My Manchester, Vermont Travel Guide

Long time, no blog? I always says this, but it’s been way too long since I’ve posted content on here. There’s been a lot of changes the last few months, and I finally feel like I’m getting into a new routine and new mindset! I’ll explain those changes soon, but I first wanted to share my recent weekend getaway with you all!

Last weekend, my boyfriend and I ventured up to Manchester, Vermont for a little weekend getaway. It was MUCH needed after the week I had. I couldn’t wait to see the foliage and feel the crisp fall air, since it hasn’t gotten that cold here in MA yet. I had first heard about the area from another blogger, Caitlin Covington, and took some inspiration from where she stayed, ate etc!

First thing I noticed when booking a place to stay is that the hotels were PRICEY. So we decided to check out Airbnb and found what I think is the cutest place we have ever stayed. We were 10 minutes from downtown Manchester in our quaint A-Frame for the weekend! Our hosts were fantastic, and you can actually find them on Instagram with the handle @thevermontaframe. The home was cozy, convenient to the area and had everything we needed, including a wood burning stove. Not to mention it was aesthetically pleasing and perfect for that Instagram photo-op.

On our first and real full day, we packed in a lot! I’m usually not one to get up early, but I wanted to get in everything we could. We first enjoyed breakfast at Up for Breakfast, which was delicious. It is small so I recommend going before 10! We arrived at 9 and only had to wait 15 minutes. After, we drove to Equinox Pond. We picked the perfect day to go with clear skies and the sun illuminating the mountains and foliage. THIS IS THE ULTIMATE PHOTO DESTINATION. If you’re staying at the Equinox Resort, it is a quick walk up from behind the hotel, but since we had a car and weren’t staying there, we just drove up one of the dirt roads.

We then decided to check out the designer outlets. There are several that line the main road in the center of town. From Theory to Kate Spade, Michael Kors and more, it was definitely worth checking out. I also recommend stopping in the country stores! Those are always my favorite, and you can buy little nips of Vermont maple syrup! Yum!

After our shopping, I was in the mood to change, so we headed back for a quick break. Once we returned to town, we visited Zoey’s Deli for a late lunch. The line was out the door, but for a good reason. The sandwiches and chips are so good. I got the Granny Smith, which I could have easily split with my boyfriend, but my eyes were bigger than my stomach that day. Their chips are homemade, crispy and still soft like a potato.

We really didn’t have many plans after that, so we decided to check out the Orvis outlet and flagship store. Everything in Manchester is extremely dog friendly and Orvis was no different. I don’t shop for outdoor items, so I secretly went in just to see all the pups. The flagship store does have several ponds in the back where you can feed the fish and take a nice stroll. Fly fishing is also a big activity up there, and they also have a school for it next door to the store.

Before dinner, we grabbed drinks at Seasons. I think next time I want to try them for dinner, as their drinks were just okay. For dinner we ate at Ye Olde Tavern, which I recommend 100%. The restaurant is in an old historical home and you get to enjoy your meal by candlelight. This felt like a multi course meal. We first started with fritters, then I split the Brie with my boyfriend, we both had salads and bread, then our entree and I of course couldn’t pass up pumpkin pie for dessert! It was probably my favorite meal while we visited.

After a cozy night in the A-frame, it was time to enjoy our final morning and head home. Since it was Sunday, brunch was a must. I had seen a lot of reviews for the Copper Grouse and had to check it out. Located in the Kimpton Taconic Hotel, the restaurant serves, brunch, lunch and dinner. We sat next to the fireplace and in classic brunch fashion, tried to order everything! I got the basic breakfast and my boyfriend enjoyed the pastrami smoked salmon. We also split the blueberry pancakes because they were calling my name. I definitely recommend splitting the pancakes and also making sure to order the home fries.

This was probably one of the best getaway weekends I’ve had in a long time. It was perfect, cozy and filled with yummy food.

I’m hoping to post more come the next few weeks and share an update on where I’ve been and what I’ve been up to.

Until next time!

Celebrating My Birthday with Paperless Post!

