Guten Tag Munich!

Ok, maybe this isn’t grammatically correct, but you get the point.  Good day Munich!  We got to spend five days in Munich last summer and I thought I’d share some pictures and details on this great travel spot.

When you think of Germany, do you think of beer, pretzels, lederhosen and Birkenstocks?   I do, too!  Those are just some of the great things about this spot, but there are many more things that make it worthwhile to visit.  We flew into the airport around mid-day and took a couple trains to the Marienplatz.  From there, we walked the rest of the way to our hotel.  We got lost, so it took about 30 minutes instead of 15.  My husband speaks German so it was definitely helpful, but a lot of the locals speak some or very good English, so it was easy to understand and communicate throughout our whole stay.

img_5125
Marienplatz

 

After checking in to our clean, slightly modern and well located hotel, we headed right for the Viktualienmarkt which was less than a block away.  This lovely market has been around since the early 1800s and you will find candles, flowers, beer, sweets, fruit and our personal favourite, schnitzel!  We had a big lunch of schnitzel and beer before we started to wander around.

img_5172

 

The next day we took one of the hop on hop off bus tours and saw the city and surrounding area.  We love these tours as it really highlights the popular attractions and usually shows you something you may have not heard of.

This area is great for walking and is super bike friendly. Actually, all of Munich is bike friendly.   We rented bikes and spent one day pedalling through the Englisher Garten (English Garden).  This city garden is one of the largest in Europe and has many paths to walk or cycle, beer gardens, monuments and water features.  There is even a spot to surf on one of the rivers!  From there, we went to the Olympiapark to see where the 1972 Olympics were held.  More beautiful paths, a little lake with paddle boats and some amazing buildings were all there for the viewing.

img_0167
Munich Olympiapark

We also spent a day at the zoo.  Say what you will about zoos, but this one was pretty good.  It was a 5 km walk to get there from our hotel, but we wanted to see the the city so we ventured on.  I brightly plenty of sweets and treats to keep the kids going and I have to admit, they didn’t complain as much as I thought they would.  Once we got to the zoo, we were not disappointed.  It was very well laid out and had a great amount of animals to see.  Some of the habits looked so natural you might even believe the animals were in the wild.

img_5207
Welcome to Hellabrunn Zoo

 

On our last day, we drove to see the Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria.  It was only a couple hours by car and it was a beautiful drive to see this part of Germany – so close to the Alps and Austrian border.  This castle was built by King Ludwig II and was the inspiration for the Disney castle.  As we didn’t buy tickets ahead of time, we weren’t able to get inside for the tour.  Instead we took a bus up the hill and were on the grounds of the castle. We  were amazed at the detail and the how difficult it must have been to build a castle in this location.

img_0243
Castle Neuschwanstein

We probably had some of the best meals of our whole trip in Munich.  Our hotel served an amazing German breakfast every day.  We had schnitzel in various beer gardens for lunch  every day and dinner was usually at an Italian restaurant.  The pasta and pizza at dinner was delicious.  I’m not sure if it is because of the proximity to Italy (it’s not that far north of the Italian border), but it was indescribably good!  We love German food!

If you are considering a trip to Germany, make sure to add Munich as a destination.  We found it laid back, family friendly and overall it had a nice vibe for us to enjoy.  Please let me know if you have ever been to Munich and what you thought in the comments.

auf Wiedersehen!

linking up with:A Little Bit of EverythingNot Dressed As LambBy BMGCalypso in the Country

 

5 Gifts for Travellers

I was fortunate to take a few trips this past year and recently,  a friend asked what were the best things I used for packing and travelling.  It was such an easy question and considering the time of year, I thought I would share my favourites with you.

Packing cubes:

I found these at Marshalls for $30 and I picked up another set at IKEA for $10.  They keep your shirts separate from your socks and your workout gear doesn’t get mixed up with your everyday t-shirts.

img_7466

img_7469

A Luggage Scale:

A must have!  With many airlines now charging extra if your bag is overweight, it is handy to check how much your luggage weighs before you leave home.  For less than $20 you should pick up this.

img_7473

Packing bags:

My sister gave me these before our Europe trip and they made packing pretty efficient.  All the little things were in their own place and easy to find in my carry on and in my suitcase.

img_7472

Passport holder:

This case is so handy to keep your passports, itineraries, boarding passes, etc.  It’s great for families and solo travellers.   I paid about $25 for this particular style.

img_7470

img_7471

A reusable shopping bag:

