjoy being kids.  With the lake’s castle as a backdrop, it’s definitely more scenic than my pond at home, though!

Tropical Flower in Positano (Positano, Italy)

Italy- Positano- Flower 1

 

05.06.2013- This flower reminded me more of Hawaii or one of the islands in the Caribbean when I came across it in Positano.   It was the only one in bloom on the bush it was growing from, and appeared near perfect, so it really stood out.

Sunset in Old San Juan (San Juan, Puerto Rico)

Puerto Rico- San Juan- Sunset 1

 

05.01.2013- Sunset over the harbor and walls of Old San Juan is spectacular on a night with just enough cloud cover to reflect the golden rays of the last of the sun’s light off of the water below and the clouds above.  We happened upon it by chance just at the right moment while out for a mid-dinner stroll (restaurant hopping–best way to get a real taste of San Juan).

Rappelling Down a Waterfall (El Sato Rainforest, Puerto Rico)

Puerto Rico- San Juan- Rain Forest- Waterfall Rappell

04.30.2013- To celebrate my 30th birthday, I decided to prove to myself that I was still capable of doing something a little adventurous.  So, I signed up for a Rainforest adventure while in Puerto Rico complete with rock climbing, zip-lining, and rappelling.  The rappelling was clearly the most awesome part.  I was a little afraid, but it was absolutely exhilirating!

Ko Panyi – Muslim Fishing Village (Phang Nga, Thailand)

Thailand- Phuket- Phang Nga- Ko Panyi- Coast 1

 

04.21.2013- Ko Panyi is a small island in Phang Nga, Thailand.  It is mostly a fishing village (and a tourist attraction) populated by a community of muslims.  It’s often referred to as the “Muslim Fishing Village” on tour routes.  The people are quite friendly (almost too friendly since they’re really trying to get you to purchase some of their wares), and it’s interesting to see how they go about their daily lives–you can visit the school and see the children learning, playing soccer, or eating lunch–in this small community.  The waterfront is especially eye-catching with all of the fishing vessels and nets waiting to head out to see and haul in their next catch.

Longwood Gardens (Pennsylvania)

United States- Pennsylvania- Longwood Gardens- Purple Flowers 1

 

04.18.2013- Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania has the most beautiful gardens I have ever experienced–in the US, Asia, or Europe.  The variety of plants and flowers inside the greenhouses and dispersed around the grounds is astounding.  I love these flowers in particular.  While they’re small, their color and shape make them almost look like something out of a cartoon.

Maya Bay, Phi Phi Ley (Phi Phi Islands, Thailand)

Thailand- Phi Phi Islands- Phi Phi Ley- Maya Bay 1

04.16.2013- Maya Bay, where they filmed the movie “The Beach” with Leonardo DiCaprio is as pretty as one would imagine.  Sure, the throngs of tourists can be a bit much, but if your tour guide times it right, you can experience the island with a minimal amount of people and experience this small slice of paradise.  Sitting on the white, soft sand beach, looking out at the  turquoise blue of the water with the rising dark green peaks encircling the bay make you feel a bit as if you were on a movie set.  The beauty feels surreal.

Terraced Hillside (Ravello, Italy)

Italy- Ravello- Terraced Hillside 1

04.14.2013- I love this picture of Ravello from Villa Rufolo showing the terraced hillside of the Amalfi coast.  Wine vines grow rampant, you can just make out a few olive trees, and the orange rooftops typical of tuscany are also dotted along the countryside here.  The squiggly terraces remind me of waves in the sea, and the rocky peaks in the background look more like they belong in New Zealand or the South Pacific.  I love the combination!

Mykonos Waterfront (Mykonos, Greece)

Greece- Mykonos- Waterfront- Harbor 1

04.29.2013- Mykonos isn’t the most beautiful of the Greek islands; it pales in comparison to Santorini or Corfu, but it has its own redeeming qualities, particularly its windmills and waterfront area (along with its beaches).  The island’s harbor area is a great place to stroll and take in the view or relax with a cocktail and listen to the waves slowly roll in.

 

Amalfi From the Water (Amalfi, Italy)

Italy- Amalfi- Coast from the Water 104.09.2013- The Amalfi Coast is breathtaking, particularly the way the buildings seem to be built straight up the cliffsides as if stuck on by superglue.  It is quite spectacular to see how builders have been able to take the limited surface given to them and incorporate their work into the rock.  The town of Amalfi, where this photo was taken, has a jetty that juts straight into the sea.  It’s an idilic spot to sit and enjoy the view and ponder just how the architects have managed to do it.

Buddha Head in Tree (Ayutthaya, Thailand)

Thailand- Ayutthaya- Buddha Head in Tree 1

04.08.2013- Ayutthaya Historical Park is worth a visit while in Thailand, but if you’re going to see the temples of Siem Reap, see these first since you will probably be a bit underwhelmed in comparison.  One of the more interesting and most photographed sights on the grounds is the Buddha Head in a Tree.  This stone buddha head was decapitated from its base during a 1767 Burmese attack and somehow ended up over time embedding itself into this tree’s tangled roots.  Even its shade matches the bark making it appear as if it were a natural part of the tree.