It’s birthday season, baby! I turn 24 next month, and I couldn’t be more excited. Not excited to be another year older per say, but very excited to celebrate! However, every year I struggle with the same thing when planning my birthday and that’s the process of inviting friends to celebrate. I always end up finding myself in multiple group chats and relying on others to relay important info. This makes it hard to keep track of who is coming and who is not. That’s why I am teaming up with Paperless Post to make planning my 24th birthday celebration a breeze!

Paperless Post is a provider of customizable online invitations and stationary. From birthdays, to weddings, parties and more, Paperless Post has all the designs and styles you are looking for for your next celebration. They have partnered with several world-famous designers and lifestyle brands, including Kate Spade New York, Oscar de la Renta, Jonathan Adler, and my personal favorite Rifle Paper Co.

The easy to use website allows you to customize any invite. Each invitation is purchased via the website’s coin system and allows you to control your budget when creating a custom invitation. Coins can be purchased once your account is created and do not expire.

Once an invitation is selected, you will be able to choose the background in which your guests will view the invite and update the text with the details of your celebration!

After a lot of consideration, I chose this Rifle Paper Co. design! I am so obsessed with their floral designs that I had to have it! Once the invite was updated, I created an ‘event page’ where my guests can get in touch with me, view updated event details, and share their party photos. If you’re creating a wedding invite, it’s the perfect place to add a gift registry for your guests to shop. From there, you enter your guests emails and names, and at the touch of a button, your invites are sent!

This is what the preview of my birthday invite looks like! I am obsessed with the design and think I may create another one too. Paperless Post also has the new option to create flyers. These free, casual invites include gifs and stickers and are easily customizable on your mobile devices. They collect email RSVPs on the spot and track email opens and bounces.

With so many options to choose from, there is something for everyone! Paperless Post will be my new go-to for every invite or stationary need. Check out their selection and get started on your next invitation today!

XO Courtney

 

Travel Guide: Savannah, Georgia

A few weeks ago, I traveled down to beautiful Savannah, Georgia! It was my first time visiting, and after just one weekend, I fell in love.

My mom, sister and I decided to venture down for 3 days (Friday-Monday), which was the perfect amount of time to explore. We stayed at the Mansion on Forsyth Park, which was a beautiful hotel and in a great location. It was away from the bustle of the downtown area, yet close enough to walk everywhere. On our first day, we actually decided to make the walk from our hotel all the way down to the river. We passed so many quaint shops and eateries, getting a feel for how the city is designed. Overall, navigating the area was simple, since most blocks are separated by different squares!

 

We first checked out the riverfront, which tends to be very touristy. Lined with cobblestones, the riverfront is filled with plenty of souvenir shops and bars. While it wasn’t my favorite, it was nice to see on our first day.

On the second day, we opted to take the Old Savannah Trolley Tour. This is a must! The tour guides were fantastic, and the trolley made it so you could hop on and off at several stops. The tour gave us a taste of the city’s history, while also allowing us to map out what we wanted to see and visit. A must to see while in Savannah is Chippewa Square. If this doesn’t ring a bell, then please go and watch Forrest Gump. The movie’s famous line “life is like a box of chocolates” was said in that very park. While the actual bench is no longer there, you can still grab some chocolate from the local store and enjoy it. You never know who you’re going to see while you’re there!

In terms of history, all three of us decided to visit the Sorrel Weed House. I am a BIG fan of historical homes. I absolutely love being able to see everything as it once was and learning about the families that once lived there. This particular tour was very interesting, but also very sad. For years, Savannah didn’t have laws against destroying historical landmarks, so the Sorrel Weed House went through decades of transformation, from a department store to apartments and now finally back to its original state. They are continuing to restore the home, so don’t expect to see it in its original condition.

Savannah is also considered one of the most haunted cities in America, so what better than to check out a ghost tour! We were sadly disappointed. For Savannah having such a rich and haunted history, the ghost tour just wasn’t impressive. Not only were we stuck in a large group, but our tour guide continued to laugh while telling the haunted history of Savannah. We ended up leaving mid-way through because it was not worth finishing.

In addition to seeing the historic sites, we also shopped… a lot! Broughton Street was our next stop on the trip. Titled the ‘Newbury Street of the south,’  the area offered several local and chain stores. One of my favorites was The Paris Market Cafe. Not only could you sip on a coffee and enjoy some macarons, but the shop also offered gifts and home decor for every style. If you are looking for even more shopping, City Market has several stores and eateries to enjoy.