I always take one or two of these with me.  They come in a handy pouch, are easy to pack and ready to be used for anything!  They usually cost less than $5 and can be used for groceries, souvenirs, etc.  Carrying one of these will make you look more like a local and less like a tourist.

img_7476

All of these items are pretty affordable to give as gifts or use as stocking stuffers.  Is there anything you take on a trip that should be on my list?  Please let me know in the comments and happy shopping!

linking up with: A Little Bit of EverythingSincerely, PaulaDesign Dining and Diapers,Mom Home GuideNot Dressed As LambGood Random FunClaire JustineI Should be Mopping the Floor

London’s calling…

The weather here on the Wet Coast has been raining and cold most days.  So, I’m not feeling very much into posting about fashion or home decor.  Instead, I’m still thinking about our big summer trip.  Our family’s first European adventure took place in July which means I have been home for over 3 months!  Where does the time go?!  It was such a great trip that I’m still reliving it every day.  So, I thought I would share a few pictures of the first city on our trip:

After we landed, found our flat and unpacked, we headed off to find a pub.  Drinks were the first order of business and the  apple cider did not disappoint!

img_7044-1

Dinner was so British – chicken pot pie – yum!!

img_7050

These were the floors in the lobby of our apartment building. #ihavethisthingwithfloors

img_4966

We did the Hop On Hop Off bus tour and the next few pictures are from that trip.  It’s an easy way to see the city, hear some interesting facts and get around.  The kids thought it was fun and yup those are rain drops you see on the glass.

img_0006-2

A view from our bus tour across the Thames to the popular London Eye.

img_4928

London Bridge as seen from a window at the Tower of London.

img_4962

Lastly, what trip to London wouldn’t be complete without seeing the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace.

img_0129-1

For those of you looking for more fashion posts about my trip, I posted about the shoes, clothes and the fashion I saw on our trip herehere, and here.

Have you been to London lately?  Let me know in the comments what you enjoyed while visiting.

linking up with: A Little Bit of EverythingCalypso in the CountrySincerely, PaulaGood Random Fun

Shoes for Days

IMG_5198

This picture represents the shoes my family took on our recent trip to Europe.   Four people, 3 weeks, 17 pairs of shoes.  That averages out to roughly four pairs each, but in actual fact I ended up with 6 pairs in my suitcase.  This was no beach vacation, so I knew we needed comfortable shoes.  Our plans included walking – lot of walking!!

Here’s the breakdown of who took what:

Daughter:

  • Flip flops
  • Native slip ons
  • Sketcher slip ons
  • Under Armour runners

She only wore the Natives once, so I probably could have left this pair at home.  Same with  the Under Armour runners as she preferred her Sketcher slips ons most days.  I wish I had bought a pair of Birkenstock sandals for her as the selection and price in Germany was way better than here at home.  #missedopportunity

 

 Son:


  • Flip flops
  • Vans black slip ons
  • Under Armour runners

My son wore exactly what he brought exactly when I thought he would.  He didn’t complain about sore feet, so I deem his shoe packing a success.

 

Husband:

 


  • 2 x pairs of Adidas
  • Flips flops
  • Running shoes  (for running/hiking)

Husband rotated through his shoes each day as we did a lot of walking.  He didn’t end up wearing his flip flops at all, but since they didn’t take up much room it was still worth bring them along.  #justincase

(note:  couldn’t find the other Adidas to put in the picture as he was wearing them)

 

Me:


  • flip flops
  • tan coloured sandals
  • Black Nike runners
  • White Superga runners
  • Black espadrilles

I am pretty happy with the shoes I packed and I wore them all.  I wish I had swapped out my white laces on the Nikes to black so that they would have looked more like a fashion runner than a workout runner. That said, with a white tee and black jogger pants they were just fine.

The Superga were a new purchase before we left and I was surprised how comfortable they were.  Of course I bought white and they got dirty, but I was ok with that.   I also bought a pair of black espadrilles before we left and I’m glad I did!  Very comfortable for walking around and went just fine with my jeans, jogger pants and both my dresses. My Mat & Nat sandals were also quite comfortable and easy to wear with all my outfits.

And while in Germany, I purchased these:

The Birkenstocks were purchased because I have a lot of friends who rave about them and since I was in the land of Birkenstocks…I had to have a pair.  They have been on trend for a few years now and while I used to shun them, I’m now happy to have a pair.  If you haven’t tried them, you should.  You might be surprised.

