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Adrienne

    Explore: Portugal

    May 16, 2018

    The next stop in the whirlwind tour of Europe was Portugal! To be honest with you, I didn’t know much about Portugal. But so many people that I knew that traveled there had such great experiences that we added it to our trip!

    Day 1

    We landed in Portugal in the early afternoon and ended up taking a cab to our Airbnb. Our Airbnb was this cute cheery apartment in the older part of Lisbon, with an upstairs loft. FYI, most staircases in Europe are narrow and don’t have elevators, so if you do get an Airbnb be prepared to lug your suitcase up some stairs.

    We were starving and wanted to find some good food fast. We went to A Cevicheria, Kiko Martin’s restaurant, and the food was delicious, fresh and flavorful, particular standouts, were the ceviche with mango foam and grilled octopus, slightly chewy with a slight sweetness to it. The staff was friendly and helpful with recommendations and pairings.


    We then went for delicious gelato. Passionfruit is a popular flavor in Portugal, get it! It’s so fresh and delicious

    We then went walked around to a square to explore Lisbon, and Lisbon has HILLS, and lots of them, the streets are narrow, and hilly, so bring comfortable shoes and prepare for a good workout.

     

    We then went to Timeout, time out is a food hall of carefully chosen pop ups to present the best of what Portugal has to offer and doubles as a music hall to showcase different musical acts.

    Timeout market can be overwhelming, when we went in the evening, it was in full swing, bustling and CROWDED.  There’s also so many delicious stalls that it’s hard to make a decision. We finally decided on fish and chips and it was fresh and the batter light. Seating can be difficult  when it’s busy as it’s first come first serve.

    The next day we started out at Copehagen Coffee Lab. This cute cafe, has fresh homemade bread and delicious coffee. The bread was thick chewy, studded with seeds perfect with butter and jam.

     

    We then went to Santa Maria de Belem and Belem tower. It’s the parish and its respective fortified tower, the towers dating all the way back to the 16th century.

    Next was Pasteis de Belem to try the famed, “pasteis de nata.” Pasteis de nata is an egg tart, akin to a Chinese egg tart, but, the crust is crispier and flakier, the custard creamier and slighty sweeter and SO DELICIOUS. There is usually a long line, but it moves quickly. You can choose to get the tarts either to go or to eat at the restaurant. I suggest eating at the restaurant, it’s a big and airy room with yummy food and coffee. Use the cinnamon and powdered sugar shakers to liberally sprinkle your egg tarts. A generous sprinkling of cinnamon somehow makes it even more delicious!

    We then headed over to LX factory, the art district of Lisbon, housed in an industrial complex it’s filled with retailers, unique restaurants and pieces of artwork and sculptures on walls makes it unique and also very instagrammable.

    Here are a few of the places we found.

    Nanarella near our Airbnb has the BEST gelato

    Day 3

    The last day we took a tour to Sintra, it’s a town with lavish palaces and natural beauty. Our tour guide said that because of it’s hotter weather and natural beauty, the noblemen in Europe would build big summer mansions. All of the mansions are in different style reflective of the styles of noblemen’s countries in Sintra. It was nice to get out of Lisbon and see a different part of Portugal, get away from the city and experience more of the natural beauty. We then went to Cascais a picturesque town along the coast, with it’s sunny blue skies, and sails boats dotting the water, it’s a great escape from Lisbon. It has a cute  downtown square full of shops and restaurants.

    (pic 28)

    Cascais

    Off to Spain next!

    Explore: Paris

    May 2, 2018

    Four countries in 15 days, sounds crazy, and it was, but it was so fun, fulfilling and memorable. What I love about traveling is it helps you gain more perspective and really helps to get you out of your own head sometimes. I also do feel you get a bit wiser each time. No matter how well you plan your trip, there are always a few curveballs.

