Perhaps we Found a New Favourite

8 06 2016

Perhaps it wasn’t a good idea to let it go so long to finish my posts from our trip to New Zealand.

One – I left you hanging. For all you know, I didn’t make it past the bungy jumping!

Two – it’s now been 4 months since we’ve been back to Seattle and back to ‘real’ life. Four months to kind of forget about our trip, to stop telling the stories, four months to forget how beautiful everything was. Well, now that I’ve finally gotten back around to going through the rest of our trip photos…..

Queenstown was beautiful!!

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View from Bob’s Peak

I mean, the water, the mountains (called The Remarkables – which is a pretty appropriate name), the food… Ahh. Now I remember just how great our time was and it makes me wistful for those days and impatient for when we can go back and spend more than 2 days in Queenstown.

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Both Nathan and I felt like we had come ‘home’ when we stepped through our hotel room at the Sofitel (which had heated bathrooms floors and a heated towel rack!) and onto the balcony that overlooked this quaint, European-style town with water and mountain views. We felt like this was a place that was familiar to us and we knew that it was a place that we wanted to come back to.

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Aside from bungy jumping during our two-day stay in Queenstown, we had no other plans.  Which was perfect, since it gave us time to walk around and eat and drink.  That’s essentially what we did.  And we loved it!

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Our first stop: drinking on a boat bar

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We discovered our love of meat pies at FergBaker. Nathan discovered his love of Beef Cheeks

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We spent the morning and afternoon (between eating stops) strolling by the water.

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We watched this guy walk into the water at 8AM and hike his t-shirt up to his arm pits as he waded in up to his chest.  At the time, I thought this was the oddest thing….now that I’m looking back at these photos, I think he had a pretty good idea.

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Two  nights and one full day is not enough time to enjoy this beautiful place but we really tried to take it in as much as we could, and it definitely left a lasting impression.

On our way out of town we got to enjoy the reflection views at Lake Hayes, which was the perfect goodbye (for now, but not forever).

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38 Hours Later

2 02 2016

Twenty-two hours after we arrived at SeaTac airport, we landed in Auckland, New Zealand. During that time, we visited 2 Centurion Airport Lounges, spent 14 hours in the air, watched 1 documentary, ¾ of a movie and had 4 meals. I slept for a cumulative 3 hours, and Nathan, maybe an hour all together. For as much as he praised the Air New Zealand Sky Couch – he also cursed it – because as I could curl up and have a pretty nice sleeping nest, a 6+ foot man, cannot curl himself up and create a comfy nest. Even the allure of a ‘cuddle belt’ did not provide a comfortable sleeping position for Nathan. And so, sleep deprived, and with a crick in his neck, we began our adventures in New Zealand!

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Driving on the opposite side of the road and on the opposite side of the car…it took a little while to get used to. We may have hit a temporary construction sign. Maybe. Armed with some paper maps, some printed directions and a little assistance from my phone, we adventured our way through Auckland for the next 12 hours.

We headed straight through the Waitakere Ranges to the West Coast full of its iron sand beaches, cliffs and big surf. I figured since we were strolling into town at 6AM (before the sun was even up), we had time to head to the West Coast and see what that was all about.

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Perhaps, I should have checked the weather before doing that, as we muddled our way through driving on the opposite side of the road, getting turned around and lost in the forest and driving deeper and deeper into descending fog and misty rain.

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But we made it! We scrambled into our rain jackets and ran along the black sand beaches, explored the rocky face of Lion Rock, tried to coax crabs out of rocks and tide pools and dipped our toes in the, surprising not as cold as I thought it would be, water.

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By 8AM we were tucked into the Piha Café for our first taste of NZ atmosphere: barefoot surfers, foul-mouthed rugged English guys on a motorbike trek across NZ and our first Flat Whites.

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By 10AM we were on the east side of Auckland, picking seashells off the beach at Mission Bay, as we looked beyond to Rangitoto Island.

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By 12:30PM we were tucking into a platter of steamed green lipped mussels. Huge mussels, very tasty, and Nathan even got an extra bite of protein (he realized later after looking at the photo……that he did indeed eat the crab that was in the mussel, and thought the crunch was normal – yuck!).

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By 2:00PM we were rolling up to the hotel.

By 4:00PM I was giggling like a school girl and oohing and aahing over the fantastic desserts at Milse. (Thank you Natalie for the recommendation!)

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The verdict:
Bombe Alaska: Passion Fruit and Vanilla Gelato, enrobed in white chocolate and covered in a torched meringue

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62% Satilia: Cherry & hazelnut (I can’t remember the rest but there was a chocolate cookie crumble and some other good stuff).

