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Düsseldorf and Gehry: Views from above


I recently went up Düsseldorf’s Rhein Tower.  It’s a bargain at only 4 EUR per person. My son loved it. The elevator ride was long, but fast. Once the doors opened he ran right to the angled floor to ceiling windows and stared at the city below. Then he ate a bunch of cake. It was definitely a nice break in our day. I recommend travelers cap off trips to cities by finding out a way to view it from above. It’s the best way to see everything you did while you were there, and start pointing out locations you might want to do next time.

My favorite view from the Rhein Tower

Pictured above is the Medien Hafen. It is Düsseldorf’s media and design hub. It is also home to the city’s trendiest restaurants and bars. When this area was developed, seven different designers were given free reign to do what they want with their section without knowing what the other designers had planned. This led to seven very distinct sections. The most popular: the three buildings designed by Frank Gehry. They are known as the Neuer Zollhof. You can find it right away in the photo – it starts with the big white structure (plaster) at the middle on the bottom. Behind that is the mirrored building (stainless steel), and the last of the three is the brown building (brick).

Gehry’s buildings can be found in many cities around the world. Their unique shapes have made them tourist destinations in themselves. To get a sampling of other traveler’s experiences with Gehry’s architecture, go to Instagram and use the hashtag #Gehry.

Have you been to any of Gehry’s buildings? Do you have pictures in your Instagram account? Let me know!

This post is part of the new Instagram Travel Thursday linky hosted by Skimbaco LifestyleDestination UnknownChild ModeHines Sight BlogLive.Do.Grow.House of AnaïsLuxury Travel Mom. Click on any of those links to access all Instagram travel posts.



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Randoms on Wednesday

Typically speaking, I don’t think Wednesdays are a random day around the internet. But, what do I know?

I’ve been busy hanging out with my little ones and planning upcoming trips. During this process I’ve found some interesting things I want to share. Things that are too little in themselves to post separately and too much to want to post on twitter or facebook or google plus. (By the way, are you following me on any of those three? If not, now’s a good time. If yes, stop by and say hi!)

On to the random.

Dusseldorf, Germany

Starting top right, clockwise: 1. The famous Rhein Promenade is filled with outdoor restaurants during the summer. Across the river they’re sitting up for the big kirmes fair. 2. An art piece near the city’s history museum depicts important events and people. 3. My son off-roading near the history museum (with a glimpse of the apartment we almost moved into in the background.) 4. Düsseldorf city hall as seen from the Irish pub. On this day a band was behind the statue pictured playing theme songs. Someone walked by and said, “Ah, Star Wars.” They were wrong, it was Indiana Jones. A few minutes later, we heard the theme to Star Wars.

