Travelling in Napa Valley & Muir Woods

This is officially the last post of my travel series about my fiance and I’s trip to California this past summer! (which means, yes, I best get into the kitchen soon and create some new recipes)…and I will…I promise…after my wedding in November, of course 🙂

Okay, now back to travel memory fun! After Yosemite National Park my fiance and I made an unplanned trip to Oakland to see the Blue Jays play. It was actually far more amazing than I expected. Let’s be honest, I agreed to do it because I knew that my fiance really wanted to, not because I necessarily cared about going. Well let me tell you, I was so wrong. It was the best baseball game that I’ve ever been to. Baseball games are wayyyy cheaper in the USA so we got amazing seats. I don’t think that I’ve ever paid so much attention during a game before!

baseball; siftstirandsavour.com

After the game we made our way to Napa Valley for the night. Surprisingly my favourite thing about Napa wasn’t the wine, but our amazing accommodations. Yes, it was another airbnb.com place, and it was a 31-foot airstream!!! Ever since the one night that we stayed there I have been fantasizing about owning some type of tiny accommodation that I can live or travel in. A woman can dream, right?

airstream; siftstirandsavour.com

Inside was everything that we needed: a bed, fully functioning 3 piece washroom (un-pictured), mini kitchenette, table and chairs and a couch and coffee table!

inside airstream

Regardless of my love for this airstream, Napa was also quite lovely. It was quaint and charming and perfect for an after dinner stroll.

napa; siftstirandsavour.com

This next picture is by far my favourite picture of all time!!!

IMG_6952 copy

I cannot look at this picture without bursting into a fit of laughter. I think I severely embarrassed my fiance when I burst into hysterical laughter in the middle of the street and would not stop talking about how silly this art piece was for hours. Who am I kidding, I’m still giggling about it, but I digress…

The best activity we did in Napa…actually, in all of California, was visit the spa at Dr. Wilkinson’s Hot Spring Resort. We each had a legitimate mud bath!!! It was the neatest experience that I’ve ever had. Obviously there are no pictures, since there was lots of nakedness going on around on the spa, but the mud bath was actually a gigantic bath full of mud, real mud!!! Smelly, warm, nourishing mud 🙂 The mud bath was followed by a lavender bath, followed by a steam room, followed by a body wrap. The entire time you are given individual attention and your glass of citrus water is never empty. If I was royalty, I would want this every single day. By far the most relaxing thing that I’ve ever done…however, if you’re not someone who’s comfortable being naked in front of strangers, this probably won’t be as relaxing for you, just an fyi.

After our morning at the spa we made our way to Castello di Amorosa, a castle winery!!! How can something with a driveway like this not be fantastic?

driveway

winery

It was beautiful and their wine was delicious (we brought 2 bottles home with us, yum!). With the admission fee you get 5 samples of wine. Now, because we had just done a super detoxing spa treatment and because I finished not only my own samples, but my fiances too…I was a little tipsy by the end. But what better place to be tipsy than at a castle winery in Napa!!!

sustainablefarm

grapes

castle

After the winery we headed over to the Muir Woods. The Muir Woods were beautiful and very peaceful (if you block out the random screams of excitement by passing children), however, I have to admit…after seeing the sequoia’s in Yosemite, the Muir Woods just could not compete. Not only were the trees not near as grand, but the entire forest felt much more manicured…probably because it was. I suppose it’s a perfect example of the difference between seeing nature that’s been dug into to make it easier for tourists to see and nature that you only find once you’re off the beaten path. But then again, that’s just my opinion, so take it with a grain of salt 🙂

muir woods

woods

And that’s a wrap folks. Next up I’ll be reviewing a tea company that I’ve recently discovered and that has tea that is extraordinarily yummy!

xoxo Erin

 

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Travelling in Yosemite National Park

So far I’ve covered our time that we spent in San Francisco and Monterey, Carmel by the Sea and Big Sur. From Big Sur we headed on over to Yosemite National Park. We stayed in another Airbnb and had the most handsome of hosts…meet Riley:

RileyOur actual accommodation was in Oakhurst, which was about a 20 minute drive from a gate to the park…and another hour from the main things that we wanted to see. Our first day we went on a hike to the top of Vernal Falls. It was hot in the sun but thankfully half of the trail was covered with shade from trees. Regardless, I was a sweaty mess within the first 20…errrr…10 minutes.

river; siftstirandsavour.com

Hike; siftstirandsavour.comFor the first half of the hike we couldn’t actually really see the falls. When we could finally see the falls we were delighted by the refreshing mist that gently sprayed off of it.

