We’re off for an adventure in Asia exploring Hong Kong for the first time (bring on all the dumplings!) and taking in Cherry Blossom Season in Japan, including stops in Kyoto, Osaka and Nara, with a return to Tokyo, one of our favorite cities! We’ll be starting with a couple days in Hong Kong and meeting up with parents who are returning from a week in China and then exploring Japan on our own – can’t wait! Follow along on Instagram for all the street food, lanterns and cherry blossoms possible!
My beautiful home city has become much more of a tourist destination that past few years and mostly due to our foodie scene and beautiful old neighborhoods, the city is the perfect weekend escape. I’ve offered a number of suggestions about Portland over the years of blogging but finally, I’m giving you today the perfect itinerary to follow for a weekend in my city with all my favorites included! If you’re looking for a great city escape for a weekend way, Portland is a fantastic option and here’s all you need to know for the perfect weekend itinerary in Portland.
And be sure to download this free itinerary in PDF form at the bottom of this post!
DAY 1 : ARRIVE IN PORTLAND FRIDAY EVENING
Arrive in Portland!
Take the MAX (the city’s light rail) in from the airport and you’ll be Downtown in 45 minutes! You can also take a taxi or an Uber/Lyft which will take you about 15 minutes without traffic.
Check into The Sentinel Hotel.
Do a quick outfit change, freshen up and head out to for dinner at Andina. Be sure to get a reservation for dinner before you go!
After dinner, wander back to your hotel which is only a few blocks away.
DAY 2 – Explore Downtown and the Pearl District
Start out your day at the Portland Farmer’s Market in the South Park Blocks at PSU.
Don’t miss breakfast here with a breakfast burrito from Enchanted Sun. You’ll find their stall where the long line is, but take it from me, it’s well worth the wait! Then wander around the market and take in all the great local organic stalls.
Wander back through downtown toward the Pearl District.
As you head back toward downtown through the Park Blocks, meander through the beautiful parks toward the Pearl District. Once there, there are endless shops and restaurants to enjoy.
Stop for lunch at Piazza Italia (again a reservation is best), for an authentic Italian lunch straight from Roma.
followed by a wander through Jameson Park across the street and then heads towards Tanner Springs Park and the Fields Park. Then head back South towards your hotel stopping for dinner along the way.
Enjoy artisan pizza at Oven and Shaker for dinner! You won’t need a reservation here but the earlier the better as it gets crowded!
DAY 3 – EXPLORE NW + Nob Hill
For your final day in the city, enjoy one of its oldest and most beautiful neighborhoods. Not that I’m biased or anything, but this is where I live!
Start by jumping on the streetcar right by your hotel on the NS line towards NW 23rd Avenue. Jump off on the stop at 21st Avenue and walk a few blocks North for a breakfast stop at Besaw’s. Order their Farmer’s Hash here and I promise you won’t be disappointed. But go early before the crowds when they open at 8am!
Then make your way toward NW 23rd Avenue to wander. This long road is full of shops and restaurants and it’s here you’ll find the famous Salt and Straw ice cream shop and much more to discover. Spend the rest of the day wandering through the old neighborhoods full of old Victorian homes and tree lined streets.
For a late lunch/early dinner head to Ataula!
For an amazing Spanish tapas feast at one of my favorite restaurants, try the Bombas and Spanish tortilla, washed down by their house made Sangria at Ataula.
AND DON’T FORGET TO DOWNLOAD THIS FREE ITINERARY FOR YOUR OWN TRAVELS AT THE LINK BELOW THIS PDF!
I’ve always been labeled by those that know me as a “go-getter” personality and I pride myself on my organization skills, so put those together and I’ve always been able to have set goals, go after accomplishing them and get a lot of shit done, excuse the language. I get asked a lot, “how do you get so much done with so much going on?” The answer to that is my way of organizing my life and enjoying having my toes dipped in a lot of different ponds – I own my own business, work for an architecture firm and teach part time, not to mention this little blog of mine. All in all, my days are busy and my to do list is never ending, but at the same time, I feel like I’m able to manage it all (most of the time) by staying organized and just working my way through my list to things to do. So today, let’s talk about how to just get shit done and accomplish all your goals at the same time!
Know what your goals are and have a plan for them.
First, you need to actually know what your goals are and have a plan for them to happen. If you don’t know what your actual goals are, why waste time on things that might not matter in the end? Before you do anything else, figure out what your goals are, whether for the day or for the year or for the next 5 years, and then work your way little by little toward them.
Make a To Do list – with small items at the top and big at the bottom.
