Tag Archives: sunset

Hola, Canary Islands!

9 Jun

OK y’all, summer is officially HERE! And we’ve had the most glorious week of sun and sand and surf to prove it! I can’t say enough good things about our time on Tenerife, the largest and most populated of the Canary Islands. I’m not going to get into the history and the story here (please stay tuned over at Treats, Travels And Truths over the next week as I get everything posted- I just couldn’t wait to share our pictures with all of you guys first!), but the Canary Islands are a part of Spain, although they’re WAY south, right off the coast of Africa. And trust me when I say that we could certainly tell just how far south- on the equator!- we were by that blazing sun! Casper to lobster in less than an hour and I’m not even exaggerating! Ha!

Canary Island Map

But on a serious note, this trip was a bit extra special in that it had been planned for nearly two years- one of the first ones we booked after we moved here. My grandmother had wanted it to be our family vacation since we’ve missed our annual trip to Myrtle Beach, so to get the best accommodations, etc., she booked it early and we all got to planning. It was to be an awesome beach week for us, her and my parents. But then some health stuff came up and the trip had to be changed. My grandmother and parents tried their hardest, but in the end, they couldn’t come. My first inclination was to cancel altogether- it just wouldn’t, *couldn’t* be the same without them. And besides, for what would we need a three bedroom suite for just us? But Grandma insisted that we go- it was important to her. So we invited our best friend, (Uncle) Andy, and we went. And we are SO thankful we did. No, it wasn’t the same as it would’ve been with my family, but it was wonderful. And fun. And relaxing. And the perfect refilling of our tanks. So thank you, Grandma, for the loveliest vacation. It’s one we will never forget. ❤

Tenerife Map

We stayed in the south, in Los Christianos, but spent time at lots of the different beaches, including along the north shore at Puerto de la Cruz. A highlight of our trip was our day in the middle of the island, though, exploring the volcano and its national park.

Alright, without further adieu, here is a pictorial account of our fabulous week on Tenerife, including lots of beaches, pools, a water park, a volcano, some giant cliffs, a little putt-putt and alot of just plain ‘ol FUN.

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Los Gigantes- these cliffs are thousands of feet above the water…



View from our balcony



Voted World’s Best Waterpark on TripAdvisor…Definitely the nicest we’ve ever been to!



One of my happy places 🙂



One of the best steaks we’ve ever had. Oh. My. Gawd.



This lazy river is easily several miles long…


Same ‘ol breakfast even on vacation…but with an awesome view.



From our balcony…



Poolside snack…


The most visited national park in Europe, 8th in the world. El Teide is the highest point in Spain and the 3rd largest volcano in the world.



Poolside dinner and a show on our first night…



In case you were curious, it costs 1 euro to make a call these days…



Northern shore of the island…



For mom…Lovely trees ❤



Topless beach for the day 😉 


Playa de Troya, Black Sand Beach…



They say Tenerife is the most similar landscape to Mars on Earth…So much so that they test Mars Rovers here. Totally believe it.


Like riding a bike! She was a fish within 10 minutes of getting back in the water! Woohoo!



Laying in the sun on a perfect beach, listening to the blue waves crash, the smell of suntan lotion in the air…YES. YES. YES.


With a pencil behind her ear ‘like Daddy.’




Standard lunch for every single day of the week. Not even kidding.








Coming down from the volcano, we came to a grove of pine trees with a picnic table beneath…Lunch was served. Not a soul around for miles and miles…



My new favorite shot of my people ❤



And that’s it! What a terrific week and one that we’re already missing like crazy. Hoping to start getting things posted over on TTT starting on Monday, so be sure to check that out. The only saving grace is that my Dad got here this morning and will be here for the next two weeks! Our hearts are full. Hope everyone’s summer is off to a great start!

