Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Packing light tips

I have one more day in my Europe 2012 post, but I've been talking to a lot of friends about packing light and wanted to do a post about that.

packing light is fun!

It might come as a surprise to people - but for busy travel where we are moving around a lot, I do carry on luggage only.  That has included a Europe trip and our most recent three-week Asia trip.

However, I do think there are some trips that are perfectly fine for checking luggage, especially when you are staying in one place for a long amount of time or can share a large checked bag with your travel partner.  But the packing light tips below will still be applicable - less weight for your rolling luggage and more room for travel souvenirs on your way home.

I take a lot of thought into packing to make the most of my luggage space and here are some of my best tips:


  • I always use packing cubes, roll up your clothes for maximum space and they are less likely to wrinkle
  • The hardest part for doing a carry-on only is the liquid rule.  To make for a little more space, I bring face wipes instead of liquid face wash.  More room for other important liquids.
  • My friend Hitha runs a great blog that focuses on packing and she gave me a great tip about the 3 shoes rule.  No more than 3 pairs of shoes - ever.  She has a lot of great tips that have helped me over the years!
  • Plan out your packing in advance so you aren't throwing things in your suitcase last minute and over packing. There are a lot of good packing checklists on the internet that can help you out too.
  • I try not to pack "outfits," but pieces that will mix and match well.  A good pair of black pants like my favorite J.Crew ones will pair with a lot of tops and work for day sightseeing or a nice dinner
  • And always remember, most places you are travelling to - you can buy what you need there if you forget it
  • Shop the travel size section for products, I've noticed in recently years more brands are going with smaller packaging for travel


Hope these tips help and inspire some of your to pack a few pounds lighter on your next trip.  As Rick Steves says, keep on travelling!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Published photographer!

A small moment of excitement/bragging - I am now a (paid!) published photographer of an in-flight magazine, Air Canada's En Route Magazine

Philopappou Hill featured in Air Canada's April edition of En Route Magazine

A few months ago the photo editor found this picture on my blog that I took in Athens in 2011 (link to post here) and asked to publish it for their April 2014 issue which I of course said yes!  A link to the magazine is below and I even get photo credit! I'm very excited!

Here is a link to the online magazine:  http://issuu.com/spafax/docs/enroute_avril_2014/43?e=2135800%2F7277490


Saturday, March 8, 2014

Europe 2012 day 13: Vienna, Austria

The next morning (Sept. 16, 2012) we said goodbye to the cute town of Hallstatt and on to Vienna.

The famous Vienna Opera House at night

It was a beautiful blue-sky day and the train ride was lovely!

Train view



Our last train ride of the trip

We found our hotel (after walking in the wrong direction from the train station), got settled in and made our way into the center of town to see the sights and grab some food.  Rick Steves of course helped us along the way, including his awesome audio-tour!


St. Stephen's Cathedral
St. Stephen's Cathedral


Gelato stop at Zanoni & Zanoni




Hoffburg Palace

Hoffburg Palace
Vienna Opera House
Vienna at night
At St. Peter's they were doing a free organ concert so we sat in there for a little bit - in a city famous for it's music it seemed like the right thing to do. 

St. Peter's
Later than night we had a yummy dinenr at Reinthaler's Beisl, and then witnessed a cool thing at the Vienna Opera House.  Tickets are really expensive (although we scored some cheap seat tickets for the next, more on that later) so the opera house sets out chairs an a big screen to watch the show for free.  We sat for a bit and watched Arabella (we could't even get tickets if we wanted to becasue Nick was wearing shorts - strict dress code).

Arabella on the outdoor big screen at the Vienna Opera House
Next stop: a final day in Vienna for the trip home!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Winter catch-up

Time to bounce back into present day..

Nick and I got a couple of ski days in recently.  We went one day with my brother, he is in the red below, and is way better than I am.



The big news (that yes happened a long time ago) was that the Seattle Seahawks are SuperBowl champions!  The city was so crazy and everyone was so excited!  We went to a SuperBowl party at our friend's houe, had our annual flip cup game of girls vs. guys - and girls won again!


A few days later we went to the celebration parade (along with 700,000 other people!) and saw the Lombardi Trophy in person!