One of the things I notice most often, especially with my students, is that when they make a list of things to do, they start with the biggest, most time consuming stuff. Then what happens is that easy quick stuff never gets done because they are constantly working on the larger stuff that takes longer. Instead, to really get the most done in the time you have – start your list with all the little quick things you have to do. Work your way through those first and knock them off the list, THEN start your bigger stuff. You’ll feel like you get much more accomplished in the time you have and won’t have as much on your list at the end of the day.
Put it on your calendar.
One thing that helps me tremendously is to put things in my actual calendar as well as on my to do list. This way, I know when specific things need to happen. Mark your calendar for deadlines and for the stuff that has to happen on certain days. I live or die by my calendar so having stuff on there too really helps!
Don’t push it off.
One thing I hardly ever do, is push stuff off. I know this is super hard for a lot of people that procrastinate but the best possible way to get the most done is to not do that. I almost always do stuff immediately, even if it’s not due for a while because in my experience, stuff always comes up last minute and causes more problems. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had project done way before their deadline and then something comes up at the last minute before they are due that wouldn’t have allowed me to finish the project at all and I’m so glad that it’s already done. Don’t push stuff off, do it immediately.
You don’t have to be perfect.
I feel like the term “perfectionist” gets thrown around too much these days and sometimes it becomes a hinderance to actually getting things done. I’m not a perfectionist but I do expect the best out of myself, so if you feel like you constantly have to be making everything perfect, instead, think about doing everything to the best of your ability. Then you have to be able to walk away. Redoing things over and over just because you think it’s not perfect isn’t doing any good for anyone and is probably putting you behind on other things. Do your best the first time, then be done with it. You don’t have to be perfect, do your best and call it a day.
Even when you really don’t want to do it, at least start it.
Everybody struggles with be unmotivated at times in their life, myself included, however even when you really don’t want to work your way through that list of stuff to do, that’s when you really need to push through and just do it. Or at least, start it. Getting the momentum going can be a challenge sometimes, but once you start, at least your part of the way there!
While Savannah and Charleston are gorgeous in Photos, it’s when you’re really there that the cities come to life. When the Spanish Moss covered trees are blowing in the wind, when the fountains are gently bubbling water as a jazz musician plays a sweet tune in the air, those are the moments that make the South feel like another world. So since you couldn’t all come on our trip to the South with us, here’s a little video guide of Savannah and Charleston so you can feel like you were there too!
Prague has been on my travel list for a long time now and while I haven’t been able to make it work so far on our travels through Europe to explore this ancient city, when I was approached to share more about it, I couldn’t pass up the chance!
Walking the streets of Prague, one marvels at the astonishing architecture spanning centuries of history; from Gothic, Baroque, Art Nouveau and modern Art Deco architecture side-by-side, Prague is a wondrous sight. So, if you’re planning to travel to the Czech Republic, here are six landmarks in Prague which you must visit.
The Old Town Hall and Astronomical Clock
The most recognizable icon in the city, this Gothic structure dates back to the 14th century and houses a beautiful mechanical clock. Crowds gather hourly just to see and hear it chime and marvel at its beauty and wonder. Canadian Traveller states the astronomical clock was a collaboration between clock maker Miklaus of Kadane and Jan Sindel, professor of mathematics at Charles University. It remains one of the most incredible inventions of the medieval world and has survived revolutions and uprisings.
One of the most architecturally beautiful and largest coherent castle complexes in the world, Prague Castle was founded in the 9th century during the Premyslid Dynasty. It features in the Guinness Book of World Records, as the castle spans across 18 acres thanks to several expansive courtyards, according to PartyPoker’s article ’10 Fantastic Things to Do in Prague’. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the castle comprises palaces and ecclesiastical building of varying styles and ages; from the Romanesque style buildings of the 10th century, through Gothic modifications of the 14th century. Unfortunately, it is also a no-fly zone, so drone videographers will have to make due with ground level photography.
Also known as Jerusalem Synagogue, due to its location on Jerusalem Street in Prague, it is situated outside the Jewish Quarter and was originally built in 1906. Designed by Viennese architect Wilhelm Stiassny in honor of the silver Jubilee of Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria, the synagogue reflects a unique synthesis of styles, including Moorish architecture combined with Art Nouveau. It is characterized by large central arch frames and rosette window with the Star of David in the middle.
If you’re a lover of asymmetric modern architecture, the world-famous Dancing House is the symbol of modern architecture in Prague. Designed Canadian-American architect Frank O. Gehry, it was finished in 1996 and was inspired by the dancing duo Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Originally construction was met with a heated debate as many did not see it fitting in with Prague’s overall architectural design, however, when it was finished it received Time Magazine’s Design of the Year Award.