Stairs; siftstirandsavour.com

VernalFalls; siftstirandsavour.comAnd getting to the top of the falls was definitely worth the sweaty hike. We found a nice rock in the shade and gulped down water and ate the snack bars we had packed with us. We could have continued the trail further to see another waterfall, however we wanted to make it to glacier point that same day so after we rested up we hiked back down…which was surprisingly challenging. I hadn’t realized how unnerving steep and slippery stairs would be on the way down.

topoffalls; siftstirandsavour.comAfter the hike we made our way to glacier point, right before a storm rolled in.

glacier point; siftstirandsavour.com

I really liked glacier point. It was surreal to peer over at half dome and really see how massive and steep it is. I had looked into the hike up half dome, which includes an insanely steep mountaineering component, out of sheer curiosity. Props to anyone who has completed it. Just thinking about it makes me want to fall over.

Our second day in Yosemite we had wanted to go rafting but because of the drought the rafting season ended early and we weren’t able to do this. Instead we went to Yosemite Falls.

yosemitefalls; siftstirandsavour.comThere is something about the mist from a waterfall that is beyond refreshing. After getting as close as we felt that we safely could, we retreated to a rocky area near the base of the falls and dipped our toes in the chilly water.

yosemitefalls; siftstirandsavour.com

After Yosemite Falls we stumbled across El Capitan.

elcapitan; siftstirandsavour.comAnd of course we stopped at a beautiful lookout point that looked over Yosemite valley. Actually, maybe we stopped at this lookout point our first day because it looks like a storm was about to roll in. Anyways, El Capitan is on the left hand side in the middle and if you look very closely you can see Half Dome on the right hand side in the far back, peeking through all of the fog.

yosemite; siftstirandsavour.com

Mariposa Grove was closed for restoration while we were there so we decided to go to another grove to see the sequoia trees. We used google map directions and literally drove for one to two hours on horrific dirt roads, driving through puddles the size of miniature lakes just to stumble across another lovely couple who was also using google map directions and realized before we did that they lead to nothing. Thankfully they told us the correct directions and that we had to look for “shadow of the giants” instead of Nelder Grove. We finally found the sequoias and laughed at ourselves all night after we realized that we didn’t have to take the sketchy road that we did, lesson learned! The Sequoias were definitely worth the adventure we went on to find them though. Apparently they are the largest living thing known in this world, how insane is that?

shadowofthegiants; siftstirandsavour.comThe pictures don’t do the sequoias justice, but believe me when I say that they were massive beyond belief.

giants; siftstirandsavour.comThe best part about staying in an airbnb was that after a long day of driving, hiking and sight seeing, we had a beautiful and comfortable home to relax in for the night. Our host was absolutely lovely and we had a camp fire one night with her while we all sipped away on some delicious wine.

fire; siftstirandsavour.com

And that, my friends, is a quick summary of our adventures in Yosemite National Park. From there we headed over to Oakland, Napa and the Muir Woods to wrap up our week in California. Stay tuned for those adventures!

xoxo

Erin

Travelling in Monterey, Carmel by the Sea & Big Sur

After our day and a half in San Francisco we picked up a rental car and drove down to San Jose to see the Winchester Mystery House. It was really cool to see but unfortunately there are no photos allowed inside the house so you’ll just have to trust me about the absolutely bizarre architecture…windows that open to walls, a door that leads to a two story drop and super shallow stairs that go on for years just to go up one story.

mysteryhouse; siftstirandsavour.com

From San Jose we continued down to Monterey where we stayed in another lovely airbnb. We drove along the 17 mile drive and absolutely loved it. The pictures definitely do not do it justice, it was surreal with beauty.

17miledrive; siftstirandsavour.com

The lone cyprus tree was my favourite part of the drive.

lonecyprus; siftstirandsavour.com

This is a panorama view (thank you iPhone) of one of the stops along the 17 mile drive.