Another thing I really appreciated about Savannah was how much the city values art. Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) plays a central part in the city’s culture and vibe. Everywhere you’d go there’d be galleries or art shops, and I really took a liking to the role art plays in the city’s personality.

And now for my favorite part… food!! Below are a few of the top places we ate at, while in Savannah

  1. The Collins Quarter – This restaurant had the BEST brunch! The wait time wasn’t that long. I think we waited ten minutes max. I definitely recommend the avocado toast! So good! 
  2. Circa 1875 – The dinner here was incredible! I love French food, and this restaurant impressed. Not only did they have my favorite Aperol Spritz, but the cuisine was delicious! The muscles and charcuterie board are a must if you order anything!
  3. Goose Feathers Cafe – For a quick and super yummy breakfast, this is your spot! Don’t be scared by the line outside. The cafe has you order first then sit, so you are guaranteed a table!
  4. 45 Bistro – All I can say is wow! Not only was our waiter fantastic, but the food was amazing! The seafood pasta is the way to go at this restaurant! 
  5. Leopold’s – The line was down the street, but the ice cream was worth the wait! I ordered their vegan vanilla (since I unfortunately cannot eat regular ice cream), but it was delicious. If you don’t want to wait in the line, at least take a picture of the sign. The shop still has an old school ice cream parlor look. 
  6. Gryphon Tea Room – For the most delicious brunch or afternoon tea, Gryphon is your stop! The restaurant is a part of SCAD and has some of the most delicious bites! I forgot how good tea sandwiches are. And it also looks like an old school library inside.

Savannah’s open container law is non-existent, so don’t be surprised if you are asked to enjoy your cocktail on the go. Not going to lie, this is definitely a highlight of the city, especially if you are with friends or on a girls trip like I was. For a unique drink spot, check out Jen’s and Friends. The tiny bar offers every martini imaginable. From rice crispy treats to straight up chocolate, it doesn’t disappoint. Plus the inside smells of sugar!

Savannah was a blast, and I was so sad to leave. I hope this guide helps you plan your trip to the beautiful city! Until next time!

-XOXO Courtney

 

I Tried Blue Light Glasses And This Is What Happened

Staring at a computer screen from 8am-5pm has been painful for my eyes and body. Recently, I have noticed that at the end of each work day I have excruciating headaches, dry and burning eyes, and am overall extremely tired. I was told to check out blue light glasses to reduce the pain and protect my eyes from the computer screen. I decided to try them and this is what happened.

For those of you wondering what I am even talking about, blue light glasses are clear lens glasses that block HEV blue light emitted by digital screens. If you have experienced dry and tired eyes after looking at a computer or even your phone for long periods of time, then you may have experienced the effects of blue light.

There are so many brands that sell blue light glasses. Some even offer the ability to add on blue light lenses to a prescription pair. For me, however, I was just looking for a pair that could ultimately eliminate my eye strain and headaches, while still looking cute (obviously the most important part!)

I purchased a pair from Quay Australia, and after doing some research, found that these were the best price and had amazing reviews. I also wanted a pair that had a stylish flair and could be worn with anything. When I initially got the glasses in the mail, I was a little uncertain by my choice. I am not used to wearing glasses everyday and was unsure how I felt about the frames and the fit. I decided to give them a try, and the next day, I wore them while online shopping and was obsessed! Not going to lie, it takes some time getting used to them and feeling comfortable.

I kept a mini diary throughout the week to share my experience day by day:

Monday, March 18, 2019

My first full day was definitely an adjustment! They felt funny and were very noticeable to me. I did still feel the tiniest headache at the end of the day, but overall it wasn’t anything painful. I also found myself fiddling with them, trying to find the most comfortable spot on my face.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

By the third day, I did not have a headache. My eyes still felt dry at work, but I also think that is dependent on how dry the air is in the office and allergies. One lesson I did learn on day three was that I need to apply more powder to my face, or the glasses will remove all of my makeup!