Did some fun wine tasting with friends.





And of course loved the Oscar and all the dresses!  I won the poll at our party and got a super close second place in our work poll.  The winner got 173 points and I got 172 - so close!


Monday, February 17, 2014

Europe 2012 day 12: Hallstatt, Austria

Back to blogging....

The next morning (Sept. 15, 2012) we were packing up to go to the small lake town of Hallstatt.  We loved Salzburg so much we were thinking of skipping our stop in Hallstatt and just stay in Salzburg an extra day.



But ultimately we decided to stick with our original plans.  We said goodbye to Salzburg with a trip to the Abbey where the real Maria lived for a short time, grabbed some breakfast at the outdoor market and then made our way to the train station.

When we arrived at Hallstatt we realized there was no station - literally just a platform where you hop off - (did I mention it's a small town).  And the train "station" is actually across the lake from the town of Hallstatt.  So there is a little ferry boat that is timed with the arriving train to take you into the town.  Its just a little 5 minute boat ride, and a way for all the locals to see who is arriving in their sleepy little town.





View of the train "station".  The yellow spot is the platform and the little boat is what takes you into the town



Hallstatt is as postcard-perfect as you think it is. It's fairly vertical - much of the housing is built up into the hillside, so you get a good view of everything.

Basically our day in Hallstatt was very laid back, just enjoying the small town.  Very relaxing indeed!



The town square




Waterfall that sits above the town







We had Italian food for dinner (which was a nice change of pace) and then went to the Heritage Hotel and Café/Bar for dessert.

We almost skipped this beautiful little town and I'm so glad we didn't!

Next stop - Vienna!


Friday, February 7, 2014

Nick's dad

I've obviously taken a little bit of a blog break and that is because we've had some sad few weeks in our household.
On Jan. 24 Nick's father passed away after a 5 month battle with cancer. He will forever be missed and I will always be grateful for the man he helped raise Nick to be. We've been really touched by the kind words, thoughts and prayers and have felt lifted up during this hard time by wonderful family and friends.

A GlassyBaby our friends gave us in the "remembrance" color

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Europe 2012 day 11: Part 2: Salzburg, Austria

Continuing on after the Sound of Music Tour post, part two of Salzburg, Austria



After the tour (still on Sept. 14, 2012), we walked south past the Salzburg Cathedral to see the St. Peter's cemetery.  This was the inspiration for the scene in the Sound of Music when they are getting looked for before escaping, but it was filmed on a sound stage, not here.



Salzburg Cathedral

In Salzburg they love the Sound Of Music and Mozart - he is everywhere.  Even more so than the Sound Of Music.  Mozart was born here and there are Mozart candy shops and knick-knacks with his picture everywhere.



 Then went up to the fortress that overlooks the city. The castle grounds themselves are impressive - and seemed very "Game of Thrones" (which we had just started on this trip)!  The views from the top of the fortress were fantastic!  And the beautiful blue sky certainly helped.





Inside the fortress area


After the castle we saw there was a little trail that would take us to the Augustiner cloister and brewery at the other end.  The walk was pretty (about 1.5 miles) and gave lots of great views of the town from above.  We love this city!





We finally arrived at the Augustiner Braustubl. This was Nick's favorite restaurant/beer garden of the trip, so glad we went there. The brewery was founded by Augustinian monks in 1621 and this is their old monastery, so the building is really neat. There are four or five big beerhall rooms inside, along with a miniature strip mall of all kinds of picnicky food, and outside is a huge chestnut-tree-shaded area with hundreds of picnic tables.





The best part is the beer: you grab an earthenware liter stein from a big shelf, rinse it out at a little fountain, pay the lady at the counter, and take your receipt to the guy with the huge cask, where he fills it up for you.

The outside eating area is very relaxing and apparently you are free to bring your own food as long as you buy beer.






Nick liked this place so much that I bought one of their mugs as a take-home souvenir.


We then headed back to the hotel to freshen up then walked around the city at night.




I would say this was probably one of my favorite days of the trip - it was going to be very hard to say goodbye to Salzburg.  Bu up next was the small lake town of Hallstat, Austria!

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