Traveling With Tiny Humans: Worth It Or No?

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  • September 19, 2017

The last couple of months have been totally helter-skelter. Our family has been walking through a trying time, and we’ve tried our best to take a step back, slow down, and refocus ourselves on what’s important. And quality time with each other is at the top of that list.

So over the past several months, we’ve found ourselves taking several spontaneous road trips. Travel is therapy for my husband and I; we try to take at least one international trip a year, and we rarely travel to the same place twice. Exploring new cites and new cultures is totally exhilirating for us and connects us in such a special way. Our travel memories we’ve created over the past 7 years of marriage are some of the most precious moments that I wouldn’t trade for anything.

But here’s the deal. Up until this past month, we had never taken kids with us on an out-of-the-country trip (or even any of of our longer cross-country trips, for that matter). It’s not that we’re opposed to it, but our kids are young and doing that kind of travel with them just honestly sounded like more hassle than it was worth. But at the beginning of August, we decided to change that – we did our first international trip with both of our kiddos.

We didn’t go anywhere too exotic – we went to Canada – but there were still lots of lessons to be learned. And we actually ended up covering a lot of ground in a pretty short amount of time. We started out in Toronto, travelled over to Montreal, then came down through Vermont, and stopped off at Niagara Falls before heading home. And this was all done in 6 days! It was a whirlwind, to say the least.

When JP and I travel, we’re very used to leaving our hotel in the morning and maybe being gone all day – walking around, seeing the sights, stopping to eat whenever. Ya know, just basically being totally selfish with our time. And it’s awesome. But obviously, when you’re traveling with kids, it’s a different story. We’re on THEIR time and THEIR schedule. We had to plan our days around being able to spend some time back at our hotel in the afternoon so that our youngest could rest. We had to make a more solid plan of what we’d be doing while we were out so we could plan accordingly. Should we pack a change of clothes? Bring snacks? How far will we be walking? Will we need the stroller and will it be a pain to have with us? (Montreal had lots of cobblestone streets. Totally charming, but a big pain to push a stroller.) Are the places we’re going kid-friendly? Overall, there’s just a lot more to consider before walking out the door in the morning.

And obviously, there’s a lot less leisure time for things like reading books or taking luxurious hotel bubble baths. Womp womp.

But if you’re asking me if it’s worth it to expose my kids to something new and different, the answer is yes. One-thousand percent.

We want to foster a love for exploring in our children. We want them to be curious about other cultures and the way other people live. We want their passports filled with stamps and their hearts filled with memories . To us, it’s worth it to struggle through the inconveniences, knowing that we’re expanding their little minds and helping shape them into people that have a genuine fascination and care for the world around them.

And a funny thing happened. I felt like our kids formed a stronger bond with each other through their shared experiences. Our kids have always gotten along pretty well, but I felt like I could see them actually forming a really sweet friendship and it totally melted my heart.

Don’t get me wrong, JP and I will definitely still travel alone because it’s SO good and refreshing for us and our marriage. But I’m also looking ahead excitedly to our next whole-family adventure. <3

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A Day In The Windy City

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  • March 29, 2017

My sweet little Roarke David turned 4 last week. I tried my best to stop it, I told him he wasn’t allowed to get any older, but he went ahead and did it anyway. Rude.

Something that I’m a bit of a firm believer in is giving our kids experiences, rather than gifts. They have SO much stuff – in fact, I’m getting ready to do another purge – and in the end, I’d rather we make fun memories together than give him yet another toy that will be broken or lost in 6 months. For a brief second, we considered surprising him with a quick Disney World trip, but when we really started adding up the costs of said trip, it didn’t make that much sense to spend so much money for only a couple days. We’ll wait on that trip until we can really have the time to enjoy it!

So we settled on somewhere close by – Chicago! Our boy is OBSESSED with Lego’s and, as luck would have it, there’s a Legoland in Chicago so we knew it would be the perfect spot to celebrate him! And rather than just go up for the day, we decided to up the ante and just make a mini vacay of it.

Monday morning we set out on the 2 hour trek north. I know what you’re thinking – “Uhhhh, 2 hours is NOT a long trip, Dacia. It’s hardly a trek.” But with 2 kids and no TV (we took the Prius instead of the van to cut down on gas costs), it might as well have been the Iditarod Trail. And obviously, we had to stop halfway through to feed the little hyenas. We found the cutest little diner called Tyler’s Tender – it was the PERFECT spot for the kids. There was a huge electric train set up that they could watch endlessly, arcade games, and even a mini train that they could take a ride in. We’ll probably make this our permanent stopping point for trips to Chicago with the kiddos!

