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Showing posts with label Vacation. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Vacation. Show all posts

Next month Christian and I will be taking a trip to California to visit Disneyland, Yosemite National Park and Sequoia National Park. Originally we had wanted to see Joshua Tree and the Redwoods too but, since we only have a week, we needed to prioritize. We'll do a dedicated Redwoods trip in the future since it's something we both really want to do (might squeeze in a visit to the town where Halloweentown was filmed in Oregon too if we go in October, ha ha.)

We're spending three weeks surrounding the California vacation working from Christian's Mom's house now that Christian is able to have a little more flexibility with his location. Instead of flying to Missouri we'll drive like we did last Thanksgiving so we won't need to pack light for that portion of the trip. We'll limit to carry-on luggage for the California trip. The plan is to fly from Missouri into Los Angeles, rent a car and fly back to Missouri from San Francisco. Everything is booked and we're ready to go!

The first essential to packing is obviously a bag, and this stylish minimalist backpack from Day Owl is the perfect option for me! I love how simple it is with no unnecessary frills but plenty of features. I always appreciate bags with a luggage strap so I can attach them easily to my suitcase. This backpack also has a neoprene lined side pocket to fit a water bottle and a few other hidden pockets to stow smaller items. Day Owl make their bags with sustainable materials including waxed canvas made from recycled plastic bottles! How cool is that?



We will be doing a LOT of walking so the proper gear and accessories are key. My main problem is I don't go for utility, I go for fashion. Ball of foot cushions for sandals from Foot Petals will definitely be in my suitcase. At Disney I'll wear my Ancient Greek Sandals, and instead of hiking boots I'll probably wear sneakers for the national parks.  I bought an assortment of ball of foot cushions and some blister healers so I'll have options for each pair of shoes I bring. I love that they have some foot cushions with built-in toe-post crests so you can use them on flip-flop style sandals, or other sandals that separate the big toe from the rest.

Disney Supplies

The Disney portion of the trip is a whole different animal but it's only two days so I won't need much. I'll obviously need some Disney tees to wear during the day and a Mickey sweatshirt for cooler evenings. I may bring a different one since this one says Disney World, but I love the color so I may rep the East Coast! My Remy's Ratatouille Adventure Dooney & Bourke bag will also be making the trip out West!

The most important thing is my walking sandals, which will be made even more comfortable with my new ball of foot cushions! My sandal of choice is Ancient Greek Sandals, not those other sandals that people claim are comfortable. One trip I tried to wear Tevas, that I thought I had broken in, and my feet were RIPPED APART after one day. For the rest of the trip I had to wear socks with them, in addition to band-aids, to protect my poor feet. Never again. I'll stick with my AGS that have been all over the world with me, literally!


I don't own much activewear, but for the second half of our trip we'll be doing a lot of walking around the national parks so I'll be wearing Fabletics workout sets, Spanx leggings and sneakers.  For warmer days (if any!) I'll have some Dona Jo biker shorts.  In addition to workout clothes I'll also look like a proper tourist with a fanny pack and water bottle strapped around my waist.


While California will definitely be warmer than Connecticut and Missouri, I know that April could still be snowy up at Sequoia and Yosemite National Park. This means I'll need to pack some layers. Tank tops, short sleeves, long sleeves, sweaters and sweatshirts will all be necessary at one point or another. I also have some fleece lined leggings I can wear if it's supposed to be extra cold on one of our exploration days.


We'll have a couple days in LA and visiting Universal Hollywood too so I'll bring some "normal" clothes for our sightseeing on those days. Or maybe I'll go totally against my norm and wear my leggings and activewear on those days, the horror! I'm the type of person that will not wear workout clothes unless I'm actually trying to exercise.  But, if I run out of room in my suitcase, that will probably be the move.

*This post was made in partnership with Responsival.*

I bought this dress - for a STEAL on eBay - at the end of October and it was killing me knowing I would have to wait until next Summer to wear it. Then I remembered I had my trip to Disney a couple weeks ago and knew it would be perfect for my day at Animal Kingdom! I'm a major Disney geek so naturally I have Disney-related tees that I wear to all the parks but for Animal Kingdom I usually go for some sort of animal print and in this case a patterned Edun dress.

