Browsing Tag

2017

Lifestyle

ENGAGED!

May 11, 2017

 Exciting news…. I AM OFFICIALLY ENGAGED!!!!

After 5 years, my boyfriend asked me to be his wife.

May 5th started with Justin surprising me with breakfast, church and a shopping spree. Next, I enjoyed a manicure and lunch at my favorite Italian restaurant. We then headed down to the beach at Crystal Cove.  Here I spied a beautiful tropical picnic (as we are considering Fiji for our honeymoon!!!). Flower petals lead to a blanket filled with gorgeous bouquets of Hawaiian flowers, pillows, blankets, candles, chocolate covered strawberries, apple cider and my favorite angel food cake. After proposing with an absolutely breathtaking ring that Justin had designed, my two dogs came running around the corner to complete the surprise. It started to sprinkle as we walked the beach but the clouds parted and  the Lord blessed us with a perfect rainbow!

Justin’s siblings help him implement this wonderful experience. Truly one of the happiest days of my life!!  Thanks Victoria for these photos to remember our day!

xoxo

A

Travel

EUROPE ITINERARY + ICELAND

May 10, 2017

Looking for a whirlwind trip around Europe? I have the perfect itinerary that allows you discover 5 countries in 9 days. Based upon low cost airfare, we flew in and out of The Netherlands and road tripped through Germany, Austria and Belgium. My scheduled date was based upon the tulip festival in the Netherlands which occurs mid April lasting 8 weeks. Since there was extensive driving required, we traveled into the evenings with late hotel checkins.  Thus how we were able to began most days in a new country.

Tips: When traveling by car through Europe, check on available parking and be aware of high rates.

Day 1:

       Departure LAX  (Flight duration 8 hours 45 minutes)

       Arrive Iceland 1:35pm – layover 1 hour 35 minutes

       Depart Iceland at 3:10pm (Flight duration 3 hours 20 minutes)

Day 2:

        Arrive 8:30pm in Amsterdam

Day 3:

      Amsterdam > Destination: Bruges, Belgium (2 hour 30 minute drive)

Activities:

  • The “Ten Wijngaerde” Béguinage (24-30 Begijnhof, 8000 Bruges, Belgium). The only preserved beguinage in the Belgian city of Bruges.
  • The Markt (Markt, 8000 Brugge, Belgium) The heart of the city. This includes medieval  architecture and The Belfry tower.
  • The Belfry  (Belfort, 7 Markt, Bruges, Belgium)
  • Rozenhoedkaai (Rozenhoedkaai, 8000 Brugge, Belgium) A famous corner area in Bruges that is ideal for taking pictures and obtaining a beautiful view of the city.
  • Wander canals eating waffles and chocolate!
  • Eat dinner in The Markt square. There are plenty of wonderful restaurants to choose from.

Hotel Van der Valk Brugge-Oostkamp.

Day 4:

  • When in Belgium eat waffles!  We ate them for desert and at Chez Albert the next morning with fresh strawberries.

    Bruges Belgium > Destination: Eltz Castle Germany (3 hour 50 minutes drive)

  • Eltz castle is closed for part of the year so check their website. Open daily from 9:30am – 5:30pm.  However, we arrived after closing but still hiked and photographed this spectacular castle from the outside.

Hotel Villa Vinum Cochem.

Day 5:

Hotel Villa Vinum Cochem > Destination: Reichsburg Castle, Cochem (4 minute drive)

Destination: Hohenzollern Castle (72379 Burg Hohenzollern, Germany) (4 hour drive)

  • Purchased tickets for castle but cash is required for parking and tram.
  • Destination: Neuschwanstein Castle (Neuschwansteinstraße 20, 87645 Schwangau, Germany) (2 hour 45 minute drive)
  • Entrance tickets are available only at the Ticketcenter Hohenschwangau in the village below the castle. Make sure to find the right tram since they have 4 different bus stops all going different places. Our bus to go up the hill came every 30 minutes.  However, we waited for a second bus because of volume of people.  Give yourself plenty of time. Tickets for the castle include a guided tour inside the rooms. Without a ticket, you can view the castle from a distant bridge.

Neuschwanstein Castle > Salzburg, Austria (2 hours 45 minute drive)

This whole day was unplanned. We headed south and discovered the beautiful town of Salzburg.

Day 6:

    Salzburg Austria

Things to do:

  • Mozart’s birthplace (Getreidegasse 9, Salzburg 5020, Austria)
  • Mozartplatz
  • Salzburg Cathedral (Domplatz, Salzburg 5010, Austria)
  • Salzburg Fortress (Moenchsberg 34, Salzburg 5020, Austria)
  • St. Peter’s Abbey (Sankt-Peter-Bezirk | off Kapitalpl., Salzburg 5020, Austria)
  • Wander the street markets
  • Sound of Music was filmed in Salzburg.   Many tours and destinations to visit including Mehlweg where Julie Andrews sings the opening song in this movie.

Salzburg > Amsterdam (10 hour drive)

Day 7:

     Amsterdam

   Since we added the detour to Salzburg, we were unable to visit Giethoorn, Netherlands.  This is on my list if I return. However, we were able to visit a similar looking city Zaanse Schans, 25 minutes from Amsterdam. This neighborhood is known for its well preserved wind mills that can be toured. Besides the scenery, I enjoyed more delicious Belgium and Dutch waffles.