Thomas Family Greek Vacation

8 May

Hello, y’all! First of all, thanks to all of you who have made the switch with me over to Treats, Travels and Truths! It’s so exciting for me to really get things rolling over there. But like I said, I want to keep this space as somewhere to continue sharing our personal pictures- the stuff that we want to share with our family and friends. And that’s just what I’m doing today. John’s brother, sister-in-law, niece and sister have all been here for the past couple of weeks and we decided to use a week of their visit to take on our latest adventure, Greece! What a wonderful place and what a fun, fun time we had exploring its capital, Athens, as well as two of its islands, Mykonos and Santorini. Over the next week or so, I’ll have several posts up on TT&T all about each of these spots and how we spent our time there so please be sure to stop by there to read up if you’re interested. But in the meantime, here’s our adventure as described by pretty pictures ❤

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First up, Athens…











Top of the Acropolis


Erechtheion Temple- next to the Parthenon and smaller, but much better preserved…


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The Parthenon



Temple Erechtheion- right next to the Parthenon and much smaller, but much better preserved…





Parthenon on the left, Erechtheion on the right…





View of the south from the Acropolis





The original theatre where Plato and Socrates both spoke…



Mt. Lycabettus


Legend has it that Poseidon (brother of Zeus) and Athena (daughter of Zeus) were fighting over the city when Athena cast her spear down and where it sparked, an olive tree grew. As a result, she won the city (thus its name) and Poseidon was given a smaller village nearby…This is the original olive tree from Athena’s spear…


A girl and her espresso…


When in Greece, eat….pasta! Ha!






On to Mykonos…


First morning on our balcony…







The walk to lunch…




Chocolate faces!







When you’re not sure if you’re on a road or someone’s (poorly maintained) driveway! Ha! *It’s a road!*



Mom, see the fava beans?





Siblings ❤





Mykonos Town









(Neve’s first crush…On our waiter…Raphael…Who played along beautifully…In case any of us were wondering how she’d react her first time ‘in love’ and planning to ‘marry him…’ ❤ ❤ <3)


And finally, to Santorini…


Taken from our balcony…These blue domes are some of the most photographed items in the world…



From our balcony…







Our front door…


Grape Vineyards…They have to keep them cut very short or they can’t withstand the high winds…Wine is a staple industry on Santorini…











Castle Ruins…








Black Sand Beach…About 5 min before she was naked and in the water!







Downtown Fira…







Red Sand Beach…


Only brewery in the Greek Isles, on Santorini…







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I really can’t say enough good things about our time in Greece. Athens was terrific, the islands were terrific, the sunshine and the (mostly) warm temperatures were terrific, the food was terrific, the people were (mostly) terrific…Time most definitely flies when you’re having fun! Can’t wait to share more over on TreatsTravelsandTruths.com!

Thanks for following along!

Spanish Beach Bums!

16 Aug

Back again with the second half of our southern Spain getaway! Y’all, it couldn’t have been any better if I’d read about it in a glossy travel magazine. Like I said yesterday, my requests were: staying ON the beach, being able to hear the ocean from our room, sweaty hot sunshiney weather, and lots of people. Let’s just say that every single box was checked and then some!


Y’all know I like some visuals 😉


Torremolinos is 13 km west of Malaga.

Now, before we get into all the pictures (and trust me- there are a ton of ’em! Don’t say I didn’t warn you!), let me talk about the ‘lots of people’ part. John and I both tend to go from one extreme to the other on preference here. Sure, sometimes it’s so nice to stay somewhere remote where you have plenty of space and quiet and peace. Sometimes that’s exactly what your soul needs- to disconnect, to recharge. But other times, your soul needs crowds and noise and movement and room service. Sometimes, your soul needs LIFE. And for me, those times often come in the summertime. I think it goes back to growing up in a seasonal touristy city, near the beach, on the boat, vacationing in Myrtle Beach (still one of my favorite places on Earth, btw)…Some of my happiest times involve all things summer- which includes throngs of people- so that’s probably why I equate those things with these types of vacations. They truly feed my soul- and refill my tank ❤


Once a poor fishing village before the growth in tourism began in the late 1950s, Torremolinos was the first of the Costa del Sol (ie. Sun Coast) resorts to be developed. The average population is about 80,000, but this more than doubles from late spring through early fall. A large portion of the tourists are from the UK (which we loved! We talked to several and they told us that the beaches in both Spain and Portugal are wildly popular for them because of their quick direct flights…) and Scandinavia.


View from our balcony…Look at that blue Mediterranean water!


