Tag Archives: travel

Around the South in 14 Days: Summer Road Trip 2015 in Photos

This post is long over due. But better late than never.

On the morning of July 3, my boyfriend and I departed for a journey of epic proportions through the South Eastern United States. We endured humidity, heat, and endless hours in the car, but what we gained made every drop of sweat, every backache, and every sunburn worth it. Five thousand three hundred and seventy-three miles later, I have a new appreciation for the stunning beauty, diversity, and complexity of my country, and more importantly, I have a deeper love for and trust in the man with whom I share my life.

Here are some photos from our trip, along with a map of our route. I hope they inspire you to take an adventure, whether it’s to the other side of town, or to the other side of your own country.

Day 1: From Tucson to Houston (A 16 hour trip, all in one day. Texas is HUGE!)

Entering NM in Tree Pose

Day 2: Houston (No photos of Houston, sorry.)

Day 3: Houston to Memphis

Arkansas/Mermaid 1

Our breathtaking AirBnB in the heart of Memphis:

Memphis AirBnB

Day 4: Memphis (spent mostly at the Memphis Zoo, which is fantastic!)

At the Zoo

Meerkats!

MeerkatP1070120

Our Memphis Favorites:

Otherlands Coffee Bar (try the toasted muffins!), The Memphis Zoo (make sure to catch the bear feeding), the march of the Peabody Ducks (get there early!), and Memphis Pizza Café

Day 5: Memphis to Asheville

Crow Pose

Day 6: Asheville

P1070141 P1070154P1070165

Our Asheville Favorites:

Mount Pisgah Campground (make sure to go on a hike!), and the Folk Art Center 

Day 7: Asheville to Savannah

Savannah in Savannah

Our Savannah Favorites:

Foxy Loxy Café (go for the Horchatta Latté), Fire Street Food (try the Savannah Roll), and Forsyth Park (bring bug spray)

Day 8: Savannah to Sarasota

Day 9: Holmes Beach (the location of my family reunion. That stunning woman at my side is my momma.)

Mom and MeGulfSunset

Day 10: Sarasota to Baton Rouge

P1070243

Day 11: New Orleans

P1070250 P1070251

Our New Orleans Favorites:

Café du Monde (bring cash!), the Audbon Aquarium of the Americas, and Mr. B’s Bistro (save room for dessert— the bread pudding is divine!)

Day 12: Baton Rouge to Houston

P1070263

Day 13: Houston (Again, no photos. But certainly some precious memories.)

Day 14: Houston to Tucson

P1070273

We arrived home exhausted with sore butts and sleepy eyes. We were happy to have left home, and even happier to return. As I’ve learned time and time again, it is often in my journeys far from home that I come to appreciate all that I have right here in my own community. This trip, like all adventures, reinforced my gratitude for where I’m at, who I’m with, and who I am, right here, right now.

Next stop, Portland, Oregon! We just made plans to visit PDX in October. I’ve always wanted to see this city, and luckily, I’ll have an excellent tour guide. Stay tuned!

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10 things I miss about Paris

Before I left for Paris more than one year ago, I made a list of things I would miss about my life here in Arizona. Now, more than a month since my return home, I’ve found there are things about Paris that I miss dearly and desperately. Some of them are gems that make the city unique. Others are mundane things that were part of my daily life. No matter the case, I long for them all now:

1. Fresh food that is full of flavor (because it probably came from the local farmer’s market just hours before)

crêpe au saumon

The first thing I noticed when I got home was how lackluster all of the fruits and vegetables were in the grocery stores. They tasted like they’d had all the flavor sucked out of them. Then I noticed the breads I was eating tasted like big loaves of sugar. Bleck. You just can’t beat locally raised, freshly harvested food.

2. A bakery on every block

Bakery

Bakeries are as French as handle-bar mustaches and self-rolled cigarettes. The smell of fresh dough wafts through the alleyways every morning as the little boulangeries prepare for the city’s most fundamental daily tradition: the buying and eating of bread. Meanwhile, the pastries are being frosted and adorned, and the viennoiseries  are being filled with chocolate, raisins, butter. How I miss this daily ceremony, observing it, smelling it and tasting it.