Zaanse Schans > Amsterdam City Center

  • Wander Jordaan Neighborhood known for its picturesque canals and houses
  • Walk through Centrum and Red Light District
  • I Amsterdam sign (Hobbemastraat 19, 1071 XZ Amsterdam)
  • Rijksmuseum (Museumstraat 1, 1071 XX Amsterdam)
  • Flower marker (Singel 630 to 600 1017 AZ   Amsterdam)

The Amsterdam Flower Market is open Monday to Saturday 09:00 to 17:30 and Sunday from 11:30 to 17:30. Market is located on the Singel canal between the Koningsplein and the Muntplein.

Hyatt Place Amsterdam Airport (Rijnlanderweg 800, Hoofddorp 2132 NK)

Day 8:

Amsterdam

  • Keukenhof festival – Deemed one of the largest and prettiest flower gardens in the world.  Keukenhof goes back to the 15th century. Over 100 companies and 500 flower growers participate in creating the garden that includes 7 million spring-flowing bulbs. This year Keukenhof is open March 23 – May 21.
  • Viewed individual flower fields owned by local residents near Keukenhof.
  • Day 9

Fly out of Amsterdam > Iceland

  • With a  3 hour 50 layover in Iceland, we decided to leave the airport and explore.  This is not recommended unless you’re willing to plan every minute, your plane arrives on time, and are willing to run. I booked our seats in row 2 for an early exit with our carry on bags through customs. We then grabbed a cab on a 20 minute journey to Blue Lagoon.   Here we enjoyed a wonderful hour swim, fruit smoothie and two relaxing face masks. Due to its popularity, buy tickets ahead of time.  After the swim, we showered and quickly returned to the airport. Thankfully, we made it through security just in time for our flight.  Glad nothing hindered our departure.

And that wraps up the INSANE itinerary for this trip… 5 countries in 9 days.  Great trip but glad to be home!

xoxo

A

Travel

ZAANSE SCHANS

April 24, 2017

 

Zaanse Schans, a picturesque neighborhood in Zaandam best known for its windmills and quaint houses. Located 25 minutes from the center of Amsterdam, it made an ideal day trip.

xoxo

A

Travel

STREETS OF AMSTERDAM

April 23, 2017

Amsterdam is a unique city filled with bikes and peaceful canals. We spent a full day as tourists visiting the Jordan neighborhood, the floating flower market, Rijksmuseum and finally, the I Amsterdam sign.

xoxo

A

 

Travel

KEUKENHOF FESTIVAL

April 23, 2017

 Although one of the largest gardens in the world, Keukenhof in Holland is best known as the garden of Europe.  An average of 7 million bulbs are planted each year for this 8 week flower festival. By visiting while the tulips were blooming, a dream of mine has been fulfilled!  The following photos are just a minute portion of what can be viewed on these 79 acres of land. What I can’t share is the heavenly scent that engulfs this garden. 

After exploring the festival grounds, we drove through the town and discovered numerous farmers with their own gorgeous tulip fields.  Could you imagine this as your backyard garden???

xoxo

A

Travel

NEUSCHWANSTEIN CASTLE GERMANY

April 22, 2017

Last on the Germany itinerary is Neuschwanstein Castle. This is perhaps the most well known in Germany and the inspiration for Disney’s Cinderella castle. The foundation is from 1869 and the towers  completed in 1892. The construction was delayed considerably because of the difficulty of working on a precipice. Personally I believe this was my steepest hike ever, but the view was extremely rewarding!

xoxo

A

Travel

FAIRMONT BANFF

March 21, 2017

My last snow trip to Canada! Although chilly -1 celsius,  the snow on the trees and ground was melting. We stayed at the Fairmont Banff in Banff National Park, about an hour outside the Fairmont Lake Louise of my previous trip. This fairytale hotel is a castle built into the mountain which makes a gorgeous backdrop for hundreds of weddings that occur here every year.  Would love a hotel like this in California.

xoxo

A

Lifestyle Travel

PLAYING MOANA

February 25, 2017

While wearing my gorgeous haku lei, I couldn’t help but sing the Moana song at the top of my lungs. If you haven’t heard this song,  take a moment to watch it here. The whole Moana soundtrack was on continuous play during our adventures.

These photos include my beautiful friend Larisa.  So enjoyed experiencing her island of Oahu. (Our floppy sun hats were purchased off of Etsy!)

xoxo

A

Lifestyle

HAKU LEI

February 25, 2017

For my trip to Hawaii, I wanted to order a flower head piece or lei. I discovered a local florist on the North Shore who specializes in custom haku leis for every occasion. Three weeks before my arrival, I emailed some inspirational photos and she worked her magic. I was SO impressed by her kindness and the quality of each haku. She far exceeded my expectations and I received numerous compliments. They lasted 5 days and enhanced my photoshoot.

You can find her on Instagram or Facebook @poehaku

xoxo

A

Photography

QUARRESS FAMILY VACATION

February 25, 2017

Trying to coordinate 10 adult’s schedules was quite a feat.  But finally, the Quarress family vacation was happening. We rented a house on the North Shore with access to daily surfing at Pipeline. On one of the last evenings, I coerced the gang for a group photo.  Yes, this beautiful scenery was our backyard..spoiled!!!

Back row: Ann Quarress, Lorraine (Kim’s sister), Justin Quarress, Mike Quarress, Kimberly Parra- Quarress (married to Cody), Cody Quarress  Front row: Eric Frempter (Becky’s boyfriend), Becky Quarress, Mike Quarress, Alexandra Wing

xoxo

A

*All photos taken by Alexandra Wing and Eric