Have you seen Tiny Atlas Quarterly? I love how they are showcasing awesome destinations around the world through their beautiful photography. One of my photos from the Blue Lagoon made the cut on their Instagram this morning. Yay! If you haven't seen their instagram account yet, go there now! See my other featured instagrams from the Parthenon and Mykonos.
PS. I'm @tygovaars on Instagram. Follow my adventures around the world there!
A few weekends ago we had a wedding party to attend in San Antonio so we packed up the car and headed out on Friday for a quick getaway. San Antonio is only a 1 1/2 hour drive away from Austin, making it perfect for a weekend trip.
We scored a last minute hotel on Hotwire.com right by the Alamo, which worked because it was a central location and we could easily walk around. Last year we snagged a room at Hotel Havana at the friends and family rate for our anniversary and turned it into a full on vacation. Exploring the river walk by foot, stopping in for a drink at the oldest bar in San Antonio, The Esquire Tavern.
If you haven't been to Hotel Havana, I recommend checking it out. It is one of four of Liz Lambert's character-filled hotels in Texas (Austin based Hotel St. Cecilia, Hotel San Jose and the Marfa teepee and trailer compound, El Cosmico). They serve a great brunch at Ocho, the hotel's Cuban inspired restaurant and it is worth stopping in just to check out the awesome decor. The entire place is an indoor/outdoor sunroom lined with lush green trees and filled with blue and gold velvet couches, red oriental rugs, turquoise fiesta ware and a whole lot of charm.
On Saturday before the wedding party we stopped at Ocho for breakfast and a strong cup of coffee before setting off to explore the old missions of San Antonio by bike. We started at the Blue Star brewing company and followed the long and hilly mission bike trail all the way down to the oldest and most preserved one of the lot, Mission Concepcion.
It was fun to get on a bike (I don't think I've ridden one in at least a year!) and just ride. And, it gave us the freedom to explore the muggy city with a little bit of wind in our hair.
We had dinner one night at La Fonda on Main which didn't disappoint (LOVED the spanish style courtyard with colorful tiles and trees). We are saving the Japanese Gardens and Pearl Brewery area for our next trip down there.
Where are your favorite places to visit in San Antonio?
Photos by me / I'm @tygovaars on Instagram
Hello summer! It is like we woke up in the tropics the last couple of days here in Austin. I guess it is really here. These goals lists are always fun to read over at Bleubird (hat tip to you, James). I'm following her lead this month and filling out one of my own.
drinking / brooklyn lager and shiner ruby redbird
practicing / my patience. must find more.
learning / spanish. again (still?). it will come back, i'm sure.
trying / to institute a "digital sundown", putting away all electronics by 10 pm. it has happened once this month so far...
playing / like a kid until i'm so tired I can't stay awake at night. also in a sand volleyball in a league on monday nights.
finishing / all the things on my to-do list for the summer. including replanting my herb garden (am i too late?) and fixing up my festival bike. yes, that is just a crappy bike that I keep tied to a fence with the sole purpose of getting me to sxsw and acl.
reading / #girlboss. i'm still up in the air about it. what did you think?
remembering / to live within my means and be thankful for what I have.
cooking / chicken souvlaki with homemade tzatziki. I cannot get enough greek food after our recent trip.
working / on things that matter. less fluff more focus.
traveling / to berlin and prague in september.
wanting / more vacation time. and a nespresso coffee maker.
What are your goals for this summer?
photo by me / i'm @tygovaars on instagram
This July Mitch and I will have been together for 8 years (yikes!). I can hardly believe it has been that long. One of the things I've learned from having a partner in crime for so long, is that it is extremely important to set aside time to do things together, purposefully. Just being in the same room does not mean you are getting to know the person sitting next to you on the couch. As a couple, I have come to cherish the time we get to spend together on while on vacation. Without the distractions of everyday life, emails, texts, phones, TVs, Ipads (screens really get to me, can you tell...