3. Green spaces around every corner

Père la Chaise

Though I’d say Paris is in need of more green space, it certainly has readily accessible gardens and parks in abundance compared to Tucson. Every neighborhood has its little (or big!) outdoor sanctuary, where the gates are open, the trees are tall and the pathways are calling to be strolled upon.

4. Beauty for beauty’s sake

Sénat

The French have a profound respect for beauty. So much so that they strive to cultivate beauty in every building, every patch of dirt, every ensemble. I miss this intentional aesthetic, this sense of presentation and pride in the human capacity for art, whether it be in trimming of a rose garden, in the ceiling of a cathedral, or in the glint of a woman’s lipstick.

5. Sunday, a true day of rest

The distinguishing feature of a Sunday in Paris is something my camera cannot capture: silence. A penetrating silence that rises and sets with the sun. On a Sunday in Paris, you can guarantee that 85 percent of all businesses and institutions are closed. At first, this bothered me, because I needed to DO things, dammit. But Sunday is the antithesis of doing in Paris. It is a day of calm, when one may get out of bed a little later in the morning, enjoy a pleasant brunch with loved ones, take a stroll through the garden, drink two glasses of wine at dinner instead of one. This couldn’t be more different than a Sunday in the U.S., where everything runs business-as-usual—fast, loud, busy. Too busy.

6. Things—demonstrations, protests, festivals—happening! All the time! 

Femen 2

Something is always happening in Paris. A girl is never bored.

7. The lights shimmering in the Seine at night

La Seine

I know I’ve used this photo time and time again, but that’s merely because I find what it captures so breathtaking. Paris at night is a magical place. It glows.

8. High heels

march 2

There is a way of dressing here in Tucson. It is called “Tucson Casual.” After a year in Paris, where dressing up is the norm, I find that I prefer a pair of heels and a splash of lipstick over a pair of sandals and a glob of sunscreen. Tucson Casual isn’t me anymore, and yet, when I reach for my heels, I recoil, knowing that wherever I go I will feel over-dressed.

Call me snobby. I can take it.

9. The changing of seasons

Preview!

When the leaves in Paris started to turn from green to orange yellow red, I behaved like a child who has just seen snow for the first time. I had never experienced this natural phenomenon, even in my hometown in the mountains of northern Arizona. Being able to see and feel the world shifting from one season to another is a wonderful feeling that brings a person down to Earth. It reminds you that you’re spinning.

10. The social custom of saying “hello,” “good morning” and “good evening” to everyone you meet

In France, and in most of Europe, hello and goodbye are required upon any one-on-one encounter with a person, whether you know them or not. When you enter a store, you say hello. When you pass someone in the hallway, you say hello. When you see a neighbor down by the mailboxes, you say hello. If you don’t, it is terribly rude.

Although this custom was a little daunting at first (who do I greet and who do I ignore?), it soon became a pleasant part of everyday life. Every time I exchanged hello’s with someone, often a stranger, I felt we had exchanged a gesture of mutual human compassion. Sometimes acknowledgement is all a person needs to feel special.

me in paris

These are only a few of the things I miss about Paris, a city that has become closer to my heart with each day spent away from her. Of course, I only realized how much I treasured her after I’d left her behind. I guess I’ll have to go back so that I can let her know, won’t I?

What customs and details do you miss about your own travels? How do you cope with the nostalgia? Share your stories in the comments below!

Smiles and all the best,

Savannah

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To Rome and Back Again

There are few sights as picturesque as Rome in the sunlight, standing against a summer-blue sky. And for weary travelers, there are few sights as welcoming. Luckily for my family and me, this was the Rome that greeted us when we arrived two weeks ago in the Italian capital.