    To help organize our trip, we did quite a bit of planning beforehand. We made an itinerary as we had a lot to pack in into the 3 days we were here and pre-booked a lot of the things we wanted to see, which was great at providing structure to our days.

    First stop Paris!

    Day 1

    Day one we hit the ground running. When we got to Paris, we compared prices to get to our Airbnb, a taxi to the city center was going to be 50 euros, by subway 11 euros. We decided to take the subway to give us a chance to familiarize ourselves with the subway system as that would we our main form of transportation.  

    We dropped out stuff off at the aribnb, and went to our first stop,  Arc de Triomphe. It stands as monument for those that fought and died in the French Revolution and Napoleans’ wars. It is a beautiful structure, in the middle of a busy traffic circle, and, as you would expect extremely crowded.

     

    Our next stop, just a bit further down was Champs de Elysee, probably the most famous tree lined, 1.2 mile stretch of cafés, theaters and luxury shopping.

    It’s Paris. It’s beautiful, chic and full of a bustling energy of one of the metropolitan cities of the world. Even if shopping isn’t your thing, it’s worth walking in the luxury stores because it all starts here. For most of these luxury brands, these stores are their flagship stores and it’s an experience in itself to walk in and experience where it all starts Particularly, Chanel and Louis Vuitton stood out for their beautiful window and floor displays.

     

    We then went to the Eiffel Tower, I would highly recommend getting skip the line tickets. The line was long and with tickets the line would have been at least 2 hours.  Our tickets also came with tour guide, who provided informative and color commentary about the Eiffel tower and its visitors. If you want to take pictures, it’s a good idea to get there early before your ticket time approach the park through the Champ de Mars, a large park that will give you a beautiful view and photos of the Eiffel tower.

    We booked out tickets right as the sun was setting, and I would highly suggest it. The Eiffel tower at night when the lights are shining, is breathtaking and has to be seen, it sparkles.


    Day 2

    Our day started off  bright and early with a trip to Chateau de Versaille and it’s garden. It’s about a 40 mintute subway ride from Paris. We again, went with skip the line tickets. Which we’re glad we did. The line was MASSIVE at 8 am in on a Snday morning, with wait times of approximately 3 hours. The price difference between tickets was I believe $40 dollars, but we were able to skip the line and it included a guided tour of the garden and a self guided tour of Chateau de Versaille. We enjoyed the tour guide as he was well versed on the life of King Louie XVI.  King Louis XVI’s identity was greatly tied to Versaille, and it’s beauty and size were intentional. It was meant to house all the nobles of Frances; to allow him to have grand parties but also to keep an on them.

    In early April, the gardens were just waking up from their deep winter slumber, an the best time to see the gardens in all their glory would be summer, when everything is in full bloom.

    The Chataeu is a study in excess and beauty. Everything was ornate, gilded in gold and no expense was spared to build this mini city. The chateau could hold approximately 3,000 people to give an idea of the size of the chateau.

    An interesting tidbit from our guide, every June there is a masked ball in Versaille, where everyone dresses in period costume of King Louie XVI and a highly sought after ticket.

     

    Next, it was off to the Catacombs. The subway in Paris is fairly easy to navigate, especially because we had a pocket wifi to help us navigate, but make sure you get their map, and utilize the information desk at the subway. They usually speak English and are a great resource in figuring out which lines to take.

    The catacombs, were one of the most memorable places we visited in Paris, it’s slightly macabre, so if this doesn’t appeal to you; I would skip it. The catacombs are underground ossuaries that were created to address the overflowing cemeteries in Paris, with the remains of more than 6 million people resting there. It’s eerily beautiful, with the femurs and skulls artistically placed, lining the walls and even arranged into heart shapes and barrel of bones. It’s dark and the ceilings are low, really making it seem other worldy, and for me slightly claustrophobic.

