July 28, 2016 Melinda

Before we traveled to Japan I read plenty of blog posts about happy visits to snow monkey pools, rabbit islands and bowing deer parks. They all involved up close encounters with wild animals in a gorgeous setting. Naturally, I was excited to have my own brush with these critters. We had our first chance at the Nara Deer Park when we took a day trip from Kyoto. The over 1200 deer are considered national treasures and are semi-domesticated. You can also see the Todai-ji Temple and Kofuku-ji Shrine, both UNESCO World Heritage monuments. The visit turned out to be one…

July 25, 2016 Melinda 2Comment

In so many ways Japan proved to be one of the most unique places I’ve ever visited. There is an amazing mix of ancient shrines and temples, stunning natural beauty and over the top cuteness. In Japan “kawaii”, the quality of cuteness, is pervasive. Stores carry a huge variety of cute stuffed animals, stickers, key chains and clothing printed with darling images. Young women dress in all manner of cute styles from lacy little anklets to giant, floppy hair bows. In the early 2000’s the passion for cuteness and the inability to own pets due to small apartments and long…

July 22, 2016 Melinda

t In the interest of comparison, I’ve decided to take a look at our budget and expenses for our 2015 Europe trip. You can read about our 2016 Japan budget here. We knew we wanted to go back to Europe after spending two weeks in Ireland, London and Paris the year before. We weren’t sure where we would go, so we watched for airfare deals in countries we might want to visit. When a good deal on a flight to Copenhagen popped up we jumped on it. Scandinavia is well known for being pricey, but was definitely on our bucket list. We…

July 18, 2016 Melinda

[ As a child growing up in the 1960’s and 70’s a highlight of any road trip on California’s central coast was a stop at The Madonna Inn. It was built in 1958 by Alex and Phyllis Madonna in San Luis Obispo as a roadside inn for travelers headed up and down the coast.The iconic inn continues to delight children and adults today. The inn is mentioned in countless travel articles and shows. The rise in vogue of all things mid-century it is making it even more celebrated. Let’s take a quick tour! The Kitsch From the second you walk…

July 15, 2016 Melinda 3Comment

] Covering over 5 acres and 1,000,000 square feet, a visit to London’s Harrods department store can be overwhelming. It’s easy to get sensory overload and miss some of the standout experiences on a trip to this iconic store. In 2010 the store was sold to the Qatari royal family who have continued Harrod’s reputation for opulence. We spent an entire afternoon wandering the store and still just saw a fraction of the glamor and spectacle. Their motto “All Things, For All People, Everywhere” gives a clue to how much there is to see. These are our 5 “must see”…

July 12, 2016 Melinda 1Comment

My two adult children are often aggravated with me because I am an over planner. I believe half the fun of a vacation is researching and booking your time well before hand. My daughter was very surprised when we got to Paris and didn’t have every minute of the trip planned out. I knew we would see the big sites, but to be honest Paris overwhelmed me a bit. I had been apprehensive about the Parisian’s brusque reputation . From the minute we got off the train however, things felt really wonderful. We got lost walking to our hotel and…

July 10, 2016 Melinda

[ In October, 2015 I visited Chiang Mai, Thailand with small group of friends. Our itinerary included some intriguing day trips to the countryside. From the beginning, I was very excited to see that we were headed to the Bua Tong waterfall, also known as the “Sticky Waterfalls.” The trip makes a wonderful day, or even just half day, excursion outside of the city. These very unique falls are a “must see” stop that I definitely recommend visiting.     We were picked up in the morning by our Thai hosts and made a quick stop at the Rimping supermarket…

July 6, 2016 Melinda

We decided to go to Japan on a whim when we found a Black Friday sale on Singapore Air. My daughter had been lobbying to go there for a long time, so the opportunity to fly for just $600 a piece was too great to pass up. I had heard that Japan was expensive, but also that this was a good time to go with a strong dollar and weak yen. I purchased first class Japan Rail passes so that we could reserve seats. To be honest, I was excited to experience the Japanese rail system at it’s best and…

July 2, 2016 Melinda

Since we have started traveling together in their adulthood my kids and I have been lost looking for the little mermaid statue in Copenhagen, one block from our hotel in Stockholm, driving through the countryside in Ireland and pretty much every square inch of Tokyo. It doesn’t matter if we’ve been by the same spot three or four times, one of us always swears we’ve never been there before. We all diligently drop a pin on Google maps for our hotel or Airbnb location the minute we check in. We have been led to our destination by literally dozens of…

June 26, 2016 Melinda

What Will These Guys Remember? In my early 20’s I made two summer trips to London England by myself. These were wonderful, life altering adventures that I will remember always. It’s funny but the smell of exhaust will instantly transport me back to London in the early 80’s. I know, pretty crazy! Most people have negative associations to it but to me it brings joyful memories. One of the most important parts of travel in my opinion is the way it creates lasting memories. Here are five simple tips to enhance those memories.   Include Special…