Trevi 2Rome 2

The first time I went to Italy, I was with a large group of students and our experience was rushed, exhausting and hectic. This time, I got to truly enjoy Italy and its many pleasures. Food, history, architecture, Italians! All was mine to take in and share with my family.

We spent the majority of your time in the country in Rome, where we spent our days seeing monuments, wandering the streets and filling our bellies. Pasta, pizza, pasta.

After a couple months of toiling away here in Paris, I was able to truly relax and appreciate the differences between Italy and France, between North and South. I have to say, I think I’m a Southern girl.

SculptedColosseum  Rome

Perhaps my favorite aspect of Rome, relative to Paris, is the color. The buildings in Rome are built in the typical Mediterranean style, with tiled roofs and brightly painted facades. Every building is a different color, be it dusty orange, corn-field yellow or hazel green, and wooden shutters adorn every window.  As you look out over the city, you can see the big umbrella pines standing like leafy canopies, or Dr. Seuss’s  truffula trees, over the ruins. Paris is a beautiful city, but its palette lacks the diversity and liveliness you find in Rome.

Me at the Trevi

From Italy we headed back to France, first to see family friends in Provence, and then to return me to Paris. And what did we find when we stepped onto the platform at Gare de Lyon? Winter! Then, a few days later, snow! Needless to say, our Italian getaway was well appreciated, especially when we found ourselves trudging around in slush and ice beneath the snow-besieged Tour Eiffel.

Mais c’est la vie, n’est-ce pas?

Ciao mes belles,

Savannah

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I AMsterdam(ed)

If Amsterdam isn’t already on your “places to see in Europe” list, it needs to be. Amsterdam is one of the friendliest cities I’ve visited on this continent, and in more way than one. The people there are happy and helpful. The buildings are whimsical and colorful. The streets are bustling and musical. And at night, the lights shimmer, reflecting in the canals like candles in darkened windows.

canal at night at night

I visited Amsterdam with my best friend for two days after Christmas. It made a perfect escape from Paris. The minute I stepped out of the car, I could tell that the air was cleaner and the sun was a little brighter. As we started to explore the city, I noticed that the streets moved a little slower and the people I shared them with were a little less agressive. I felt welcome from the beginning.

central station

While in Amsterdam, we stayed at Amsterdam Hostel Leidseplein, which I can’t recommend highly enough. Not only is this hostel comfortable, accommodating and well-equipped, but it happens to be in a great location: Leidseplein.

This bustling square has everything you need, from cozy bistros to local coffee shops. Amsterdam is small enough that you’ll have no problem walking from Leidseplein to attractions like the Red Light district, the I Amsterdam sign and museums.

We were able to use Leidseplein as a home-base while we explored the rest of Amsterdam. Here are some places we discovered, both near and far:

For dancing, music and a great show:

escape

Escape

Rembrandtplein 11

Tel: + 31 20 622 11 11

For an authentic, local coffee shop experience:

coffee shop

Get Down To It

Korte Leidsedwarsstraat 77-79

For a burger that will make you melt and a cozy-casual atmosphere (all for a great price!):

burgers

De Saloon 

Korte Leidsedwarsstraat 102

For art that makes your head spin: 

hanging house balloon close balloon

W139

Warmoesstraat 139

Open daily 12:00-18:00

I Am

Look! Savannah can make animated gifs! =D

Anyway… Amsterdam is a fun city and your time there will be well spent. One of my favorite parts of being there was simply strolling through the streets, looking at the architecture and meandering into every interesting place we found. I never knew what we would stumble upon next, whether it was the I Amsterdam sign or a giant swing. Amsterdam has won my heart, and I can’t wait to return.

 Are you planning a trip to Amsterdam? Here are a few sites we used to get ready for our adventure: 

Things to do

More things to do

Coffee Shop Info

General Information

If you know of other great sites, places to go, or things to do in Amsterdam, feel free to add them in the comments!