     

    Day 3

    We started the day at Louvre again bright and early. The Louvre is artwork in itself, with it’s two glass pyramids, that offer natural light into the museum. We again chose an early ticket time 9:00 am and we were happy to have done so, because the line was long, for people waiting to buy tickets. Must sees at the Louvre, include obviously the Mona Lisa, the staircase of the Winged Victory of Samothrace, the Virgin of the Rocks and the wedding at Cana.

    Then we went to Ladurée, Ladurée, is quintessentially Paris, and their mint green exterior and the colorful macaron trees are akin to something out of Alice in Wonderland. The macarons are undeniably delicious. We tried a few macrons (okay, a lot) and we can confidently say these are the best. Are favorite by far were the salted caramel, vanilla and pistachio.

     

    Our last stop was to head to Le mur des je t’aime, a wall filled of “I love you,” at the bottom of Montmartre. It’s a charming art district in Paris, at the top is the Sacré-Coeur Basilica, that offers an amazing view of the city. You can choose to take the funicular to the top or walk to the top. It’s a beautiful view from at the top  where you can see the Eiffel tower, and I think a great way to end the trip. Paris.


     

    Au revoir, on to Portugal!

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    Fashion: Travel and Shoes

    March 16, 2018

    Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Style Approximately may be compensated in exchange for featured placement of certain sponsored products and services, or your clicking on links posted on this website. We are independently owned and the opinions expressed here are our own.

    I’m going on a long trip very soon. I’ll fill all of you in all the details at a later time, but one of the hardest things for me to do is to pare down my shoe collection. I try to pack light…for all the snacks and treasures I find abroad.
    I love shopping at Nordstrom as they have everything I need and are always on top of the latest fashion trends, designers, and brands (Hello Everlane!).I’m also a big fan of their free shipping and their generous return policy. Nordstrom started out as a shoe department, so I knew I was pretty set in my search.

    I’ve pared down a list of 6 shoes that I feel are versatile and useful for my travels as I will be doing a lot of walking in different terrain and weather. Check out a few of my favorites, and if you find any shoes that would go great with traveling, let me know!

    The Adidas NMD R1 STLT Primeknit Sneakers (pictured above) are pretty, aren’t they? They’re the perfect sneakers for traveling. They’re light and the upper material is knit, which I love not only for the aesthetics, but especially for traveling when feet can swell. These can be used not only for walking around the city but for engaging in a more serious workouts. The style of these sneakers add a much welcome pop to an all black outfit.

    I always like to bring a casual sneaker to simplify my look. It’s versatile in that I can wear it with jeans, shorts, skirts and dresses. I’ve always been a fan of Superga because of their clean design and how comfortable they are. I’m a sucker for the grey ones.

    I think booties have do be one of the most versatile pair of shoes. They can elevate a pair of jeans and ground a pair of shorts. They can also provide some edge to a sweet and delicate dress. The heel of the Blondo Victoria Cutout Bootie is walker friendly with a 2 inch heel. These are also waterproof which I have found to be so important when travelling. There have been one too many times have I been caught in a rainstorm with sneakers that became soaked, or booties that kept my feet dry but the 3 inch heel make it uncomfortable to walk for long distances. These boots are the best of both worlds and black is the perfect neutral.

    For those nights out or those day trips that require a little dressing up, I like to bring a low heeled block sandal. The Bella Vita Fitz Block heel sandal is a gorgeous shoe that will go well wherever you travel. With a heel height of 2 inches, a flattering ankle strap, and a transparent inset for the block heel, these will keep you steady on cobblestones and dancing all night without having to take them off.

    Sandals are the ultimate vacation shoe, and the Mayari’ Birko-Flor is your happy travel companion. Birkenstocks are famous for being comfortable and this style adds a feminine twist to the sandals. Your feet will be happy exploring with these on.

    Loafers are a nice addition for traveling as they add polish to any outfit especially jeans. If you’re going to somewhere a little dressier in the daytime it’s a nice to have a pair of these on hand. The Gucci Brixton Convertible Loafer is classic and can be also worn as a mule to get more looks out of this shoe.