Friday, March 22, 2019

On Friday, I worked from home and started to notice such a difference when I would take my glasses off. The lenses have a bit of a yellow tint to contrast the blue light. I didn’t realize how noticeable it was until I started removing them frequently throughout the day. My eyes were not dry, and I did not have any headaches!

By the second week of wearing the glasses, I felt great! Not only did I really love the look of them, but I was so pleased with how they eliminated all of my symptoms. By the time I would make my commute home, I was no longer suffering through uncomfortable headaches and eye pain. Of note, my glasses did start to become uncomfortable sitting behind my ears (almost like the pain I’d get when wearing those hard headbands as a kid. LOL let me know if you can relate!) I’m thinking a slight adjustment to the fit will make that all better!

Overall, I definitely recommend blue light glasses. I will never use a computer at work or home without them. I don’t think people need to pay over hundreds of dollars for a pair. The ones I purchased were reasonable and very sturdy. I recommend doing some research and even checking on Amazon for a deal.

If you are curious if you may be exposing your eyes to blue light and its effects, definitely check out PreventBlindness.org. They were one of the first websites I checked out when I was researching the harmful effects and wanted to learn more on how I could protect my eyes.

Remember, you only have one set of eyes! If wearing a pair of glasses could protect the harmful effects of using digital devices, then it is worth it!

-XOXO Courtney

Podcasts I’m Currently Listening To: Part 1

Many of you know that I love everything true crime. It is my go to genre when it comes to books, TV, movies, and of course podcasts. Lately, I have been getting a lot of questions on what podcasts I am currently listening to and which ones I recommend. I have a long commute to and from work, so podcasts are essential to my life. That is why I am starting a series on my blog where I share the true crime/investigative podcasts that I am currently listening to! Here is part 1!

‘Over My Dead Body’

Let me just start out by saying that Wondery makes some of the BEST podcasts! From ‘Dr. Death’ to ‘Dirty John’ and ‘Gladiator,’ Wondery has a knack for telling stories so powerful and captivating. They recently came out with the podcast ‘Over My Dead Body,’ which looks into relationships gone wrong and the lengths people will go to get what they want. The first season, titled ‘Tally,’ focuses on Dan and Wendi a ‘perfect’ couple whose relationship leads to a bad breakup, a terrible divorce, and a murder case involving high-priced lawyers and unexpected co-conspirators. This podcast has Lifetime Movie Network written all over it and keeps me on my toes every episode. I got my mom hooked to this podcast. She isn’t always into the crime genre, but immediately loved it!

‘The Dropout’

From ABC Radio, ‘The Dropout’ brings you the story of Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos. Disclaimer: this is not a true crime podcast, but is still just as fascinating. The podcast takes an investigative look into how one young, female billionaire, inspired by Steve Jobs (more like obsessed), deceived the world and lost everything in the process. This podcast reminds me so much of the Fyre Festival documentary, bringing to light the culture of ‘get rich’ no matter what it takes. Not to mention it is also being made into a movie! Definitely recommend!

‘Up and Vanished: Season One The Trial Series’

‘Up and Vanished’ will always have a special place in my heart because it was one of the first true crime podcasts I ever listened to. I also saw Payne live in Boston when he went on tour, so I am somewhat biased, but this really is a fantastic podcast! The team is diving back into season one and documenting the trial and case of Tara Grinstead. If you don’t know what I am talking about, go back and listen to the first season all the way through. I just started on the new episodes, so I will keep everyone posted on what I think. (Without trying to spoil it for the newbies.)

Up Next: ‘To Live and Die in LA’

I have been seeing this advertised all over the place, and it is the next one on my list. ‘To Live and Die in LA’ tells the story of 25 year old Adea Shabani, an aspiring actress and model who vanished without a trace from her apartment complex near Hollywood’s Walk of Fame. The podcast comes from the makers of ‘Up and Vanished’ and dives into the police investigation and what happened to Adea. Downloading these episodes right now, as we speak!

I hope this inspired you to start listening and diving into the world of true crime podcasts. Stay tuned for part 2 coming soon!

-XOXO Courtney

 

 

Life Update: Relieving Stress

Wow, has it been a while since I’ve given a little life update! I’ve been so busy with work and providing you with new products and giveaways that I haven’t shared what has been going on with me.