From there, we set out for Legoland. I don’t think I’ve ever heard the question “Are we there yet?” so much in my life. But eventually (after some rough Chicago traffic) we made it!

It happened to be Spring Break week, so it was fairly crowded. Pro tip: buy your tickets online in advance so you can skip the line. It’s not a huge place, but there’s some fun stuff to see inside. They had a replica of the entire Chicago shoreline built out of Lego’s – so impressive!

They also had a jungle area with life-size Lego animals, a Star Wars room, and several spots where you could just sit and build. I honestly think Roarke could’ve sat at one of those tables for 2 hours! Upstairs, they have a cafe and play area, along with a fun little 4D Lego movie. There are also a couple mini-rides you can do. And obviously, on your way out they have a store where you can buy Lego sets. Overall, it was a really great thing to do, especially with kids on the younger side. It wasn’t so big that we were exhausted by then end, but it was easy to spend a couple hours there and the kids really enjoyed it. They’ve already asked (several times) when we’re going back.

Afterwards, we loaded up and headed back into the city (Legoland is out in one of Chicago’s suburbs, so keep that in mind if you’re planning to travel there!) to our hotel. We stayed right downtown at a place called the Freehand. This place was SUPER cool. It’s basically an upscale hostel – you can rent out a single bed in one of their rooms for pretty cheap. We rented a whole room and the kids thought it was the coolest thing ever that we all had bunk beds!

The vibe at this place was amazing (they had lots of local events and meet-ups happening right in the hotel) and all the decor was totally on point.

That light. #allthehearteyes

The next morning we woke up and hit up one of our favorite donut spots: Stan’s Donuts. A definite must-try if you’re in the area! This activity was definitely kid (and parent) approved.

All in all, it was a successful little trip for us and there were lots of memories made. Believe it or not, this was our first overnight trip with just our little family of 4 (besides visiting family of course), so I was actually kind of anxious about it being a disaster, but JP and I both commented on what a pleasant day it was and how well the kids did for being totally off their schedules. I am SO glad we did this instead of buying Roarke a toy – I think it will be a birthday tradition!

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Adding The YOU To A Room

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  • March 12, 2015
Confession: sometimes I struggle with completing a room. I can hit all the major points: color scheme, furniture placement, rug, curtains, pillows…I can do that all day long. But then there are those items that really make the room feel ‘done.’ And more often than not, those items are the things that add YOU to the room. They tell your story and give a little insight to who you are.

One way I’ve found to add those touches to our home is through items picked up from our travels. And I’m not talking about shot glasses or key chains. I’m talking about meaningful souvenirs that you can display proudly and that bring to mind happy memories. I’ll show you a few examples from around our home.

On the shelves in our living room, live the little nesting egg dolls we picked up while in Russia. They complement the color scheme well and they add a whimsical touch to the vignette.

Adding The YOU To A Room | Lemon Drop Life
Adding The YOU To A Room | Lemon Drop Life
Recently I switched out a print in our stairway gallery wall for the one I picked up while we were in Scotland. I love walking by and seeing a reminder of our fun trip.

Adding The YOU To A Room | Lemon Drop Life
Also on our gallery wall is a fun little art piece I made using some leftover currencies from a few of our different trips (Costa Rica, Russia, Poland).
Adding The YOU To A Room | Lemon Drop Life

Hubby’s most recent trip was to Peru and he brought back an AMAZING tapestry (I’m not exactly sure what to call it) made completely of alpaca fur for Everly. He wasn’t exactly sure of its’ intended purpose – he said “maybe it can be a nice blanket for her to lay on”, but I turned it into a wall hanging and now it lives in Everly’s nursery. It filled a blank space I’d been struggling with perfectly, and I hope it’s something she’ll cherish forever.

Adding The YOU To A Room | Lemon Drop Life
Adding The YOU To A Room | Lemon Drop Life

And, just keep in mind, you don’t have to travel to exotic locations to pick up meaningful travel mementos. Collect cool looking rocks on your next walk with the kids or buy a fun print from a local artist. Important moments happen all the time and I guarantee you’ll love having the reminders in your home!

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Travel Guide: Scotland

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  • February 25, 2015

Happy Hump Day! This marks my first week back to work (boooooo!), so I’m pretty pumped that it’s halfway over! Last week, I shared my travel guide for London, and today I’m going to be sharing my travel guide for Scotland.

