Sep 18, 2014

We Took the Road Less Traveled Photo Shop!

ATTENTION BLOG WORLD! 
I recently took a little leap of faith and opened up We Took the Road Less Traveled Photo Shop featuring all my favorite high resolution photos from our European travels! EEEK!




Some backstory: I would have never ever thought to do this until my wonderful mother-in-love put a little bug in my ear. Aren't moms great? She said I should seriously consider selling some of my prints from our travels. I, of course, was flattered she thought any of them we're frame-worthy, much less something other people would want in their own homes. A part of me figured, well, she's my MIL--moms are, like, cosmically required, bound by the laws of Motherhood to thinking their kids (even by marriage) do awesome things. Then I got to thinking...maybe she's totally serious? Maybe people would be interested in having a piece of our travels in their home? I'm my own worst critic, I know I'm no where near the best photographer in the world. But, it is something I've grown to love and nurture since starting this whole blogging thing almost 4 years ago. What better way to keep our travels alive? So, BOOM! I uploaded a smattering of shots I still moon over (and few that are even hanging on the walls of our new home!) and now you can have a copy of your favorite photo, too! Big hugs and thanks to Mama B!! ;)


For the next 2 months, you can get any print at an introductory 20% OFF. No code needed! You can also choose various print sizes and what material the photo is printed on to make it fit your style and your home. Super easy, right? The holidays are right around the corner (I know, sorry for the reminder), any of these would make a lovely gift for a travel-loving friend or family member. New prints added monthly! As always, thank you for supporting my creative space! 

Ready to shop? Head on over!

Sep 16, 2014

Baltic Cruise: Helsinki, Finland


Moving right along through Scandinavian waters, our next cruise port was the capital and largest city in Finland---Helsinki! You can go ahead and add this destination as another place I never thought I'd travel...and end up liking. Thanks to some travel-savvy friends (that was one awesome thing about living abroad with the military...we had lots of friends interested in the very same activities we were!), we teamed up and Google Mapped out a few of the must-see attractions in Helsinki. I'm less spontaneous when it comes to cruise travel, so having a plan to maximize our limited time in each port is crucial. With our map and plan in hand, we hopped a bus from the port to the city center and got exploring!

Wandering on foot is our ideal way to take in a new city, but I've got to say, Helsinki is a pretty big place. When we started our walk from where the bus dropped us off to our first sight, the Rock Church, we had no idea how far we would be walking. We wandered for what seemed like forever, finally reaching the Rock Church, sweat dripping off our foreheads. The weather was much warmer than we expected in Finland...you just don't think of the Baltic states being hot, even in July! But I digress. Upon arriving, you could tell Helsinki's Rock Church (Temppeliaukio Church) was quite unique. It's basically an entire church excavated into a mound of rock. The exterior was interesting, but it was the interior that really wowed. The ceiling skylight was made entirely out of copper and it shined as the sun blazed through its panels sending this ethereal glow throughout the church. I've really never seen anything like it. After spending some time in the church, we decided we couldn't hoof it to all the sights we wanted to see around Helsinki, so we snagged a ride on one of the city's many trams and made our way to another famous Helsinki church.


Helsinki Cathedral had a much more commanding exterior than the Rock Church...the white stone literally radiated down the alleyways. It stood perched atop a hill of stairs that overlooked the cutest square, complete with bubbling fountains and happy tourists. The interior, compared to the Rock Church, was nothing to write home about. In fact, it was modest compared to most cathedrals we'd visited around Europe, a testament to its neoclassical style and construction time period. After snapping a dozen photos and enjoying a rest on the steps, we decided lunch was in order. Enter, Bryggeri Helsinki!


It was here that we experienced local Helsinki brews (as well as their versions of world favorites) and tried one of Finland's traditional dishes, reindeer stew! I was a little hesitant at first, but when in Finland, right? The reindeer was surprisingly tender and not as gamey in flavor as I expected...in fact, it fell right off the bone. The price tag, however, was steep...so we ordered 2 dishes and shared it among the 8 of us. We all much rather spend our money on beer...and that we did!


With full bellies, we set out for some shopping and to find Helsinki harbor & Market Square (Kauppatori) where we knew a large market was held daily. There were stalls upon stalls of craftsmen selling their wares and even more food tents with traditional snacks to sample. We tried some of the fresh fish caught that morning and even sampled fried anchovies. Not too shabby!


While not my favorite of our stops along the Baltic Sea (not enough kitsch for me), any city you tour with friends becomes a city to remember. We had a lovely day and tried lots of new things, a cruise port nicely explored. :)

[Additional photos courtesy of our travel buddy's Helsinki album! Thanks for sharing, Jon!]
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