I hope all my American followers have a great Thanksgiving (and possibly long weekend if your employer is nice!)

Dress: Edun red printed silk dress (eBay), Sandals: Ancient Greek Sandals 'Athanasia' in Croc (Moda Operandi), Mickey Mouse Bag: Coach x Disney 'Patricia Saddle in Glove Calf Leather with Mickey Ears' (Coach Outlet), Magic Band: It's a Small World

A couple weeks ago I jetted off to Disney for five days of fun with some friends. We planned this trip at the beginning of the year (March!) when Disney World announced the opening for Star Wars Galaxy's Edge.  Sadly Christian couldn't come because he was already using his allotted days off for our honeymoon. Don't worry, we're hopefully going to Disney (and Universal) in May!

November seemed like the best time to go because the initial opening crowds for Star Wars would have slightly dwindled and we could celebrate the Holidays by going to Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party!  We also knew that EPCOT would be having either their Food & Wine Festival or Festival of the Holidays! When dates were announced I was excited to read we would be there for Food & Wine.

Last year my friend and I went to EPCOT 4 times during our stay so we could get the Annual Passholder cutting board but this year we only went for 1 day so I had less time to try foods and had to be much more strategic. Here's what I tried this year as well as a few tips to get the most bang for your buck!

1. Download the WDW - Food&Wine app to keep track of everything you want to try and have tried! Before our trip I wish-listed everything I wanted to try so I wouldn't have to think about it while in the park. (this is not an official Disney app)

2. Buy the Festival gift card. I find it helpful to buy the special festival gift card on a wrist coil. You have to load it with at least $15 but we all know if you're going to eat around the world you'll spend at least that! Plus they always have a cute design, this year it was Remy. (Last year they had 3 separate Remy designs so I had to buy all of them!) It's a great way to control your spending because you can load it with whatever your budget for the day.

3. Pace yourself. If you can spread this out over a few days of your trip, definitely do! Park hop back to EPCOT once you're done at another park for a few bites. If you only have one day don't try to eat too much or you won't be able to enjoy what you do have.

4. When you're with a group you might want to share bites with others so you can sample even more! If 2 or 3 people want to try the same thing why wouldn't you split it so you have room for even more snacks? And, if you happen to really like it, go back to get a second if you're still hungry at the end of the day!

What I tried

The Donut Box

I had already had breakfast earlier in the morning but when my friend had time to kill while waiting for the other 2 members of our group (who decided to sleep in) I wanted to try the Strawberry-dusted yeast donut holes! It was $4 for 4 really big donut holes so we split them and it was the perfect portion.


Spain had this dish last year and it remains one of my favorite bites of the Food & Wine Festival. It's the Spanish-style Paella with Botifarra and Roasted Chicken for $5.50. The portion size is great for this price and it was delicious and flavorful!


Another repeat from last year was the Chicken Dumplings with Chinese Slaw for $4.95. The dumplings were delicious but you only get 2 for the $5 so it's not that big of a portion. I was going to try the black pepper shrimp with garlic noodles as well but figured I should try something different instead.


When we arrived at the India booth I decided to be brave and try the Korma Chicken with cucumber tomato salad, almonds, cashes and warm naan for $5.25.  I say "brave" because I'm not a big fan of saucy foods (yes, even pasta.) But the flavor was amaaazing and I really enjoyed it!


This is not part of the food festival but every time I go to EPCOT I have to get some chocolate ice cream in France. I'm not lying when I say this is my favorite ice cream anywhere and it's totally worth the $5 for a single scoop. Every time I'm always tempted to get a french macaron with ice cream but I just can't quit my go-to.

Festival Merchandise

I was going to try not to buy any festival specific merchandise apart from a passholder pin and regular pin but they had some ADORABLE Mickey and Remy mugs in the Passholder merchandise section. They also happened to be 25% off (plus my 20% off passholder discount) so I couldn't resist!

