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A kiss around the world

I have been missing for about a month now as we have been crazy busy. We returned from Ireland to take a quick beach trip to celebrate my grandparents 60th wedding anniversary! 60 years yall! 🙂 And then we headed off to Spain for my cousin’s wedding. We are now back and finally settling back into our normal quiet routine. I’ll be back regularly starting now with continuing posts about Ireland and then moving to Spain! In the meantime, I am so happy as we got more kissing photos to add to my kissing wall at home from Spain and Ireland. Updated below:

 

Updated June 24, 2018

A photo journal

On our honeymoon we started a tradition that has now been running for a decade, and that our daughter is now a part of! Follow our photo journal below of our kisses around the world!

Kissing in Rome Italy
Rome, Italy
Kissing in Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Kissing at the Eiffle Tower
Paris, France
Kissing at Machu Picchu
Machu Picchu, Peru
Kissing at Sydney Opera House
Sydney, Australia
Kissing at Brooklyn Bridge
Brooklyn, New York
New Zealand
Matauri Bay, New Zealand
Kissing in New Zealand
The Lost World Cave, New Zealand
Kissing in Venice
Venice, Italy
Kissing in the Bahamas
Paradise Island, Bahamas
Kissing atop Roys Peak
Wanaka, New Zealand
Then there was 3
Then there was 3… Southern Oaks – Alabama
Kissing at the beach
30A, Florida
Kissing Top of the Rock
New York, New York
Kissing Top of the Whistler
Whistler, British Columbia
Kissing Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe
Lake Tahoe, California
Kissing in New Zealand
Kauri Cliffs, New Zealand
Kissing Queenstown, New Zealand
Queenstown, New Zealand
Disney World
Paris, Epcot, Disney World
Parc Guell Barcelona Spain
Barcelona, Spain
Killarney, Ireland
Killarney, Ireland
Calella de Palafrugell
Calella de Palafrugell, Spain
Cliffs of Moher, Ireland
Cliffs of Moher, Ireland
Dromoland Castle, Ireland
Dromoland Castle, Ireland

We have an entire wall in our home dedicated to “our kissing wall”. When we look at these beautiful pictures, we are reminded of our wonderful memories. Travel has a way of humbling you; making you realize how insignificant you are compared to the scale and grander of the world. However, there is nothing small about love. We are so thankful each and every day for the gift of marriage, and our greatest blessing of all: our beautiful,happy daughter! We look forward to adding to these photos over time! What is your favorite travel tradition?

 

Powerscourt Gardens, Ireland

Powerscourt
Powerscourt Gardens, Ireland

National Geographic named Powerscourt Gardens in County Wicklow, Ireland as one of the top 3 gardens in the world! The gardens were designed in 1731 and encompass a sprawling 47 acres at the base of the Wicklow Mountains with a beautiful lake, terraces, international flowers, bridges, and a tower! Powerscourt is stunning, and a great day trip with children!

Travel: You can reach Powerscourt within 1 hour of Dublin by car. There is also a day tour from Dublin which will bring you to the estate, and you receive 20% off if booking online here. 

Activities: 

There are 2 sections to Powerscourt. There is the estate & gardens area which is also where the hotel and golf course are located. Then there is the Powerscourt Waterfall area which is located separately from the estate. We suggest you take a full day and do both!

Waterfall: The Powerscourt Waterfall is located appx 6 km from the main estate, and is Ireland’s highest waterfall! The entry fee to visit the waterfall is separate from the gardens. The cost is 6Euro per adult and 3.50Euro per child with under 2 being free. This is a wonderful family place. The car park is located only a short walk from the waterfall. There is a playground and little cafe stand onsite, and bbq facilities for picnicking, etc. Our daughter loved this stop off!

Powerscourt, Ireland
Powerscourt Waterfall, Ireland highest waterfall!

Estate & Gardens: You can visit the estate without a ticket to visit the Avoca store & cafe which is fabulous. Avoca is one of my favorite Irish stores! The cafe is also great offering a wide variety. I ordered a meat pie with a carrot salad and a nut  salad. The gardens are accessible from inside the estate, and there are different seasonal prices, but from March – October when we were there ticket prices are 10Euro per adult, and free for under 5. 5E for a child ticket. There is lots of natural beauty for little ones to run around in. We walked around the entire garden loop, and my daughter particularly loved the Japanese gardens with the little bridges over the stream. Another favorite was the Pepperpot Tower where she climbed to the top!

Hotel & Golf: We visited Powerscourt as a day trip, but if you would like to stay on the property there is the 5 star hotel and golf course. We did not stay onsite so cannot provide a first hand review of that aspect, but can say the setting and property is just gorgeous!

Don’t miss this stunning location!