The famous historical fort is one of the most significant National Cultural Monuments of the Czech Republic and today shelters many architectural treasures. This extensive complex spreads out on a high promontory overlooking the Vlatva River and contains the famous Vysehard Cemetery, Slavin Tomb and the Basilica of St. Peter and St. Paul. The hill-fort was founded in the late 10th century during the reign of Boleslaus II the Pious. Throughout the centuries it became a seat of power, notably of the King of Bohemia and Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV.
St. Vitus Cathedral
Perched up high on Castle Hill, the cathedral and its high spires are an important symbol of Prague. Thought Co’s article ‘Prague Architecture for the Casual Traveler’ discussed that it is a masterpiece of Gothic design and took almost 600years to complete with construction beginning in the mid-14th century. However, for centuries it sat unfinished and it wasn’t until the mid-19th century that it was started again and finally completed in 1929. The harmonious combination of five centuries of architectural designs make it a uniquely beautiful and timeless structure.
After our first day in Savannah, we felt like we had explored most of the city on foot and were looking for a spontaneous day trip somewhere in the area to explore a new area for the day. Initially my thought was Hilton Head, South Carolina, however upon further research most people suggested that Hilton Head is great for a vacation but not necessarily a day trip – they did recommend however the cute little South Carolina town of Beaufort. So upon a couple quick image searches to see what it looked like and seeing the incredible little town full of old houses and Spanish Moss, we jumped at it and headed to Beaufort, South Carolina for the day.
We started our day with a drive through the Old Point neighborhood stopping at every chance we got to gawk at the incredible old Southern houses and amazing oaks lining the streets covered in hanging Spanish moss. Beaufort is the Southern small town of your dreams and that’s no exaggeration – it’s gorgeous.
After an hour or so of driving and stopping, driving and stopping in the neighborhood, we headed for the main street in town on Bay Street. We parked the car and wandered up and down the street, popping into the stores and buying a few things. Finally we headed to Q on Bay for some lunch and had amazing Southern food, including my final indulgence of shrimp and grits of the trip.
Only about an hour from Savannah and an hour from Charleston, Beaufort is the perfect day trip if you’re in either city and looking to explore more of the area. This little magical town was a treat and we were really glad we gave it a chance on a spontaneous decision!
Kimpton Brice Hotel – Savannah, Georgia
601 E Bay St, Savannah, GA 31401
When we were looking at our time in Savannah and planning our trip, I looked to see if there were Kimpton properties in the area. Usually, Kimpton’s are my go-to hotel chain wherever we travel so I check them first and low and behold, up came the Brice in Savannah and the rest is history!
Location – While the location of the Brice initially seemed far from everything when we were driving into town, we quickly realized that while it may be one of the last hotels on the strip of hotels near River Street in Savannah, it actually was only a 10 minute walk to everywhere in the historic district of Savannah.
Decor – Like all Kimpton’s, the decor of the hotel is great. It’s modern and fun and has lovely touches everywhere you look.
Quick Valet – Anytime we needed to get our car in and out of valet, it was super fast and easy.
Restaurant Design – We didn’t eat at the restaurant at the hotel, but it looked super cute and fun!
Price – We stayed the weekend a couple days after Valentine’s Day and so the rates were fairly high (even with my professional discount) and unfortunately I was under the impression that the rate quoted to me included taxes and fees when in reality it didn’t and that added a lot more to the price. I don’t really think the price we paid was worth what the hotel offered.
Hotel Layout – The hotel looks like it used to be an old motel and so it’s a huge property with winding corridors and weird fire doors in odd locations. In the update, it looked like the updated all the aesthetic finishes but didn’t do much for the layout of the hotel and building itself which still seems a bit odd and outdated.
Old Bathrooms – While the bedroom of our room was updated and modern, the bathrooms didn’t make it into the renovation budget it seems and were really old and outdated.
NOTES TO KEEP IN MIND
It’s not in the main hub of hotels near River Street, but close – East Bay Street is a long stretch of hotels and restaurants across the street from a park and River Street in Savannah and while the Brice is still close to everything, there are a number of hotels closer to the main hub of the area.
Valet Parking – Valet parking will set you back about $40 per night.
All hotel photos via.
Land of Marvels was welcomed to the Brice at a discounted rate however as always, all opinions are my own.
Ghost City Grave Tales Ghost Tour – Savannah, Georgia
While in Charleston, one of Nick’s colleagues from the area recommended for us to a ghost tour while in Savannah, as it’s known as the most haunted city in the USA. He recommended Ghost City so we went with them, but there are a lot of companies that do these tours so you could look into other options too. I love supernatural natural stuff like that and have always been sensitive to the supernatural in my personal life, so this was right up my alley. We actually booked only a day in advance and even though last minute, it was one of our favorite parts of our time in Savannah!
Tour Guide – We had KB as our guide and we loved her! She was the perfect mix of great story telling and information along with great insider knowledge of the city.
