Escape to Florida’s Space Coast

Barrier Island Sanctuary
Wind blowin’, hair growin’.

Living in New Orleans, Florida is my go-to destination when I’m in need of a good dose Vitamin D or a quick escape. I’ve travelled all over the state, though most of my visits have been concentrated on the Emerald Coast.

Since I now have family that live on the Atlantic side, we’ve been venturing there a few times a year. We’ve just returned from a week’s reprieve to Florida’s Space Coast, and I have to say, it was stunning.

While the Atlantic surf is always rougher than its Gulf counterpart, the farther south you get on the Atlantic barrier islands (closer to Miami), the water becomes a gorgeous shade of aqua blue, and the sand so fine.

East Florida Barrier Island
Barrier Island Sanctuary

My husband and I were with our 3-year old son, so of course 99 percent of the trip was geared to him. We discovered some wonderful things to keep us all occupied, including:

Beaches (so many to choose from in this area)

Barrier Island Sanctuary (sea turtles!)

Kennedy Space Center (rockets!)

Museum of Dinosaurs and Ancient Cultures (roar!)

Good Natured River Tours (dolphins!)

Brevard Zoo (big animals!)

McLarty Treasure Museum (pirates!)

Florida’s Space Coast is only an hour’s drive from Orlando, but we’ve decided not to take our kid to the big attractions (i.e. Disney World) until he asks. For now, he’s just like his parents – the beach is his ultimate playground.

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Have you been to Florida’s Space Coast? Did you love it?

 

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Summer Abroad | Paris, Amsterdam, Germany

Canal in Amsterdam, Netherlands
Messy, travel-worn hair. The best kind. 🙂

Hello! I admit, I have been M.I.A. for a minute, but lots of good changes have happened in my life over the last few months. The most significant is that I finally moved from Atlanta to my hometown of New Orleans. The most recent is that I spent two wonderful weeks abroad in Europe!

Traveling – somewhere, anywhere – is a passion of mine, and I truly do get the travel bug every few months, even if it means getting in the car and driving for a few hours to a part of the state I’ve never been before. And I get that international travel itch at least every two years.

So this year, my husband and I decided to make a Europe trip. We decided on Paris, Amsterdam, and the Bavarian region of Germany. I studied in Paris as a college student, and my hubby had travelled there as a youngster, but we’d never been together – and it is, after all, the most romantic city in the world. I’d also been to Amsterdam, but it was a quick weekend jaunt from Paris when I was a student, so I didn’t remember much (go figure). So it was on the wish list. I have family living in Germany, so it made sense to visit them since we’d be so close.

To save money, we flew into Frankfurt, Germany, then took the international train to Paris – about a five-hour ride. I enjoy train rides – whether in the states or abroad. They take time, which means they force you to slow down and observe. Or read. Or meditate. Or listen to music.

I could really devote an entire post to each area of my travels (and maybe I will), so what I’ll do here is attempt to tell the story through some of my pictures. I didn’t take a lot in Paris or Germany – Paris because it kinda felt like home, and Germany probably just because we were there the shortest amount of time, but here are my favorites:

Paris

Paris buildings
Beautiful, rainy first morning in Paris. View from our apartment in Montmartre.

We booked our accommodations for Paris and Amsterdam through AirBnB. It was the first time I’d used their service, and I must say I enjoyed the experience! The process was easy and the hosts were friendly and responsive.

AirBnB apartment in Paris
When visiting Paris, one doesn’t need much in terms of accommodations. Just somewhere to lay your head and take a shower.
Eglise St. Eustache
Eglise St. Eustache
travel hair
When traveling, I don’t let my hair get in the way. Two French braids (of course!) was a go-to style.
Pont des Arts, Paris
Pont des Arts, Paris. Where lovers seal their commitment with lock and key.
Le Jardin du Luxembourg
Le Jardin du Luxembourg, where children still play with toy sailboats using wooden sticks, and Parisians flock for summer sun.
Canal St. Martin, Paris
The neighborhood of Canal St. Martin – laid back, cool, eclectic. (Hair in two reverse french braids and pinned on top of my head. It was hot!)
Irrueption Music Festival, Paris
Irrueption Music Festival at Parc de Belleville. This jazz band was jammin!
Sacré Coeur
Beautiful Sacré Coeur, located just steps from where we stayed in Montmartre.
meal in Paris
Steak, potatoes and salad – a typical but oh-so-good French meal! Meat is raised according to much healthier (and more ethical) standards than in the U.S., and you can taste the difference!
Sunset in Paris
Our last sunset in Paris, taken from the window of our 6th floor apartment in Montmontre. Paris – je t’aime!