Powerscourt Gardens & Estates
Powerscourt Gardens & Estate

 

Kinsale, Ireland

Kinsale
Kinsale, Ireland
Kinsale, Ireland
Kinsale, Ireland

Kinsale is a lovely medieval village on the southern coast of Ireland in county Cork, and the beginning point of the Wild Atlantic Way or the ending, I guess, depending on the direction you are travelling 🙂 Each building in the town center is painted a different vibrant color, and there are sailboats galore lining the mouth of the River Brandon. This historic port and fishing town also is home to a 17th century fortress that offers sweeping views of the surrounding area! Kinsale is also referred to as “The Gourmet Capital of Ireland”, and they host a Gourmet festival every October or so said the brochures in the town’s tourist information center!

We visited Kinsale with our daughter as a day trip on our route thru Ireland from Cork heading to Killarney, and I highly recommend adding Kinsale to your Irish itinerary!

Travel: Kinsale is appx 25 km south of Cork, and the drive took us appx 35 minutes. When departing the drive took us appx 1 1/2 hours to Killarney. Other near by hot spots is the town of Cobh which is appx 45 minutes away or Blarney for a kiss on the Blarney stone which is appx 40 mins away.

Activities:

Kinsale Village: The village of Kinsale is full of shops, eateries, and winding interesting streets and squares! We enjoyed meandering through the narrow streets, and popping into the shops. We loved the Kinsale book store, and the ice cream shop. There are also lots of sail boats and kayaks lining the front of town in the harbor, and you can check out the Kinsale portal to explore water based activities. There is also a farmer’s market every Wednesday in the town center from 9 am until 2:30 pm. And definitely don’t miss the park:

Kinsale Town Park: There is a great park right in the center of town which is ideal for little ones!

Wild Atlantic Way Passport: Kinsale is the beginning of the Wild Atlantic Way. You can pick up a Wild Atlantic Way Passport at select post offices and visitor centers along the route. As you make your way along the Wild Atlantic Way you can get your passport stamped at each scenic spot. There are 188 discovery points listed in the Passport that are divided into 6 zones. The cost of the passport is 10Euro. Our daughter loved her passport and obtaining her stamps at each stop along the way! This is a great way to get kids engaged in the route! The visitor center is right in the middle of Kinsale on Pearse Street.

Wild Atlantic Passport
Get your Wild Atlantic Passport stamped at each stop along the route!

Charles Fort: Charles Fort is a 17th century star shaped fort that is located 3km from the base of Kinsale town. The fort charges admission of 5Euro per adult and 3Euro per child. This is a great family stop as the history is incredible and the views are gorgeous, but it also offers lots of fun for kids. You walk across a drawbridge to enter the fort, and then our daughter enjoyed rolling down the grassy hills with several other children, climbing on the stone walls, and racing through the ruins and discovering all of the coves, etc. Sometimes historical places do not allow for a lot of freedom, but there is lots of free range exploration inside the fort which is thrilling for adults and kids alike!

Don’t miss this charming Irish town!

Sailboats in Kinsale
Sailboats in Kinsale

Kid Friendly Irish Castles

Our 3 favorite Kid Friendly Irish Castles

Dromoland Castle
Dromoland Castle Estate

Birr Castle

#1 on our list! Birr Castle dates back to medieval times, and is still occupied! The castle is the private residence of the Parson Family who arrived at the castle in 1620. The family opened the castle to the public in 2014, and now offers inside guided tours of the castle thru pre-booking during May – August. We were not fortunate enough to be visiting during this time, but the castle grounds are still worth the trip! The gardens are stunning, and host a wide variety of rare plants. There is also a treehouse adventure area with Ireland’s largest tree house, a bouncy pad, hobbit hut, sand pits, play gyms, snack hut, and picnic tables. There is a cafe on site and an ice cream stand. Birr Castle also has a science center and the historic great telescope. The telescope was built in the 1840s and was the largest telescope in the world at that time. Scientific and creative minds from around the world came to Birr to learn and observe space! The inventor of the computer, Charles Babbage even visited Birr! Birr Castle is a pretty unique and inspiring place to visit! This lands it on our list as our favorite Irish castle estate, and our favorite for kids!

Birr Castle is located in County Offaly. We traveled to Birr Castle from Galway, and the drive took us appx 1 hour 20 mins. From Dublin the drive is appx 1 hour 30 mins, and from Limerick appx 1 hour. There is no parking on site at Birr Castle, but there is a paid park and display car park across the street. The parking machine only takes coins so we walked 1 street over into the main hub of town to get exact change. The town was lovely as well with lots of shops and eateries. Tickets are 9Euro per adult, and our daughter was free. Children 5 and older are 5Euro. If you are lucky enough to visit the castle interior then tickets cost 18 Euro, but is only suitable for children 12 and above.