    I hope you find this useful, let me know what shoes are on your “must list”, when you travel!

    Oahu Guide Part 5: First Timer Tips

    March 7, 2018

    Since this was my first time in Oahu, I wanted to share a few tips and tricks that I learned along the way. Ready? Let’s go!

    My family and I wanted our first time in Oahu to include all of the tourist points but also have time for hikes since we enjoy being outdoors. Touristy stuff tends to be more expensive so we ended up buying the Go Oahu card through Costco. You have the option of buying the card on the Go Oahu website, but buying it through Costco gives you the option of a having the pass for a 4th day. At $154.00, it’s a great deal! The card also has a list of every popular attraction and hike so it’s a great way to plan your day.

    We mapped out each attraction we wanted to see and created an itinerary based on proximity of each attraction to each other. 

    Hikes

    The Diamond Head Hike is the most popular hike in Hawaii at 1.3 miles, it’s considered a moderate to easy hike. It’s paved and there are clearly marked rails on either side.  We did an early morning tour that met at 6:30 to catch the sunrise at Diamond Head, thinking it would be less crowded. It’s actually pretty crowded, and you take your own pace, but be mindful that the crowd is moving at pretty quickly. There are two paths you can take. There’s the easier route, which is more of a gradual incline, or you can take the other path which is steeper with more steps and a sharp incline. To watch the sunrise at the top of Diamond Head is a beautiful experience.

     

    We also did the Kuliouou Ridge Hike, a 5 mile hike that offers a lot of switchbacks and an opportunity to see the ever changing greenery of Hawaii. It’s considered a moderate to easy hike depending on which trail you take. With the valley head trail being the easier of the two. We probably went 2 miles in before we started heading back. We also weren’t prepared for the mosquitoes! It’s set pretty deep into the valley, and we were getting bitten so much that we had to turn back. Lesson learned: don’t forget your bug spray and sunscreen.

    The Makapuu Lighthouse Trail is a quick 2.0 mile trail considered easy to moderate. It does get pretty high up there with an elevation of 500 ft. But the trail is paved and the elevation is a pretty gradual rise until you get to the top. The view of the ocean are spectacular, and you get to see some old military pillboxes. The lighthouse is visible but unable to get to, due to a fence protecting the path.

    The Polynesian Cultural Center

    The Polynesian Cultural Center is a themed park in Laie, Hawaii and is a must stop for first time tourist. The center has 6 different areas to visit: Hawaii, Samoa, Fiji, Tahiti, Tonga, Marquesas Island and Aoterora or what we call now “New Zealand.” Each of the islands have their own cultural themes and activities. These include movie theaters, fire throwing, palm tree weaving, a show with a boat ride, and canoe rides. We wandered around for a bit waiting for the luau to start.

    The food was plentiful and it was good. It has the usual Hawaiian faire: imu pork, lomi lomi salmon, poke, poi, macaroni salad, and other various Polynesian dishes. The show that accompanies the luau was fun, it has people showcasing different dances of Polynesian culture like Hula, Tahitian, and Warrior dances

    If you want to experience a luau and a chance to visit the PCC to explore the villages, I would suggest making the PCC a whole day affair.

    Pearl Harbor

    We went checked out the USS Arizona, and the site of Pearl Harbor. My dad was in the Navy and wanted to take the chance to pay my respects to site and take a moment to reflect on what happened at Pearl Harbor and to make sure we don’t repeat he mistakes of our past.

    It’s beautiful and haunting with the memorial of all the names of people lost.

    Make sure when you go that you should bring a small wallet sized bag. Otherwise, leave it in your car or rent a locker. They’re pretty strict about it.