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36% Caramelia: Salted Almond and Caramel masterpiece (apparently I stopped listening after hearing about the Bombe Alaska!)

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And after strolling along the Viaduct Harbor, taking in drinks and snacks on a patio, we were getting ready for bed by 8:00PM. But after going strong for 38 hours, I don’t feel bad for being asleep by 9PM. Not even a little bit.





Check Santorini off the List (at least Oia)

22 10 2015

It hasn’t escaped me that I haven’t showcased the iconic Santorini photos in my previous posts.  I said that I had only scheduled one of our days in Santorini, but that doesn’t mean that all of the other days weren’t packed full with wandering the streets of Oia scouting out photo locations.

Yes, we were those people.  The ones that did a trial run to the top of the remains of Oia Castle to figure out the best place to set up the tripod so we didn’t have to guess at sunset when the hoards of people would make a run for the wall, the ledge, any available seating surface and bake in the setting sun, taking selfies and drinking and finally applauding the sun for a gorgeous setting.

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These people. We didn’t want to battle with these people.

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Perfect viewpoint to capture the Oia cliffside

In fact, we didn’t elbow our way through the crowds at all, instead we enjoyed the sunset from the comfort of our own Oia cliffside hotel, before we made the trip to the castle to catch that magic hour after the sunset.

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We spent our days peeking down alleyways to discover the secrets hidden in the back.

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Yes! We found cats. Lots of cats!

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We trekked our way back down to Ammoudi Bay and this time in the heat of the day.

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One of many many asian couples that take their pre-wedding photos in Santorini. I felt for those women hiking up their wedding dresses in the hot sun

And we trekked our way back up….for thank goodness our last time.

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And we found those 3 blue domed churches.  Yes….those blue domed churches.

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And of course we ate, and managed to fit in a few more (2…4…maybe 6) visits to Lolita’s for gelato.

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Grilled (squeaky) halloumi cheese with fig reduction

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Local specialty: white eggplant

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The tastiest and freshest greek salad with locally grown veggies

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Pomegranate and Chocolate Sorbet (eaten but not shown: stracciatella, pistachio, kiwi, cuban lover, peach, strawberry, coconut, melon…)

After a couple of days of meandering through alleys snapping hundreds (possibly thousands…) of photos, trekking up and down steps, eating our way through the village, beating a path back and forth to Lolita’s for more gelato, and cooling off at the pool, we were finally ready to say goodbye to Santorini when we captured our iconic Santorini Sunset photo. 

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Transitioning: Summer to Fall

8 10 2014

Now that green is starting to ease into yellow, orange and red and a crispness is starting to add a little snap to the air, I’m starting to reminisce on my summer moments.

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Maybe I was ‘living in the moment’ and really living in the experience rather than thinking about how I was going to re-tell the story.  Or maybe I was too busy trying to pack as much activity into the warm weather as possible that I rushed through one activity in search of the next.  Either way, Fall is approaching, and with the changing of the leaves brings just enough transition that it’s made me pause in place and gather photos from the summer.

Everyone goes through the transition from Summer to Fall.  Preparation for hibernation perhaps?  The excitement to bring back over-sized sweaters, cuddly scarves and of course those Fall boots!  I have a love-hate relationship with said boots.  I spend my days admiring the different boots that I see prancing down the street – chocolate brown, black, wedge heel, flat stomping boots, sleek and stylish high-heeled boots.  Needless to say, I have boot envy.  I see everyone looking fantastic in their fall boots – really the perfect accessory for fall outfits.  But whenever I find myself on the hunt for the perfect boots I end up frustrated and sad because, after all, I carry my height in my torso.  I have short legs and athletic calves.  The worst combination!  Which essentially means that boots don’t fit me – even the ones with extended calf sizes 😦

But enough about the boots.  I find myself on a tangent as meandering as the paths I hope to stroll through this Fall – stomping through all of the fallen leaves and hearing that satisfying ‘crunch crunch crunch‘ as I walk.

Finally I’m looking back at what took place this summer – a summer that took Seattle by surprise with day after day of 80+ degree weather.

Seattle Sights:

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The Great Wheel

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Kayaking around Alki

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Making Discoveries!

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Alki Sunsets

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Great Friends…

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And Ferry Boats.

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Mt. Rainier Sunsets

Exploring the ‘wilderness’ of Port Orchard:

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Whirlwind Work Trips in Chicago:

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Chicago Art

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Chicago Architecture

Home (Vancouver):

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Vancouver Icon – ‘Canada Place’

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Sunsets at Vancouver Harbour

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Deer Lake Park

Food – delicious, beautiful, tasty morsels of goodness!

