Photo Friday: Piazza San Marco, Venice

piazza san marco st mark's square venice venezia italy

This was one of my favorite scenes from when I was in Venice. I love people watching, and this grandpa and his grandson provided me with several minutes of entertainment. The grandpa had a hand full of food and was feeding the pigeons, holding them on his arm, for his grandson to touch. While feeding pigeons in Piazza San Marco is actually a finable offense, and pigeons are really disgustingly dirty, I loved watching that little boy so apprehensive to reach his hand out at first and then going for it full force. It just reminded me of how amazing it was to be a child and to not fully apprehend how things worked and to have your parents and grandparents teach you the ways of the world. So cute.

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Welcome to Neamt County, Romania – #priNeamt

lake bicaz romania piatra neamt neamt county

I don’t think Romania is on most people’s radar as far as a travel destination is concerned, and to be perfectly honest, it wasn’t on mine until probably a year or so ago when I started seeing other bloggers’ photos of the beautiful country popping up. Amanda, Pete and Dalene, and Erick had all spent quite a bit of time in various parts of the country and every time I saw a post or a photo, Romania jumped a bit higher on my places to see. So, when the opportunity to be a part of a group of 60 bloggers (50 Romanian/Moldavian and 10 foreign) exploring Neamt County came up, I jumped at the chance.

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13 Photos of Beautiful Moroccan Doors

I didn’t realize it until I left Morocco and backed up all my photos on my computer, but I guess I really loved shooting photos of Moroccan doors! I don’t know how many I ended up with in total, but here’s a selection of 13 of my favorites. Most of the blue ones you’ll see are from Chefchaouen, but the rest were from Tangier, Marrakech, and Fes. I absolutely love Islamic architecture and the ornate tile work on some of these doors. (Also, I’m always sort of curious what kind of magic lies behind them!)

moroccan door
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Photo Friday: Moroccan Kitty

moroccan kitty

Like most tours go in Morocco, the guides want to take you to every possible shop around so that you get an “inside view” of how people live there. In reality, they just want you to buy stuff. Don’t get me wrong–sometimes it can be a lot of fun and you might find something you really like, but generally, the guides and the shop owners are running a game together and are trying to sell as much as they can to unassuming tourists. And not only that, but they’re going to rake you over the coals to get as much money out of you as you can. Am I jaded? Probably. But after dealing with this time after time in my few weeks in Morocco, I learned their games early and learned to stand firm.

So, on my tour to the Sahara Desert, we stopped off at a house and makeshift attic carpet shop where our small group was given Berber whiskey (Moroccan mint tea) and shown a variety of carpets. I’d already purchased the one carpet my luggage could handle for my several-month trip, and I knew I wasn’t about to purchase anything else. After the presentation, my friend Chris and I found our way back downstairs and headed towards the front door so we were ready to go when everyone else finished with their purchases. On the way out, I found a room with a loom, where women would sit to make these colorful carpets. Only, on this pile of wool was a tiny little kitten who found the perfect sleeping spot. I quickly sat down in front of it and started shooting photos because it was one of the cutest things I’d seen on my whole trip (aside from the kitten who adopted me in Chefchaouen and came to find me a few nights in a row to curl up with me while I ate dinner). How sweet was this kitten?

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What to Pack: Top 10 Travel Essentials

what to pack top 10 travel essentials

Packing is typically people’s least favorite part of travel. Traveling for several months straight and unpacking and repacking my bag every few days has given me some insight on things that can make not only packing, but traveling a bit easier. Here are my top travel essentials! What do you not leave home without?

TSA Cable Lock: This is one of the best and cheapest investments you can possibly make. I purchased two: one for my big luggage and one for my daypack. The locks made me feel secure while in transit (on the plane, bus, train, etc.) and while staying in hotels and hostels. In places that didn’t have safes, I would either put everything in my bag and lock the bag itself or I’d throw my stuff in a locker and use one of the locks for that. I found the cable lock to be the best, as the ones with the stiff metal enclosure are difficult to fit through some zippers and some lockers.

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Photo Friday: Cowans Gap State Park

cowans gap pennsylvania

A couple of weeks ago I visited Cowans Gap State Park in Pennsylvania for the first time. There are plenty of hiking trails there, up through the mountains and around the lake, which offer some gorgeous views. But, my favorite view of all, was when I left Cowans Gap. Just down the road from there, you’ll see a scenic overlook sign next to a gravel road. When you take that to the very end and park, you can walk up to a few rocks on a cliff where you’re rewarded with one of the most stunning views I’ve seen in Pennsylvania. I can’t wait to go back again in the fall to see all the leaves changing, but I loved seeing the mountains, lush vegetation, and beautiful skies.

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Books to Inspire Travel (and Love)

books to inspire travel

When I was growing up, I had a wicked imagination. It ran wild with all sorts of ideas and stories, so it’s only fitting that I had and still have a deep and profound love for the written word and for well-crafted and well-written books.

In the past few years, I’ve read some incredible books. Ones that have not only inspired in me a love of the world, but also a love for the characters, and a deep desire to have just that: love. Love, in this context, doesn’t necessarily mean in a romantic way or even for another person, but just in general. A love of language, of culture, of countries, of people. So, because I’ve gotten great joy and felt deep connections to these books, I wanted to share them with you. Here are some books to inspire travel (and love) in your lives as well.

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Photo Friday: My Travelin’ Pup

dog in texarkana
It’s my little guy’s seventh birthday in a couple days, so I thought I’d make this week’s Photo Friday all about him.

In 2010, I was ready to adopt a dog. I’d wanted a Pomeranian for years because I thought they just looked like the cutest and happiest pups imaginable. I scoured the internet for months, checking every adoption site around Austin and within a 3-hour radius to try to find the perfect addition to my little family. And then that’s when I saw this photo and fell in love.

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How to Photograph the Northern Lights

how to photograph the northern lights

ISO 400; 18mm; f/3.5; 30 seconds

Seeing the Northern Lights was one of my all-time favorite experiences. It was one of those things I’d dreamed about for years and after watching them for a bit, I wanted some photos to remember the experience.

Photographing the Northern Lights isn’t difficult, but it takes the right equipment, the right weather, the right settings, and a bit of trial and error.

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Photo Friday: Jemaa el Fna, Marrakech

jemaa el fna marrakech morocco games

When I visited Marrakech, Morocco, one night I met up with my lovely friend and fellow travel blogger, Jill, and her beau Mike for a night in the square: Jemaa el Fna.

There’s so much to see in Jemaa el Fna, at all hours of the day. You’ll find people touting spices and cookies; orange juice stands; women who will chase you down and try to put henna on you; snake charmers; pop-up restaurants; monkey handlers; and cross-dressing men who dance in front of audiences. But one very popular past-time seems to be this odd game where you have a weighted ring tied to the end of a string that dangles from a wooden pole. You then try to get this ring around the cap and neck of a bottle of soda, which are arranged in a circle, and if you get it–you get to keep the soda! It’s a pretty inexpensive game, but also a mildly irritating one because it’s a lot more difficult than you’d think! The men who run the stands make it look so easy, but stand around and watch the people try it for a few minutes and you’ll see that it’s not. The guy who ran the place even explained to us how he did it, but none of us could figure it out.

If you’re hanging out in Jemaa el Fna, spare a few dihram and give it a shot!

Like the photography on Meganotravels? Check out my Etsy shop to order prints!