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Jan 30, 2015

Utrecht, Netherlands: Castle De Haar

Back in early spring of last year, D and I took a trip through various parts of Belgium and the Netherlands with another couple. We did a handful of beer tours/tastings (more on those to come), wandered around some gorgeous Dutch towns (Utrecht & Tilburg, to be exact), and experienced one of Europe's best-kept castles…Castle De Haar. If you've ever Google searched fairytale castles in Europe, you'll likely come across and aerial view of Castle De Haar, the Netherlands largest and most famous castle. It's…in one word…marvelous. Aside from the outside of Germany's famed Neuschwanstein Castle, I'd say it's the 2nd most impressive castle I've seen through all my European travels.

The castle itself was entirely restored and partially rebuilt in the 19th century, but historical records of a building at this location date all the way back to 1391. Castle De Haar is special because it's one of the only few castle across Europe with the same paramount image of a medieval fortress--towers, canals, ramparts, and drawbridges, just to name a few charming qualities. It's literally the exact image I had in my head of what a true castle would look like, if I were living a few centuries back in time. There were even swans swimming in the ponds. Total fairytale castle if I ever saw one.

The only way to see the inside of the castle is to purchase a guided tour, but we were short on time and, honestly, with as many castle interiors we'd seen over the years, we were fine skipping the tour. The real star of the show is always the castle façade, for me at least. I would also recommend wandering around the gardens surrounding the castle. The smell of blooming flowers was unbelievably strong and made our walk even more pleasant.

If you ever find yourself with an hour to spare around Utrecht, don't hesitate to hunt down this beautiful reminder of Netherlands history!

Castle De Haar- Kasteellaan 1, 3455 RR Haarzuilens
Castle open daily 11am-5pm (guided tour required for entry)
Guided Tour: €14
Entrance to park/gardens: €4
Parking fee: €4
Tours start on the hour with 2 English tours daily. 
English audio tours available as well.

Jan 23, 2015

FRESH FACE FRIDAY [& Blog Hop!]: Meet Emily Anne & Olya

Hey baby, let's go to VEGAS!! Today's the day...we're off to Sin City for 4 days filled with dancing, drinking, and maybe a scosche of gambling with my college roommate and her hubby! This whole trip came about thanks to D's birthday in early Feb and Nancy's 30th in late-Feb, so we thought no better way to celebrate two important birthdays than with some flashing lights and a little debauchery. Don't worry, Mom, we're too old to go too crazy (I envision a lot of whining and a fair amount of eye-rolling at the thought of staying out past midnight), but we're excited about letting our hair down just a bit. Especially after the stressful holiday season we just endured. Speaking of that, Tuck had his follow up vet appointment on Monday and the vet cleared him of strict crate rest! YAY! He's spent the week getting reacclimated to his walks around the neighborhood, chasing after his mini soccer ball, and frolicking around the back yard like the happiest pup in the world. If he could smile, he'd be smiling constantly these days. We're so thankful he's made a swift recovery, but we're still aware he's basically a ticking time bomb and could have another episode if we're not diligent with keeping him off furniture and away from stairs. So far, he's only escaped up the stairs once, but we were able to carry him back down before he had the chance to do it himself. That weenie will be the death of us, but we love him to pieces! If I have to die from the stress of keeping Tuck healthy, well, then I guess it'll be worth it. ;)

While I'm enjoying the spoils of Las Vegas, I hope you'll hang out with my fabulous co-hosts for Fresh Face Friday! I'm always so thrilled every time I get an email that a new blogger has linked up...even more stoked when I see connections being made in comments and on Twitter! Bloggers love community, so don't miss your chance to make new blog friends! Cheers to a safe and sassy weekend!


Meet Emily Anne, a small town girl with a passion to travel the world one memory at a time! Over on her blog, EAT All Over the World, Emily Anne shares stories from her new life in Australia, gobs of lovely travel recaps, insights on what it's like to be an expat abroad. How did she end up in Australia? You can read that story here! Take some time and get to know Emily Anne and add her adventure to your reading list!