Two of our hotel’s pools…Loved how the fact that they’re infinity pools makes them just blend right in…


There are 8 km of beach just in Torremolinos (Costa del Sol runs the entire coast and is comprised of lots of similar towns, so there’s beaches for days!) with a paved promenade running from end to end- walkers, joggers, skaters, cyclists…Every 100 meters, it seemed, there’s another beach bar or restaurant, all specializing in fish.


Hey Dad, who knew you had your own beach bar!



Yep, that’s my daughter! Look at that hair once it hits humidity 😉




We rented one of these, with three chairs, both days- in the front row right along the ocean. Best 5 euro spent!


Within walking distance from our hotel- along the promenade- is the next town, called Benalmadena, and its gorgeous marina. We loved heading that way for dinner for the simple fact that the views were unbeatable! Unfortunately, the food (for most of our trip) left alot to be desired. You know that’s true when I order a hotdog for three meals in a row! Ha!




This hotdog was actually pretty good! As close as I’ve had to home for sure!

For our two full days at the beach, our one and only goal was relaxing (ok, and playing a little, too). We slept in both mornings, then moved ourselves out to the pool or beach around 9a, swapped to the other (pool or beach) sometime in the afternoon, headed in about 5p to get cleaned up and go to dinner. Seriously, that’s all we did and it was so freakin’ magnificent I can’t even.



Poolside lunch…


Neve’s swimming has come lightyears this summer. Finally! And these two days in the water just solidified it. She can swim side to side, she can jump off the side and make it back to the ladder, the can mermaid twirl (don’t ask) and she can float on her back for well over 60 seconds…Dare I call her a swimmer now?! WOOHOO!


Finishing up his Garlic Grilled Octopus








You can’t tell, but this is a topless beach, as are many of the beaches across Europe. Of course it’s not mandatory, just optional. And honestly, I find it so liberating! No one bats an eye. Young and old women, thin and larger women, pale and tan women…It’s just so refreshing to see positive body images being celebrated and embraced! And before you ask, yes, I took mine off and joined right in the positivity 🙂 (Although no, I didn’t walk the beach or anything- don’t get crazy!)





Notice the crescent moon over the palm tree…Going to Carolina in my mind ❤







Yep, the stars definitely lined up for on this one. The weather, the hotel, the beach itself, the language (yay for majoring in Spanish and being able to speak!)…And most importantly, the three of us being together. Just us. After being apart for a month while Neve and I were in the States and then being so crazy busy since we got back, we really needed this time as a family to relax and to play and to enjoy. So THANK YOU to my wonderful husband for planning such an incredible Spanish getaway just for us. And for always putting Neve and me above all else. You move me ❤


We will most definitely be back- I foresee the Costa del Sol becoming a regular quickie getaway for the Thomas clan!

Home Sweet Home…

4 Jul

…and it feels SO good. Y’all, I can’t even tell you how awesome it is to be here in Charleston. Of course, I’m sure you could’ve guessed I’d be having this kind of reaction- either because A) you know me even a little bit 😉 or B) the fact that I haven’t had a chance to chat with you guys in two weeks, which is always a good sign that time has been limited! Speaking of which, don’t even get me started on how quickly time is flying. Two weeks already?! Sheesh.


I want to start with the most wonderful BBQ my parents threw for us last weekend. Something like 75 of our closest friends and family showed up to spend their afternoon- and some even well into the evening!- with us in the backyard. Burgers, hotdogs and all the fixins’…Sweet tea brewing, sunshine shining (fans blowing ;))…Kids in the pool…Grown-ups playing Cornhole in the shade…Neve and I couldn’t have asked for a better party, a better afternoon. And we couldn’t have been more perfectly reminded of how great the people we surround ourselves with truly are. Thank you so much to everyone who came to hang out!





Just in case any of you need to put a face with a name you’ve heard about many a time on here, this is my best friend, Sam ❤






Probably my favorite shot of the day…My dad and his cousin, Billy, having some fun with the potato gun!

In addition to running ourselves ragged the entire first week- getting in all of our doctors and dentists appointments- we’ve managed to pack in as much summertime and friends as we possibly can these first two weeks…




My dad’s cousin, Billy, recently hiked the entire Appalachian Trail over an 8 month period. Yeah, WOW. (Check out his cool blog if you’re interested- MyATGuide.com) He’ll next be hiking El Camino (Portugal/Spain/France) starting in mid-August. My dad is going to be joining him for the first 2 legs of that one 🙂



Possibly one of my new favorite pictures of my girl. And she’s rocking my old shorts from 1985ish.