I guess if I had one word to describe it, I’d say BUSY. I have been definitely feeling the effects of working long days and commuting. It’s exhausting and honestly has taken a toll on me the last few weeks. I’d be lying if I didn’t say I’ve been very tired and a little extra stressed. Plus my anxiety has been more active, bringing about the worst combination ever.

Thinking about it, it’s been a hard past few weeks since January. I’ve been extremely hard on myself, and it seems like I’ve had more bad days than good. I’ve been putting a lot of pressure on myself to the point where I’m in this non-stop competition and stress cycle. I’ve also been struggling with my social life and friendships, feeling like I am back in middle school. And to be honest, at 23, that is the last thing I need.

As you can tell, there have been a lot of different stresses floating in and out of my mind, making it hard to even concentrate at times. However, I have found even more comfort in the gym, giving me an outlet to sweat out the bad and indulge in my current Netflix obsessions. I’ve also found that my passion for blogging has increased even more with me wanting to continue to share my life and my love for travel, beauty, and fashion.

While the weeks have been tough, I am so excited for spring and upcoming trips headed my way. I’m starting to make more of an effort in my everyday life to take some ‘me’ time to reduce stress and any anxiety floating around.

I have a really exciting post coming this week that I know you all will love! In the meantime, I challenge you to think of ways you can take a little extra time during the week to reset and refocus.

Xoxo Courtney

How I Keep My Smile Bright and White

A bright smile is a staple! Your teeth are one of the first things people see when they talk to you, so I am always conscious of keeping my smile clean and white. Unfortunately, I have super sensitive teeth, so whitening strips are not an option for me. I rely on an electric toothbrush to keep my smile up to par, and I have finally found one that does just that and more!

I teamed up with Smile Brilliant to try their cariPro Ultrasonic electric toothbrush!

I have used electric toothbrushes for as long as I can remember. The most recent one I used was old, had one speed, and utilized those small circular heads. While it brushed my teeth, I felt like it wasn’t giving me the bright smile I deserved.

Being someone who loves to indulge in hot cups of tea or an occasional latte in this freezing winter, I am in need of a good brush that will clean, polish, and whiten my teeth. My old toothbrush did none of that. No matter how much I brushed, my dentist would always comment on the stain. I was frustrated because I couldn’t enjoy a hot beverage or even wine without worrying what it is doing to my teeth. I even almost resorted to the straw method, but who wants to drink hot tea with a straw?! Not me!

Using the cariPro Ultrasonic electric toothbrush is a game changer! In the box came the base, two replaceable heads, and a charging port. There was also an in depth pamphlet, which gave a rundown of every setting and how the brush works!

I was so excited when I saw they had a sensitive setting and whitening setting. Not only does it clean, but the brush has the ability to polish the teeth, massage the gums and clean along the gumline, and brush at a softer pace. Each brushing mode is designed to operate for two minutes with brief pauses between each 30 second burst. That brief pause tells you to move to a different quadrant of the mouth. I never thought I needed a massage setting, but now I cannot stop using it. Not only does my smile look whiter and free of stain, but my teeth feel smooth and gums look extremely healthy.

And it’s AFFORDABLE! I don’t have the time or money to search through expensive toothbrushes, so this was perfect for me!

Right now, Smile Brilliant is offering my viewers a coupon code for 20% off and a giveaway! Use the code courtneykaner20 for 20% off cariPRO Ultrasonic electric toothbrushes. To enter my giveaway to win a cariPro Ultrasonic electric toothbrush, click the link here.

Since using my new Smile Brilliant toothbrush, I have not stopped indulging in my favorite hot teas or lattes. If anything, I am more inclined to drink them knowing my smile will continue to be radiant.

 

electric toothbrush reviews

Quick 23rd Birthday Recap and Reflection

Last weekend, I celebrated my 23rd birthday. It was probably one of the best birthdays I have had. I want to personally thank everyone for the birthday wishes and for making the weekend so special. Below is a recap of my weekend and a reflection as I embark on this new age!

