Travel

Banff…pt.4

September 15, 2019

And some iPhone photos…..

Day 1: We drove straight to rive Yoho National Park. A vibrant and quiet little lake off to the side of all the national parks (Yoho is actually part of British Columbia while most of Banff is all Alberta) 

Then we headed to Fairmont lake Louise to have a formal dinner at the Fairview restaurant which is new to the Fairmont hotel. We opted to have dinner in the bar area instead of the formal dining room. I was obsessed with the bar decor. Our drink recommendation is the milk punch which is not officially on the menu as of now but is such a tasty treat. It taste like a pina colada shot. 

Day 2: Breakfast at Trailhead Cafe which had great bagel sandwiches and vegan granola bars!!! Then headed to Moraine Lake…this is the most tricky lake at Banff. To get a parking spot you need to get there before 5am. We enjoyed canoeing on the lake for an hour. 

Our next lake was Peyto lake. Its a bit of a hike but once you hit first viewpoint, don’t stop. Keep taking the path to the left and then take your first dirt parth on your right going down. This takes you to an unmarked but amazing viewport that’s way less crowded. 

Day 3 

  • Takakkaw falls. This is a nice and easy flat 15 min walk to the falls from the car park. 
  • Lake Minnewanka and two jack lakes are also great day trip place for all things water sports. People bring canoes and stand up paddle boards to two jack lake and Lake Minnewanka is perfect for boats. 

For dinner we went into Banff town for the most amazing food of the entire trip. We ate at The Bison restaurant which is a wonderful locally sourced seasonal menu place that specialized in bison. Make sure to make reservations ahead a time for this gem. Our order was Elk Poutine for a starter and then our Mains were Bison short ribs, Ribeyes and stiploins and truly some of the best meat I have ever had!!! 

While this was my 4th time in Banff, it was just as magical as the first time..I highly recommend this place as one of my top destinations in the world!! 

Travel

Bangkok, Thailand

September 15, 2019

Our final stop in Asia was Bangkok. We were limited on time so we visited the two most popular temples. Was Arun and Wat Benchamabophit. While we enjoyed both of them, it was extremely touristy and we preferred the areas like Chiang Rai much better.

Travel

Bali

August 22, 2019
From Chiang Mai we took a flight to Bali with a quick layover in Bangkok.

Sadly when we got to Bali our “luxury” vila we rented ended up being not what we expected. We stayed for just enough time to book a wonderful hotel just a few miles away. This was the biggest blessing in disguise. Hanging Gardens Of Bali was truly a remote jungle paradise. We ended up with one of the furthest villas that had lots of monkey visitors. The staff and food were wonderful as well. The only downside is that its a big mission getting from your villa to the reception area and then to Ubud city. We ended up going into Ubud everyday (about a 35 minute drive each way) via the hotels small shuttle car to each lunch and shop in the city and then come back to the hotel for dinner. Our favorite lunch spot in Ubud was Clear Cafe. We ended up going there 3 times and loved every meal!!!!
Swings and Nests are set up all over Bali and are extremely touristy but make for some photos. We visited Aloha Ubud
Enjoying a floating lunch in our villa…what a view!!!! We loved the main hotels pool pictured above but preferred to stay in our own pool and watch the monkeys in the trees.
Bali is filled with tons of beautiful waterfalls but since its such a hassle driving we opted to only visit one. This is Leke Leke which is about 1.5 hours away.
On one of our last days we visited KAVERI SPA which is located at The Udaya Resort. We enjoyed a couples massage and a beautiful flower bath.

While Thailand is filled with rich history and stunning temples, I loved Bali the most. The people are kind, they are very eco friendly and the temperature is way less humid. I would definitely love to return!!!

Travel

Chiang Mai, Thailand

August 22, 2019
Before leaving Chiang Rai we hired a driver to take us on the very bumpy 4 hour journey to our next city. Chiang Mai, which is the largest city in Northern Thailand.

We stayed at The Anantara hotel which was tied as our favorite hotel of the trip (just wait till you see our bali hotel!!!)
Places to visit in Chiang Mai:

Wat Phra Singh Woramahawihan
Wat Sri Suphan  also known as The Silver Temple
Wat Chedi Luang
Don’t forget to visit a street market while in Chiang Mai. The weekend ones are best. There are lots of food vendors and souvenirs.
Below are a few iPhone photos from our time at Anantara Chiang Mai Resort. Its very rare that I fully recommend and want to stay at a specific hotel again and this is definitely one of them. We loved the room, the grounds, the service and THE SERVICE 1921 RESTAURANT & BAR was amazing.
Travel

Chiang Rai, Thailand

August 22, 2019

First stop on our summer adventure in Asia is CHIANG RAI. To get here we had to fly Los Angeles > Tokyo > Bangkok > Chiang Rai. About 30 hours of travel. This is a pretty small city mainly known for the White Temple and the Blue Buddha Temple. 