Neve has loved having playdates at her cousin, Norah’s, house…They even had their very first sleepover this weekend!




She’s also been loving her time with Ms. Lori and her (not-so-) littles, just like she has the last few summers. I still don’t know how we got so lucky to have them in our lives. ❤

John’s family came from Kentucky to visit a bit while we’re here. Always a treat to spend time with them- I know Neve sure loves having them around. And we were able to get in some downtown time on multiple days, so it was beyond win-win in my book! Ha!









One thing I absolutely miss the most living in Germany…Backyard summertime dinners with family ❤





One extra cool thing that’s happened? I added to my personal art collection and took my bestie along for the afternoon, as if we needed anymore bonding time! Heehee. Her first time in a studio, so it was extra fun 😉

And last but not least, my goal for this past week- after all the running around like a headless chicken of last week!- was to touch water, ie. my favorite thing about this city. And I’m proud to say that I did, not once but twice! First up, y’all know we’re a boating family. Very few things in life make me more content than being on my boat- oh, how I’ve missed my boat! Doesn’t matter where we go- the lake, the river, the harbor…All it takes is good people, good music and the sun shining and I’m a happy girl. And you can see from the pictures that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree! Seeing her truly LOVING something that I’ve loved since I was her age is just so freakin’ awesome. Every summer she loves it more and more.





When your elastic breaks 30 minutes into the day and there’s not another one around for 100 miles! (*Note: If you don’t know what this is taking the place of the elastic, you aren’t redneck enough to appreciate this creativity! 😉 )



My kid ❤ When you give the day absolutely everything you’ve got and just can’t quite make it back to the landing. 

And finally, Sullivan’s Island. It’s by far my favorite beach, mainly because the tourists haven’t really found it yet and you can still go there without feeling crowded in the least. As I sat there watching the sunset, I couldn’t help but think of this…It doesn’t how matter how many beautiful cities we visit or how many beaches we play on, nothing- and I mean NOTHING- do I find as stunningly beautiful and breathtaking as a Lowcountry beach. The marsh leading out to it, the rolling dunes, the soft sand, the shells, the baby waves, the ghost crabs digging their holes, the wide openness of the shore, the salty pluff muddy smell…Even the brownish green water. Again I’m reminded of just how fortunate we are to call this great city HOME. Note: I may or may not have gotten teary first setting foot on the beach- and that says alot because y’all know I’m not usually a happy crier! Ha! Another Note: I may or may not have done that multiple times over these last two weeks!



Wow, that was alot of pictures, right?! There’s just so much I’ve been wanting to share with you guys (obviously 😉 ) and what better time to sit down and do it than our halfway mark! In so many ways, that sounds so crazy because I feel like we just got here and there’s so much left for us to do and people to see and fun to have. But in other ways, I feel like we’ve been gone from Germany- from John, from our pups, from our friends, from our routines- for quite a long time. And we’re really missing all of them. Thank Heavens for modern technology that’s helping to bridge the gap!

In the meantime though, we’re just going to soak up every ounce of goodness that being home has to offer because we know good and well that it’ll be time to go home in a flash. Being here with my parents, in my childhood home, a block from my grandmother, surrounded by so much familiarity and comfort, having slow mornings in our jammies and getting to say goodnight before heading up the stairs to bed, eating dinner together at the kitchen table…THIS is where the good stuff happens, where the real moments are made. THIS is what feeds our souls and calms our seas. THIS is a gift we’ve been given and what really matters. THIS, afterall, is everything.

Hope everyone has a safe and happy 4th!


