Our Irish Wedding

December 24th, 2012 :: 5 comments :: permalink

It’s only been four months since our wedding in Cork, Ireland, but during the whirlwind of preparation and the butterflies, I had forgotten some of the small details of the day. Looking through our pictures makes it feel like it was just yesterday.

That morning I woke up a stressball, something likely expected by most who know me. I immediately started to clean my room and prepare for it to be taken over by our hair and makeup artists and female guests. The weather was rainy, but there were small peeks of sunshine through the clouds, so I knew the sun was in there somewhere. I secretly prayed that the weather would clear up just long enough for us to say “I do.” Thirty minutes before our ceremony, after almost a full day of rain, the clouds opened up and the sun finally revealed itself.

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Greece Honeymoon

September 21st, 2012 :: 10 comments :: permalink

On August 29, Dustin and I were married in Cork, Ireland. The day after our ceremony we ate a late breakfast with our families, grabbed a few pieces of left over wedding cake, and said our goodbyes. We set out for the airport and suddenly realized that we had very little planned for our trip to Greece. We had been thinking about our wedding so much that we didn’t really know what to expect on our honeymoon.

We arrived in Athens at midnight, short a couple of suitcases that were lost somewhere between Ireland and Greece. Unfortunately the bags we were missing contained all of Dustin’s belongings. The next morning we woke up to the noises of a busy city below us. We started our day at the Acropolis Museum and then explored the Parthenon. Dustin was still wearing the same clothing from the day before, but was in good spirits.

As designers, we were intrigued by the Parthenon and all the tricks its original architects played to correct some optical illusions and create others. Back in design school, Dustin had a professor who seemed obsessed with the Parthenon, so he enjoyed seeing all of he little details he had heard about years ago. The building was very dramatic, especially as we walked up to it from the main steps, when all of those little details worked at the same time to make the building seem impossibly large. Most amazing was that the whole thing was built thousands of years ago but is said to contain very few straight lines. Everything was made to curve slightly for optical reasons.

There was so much history in one location. We had a very knowledgeable guide for the day, who freely discussed art, Greek history, politics, the economy and immigration. Although I couldn’t absorb everything she was saying, I think the key points were: everything originates from Greece & politicians are sketchy no matter where you live. We only spent one day in Athens, but that turned out to be perfect, because we saw what we wanted to see and Santorini was next on our list.

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Thailand

March 14th, 2011 :: 6 comments :: permalink

We took a couple of weeks off in February for a much-needed vacation. We’ve been trying to challenge ourselves the past couple of years to take larger trips further from home so we were happy to be able to continue the trend with this one. We went to Thailand. We started our trip in Bangkok. I did the usual research on the language and culture, but there really isn’t a way to prepare for the culture shock of a trip like this. We woke up bright and early our first morning to the sounds of street vendors setting up for the day. We assumed we would be exhausted after twenty hours of flying, but we were ready to explore. Our first venture, the Reclining Buddha, was just a few blocks away from our hotel.

There really wasn’t a way to blend in with a six foot red head in Thailand, so we were immediately taken for a ride by a tuk tuk driver. He told us he would take us to see all the major sites in the area. That turned out to be all the local businesses owned by his friends and family. We were so glad to have a real guide who spoke the language for the rest of our trip.  We had “tourist” written all over us!

Most people in Thailand are of smaller stature, which worked out well for me. I was actually on the tall side. Dustin on the other hand, had a bit of an adjustment. Fortunately he only hit his head once the entire trip.

The next day we spent the morning at the Floating market. It was once an easy way to trade goods, but is now more for local businesses to sell to tourists. Nonetheless, it was still pretty cool. Our guide got us there bright and early, which worked out in our favor. Right as we were leaving the boats were at a standstill due to gridlock.

We then drove south to Bann Makha, far away from other tourists or, for that matter, anyone that spoke English. We met up with two local men, who were later introduced to us as our wildlife guides. They did not speak much when we first met. Around this time Dustin and I remembered that we saw very few reviews of our tour company online when we were doing our research. We thought, maybe they don’t have reviews…because all their customers never made it back home! As we settled into our cabin that afternoon, we started to hear loud banging outside. Dustin half jokingly said they were building our coffins. In good faith, we left the cabin to see what they were doing. Thankfully, they were only putting together the seats in the back of the pickup that would be our transportation for the next few days. We were a bit calmer after that.