Dromoland Castle

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Dromomland Castle’s history dates back to 1014, and was the ancestral home of the O’Brien family who were the Kings of Thomond. When the castle grounds were comprised of more than 2000 acres, the O’Brien’s Tower located at the Cliffs of Moher was actually part of the original estate. The castle was converted in 1962 to a luxury hotel, and today encompasses more than 400 acres. We actually stayed on site at this hotel, and loved it! The estate has so many kid friendly activities that it is no wonder the castle is part of the “Adventures by Disney” itineraries. We participated in the falcon walk where we all, including our daughter, got to have a falcon land on our arm. This experience was brilliant, and our guide named Colin was wonderful. He spent a lot of time educating us on the art of falconry, and took us back to view all of the falcons/owls afterwards. The hotel also prepared a teddy bear picnic for us upon request complete with a teddy bear and miniature sandwiches/tarts for our daughter. There is a beautiful fairy garden, a lake with boats and ducks for feeding, lots of hiking/walking trails, tennis courts, swimming pool, spa, and golf course! Upon check in, we were all treated in the lounge with complimentary tea, coffee, and hot chocolate for our daughter with marshmallows! 🙂 Our daughter also received coloring pencils and an activity book at check in! We were impressed by all of the special touches personalizing this stay for our daughter. All of the staff referred to her as “princess” while on the premises! 🙂 The room was equipped with a junior robe and slippers, and during the nightly turn down service fruit worms were left for our daughter on her bed! The breakfast served in the main dining room is also amazing and enjoyable, and has lots of kid friendly options!

Dromoland Castle is located in County Clare. We arrived at Dromoland from Killarney, and the drive took us appx 1 hour. Drommoland is located 8 miles from Shannon airport; is accessible via car to Galway in appx 1 hour or 20 mins to Limerick. Upon departing Dromoland we headed for the Cliffs of Moher, and the drive took us appx 45 mins.

Kylemore Abbey:

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Kylemore was originally built as a castle in 1868 by the Henry family. Margaret and Mitchell Henry visited the ground of Kylemore in the mid 1840s on their honeymoon when there was nothing more than a hunting lodge in the valley of Kylemore. Mitchell Henry bought and built Kylemore for his wife Margaret as an act of love, and they enjoyed building their life and family of 9 children in the Connemara Highlands. Tragedy struck when Margaret died from dysentery while traveling in Egpyt in 1874. Today the estate is the Abbey and home of  the Benedictine community of nuns who arrived in 1920. The main rooms of the castle are open for viewing, but the gardens are really where we enjoyed spending our time. The gardens are very pretty, and there is a cafe next door. We also appreciated there are children’s activities along the walk to the gardens with various musical instruments available for play along the way. Kylemore is strikingly beautiful, and in my opinion the most beautiful castle I visited due to its location in the Connemara National Park. In front of the house there is also a paved pathway that will take you along the lake and there is access to a little sand beach with benches and picnic tables. Also on site is another restaurant and store which had great souvenirs! I can’t describe the beauty of this place and the feeling of serenity present. This was a great day trip with our daughter in tow!

We traveled to Kylemore Abbey from Galway, and the drive took us appx 1 hour 30 mins. The drive is beautiful thru Connemara National Park. The entrance fee includes access to the house and all of the estate and the cost is 13Euro per adult. Children under 10 are free, and tickets are discounted online!

Do you have a favorite Irish castle?

Dingle, Ireland

Best 2 week Itinerary thru Ireland with kids
Our Route thru Ireland

We have returned from Ireland after just shy of 3 weeks tripping about the beautiful country. Ireland was stunning, and we made so many wonderful memories with our family! Over the next 6 weeks I will be exclusively covering Ireland. Today, I am starting with an entry I made about Dingle, Ireland written on April 22nd.

Dingle, Ireland: We have been in Ireland for about 10 days now, and we have 1 more week to go. Unfortunately today, I am bed bound fighting a stomach bug missing out on the adventures. 😦 However, it provides time to write which I guess gives me something to do 🙂 So today, I am reminiscing about our day trip to Dingle!

We have set up base camp in Killarney, Ireland for 5 nights, and we are taking day trips from here. We visited Dingle yesterday, and it was a fabulous destination! Our daughter had such a blast the entire day!

Dingle is a seaside town that sits on Dingle Harbor on the Southern Peninsula of the Wild Atlantic Way. It is the only town on the Dingle Peninsula, and a lovely day trip from Killarney with kids!

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Dingle, Ireland
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Dingle, Ireland

Travel: Dingle is accessible via 2 main roadways, the N86 and the R561, and will take you appx 1 hour from Killarney which is where we set up base. There are also tour companies that offer day trips to the Dingle Peninsula from Cork, Killarney, etc. One reputable company that I have heard recommended, and who has great reviews is here!