We spent 3 days in Scotland and actually got to see quite a fair bit. We flew into Edinburgh and spent a day there, then the next 2 days were spent driving around the Highlands and visiting various locations. When visiting Scotland, I would definitely recommend renting a car. The larger cities (ie., Edinburgh, Glasgow) have public transport, but it’s definitely not as convenient as it is in London. And definitely spring for the upgrade and get a GPS – it’s a lifesaver. I was actually pleasantly surprised with the weather considering how far north we went. I would periodically check on the weather back home and Indiana had far more snow, plus wickedly low wind chills.  For the most part it was mid 30’s – low 40’s while we were there and I was pretty comfortable walking around in a coat, scarf, and hat.


As I mentioned, we spent our first day/night in Edinburgh. We stayed at the Apex City Hotel (if you read my London recap, you’ll recognize this as the same chain of hotels we stayed at in London) in the Grassmarket area and it ended up being a great location. It was very near to a good selection of restaurants and shops, and it’s not a far walk to the Edinburgh Castle. If you visit this area, be sure to stop by The Red Door Gallery. It’s an adorable art boutique, and the perfect place to grab a souvenir! I grabbed this lovely print that showcases some of the business in the Grassmarket area:

Travel Guide: Scotland | Lemon Drop Life


After we left Edinburgh, we drove up to the Inverness area and we stayed at a B&B that was actually a recommendation from our pediatrician. And it did not disappoint! It’s called Antfield House and it was absolutely adorable! The owners were so friendly – we were the only ones staying there at the time (they actually opened up early for us; they’re normally closed from January until March!), and they were so accommodating. They upgraded us to a nicer room, cooked us an awesome breakfast spread, and gave us recommendations of places to eat and things to do. It’s a ways off the beaten path, but it’s in the most quaint setting. I SO wish we would have been there in the spring because I can’t imagine how gorgeous it would be with everything blooming!

Travel Guide: Scotland | Lemon Drop Life


You’ll find just as many pubs (if not more) in Scotland as in London. Our favorite was actually a recommendation from the owner of the B&B we stayed at. It was called The Dores Inn and it sits right on Loch Ness. Of course Jordan had to try haggis, a traditional Scottish dish, while we were there – if you don’t know what it is, well, I’m not going to be the one to tell you. I tried a little bite; it wasn’t nearly as bad as I was expecting. When we were in Edinburgh, we actually found a super tasty Mexican restaurant (like I said before, you can only eat fish n’ chips so many times) called Mariachi. It was a nice change of pace, for sure.


Edinburgh Castle – A must-see in Edinburgh. Also, this was the coldest I was during our entire trip. The castle is set up on a hill and it was windy as all get out, so if you’re going anytime but summer, dress warm! It was 16 pounds/person to get in (~$24), and that gets you access to the castle, which also has the National War Museum and Regimental Museums inside.

Travel Guide: Scotland | Lemon Drop Life

Travel Guide: Scotland | Lemon Drop LifeThis was the governor’s house – nice digs, no?

Scott Monument – If you’re a lover of gothic architecture, this is the monument for you. There are also platforms you can climb up to that give you great views of the city.

Royal Mile – This is basically the Main Street of Edinburgh and it’s a mile full of a restaurants and shops. If you’re looking to pick up some souvenirs, there are plenty of opportunities. Cashmere and wool are big exports in Scotland, so there’s lots of shops with scarves, hats, and suits. And, of course, there are plenty of places to pick yourself up a kilt. And they sell baby kilts! I was 5 seconds away from buying one for Roarke, but I couldn’t justify spending the money for something he would wear basically just to make me laugh and swoon. He makes me do that anyway.

Loch Ness – Obviously, you can’t go to Scotland without visiting Nessie. We stopped by the Loch Ness museum and they tried to explain it all away with science, but I’m not fooled. I know she’s out there. #ibelieve

Travel Guide: Scotland | Lemon Drop Life

There’s actually a guy that lives on the beach and has dedicated his whole life to hunting Nessie. I’m sure he’s not crazy at all.

Travel Guide: Scotland | Lemon Drop Life


Urquhart Castle – This castle is situated right on Loch Ness and has some pretty breathtaking views. I think tickets were about 10 pounds/person (~$15)

Highlands – Obviously, this is pretty vague because it encompasses a huge chunk of northern Scotland, but in general the area is breathtakingly beautiful. On our way back down to Edinurgh, we drove the A82 which essentially goes from Inverness down to Glasgow. The mountains, the lakes, the snow…it was all just gorgeous.

Travel Guide: Scotland | Lemon Drop Life

I didn’t edit that picture at all. I imagine it would be just as amazing in the summer, too. I would definitely recommend driving up north and taking in all the beauty!