  • Part of my travel planning included booking flights for an upcoming trip to the US. Even though I live in Germany, this will be the first time I’ve flown on Lufthansa. I spent a lot of time on their website yesterday and I love how welcoming they are to families. They have things like: family check-in counters at their two major airports, family services to help at the airport, tips and pre-departure check-lists specifically for families, a logbook for young fliers to log their miles with Lufthansa, a 25% discount for kids for some routes, fun children’s meals, and activity sheets that can be downloaded pre-flight, as well activities for kids on the flight. For one mom’s experience on Lufthansa, check out my friend’s post at Thrifty Travel MamaIf you’ve flown on Lufthansa, tell me your GOOD experiences in the comments. 
  • The seating configuration on our flight is 2-4-2. Since there are four of us, I wanted to get other family travel blogger’s thoughts on the best configuration.
    • A: One parent and one kid in a row, the other parent and kid in the row behind them. Parent gets the aisle, kid gets the window.
    • B: All four in the middle of the row.
    • C: Keep one parent with both kids and let the other parent sit separately.
      For configuration A: the pros were that the kids could look out of the window and if the toddler kicks anyone’s seat, it will just be his baby sister. Plus, no one gets jealous of the toys or food the other is eating.
      For configuration B: the pros were that everyone can sit next to each other and just kind of lay all over each other and sleep.
      For configuration C: the pros were that one parent can rest while the other deals with both kids at a time and they can switch as needed.
      For our family and this particular trip, we went with configuration A. We will see how well that goes and adjust on the return if we need to. If you have a preference, I’d love to hear it in the comments. Keep in mind, at the time of this flight I will have an almost three-year old and a just-turned one-year old.
  • During the discussion on seat configuration, I asked for flying with kids tips. Fact: I’ve flown with my kids many times, but I still get nervous doing so. I will read blog post after blog post repeatedly up until the day we leave. I really liked Knocked Up Abroad’s flying with baby and toddler tips. Other than being great tips, her return to the topic several times reassures me that I’m not alone in my obsession of thinking about this. If you have any tips for flying with babies and toddlers, or a favorite resource, let me know in the comments.
  • A few weeks ago I downloaded the TripIt app. It came highly recommended by friends and I understand why. It’s so nice to get the travel confirmations automatically organized in an app. Give it a try.
  • My friend, Selena, over at Oh, the Places actually wrote a random post on Monday. I just read it about an hour ago. While there, I clicked around and ended up on her blog designer’s website (more on that in a second). Afterwards I thought it would be nice to write a random post and when I sat at my computer and started writing, I remembered that Oh, the Places just did this. And I just read it. So thank you, Selena, for the inspiration.
  • Selena’s site was designed by Ready to Blog. Other than making some fantastic sites (check it out), she also offers a variety of free downloads. I downloaded her Photoshop collages. They are the perfect way to make nice collages in Photoshop. The one I made from a recent trip to Düsseldorf is at the top of this post.
  • I don’t have a blog designer, but I did recently update my buttons on the right sidebar. What do you think?

What random things are going on in your life right now?Replay SK77

Instagram Inspiration: Croatia

Ten years ago, when I was a travel agent, our local rep from Contiki talked to us about the next big European destination. He said that since Prague has become more expensive, Croatia is now “the place to be.” This is where Europeans vacation and we need to go – now. I trusted him because we were good friends and he wasn’t trying to sell me on trying to sell a Contiki trip to Croatia. He just came back from his own vacation and attested to its beauty, beaches, people, and food.

But, sometimes a friend’s recommendation just isn’t enough. Croatia has since been on my list, but was never a priority

How Croatia jumped to the top of my “Must Travel To” List

Back in June, I started following Rachelle from The Travel Bite on Instagram. Shortly after I started following her, she left for a tour of Croatia. When I scrolled through my account, I had to stop when she posted her latest photos. I mean, seriously, look at this place.

I looked up flights to Croatia and started thinking about when our family could go.

Meanwhile, I started lusting after the images of Montenegro that my friend, Jenny, at A Taste of Travel was posting on her Instagram account. I’m embarrassed to admit that I’m not too familiar in the geography of places I haven’t seen myself. I compared costs of Croatia with Montenegro. Surprising to me flying into Dubrovnik in Croatia was the best choice. Even while researching other countries, Croatia was wiggling its way to my plans.

Then Jenny left Montenegro and headed north to Croatia. The timing was perfect. She was getting there just as Rachelle left. My Croatia stalking continued without a hitch.

I wanted to “heart” every Instagram Jenny posted. She even posted lots of pictures of food I know I don’t eat and I wanted to eat it. It was like her photos were a personal invitation from Croatia to me to visit.  (Side note: In a local expat forum another American with two kids exactly my kids age posted that her family was going to Croatia and asked if anyone else wanted to join in on their road trip (Side side note: we can’t go. :). Then one of my favorite family travel bloggers, Passports and Pushchairs, posted a THREE part series of her friend’s travels in Croatia. As if one post wasn’t taunting enough.)

Here are some of my favorite images from A Taste of Travel. I’m pretty sure the only thing missing in this paradise is me.

Learning more through Instagram

Since first talking to the Contiki agent 10 years ago, I could have researched Croatia for myself to discover its beauty. But, I didn’t. I always had someplace else I was researching. With Instagram, because of other people’s travel, I saw Croatia first hand without research. To put it simply, the combination of the water, landscapes, and cities were exactly what I’ve been looking for, but never found when I researched vacation destination. A place with history, and a place to relax. Cities and buildings to explore, and a variety of outdoor activities. Cities and beaches filled with tourists, and others more isolated from the masses.

