Taking a cruise in the fall is quickly becoming a habit of mine. For one, the weather is significantly cooler (a welcome change from the heavy air of Florida). This month, I packed my bags and flew from the Sunshine State to the capital of Denmark. There, my sister, grandmother, and I embarked on a 9-day cruise with stops in Germany, Estonia, Russia, Finland, and Sweden.
To me, cruising offers significant advantages when traveling somewhere new. Instead of worrying about moving your things from place to place, your things move with you. Instead of wondering about your next meal, there's always food available. Instead of spending your time in only one or two cities, you're offered the opportunity to sample multiple places and see what you like best.
From touring Berlin to seeing the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg to wandering through Helsinki, this trip was one I'll not soon forget!
When faced with the choice of spending Memorial Day weekend in humid Florida or escaping to feel the cool breeze of the Pacific, I chose to catch a few flights to the West Coast.
On Friday, I hiked near the water and amid beautiful flowers in Montana de Oro State Park. I wouldn't classify myself as your average "hiker," but this "hike" was more like a stroll. Count me in! After taking more pictures than I needed, I left the park and toured around Morro Bay and San Luis Obispo.
Saturday was a bit more of a relaxed day. The sky was filled with clouds, but that didn't stop me from exploring "Little Denmark" in nearby Solvang. The town is filled with interesting shops, delicious pastries, and live music.
The last full day of adventure included Malibu, Los Angeles, and Beverly Hills. Malibu is home to some of the world's most beautiful beaches (in my humble opinion) and an amazing pier. My sister and I perused a farmer's market there and in Los Angeles - wandering through table after table of fresh fruit and vegetables.
Of course, I ate at In-N-Out a few times (specifically, every day) and bought a few postcards to add to my travel board. I'm really glad to have had the time away and hope to return again soon.
Below are a few pictures from the long weekend - enjoy!
For most of my life, I've rung in the new year in Kansas (my homeland). I decided I'd do something different for 2019. After talking with a friend, we decided we'd head to Europe! I found a great deal using points and spent the last few days of 2018 and the first few days of 2019 traveling from country to country. On New Year's Eve, I found myself starting the day in Belgium, then exploring my 20th country - Luxembourg - in the afternoon. After a short visit there, I wandered the streets of Strasbourg, France. I've truly never been in a city quite like it - the Christmas market is an absolute must-see. And, before the clock struck midnight, I ended up in Interlaken, Switzerland - a town I hadn't been in since 2014. The crowd counted down in the final seconds in German and the fireworks began...it truly was a unique experience and one I will not soon forget. I spent the next several days exploring Switzerland, Belgium, and The Netherlands before hopping the pond and thawing out in Florida.
I'll try to do better about posting to this blog in 2019. Is it too late to make that a new year's resolution?
Yeah...it's been a few months since I last posted.
That's my fault. I apologize. I'll do better at keeping my blog updated. Forgive me?
Ok, good. Now that we have that settled, let me share about my latest adventure:
Each year, my family vacations in Texas. But this year, we broke the mold and switched things up a bit. Instead of crashing in the Lone Star State, we went somewhere cooler - the Rockies.
And let me tell you, waking up to weather in the 40s was a dream come true for this guy.
We spent several days in Vail, Colorado - a town that looks a bit like Switzerland. I grabbed candy from a candy shop, bought a sweatshirt, and found some amazing dogs who just happened to be brothers (see below).
Enjoy the pictures - and again, I apologize for leaving you without a blog post for so long. Let's not allow that to happen again, ok?
The thought of getting older scares many, including myself. Last week, I celebrated my 25th birthday. I am now closer to 30 than I am 20, and my excuses for eating like a kid are running out. I had thought months ago about what to do to celebrate this occasion, and decided to head to Europe with my Mom and Grams.