Emily Anne's Favorite Posts:
Pickin' & Grinnin'

My Favorite Posts:
Shrimp on the Barbie
Sydney Opera House
American Slang Meets Australian Slang


Miss Olya, of the fun-loving travel & lifestyle blog, The Siberian American, is no stranger to Fresh Face Friday. She's a FFF vet! Olya started her blog to share recap her amazing travels, to share thoughts from her everyday lifeand to give readers tips and tricks on making travel a part of their own lives. And if you're in the need of a second set of eyes and writing skills, she also offers editing services! Welcome Olya to blog land today and spend some time getting to know this sweet traveling girl!

Olya's Favorite Posts:
My Top 5 European Travel Moments
3 Cities to Visit in France Besides Paris
Fall Foliage Cruise: Bar Harbor, Maine

My Favorite Posts:
24 Hours in Stresa, Italy
Best Shows in Las Vegas
Three Ways to Combat Post-Vacation Blues


Welcome to the
No prompt, just fun!

Hosted by: Casey @ We Took the Road Less Traveled

Rules for hopping:
1| Follow your host & co-hosts (first 3 links), pretty please! 
2| Link up your blog's homepage or Bloglovin' page.
3| Hop around, meet new bloggers, and leave them love!
4| Have fun? Spread the word and share this blog hop with your friends!
5| Want to be a co-host? Click here for more info! 

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Jan 16, 2015

Coffee Talk v.11

  • Tuck is doing great these days, praise the Lord! Still on crate rest (mostly--we let him out into his doggy playpen to stretch/massage his muscles and get some snuggle time on the floor with us), but we go back to the vet for his follow up appointment on Monday. Fingers crossed the vet either takes him off of strict crate rest or tells us we only have one more week instead of two. Tuck wants to go on walks so badly. Poor baby is getting restless now that he's pain free!
  • I made this recipe last week and D and I are still mooning over it. Perfect for a chilly day (not that we get many of them here in FL, but whatevs). I already want to make it again this week. Who needs Olive Garden when you've got this delish copycat?
  • The Bachelor is back!!! And oh my goodness, it's already shaping up to be a crazy season. Chris is kissing errrrbody...all the girls are certifiable (especially onion/zombie girl...scary)...and I'm almost positive the girl who claims she's a virgin, isn't really a virgin. Rub my belly ring? REALLY? She's gonna regret that one.
  • Whenever I'm feeling down, I like to go bum around the internet and read funny auto correct fails. The parent ones are my favorite. This compilation KILLS ME DEAD. So funny.
  • Albums/songs I can't get enough of right now: Ryn Weaver "OctaHate"//Ed Sheeran "Thinking Out Loud"//Taylor Swift album 1989 (duh)//Vance Joy "Riptide"// Ella Henderson "Ghost"// the entire new One Direction album FOUR--shut up, no judging...someone tell me when they grew up because my mind is slightly blown.  
  • We're heading to VEGAS in 1 week! EEK! We've been dying to experience "Sin City" for as long as either of us can remember and now it's finally happening! It's no Europe, but hey, we're stoked. We've gotten so many recommendations for things to do and see that I'm a little overwhelmed (because I want to DO IT ALL), but as long as I can eat some good food, see a show, drinks some drinks, and snap a million photos, I'll be good. After such a stressful Christmas, this mini-vacay is much needed. Big thank you to my parents for coming all the way down to Florida to take care of the hot dog while we're away! They're the best.
  • Team Cote is getting back into the workout thing again. New year, new you, right? Ugh. Bite me. I hate the gym. But the fact that I can still go lay on the beach in the middle of January here kind of makes me feel like I better get back in shape. Plus, working out honestly does make me feel better, no matter how much I try to resist it.
  • Speaking of working out and getting fit, D and I have been trying the ItWorks! wraps and supplements thanks to a dear friend who is a rep for them. Having a degree in nutrition, I've been all kinds of skeptical about the whole shebang...but after trying a few products, we're kind of excited about them. I have a review coming to the blog next week, so if you've ever wondered about that crazy wrap thing, stay tuned!
  • Have you "LIKED" the Road Less Traveled Facebook page yet? Once I hit 500 followers I'll be hosting a little travel-inspired giveaway...so, tell all your friends!
  • Piggy backing off the last bullet...in case anyone was wondering, my new travel agent biz is doing well so far! Now that we're back in FL, I've been able to really focus on things, get organized, and work with lots of new clients. I'm still learning and my days are so busy, much busier than they've been in a long while, but it's fulfilling. And SO FUN. Keeps me in a constant state of wanderlust, but man, life could be worse! Got ideas for a big vacation? Email me at casey@destinationstoexplore.com and we can make it happen!
What's new in your world this week?