17milepanorama; siftstirandsavour.com

That evening we headed out to Carmel by the Sea. It was quaint and reminded me of Niagara-on-the-Lake. There was this sinful candy/chocolate shop that sold different flavours of turtles that were almost as big as your hand. Obviously we had to get one and opted for macadamia nut! I wish I bought 100 of them, but I didn’t so I’ll have to figure out how to recreate them 🙂

macadamiaturtle; siftstirandsavour.com

The next day we dropped by Point Lobos State Park before we headed down to Big Sur.

ptlobos; siftstirandsavour.com

lobostrail; siftstirandsavour.com

The drive down to Big Sur was breath taking. We stopped at various points along the drive just to stare at the beauty. One of those stops was obviously the well known Bixby Bridge.

bixbybridge; siftstirandsavour.com

bixbyview; siftstirandsavour

And here’s my fiance enjoying the view somewhere along the drive from Point Lobos to Big Sur.

costaldrive; siftstirandsavour.com

Once in Big Sur we found pfeiffer beach and spent time enjoying the sun and chilly ocean.

beachpanorama; siftstirandsavour.com

beach; siftstirandsavour.com

My fiance was even brave enough to jump into the crashing waves.

beachswim; siftstirandsavour.comI, on the other hand, opted to only wet below the knees. Seeing that we didn’t have towels, I still stand by my decision 🙂

beachadventure; siftstirandsavour.com

And that basically sums up our two days in Monterey, Carmel by the Sea & Big Sur. Next we drove over to Yosemite National Park, although we technically stayed in an airbnb in Oakhurst and drove into the park each day. Stay tuned for those stories & pictures!

xoxo

Erin

Travelling in San Francisco

I just realized something that I should have realized two years ago…I never finished writing my travel posts about my epic trip to Iceland & Europe, which was two years ago. I knew that I had a problem with procrastination, but wow- I didn’t realize I’d hit the two year mark. I still plan on getting those done, but I’m not about to make any promises to myself about the timeline. And when I do finally get to them, I’ll probably be posting them somewhere else…which brings me to another update. A while ago I decided that I wanted to have more control over the format of my blog and ads and what not so I decided to start a self-hosted site (and because technology and I aren’t bff’s, I decided to start a new website instead of figuring out how to carry all this stuff over). Now don’t get too excited, since I’m really good at procrastinating all I’ve done with it so far is figure out some basic coding and carry over some of my favourite posts from this site. I’ll do a formal “reveal” once I’ve got some more content on it but it most definitely will not be ready until the beginning of 2016. All of my creative energy in the first half of 2015 went towards my brother and new sister-in-laws wedding and now that they’re off and hitched, all that energy is dedicated to my own wedding this November 🙂

Okay, now onto the purpose of this post! I needed a vacation and I needed one badly. My fiance and I hadn’t been away since our trip two years ago, and as epic as it was I needed a vacation before our honeymoon in November. So, we kept our eyes on flight deals and when we came across a nicely priced flight to San Francisco we looked at each other and said “let’s do it!”. And off we went…**warning, this is going to be a long and photo heavy post…proceed with caution 😉

We stayed in an amazing airbnb. I cannot recommend airbnb.com enough. We always stay in them and have always had an excellent time. It’s so great to save money and get more space and amenities than hotels have to offer. Our San Fran airbnb was very close to all the things that we wanted to see and do, which was amazing and we definitely got our exercise with all those hills.

airbnb; siftstirandsavour.com

We had the perfect host in San Fran…meet Pacu

paco; siftstirandsavour.com

I was most excited about visiting Alcatraz in San Francisco…so excited that I bought our tickets the day after we bought our flights. To say that visiting Alcatraz was on my bucket list is the underestimation of the year. Anyways, Alcatraz did not disappoint. The audio tour was done exceptionally well and it was absolutely beautiful in a historical and dark way.

boat to alcatraz; siftstirandsavour.com

alcatraz stairs; siftstirandsavour.com

This is one of the three holes that inmates dug out with spoons (I think…) to escape…

escape alcatraz; siftstirandsavour.comOne of the last surviving men who served time at Alcatraz was there. He has written a book about his experience and was signing copies. Obviously I had to buy a book, get it signed AND ask for a photo. I’m in the middle of the book right now and loving it.