There are people who backpack that continent, but I am not one of them. Judge all you want, but I decided to take a cruise. I know that cruises are often thought of as vacations for the elderly, but I think they're a phenomenal way to get around. Hear me out - your accommodations are literally a floating hotel where the food is delicious, there's entertainment galore, and someone else takes care of getting you from place to place.
Thanks to Norwegian Cruise Line, we were treated like royalty onboard. They provided me with free WiFi and concierge assistance to help make this trip a huge success.
We started in Rome, perused the town of Mykonos, captured a million pictures in Santorini, hiked to the Acropolis in Athens, watched the sun set in Malta, and drank up the views in Sicily and the Amalfi Coast.
It truly was the experience of a lifetime, but it wasn't an incredibly expensive one. I strategize and play the "travel points game" where I collect points off of credit cards and use them to my advantage. I literally flew from my home airport to Rome and back on points for $11.20. You read that right.
Maybe one day I'll write a blog post about how to collect points and find great deals.
For now, here are a few photos for you - comment below and let me know where you'd like to visit!
What was supposed to be a weekend getaway turned into a 10-day, gypsy-like jaunt.
Here's the story:
On Thursday, September 7, I was flown to Little Rock, Arkansas, to do photography for a wedding. Of all the weekends to have a trip planned, this was one of the best for Hurricane Irma had her sights set on Florida. I was originally scheduled to return Sunday evening, the 10th, but the storm had other ideas.
As I began my journey to Arkansas, my airline canceled my return flight. It was rescheduled to the following Tuesday...which, truth be told, wasn't too bad.
As the storm made its path towards Tampa, my airline again canceled my flight...rescheduling me for the following SATURDAY.
What was I supposed to do in Little Rock for 6 days?
Fortunately, my parents were also at the wedding. They were leaving Little Rock to head to the East Coast, and offered to let me tag along.
My gypsy journey began in Little Rock and I found myself in Memphis, Knoxville, Raleigh, and (finally) Washington, DC.
I was so blessed to see many friends along the way, but boy was it great to return to Tampa.
Here are a few snaps from the journey:
Every summer, my family vacations in the "Hill Country" of Texas.
That's right, Texas.
If you're asking why I would leave the sun-kissed Sunshine State and vacation in a place enshrouded with shrubs and cacti, let me explain:
Meet the Horseshoe Bay Resort - one of the best-kept secrets in the Lone Star State. Located on beautiful Lake LBJ, this retreat provides an escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Deer quietly graze near the roads, golfers enjoy manicured fairways, and swimmers (like myself) bask in the sun before jumping in to cool off. It truly is a unique and Texas-sized getaway destination conveniently located approximately equidistant from Austin and San Antonio.
Need I explain more?
If you know me, you know my idea of a vacation generally involves staying in a place with air conditioning and a modern bathroom. A shower with hot water is also preferable.
There is, however, something unique about detoxing from most of our modern conveniences. After being dropped off by a seaplane on an island on Manitoba's Saddle Lake, I set up camp with my father and brother-in-law. It was so quiet that it was loud - if that makes sense. No phone calls, text messages, traffic noises, or music - save the music made by the birds and nature. The sun began to break the dark a little after 5 AM and left glimmers behind close to 11 PM. I fished for the first time in years, and used a filter to turn lake water into drinking water.
I also went without Chick-fil-A for several days - a miracle in my book.
Thanks to my father and my brother-in-law for getting me out of my comfort zone - it was an experience I'll never forget.
Please take a moment to watch the video below. I'd love your feedback!
It has begun.
Recently, I purchased a drone. As I venture to various places, I plan on using it to showcase those locations and help me tell my story.
I guess we'll call this next phase of storytelling the "travelog" - similar to a vlog, but incorporating views from where my travels take me.
Forgive me for my basic editing abilities - I'll try to improve them. I'd love it if you would leave me some feedback about these vlogs, and feel free to check out/subscribe to my YouTube channel (you'll be one of the first)!
"The Palm Beach Diaries" is a collection of beautiful scenes I found during February's visit to the area. Comment below to let me know what you think!