Jan 14, 2015

Salzburg, Austria: Part 2

I just spent the morning going through all the photos I have from our Salzburg weekend (all 802 of them!) and I love way too many of them just to share two posts. Old Town is gorgeous and full of such incredible history, but the mountainous landscape surrounding the city is simply breathtaking. The Austrian Alps are truly an item that should be on everyone's bucket list. If you can ski the Alps, that's the ideal way to go, but experiencing the views of such an iconic city juxtaposed against snow capped mountains is a great compromise. I went photo crazy our morning at Salzburg Castle. It was so hard not to! The clouds and fog from the early morning were still lingering along the base of the mountain range when we got to the castle's vista. As the day progressed, the fog dissipated and we got totally different Alpine views. It was unbelievable (I'll share more in my next post). Until then...here are a few more photos of the Old Town leading up to our funicular ride.

 I have to admit, aside from watching the mountain scenery change with the day, one of the coolest things we did while in Salzburg was ride the funicular from Old Town up to Fortress Hohensalzburg (Salzburg Castle). We are big fans of "getting high" and seeing cities from the highest vantage point we can easily get to. I always recommend taking this approach when visiting a new city. Such a great way to get your bearings and be wowed at the same time! You can take the funicular round-trip for 8 euro, or you can combine your ride with a castle tour (what we did) for 11.30 euro. Such a perfect way to spend half a day in Salzburg!

More from Salzburg Castle to come...
Miss any of my Salzburg recaps? Catch up here!

Jan 12, 2015

The Hills Are Alive: Salzburg Part 1

This time last year, D and I hopped in a car with two of our friends and made our way to Salzburg for a totally Austrian weekend. Austria was one of those countries we always kind of forgot about. Even though its borders were just 6 short hours away from our home in Wiesbaden, Austria is so similar to Germany that we often chose to venture off to other destinations around Germany. When the time to leave our life abroad started to creep closer, we knew there were a few iconic cities we needed to check off our bucket list before leaving Europe. Salzburg was high on our list.

As the birthplace of Mozart and Rodgers and Hammerstein's cinematic treasure, The Sound of Music, Salzburg runs no shortage of historic sights and beautiful landscapes. Our weekend was chock full of "wow!" moments and diving straight into the pages of my college art history textbook. We decided to stay just across the river from historic Salzburg, placing our home-base at a hotel with a view of the Mirabell Garden & Palace gates. After checking in late on a Friday night, we woke early Saturday morning, drank cappucinos at the bakery below the hotel, and started our tour of Salzburg with Mirabellgarten (open year-round). None of the boys were interested in doing the whole Sound of Music bus tour, so us gals settled for strolling around the gardens singing and pretending we were part of the Von Trapp family. Really a surreal start to our day of sight-seeing.

After strolling the gardens, we made our way across the Salzach River to wander around historic Salzburg. Along our walk, you could see Fortress Hohensalzburg towering over the city, and gorgeous mountain-scapes hovering over every ounce of visible skyline. To live in a city completely surrounding by beautiful mountains? That's the dream. 

Baroque architecture reins supreme in Salzburg and the city oozes a fun blend of opulence and kitsch as you wander along its narrow streets. I'm a sucker for wrought iron signage and elaborate facades, so Getreidegasse (popular shopping street) was a total dream to me. We spent quite a lot of time going in and out of shops, tasting marzipan, trying on traditional dirndls/lederhosen, and tasting local schnapps at Sporer (highly recommend a pop in--smooth as buttah, that stuff!). It was so easy to lose track of time there! Salzburg is such a friendly city, the locals really embraced us and made us all feel welcome (especially where schnapps and beer were involved!). After getting our fill of shopping, we decided we needed to "get high"...so off to the castle we went!

More from gorgeous Salzburg to come!
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