inmate1259; siftstirandsavour.com

After Alcatraz we saw Pier 39. Unfortunately all the sea lions were off mating and usually don’t return until August. Although I would have loved to see the pier filled with those cuties, it was fairly amusing to see it this empty.

pier 39; siftstirandsavour.com

Next on our list was Golden Gate Bridge. We completely underestimated how close it was so after a while of walking we came across Ghieradelli Square and decided to have a nutrition packed lunch of massive sundae’s. That was sarcasm, in case you missed it. These things were diabetes in a plastic cup.

ice cream; siftstirandsavour.com

I, not surprisingly, didn’t feel too great after demolishing that sucker (dairy, sugar and I still aren’t friends). So we kept trucking on toward the Golden Gate Bridge and ended up renting bikes to speed us along. We biked across the bridge and back, which was a lot of fun! Nothing like a good bike ride to cure some nausea.

bike ride; siftstirandsavour.com

gold gate; siftstirandsavour.com

Next we were off to find Lombard St.

lombard; siftstirandsavour.com

Did I mention that we did all of this in one day? As you can imagine, we were exhausted after all of this. We decided to treat ourselves and we had a fantastic dinner on Forbes Island, which is a man made island that floats in Pier 39. This was actually super neat and totally one of the highlights of our trip. They even pick you up in a small boat to bring you to the island!

forbes; siftstirandsavour.com

forbes at night; siftstirandsavour.com

The island was used by the creator as a bachelor pad for a long time and then sold and brought to pier 39 and turned into a restaurant. They tried to keep a lot of the original decor though and to get to the bathroom you had to go through the old bedroom! I could feel the sway of the man-made island when were on it but my fiance was not sensitive to the movement at all and thought that I was crazy!Forbes Island; siftstirandsavour.comAfter dinner we were able to go to the top of the lighthouse on the island. It was so beautiful to look over the bay at night, but our pictures didn’t do it justice.

I was going to try to make just one post about our trip since our trip was only a week long…however, since the post is already super long and this is just a day and a half of adventures I’m going to break it up…and try really hard to actually post more before two years passes by 🙂

Next up will be about our days in Monterey, Carmel by the Sea and Big Sur…

xoxo

Erin

TRAVELLING IN NORWAY- Part 1

I meant to post this about a month ago but time flew by quicker than I anticipated. In case you missed my previous posts about my vacation this past summer I talked about our 6 days in Iceland here (part 1), here (part 2), and here (part 3). After Iceland we travelled to Norway, Sweden, Finland and Estonia. I plan on posting about each country we visited in the order we visited them and that, my friends, is why I’m talking about Norway today 🙂

Our flight from Iceland to Norway was at 7 AM so we had to leave the apartment we were renting in Iceland at 4 AM. Since we were packing until midnight that night, to say we were tired would be an understatement. Luckily I was able to have a nap in the airport and on the plane. When we got to Oslo, Norway I was awake enough to function and awake enough to bicker. Yup, our first day in Oslo was my partner and I’s bickering day. Oh the joys that sleep deprivation can bring. Regardless, we still had a lovely time, bickering and all.

Our first stop was the Oslo Opera House. It’s right on the water and was very modern in design. We didn’t go inside though, just walked around the exterior and enjoyed the view of the water.

Opera House

There was a lot of construction around the Opera House so we decided to head more into the centre of Oslo. It was beautiful. Absolutely perfect, if you ask me. There were so many people just walking around and enjoying the fresh air and scenery. And then we found this awesome guy blowing MASSIVE bubbles. He really captured everyones attention. After all, how do you make a bubble that big?

Bubble

Oslo was such a clean and beautiful city that my partner and I simply walked around for the entire afternoon. Even though we were completely exhausted, we kept walking and discovering adorable little shops, beautiful buildings and luscious parks.

Oslo 2

Oslo Fountain

Oslo 1

After our afternoon of discovering we decided to take a nap and rest for the beginning of the evening. After nap number three of the day we headed out to the Oslo Ice Bar.

