Browsing Tag

Alexandra Wing

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!!!

Travel

Marrakesh, Morocco

September 1, 2018

Leaving Madrid, we took a quick flight to Marrakesh, my first venture into Africa. I LOVED the people and beautiful scenery. At sunrise, we enjoyed a hot air ballon ride followed by a traditional Moroccan breakfast.

On a future visit to Morocco I would love to do an overnight trip to the desert, a days journey away.

Photos of the beautiful Riad we stayed in.

Morocco has some gorgeously designed hotels. We visited the stunning La Mamounia Marrakech. Although beautiful, we chose to stay at the more intimate Riad in the city center (pictured above).

Following photos were taken by my brother Sean.

xoxo

A

Travel

Lisbon & Carvoeiro, Portugal

September 1, 2018

Two and a half hours south of Costa Nova Beach is Lisbon.

I recommend our lunch stop  Time Out Food Market. Everything you could ever imagine! We enjoyed prochutto pizza, steak + fried egg + prochuto and  potato + croquettes a traditional Portuguese dish. For dessert we had something similar to a  chocolate cake but with the texture of a mouse and cookie combined.  Another desert was an egg tart which was really good. Here you can sample the local food with options for everyone.  There are various chef/stores inside (similar style to  Anaheim packing district ..but so much better).

Livraria Ler Devagar bookstore in Lisbon

Torre De Belem Lisbon

Pena Palace Sintra, Portugal

Our final destination in Portugal was Carvoeiro, a small town best known for its beaches and sunsets located in Faro. We enjoyed some wonderful food and a beautiful sunset on the cliffs. On day one, we hiked down to the beach to visit the Benagil Cave. It can only be accessed by boat or  swimming. While the boat tours are conveniant they sadly dont let you disembark inside the cave so we opted for the long swim. Although the coldest water I’ve ever experienced, I was thankful I successfully made it. However, we were unable to bring the cameras, so no pictures.  But do google the unique view inside.  Below are photos of the sunset that first evening.

xoxo

A

Travel

Porto, Portugal & Costa Nova Beach

August 31, 2018

From Barcelona, it’s a 10 hour drive to Porto, Portugal.

Recommendations for Porto:

  1. Lena Swimming Pools
  2. The Church of Sao Francisco
  3. Levraria Lello (A beautiful bookstore often visited by JK Rowling,  said to be an inspiration for her writings)
  4. Church of Saint IIdeforso

From Porto, it’s a 50 minute drive to Aveiro. Our destination, Costa Nova Beach. This is a small fishermen’s village situated between a lagoon and the ocean. So many fun painted houses and excellent seafood. 

xoxo

A

Travel

Barcelona, Spain

August 29, 2018

One week home from my honeymoon, I departed for my third annual international siblings trip. This year, Nathan joined Sean and me. Our game plan was to fly into Barcelona, drive through Spain into Portugal. Then down the coast back into Spain ending in Madrid. From there, a flight to Marrakesh, Morocco. Sean and I accomplished 2 previous road trips, Ireland, followed by Netherlands/ Belgium/ Germany. I underestimated the distance to cover Spain. IT’S HUGE! In Ireland we were able to see many sites in just a brief time.  However, sites in Spain were 3-10 hours apart. We attempted to experience what we could but felt there was so much more we didn’t see.

In Barcelona, we were excited to see Sagrada Familia. Construction of this basilica began in 1882 but completion isn’t expected until 2030. Our hotel was next door with a gorgeous view from their rooftop bar.

For Barcelona recommendations (including some amazing food spots from culinary expert Nathan) scroll to bottom.

From Barcelona to Portugal, we viewed beautiful sunflower fields.

                                                                                      Food suggestions in Barcelona
(Spain has amazing Tapas… be adventurous. We tried french fries with egg and ham on top. SO TASTY !)