Our new guides quickly grew on us. They were a father and son team who were hunters turned wildlife tour guides. They quickly helped us find a family of Dusky Langurs on our first trip into the wilderness. The babies were easy to spot.

The next day we went on a five mile hike in very humid weather, but we were rewarded with a song from a few gibbons. The video is very shaky since I shot it with my handheld camera.

After roughing it for a few days, we were ready to relax. We took a boat to Koh Talu Island. We had no idea what to expect. It was gorgeous. I had been battling severe allergies for a few days, but refused to let it ruin my trip. I went snorkeling, figuring you don’t really use your nose for that anyways. That night I dreamed  of the ocean.

There was so much good on this trip there had to be some moments of discomfort. These pictures are not related, by the way! I don’t think I ever figured out the toilet system and many were not as clean as this picture. Throughout the trip I also had a major allergic reaction to something and broke out in hives. It started on my hands and feet and by the end of the trip was making it’s way up to my shoulders and knees. I refused to go to the hospital and miss out on anything. I found wonderful topical medicines that I’m sure are illegal in the United States that helped with the itching.

The people, culture, and religion in Thailand are so beautiful. The little boy has a traditional haircut.

We got tons of wildlife shots that our guides were super excited about. We met a few avid bird watchers that had set up camp just to take a picture of this bird. The next picture was taken in the Doi Suthep temple, in Chiang Mai. I found Chiang Mai to be very peaceful and spiritual. I learned a lot about the Buddhist faith and about moderation and tolerance.

While driving to our next hiking location, we met up with a clan of stump-tailed macaque. The alpha males were a bit aggressive while the smaller males, females and babies waited in the background.  We were amazed at how human they looked.  I swear you can see emotion in their eyes.

It was one of the best trips we have ever taken. We felt sad leaving after so many wonderful experiences, but grateful that we had the opportunity to be there. I was originally worried we wouldn’t see enough temples or man made structures since the trip was based on wildlife, but I feel like we experienced a great deal of what Thailand is really all about.

 

Italy

January 15th, 2010 :: 4 comments :: permalink

Dustin’s sister went to school in Italy for a semester last year, so we decided to take a family trip to visit her. It was a very spur of the moment decision. Our trip started on a rainy day in Piazza San Marco, Venice.

Just a few blocks away from our hotel was St. Mark’s Basilica. I like to remember as many details as possible, so I usually take a macro shot or two. Every decorative tile was placed by hand.  The tiles covered every imaginable surface in the Basilica, so it certainly must have represented lifetimes of work.

I wish I had picked up a mask for my sister. She always has crazy theme parties with her friends, so I could see her using one of these. Guess I just have to go back. As we were walking through maze of small streets and alleys in Venice, we came across a hole in the wall restaurant with the best gorgonzola pasta we’ve ever had. We were the only patrons at the time since it was around 6 o’clock. Some places don’t open until eight or nine. The next day we looked for the restaurant again, but it was as if it had vanished (cue scary music sound effect).

From Venice, we took a train to Rome. We visited the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Pantheon and one of my favorites of the trip, St. Peters Basilica and Tomb. I am not a terribly religious person, but am spiritual; I found the history behind the Basilica to be mind blowing. As you can see by the picture on the right, time stood still for me.

We took a quick day trip from Rome to Capri, a little island off of Naples. The trip to the blue grotto was pretty, but super quick. The water in the cave appears blue during the day because the cave opening extends beneath the water line, which means light is carried inside the cave by the water itself. I’m sure the guides think tourists are stupid for paying to see the inside of a small cave, but oh well, it was nice to see once.

After traveling to Rome and through Naples, we finished off the trip in Florence, by contrast a perfectly mellow city.

 

I’m sure I looked a little suspicious hanging out around carousels, but I have a weird fascination with them. They seem so mysterious and oddly creepy.

We had a great trip and ate much gelato, at least one a day. What more could you ask for?

 

 

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