Overall, the weekend consisted of lots of yummy food (Ruka and Eataly to be exact), plenty of bubbly, some fun in the city, and bowling with amazing friends. I was able to just settle down from a crazy work week and enjoy my time with family and friends! While there are so many pictures and boomerangs I could share, I picked two that showed my fave outfits of the weekend and of course one of beautiful Boston.

Those of you who know me know that I have a special place in my heart for Boston. I lived there for 4 years and really got to enjoy everything the city has to offer. Now that I am no longer living there, it was so extremely special to visit for a night and enjoy it during such a special weekend. I thought about how hard it is to make this transition into the next chapter of my life, working and becoming an ‘actual’ adult. It has yet to hit me that I am no longer in school and now redirecting my focus to adult matters, aka bills, work, and future plans. To me, Boston symbolizes some of the best years so far. Being back there made me emotional because it reminded me that I won’t be able to relive those times and my new life as a 23 year old grad is just beginning.

Remember I told you all I hate change? While I deal with the emotions and reflecting on my past, I also think about my life now and how amazing it is going to be. Twenty-three is about to be an incredible and challenging year. I am embarking on new freedoms and things that I have never had to deal with. But it also brings immense opportunity to travel and be the adult that I am.

It’s a new chapter filled with so many new surprises, and I cannot wait to see what happens.

-XOXO Courtney

Greece Travel Diary

If you have been keeping up with my social for the last week and a half, you would have noticed that I was traveling all around Greece. It had been a long time since I’d traveled to Europe, but I fell in love with the country and its islands and wanted to share my experience with you, in case you are also planning a trip!

If you know anything about Greece, then you know that it is made up of some incredible and absolutely beautiful islands. My family and I narrowed it down to visit Athens, Naxos, and Santorini. Don’t be fooled, even from the east coast the flight was long. We broke it up with a stop over in London and then finally made it to Athens, where we settled in for our first day. We stayed at the Electra Palace, which was a very nice hotel in the area of Plaka. The hotel had a beautiful rooftop view of the Acropolis, which is of course a must see! We spent one whole day in Athens, which was plenty. We hiked up to the Acropolis, which do not be intimidated, it was an easy walk up, and I did it in a dress. The view from above is breathtaking. You can see the whole city as far out as the mountains. My tip is to go in the morning right when they open. We went at around 10am, and it was perfect, but as we exited an hour and a half later, it was packed with tour groups. I also want to note that May is the perfect time to go. Several locals told us peak season is June, July, and August, and much of the area is crammed with cruise ships and plenty of tourists. They all recommended May or even September as the best time to visit. While it was crowded at times, it wasn’t as bad as it usually gets. After the Acropolis, we visited the museum down the road, as well as grabbed lunch and shopped. While Athens was a great experience, it was definitely not my favorite. It was the type of city where people try to lure you into shops, and there is this feeling of constant harassment to buy something. After that one day, I was ready to head to the islands.

After our day in Athens, we packed up and headed back to the airport where we flew to Naxos. The flight was barely even 20 minutes in the air. We landed to beautiful blue skies and crisp white homes. The airport was its own kind of treasure. It was probably the tiniest airport I have ever been to. It takes one flight at a time and baggage claim is a tiny room with a barely there conveyer belt. We chose to fly as opposed to the ferry because the ferry from Athens to Naxos was around 6 hours, and my dad and sister tend to get sea sick. When we arrived, we arranged a cab with a wonderful woman named Ireney, who actually ended up taking us around the island a few days later. Naxos is like nothing I have ever experienced. The island is small and has very few tourists. The downtown is right on the water and filled with cafes and shops that line one main street. There, we stayed at the Nissaki Beach Hotel. It was right on the water and had a lovely pool, as well. Not to mention the food! We ate at the hotel restaurant the first night, and it was impeccable! The people at the hotel were also so lovely. Because it was small, you often encountered the same people working during the day at night. We spent the first few hours lounging on the beach trying to get a tan and just relaxing after our hectic day in Athens. The next day, we ventured more into the downtown area where we shopped and visited the Temple of Apollo. The temple sat at the top of a secluded peninsula and looked out over the ocean and town. We also visited the castle in Naxos, which was more of a hidden gem. The castle, which still fully stood, was surrounded and swallowed by homes and a small village that was built around it over the years. Exploring that area felt like typical Greece. It was filled with winding paths, homes, and hidden restaurants. There was almost a sense that if you stumbled on a quaint cafe in there once, you may not be able to find it again. One of our favorite lunch places to hit in Naxos was called Yasouvlaki. If you go to Greece and don’t try a gyro, what are you doing?! They had the best gyros, and we even went there twice because nothing could compare. We also ate at a restaurant called Strofili. Again, the food was so good! All of the fish is so fresh there, and they combine traditional mediterranean ingredients with cool twists.The next day we had our taxi driver from the airport, Ireney, drive us around to see the sites outside of the area of Naxos that we were staying in. She took us deeper in the mountains. We stopped at the Temple of Demeter, which overlooked the countryside. While I loved the beach in Naxos, the winding mountainous roads were breathtaking. The view from the cliffs overlooked far and beyond. There was a church at the very top of a rocky mountain that once a year people walk, take donkeys, and more modern, drive up to to celebrate its existence. It was at the very point where it almost looked as though it would tumble over. We ventured into smaller villages where the locals didn’t speak English. It was such an experience to see outside of touristy Greece. We visited a distillery where they had once produced the local popular liquor of the country. I gave it a try, but I couldn’t do it. I’m more of a sweet alcohol type of girl. That day, I also saw my first donkey! Greece is known for their donkeys for transportation and carrying of goods. I of course got a picture and the man guiding the donkey even got in it!