That recaps all the things we saw in Scotland, overall it had a much more relaxed vibe than London so it was a nice breath of fresh air in the middle of our trip. One thing to note, though, if you’re visiting both countries in the same trip. While both countries use the pound, the Brits  and Scots each print their own (with their own respective political/royal figures and such), so there is a difference. We made an ATM withdrawal in Scotland and got a bunch of Scottish pounds and then when we went back to London, we discovered there was a difference. Luckily, most places took them (the only problem we encountered was the automated ticket machines in The Underground), but usually the business owners would give us a strange look like we had just handed them Monopoly money. So just be aware of that.

I loved our visit to the UK – there really was so much to see and do, and I feel like not having a language barrier really brought our stress levels down compared to other international travel we’ve done. Got specific questions? Feel free to leave them in the comments or shoot me an e-mail!

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Travel Guide: London

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  • February 20, 2015

If you follow me on Instagram (@lemondroplife), you know that a couple weeks ago JP and I took a little adventure to the UK. It. Was. Awesome. So I’m recapping the London portion of our travels for you today, and I’ll be posting a travel guide for Scotland next week!

First of all, winter is a great time to travel to Europe because it’s off-season and you can get some pretty great deals on flights and hotels. And with London being one of the most expensive cities in the world (seriously, the dollar-to-pound conversion totally. stinks. At the time we went, 1 pound = 1.54 US dollars, which is actually better than normal.) the off-season is a great time to go!


When we’re traveling we usually book all of our hotels through We’ve had really great experiences with them and have gotten to stay at some incredible hotels at discounted prices. For our first couple days in London, we stayed  at the Apex Temple Court Hotel, which was right off of Fleet Street. The hotel was upscale and absolutely fabulous – probably our favorite of the trip.

Travel Guide: London | Lemon Drop Life


For the last few days of our trip, we stayed at the Citadines Hotel near Trafalgar Square. Again, the hotel itself was very nice – the rooms are set up more like apartments for extended stays, complete with little kitchenettes. Honestly though, the staff were not the most helpful. Pretty much anytime we went to the desk to ask a question, they acted like we were inconveniencing them. The location, however, was absolutely superb. Literally, a 3-minute walk to the nearest Underground station – which brings me to my next point of discussion.

The Underground:

The Underground (or ‘tube’, as it’s more commonly known) is, hands down, the easiest way to get around the city. We flew into Heathrow and took the tube all the way into the city to the station nearest our hotel. Our plane got in around 7:30AM London time, so it did get quite crowded with people commuting to work, but other than that, it was a breeze. Every morning, we went to the nearest station and purchased an all-day travel pass (12 pounds/day; ~$18.50). It might seem intimidating at first, but it’s one of the easiest subway systems I’ve ever navigated – I promise, with the help of a little Underground station map, anyone can do it!

Travel Guide: London | Lemon Drop Life


Obviously, there are a lot of pubs in London. Like, A LOT. A couple we went to worth mentioning were The Swan (located in the Bloomsbury neighborhood) and The Sherlock Holmes Pub, which was right around the corner from the Citadines hotel. They both had great food and amazingly friendly staff. However, a girl can only have fish n’ chips so many times before her body starts to shut down from the carb overload.

Travel Guide: London | Lemon Drop Life


Indian food (one of my favorites) is highly popular in London, and we went to a restaurant called Masala Zone (there are several throughout the city) that was SO good. Seriously, we ended up going twice. We also went to a fun little pizza place called Franco Manca – the pizza tasted just like what I remember when I was in Italy! I’ll warn you, it’s a pretty popular place. There was a line outside the door when we got there, but it went fairly quickly.


There is an insane amount of things to do and see in London. We could’ve stayed another week and still had plenty to see. So let me run through the list of what we saw. (WARNING: it’s going to be a loooong list.)

St. Paul’s Cathedral – There was a charge to go in, so this was just one where we took a picture and went on our way.

Tower Bridge – Lots of good photo opportunities. You can go inside and tour it for around 10 pounds, I think. You’ll soon discover that there are a lot of sights that cost money, so you’ll want to pick and choose which ones are most important to you.

Travel Guide: London | Lemon Drop Life

Globe Theatre – Shakespeare’s famous playhouse. They actually still put on plays here, but only in the summer, since it’s an open-air theatre.

Travel Guide: London | Lemon Drop Life

Harrod’s – This is a shopping mall, on steroids. Eating a box of chocolates. At Disney World. That is to say, it’s INSANE. You’ll see shops from every designer you’ve ever heard of, and some you haven’t. Obviously, most everything there was way too expensive for us, but they do have a food section where you could pick up some gifts and make people think you’re rolling in the dough.