Happy Amsterdam-ing,

Savannah

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From Prescott to Paris: 6 Tips for Conquering Travel Fiascos

My mom and I  were supposed to arrive in Paris at about 5:00 p.m. on August 16th. Well, in case you haven’t guessed yet, things did not go as planned. We didn’t get to Paris until almost 10:00 a.m. on the 17th. That means it took us 40 hours to get from Prescott to Paris. And that doesn’t even include the three hours it took us to get from Charles de Gaulle to our hotel. I should’ve walked.

These 40 hours did not pass smoothly. First, our flight from Phoenix to Dallas was delayed an hour. No problem. But then, once we arrived in Dallas Fort Worth we discovered that our flight to London was  also “delayed,” as the American Airlines agent said. “Delayed,” for 12 hours. This so called delay meant that my mom and I had to rebook our flight from London to Paris and cancel our hotel reservation for that night. American Airlines would be giving us a place to sleep, along with two free meals.

We hopped on a shuttle with all of the other London bound travelers and headed to the hotel. We were relieved by the prospect of sleep, but our relief turned quickly to bafflement. When we pulled up at the hotel we saw that all of the guests were standing outside in their pajamas and a firetruck was parked near the entrance. There had been a fire. Of course! we thought. Of course. It wasn’t long until I started laughing, laughing at the absurdity of it all. I chuckled along with the cartoonish voice of the emergency alarm, mimicking the warning until I had it memorized.

My mom and I caught a mere two hours of sleep that night. Our flight to Heathrow left at 7:30 that morning. The next night, at a hotel in London, we slept for about 3 hours.

If arriving in Paris had meant the end of it all, then this would be an ordinary scenario. But no. Our journey was far from over. Once we landed in Paris, we still had to get from Charles de Gaulle to the sixth arrondissement, which requires a train ride and a metro ride. This meant lugging not only ourselves through the underground, but my classical guitar, one backpack (stuffed to capacity), my mom’s carry-on bag and my two suitcases, both of which are the size of mortally obese 8 year olds. When we began this voyage, getting through the metro with all of this seemed manageable. WRONG. Paris has zero ramps. Zero drinking fountains. Zero elevators and/or conveniently placed escalators. We dragged, rolled, tugged and kicked all of our luggage up and down every stair, through every tunnel, between every ticket booth. By the time we clamored to the street we were soaked in sweat and heaving, thirsty and starved.

And that brings me to…

Savannah’s 6 tips for conquering travel fiascos:

  1. Accept your situation and have faith. When you’re stranded at an airport it is hard to be positive, but try to look for a bright spot– it’s better to have a flyable plane than to crash in the middle of the ocean. My best friend told me to think of it this way: “In accordance with the conservation of misfortune, you used a lot of your own quota of misery on the trip over, and as a result the rest of your stay will be much nicer!”
  2. Make friends with your fellow travelers. Perhaps the only pleasure I enjoyed during this mess was getting to know the people I met along the way– Louise from Aberdeen, Michelle from Florida, that Italian guy. We became a cohort of sorts, and we kept each other going.
  3. Give yourself some time to rest.  My impulse was to power through to the end, to stick it out and suck it up. But your body and your mind needs to recuperate, so give yourself time to rest when you can. Nap, stop and sit a while, eat.
  4. Enjoy where your are, whether you planned to be there or not. My mom and I didn’t get stuck anywhere at the right time to get out of the airport and visit, but if you have half a day or so until you’re back in the air, get out and explore a little bit. Go to a pub, stroll through the streets, have a meal. Why not?
  5. Take pictures; you’ll laugh later. Looking back, I really wish I’d taken more pictures of this experience, albeit mostly miserable. I love the picture I took of the firetruck and the sound I recorded to go with it!
  6. Do some drugs. Meaning buy an over-the-counter medicine like Tylenol or Advil that will soothe your aching bones and help you sleep on the plane. Traveling across time zones and sandwiching into airplanes can make it hard to rest.

Bon voyage! I hope you have more luck than we did!

Smiles and all the best,

Savannah

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