Activities:

Fungi Dolphin Cruise: Living near the coast we see dolphins routinely, but this dolphin is special and very interesting as he has made his home in Dingle Harbor since 1983. Other dolphins have come into the harbor, and Fungi sometimes interacts with them but he has chosen to never leave Dingle Harbor. The boat tours only observe Fungi in his natural environment, but are so sure to see Fungi that the cruise is free if he is not seen. Fungi seems to thrive on the enthusiasm and applause of his spectators, and some fishermen in Dingle have spent a life time alongside Fungi. A very special creature indeed. The cruise in itself was beautiful as viewing Dingle from the water was stunning! Our daughter was very excited to see Fungi, and is still talking about it very enthusiastically. She kept saying he was playing “hide and seek” with her. It is noteworthy to mention due to the weather in Ireland and the water entering the harbor we experienced some choppy seas. I recommend a water proof jacket for a child especially. There was one point when a sailboat sailing near us capsized, and a huge wave splash onboard our boat and drenched a mom and her baby from the neck down. We booked with Dingle Dolphin Boat Tours, and were very pleased!

Dingle Town: Dingle town looks like a child designed it with every building a different color. This could make for a very interesting game of “I spy” 🙂 We shopped around town, and then headed for lunch and ice cream. My favorite store in Dingle was The Strand House It had a lovely selection. Don’t miss the upstairs women’s section and café! I also was very impressed with Dingle Artworks on Green Street. I bought a handcrafted wooden sheep with sheep wool from local artist Ian Buckett. We ate lunch at The Boatyard Restaurant, and I cannot recommend it enough. It was a great atmosphere for families and the food was on point! Then we made our way for ice cream at Murphy’s which is famous in Ireland! Murphy’s sources fresh local ingredients from local Kerry cows and free range eggs and offers unique flavor combinations. I had the Dingle Sea Salt flavor which is their best seller and made with salt sourced from the harbor in Dingle. My husband had the caramel with fresh cream and caramel on top and our daughter had strawberry and cream. All were delicious!

Wild Atlantic Way Passport: You can pick up a Wild Atlantic Way Passport at select post offices and visitor centers along the route. As you make your way along the Wild Atlantic Way you can get your passport stamped at each scenic spot. There are 188 discovery points listed in the Passport that are divided into 6 zones. The cost of the passport is 10Euro. Our daughter loved her passport and obtaining her stamps at each stop along the way! This is a great way to get kids engaged in the route! The visitor center in Dingle is adjacent to where the Fungi boat trip offices are at the base of the harbor.

The Wild Atlantic Way Passport
Get your Wild Atlantic Passport stamped at all of the stops along the way!

Inch Beach: Also located on the Dingle Peninsula off N86 between Killarney and Dingle is Inch Beach. We chose to stop at Inch Beach after our day in Dingle on our drive back to Killarney. The beach is accessible by car and you are allowed to drive directly onto the beach for parking in the designated areas. This beach is really quite stunning, and offers a great opportunity for little ones to run wild in beautiful scenery. The tide comes in far and creates wading pools which our daughter loved splashing in. The right side of the beach also has an abundance of shells which she loved discovering. There is a restaurant and café on site as well as surf rentals and lessons. Don’t miss this beautiful spot!

Inch Beach, Ireland
Inch Beach, Ireland

More Ireland posts coming soon… Next week I will be covering the best Irish castles/ houses with tots!

A New Irish Adventure **

Best 2 week Itinerary thru Ireland with kids
Our 2 week route thru Ireland

Our little family of 3 leaves for Ireland in 2 weeks, and I cannot believe it! We have been planning this trip for almost 2 years! We have friends in Ireland that we will be visiting, and get a load of this: We have NEVER met them! I know you are thinking I am crazy! But I have 2 friends from the Netherlands (who I have met:)) that introduced me via Skype to their Irish friend, Claire! Claire is Dutch, but married an Irish gentlemen and now lives in Co. Cork with him and their 2 beautiful girls. My friends in the Netherlands introduced me to Claire because they said they “knew we would like each other” plus she had a newborn while I was pregnant. Fast forward 4 years, and Claire and I are very good friends. We chat weekly, and our girls (hers is 4, mine is 3) have been pen pals sending little packages back and forth since my daughter was born! Plus Claire has been married to her husband 10 years also, and her husband is an electrician just like my husband. Pretty neat!

