Spend a few days in the idyllic town of Chinon in the Loire Valley- its the perfect way to relax!!

Relaxing in the Loire Valley

This post is part of our month-long European trip from last August. Check here for our whole trip! 

Our stay in Chinon felt like a retreat into another era. Time slowed down, life got quieter. The biggest question we answered each day was, “where should we eat dinner?” The necessary logistics that go into a multi-stop trip faded as we relaxed.

Tucked away in the heart of the Loire Valley, Chinon is a tiny town in a region of small towns. Fields, vineyards, and dairy farms cover the landscape dotted with idyllic villages. When I asked a friend about the Loire Valley, she summed it up with “Wine and castles. That’s why you should go.” Yes, please.

The big event of Chinon was less an activity and more the place itself. We splurged and stayed in a castle! A château, to be exact. Chateau de Marcay is an old rambling property, complete with horses and a tree-lined entryway. From the lobby full of velvet couches to the attentive staff quick to address you by name, the hotel exudes a feeling of aged European grandeur.

Spend a few days in the idyllic town of Chinon in the Loire Valley- its the perfect way to relax!!

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Carowinds is the and NC-SC amusement park and it's not to be missed!

A roller coaster bachelorette at Carowinds

My conversations leading up to a recent bachelorette weekend:

“What are you doing this weekend?”

“I’m going to a bachelorette weekend!”

“Whoa cool! Where are you going?”

“Carowinds!”

…Blank stare.

Carowinds is the and NC-SC amusement park and it's not to be missed!

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Local Atlanta: walking the Beltline

Visiting Laura has always been fun – we’ve had our share of adventures when she lived in D.C., and now that she’s relocated to Atlanta, there’s a whole new city to explore!

She and her husband Armando hosted me for a weekend this spring, and their number one recommendation for a Saturday morning was exploring the Atlanta Beltline. I had no idea what this was. Eager to check it out, we set off for a morning outside at one of Atlanta’s less touristy attractions!

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Exploring the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta!

Exploring the Georgia Aquarium

Part of my travels this spring took me down to Atlanta, home to my friends Laura & Armando. Atlanta is one of those cities with so many things to do and see, and I knew we couldn’t do it al in one weekend! So I did the smart (read: lazy) thing and let my hosts tell me what they most wanted to show me.

Their top choices: the Beltline and the Aquarium! While I didn’t know anything about the Beltline (stay tuned for more soon!), I had hoped they would want to see the Georgia Aquarium. So off we set for a fish-filled day!!

Exploring the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta! Continue reading

Favorite restaurants and bars in Huntsville, Alabama!

Huntsville restaurant scene

You may remember that over the past couple months, I spent some time in Huntsville, Alabama. Some great friends live there and I always have a great time when I visit: they always know what’s going on in town or what’s happening this weekend, or where . One of the things that surprised me was the sheer diversity of restaurants. Beyond having every chain imaginable (fast food to upscale), there are so many local options!

Favorite restaurants and bars in Huntsville, Alabama!

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Some of my latest favorites in the DC food scene!

DC food finds

The hardest thing for me about living in a small town is the lack of ethnic food. I could eat Thai food twice and week and never get sick of it. Sushi is my love language. There is nothing quite like great Italian pasta. So when I headed east for a few months this spring, good food was on the top of my list! Luckily, when visiting my friend Catherine in Washington DC, she had a ton of great places to hit up, including several things I’d never had before!

Some of my latest favorites in the DC food scene!

Watching the snow from a coffee shop = perfection.

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The Newseum is one of my favorite museums in DC! Check my blog post for a few more favorites.

Swapping favorite spots in DC

When visiting my friend Catherine, she and I spent a lot of time comparing our favorite things to do in D.C.. I realized when visiting her that I’ve come to the city at least every year since my sophomore year of college, so I’ve got some serious love for Washington D.C.!

Today, I’m sharing a few of Catherine’s favorites that I’d never explored as well as some of my old standbys I can’t seem to pass on whenever I visit.

The Botanic Gardens is one of my favorite museums in DC! Check my blog post for a few more favorites.

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Springtime snow in D.C.

By March of this year, I’d ditched all my cold weather gear in Alabama. Living out of a suitcase meant I wanted to shed as much unnecessary gear as possible, and after a month of unusually warm weather in the south I was ready to get rid of warm layers. So when I visited my husband in sunny Alabama, I ditched the gloves, hat, and snow coat. Because March in the south means daffodils and dogwoods, right?

Apparently not. Days after leaving Alabama, my trip to D.C. came into question because of snow. Not wanting to miss the chance to visit, I headed up a day early to beat the weather. The joy of crashing with my parents means that I borrowed my mom’s snow boots and my lovely host Catherine lent me a coat, but it cracked me up that my winter gear got left in sunny Alabama when I’m snowed in here in the District of Colombia.

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While I’ve been snowed in in D.C. before, it’s never been during the same time the cherry blossoms were predicted. This time, I was visiting my friend Catherine, and she and I spent a few days comparing notes on our favorite D.C. So here’s a few bits of our snow day adventures!

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Nerding out on rockets at the Huntsville Space & Rocket Center!

Huntsville’s U.S. Space & Rocket Center

In my previous trip to Huntsville I had an absolute blast. But I missed checking out what is the arguably the biggest draw to the city: the U.S. Space & Rocket Center! So when I came back down south during my spring solo road trip, I knew I needed to visit.

Nerding out on rockets at the Huntsville Space & Rocket Center!

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Things go wrong when you're traveling. Here's a few thoughts on how to deal with it!

When Things Go Wrong While Traveling

We were driving on a country road, full of happy satisfaction after a day of touring. Suddenly, we noticed the car behind us waving us down. Thinking they were wanting to pass us, we pulled over, but they pulled over behind us and a teenage girl jumped out of her car, continuing to wave her arms wildly. As I opened the car door, I realized why they waved us down: smoke was pouring out of our back tires. 

What do you do when smoke is pouring out of your rental car, in a country you don’t speak the language, without a working cell phone?

Things go wrong when you're traveling. Here's a few thoughts on how to deal with it!

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