Portugal, the Relaxation Phase…

2 Jun

…and oh how I wish we were still there in that phase! Instead, we’re back here in Stuttgart and I’m listening to the rain fall outside my window. *Sigh* And to make matters worse, apparently I picked up a snot bug somewhere along the way and now I’m wrapped up like a burrito on my couch, feeling like death, and taking solace in oodles of pretty pictures- and sharing all of the last week’s amazingness with all of you guys 😉


So we had the BEST time in Portugal. Seriously, one of the best adventures we’ve been on in a very long time. It’s as though all the stars just lined up- a new country that looks so different than most of Europe, a new culture that is so friendly and inviting, a new cuisine (who knew that the Portuguese eat more fish than anyone else in the world?!), the most perfect weather…But what really was the most special part was that it was just the three of us, exploring and basking in all of the above, and truly enjoying one another. Sometimes it’s easy to forget how important it is to water one’s own garden…and that’s exactly what we did. We came home with gardens full of bright blooms- and very full hearts ❤

OK, enough with the feels and onto the good stuff! Y’all, I have 277 pictures from our five days in Portugal, it was THAT pretty! So in an effort to lighten the load, I’ve done everybody a favor and split the post in half- the Relaxation Phase (beaches, pools, countrysides) and the Adventure Phase (Lisbon and Porto). Now to narrow down the best shots to share! Ha!


Our absolute favorite thing about this trip was where we stayed- outside the small coastal village of Obidos about an hour north of Lisbon. We had done tons of research ahead of time trying to decide the best location- we almost always end up in the heart of the big cities, mainly because they’re the most convenient and give the most authentic feel of immersion. But this time, our goal itself was different. Our goal was just to be together- to relax, to recharge and to breathe. When we found this resort- at least 15 minutes away from civilization, down remote country roads- we knew it was perfect.


Headed out to paradise…


Who would’ve guessed the oasis that awaited us at the end of this road?! Perched high on the cliffs overlooking the blue water and white sand beaches, Praia del Rey. It’s one of the most beautiful areas we’ve ever been to.


Stepping out of our front door, heading down to the beach…





Before we continue, just a bit about Portugal because…well, you know me! Portugal is the westernmost country in Europe, sharing the Iberian Peninsula with Spain. The land within the borders of current Portugal has been continuously settled, invaded and fought over since prehistoric times. In other words, it’s super old and in fact, some of the first evidence of Homo Sapiens have been found there. The Iberians, Celts, Phoenicians, Carthaginians and the Romans were followed by the invasions of the Visigothic and the Germanic peoples, who were themselves later invaded by the Moors. These Muslim peoples were eventually expelled during the Christian Reconquista. Portuguese nationality can be traced back to the creation of the First County of Portugal, in 868. In 1139, Afonso Henriques was proclaimed King of Portugal, thus firmly establishing Portuguese independence.


Just a little visual of our travel…


Every restaurant has these ‘door greeters.’ We never had the heart to tell her their real purpose 😦



Bathing caps are required at indoor pools in Portugal. She thought they were awesome!

And just a few neat Portugal factoids…It’s the leading producer of cork in the world, although the industry is struggling as the wine industry continues to shift away from cork bottle toppers. Eucalyptus forests cover 7% of the country (!) as they were planted in the 1970s to help with erosion- they’ve since taken over and grown rapidly. (The smell is HEAVENLY!) Apparently Portugal is known for its wind- it’s often consistently with gusts of 25 mph! Another interesting industry is pine resin, used in turpentine. We actually had to look this one up ourselves (and examine up close and personal!) after seeing lots of little buckets hanging from the pine trees headed out to the resort. Best part? Tapping the trees doesn’t harm them in any way. Very neat, right?

And last but not least, a few government tidbits…Portugal’s economy is in the rebuilding phase as it was part of the major EU bailout back in 2011. (This translates into it being an excellent time to visit!) It’s the first- and only- country in the world to decriminalize all drugs. Yep, possession of all substances- up to 10 days worth of individual use- is allowed, although trafficking and distribution is not. The government will offer- and pay for- drug and alcohol rehab. The maximum prison sentence for any crime is 25 years- they do not have the death penalty.

OK, on with the picture party! 🙂 Right down the road from Obidos is the little fishing village of Peniche. Two awesome things about this town- it’s had lots of fossils from the Jurassic period and it’s one of the top surfing destinations in the world, second only to Hawaii’s Banzai Pipeline. Who knew?!