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Neapolitan Style Pizza

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Farmer Fresh Artisanal Snack Plates

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Chocolate Covered Figs

It feels like the summer was over in a blink but at the same time, with so many consecutive days of sunshine, it seemed like it was gorgeous day after gorgeous day – which puts a lot of pressure on a person.  Especially a person from the Pacific Northwest, where you cannot take sunshine for granted and on each sunny day you feel pressure to kick yourself out of bed and DO something.  Anything really.  You’ve got to head straight to those walking/running paths, be in or on the water, be at the farmers market every weekend, and eat and drink on every patio you come across.  By the time Fall arrives you’re just exhausted from all of those sunny days and secretly wishing for a rainy day so you don’t have to feel so guilty for spending a day inside watching movies (or a How I met your mother/Orange is the new black/House of Cards marathon).  

LOVED summer.  LOVE summer.  But (as I look right and left and duck my head) I’m kind of ready for Fall.  I’m sure in a month, when Seattle descends into its Grey season and there are more rainy days than not rainy days, I will take back those words – but for now, after over 40 days of 80+ degree weather this summer – I’m ready for an excuse to have a lazy day.





And I wonder why I can’t lose 10 pounds…

11 07 2014

Just another few things I couldn’t leave Geneva without tasting….

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Just a little more pool time please

13 06 2014

There’s only so much sitting around the pool and soaking up the sun you can do……but I have to admit, I could have done just a little more.

We spent a long weekend in San Diego to celebrate our two year anniversary and it was fantastic!  We’ve done road trips and quick trips to Arizona and San Francisco this year, but it has been a really long time since we took a trip with the sole purpose of not doing anything.  We didn’t get a rental car because we didn’t want to feel forced to use it.  So that meant wandering from pool to hot tub, to room for a nap, to an onsite restaurant for dinner and back again.  Three days of heavenly, lazy bliss.

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There were plenty of water sports to partake in if we wanted to.  But, the pool seemed way too inviting.  And there was a fitness center, and I even brought my running shoes.  But did those shoes take one step outside of the room?  Actually, did they take one step out of the suitcase?  With mixed emotions, I say ‘no’!

It wasn’t until our last day when we had checked out of our room already and were looking to kill a little time, did we finally explore the resort other than the direct paths between the pools, restaurants and our bungalow.  And we found a tropical jungle.  There’s something very prehistoric feeling about some of this foliage.

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Sisters Reunite!

19 02 2014

After all of my practicing… ‘Je voudrais un boîte de douze macarons,’ I got to Laduree and I froze.  Strawberry marshmallow, salted caramel, rose petal, coconut passionfruit, pistachio, praline, lemon, chocolate coffee…..?  How am I supposed to choose only 12 with all of these flavors? Easy solution I guess….’quinze macarons s’il vous plait’.  I just couldn’t leave without a box of 15 macaroons.  And, they almost all made it home.

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During my time in Geneva, I spent a couple afternoons just wandering the streets and looking at the buildings.  If you’re in a place for too long, everything can start to look normal.  Trams and cable lines, futuristic light bulb-looking light posts, french signs, and hundred year old buildings.  So after 2 weeks I kind of had to tap back into my wide-eyed wonder of seeing Geneva (and Switzerland) for the very first time.

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This hundred year old building was my home for 2.5 weeks.

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My sister and her husband were my hospitable hosts and her cats kept me company at night.  Of course, I had my responsibilities while I was there: lift everything that was too heavy for my sister (a lot of things – I’m much stronger), care for the cats which consisted of entertaining them at 3am when they wanted to play, maneuver my body around theirs at night so as not to disturb their slumber, clean up after them when (not if) they were sick, groom them, clean their litter box…and play paparazzi and take hundreds of photos of them.

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Oliver

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Moosh

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And the most difficult of all tasks….keep my sister company = sit at outdoor patios and drink cappuccinos, eat truffle-topped cheesy delights and Chantilly cream and Nutella-laden desserts.

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Patelos: Cheesy, proscuitto-filled dough, topped with sliced truffle

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Mini beignets topped with powdered sugar and drizzled with warm Nutella and hazelnuts

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Baba: rum-soaked brioche, filled with Chantilly Cream and drizzled with Nutella and hazelnuts

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It was a tough couple weeks but we made it through the longest time we’ve spent together in 7 years.  At the end of the trip we both agreed that we had a better time than we both thought we would, and we were equally surprised that she didn’t make me cry (not even once)!

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The Lee Sisters in Geneva, Switzerland