When we are away we spend more time observing our surroundings and actually talking while looking at each other. Watching the sunset, sipping a cold beer at a local tavern, walking aimlessly through the town with no plan other than to just walk. Not only does travel shake up the senses, but it also shakes up our relationship. We take time to eat breakfast together, talk to each other while looking, not over our screens, but actually AT each other, or spend a few extra minutes in be bed in the morning drifting in and out of sleep instead of checking our phones.
Seems nearly impossible while at home, but at the core of things, all we have really done is turn off our electronics and simply be present. I believe the same mentality and practice can be applied to your own city and day to day life. Take the time to discover things around you as if it were your first time together.
So in the spirit of this revelation and summertime – longer daylight hours means more time, yay! – I'm kicking off a new series here on the blog called "Explored" where a few times a month we go on a new adventure, take up a new activity, host a dinner, go out to breakfast somewhere new and focus on discovering things in our day to day life as if we are traveling.
I'm hoping that after we get a few under our belt, we might even want to leave our electronics behind. Check them at the door, turn them to silent - whatever needs to happen so that we are really there, and not distracted.
Have an idea for a fun daytime date or activity? So far we have been paddle boarding, played sand volleyball, walked to dinner from our house for a Friday night date here. At the end of this I'm expecting to have quite the stockpile of city guide/date night/ to do recommendations around Austin. Here's to exploring!
Images by me via iphone/instagram (I'm @tygovaars)
It is no secret I've been obsessing over lavender locks lately (say that three times fast). Anyway. I really want some purple hair. Or maybe it is lilac. I also love that in between color that fades from light purple to pink. More in the way that I could just have it for a few days and then switch back to my normal color without going through the awkward grow-out phase. But still. Aren't these dreamy? Maybe I will bite the bullet for summer.
This sweet haircut and subtle pink tint really makes me want to take the plunge. It looks almost work appropriate on her doesn't it? Or maybe I will just stick to lavender hair chalk....
P.S. Several of these photos have been photoshopped (not by moi) but you can find the originals floating around if you look. Pretty convincing, right? Shop some sweet alternatives to semi-permanent tress dye below.
We arrived in Athens with low expectations. Everyone we talked to said it was dirty, big, crowded and just a city you pass through. But from the moment we arrived (maybe it had to do something with the view from our hotel), I fell in love.
All of the winding back streets let out on colorful murals and greenery.
Hotels covered from head to toe in blossoming bougainvillea.
In total, we were in Athens for 3 days, which was the perfect amount of time to get to know the city before we set out for Mykonos and Santorini. If you find yourself in Athens, here are my recommendations for things to do and sights to see.
Things to do in Athens
Get Sandals Made
Get some Greecian sandals made at the famed Poet Sandal Maker. Slightly touristy for my regular travel-taste, but awesome and worth it. I got the "Cleopatra" and the "Ionian".
Eat at Psaros
Psaros is one of the oldest Taverns in the Plaka, which is also a great area to walk around. The whole area is really cute at night, with a bunch of winding little roads and cobblestone, hills and lights.
Drink on a Rooftop
Have a drink on one of the many rooftops in the city – we stayed at The Hotel Grande Bretagne which has a CRAZY view of the Parthenon and Parliament from the top.
Watch the changing of the guards at the Parliament building or just go hang out with one the guards during the day.
Wander the Gardens
Wander through the National Gardens. A free and easy afternoon stroll.
Drink a Frappe
Drink a frappe or two (or three). I liked them "medium, sweet". Here's how to make a Greek style frappe at home.
Explore the Acropolis and Acropolis Museum
We spent maybe 3-4 hours total wandering around and walking through all of the sites. Bring sunscreen and book a guide if you want to learn the history while you wander. The museum has a nice cafe on the rooftop that is a great place to rest your legs (and drink more frappes!).
Visit the Markets
Head to the central market (the one for locals) is filled with stalls selling nuts, fish, meats. Stimulating to all of the senses, and a great way to get a feel for the country your are in - I love wandering through the real markets wherever we go.
Hike Mount Lycabettus
Enjoy the view from the top. Our hotel's view was good enough so we ended up just eating a gyro at a cafe near the base. Which on that note...