Dinner one night overlooking the lagoon…



A wonderful unexpected highlight of our trip…See those people, and sweet pup, obstructing our lovely view of the lagoon? Well, their soon-to-be 4-year-old, Florence, was playing just out of the shot to the left and about 15 minutes after this picture was taken, Neve finished her dinner and wanted to play, too. Long story short, we all ended up out on the patio until long after the sun had set and a new friendship was born. ❤ J and D are from England and have a vacation home just a few hundred yards from our resort. We spent the next day enjoying our vacation all together at their villa, then took the party into town for some walking and ice cream eating. Neve is still talking about her new best friend, Florence!





Neve and Florence








The best street performer guy I’ve ever seen!

The most fun day, right?! Such a lovely day for all of us and I truly think that we will see these sweet friends again. We have so much in common, including a mutual travel addiction!, so who knows, maybe we can plan a trip somewhere exotic one of these days! 😉 Needless to say, here’s how much fun Neve had and how John and I unwound ourselves:

There really couldn’t have been a better vacation for the three of us if it were written in a storybook. I know I say similar things about many of our adventures- and it’s true that we truly love all of the new experiences and fun that our traveling lifestyle affords- but sometimes you just get extra lucky with an extra special one that refills every single one of your tanks.We really are lucky. And blessed.


Sunset from our balcony…

Join me tomorrow- same time, same place- for the other half of our Portuguese getaway- exploring the hills and narrow cobblestone streets of Lisbon and Porto! I promise the pictures are (nearly) just as pretty 😉


The thing about vacation is…

12 Feb

…it makes zero difference to you when it’s officially the ‘weekend!’  Ha!  Oh, next weekend I will certainly be less merry when I can no longer say those words…Anyhoo, living in the moment for the time being! 🙂

So, you know how I mentioned yesterday that my legs were somewhat sore from my butt-kicking activities earlier in the week and how I followed that up by saying it was an understatement?  Yeah, well, understatement is right!  Everybody knows that muscles are always sorest NOT the day after a workout, but the day AFTER the day after.  Case in point, yesterday morning at 0’dark thirty, I swung my legs outta bed and proceeded to stand up…and quickly proceeded to hit the deck.  About this time, John opened his eyes and peaked my edge of the bed.

‘Did you just fall down?,’ he garbled.

‘No, I just attacked the floor,’ I matter-of-factly replied.  Jeez.

And with that, it became clear that my morning workout would need to be modified to include upper-body only…and that it was as good a day as any to see what Lomi Lomi massages were all about!

Lomi Lomi, although often considered to be simply the traditional Hawaiian massage technique, is actually a holistic healing approach that goes beyond basic massage.  The Hawaiians look at things in terms of energy flow, following the idea that an idea or belief can block energy flow as much as muscle tension can. Lomi Lomi helps release the blockages, whilst at the same time giving the energy new direction. Thus, Lomi Lomi isn’t just a physical experience; it also facilitates healing on the mental, emotional and spiritual levels as well. The Hawaiians view all aspects of the body as one and believe that the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual are all part of the “whole” self – when healing is effected on one level, all levels are affected. Lomi Lomi helps release any resistance and therefore facilitates the road to healing. On the physical level, through Lomi Lomi stress and tension are relieved, blood and lymph flow assisted and the elimination of wastes and toxins stimulated.  Practitioners use, in addition to breathing techniques, the palms, forearms, fingers, knuckles, elbows, knees, feet, and even sticks and stones into the process.

I know, I know, it sounds a little ‘crunchy…’  A little ‘hippie…’  And that’s OK, because I AM a little crunchy and hippie!  Ha!  But even I was a bit skeptical about making the switch from my usual ‘Deep Tissue with a Swedish Flare’ to a Lomi Lomi session.  Thankfully, I’m SO glad that I gave it a try and am now bummed that no one in Charleston offers the Hawaiian style!  My therapist, Yuko, talked with me ahead of time get a good idea of my problems areas (my gimp legs and my usual knotty back), then went to work with what proved to be one of the most relaxing massages I’ve ever had.  At times, she told me when to breathe deeply and when to exhale.  Sometimes she used long, gliding strokes with her forearms, then before I knew it, she’d be almost pinpointing a deep, tiny knot with the very tip of her finger before seamlessly moving one of my limbs into the most incredible stretch.  And yes, relaxation is definitely enhanced with the sounds of the ocean and the feel of warm breeze blowing through an open air room!  When it was all said and done, I felt incredible (even my legs were significantly less gimpy!) and reinvigorated.  Proof?  The 2.5 mile walk back up the beach to our hotel was a breeze, no pun intended!