I haven’t planned any details of my Croatia trip yet. However, I already know that I have to give our family ample time to visit several of the locations that I’m not willing to miss. I can’t wait to learn more about this country through other sources now.

Trips are temporary, here are other ways to stay connected to new places on IG

I do have a complaint about Instagram for travel inspiration, though. Rachelle and Jenny aren’t going to be there forever. In fact, Rachelle has already left to explore other areas of the world (and somehow her recent pictures make me want to go back to the city I left to move to Germany). So what to do when your heart and mind are still in the country your resources of inspiration have left? Look for people living there! Chasing the Donkey is an Australian Expat and she’s documenting her family’s life in Croatia both on her blog and via Instagram.

If you want to follow these Instagrammers directly, you can find them here:

The Travel Bite

A Taste of Travel

Chasing the Donkey

Travel Turtle: Hey, that’s me. Ok. I haven’t been to Croatia yet, but when I go you can bet I’m going to Instagram it.

or follow these hashtags:

#croatia, #visitcroatia, #essentialcroatia, #Travelturtlewantstogotocroatia

Now it’s your turn. Make me even more jealous, have you been to Croatia? If not, where have you been that you didn’t realize was so beautiful until you saw it for yourself?

Source for Featured Image: Croatian Tourist Board, Photographer: Damir Fabijani

This post is part of the new Instagram Travel Thursday linky hosted by Skimbaco LifestyleDestination UnknownChild ModeHines Sight BlogLive.Do.Grow.House of AnaïsLuxury Travel Mom. Click on any of those links to access all Instagram travel posts.


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Using Project Life Products for Travel Albums (and FREE Download)

I’m always on the lookout for ways to keep my little kids interested in traveling. I know they’re so young right now, but I want to make certain things just a natural part of their childhood. This includes creating photo-albums just for them. My kids enjoy flipping through their albums, and my son loves pointing out pictures of himself.

My son also likes looking through our regular photo album, too. I document our everyday lives using the Project Life system. For those of you unfamiliar with Project Life (PL), it takes the idea of Project 365 (a photo a day) and adds a journaling and album aspect to it. One photo and one journaling card a day in one album for a year.

So as I was thinking of ways to document our travels, Project Life seemed like a good option. Not for a photo and journaling card a day, but to use the idea of a photo with a journaling card. The PL mini album (see disclaimer at the end of this post) holds 80 4×6 photos and 80 3×4 journaling cards. Perfect for a few short trips or one long one.

Other ways to use a Project Life Album for Vacation Memories

Aside from using the albums for their intended purpose (photos and words), you can:

  • Give your kids the album and see how they choose to fill it up.
  • Include ephemera you pick up on your trip: brochures, room keys, stationary, labels from different candy bars, anything and fill the pockets with those items.
  • Bring your blank journaling cards with you to Disney World and have each character sign their own card. Then keep the signed card with the picture.
  • Use the smaller pockets for instagram photos and the larger pockets to tell more story.
  • Film a video on your phone, upload it to YouTube and create a QR code. Print out that code, stick it in the album, and whenever you look through your album you can scan the code with your phone and watch your video. (Confused? Watch this short video by Mercy Tiera… It’s REALLY cool and kind of makes me feel like my photo albums are in Harry Potter.)


Project Life Free Printable Journal Cards: Kid Travel Prompts

A few weeks ago I made a one page travel journal available for download.

I’ve recently taken that format and made it Project Life-friendly. Each “prompt” will now fit in either a 4×6 or 3×4 pocket.


Kids Travel Project Life Journal Cards

Free Download – Kids Travel Project Life Journal Cards

The download comes with the 6 cards pictured above and 2 4×6 cards. If you’d like to download your FREE Project Life-friendly kids travel journal cards, you can do that here.

Do you think the Project Life system could work for your travel memories? Do you use any other system?

