Solo Travel | Experiencing a City

Experiencing a city is a challenge. Especially when time is short. So why put the pressure on yourself? Why feel the need to be the tourist who sees all historical sites, the instagram-worthy modern coffee shops, the infamous restaurants, and the classic tours.

Forgetting to sit still on a trip can make it all a blur. Kind of like your wedding day. Unless you stop and breathe it in, you will likely say “I can barely remember anything! Still the best day of my life!” Which in the long run isn’t a bad answer, but personally, I LOVE remembering the details, the random excursions off trail. I hope on my wedding day, I can have moment memories that build the day, not flashes of events.

So when you take a weekend, a week trip, or longer, I challenge you to pick and choose what is most important to you. Do you ACTUALLY want to see _____ or do you just want a photo in front of it. Often, I find myself saying “i don’t know, i feel like i’m SUPPOSE to go there cause like I’m HERE?” When in England, I stayed in a northern city with close friends. London is a 5 hour drive from their home. I spent a bit of time asking myself if I should ask to go. I mean, I was in England (right!?) , and 5 hours isn’t even that far! I opted not, because I knew I would MUCH rather spend hours in their home, drinking tea, exploring their stomping grounds. I would much rather make memories laughing while attempting golf, getting brunch down the street, and going to a high tea room in an old hall. Don’t get me wrong, London would be amazing, but this trip, it was just me. I began to lose the sense of urgency to SEE IT ALL.  I plan to go back. I’ve been twice in the same calendar year, so why try to see it all and not take a breather? I hope I can continue to travel often in my lifetime, and I expect I will go back to England with a friend or friends one day who will want to take London on!

There is something so special about not using a map after a few days in a city. I spent around 6 days in Lyon, France this April. I had a European phone plan with quite a bit of data left, so I face timed some friends while around the city. After the first two days, I had gotten to know the area, the short cuts to the rivers, my favorite bridge or two to cross, my favorite spot to sit and read. It was so exciting to virtually tour my best friend around a city that now felt like a new comfortable home.

So my top “planning” tips to visiting a new city:

  1. Instead of booking a trip with the intention to see as many cities in 3 weeks that you can, consider taking on 2 cities and a town maybe. Spend a longer time in one place to truly experience the culture, the set up of the city, the food, and of course, the people!

2. Prioritize your MUST see tourist attractions, and eliminate the ones that you are going to simply out of obligation. Its YOUR trip, right?

3. Consider wandering around the city without a map (also have a note of your address… and maybe a off-line map app to get home. haha)

4. Read and write where you want to – on a step, on the ground, by water where ever you just want to be. Don’t feel guilty for that time. Allowing yourself to stop and take in your experiences will let them sink and hold. Take note of the little things. Weather, smells, sounds, people you see.

I have loved the trips I remember LIVING in the city, not simply touring it. Take the challenge, give yourself elbow room on your next trip.

Get lost in the city, try some crappy coffee you spent a little too much on, dangle your legs over a river, breath in the fresh air, and let the city settle in your memory.

Sunday afternoon after church exploring the local market for a smoothie.

One of my favorite nights in Lyon. I had eyed a spot on this one bridge a few days in a row. The weather was perfect. I just scooped myself up there and read my travel journal. The bustling city around me while I wrote in more memories I made that day.

Taking an evening off exploring and doing some well needed Friends night. Everything is so new and sometimes just a lot, its nice to have something familiar like netflix.

Take selfies. Haha you won’t regret it. Its the solo-travel way.

Snack away.

First Time Bread Baker | Attempt Once

To be honest, bread seemed really intimidating to me. Since its so easy to buy, and you hear so many talk about how hard it is to bake bread. However this summer I visited dear friends of mine, and they make bread. Well, Anna bakes bread. It all seems very simple and well time consuming but not difficult. So when I was given the bread + cheese platter for one of my best friends baby shower, it seemed the perfect opportunity.

I didn’t own a dutch oven, nor was I at all informed by the true task of baking bread. My sister came to my rescue… a baby sitter if you will. She face timed me the night I stirred it all up, and came over in the morning, let me barrow her dutch oven and stayed till it was all golden crust! So I send all my gratitude to Dough vs Girl and my sister!