A neat side bar that I’ve thought of several times since my Lomi Lomi session…About 5 minutes into the massage- we had just finished some deep breaths and Yuko was ‘pinpointing’ some tense areas in the small of my back- I started feeling queasy.  I ignored it completely, but within a minute or two, we’re talking full on wave of nausea.  I’m thinking to myself, ‘What the Hell?? Seriously, Erin, you’re going to tell her ‘Oh, I’m sorry, I was totally great 10 minutes ago but now I need you to stop so I can throw up?!  Just great…’  Unable to ride it out any longer, I casually said ‘I’m sorry, I’m just not feeling great…’ and waited for her to say something equivalent to an eye roll.  Then she said, ‘Oh, it fine.  That just (insert Japanese jibberish here) leaving your body.  He must leave in order for Lomi Lomi to work.  He be gone in moment.’  At this point, I was glad I was laying face down on the donut pillow for two reasons: 1. When I threw up, it would go through the hole and onto the floor.  2. She couldn’t see my eyes rolling at her statement.  But…I kid you not, the nausea was completely gone within less than 30 seconds (at which point Yuko alerted me ‘OK, (insert Japanese jibberish here) gone.’) and I felt great for the remainder of the hour.  DEFINITELY recommend a Lomi Lomi massage to anyone and if you’re ever in Waikiki, Yuko at Honua is your girl! 🙂

Moving right along…I guess I need to break up this texty post with some pictures, huh??  I can probably do that :).  John had another short workday, so we spent the afternoon walking ‘the Strip,’ stopping in some shops to cool off in the AC, stopping in some bars to rest our feet.  What a great, laid-back way to spend a few hours!

One street over from the beach...What I refer to as 'the Strip...'

Street vendor artist...

Warm weather penguins...chillin' at one of the Hawaiian Village pools 🙂

Koi pond...

Before heading to dinner, we took a little break get cleaned up and to take in the sunset from our hotel’s marina…

Almost sunset...

He’s so patient while I get ready…OK, really, I just can’t get over how hot my husband is and wanted to share yet another piece of photographic evidence with you 🙂 Don’t judge.

Regatta passing by...

Almost sunset...

There it is 🙂

We went to another one of our favorites for dinner, Ninniku Ya, otherwise known as ‘The Garlic Restaurant.’  And yep, as the name implies, they LOVE them some garlic- so much so that every single dish they offer (yes, even the desserts!) has fresh garlic!  YUM!

Attention Garlic Lovers 🙂

You can probably tell from the picture that this place might be best described as a hole-in-the-wall, and that’s probably pretty accurate, albeit a nice hole-in-the-wall.  It’s actually an old house that has a handful of table in the ‘living room’ and the rest outside on the front porch, patio and ‘yard.’  Much like La Mariana Sailing Club that we went to the day before, the ‘decor’ is very eclectic- lots of teak, old lanterns, glass buoys and even some Christmas lights.  That’s when you know it’s all about the food, friends…Just sayin’!  Another perk?  It’s up the mountain from downtown so it’s mostly locals…plus us :).

Rainbow colored lanterns...Under our umbrella, we had yellow 🙂

The portions here are GINORMOUS, so we generally get a few pupus (appetizers), then split a main course, which is always red meat since that’s what they do best.

Kobe Beef Tataki Pupu

Asian Garlic Calamari Pupu

A neat thing about Ninniku Ya is that their meat dishes are served ‘sizzling tableside,’ meaning that they come to you still cooking on their cast iron platters.  The waiter then slices, dices and mixes everything in front of you, and leaves the platter to finish cooking as you eat.  Pretty neat 🙂

Main Course...New York Strip (supposed to be 20oz., but I swear it was bigger than that!) with roasted garlic, garlic mashed potatoes, zucchini and tomatoes...

Our waiter slicing our NY Strip. YUM. And don't you just love the guy in the background totally eying our dinner? He's realizing that he ordered the wrong thing! Ha!