Because we have had Ireland on our radar for a while now, we have done a lot of research on how we best wanted to map out our trip thru Ireland.  We will be in Ireland for a total of 15 nights. At first we thought we wanted to cover both Ireland and Northern Ireland because we do have 2 full weeks on the ground, but after considering it we decided just to cover Ireland so that we can really enjoy this experience with our daughter instead of spending a good portion of our time in a car. Northern Ireland is still on my list for the future, and I hope one day we get to experience it as well!

Here is our itinerary! I will be blogging about each destination along the way so be sure to check back in for weekly Ireland posts starting mid April and all of our favorite kid friendly tips!

You can see our itinerary mapped out on the map above! 🙂

1.) Dublin: We will be in Dublin for 2 nights, and we have these items on our list: Trinity Library & Book of Kells, Guinness Storehouse, Jameson Distillery, Hamley’s Toy Store, Picnic & Playground in ST. Stephen’s Park. For eats we plan to pay a visit to Brazen Head(Ireland’s Oldest Pub), Butler’s Chocolate Cafe, and Sheridan’s Cheesemongers, plus several more! 🙂 We also may throw in a Vikings Splash Cruise depending on our mood.

2.) Powerscourt: National Geographic named Powerscourt Garden as one of the world’s top 3 gardens! You can read about it here! I am so excited about this day trip. Powerscourt waterfall is Ireland’s highest waterfall. There is a playground next door to the waterfall. Then this estate boasts the main house with a tea room, the walled gardens with Avoca Cafe and 2 golf courses. Our daughter is a huge fan of flowers and with plenty of room to run around I think this is going to be a favorite of hers!

3.) Kinsale: This historic port and fishing town is the jumping off point for the Wild Atlantic Way. We plan on meandering the brightly colored streets of Kinsale, visiting the fort, and the local playground.

4.) Killarney: We will be making Killarney our base for 5 nights as we explore Killarney National Park and the surrounding areas. We will be staying at the Aghdaoe Heights Resort. Our itinerary while in Killarney includes day trips to Dingle to see Fungi the Dolphin & Inch Beach, Ballybunion to play golf at the old course for my better half, Killarney National Park & The Gap of Dunloe, and Kenmare and Killarney townships. I will be covering each of these under a separate blog post so tune back in! 🙂

5.) Dromoland Castle: I did not feel we could come to Ireland without experiencing a real Irish castle! I selected Dromoland once I discovered this castle is part of “Adventures by Disney” itinerary.  This prompted me to do some research, and discovered how many activities are present at Dromoland for little ones. We will be participating in the falconry walk, the teddy bear picnic, and exploring the massive grounds of this 15th century estate and castle!

6.) Cliffs of Moher: I am nervous about the Cliffs of Moher with a little one so I will be sure to catalog all of my tips/experiences afterwards but we are all excited to experience this sheer magnitude and beauty of this natural phenomenon!

7.) Galway: We will be staying in Galway for 3 nights on a HOUSE BOAT! The house boat was my husband’s dream so he took care of those arrangements! TBD if it is a good experience! 🙂 In Galway we will be slowing down a bit before heading back home. We plan on enjoying the local scene while visiting lots of eateries including Dough Brothers, Morans on Weir, The Pie Maker, Galway Bakery Company, Gourmet Tart Company, and of course hitting up the playground in Eyre Square and visiting Claddagh Jewelers the home of the authentic claddagh ring!

8.) Bru na Boinne: Our last stop in Ireland on our route back to Dublin will be Newgrange. Newgrange is a World Heritage Site, and predates the pyramids & Stonehenge. It is a 5,200 year old Stone age passage tomb.

We will be jet setting to Ireland in 2 weeks, and I can’t wait to share our adventures with you in the coming weeks! Please comment if you have any suggestions for us before we embark on this adventure! I would love to hear from you!

xx, Kristin

Lake Tahoe, CA/NV

Top 10 Things to do in Lake Tahoe in the SPRING & FALL

Lake Tahoe
View from Lake Tahoe Scenic Drive, Emerald Bay

The beautiful, stunningly clear water of Lake Tahoe, a freshwater lake, straddles the states of California and Nevada, and is an absolutely stunning destination. Most people visit Lake Tahoe as a winter ski destination visiting the areas of Heavenly, Northstar, Tahoe Donner, Homewood, etc. This is definitely on our list, and we are actually planning a Lake Tahoe skiing trip this December 2018 with my family!

However, we visited Lake Tahoe in the fall before all of the snow fell, and it was beautiful weather and such a lovely time for our 2 year old! These are our top 10 things to enjoy in Tahoe during fall that could also be enjoyed in the spring/summer months:

Travel: The closest airport is Reno and the drive will take you appx 1 hour to Heavenly Village, less or more depending on where you are staying along the lake. We usually rent a car to have our own transportation, but shuttle service is available from Reno to Lake Tahoe to 6 main resort areas (Lakeside Inn, Horizon, Harvey’s, Lake Tahoe Resort Hotel, Harrah’s, and Mt. Bleu Resort) via South Tahoe Airporter. If staying elsewhere you can then continue on via public transport.