What I wore

I wore my Passholder tee from 2018 because how could I not?! The perfect shirt for tasting around the world. It was a chillier - and windy - day so jeans were necessary. I also had my Mickey Sweatshirt on to save me from freezing.

Graphic Tee: EPCOT Food & Wine Festival Passholder Tee, Jeans: FRAME 'Le Skinny de Jeanne' (Shopbop), Sandals: Ancient Greek Sandals 'Athanasia' in Croc (Moda Operandi)

Our last stop on the honeymoon was Athens! We were pretty worn out by this point but we still made it to all the essential spots, and even spotted a celebrity along the way.  Our main checklist included the Acropolis, National Gardens, the Ancient Greek Sandals flagship store and getting the delicious chocolate lava cake I had in 2015. I also found out about a cute restaurant a couple days before we left called Little Kook that I wanted to check out because they change the restaurant with fun themes. After that it was just whatever else we could fit in!

All in all, we walked 100 MILES over the course of our 2 week trip. How insane is that?! And pretty much every day was spent in my black 'Alethea' Ancient Greek Sandals. I wore my Athena's on the first day and for some reason I got a weird blister so I was afraid to wear them again (they've never done that before but I wanted to be safe.)

Note: If you don't want to take public transportation to your hotel or airbnb, download Beat, it's like Uber for Athens.  There should be a flat fee to take you to the city center, we paid about $43 which in my opinion was totally worth not having to lug our bags on and off subway trains. It is also a way to avoid having to pay cash for a taxi because you can use a credit card with the app. For our way back to the airport we had our host pre-book a car for us so we paid €45, a little more than if we had used the Beat app.

What to Do

Temple of Zeus

Our cab driver from the airport gave us a great tip. He said if we were going to get the combo ticket for ancient sites (€30 for the Acropolis, Ancient Agora, Theatres of Dionysus & Attikus, Temple of Zeus, Hadrians library, and Kerameikos) to start at the Temple of Zeus rather than the Acropolis because the lines won't be as long and you can just walk straight to the entrance at the Acropolis instead of waiting in the ticket line there.  We were there on a free weekend but we wanted to go to the Acropolis on Friday so we bought the extra pass so we could see most sights on Friday and whatever was left on Saturday.

The Acropolis

This was our main reason for stopping in Athens. Christian is a nut for Ancient Greek mythology so he was really excited to finally see the Parthenon and other sites of the Acropolis in person. We got up early in the morning, but not too early, so we could beat a lot of the crowds but it was still pretty crazy! The sun is BLARING during the day and we were already getting overheated at 9/9:30am so make sure to bring water with you and hide in the shade when you can!

Panathenaic Stadium

We did a quick walk-by of the Panathenaic Stadium, which hosted the opening and closing ceremonies of the first modern Olympics in 1896! So cool! We had a lot we wanted to see on this particular day so we opted not to pay to enter and viewed from the outside only.

The Ancient Agora

The Ancient Agora is home to many ruins and buildings, including the Temple of Hephaestus (last photo) and Stoa of Attalos - which includes a small museum of artifacts. When we first got there in the morning there were areas blocked off because The Good Place was filming an episode. Luckily they left not long after we arrived so we were able to see the blocked off area, which included the Odeon of Agrippa.

We also spotted Kristen Bell walking in the Stoa of Attalos (first photo.) See a screenshot from a stealthy video I took while looking in the total opposite direction pretending I didn't know she was there, haha! They weren't filming at that point.

Hadrian's Library

Hadrian's Library was pretty cool to walk through and we were joined by some tortoises while doing so. Funny how we only saw them when we were at the ancient ruins, never in other parts of the city. The walls and columns are just so cool to look at. Imagine what these must have looked like back when they were all in one piece.

The National Gardens

Another must-see spot was the National Gardens. We spent a couple hours walking around and taking in the views. Since it was the end of Summer we sadly didn't get to see many flowers but it was still a nice reprieve from the loudness and business of the city.  Definitely make a walk through on your trip to Athens if only to escape the crowds.

