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JP and I love to travel. In the 2 and a half years we’ve been married, we’ve already visited 10 countries outside of the US and 10+ different US cities. We love planning trips and visiting new places, and we plan to continue that even after we add another little human to the equation.

So it makes sense that I love to look for ways to document our travels. And when I stumbled across this picture, I totally fell in love with the idea.

diy-cork-travel-mapvia

However, I wanted a whole world map since we do a lot of international travel, too. And I had a pretty sizable wall to fill, so it was going to need to be BIG. I knew it would be easy to get the basic outlines of the continents, but nearly impossible to cover all the little islands in the Carribbean and Phillipine Sea (two places we’ve each done quite a bit of travelling in, separately). So I just put the idea on the back-burner and tried to think of alternate options.

And as luck would have it, when we visited Ikea last weekend, and alternate option presented itself. While wandering through the showroom, the clouds parted and we laid our eyes on a GIANT canvas world map! I’m talking over 6 feet wide and almost 5 feet tall!! And for only $150, say whaaaa?!?! Art that big would normally come with a pretty hefty price tag, so I was totally pumped! We snatched one up and I couldn’t wait to get home and put it on the wall.

But, unfortunately, we couldn’t just slap it up on the wall and  call it a day. Part of the reason that they could sell it so cheap was because, while the map was printed on canvas, there was no actual backing. So basically, it came rolled up and you attach it to the metal frame they provide. I knew if we wanted to put pins in it, we would need to find a way to back it with something that the pins could sink into.

I made my way to Hobby Lobby and picked up a few pieces of foam board along with some spray adhesive, with the intentions of attaching the foam board to the actual canvas. But for some reason, the foam board just did not want to stick to the canvas. Womp womp. So we went with Plan B. We grabbed some finishing nails and nailed the foam board straight to the wall behind where the map would sit. Boom. Done. Sorry I don’t have any pictures of the process..it was all hands on deck trying to get something so massive put up on the wall while keeping it level. But when it was all said and done, here’s where we ended up!

world map

world map_2

The yellow pins represent places I’ve been, the green is JP, and the blue is places we’ve both been to.

world map_3

I LOVE it! Now, I just need to disguise that dumb doorbell box..any suggestions?

Linking up at Design, Dining + Diapers

When our last left our travel saga, we had just left Latvia to go to Prague. Let me start off by saying that I pretty much instantly fell in love with Prague. SUCH a charming city. But I’m getting ahead of myself here.

We got in around 4:00pm and were set to leave at 11:00am the next morning, so we didn’t have that long to tour the city. Needless to say, as soon as we checked into our hotel, we ventured out to try and soak up the last few hours of sunlight and see as much as possible. It happened to be about 55 degrees (the warmest weather we had experienced the whole trip) so it was perfect weather for walking around.

We set off walking towards the Old Town (in case you’re confused by me always talking about Old Town..many European cities have them. It’s essentially what it sound like..usually consists of the main town square and other historical buildings.) In order to get there, we had to cross the river, which is where we caught our first glimpse of the famous Charles Bridge.


Stunning.

I swear it was like everywhere we turned, there was some beautiful historic building. We didn’t even know what half of them were, but they sure were purty!


We made it to the town square, where the famous astrological clock is located.


Old Town was bustling with all kinds of people and street performers..the whole city had a very casual but happy feel that I just loved. Prague is said to be a very bohemian city..it’s often thought of as the birthplace of street performing, and I would definitely agree. Everything about the city just said, “Hey, come relax and have fun.” To which I happily replied, “OK!”


I would definitely put Prague on my ‘Would Visit Again’ list..anyone else been there?

That officially wraps up my travel posts! Sorry to all of you who hated them..but good news, it’s over and now we can get back to business as usual! Anyone else done any travelling? What places are on your ‘Must Visit’ list?

Today, I’m going to finish up our travel posts with the last two stops we made: Latvia and Prague. I’m going to do them as two separate posts..so you lucky dogs are going to get two posts today! Wahoo!