Lantau Island (Hong Kong)

Hong Kong- Lantau- Big Buddha 1

 

04.04.2013- Lantau Island is one of the many island that make up Hong Kong.  It is home to Hong Kong Disney and the Hong Kong’s Airport, but otherwise it is mostly known for being under-developed and having some beautiful beaches and forested areas.  It is also known for the Giant Buddha that resides at the top of one of its peaks.  You can spend a very long day hiking up (and up and up) to it or you can take a 25 min cable car ride to see it.  This picture was taken from the cable car.  It was one of my first sightings of the buddha, and I don’t know if the picture truly gives you an appreciation for how large it is, but it was quite spectacular in person.

Side Street in Macau (Macau)

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04.04.2013- Macau is most well known for its casinos (as I’ve mentioned in the past), but I loved its historic old center.  The side streets were filled with school children walking home, shopkeepers selling their everyday wares, and images like this.  Peaceful corners like this were a welcome sight after the hustle and bustle of the casinos and the main drag filled with tourists.

 

Wat Arun (Bangkok, Thailand)

Thailand- Bangkok- Wat Arun- From the Water 104.1.2013- Wat Arun is yet another Buddhist temple in Bangkok, but there’s something about it that draws photographers and tourists alike to see it.  Maybe it’s the way that it’s situated on the river or maybe it’s the colors interspersed on its central tower, or maybe it’s just the sheer size, but it’s one of the most eye-catching sights in all of Bangkok.

Michelangelo’s Pieta (Vatican City)

Italy- Rome- Vatican City- Michelangelo's Pieta03.31.2013- In honor of Easter and our new Pope, I thought I’d post a photo from the Vatican.  I was going to opt for a more beautiful one of St. Peter’s, but this one (despite the lighting issues from it being behind bullet proof glass–thank the unbalanced person who took a hammer to it a few years back) seemed most appropriate for the occasion.  Regardless of your religion (I have visited Jewish Temples, Mosques, Buddhist Temples, and more Christian denominations of churches than I can name and respect every one of them), I think anyone can appreciate the true art that went into making such a life-like sculpture out of marble.

 

Nubble Lighthouse (Cape Neddick, Maine)

Maine- Cape Neddick- Nubble Lighthouse 1

03.28.2013- The Nubble Lighthouse in Cape Neddick, Maine is just plain cute.  There’s really no other way to describe it.  It reminds me of a cross between a doll house and a playground.  Even the colors are playful.  Maine has so many lighthouses that it’s hard to keep track of them, but this one always sticks out in my mind.

Ba Pa-In Royal Palace (Ayutthaya, Thailand)

Thailand- Ayutthaya- Ba Pa-In Palace- Grounds 103.27-2013- Ba Pa-In Palace, located in Ayutthaya, was used as the summer residence of the Thai kings.  While there is still a royal family in Thailand, they rarely use the palace other than for occasional ceremonies or holidays.  Today, it is primarily a tourist destination with wonderful walking paths around pristine ponds and beautiful decor like this.

 

Ruins of Saint Paul (Macau)

Macau- Ruins of St. Paul 103.24.2013- Macau is most well known as the “Las Vegas of Asia,” but it also has a historic old Portuguese Quarter that is worth a stroll.  The old ruins of Saint Paul Church are a must-visit when in Macau.  The only thing remaining of the original church is its facade, but that’s enough.  In fact, I found it more impressive than most churches since I’ve never seen anything like it before.

Acrobatics Show (Beijing, China)

China- Beijing- Acrobatics Show 13.23.2012- China is known for its acrobatic feats; so while in Beijing, it seemed only natural to add an acrobatics show to our itinerary.  I have always been impressed by gymnastics, but this took it to the next level.  I watched quite a few unbelievable scenes from 8 motorcycles going full speed around the inside of a metal dome to this act with all of the gymnasts balanced on one bike!

 

Wat Phra Kaew Grounds (Bangkok, Thailand)

Thailand- Bangkok- Wat Phra Kaew- Grounds 103.22.2013- The grounds surrounding Wat Phra Kaew (or Temple of the Emerald Buddha) are spectacular.  Churches in Europe may put me in awe, and I may never say anything can top the Vatican and all of the treasures they have amassed there, but the vibrant colors that surround you everywhere here are like nothing you will find in the west.  It is a totally new experience, and being my first stop in all of Asia, it left me with quite an impression.

 

Tiananmen Square & the Forbidden City (Beijing, China)

China- Beijing- Tiananmen Square 103.21.2013- The Forbidden City, just past Tiananmen Square, is where the emperor resided in Beijing.  Only the emperor was allowed to enter certain parts of the complex, while others the empress, concubines, court officials, and eunuchs could utilize.  The regular population of Beijing was forbidden from entering the grounds, thus the name.  It takes up a huge section of land–its perimeter is over 2 miles long, encompasses 9,999 rooms, and has approximately 800 buildings.  Like a lot of places in China reserved exclusively for the use of the emperor and his family, it gives you a pretty good idea why the Chinese eventually revolted against these traditions and excesses.

 

View from Victoria Peak at Night (Hong Kong)

Hong Kong- Victoria Peak- View at Night 103.20.2013- Victoria Peak quite possibly has the most beautiful view of a modern city that you will ever encounter.  It is breathtaking at any time of day, but there is just something special about the combination of the lights, the colors, and the harbor at night that make the experience truly magical.  Having witnessed it at both day and night, I I would suggest taking in the view in daytime so that at night you can see how it truly transforms.

 

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