    Scuba Diving

    My sister and I have never been snorkeling and we thought what more a perfect place to try it then in Honolulu. We found this excursion through viator.com. It was a perfect first experience! We met our instructor Stephen at Ala Moana regional park. He was kind and patient, giving us a rundown of the equipment as well as tips for your first time. The area he picked seemed to be pretty popular spot for lessons as we saw other people taking scuba diving lessons as well. He provided the wetsuit, flippers, and snorkeling gear as well as taking go pro footage of my sister and I as we snorkeled amongst the fish. The area that we snorkeled was perfect for first timers as it wasn’t too deep. Stephen was great as an instructor, and we would definitely come back to try the scuba diving!

    Leonard’s Malasadas

    Leonard’s Malasadas is the spot for delicious made to order Portuguese donuts with various fillings. There usually is a line but it moves quick! Be sure to check out their specials. We loved the haupia custard filling. 

    My family and I greatly enjoyed our first time in Hawaii. The things we did offered a chance to explore the popular sights of Hawaii. The Hawaiian hospitality was in full display during all our visit, everyone was friendly and quick to help advice on can’t miss sights and how to explore each attraction.

    One thing I would say is that Oahu definitely has some serious rush hour traffic so to maximize your time, clustering your attractions together would be helpful to cut your time sitting in traffic.

    Make sure you look at a map of the whole island to get an idea of where everything is to familiarize yourself with the layout of the island. Doing that before hand really helped us to plan our days so we could get the most out of each day. If it’s your first time in Oahu, I greatly suggest investing in the Go Oahu card. It really helped plan my trip so that I can relax and enjoy what Oahu has to offer. 

    Oahu Guide Part 1: Kualoa Ranch

    February 27, 2018

    Hawaii! This trip was my very first time to Oahu. And when it’s my first time traveling to a new place I like to do all that touristy stuff. I mean, there is a reason why everyone goes there right?

    Our first stop was Kualoa Ranch, a beautiful nature reserve about 24 miles from Honolulu​. It’s natural beauty has made it the perfect backdrop for countless movies and TV shows such as Jumanji, 50 first Dates, Jurassic Park, the Karate Kid, Lost, and Hawaii 5-0 which is still being filmed in Oahu.

    It seemed like a must see for tourists in Oahu. The ranch offers a host of activities meant to take advantage of the expanse and beauty of the reserve. There was so much to do that we divided our activities throughout our entire trip.

    They offer several tours such as a Movie Ranch tour, Jungle tour, and Catamaran tour. You can also ride ATVs or go on horseback. The first activity we did was the Movie Ranch Tour. You hop on an old school bus and the tour guides points out where various movies were filmed. There are a couple stops where you’re able to get off the bus to explore. I remember seeing the bunker where episodes of “Lost” were filmed, and also feeling like I was actually in Jurassic Park.

    On the second day, we were supposed to do the Jungle Ranch Tour. Unfortunately, we were late, and were unable to hop on that tour. I suggest making reservations in advance. A week before our trip it was easy enough to call to book for the times and tours we wanted. However, if you don’t check in 15 minutes prior to your reservation, they will give it away.

    Instead, we went ATV riding. The raptor ATVs  allows you to ride with several people in the ATVs as opposed to individually. It was the best way to explore Kualoa Ranch, as the open structure of the ATV, paired with the ability to drive through the ranch with the tour guide gave you a more intimate look of Kualoa.  It poured that day, but that didn’t stop the tour from happening and actually made it more fun! They provide ponchos to keep your clothes dry, but riding around in ATVs in warm rain, and going through puddles through the beautiful terrain was an unforgettable experience.

    Kualoa Ranch in recent years has also taken to developing parts of Kualoa ranch to not only be self-sustaining but to sustain Hawaii as well. It is an active ranch, with handlers cultivating different crops, like Cacao, and taking care of the fish and cows to ensure Hawaii continues to thrive well into the future.

    I was in awe of this experience. I didn’t think a place this beautiful existed. It never got old for me. I went there 3 times and I couldn’t get enough of it. Kualoa Ranch is a must visit in Oahu.