1.) Emerald Bay Cruise: Emerald Bay is the most photographed place in Lake Tahoe and with good reason. It hosts gorgeous landscapes with peaks reaching 3000 feet starkly rising from the water and is a National Natural Landmark. Cruising Emerald Bay allows you to see the stunning scenery of Emerald Bay State Park from the water. You get a glimpse of Vikingsholm, the Scandinavian castle and Fannette Island, the only island in Lake Tahoe. We cruised on the Tahoe Blue Wave which departs daily from the Tahoe Keys Marina and includes a buffet lunch. I researched lots of cruises beforehand, and we settled on this 70 foot yacht because the max passenger load is 49, and we wanted a more intimate feel especially with the 2 year old. We really LOVED this cruise. The crew was fantastic and offered lots of 1 on 1 attention. We really had wonderful views from aboard the yacht, and the cookies are pretty great too!

2.) Ice Skating: There are lots of opportunities for ice skating in Lake Tahoe. Heavenly and Northstar Villages both offer outdoor seasonal skating rinks in the villages. These ice skating rinks open seasonally usually at the beginning of November. And in March Northstar turns their ice skating rink into a roller rink in time for Spring! For year round ice skating; however, you can visit the South Lake Tahoe ice arena. There are daily public skate sessions, and lessons offered. My daughter loved this experience. There is also an outdoor playground located on the premises of the sports complex that we visited after skating which is wonderful!

South Lake Tahoe Ice Arena

3.) Heavenly Village: We love Heavenly Village. My daughter loved the fountain and throwing coins into it. Village Toy Store is a great stop off with little ones. We love Base Camp Pizza as well. They have outdoor seating with lawn games for kids plus the pizza is great and affordable. You can take the gondola up to the mountain from the village for a scenic tour at different times throughout the year.

4.) Lakeside Beach: Located in South Lake Tahoe this is a brilliant beach. There is playground equipment on the beach with stunning views of the lake and mountains. And the great thing about visiting Lakeside Beach in fall is that it is free and open to the public without a pass!

5.) Kings Beach: Located in North Lake Tahoe is Kings Beach which is a great destination for families. It offers a playground on the beach, a cute little strip of shops and eateries as well as paddle board rentals etc beach side. A visit to the Sweet Tahoe Time Ice Cream Shop is also a must with little ones!

6.) Visit the original & new Red Hut Restaurant: My favorite breakfast spot is the ORIGINAL Red Hut Waffle Shop! It is a small dinner with amazing food, and has preserved the intimate diner atmosphere, and they make Mickey pancakes for kids 🙂 We also enjoyed the new Red Hut location for the soda bar! We enjoyed the ice cream and little store inside.

7.) Drive the Lake, Hike, & Picnic: The Lake Tahoe Scenic Drive is stunning and makes a 68 mile loop around Lake Tahoe, CA and NV. The loop passes thru some lovely little Tahoe villages such as Incline Village, King’s Beach, Tahoe City, etc. Some sections of the road are closed during the winter months so visiting during other times of the year is a fantastic way to enjoy the full loop. There are several spots to pull off and admire the scenery as well as hiking trails and picnic spots! Sand Harbor in Incline Village is a great place to stop!

8.) Smores & Drinks at The Ritz Carlton Northstar: We decided to drive to Northstar and visit the Ritz Carlton for drinks and appetizers. They have an outdoor bar/dining/sitting area that is perfect for children. They have lots of lawn games and activities set up which our daughter enjoyed, and she made little friends playing. In addition they bring out the smores cart daily, and you can enjoy roasting smores in the open fire pits with little ones! This is a stunning property!

9.) A day trip to Virginia City: Virginia City is the United States’ largest National Historic Landmark, and visiting the city is like taking a step back in time. The drive from Lake Tahoe will take you appx 1 hour to Virginia City. Read my full review of Virginia City here!

10.) A weekend trip to Yosemite: Before winter, The Tioga Pass is usually open which is a great convenient way to visit Yosemite. The drive will take you appx 2.5 hours from Tahoe and will take you to the Eastern Entrance of the park. Yosemite is one of those places that is mostly indescribable unless you have been there to see its beauty, but still I have tried to catalog our experience with a toddler here!