Icebar

It was so cool. Literally, it was really cold. Luckily part of the experience was getting suited up. That’s right, they gave us capes and gloves and boots were available, but we didn’t use them. After we were appropriately dressed we went into the bar and got ourselves a mix drink that was served in an ice glass, of course.

Icebar Drinks

I’m not going to lie, I was mildly terrified to take a sip out of my drink because I thought that my lip might stick to the ice glass. I may or may not have secretly waited until my partner took a sip of his drink before I indulged in mine. Clearly my three naps of the day hadn’t fully rested all of my brain cells because what kind of bar would serve drinks out of a glass that sticks to peoples lips? Anyway, the Ice Bar was definitely an interesting experience, however, we didn’t stay more than 30 minutes. I’m sure you’re shocked to hear that sitting on ice chairs wasn’t the most comfortable. The Ice Bar was also on the small side, so it didn’t take long to see all of the sculptures and detail work.

Oslo Icebar

The next morning we were off to Bergen, Norway via a tour called “Norway in a Nutshell” (basically seeing all the highlights of Norway in one day). This tour took all day (13-14 hours) and we took 3 different trains, a bus and a ferry. I’m not going to lie, this tour was my partner and I’s least favourite thing that we did on our two week vacation. It was a good learning experience though. We both realized that we get bored very, very quickly if we’re either not engaged in some type of physical activity or if we don’t have control over what we’re doing. We did stop during one of the train rides though and got to see this beautiful waterfall:

Norway in a Nutshell

Part of the tour was seeing Voss. I absolutely loved Voss. I specifically loved the Voss train station, how cute is it? I also loved Voss because the next day we went back there and kayaked, but I’ll cover that in my next post 🙂

Voss Train Station

While driving through Voss we passed by an old church that is apparently one of the only buildings in Voss that was not destroyed during WWII. I just had to snap a picture, even though we were in a moving bus- this church was just too important not to remember.

Voss Church

We also took a ferry through some fjords, but seeing the fjords during our kayak tour was wayyyyy more amazing, so I’ll cover the fjords during my next post!

By the time we arrived in Bergan it was past 10 PM so we headed straight for our apartment. Even though we were exhausted, we just couldn’t resist heading out for an exploratory walk of Bergan. We quickly realized that nothing was open at that hour but the streets were so beautiful it didn’t even matter. Eventually we made our way back to our apartment and passed out for the night. We didn’t sleep for long periods of time during our trip, but when we did sleep we slept like babies!

Bergen

Next travel post I’ll share about our FAVOURITE tour of our entire trip…kayaking through fjords!

xoxo Erin

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TRAVELLING IN ICELAND- Part 3

I’m sad to say this is the last post about our travels in Iceland. As much as I want to re-live every single moment we were there, I realize I have four more countries to share about! Oh how this vacation was a dream come true! Anyway, if you missed parts 1 and 2 of Iceland, you can check them out here and here.

On our last full day in Iceland we still had the car rented so we decided to see the Golden Circle. This is a popular tourist route that many tour companies offer tours of. We figured it would be more enjoyable to be able to see all of the sites of the Golden Circle at our own pace and I’m very glad we made this decision. Our first stop was Pingvellir National Park, specifically the rift valley. This is the same area where we went snorkeling in the 2 degrees water, however, when we were on that tour we didn’t have time to see anything except the crack we were snorkeling in. As you can see it was very beautiful and completely strange to me. I’ve never seen the earth pulling apart like it is in this area.

Pingvellir Park

If you’re a fan of Game of Thrones this scenery might look familiar; apparently they filmed some of it here.

Pingvellir Park 1

Next on our self guided Golden Circle tour was Gulfoss. A massively gorgeous and powerful waterfall. Notice the tiny specs of people in the background, THAT’s how big Gulfoss is!!!

Gullfoss

Below is what Gulfoss looked like when we followed the path down to see the waterfall up close and personal. See the specs of people in the top right hand corner? That’s where we were standing when we took the picture above.

Gullfloss 1

Kerio, a volcanic crater, was next. My favourite thing about this crater was how peaceful it felt to be there. The quietness and stillness were remarkable.