  1. El Canal (Wine + Tapas)
  2. Disfrutar (Fine Dining)
  3. Els Sortidors del Parlament (Bar + Tapas)
  4. Mercat de Sant Josep, aka La Boqueria (Open air market- lots of food to try)
  5. Zona d’Ombra (Wine + Tapas located in the Gothic Quarter)
  6. Bodega La Puntual
  7. Pastisseria Bubó Born (Dessert)
  8. Pastisseria Hofmann (pastry)
  9. ElDiset (Wine + Tapas)
  10. Paradiso (speakeasy)
  11. Baluard Barceloneta (bakery)
  12. Federal Café (brunch)
  13. Picnic
  14. Marmalade
  15. Nømad Coffee Lab & Shop
  16. Horchatería Sirven (Ice Cream)

Sites in Barcelona

  1. La Boqueria Market
  2. Sagrada Familia
  3. Park Güell
  4. Casa Milà
  5. Barcelona Cathedral
  6. Gothic Quarter
  7. Casa Batllo
  8. Temple of Sacred Hearts
  9. Montjuic (beautifully landscaped area famous for its hills, gardens, museums, and castle)

xoxo

A

Travel

Rome, Italy

August 24, 2018

In 2015 I visited Rome for the first time. It was always a dream of mine to see the Trevi Fountain. We eagerly made the journey only to find the foundation drained and surrounded by a fence. I almost cried. So when planning our honeymoon I decided a quick pop in to rome to see the fountain was well worth it. Let me tell you, this fountain does not disappoint..it is absolutely glorious.

Scroll to the bottom to see all my recommendations for Rome!!

Food
The best lunch spot is Saltimbocca. We got a big pizza, pasta and aperol spritz’s and our whole bill was under 30 euro. It was all so delicious!

A great dinner place to try is Alfredo Alla Scrofa. Its been around since 1907 and is said to be the birthplace of Fettuccini Alfredo. The restaurant is a fancy night out full of history and the Alfredo sauce is to die for.

The top sites in Rome:

  1. Colosseum
  2. St. Peter’s Basilica
  3. Roman Forum (See how many cats you can spot here! there are hundreds)
  4. Pantheon
  5. Trevi Fountain
  6. Vatican Museum
  7. Sistine Chapel
  8. Piazza Navona
  9. Spanish Steps

If at all possible, I would highly suggest NOT visiting Rome in the middle of Summer. We were there at the end of July and it was miserable outside. High temperatures, a hot sun and humidity made site seeing hard. The first time we visited Rome we went in early October and it was wonderful weather and less tourist at all the sites.

xoxo

A

Travel

Mykonos, Greece

August 24, 2018

From Santorini we took a ferry over to Mykonos island. It was a very fast and efficient process compared to taking a flight over. Our thoughts on Mykonos were a bit different then Santorini.

Santorini is more relaxing and peaceful
Mykonos is known as the party island
Santorini is a lot of couples relaxing at nice resorts
Mykonos is a lot of young drunk people out till 10:00 am
Santorini has lots of cute little shops with dresses under $50
Mykonos is filled with luxury shopping and barely anything under $150 haha.

Those are just a few differences between the islands that were apparent in the first 24 hours. We stayed at Rocabella Mykonos which was nice but a bit far out of town. We didn’t realize its a lot harder to walk into town then in Santorini. The road to get to town was only about 5 min but took about 10-15 due to the majority of it being one lane with lots of cars, buses and ATV’s. Since we had to always catch a ride into town I planned one for 7am to go take photos…they looked at me like I was crazy. Its not till we got into town the next morning that I really understood why. All bars and clubs were still open and in full party swing. People don’t go home..they stay and party till 8-9 or even 10am. Some bars even turn into breakfast spots after the partying.

While in Mykonos we heard of the famous nightclub Cavo Paradiso so we checked the lineup for the nights we were in town and sure enough one of our favorite DJs was playing, Alesso. We ended up heading to the club at 1:30am and Alesso went on about 3:00am. While we aren’t party animals who stay out till 9:00am it was a fun experience to be in one of the most well known clubs in the world for a night.

Overall Mykonos had beautiful streets, wonderful food and gelato BUT we definitely feel like we are more Santorini people. We enjoy the more quiet side!

xoxo

A