Travel Month: July 2016

Friday, July 29, 2016

Travel

 

This summer has been flying by! July was packed with beach days and summer explorations. Because we've been traveling so much, I'm behind on destinations posts, but expect to see more about our Baltic road trip, Connecticut adventures, and more about our trips to Richmond, VA, Cape May, NJ, and Plymouth, MA.

 Just briefly, Richmond was a very cool city with incredible food. Shout out to Katrina from Thrifty Gypsy Travels for all of her great insight on the city and elsewhere we might like in the area. Easily my favorite part of Richmond was the Waterfront district. It was just so green from the parks and vibrant from the awesome street art.

Our week in Cape May with my parents was incredibly relaxing and full of beach days, reading, and dolphin spotting. It was incredibly rejuvenating to take a week off blogging and social media, and do minimal freelancing work. I'm happy to be back though!

We fly back to Vilnius in two days and I'm looking forward to spending the long summer days exploring the city and settling back into our apartment.







 Personal

 

 My Olympus, which I has been using for blog photos and filming for the past few years, finally died on me, so I had to make an emergency Amazon purchase. After some persuading from J, I settled on the Nikon D3300, which I love so far. I'm not sure if you'll notice a difference in photo quality on the blog, but is exciting to have a new piece of equipment to play with. 

As I mentioned in last month's recap post, I wanted to take advantage of childcare offered by my family to have a productive summer. I am pretty happy with what I've been able to accomplish so far, but still have more planned for In Search Of, writing, and editing. Hopefully, you'll be seeing more updates around here soon!



 

Freelancing

 

Summers tend to be quiet in regards to editing, but that has given me a chance to write several articles for Trip101 and plan the next few months of blog posts. Below are the five articles I wrote for Trip101 this month:



Coming Next Month

 

  
I'm really excited about what the next several months will bring. It is almost the start of a new academic year, which for me, always signifies a new start. On In Search Of, I'll be sharing about our recent travels and hopefully will also be sharing a video from Cape May.


How was your July? What are you looking forward to for August?

In and Around Jurmala, Latvia

Monday, July 25, 2016



I'm drafting this post from a cafe in Cape May, NJ while on a beach vacation with my family. We are having a great time watching the dolphins swim in the Atlantic, wandering the cute streets, and bird watching. After the huge amount of traveling we've been doing this summer, I've got a ton of great posts planned, starting with some tips for taking your own Baltic road trip, which I'd highly recommend doing, although I'd suggest allotting more time than we did (if possible). There is really so much to do in the Baltics, especially if you are prepared for a bit of cold and rain and love outdoor activities.

Our first stop on our multi-family Baltic road trip was the northwest shore of Latvia, Plienciems and Jurmala.

Jurmala and its surroundings was my favorite destination on our Baltic road trip. Though the cottage we stayed in was a bit rustic (well, just the toilet, which smelled as though it was plumbed wrong), I loved that we were in a small village. The roof of the cottage was thatched, there were giant snails slimming along the cut wood path, and horses across the street. It was a perfect setting for the start of our multifamily adventure.

Day One, Plienciems, Latvia:


When we arrived at the Airbnb, we were ready for dinner, so our first in search of was to find somewhere to eat. Our host suggested we visit Engure Cafe, which was an awesome recommendation. At Engure Cafe, we ate locally caught fish sandwiches doused in raspberry sauce -- they were incredible. If you visit the area, you should order it! The owners were also incredibly friendly.

Engure Cafe also had a huge space to lounge or play outside, ping pong tables, and a playground. It was a perfect place to eat with two toddlers/crawlers.

Though we didn't spend a ton of time wandering Plienciems because we were limited by time, we did take a nice walk through the woods to the beach. I've never visited a beach that was not built upon -- this beach was blocked from the village by a pine forest, making it incredibly unique. This area is even a part of a nature preserve that is home to seals, pelagic birds, and interesting plants.

Most importantly, Baby ISO loved crawling around in the sand!

















 

Day Two: Jurmala, Latvia

Our second day in Latvia, we drove to Jurmala, the famous Russian resort town during the Soviet times, where we spent the day exploring. We ate a (mostly) vegetarian feast in an Uzbek restaurant, strolled down the pedestrian streets, and marveled at the wooden houses with Art Nouveau detailing. If money was no object, I would have loved to buy one of those houses that had fallen slightly into disrepair and return it to its former glory -- and make some great gardens to compliment (or surpass) the details of the house.