We left Russia early Saturday morning and headed back to Latvia to spend a couple days. When we got in, we headed for Riga’s Old Town to do a little sightseeing.

First, we made a visit to their local Occupation Museum. It gave a good history of how Riga in particular had been affected by wars and communism over the years. It’s crazy to think that the country as a whole has only had its’ freedom since 1991. Makes me very appreciative of what we have here in America!


After we finished there, we were able to go up in the tower of St. Peter’s and get an awesome birds eye view of the city.


Then we headed over to one of the famous ‘lock bridges.’ The gist of it is, you go to one of these bridges with your sweetheart, snap a lock onto the bridge, throw away the key, and then you’ll stay together forever. So, we got a lock engraved with our names and our wedding date and joined in the tradition. It’s actually really sweet to see this bridge all covered in locks..even though a couple of them had one name scratched out and had written in someone else. Whoops.


From there, we went and had dinner at a delicious Italian place called il Patio.

On Sunday, we lazed around the house for a good part of the day (which was nice seeing as how we’d been on the go basically the whole trip) and headed out for a late lunch/early dinner at a place called Lido. Apparently, they’re quite famous in Latvia and people drive from all over to come visit them. JP liked it so much that we ended up going back on Monday before our plane left!


After we finished eating, we had the opportunity to go to the church my aunt and uncle have been involved in getting off the ground there in Riga. Jordan preached (with the help of a Russian interpreter) and we had a wonderful time meeting all the people there.

The next morning, we packed our bags, hopped on a plane, and headed to Prague!

After we left Poland (catch that recap here), we hopped on a plane for Russia. A couple hours later, we touched down in Moscow. We were lucky enough to get in contact with one of the missionaries to Moscow and he was kind enough to act as our tour guide.

We got into Moscow in the late afternoon, so first we headed off to a Georgian restaurant for dinner and it was amazing. It had kind of a Mediterranean flair..super scrumptious!

After dinner, we headed down to Red Square to take in some of the sights by night. Let me just tell you, Red Square is absolutely stunning at night. Everything is all lit up and it looks totally magical. I didn’t have my nice camera with me, so  all I got was an iPhone picture.

The next morning, we headed back down to Red Square to take some pictures during the day and go inside Lenin’s tomb. No pictures of that, unfortunately, since they won’t let you take cameras inside. And they’re pretty serious about their security..you can’t even stop when you’re inside the tomb or have your hands inside your pockets. But I do have lots of pictures of the rest of Red Square!

This is the exact center of the city..it’s just outside Red Square.

Lenin’s tomb

The famous St. Basil’s..so breathtaking in person.

After we left Red Square, we visited the Kremlin.

Inside were several beautiful churches and other monuments.

This is the Tsar’s cannon that was never fired..it was too big. It weighs 40 tons!

This is the Tsar’s bell..it also was too large and it cracked before it could ever be rung. Clearly the guy had a fixation with overly large things. Compensating for something, Mr. Tsar?

By the time we left the Kremlin, it was about 4:00pm and we had every intention of doing a bit more sightseeing…however the day got cut short because someone (*coughcough, me*) had to go and make a huge dramatic scene. Let me explain.

Moscow is a very big, crowded city and the subway is pretty much the only way to get around. The subways are jam-packed with people and it’s about 100 degrees down there. We had been walking all day long and all I’d had in the way of liquids was about 1/2 a bottle of water. You see where this is going?

When we left the Kremlin and headed to the subway station, I started to feel pretty overcome with tiredness but I figured I was just out of shape and didn’t want to be a whiner. So I pushed on. But by the time we actually got on the subway I was feeling pretty terrible..I was sweating and clammy at the same time and my vision was blurring. I looked over at my sweet, sweet hubby and said , “I think I’m going to pass out.” He looked back at me with what can only be described as pure terror in his eyes and says, “What?! Can’t  you wait until we get off the subway?!?!”