Where we stayed: The Riverie by Katathani 

What to visit: Wat Rong Khun otherwise known as The white temple. This was the number one reason we ventured up to Chiang Rai. It is such a unique place that is known more so as an art installation than a temple for worship. You can visit it from a distance as early as you want but to actually walk around the temple or enter it you have to wait for opening at 8:00am and pay an entry fee of 50 Baht a person or about $1.60. To get good photos here make sure to be there at 7:50am to be first inside the gates to take a few photos before the first buss arrives!!! 

⁃ Wat Rong Suea Ten or Blue Temple. This is one of the only temples in Thailand that you can take pictures inside and the vibrant blue decor everywhere is so unique. We went here after the White Temple so around 9am and had no problem getting photos at that time. I believe it opens around 6:30am. 
⁃ Wat Huay Pla Kang is the last big temple we visited. This one is a huge white statue of the goddess of Mercy sitting at the top of stairs with dragons on either side. We visited around 8:15am and only saw one other person there. Sadly, I forgot my camera battery on the charger at the hotel so I only have iPhone photos to show 🙁 

To get to each of these places we hired a driver from the hotel and it was between $20-$40 total for the day. Next up: Chiang Mai…

Travel

Reine, Norway

July 1, 2019

Reine, the little fishing village at the tip of Norway. Population 314. The peaceful slice of heaven first caught my eye in a photography magazine when I was younger. The fjords and little red houses built on stilts were so photogenic. I have always loved finding places to vacation that are slightly off the beaten path but Reine was never one of those places I actually thought I would get a change to go to. Mainly due to the fact that it was a 20 hour drive and 3 hour ferry ride from Oslo. Of course my brothers were up for the challenge. With a limited knowledge of the area and almost no itinerary we headed off to explore this cold island.

We stayed in a classic cabin for a week that had no TV and very very limited hot water. No restaurants were open since it was off season (not like they had many restaurants out there anyway haha) and the grocery store was about 20 minutes away and only open for a few hours daily. Our only itinerary was to just drive. We experienced sunshine, overcast, rain and even snow within those few days. While this was in no way a 5 star hotel glamorous trip, it was one of the most beautiful scenic (and peaceful) places I have ever been.

and now for a few iPhone photos…

This last one is a bit blurry since it was taken with the drone (and this was my first time flying it myself) but this is a good visual of the land how the Lofoten Islands are small but connected.

Travel

Japan

June 9, 2019

Visiting Japan in spring is PRIME TIME!!!

My husband and I have been planning to visit Japan for years and we finally decided this year to make it happen. Japan is one of those trips that you have to book pretty far in advance since prices skyrocket around cherry blossom season.

We decided to keep our itinerary pretty simple and split our time between Tokyo and Kyoto. We visited a few shrines and historical sites but spent the majority of our time shopping and eating LOTS of ramen.

Scroll through to see some of my favorite photos and our general itinerary down at the bottom.

Now for the iPhone photos…

View from our hotel room. We stayed at Hotel Chinzanso Tokyo and we plan to stay here next time we visit Tokyo in 2020. The hotel is in quiet part of town with a large garden so it was the perfect getaway from the busy city.
At the first ever Michelin star ramen shop- Tsuta Ramen. This place uses a ticket system where you go early in the morning to put a deposit down and get a ticket for a specific time slot to come back during that day. The process takes about 2 hours.
Temple in Ukyo- Ku (Kyoto, Japan)
Shibuya Crossing
Our last morning in Japan we took a boat out at Chidorigafuchi to see all the cherry blossoms and it was the highlight of our trip. Get there early because this place gets packed even before they open.

Now for the Itinerary. We kept a very basic itinerary due to wanting to really just explore the street life. We spent a ton of time shopping. We ended up with about 25 pairs of chopsticks, new plates and bowls for the house, candy, kimonos and lots more!!

Day 1 

  • Fly LAX > Tokyo (We took a direct flight on Delta which was about 12 1/2 hours) 9:57am

Day 2 

  • Land Tokyo
  • Shinjuku: Shinjuku is the entertainment capital of Tokyo and the streets are filled with hundreds of bars/restaurants/arcades and karaoke. This is also home to the famous Robot Restaurant. 
  • Yakitori alley, Memory Lane  
  • Tokyo Hotel : Chinzanso Tokyo (We highly recommend this Hotel if you want something not smack in the middle of the busy city.) 