Yosemite
Yosemite

Uniquely Kiwi

My list of 52 Kiwi Things

(Why 52? 52 weeks in a year, 1 for each week 🙂

Milford Sound, Fiordland National Park, New Zealand
Milford Sound, New Zealand

I have a love affair with New Zealand. Some of my closest friends live there which will always make it special! My husband and I lived there on a working holiday shortly after we were married for 6 months+, and those experiences and memories are deeply ingrained in our relationship. We will start laughing randomly sometimes when we think of the fun we had. New Zealand was also the first international destination we took our daughter when she was 18 months old which adds to its sentimental value. I have made several entry posts about visiting New Zealand that can be found here, (Queenstown, Wanaka, Cambridge, Waiheke Island, Bay of Islands) but today I wanted to take a moment to write a list of things that are unique kiwi and take a trip down memory lane. And take the opportunity to announce that I will feature a guest blog post by my beautiful Kiwi friend, Erin, in a few weeks! She has a little boy and has been jet setting with him!

New Zealander’s have such a beautiful culture! The Maori history of NZ shapes the countries’ culture, and is deeply intertwined with many ideas and practices being borrowed across ethnicities. The culture is worry free, vibrant, and hospitable!

1.) Sweet As: The kiwi slogan that sums up kiwi lifestyle, and that I have heard every kiwi person I know say. Plus you can find sweet as printed on tons of tourist T shirts. 🙂 My daughter and husband have matching ones 🙂 The T shirt defines it as “I am confirming that what you are proposing is good by me” but I find kiwis also use this phrase interchangeably with how we use the word awesome.

2.) Kumara: The kiwi word for sweet potatoes. It took me forever to figure this out in the grocery store. 🙂

3.) Trundle: The kiwi word for a shopping cart or buggy!

4.) ButterNew Zealand butter is sold in block form not sticks like Americans are used to. I didn’t really realize why this would be confusing for Kiwis until my friend, Erin and I were sitting in the movie theater. The American movie “The Women” was showing in the theater, and there is a scene where Meg Ryan takes a stick of butter out of the refrigerator and starts eating it. Erin leaned over and asked what it was. She didn’t recognize it was butter! But let me just say their butter is amazing! All of their cows are grass fed, and they make amazing butter!

5.) The Buzzy Bee: This native New Zealand toy is iconic! It is a pull toy on a string, and the little bee’s wings rotate and click. A picture of my daughter’s buzzy bee:

 

5.) Hangi: Maoris traditionally cooked in the ground in dug out holes called hangis. Hot stones are placed in the dug out oven, and food is wrapped in cabbage leaves or cloth and placed in wire baskets then covered with wet cloths and covered in the earth and steamed for hours! When our friends hosted a hangi for us it was an all day event. Vegetables had to be cleaned, peeled, wrapped. The hole dug, stones heated, food cooked, etc. It was quite the honor to have this hosted for us, and a very special memory we cherish!

New Zealand Hangi
New Zealand Hangi prepared by our friends! 🙂

6.) No tipping: You don’t tip in New Zealand. I was a waitress while I was in New Zealand as well for a fantastic award winning restaurant called FOOD at Wharepuke!

7.) Tax is included: New Zealand has GST which is a goods & service tax, but it is already included in the price. The price on the tag is what you pay. The price of the groceries is what you pay! I like that! Keeps things simple!

8.) College: Means high school to New Zealanders while university means the equivalent of USA college.

9.) Weetbix: New Zealand’s #1 breakfast cereal! I can only describe it as our shredded wheat cereal.

10.) L & P Soda: New Zealand’s soft drink. Lemon fizz is the only way I can really describe it. It is now owned and marketed by Coca Cola!

11.) Rubbish Costs: Rubbish is how kiwi’s refer to garbage, and you must pay for your rubbish bags. Prepaid rubbish bags are sold in the stores (they were green when we bought them), and your trash must be bagged in these paid bags for it to be picked up. Recycle bags are cheaper than rubbish bags. A great way to encourage recycling!

12.) Lollies: How kiwis say candy!

13.) Metric system: Like the rest of the world, kiwis use the metric system. KGS instead of LBS. I forgot about this and at the grocery ordered 1 LB of deli meat. I got 1 Kilo which is about 2.2 LBS. I had a lot of meat for 2 people!

14.) Left side of the road: They drive on the left! And they love them some round abouts!

New Zealand Car
Our “sweet as” car in NZ

15.) Celsius: C not Fahrenheit! I also forgot this one day, and set my oven to 350 C. Should have been 180 C ! I definitely burnt the chicken!

16.) Grass Fed Beef: Almost all beef in NZ is grass fed due to their abundant grazing pasturage! Even McDonald’s uses 100% New Zealand grass fed beef! It was amazing!

17.) Lamb & Mutton: There is an abundance of sheep in New Zealand. Currently there is about a 6 to 1 ratio of sheep to human. Kiwis make an amazing cooked lamb with mint.   Mutton: They eat older sheep too!