Well, unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that and a few seconds later I passed out cold. Like completely unconscious. JP had to carry me off the subway, damsel-in-distress style. Thank God we had the missionary with us..he spoke enough Russian to be able to find help. By some miracle they found a doctor in the subway station. She came and made me drink something and then gave me an injection of something. We have no clue what either of those substances were because she spoke NO English and the missionary couldn’t understand what she was saying. Luckily, I was coherent enough to see her take the syringe and needle out of an unopened package so that was at least a little comforting.

Since then, we’ve been joking that they injected me with some kind of tracking chip and I’m now a spy for the Russian government. Don’t mess with me.

So, sadly, our sightseeing time in Moscow was cut a little short but the next day we got up and took a train to St. Petersburg!

St. Petersburg was a beautiful city..much smaller and less crowded than Moscow. No subway needed, wahoo! It was very easy to navigate the city..we stayed in the Petro Palace hotel which was very close to all the sites we wanted to see.

The Church of the Spilled Blood

The big thing to see in St. Petersburg is the Hermitage and Winter Palace. The place is HUGE. Like, you could easily spend a whole day in there if you’re a big art buff (which I am not..I know shockingly little about it, but it’s fun to pretend).

Talk about extravagance..the place was dripping in gold and crystals. It was like Liberace was their interior decorator. To each his own.

On a whole, St. Petersburg was much more my style. More laid back and it almost felt like Italy (my true European love), especially with the canals and everything. And! It’s where I picked up my adorable little Russian nesting doll that I looove!

Isn’t she a purty lady?? I’ll be back tomorrow with the next stop on our trip, Latvia!

 

Well, lovelies, I think I’m finally readjusted and back on a normal schedule after our whirlwind 2 week European adventure! This week I’m going to recap our travels for you and, of course, share some vacation photos!

First up: Poland!

We arrived in Warsaw on Friday evening (March 9th, if you’re keeping track)..just in time to have dinner. After dinner, we went to a place that can only be compared to heaven on earth. It’s a famous Polish confectionary called E. Wedel. They’re famous for their hot drinking chocolate, which is not to be confused with regular hot chocolate. No, no, my friends..this was like the most delicious chocolate bar you’ve ever had in a cup. Pure bliss.

Sorry for the blurry iPhone pic!

On Saturday morning, we got up and drove to Auschwitz, which is near Krakow. It was most certainly a humbling experience and there really aren’t words to describe it, so I will just share a few of the pictures with you guys.

Under the famous “Work Makes One Free” sign.

Various crutches and braces collected from those sent to the gas chambers.

As punishment, prisoners had their hands tied behind their backs and were then hung by their wrists off these hooks for hours on end.

People still come and leave flowers as a memorial to their ancestors.

After we ended our tour at Auschwitz, we headed into Krakow to find a place for dinner and the place we found was A. MAZE. ING. It was a little Jewish cafe called Ariel, and they had the best pierogi’s I’ve ever tasted…seriously delicious!

After dinner we headed back to Warsaw, and on Sunday we were able to take a little tour of the city.  We went into Old Town and the first thing we came across was the open air market. I was amazed that even in 40 degree weather, the square was still filled with vendors.

Not to mention this crazy guy, who’d been standing on his head for who knows how long. If you threw a coin in his basket, he would clap for you with his feet. How quaint.

We then walked down towards the Royal Castle. Interesting fact: the castle was destroyed during World War II, but they later found the original plans and it was rebuilt using some of the original bricks!

Again, even though it was cold outside, the square was bustling with people. And I loooove me some people watching.

I even captured a couple getting engaged! 1, 2, 3…awwwww!

From there, we went to see the old Jewish ghetto that used to be in Warsaw. There isn’t anything left of it really, save for some monuments.

Memorial to the Ghetto Wall

This rock represents where one of the gates originally stood.

Memorial to the prison that once stood here.

Poland has some incredible history and it was amazing to be able to see it all in person. And tomorrow I’ll be back with a recap of Russia!