Ancient Greek Sandals Flagship Store

One of my highlights of Athens was visiting the newly opened (May 2019) flagship store for Ancient Greek Sandals - my favorite sandal brand (my first post gushing over them in 2013!)  I had already bought a new pair while we were in Santorini but couldn't resist getting a pair in the ACTUAL store.  I tried on a few pairs and in the end went with a simple pair called the Apteros in purple suede that were different from any other pair I have because they were slip-ons. Normally I like to buy sandals with backs so I can wear them walking everywhere without worry. I wore these to the grocery store and found they were quite comfortable for walking, but I'm not sure they'd survive one of my Disney days so I'll keep them for normal wear.

After I checked out I had Christian take a picture of me with my purchase (which came in an amazing tote bag with a lookbook!) and I felt I needed to explain my giddiness to the woman at the store. I told her they were my favorite brand and this was my EIGTH pair. She was very excited to hear that.

Unfortunately I missed a special collection for Mary Katrantzou's Spring 2020 show - more pretty pictures here. They created beautiful sandals for the show held at the Temple of Poseidon on October 3rd (only a few days after we left, ahh!) In celebration they also sold some limited edition sandals at the store and changed their displays. Oh well, you can't have everything!

Where to Eat

Dionysos Zonar's

We ate here on our first night in Athens. It was another accident as the place I had wanted us to eat was all booked up (even though it was only 5:30...I bet they just don't like Americans) so we had to keep walking to find somewhere else and happened upon Zonar's with a lovely view of the Acropolis. We ate out on the patio which has a different menu from inside. This was my favorite meal in Athens apart from the last place on this list. I had the free-range chicken with broccoli, black rice and mustard sauce and Christian tried the Moussaka to see if it was better than what he had in Santorini (it wasn't.)

Funny note - this was the only restaurant on our whole trip that served water with their ice, which I really appreciated. I do love cold water!


Our last meal of the trip was a small outdoor cafe near the Acropolis Museum. It was close to our apartment and we were so tired that we wanted something quick and easy! Christian had a Gyro and I had Meatballs with rice. Not the best meal (mine,) but it did the trick!

Piazza Duomo

This restaurant is where I had one of my favorite desserts back in 2015. I went back again super excited to share the deliciousness with Christian and was sadly let down. We ordered the chocolate souffle and when it came we dug in hoping to find a lovely gooey center. What we got was a ball of hard ganache that had not melted all the way through and a rubbery cake on the outside.   I had this TWICE in 2015 and both times it was amazing so maybe this was a fluke. I'm wondering if they got lazy with their desserts and started to buy frozen in bulk, or this one just wasn't cooked enough.  Either way I was very dissapointed.

We did have lunch before the dessert which was good. Once again Christian tried the mousakka to see if it would be the best of the 3, he said it was better than Zonar's but not as good as the one in Santorini. I had chicken with quinoa salad - suuuper tasty! So at least the lunch was good.

Patisserie Artemis

On our last night we wanted some baklava for dessert and this Patisserie was on the way back to our apartment from dinner so we stopped in. Plus, we liked the name, who doesn't want to eat something made my a Goddess, right? We got some regular baklava and tried a chocolate variety as well, so tasty!

Little Kook

I saved the best for last! As I mentioned above, I found out about Little Kook only a few days before we left for our trip and knew we had to try it! They change their theme every few months and totally makeover the restaurant and menu, when I googled they were doing a Mary Poppins theme and when we arrived it was all decked out in pumpkins and ghouls for Halloween! I even got to sit on a pumpkin throne, the best seat in the house!

If you ask Christian this would probably be his favorite part of the whole trip. He loved the decor, the music and of course the desserts! We didn't realize how big they would be so we got 2 separate ones. I got the Dragon's Hot Breath (chocolate cake with chocolate praline layers and covered in meringue flambe) and Chrisitan had a Dark Witch Brownie (brownie with ice cream.) They were so huge, we definitely could have shared one and still been stuffed.  My cake was AMAZINGGG, the meringue on the outside was the perfect compliment to all the chocolate inside.

Needless to say this was our lunch. Luckily we went here before lunch (it was close to where we were and we were hungry) otherwise I doubt we would have had any room to eat them!

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