Travel Guide: London | Lemon Drop Life

Big Ben – Another photo opportunity. And, if you have time, I would recommend seeing it at both day and night. And make sure you go at the top of an hour so you can hear the bells chime – it’s pretty spectacular!

Travel Guide: London | Lemon Drop Life

British Museum – This one’s actually free. And HUGE. There is a whole lotta history to take in here, so if you’re the kind that likes to read and see everything, you could easily spend an entire day here.

Madame Tussaud’s – There are so many wonderful historic things to see in London, so I am somewhat ashamed to say I was a little giddy to see this one. What is it about wax figures of celebrities that make people go into a duck-faced, posing, selfie frenzy?? I’m not sure, but I was right there with them. And, let me say, some of these wax figures look scary-real. Like, I was pretty sure Benedict Cumberbatch was going to come to life at any moment. (Which would have been AWESOMEEEE.) This one cost 20 pounds/person (~$30), but we ended up buying bundled tickets for this and the London Eye that gave us a bit of a discount on each attraction.

Travel Guide: London | Lemon Drop LifeWe look nice together, no?

Piccadilly Circus – This is kind of the like the Times Square of London – big digital advertisements and street performers everywhere. I would recommend this one at night.

Westminster Abbey – The site of royal coronations and weddings. Unfortunately, it was closed on the day we went for a church service, so make sure you check beforehand whether it’s open. If I remember correctly, it’s 20 pounds/person (~$30) to go inside.

Travel Guide: London | Lemon Drop Life

London Eye – Basically, a huge ferris wheel that gives you an amazing view of London. We did it at night and it was absolutely incredible. I have a thing about heights (in a nutshell, I crumble onto the floor like a small child), but I still really enjoyed it.

Travel Guide: London | Lemon Drop Life

Travel Guide: London | Lemon Drop Life

Hyde Park – It was rainy and cold the day we walked through, but if you go in the summer, I’m guessing Hyde Park would be absolutely beautiful. The Princess Diana Memorial Fountain is also located here.

Buckingham Palace – Obviously, one of the most famous sights to see while in London. They do the changing of the guard every day at 11:30AM, and if you want to see it, I suggest getting there at least 30 minutes early. We got there around 11:10, and there was already a huge crowd. You can book tours, but they only offer them at certain times so you’ll want to check on it beforehand.

Travel Guide: London | Lemon Drop Life

Imperial War Museum – This one is free as well, and it’s an excellent museum. It’s very interactive, so if you have school-age children, this might be a good one. They have exhibits for World War I and II, as well as the Holocaust.

Phantom of the Opera – One thing there’s no shortage of in London is Broadway shows. We chose to see the Phantom of the Opera – neither of us had seen it before, and it seemed like something ‘classic’ to see while we there. We purchased tickets while we were there, and we got a pretty good deal – about 42 pounds/person (~$65). Our seats were pretty good, and the theatre was only about 75% full. The show was fantastic and the music was incredible!

Travel Guide: London | Lemon Drop Life

Tower of London – I think this one was around 20 pounds/person (~$30), but there’s a lot to see inside, including the Crown Jewels.

Travel Guide: London | Lemon Drop Life

Borough Market – Surprisingly, this ended up being one of our favorite stops. It’s a large market with dozens of food vendors – we had lunch here twice. And I’m not ashamed to say that the second day, my lunch consisted of a freshly baked loaf of rosemary focaccia bread and a heavenly almond croissant. #fattiemuch?

Travel Guide: London | Lemon Drop Life

Phew. I think that exhausts the list of things we saw while we were there. We had very full days trying to see everything we wanted to, so I would definitely recommend wearing comfortable shoes and keep the things you’re carrying to a minimum. I carried a small cross body bag and a small backpack (this one), which held my nice camera. It worked out really well; I think the backpack was one of my smartest purchases and can easily be used for future travels.

I enjoyed London so much; if you’re looking for a taste of Europe without worrying about a language barrier, this is the spot for you! It’s definitely a place I would like to visit again in the future!

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A Little Map Action

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  • January 24, 2013

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.


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 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

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Travel Guide: Prague

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  • March 31, 2012

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.


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’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?

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Travel Guide: Latvia

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  • March 31, 2012

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 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!

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Travel Guide: Russia

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  • March 27, 2012

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 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’s just outside Red Square.

Lenin’s tomb

The famous St. Basil’ 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 was too big. It weighs 40 tons!

This is the Tsar’s 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!


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Travel Guide: Poland

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  • March 27, 2012

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!