Crater

Apparently Kerio is 3000 years old, which is only half as old as the other craters in the area. It is believed that Kerio was formed when a cone volcano erupted and emptied it’s magma. The cone then collapsed inward after the magma was depleted. Of course we just had to climb down to sit by the majestic water.  The hike was way steeper than we thought. I may or may not have slipped when I was almost to the bottom!

Inside Crater

Last on our exploration of the Golden Circle was the Geysers (sprouting hot springs). One Geyser in this area, Strokkur, actually sprouts every 4-5 minutes! Here it is in mid-sprout:

Geysir

And yes, this area had a distinct sulfur smell, but since it was our sixth day in Iceland we were more than used to the sulfur smell. The tap water tasted like expensive bottled water, but it smelled like there was a boiled egg stuck somewhere in the pipes.

Believe it or not we saw all of the aforementioned sites before 2pm. We planned our day this way so we could spend the afternoon and evening of our last day in Iceland at the Blue Lagoon.

Blue Lagoon

It was a perfect decision. We floated in the geothermal spa all afternoon and even got massages while in the water. Heaven, absolute heaven.

Floating in Blue Lagoon

There was silica available and it was recommended that you apply it to your skin and leave it for 15 minutes before washing it off. Here I am with my silica mask on:

Silica Mask Blue Lagoon

I didn’t know it at the time but it seems that every minute I was in the water my hair was drying out. I wish I was exaggerating, but my hair felt like straw even after I washed it out with the special shampoo and conditioner offered at the Blue Lagoon. Now, don’t get me wrong, this was completely my doing. Blue Lagoon warned that this would happen and suggested wearing a bathing cap. Silly me didn’t see anyone else wearing a bathing cap and figured my hair would be fine. Luckily after 3 days of soaking my hair in oil for an hour each night, it finally started to feel normal again. Crazy eh? I definitely learned my lesson!

But lets be honest, dried out hair and all, our afternoon at the Blue Lagoon was 100% worth it. Most relaxing afternoon I’ve ever had. It was pure bliss. Here I am leaving the Blue Lagoon 😦

Last Evening in Iceland

Stayed tuned, next travel post will be about Norway 🙂

MONTREAL INTERNATIONAL MOSAICULTURES & MAGIC of LANTERNS FESTIVAL

Last weekend I was in Quebec with my parents. In Quebec we had the pleasure of catching up with two very special individuals who we had not seen in 6 years. We also had the pleasure of visiting the Montreal Botanical Gardens and seeing the International Mosaicultures Exhibit, Magic of Lanterns Festival, lots of gorgeous flowers and a delicious looking vegetable garden. For some reason I didn’t bring my camera with me, don’t ask me why, but luckily I had my phone with me. And apparently my phone does a decent job!

International Mosaicultures Exhibit:

Raccoon

Horse

Cranes

Orangutan

Me and Orangutan

Gorilla

Chimps

Can you believe that all of those are made from plants? The amount of time and effort that must be put into each creation is mind blowing! Also, can you tell I love monkey’s? Honestly, I love them so much. My best friend thinks they’re gross, she’s weird, obviously! If I had to pick a new career I’d move to Indonesia and work at one of the orangutan sanctuaries. Maybe I should do that anyway…

Flowers:

Flower1

Flower2

Flower3

Magic of Lanterns Festival:

Dragon

Lanterns

Tigers

Pandas

The lanterns are supposed to be viewed in the evening, but since we’d been at the Botanical Gardens all day, we viewed then in the late afternoon. They were neat to see during the day, so I can’t imagine how pretty they would have looked at night!

Vegetable Garden:

TurnipTurnip

ArtichokeArtichokes

Purple EggplantEggplant

White EggplantWhite Eggplant

TomatoTomatoes

Overall, I had a fantastic weekend. Much more car time than I’m used to but since I wasn’t the driver I had the pleasure of napping in the back seat. I was starting to feel very exhausted from our new puppy, Wayne. Since he’s about 10 weeks old we’ve been getting up in the middle of the night so he can go to the washroom. Needless to say, between the car napping and being able to sleep for 8 hours straight two nights in a row, I’m finally feeling rested and recharged. And of course coming home to this little face makes it all worth it.

Wayne

xoxo Erin

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