I would use this shoe packing guide again for any other long trips that involve a lot of walking.  What do you think?  Did I forget to include anything?  Let me know in the comments what shoes you take on your trips.

linking up with: Jaymie AshcraftFashion Should Be FunHappiness at Mid-lifeJo-Lynne ShaneNancy’s Fashion StyleNancy’s Fashion StylePocketful of Polka DotsPosh Classy MomPosh Classy MomMore Pieces of MeSincerely Jennna MarieStyle NudgeReasons to Dress,The Pleated PoppyShopping My ClosetThe Blended BlogGet Your Pretty OnJersey Girl Texan HeartClassy Yet Trendy

 

What I saw – Fashion in Paris

IMG_5612.jpg

 

Our family recently returned from a vacation in Europe and the last few days were spent in Paris.  I was in Paris about 21 years ago with my sister (who shares this blog) with me.   It was 1995, September and the weather was quite cool.  Here’s what we wore:

 

10437425_10152963601308626_4024092411949094285_n

 

You may want to know why we were wearing XXL sweatshirts?  Umm…we have no clue!!  We both laugh and shudder to believe we actually dressed like this in Paris!

Fast forward to this year and I think I have improved my travelling wardrobe.  I’ll do another post about what I packed, but I’m pretty sure I didn’t stand out as an obvious tourist.  But I also didn’t look like a Parisian.  These women have an effortless style about them that is hard to describe, but I’ll try.  Chic, classic, simple, confident, basic, put together.   Just a few words that come to mind.

Before I tell you my favourite Parisian looks, I’ll tell you what I didn’t see:

  • really distressed denim
  • boyfriend jeans
  • off the shoulders tops (only worn by tourists)
  • too many patterns

I’m not saying these items are not being worn in Paris, but I just didn’t see them.

What did I see?

  • tailored pants/jeans – cigarette style in dark denim or black
  • cropped and flared pants – in linen
  • white tops – blouses and tees
  • simple dresses in solid colours
  • scarves
  • classic and simple purse or bag
  • ballet flats (yes, they really do wear them)
  • stylish sunglasses
  • dark blazer or fitted cardigan
  • solid colours or colour blocking

 

During our travels around the city, there were two Parisian women that stood out to me.

The first  wore a white tee, dark jeans, black and tan ballet flats and a dark blazer and carried a simple cross body purse.

The second had on a sleeveless dress, more of a tank style with a full skirt.  It was in a bright coral colour, and accessorized with a necklace and carried a classic tote style purse. The sandals were flat but with that slightly thicker sole that seems to be on trend right now.

Both women looked fantastic and although I couldn’t see myself wearing the bright coral dress, I could see myself recreating the look being with a more subtle colour.  I wasn’t able to take a picture of either of these ladies, but I found a few images on Pinterest that will show you how they looked:

camo_flats6-530x807
Source
paris-street-style-uniform-dressing-01.1
Source
blazer-short-sleeve-blouse-skinny-jeans-loafers-tote-bag-large-5848
Source

 

Chic-Classic-TN
Shannon from Gamine & Stripes

 

16WSUM_WM410_IVO_W01
Source

 

002613550
Source
ZB6851200_main
Source

 

d84e9303f0baa519bc4268fb67e22ca4
Source

 

There are lots and lots of images and ideas on Pinterest (of course) if you need more inspiration.  I thought this this article summed it all up quite nicely.  I’m going to try and add a little more Paris to my wardrobe and since it’s actually quite simple, I should be able to find everything in my closet 🙂

 

linking up with: More Pieces of MeSincerely Jenna MarieElegantly FashionableHigh Latitude StyleGaray TreasuresStyle NudgeTwo Peas in a BlogFine Whatever BlogA Good HueWalking In Memphis in High HeelsThe Mummy ChroniclesPosh Classy MomThe Pleated PoppyThe Blended BlogGet Your Pretty OnSydney Fashion HunterClassy Yet TrendyElegance and MommyhoodThe Fab JourneyHappiness at Mid-life,Curly Crafty MomFashion Should Be Fun,Jo-Lynne ShaneNancy’s Fashion StylePosh Classy MomShelbee on the EdgeMs. Toody Goo Shoes

 

10+ things every vacation property needs

This is a pretty much a repost from last year.

With the May long weekend just behind us, cottages have been opened up and families are starting to make their summer plans.  Over the long weekend, we spent a couple nights at a cottage in a beach town not far from home.