The beach in Jurmala was stunning -- similar to the beach in Plienciems, but slightly more built up for tourism. The sandy shores seemed to go forever and I loved that there weren't many houses built up right on the beach. Growing up by the beach in CT, where houses are built right on the beach, I absolutely appreciated this concern and appreciation for the shoreline and biodiversity. This is oft ignored in the US (even in Cape May, NJ, where I'm writing this post from). 

It was unfortunate that it was SO cold during our visit. It's on my bucket list to swim in the Baltic sea, but each time I've been near the shore, it has just been too cold. Next time!

If you are doing a road trip through the Baltics, I'd absolutely suggest a few day stop in Jurmala. I can see why it was (and still is) a popular resort destination.
















Have you been to Jurmala? What else would you add?

I'm linking up with Wanderful Wednesdays 

Why You Should Consider A Multi-Family Trip

Friday, July 15, 2016



In mid-June, some friends came to visit us in Vilnius. With them, we planned to take an epic road trip through the Baltics ending in Helsinki ... with our 2 babies (both under 14 months old!). What could go wrong?!

Honestly, I was nervous about this trip. I haven't traveled with friends since my time in China and I've never traveled with two babies before. J and I have also never had such a jam-packed schedule when traveling together ... especially with Baby ISO. But, our planned itinerary sounded awesome and we were excited to show our friends around the Baltics and explore new places together. 

Our Itinerary:

June 10-12: Vilnius, Lithuania
June 12-14: Jurmala, Latvia
June 14-16: Saaremaa Island, Estonia*
June 16-17: Tallinn, Estonia
June 17-20: Helsinki, Finland (our friends left on June 19)

*Change in plans: Baby ISO got very ill, so instead of going to Saaremaa Island, we stayed in Riga, Latvia. I'll have another post about this in the coming weeks.

Despite the sick baby and change of plans, we had a great time on this trip. We visited 4 counties, ate a ton of great food, and had so much fun letting the babies play together. Soon, I'll be sharing detailed posts about what we did in each destination (except Riga since we were tending to a sick baby). It was also incredibly comforting having support from friends while we were in the hospital with Baby ISO. 

If you are thinking of doing a multi-family trip, I'd absolutely recommend it. Here are some of the reasons I'd suggest traveling with friends and kids.

  • Doing a multi-family trip gives you the flexibility to hang out together as adults while kids play together (or play together separately)
  • If something goes wrong, you have backup.
  • It's fun!
  • If your kids are older, you could take turns babysitting so you could go on a date with your spouse.
  • It gets you out of your comfort zone since you'll do things each family likes.
  • Comic relief.
  • Extra hands, diapers, toys, laughter...

 Have you traveled with friends before? Would you travel with another family?

If You Only Have Time To Do 3 Things In Warsaw

Monday, July 11, 2016



Back in late April, I had a glorious week-long visit to Warsaw, Poland and was able to leisurely see a lot of the city. However, I have a feeling that for many, Warsaw is a quick stopping point. If you are only in Warsaw for a day or two, here are three things I'd suggest you squeeze into your schedule that don't involve eating.

3. Walk over a bridge for a great view of the city

 

To visit the Praga district (I thought it was over-rated FYI), I walked over both most Swietokrzyski (photos below) and the bridge on route 629 going from Old Town across the Vistula River. The views from both bridges was great and provides a different perspective for seeing Warsaw's skyline and old town.






2. University of Warsaw Roof Gardens on the Library

 

What a great use of green space to beautify an area! The gardens on the roof of the University of Warsaw Library were incredible. It was awesome to be able to walk onto the roof of the library and have a stunning green space to relax and take in the view of the city. Just look at that view of the Palace of Culture and Science in the fourth photo below!











1. Warsaw Uprising Museum

 

If you only have time to do one thing in Warsaw, you should visit the Warsaw Uprising Museum. This museum was incredibly informative and clearly illustrates Polish lives and the struggle, decimation, and hope during WWII. The profiles of specific historical heroes and villains were particularly interesting. There is even a full-sized plane, background noises, and lighting setting the scene.

 







  

Have you been to Warsaw? What are your top three things that you'd suggest people visit?