Now I went with the simplest of recipes that my sister uses! And I’ve broken it down and photographed my experience below.

no-knead dutch oven bread

I made two batches. Left – Plain bread . Right – Rosemary bread

 

  • 3 cups of flour

  • 2 tsp of salt (for the plain bread)
  • 2 tsp of garlic salt (for the rosemary bread) + rosemary

  • 1 Tsp (one packet) of red star ACTIVE DRY YEAST

Mix until just mixed.

cover with siranwrap or something. I used parchment and then a cloth on top.

leave over night in a warm space in your home.

Turn oven on to 450 and place dutch oven inside as well!

Flour up and scoop on pan. Will use quite a bit of flour to ensure its not too sticky to mold into roundness.

Once round and cute on its pan, cover again with cloth and let rise for 30 minutes at least.

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If you so desire, you can slit an X or just a line to allow a crack .

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You can’t totally tell in this photo, but pick up the borders of the parchment paper and plop into the dutch oven.

Cook with cover on for 40/45 minutes. Then take the dutch oven top off and let bake for 8-10 minutes to make it all golden!

Me with bread.

 

Rheinland Pfalz, Germany | Bridals

Not much to say except that I love my cousin and I’m so thankful she gave me this time. Actually frolicking the hills of the German countryside in her wedding dress, 1o years after I was her flower girl nervously making the way down her wedding aisle. Call us pretentious, but we just living these crazy lives the Lord has given us which somehow included a magical sunset in the hills behind her village. Its a dream to have visited Alice twice in almost the same year, and I don’t take that lightly. The Lord gave us this opportunity to unlock a friendship we never got to have when we were younger. I love my cuz, my friend, Alice Holt. AND I cannot WAIT to see her in just a few short days STATE side.

Here are a few photos of my GORGEOUS cousin. <3

              

Victoria + Sharline | New Friends in Heidelberg, GE

Jonna and I had the best day a couple weeks ago in Heidelberg. We met up with Sharline + Vicky one night at a store and ventured around picking up our picnic snack/dinner items. Including olives, cheese, lots of bread, bananas, dips, ect. And headed on our way to the gorgeous riverside. Upon arrival, it was the ideal time for photos. I asked Sharline if she would be my model. We had met that same hour and were already giggling, arms linked towards the water.

Sharline is such a sweet soul. I love how kind her whole demeanor is and its so visible in her eyes. She encouraged me so much, and catered to all my ideas and prompts. Definitely embarrassed her yelling out compliments. <3 Thank you, Sharline, for still being my friend! I feel like I’ve known you forever, even though it was only a few hours. The Lord just connected us, and I thank Him for that!

And the tables turned when Sharline took my camera, and started posing me! <3 Also we were trying not to get in goose poop.. #adventures

And this beautiful woman is Victoria (Vicky!) She lit up when I asked if she would model as well. The girl has fierce eyes that really are the door to her adventurous, passionate spirit. Vicky filled our little picnic with laughter and encouragement. I was simply baffled by how the Lord used these girls to bless my trip to Heidelberg.

SHARLINE + VICKY, I love you both! May the Lord be with you!

Rooftops | Memphis + New Friends

Its incredible how personalities work. How quickly you know if you are going to really like someone. Bre was one of those people for me. Within my first conversation, I knew she was just my kind of person. Chillax, hysterical, and loves Jesus. We really hadn’t had more then one or two conversations in person over the course of a year or two,  before she planned to come see me last month for a short weekend.

As a professional in the field of your passion, your freedom gets lost in the business. What was your hobby becomes a to do list. There is so much beauty and blessing in that, but I’m starting to see how I must protect my creative process. Reading Ben Sasso’s incredible blogpost, “Creative Manifesto” a few months back, I was already chatting it up with Bre about all my thoughts on the subject. He speaks so much truth in getting creative, loosening your standards, being free. Pushing yourself in unpaid situations. Bre, even from a far, was such an encouragement.  I asked if she would be a model one day for me. AND NOWWWW it has happened. Months later, here she was, in front of my camera. Even more fun and exciting then I could have dreamed. Bre, you are such a wonderful human. I had the best time chatting, adventuring, and learning with you. I’m so excited to see how God is using you.

Recently, I also had the joy of meeting Jessica. Seriously one of the coolest highschoolers. This chick is graduating and headed to Belmont. She is full of dreams, bravery, and talent. She joined us on our adventures and took us around some of Memphis’s best tops- even agreeing to get in front of the lens. I’m just so honored to know her. <3 Thank you Jess for being so lovely and such a joy! I love how I can see your dreams through your eyes. I love your style and genuine spirit.