Amsterdam

Heineken horses
Upon arrival in Amsterdam, we were greeted by the Heineken horses out for some exercise.

I have to say here that I absolutely fell in love with Amsterdam. It’s a city that’s built to a human scale and just makes sense. Public transportation is easy and efficient, many people opt for bikes rather than cars, food is fresh and healthy, thought is generally progressive, certain vices are legal but regulated and therefore decriminalized. Society works; people are happy. How refreshing!

canals and bikes
Canals, bikes and quaint buildings
bikes in Amsterdam
Bikes – the preferred method of transportation in Amsterdam
fresh food in Amsterdam
The food! We ate some marvelous, fresh, healthy food in Amsterdam – pressed juice, Dutch pancakes make with Belgian-milled flour, amazing Nepalese cuisine, and these open-faced sandwiches.
Amstel beer
Of course, beer is big. My beer connoisseur husband was in heaven.
Anna and Nina, Amsterdam
Life’s to-do list.
small cars in Amsterdam
Quite possibly the smallest car I’ve ever seen. Keep in mind, i am barely 5 ft.!
herring in Amsterdam
So apparently we were in Amsterdam right around the time of the June herring harvest. They eat it fresh (raw) with chopped onions and sweet pickles. I kinda liked it!
Amsterdam street market
Pop-up street markets are everywhere in Amsterdam. They sell prepared food, fresh produce, clothing, shoes, sweets, electronics – I love a good street market!

 Germany

German countryside
Clean, green Germany. (Photo taken from the window of the ICE train from Amsterdam to Frankfurt.)

We started our trip in Frankfurt, then caught trains to Paris, Amsterdam, then back to Frankfurt. Our final destination was Ansbach, located about 150 miles from Frankfurt.

pine tree in Bruckberg, Germany
Not sure if this was blue spruce or what, but it was huge! I can only image how beautiful it must be covered in snow. Bruckberg, Germany
Rothenburg, Germany
View from the top of the walled city of Rothenburg, Germany
St. Lorenz, Nuremberg, Germany
The imposing, medieval church of St. Lorenz in Nuremberg, Germany
travel weary
Nearing the end of the road. Zoned out, lost in my own thoughts, absorbing it all.

Well folks, I hope you enjoyed my little travel journal as much as I enjoyed my trip. Travel opens the mind and stimulates the senses. I encourage everyone to go as far as they can, as often as they can. All it takes is some savings, planning, and determination. Do you have questions about international travel? Let me know in the comments below!

M.I.A. in Miami

Hi all – sorry I’ve been M.I.A. for the last week. I spent a much needed and very relaxing long weekend in Miami! I’d been to Miami once on a day trip from the Orlando area, and in the airport multiple times en route to the Caribbean, but this was my first time spending real time in “The Gateway to the Americas.” It did not disappoint.

My husband and I were invited to what promised to be an epic wedding in ritzy Coral Gables. Long gowns were required of ladies, and black tie was optional for gents. This is what we wore:

chartreuse dress
Dress: BCBG

I thought the gown was perfect for Miami because of the bright chartreuse color and light, flowing fabric and cut. Plus, since it’s the end of the season, I got it for over 50 percent off (score!).

For the hair, I knew my curls would go wild in the humidity, and the way our flight was scheduled I wouldn’t have time to do my hair the day of the wedding, so I had to do something with it the night before. To tame my tresses, I blow-dried my hair, curled small sections with a 1-inch curling iron, then pin curled them overnight. The next day, I took down my hair and looked just like Shirley Temple. Not exactly the look I was going for, so I separated the curls with my fingers and threw them up in a loose ponytail so they would stretch out on the flight. When getting ready, all I had to do was comb them out, recurl a few sections with the curling iron, and pin them to one side and over the shoulder to create a dramatic evening look. The above picture was taken right after it rained, so I’d say my hair held up pretty well!

The rest of the trip was spent at a boutique art deco hotel on South Beach two blocks from the ocean. For three days, we woke up, put on our bathing suits, ate a breakfast of fruit and pastries, and spent several glorious hours on the country’s most famous beach. We were drunk off the environment: wide sandy beach, crystal clear water, and the kind of big, blue sky that makes you wish you could fly.

South Beach
No filter needed.

Nights were spent eating fresh seafood on some patio, swimming in our rooftop saltwater pool, strolling along breezy Ocean Drive, having drinks on a friend’s balcony, and dancing to live reggae in the kind of tiny venues I love.

Pool at The Albion - Miami
Nighttime swimming – things could be worse.

I wish I had taken more pictures, but it’s usually the last thing on my mind when I’m relaxed and having a great time (bad blogger!).

So Miami – thanks for being a gracious host and giving us a future trip to look forward to. We’ll see you again soon.

~Thaïs