While the cottage was cute and the location was fantastic, there were three main things that could have been improved upon:

  1.  All the beds were creaky and squeaky with saggy mattresses.   The double was actually a super single and there was only room for one.  It squeaked every time I rolled over.  The twin was a cool looking old fashioned metal bed, but it also had metal springs.  They squeaked every time my son rolled over.  The queen pullout sofa was from the early 80s, the mattress was super thin and sagged in the middle (think: Seinfeld episode).
  2. The windows had no coverings.  Or very little.  The front of the cottage faced East and we were treated with the morning sun at 5am.  I didn’t want to be awake at 5am.  We found some thumbtacks and hung up some sheets, but it wasn’t ideal.
  3. Lastly, the bed linens.  They were old, tired and musty.  If storing linens, make sure they are in a dry location and add some cedar balls or chips to keep them fresh and moth free.

Sleep is such an important part of every day life and it can make or break a vacation – especially with little ones.

So, with that said…

Add a lWhat ittle bit of body text-2

Do you have a vacation home?  Do you rent it out?  Or maybe you like to have your holiday in a rented cabin or cottage.  We used to own a vacation cottage on a nearby island and since selling it, we frequently rent a cottage/cabin/townhouse when we travel.  Although hotels are great for the pool, room service and air conditioning, the space that you usually get with a cabin usually can’t be beat!

From our experience renting out our own place and from staying at someone else’s, we found some key areas that should always be well taken care of.

Great bathroom towels – it may be cost efficient to take your old towels to the cottage but not everyone wants to exfoliate when they towel off.  Winners, Homesense, and Ikea all have a great selection of towels at reasonable prices.

Soft sheets – the same thing I said for towels goes for sheets.  Rough and tough sheets don’t make for sweet dreams.

Beds – please don’t put the old futon from the basement and the crappy mattress that has been around since you can’t remember when into your cottage or cabin.  Guests will continue to come back if they have had a great sleep and lumpy squeaky mattresses are not what dreams are made of.

Curtains – think about which direction your windows face.  If a bedroom faces the East, then consider putting blinds and curtains in this room so that the rising sun doesn’t wake up your guests at 5am.

Toiletries – just like a hotel, it is nice if there are little bottles of shampoo and soap for your guests to use.  Consider a bowl in the bathroom filled with samples or just large sized shampoo and liquid soap in the shower.  Sometimes, it is the little things that guests will remember.

Coffee/Tea – for coffee drinkers, like my husband and I, we appreciate a good coffee machine and some coffee/sugar/cream in case we don’t have time to pick up supplies before we arrive.  It doesn’t have to be the best or a big supply, but a starter pack is always a good idea.

Fans and Flashlights/Nightlight – these are not must haves, but they sure are nice to have.  The cabin we just stayed in could have used a fan in the bedroom to cool it down as it was the hottest room in the place.  A flashlight/nightlight is always helpful to find your way around in the night should you need a quick trip to the bathroom or to help the kids.

First Aid – a small basket with bandaids, wraps, tweezers and polysporin is so helpful as many families don’t travel with first aid supplies.

Clear instructions and helpful notes – let your guests know the rules of your cottage and/or the complex where they will be staying.  Do they need to clean before leaving?  Where is the electrical panel?  Where does the garbage and recycling go?  Dog friendly?   The more info, the better the experience for both them and you.

Cleaning – if you would like your guests to clean, then please make it easy for them to do so.  Easy to find brooms, cloths and a vacuum will help them to clean any spills and messes and leave the property in good condition.

Tourist info – we love when owners leave maps and brochures of the area suggesting things to do.  If there are some hiking trails, a great park or a restaurant they must eat at, let your guests know – they will appreciate it.

I watched  Sarah’s rental cottage recently and was amazed by the location and how she transformed the outdated property. Your cottage should be a reflection of you and your family, so just make it a place that you like to visit and where guests would like to stay.

Whether you are an cottage owner or renter  this summer, I hope this list helps you have a great holiday experience.   Let me know in the comments if there are any things that make your stay in a vacation property  even better.

linking up with: The Pin JunkieDesign Dining and DiapersCurly Crafty Mom

 

 

36 hours in Santa Monica

We just spent part of our Spring Break in California and it worked out that we would have two nights free before our flight home. So, we decided to spend these two nights in Santa Monica. How did we come up with Santa Monica?  Well, it is less than 10 miles from LAX and since we have friends in LA, it was a fairly short distance for them to come and see us at the beach.