Considering that it was Friday night and we’re still young, I bet you can guess what we did after dinner.  Yep, we threw on some hoochie clothes and danced the night away at all the hotspot clubs…What?  You don’t believe me?  Ha!  Well if you do, then you clearly don’t know us at all!  Being the wild-and-crazy 20-somethings that we are, we stopped and picked up some beer (John) and some Leonard’s malasadas (me) and parked ourselves on one of the ‘beds’ at the pool…and just in time for front row seats to the Friday night fireworks :).

Pool 'beds' 🙂

Even the pool has 'stars' in the floor...

Perfect end to a perfect day…

Sunset Hikes…

9 Feb

…are the BEST!  Especially when they’re on an island known around the world for it’s breathtaking sunsets!  That being said, I won’t sugar coat it…this hike definitely wasn’t all warm and fuzzy- it was downright treacherous all the way to the top!

Koko Crater is a cinder cone remaining from the last active volcano that occurred on Oahu approximately 10,000 years ago. This crater is the tallest tuff ring in Hawaii, measuring 1,207 feet high. The slopes of the crater drop steeply into the Molokai Channel, an area lacking protection from any offshore reefs, causing very turbulent seas.

Driving to the base of Koko...You can see the hiking 'trail' (ie. old railway) heading straight up the middle 🙂

The Koko Crater hike is actually the remnants of a military railway tram track that was used to haul supplies to the military bunkers on top of the crater during WW2.

Standing on the bottom 'step...' Just over 1000 more to the top 🙂

The bottom half is a steady, fairly gradual climb- about a 35 degree slope.  Part of the challenge, at least for my short legs!, was the distance between many of the railroad ties- too far for one step, so it was alot of ‘double timing’ on the first half of the trek…

Not even 1/3 of the way up and the view behind/below us is already awesome...And our legs are already on fire!

Marking the halfway point is the infamous ‘bridge,’ a 50-tie span of the climb over a valley.  That’s right, NOTHING below you, which means that you can really psyche yourself out if you think about it too much!  It’s definitely not for those afraid of heights, especially since several of the ties are loose and weathered and because you’re sharing the bridge with all the other hikers!

We learned after the fact that there is, in fact, an alternate dirt path off to the right that goes down through the valley before reconnecting with the railway on the other side, but that it's infiltrated with bee hives and really not worth the risk. Glad we just sucked it up and crossed the bridge! Rite of passage! Ha!

Top railway tie...We made it 🙂

After taking a few moments to catch our breaths- and to get our footing since we couldn’t feel our legs by the time we got to the top!- we finally turned around to take in the inspiration for the hike in the first place…

The view from the top of Koko Crater...Sunset over Oahu...Wow.

Accomplishment 🙂

One of the great things about the top of the Crater is that you can also see the far side of the island.  That’s right, you have 360 degree views of Oahu, including the Botanical Gardens, Hanauma Bay (one of our favorite spots in all of Hawaii), Diamond Head and the North Shore.

Hanauma Bay

Over the Botanical Gardens...And we caught a glimpse of a whale 🙂

Next, the challenge was getting back DOWN the mountain.  Two challenges?  Quickly fading sunlight and shaky Jello legs!

Night falling in Oahu as we start our way down...You can see Diamond Head and Waikiki in the distance...

So, how do you celebrate such a feat?  Well, in our neck of the woods, local brew and malasadas do the trick!

One of John's favorite spots, Kona Brewing Company...

A Malasada, known as one of the most popular Hawaiian desserts, is a hole-less doughnut of Portuguese origin. You can think of it as a very rich doughnut with more egg and butter flavors. Furthermore, Malasadas are usually rolled in sugar and best if eaten hot fresh out of the fryer. The result is a hole-less dougnut with a crunchy outside and a light and fluffy inside with a hint of chewiness. We got some 'plains' (John's fav), some 'cinnamon' (tastes similar to an elephant ear) and some 'custard filled' (my fav). 🙂

And with that, I’ll leave you with one more bit of great news- we both slept until 7a this morning!!  WOOHOO!  No telling what today will bring, but here’s hoping it’s more of the same!  Happy Hump Day!

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