Eat Plenty of Gyros
Seriously delicious and the cheapest way to feed two for lunch. If you do takeaway at any of the busy restaurants you save a few extra euros (we ate for 6-7 Euros total for lunch this way every day) and get your food way before the people waiting to be sat.
Stay tuned for more from our Greece trip!
During our recent trip to Greece, this little seaside bay took my breath away. Just a short drive away from where we stayed in Firostefani (down a long windy road, mind you) sits this quaint little harbor with five or six fish restaurants right smack dab up against the water.
I love the way the dramatic reddish rocks loom above small dingy boats in the water, making them look like little toys. Up above on the cliffside is the whitewashed town of Oia, clinging on for dear life. I think it was the colors of the bay that really got me. Every facet of water was filled with blue-green turquoise shimmer. The walls of the cafes were painted in bright sunshine yellow, reds and what we have now started calling "Greece blue" and "Greece white".
Eat at Dimitri's (the last fish restaurant at the end of the bay, painted bright sunshine yellow) and strike up a conversation with Joy, the Canadian owner. It is the best of all the restaurants, or so said our very knowledgeable host for the weekend. We ate the most wonderful meal of freshly caught seafood – red mullet, grilled sea bass, calamari with tzatziki and crusty bread. And to top it all off, Yellow Donkey Beers from Santorini's only micro-brewery. Cute branding, too, right?
Around the corner from where ate lunch is a short volcanic path. It is a bit rocky, but if you are careful and have reasonable climbing skills, you can follow it around until it lets you out next to a little island with a church nestled in its side.
The end of the path has a beautiful view of Oia, the hillside town of Santorini most well known for sunset watching. When we got back to our hotel, we were told that a recent rock slide caused those massive boulders in the middle of the path - yikes! So if there are warning signs, you may want to skip this part of the adventure for safety reasons.
In order to do some serious exploring we rented a car for the day for 40 Euros giving us the freedom to roam about the island. You could potentially walk down the road or staircase to Dimitri's from Oia, but it looked long and steep. I would say rent a car or take a cab down and enjoy the view – from the bottom looking up. You can even get a donkey ride back to the top!
A few months ago, a reader asked about the kind of music I listen to on my travels.
"What's been playing on your ipod/smartphone in the last few months? Anything you've felt compelled to put on repeat? It may be kind of a weird question, but as I was looking at your blog, I kept thinking, "I wonder what the soundtrack for all that traveling has been?"
At the time - I gave it some thought and then forgot to answer. But now that I'm fresh off another trip, I thought now was as good of a time as any to address the question. Music has always fueled my wanderlust, whether driving us to travel for a music festival or by providing the soundtrack to a current adventure. The truth is I'm constantly changing up the music I listen to on a day to day basis. But nine times out of ten you will find the latest Above & Beyond podcast on repeat in my headphones (preferably in these noise canceling ones by Bose) while I'm traveling. The depth of music played never disappoints and you can't beat 2+ hours of beautifully transitioned songs.
Right now the 'Don't Leave' collaboration by Seven Lions of Ellie Goudling is playing nonstop following our two weeks in Greece.
Same with this Johan Malmgren original mix, Aruna - Start a Fire. What can I say - I'm a sucker for lovestep (it's a thing, google it).
The Group Therapy #36 podcast came out at the same time as our Tomorrowland trip last year, and I could not stop playing Arty's remix of 'Hey Now' when we got back. Even now when I press play I can vividly recall the smell of fresh cut green grass in the fields in Belgium.
Although my music of choice hasn't always been trance, I find the global appeal of Above & Beyond to be perfectly suiting to whatever country I land. It always amazes me how perfectly music can recall a specific moment in time, a feeling or even a smell (which I wrote about before). Wandering through the markets in Bangkok, riding the high speed Shinkansen out of Tokyo, sitting on countless overnight trains and buses all over the world.
That is what I love about the pairing of music and travel - it heightens your senses, and enhances your visual experience with complementary sounds that will trigger memories forever.
What do you listen to while you travel?