New Zealand Sheep
Visiting with New Zealand Sheep

18.) Gorgeous: An adjective used to describe food that is delicious  “The chicken is gorgeous”

19.) Partners: People in relationships refer to their significant other as a “partner” even if you are married which I always found very confusing!

20.) Alcohol: Drinking age is 18!

21.) Taking off your shoes: It is considered rude to leave your shoes on when entering a person’s home. You always take your shoes off and leave them at the door! At least that was my experience; I know from Real Housewives of Auckland they don’t all adhere to this motto.

22.) Tea Time: Kiwis love their tea!

23.) Cafe culture: Cafe culture is BIG in New Zealand. Lots of specialty coffees, teas, pastries, dining options, etc.

24.) Good on ya mate: Another kiwi phrase meaning job well done. This slogan was popularized by beer commercials.

25.) Kia Ora: I can’t believe I left this one for so late in the list as it is an integral phrase of New Zealand marrying Maori culture with the mainstream. It is used in their tourism slogans as well. Kia Ora is interrupted as a Maori hello greeting, but means have life and be well which I think is lovely!

26.) Shoes optional: So many people view shoe wearing as optional even in grocery stores at least in the Northland where we set up base!

27.) Pavlova: Meringue dessert with fruit topping and oh so good! There is a debate as to New Zealand or Australian origin, but the kiwis claim it passionately!

28.) Jandals: Kiwi word for flip flops

29.) Jumper: Kiwi word for sweatshirt

30.) Togs: Kiwi word for swimsuit

31.) All Blacks: The national Rugby team! They also perform the haka before every game which is the traditional Maori war dance which is sweet as!

32.) EFTPOS: Their debit system. (Electronic Funds Transfer at Point of Sale). And make sure if you open a bank account you have unlimited EFTPOS transactions. We did not when we opened ours. 😦

33.) Fried eggs and beets: These are burger toppings!

34.) Pakeha: A term used to describe people of European descent, but which most kiwis say translates “white pig” There seems to be much debate as to if pakeha actually translates this way, but this is how it was explained to me when I asked the meaning!

35.) Manuka Honey: Native to New Zealand. It is a monofloral honey produced by bees pollinating the native manuka tree. It has one of the highest antibacterial properties of any honey, and is amazing!

36.) Paua: The equivalent to abalone shell, but uniquely kiwi due to their pattern and color which is only found off the coasts of NZ.

37.) Crayfish: The equivalent maybe to our lobster, but yet different. I’ve heard them described as US crawfish, but NZ crayfish are much larger than crawfish!

38.) Holiday: Holiday refers to vacation. You go on “holiday.” And most New Zealanders get 30 paid days off vacation time and public holidays!

39.) Aotearoa: Another name for New Zealand. Aotearoa is a Maori word meaning “land of the long white cloud”

40.) Bookabach: New Zealand’s equivalent of airbnb or vrbo. A bach refers to a holiday home.

41.) Feijoa: This can be found in other countries around the world, but is also native to New Zealand. It is called the “pineapple guava”. I love the juices that have feijoa in them! I miss this about NZ!

42.) Screwcap: New Zealand is known for its screwcap wines. Almost all wines are screw cap. They had an initiative for this.

43.) Shout: Someone has offered to “shout” you a drink. It means their buying. 🙂

44.) Horn: Its illegal to use your car horn after 11:00 pm and before 7:00 am unless for an emergency. Stay quiet my friends!

45.) Snakes: There are NO snakes in New Zealand. They were never introduced to New Zealand.

46.) Spiders: Unlike their Aussie neighbors, there are no poisonous spiders in NZ.

47.) The sun: The burn time is appx 12 minutes in NZ without sunscreen!

48.) Kauri: Native trees in New Zealand. These trees are majestic. The largest Kauri tree is Tane Mahuta located in the Northland, and is estimated to be as old as 2,500 years.

49.) Capsicum: The kiwi word for bell pepper.

50.) Half & Half: It doesn’t exist in New Zealand. If you want half & half you make your own with cream and milk.

51.) The Tui bird: A beautiful native bird of New Zealand. Often overshadowed by the more widely known kiwi bird which leads to…

52.) The kiwi bird: And my favorite for last. New Zealander’s take their nickname as kiwis from their national bird. A flightless/ almost blind bird more active at night. They also lay the largest egg in conjunction with their body size! Pretty cool! Plus they are really cute in my daughter’s opinion!

Matauri Bay Drive, New Zealand
My husband, Matauri Bay Drive, New Zealand
Walter Peak Farm, Queenstown New Zealand
Walter Peak Farm, Queenstown New Zealand

We are currently moving house so I will be taking a two week break from blogging, but when I return please check back for my Kiwi friends featured blog!