If you like to talk about travel AND different ways to preserve your family’s vacation memories, come join the brand new Google Community I created and let’s chat!

***Disclaimer: I’ve used Project Life since 2011 and am not affiliated with the company, just a fan. However, the PL Mini album link above is an affiliate link with Amazon. I make a small commission from any purchases made after clicking on that link.les vibrimasseurs acheter a bon prixweather in tanzaniaRitmix RT-100

Instagram and Food: Travel Inspiration

Photos inspire travel.

Follow enough people on instagram and you’ll soon discover the “everyday” all over the world. Whether at home or on vacation instagram does exactly what it promises; it provides an instant image easily shared to anyone with an account (privacy settings aside).

Before instagram, I could “control” my inspiration. I could look at books or websites specific to places I knew I wanted to visit. Since I started using instagram a few months ago, I’ve noticed a shift in my own travel desires. I want to go everywhere. Yes, I’ve always wanted to do that, I know. But, now I REALLY want to go everywhere. Some places I never even knew existed have jumped on to my want to-do list.  I’ve reaffirmed the reasons many places were already on the list. And, oddly enough, I’m growing nostalgic for places I’ve already been.

By the way, these photos are also pretty educational. Because it’s so easy to share images people upload a lot. And you can’t help but learn more about a place after viewing a lot of everyday photos taken there.

Food inspires travel.

A common theme in instagram is definitely food. I’ve learned a lot about food all over the world by watching what the people I follow eat and instagram. And I’m not to0 embarrassed to admit that it’s because of these food photos that my “to see” list has shifted so much. (Really, it should be called a “to eat” list.)

When I was looking through my own photos, I noticed that I also take a lot of photos of food. Here are instagram food photos I’ve taken in Germany. In just these few photos I feel that I’ve already started to give a good representation of food in Germany – and that’s just one instagrammer!

(You will find the originals on my instagram account.)

Instagram Food

This typical German festival food: french fries with mayo! Would I have taken this photo if I didn’t have my phone on me? Probably not.

Instagram Food

Anywhere in Germany, you will find Currywurst (sliced sausage covered in a curry ketchup) with french fries. There’s even a currywurst museum in Berlin! Pizza is also a popular meal (of course), so why not combine the two? I wouldn’t have taken this picture without my phone because I was in such a hurry. And I had to upload it to IG because the box is a square. (By the way, I didn’t really like the pizza.)

Instagram Food

In high school our family went out for ice cream a lot. One of our favorites, spaghetti ice. It’s vanilla ice cream “spaghetti” and strawberry sauce with white chocolate “cheese”. In high school this was the only variety I ever saw, but these days you can get any combination of ice cream and topping for Spaghetti Eis.

And the reason I do it all. My favorite thing about using instagram is that it's so easy to capture my kids. As I mentioned when I uploaded this photo, I took this picture because in this moment my son looked so grown up to me. He sat there patiently with this cake in front of him. Before I had a chance to really think about it, I grabbed my phone out of my pocket and snapped a photo. My thought was that I would talk about the popular cake and coffee culture in Germany. However, within about 10 seconds of this photo, my son grabbed a fistful of cake and shoved it in his mouth.

And the reason I do it all. My favorite thing about using instagram is that it’s so easy to capture my kids. As I mentioned when I uploaded it, I took this picture because in this moment my son looked so grown up to me. He sat there patiently with this cake in front of him. I thought that he’s really embraced the coffee and cake culture in Germany. I grabbed my phone out of my pocket and snapped a photo. However, within about 10 seconds of this photo, my son grabbed a fistful of cake and shoved it in his mouth.

Popular Food Hashtags

If you want to find food photos on instagram, check out Food Hashtags Explained

This post is part of the new Instagram Travel Thursday linky hosted by Skimbaco LifestyleDestination UnknownChild ModeHines Sight BlogLive.Do.Grow.House of AnaïsLuxury Travel Mom. Click on any of those links to access all Instagram travel posts.car cover 1999 mustangbest car cover for porsche boxstertenue coquine pas cherinfant car seat visor