The day we left Naxos was bittersweet for me. I fell in love with it, and to this day, it’s one of my favorite places. I was sad to leave Ireney who was such an amazing person! She showed us around the island, and it’s people like her that you meet on trips that make it memorable. We were headed to Santorini that day, which was our final stop. We chose to take the ferry because it was only a 45 minute ride. This is a warning if you will be choosing to use the ferry system in Greece: they are never on time. Our ferry was very late, which wasn’t a big deal to us because we didn’t have anything planned for the first day. However, the ferries have a tendency to run late, but then rush you off and on the boat, as if it will save them the time they lost. Honestly, when I go back to Greece in the future, I will not be taking a ferry again. And this is not just the company we used, this seems to be all of them. As soon as we hopped on (which was rushed), we left our baggage below and headed up to the top deck. I don’t get sea sick, but I felt nauseous that moment. The ferry, as big as it was, rocked back and forth. It felt like it was going to tip over. I literally fell into a woman’s lap with my bags. Not to mention, the inside smelled awful. We spent the ride outside on the deck, which was more peaceful. However, as soon as it came time to get off the ferry, they herded us like cattle. They get everyone down to the below section to grab their bags and then stand there until you are forced up against others and rushed off the boat. It was horrible and definitely not an experience I want again. But as soon as we got off, we found our taxi and headed off to our hotel. We stayed in Oia, which is the point of the island. Santorini isn’t just one island, but is made up of a group of 5 or 6 all together. The one we stayed on was with the main tourism, while several others in its vicinity are either tourist free or not inhabited at all. We stayed at the Canaves Suites, which was the perfect location. We traveled down several cobblestone steps, and it overlooked the ocean. Our room had a balcony that we ate breakfast on every morning, and it was a dream. The hotel overall was stunning. Like the rest of Oia, it was built onto the side of the cliff and was on several different levels. It had a very relaxing pool area and again was the perfect location to the downtown area with all of the shops. In case you plan on traveling to Santorini, please note that the tap water there is not drinkable. The first day we got there we freaked out because I have traveled with my mom to a place where you couldn’t drink the water, and we both got sick. But the water in Santorini isn’t dangerous and does not contain bacteria. The reason the locals say it isn’t drinkable is because it goes through a process of desalinization, but does not fully clear their water source of salt. So if you drink it, you can clearly feel the salty grit. It is safe for bathing and brushing teeth. We did not have a problem when we were there. For someone with a super sensitive stomach like me, nothing happened. It is essentially just really salty and not appetizing to drink. So note, bottled water is a must.