Day 3

  • Spend all day exploring Tokyo
  • Sensoji Temple : Senso-ji is one of Tokyo’s most famous temples and the oldest. The temple is just a few minutes walk from Asakusa station and is open daily from 6:00am – 5:00pm 
  • Ueno Park: This park is the prime location to walk around and enjoy the Cherry Blossom/Sakura Festival
  • Electric Town – Akihabara (1 mile from park)
  • Imperial Palace and Chidorigafuchi Park (2 miles from Akihabara)
    Opening Hours: Gardens open daily 9:00am – 4:00pm (Summer opens until 5.00pm) This is another place to see the cherry blossoms. 

Day 4

 – Travel Tokyo > Kyoto (Bullet train 3 hours) You can easily purchase a ticket online or at the train station (where you can also request to be on the Mt Fuji viewing side of the train). I believe the tickets are about $150 per person each way but the ride is quick and enjoyable. Another bonus is that the train leaves about every 10 minutes so you have plenty of options of when to leave each day. 

Day 5

  • Spend all day exploring Kyoto
  • Daigo-ji Temple, Kyoto
  • Fushimi Inari – Taisha Shrine (This place is packed at all time in the day so visit as early as possible)
  • Yasaka Shrine
  • Nanzenji Temple 
  • Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple
  • Arashiyama

Day 6 

  • Travel Kyoto > Tokyo (bullet train)
  • Meiji Shrine
  • Shibuya Crossing

Day 7 

– Travel Home: Tokyo > LAX 

  • Fly LAX > Tokyo (We took a direct flight on Delta which was about 12 1/2 hours) 9:57am

Day 2 

  • Land Tokyo
  • Shinjuku: Shinjuku is the entertainment capital of Tokyo and the streets are filled with hundreds of bars/restaurants/arcades and karaoke. This is also home to the famous Robot Restaurant. 
  • Yakitori alley, Memory Lane  
  • Tokyo Hotel : Chinzanso Tokyo (We highly recommend this Hotel if you want something not smack in the middle of the busy city.) 

Day 3

  • Spend all day exploring Tokyo
  • Sensoji Temple : Senso-ji is one of Tokyo’s most famous temples and the oldest. The temple is just a few minutes walk from Asakusa station and is open daily from 6:00am – 5:00pm 
  • Ueno Park: This park is the prime location to walk around and enjoy the Cherry Blossom/Sakura Festival
  • Electric Town – Akihabara (1 mile from park)
  • Imperial Palace and Chidorigafuchi Park (2 miles from Akihabara)
    Opening Hours: Gardens open daily 9:00am – 4:00pm (Summer opens until 5.00pm) This is another place to see the cherry blossoms. 

Day 4

 – Travel Tokyo > Kyoto (Bullet train 3 hours) You can easily purchase a ticket online or at the train station (where you can also request to be on the Mt Fuji viewing side of the train). I believe the tickets are about $150 per person each way but the ride is quick and enjoyable. Another bonus is that the train leaves about every 10 minutes so you have plenty of options of when to leave each day. 

Day 5

  • Spend all day exploring Kyoto
  • Daigo-ji Temple, Kyoto
  • Fushimi Inari – Taisha Shrine (This place is packed at all time in the day so visit as early as possible)
  • Yasaka Shrine
  • Nanzenji Temple 
  • Otagi Nenbutsuji Temple
  • Arashiyama

Day 6 

  • Travel Kyoto > Tokyo (bullet train)
  • Meiji Shrine
  • Shibuya Crossing

Day 7 

  • Travel Home: Tokyo > LAX 
Lifestyle

My Wedding, The first look

May 15, 2019

Well here we are a solid 10 months after my wedding and Im realizing I never really shared wedding photos here on my blog. Mainly due to the fact the wedding images kept getting shared online which was so fun to see. I also was featured in a pretty detailed article here: https://stephysbrideguide.com/2018/11/real-bride-alexandra/

But now its time to share some of my own photos with y’all. Ill separate the wedding into two categories. The first look and the reception. We decided to do a party bus with the whole wedding party instead of two separate limos. While thats not the common way to travel we thought it was way more fun. The groom had a blindfold on the whole time so we could still do the first look on location. We did two different locations for photos before the wedding and had two completely separate photographers which means two completely different editing style. This was another usual thing to do for a wedding but its probably the top thing that I’m thankful I splurged on. More photos is always better!!!

Lifestyle

Engagement Photos II

May 11, 2019

We took our original engagement photos in July 2017. When we booked our wedding photographer he gave us a free engagement shoot with our package but unfortunately he lives in Arizona. Meaning we would have to fly him out twice within a few months time. So we ended up just doing a fun photoshoot the day prior to the wedding before we headed off to the rehearsal. While it made for a crazy schedule of a day it was a blast!!!

White dress is BHLDN – Black dress is Needle and Thread from Revolve- Hair by https://www.nadiarosebridalhair.com