Before we left on our trip, I searched for accommodation in Santa Monica.  I was disappointed that I couldn’t find much on VRBO or AirBnB for our dates.  The few properties I did find lacked character or style, were on a busy street, above a bar or were not set up for kids.  That left hotels.  There are quite a few right on Ocean Avenue and close to the Santa Monica Pier.  They range in price, style and location, but with such a short visit to the area, I wanted to be close the pier and 3rd Street Promenade (more on that later).

The Ocean View Hotel ticked all the boxes.  Good location, reasonable price and recently updated.  Since we were arriving late one afternoon and leaving a day and half later, I decided we didn’t need an ocean view luxury room.  We usually always get a room with a view.   But for the time we were there, it was just fine and we didn’t feel we missed seeing the ocean.  That said, our room was small, but well appointed.  The only downside was the two double beds.  They were a little tight for all of us.  My kids aren’t used to sleeping together and my husband and I have a king at home.  However, since we were only there for two nights, I knew we could make it work and we did.

Day 1:

We arrived late the first afternoon, so we quickly dropped our stuff and headed out to see the beach.  It was a pretty sight!  The sun was low in the sky, the waves were crashing in and the beach just went on for what seemed like forever.

After hanging there for about an hour, we headed back to the room, had a quick change and went out in search of dinner.  It was close to 7pm and it was Spring Break, so we were pushing it with our hungry kids (ages 10 and 7).  After walking a couple blocks and only finding busy restaurants and line ups, we headed back to the hotel for advice.  The front desk suggested going in the opposite direction to Water Grill which had great seafood and a kids’ menu.  We sat in the bar area and ordered lots of seafood and wine.  My son loved the mussels and my husband and I thoroughly enjoyed our tuna burgers.

After dinner, it was straight back to the hotel and to bed for everyone.

Day 2:

I headed out for a quick run on the beach while the kids were content to watch Scooby Doo and my husband answered some work emails.  It was about 8:30am and the boardwalk was already filled with cyclists, dog walkers and runners.  It was a such great way to start the day.  After a quick shower, we left in search of breakfast.  Husband had googled restaurants and Jinky’s came up with great reviews and it was only a couple blocks away.  We had California style omelettes which were delicious.  The coffee was a little watery, but did the job.

We had planned to meet our friends at 11am on the pier and so we headed there next. I knew the kids would like this area. There are musicians, vendors, rides, games and food suitable for all ages.  And there is that view.  Wow!

We all rode the ferris wheel, but only my son and husband took on the roller coaster and scrambler.  We had a light lunch at one of the many restaurants on the pier and managed to get a great seat on the deck to watch the world go by.

I had heard there was an aquarium close by, so we went in search of it.  The Santa Monica Pier Aquarium is found underneath the east (beginning) end of the pier.  It is small but well run with knowledgeable volunteers.  Kids under 12 were free and adults were only $5!  We happened to be there at feeding time, so it was fun to see the various sea animals eat and move around to catch their food.   Like I said, it was small and we didn’t spend a lot of time there but it was still a good way to spend some time.

Muscle Beach (the original) is steps away so we meandered that way to check out the sights.  Lots of people working out, hanging out and watching.  It would have been very easy to sit there and people watch all day.  But the kids were tired and our friends needed to get back home, so we headed back to the hotel.

After some quiet time, we felt refreshed and walked over to the 3rd Street Promenade. What a cool area!  There are approximately 5 blocks of shopping, dining and entertainment and it is all pedestrian friendly.  No cars.  We browsed the shops, listened to the musicians and simply wandered.  The kids were free to run around a bit since there were no cars and it was an easy way to burn off some energy before dinner.

We were feeling like Italian food and I had spotted Trastevere.  We were seated outside on the patio.  It was a great seat and with the heaters on, it was very comfortable.  My husband and I ordered seafood pastas and shared some great wine.  The kids menu worked for our two and the service was really good.  We left feeling very satisfied with our choice. Another walk around for frozen yogurt at Pinkberry’s and after that it was time for bed.

Day 3:

We were up early the next morning to have breakfast (again at Jinky’s) before our flight.  Santa Monica’s proximity to the airport made it easy to return the rental car and get to our airline in less than 40 minutes.

If we had another day, we definitely would have rented bikes and cycled to Venice Beach and done some more exploring.

If you are doing the math, you may have realized we were actually there for 42 hours, but I decided just to count the actual day/evening hours while we were out and about. 🙂  Our visit to Santa Monica was a great way to end our trip and it has made us want to explore more of California’s coast and beach towns.  Any suggestions which towns we should go to next?

linking up with: Calypso in the Country