Tour Route – We did a big loop around the downtown area of Savannah and got to see some spots we hadn’t seen during our day wandering around the city which was nice. It’s a nice couple hours of getting to see the city and understand it better.
Meet Up Organization – We did our tour on a Saturday night and they had a lot of different groups going and where we met in Johnson Square there were a ton of people and it got a little chaotic. I wish they would have told us to go to a specific corner of the square or something to meet as it got a little crazy before we got going. They did do their best to manage it, it just was a lot of people!
Group Size – I’d say there were probably 12-15 people in our group and I wish there had been about half that so we got a little bit more of an intimate feel. It wasn’t a huge deal, but if I did it again, it would be nice to have a smaller group.
NOTES TO KEEP IN MIND
Wear Comfortable Shoes – It’s a 1.5-2 hour tour so wear comfortable shoes to walk around that whole time!
If you’re supernaturally sensitive, be ready for some weird vibes – I’ve always been sensitive to the supernatural and since I was little have always felt supernatural presence around me in certain locations so if you lean that direction, just be aware that I definitely got some weird vibes and feelings in certain locations on this tour. One square in particular (the last one on the tour), gave me a really negative feeling and presence and I was really ready to get out of that location, so just know that if you’re sensitive to it, you will definitely feel it on this tour. Just be ready for it so it doesn’t throw you off. And if you aren’t sure if you really believe in the supernatural (like Nick), don’t worry either, you’ll still have a great time and learn a bunch of history of Savannah.
Upon arriving in Savannah, I’ll be honest, I wasn’t super thrilled with the city. First off, it was completely different than I was expecting in my head which always throws me off. It also seemed a little gritty for me and a bit more of a party city than I generally like. But I will admit, after spending 2 days there, by the time we left, it had really grown on me. I came to love the old gritty-ness, the historic mansions, the tiny squares within each little neighborhood full of old oak trees and Spanish moss. I came to love the history of the city and the spirituality of the most haunted city in the US. I came to love the old brick warehouses by the river and appreciate the history of this part of the world. I came to really like Savannah when we finally headed back to Charleston, I had really come to appreciate the city.
Savannah is best explored on foot to be sure to park your car somewhere and just wander. There aren’t a ton of true tourist spots, instead what makes the city so unique is how it’s laid out with old historic neighborhoods and their subsequent little squares full of trees. You can’t really go wrong just wandering the city for hours and taking it all in.
- River Street – Down on the water in Savannah is this old waterfront area bordered by old brick warehouse buildings and a main promenade. This spot is amazing to wander at sunset!
- Forsyth Park – This big city park is a lovely spot to stop and rest on a park bench and just watch the world go by.
- Colonial Park Cemetery – This old cemetery dates back to the Colonial war in the 1700’s and has a ton of old rich history – it’s also said to be haunted so you might see a ghost or two!
- Historic District – There is a group of historic blocks in downtown Savannah full of old homes dating back to the 1800’s. And within each grouping of a few blocks, each has it’s own square filled with old trees and Spanish moss. Each square is different than the next so you could wander through these for hours!
- Broughton Street – This main stretch of the downtown area of Savannah is full of shops and restaurants to explore.
I won’t lie – I’m a huge fan of Southern food and always have been. I’ve also leaned in the direction of this type of food for comfort in my life and I’ve long sought out Southern restaurants in Portland to get in my cravings. We’re actually really lucky to have a few great Southern restaurants in my home city but there is nothing quite like the real thing when actually in the South. So if you’re like me and crave comfort Southern food – don’t miss the foods on this list while you’re in the American South!
There is nothing better than Southern Fried Chicken and while totally unhealthy, it really is so incredible and tasty.
Shrimp and Grits
I could not stop eating Shrimp and Grits while in Charleston and Savannah and this amazing meal quickly became my go-to while in the South mostly because I don’t get much of this in the NW. I bought some Southern grits to bring home with me to replicate at home but it tasted so good while on our trip.
There is nothing quite like a down home Southern biscuit. For some reason, this easy little morsel if often really done horribly but in the South, the buttery biscuits are one of a kind.
Perhaps my favorite food on the planet, okra is really hard to get here in the Pacific North West. My dad used to make it for us growing up and while it’s not a widely used vegetable in my neck of the woods, I crave it a lot! And nothing is better than fried okra which you’ll find on a lot of menus in the South.
Ahh this post is making me hungry and thinking of hushpuppies is making me hungrier. These little fried dumpling type things are delicious and easy to just snack on for a while.
And while not a type of food, Waffle House is a Southern tradition and shouldn’t be missed while in that part of the country! It’s your typical diner but oh so good and oh so Southern!