We really started our Santorini adventure the next day when we ventured into the downtown area. There are a lot of small shops for souvenirs, as well as designer boutiques, essentially catering to the tourist crowd. I recommend getting up earlier and heading into the shopping area at around 10/10:30. That was the time before many of the buses and cruise ships settled into the area and let groups of people off. In Santorini fashion, I of course wore a flowing white dress and sunhat, which was much needed because the Santorini sun is HOT. That day we ate lunch at a place called Lotza. Walking by, it smelled of rich foods and oregano. The food was delicious. And of course while in Greece, I tried a fish pedicure from Kissingfish. I first heard about it on an episode of the Kardashians when they had their Greek vacation, and I of course had to copy. It actually wasn’t as ticklish as I thought. It felt like a foot massage, and surprisingly left my feet feeling so soft and smooth!

 

Our dinner that night was right on Amoudi Bay, as we ate at the Ammoudi Fish Tavern. The dinner was not only fantastic, but they also let you pick the fish you want. Once you sit down to eat, they bring you over to show you the fresh catches. You can have any fish prepared either grilled with pasta etc., and you choose the amount you want! From the distance, you can see hundreds of steps up to the top of the island and the donkeys that settle there to bring people up.

On our last full day, we ventured onto a catamaran to check out the other surrounding islands and beaches. It was quite chilly and very rocky that day, as the wind was SO strong. Being able to see the islands and be on the boat was relaxing, but it is not the same kind of experience you will get being on a catamaran on a tropical island. We had been on quite a few before that were fantastic, and this one was just okay. We never settled on an actual beach and spent very short amounts of time at each location. One thing I found so interesting though was the danger of the Red Beach. Much of Santorini’s beaches were formed because of the island’s volcanic history. The Red Beach has been having issues with rocks from the island falling. It had closed, but many people ignored it and continued to use it. One of the workers on our boat told us that two weeks prior, rocks had fallen on a several beach chairs. You could see from a distance several old chairs pushed up against rocks and buried. So be warned, do not go on the Red Beach. If you can, definitely charter a boat and see it from a distance, along with several other of the islands and the Caldera. They are breathtaking.

Our final night for dinner, we had an amazing view of the island and enjoyed our last Greek meal at Ambrosia. Again, the food was fantastic. If you go, try the salmon tartare for an appetizer. You cannot go wrong!

My Greece trip will be something I’ll forever remember. I hope these tips and my travel diary help you plan your future Greek getaway. It is a beautiful country and one that I will definitely be returning to in the future!

P.S. I took some video footage with my GoPro, which I will edit and get up as soon as I can!

-XO Courtney

My Travel Packing Guide

I love to travel, but when it comes to packing, I dread every inch of it. Trying to pack and organize my entire life into small bags is definitely a challenge for me. However, over time, I figured out the best ways to bring your must haves in an organized and “light” way.

~Toiletries and Makeup~

Let’s start with toiletries! They are the oh-so dreaded part of packing for me. I have so many lotions and potions that I can’t live without. For me, I try to pack very few products in my checked bag in case the airline loses my suitcase along the way. For starters, I always write down a list of what I use. I categorize it into my morning routine, shower, night routine, and products that I will use on the plane. After, I go through my products and decide what I need and what I can live without. I even check to see if they are sold in smaller sizes. If they aren’t, I’ll pick up travel size containers to fill. For any beginners, liquids, gels, creams, and aerosols that will be brought on the plane need to be under 3.4 ounces and carried in a one quart-sized bag. This may sound intimidating, but trust me, you can do it. Coming from someone who has SO MANY products, it is possible. I always over stuff and that is totally acceptable. However, one way to reduce the amount of liquids is by switching up products. For example, I always use the Batiste dry shampoo in the aerosol can. Instead, I checked my local Ulta and found that they sell a small container of dry shampoo powder. This takes away one less item to put in that baggy and ensures you will have it with you at all times.

With my makeup, I also try to cut down on the liquid foundations and bb creams. Changing to a powder foundation or stick product makes it easy to slip into a separate makeup bag and not have to shove it into the little plastic baggy. Also, consider using 2-in-1 products, like a cheek stick that doubles as a lipstick or eye product. There are always ways to get around the rules and switching formulas is an easy and efficient way to do so!

Airplane skincare is super important. The air when flying is extremely dry and harsh on the skin. Depending on how long the flight is will depend on what you will use and need. I recommend packing a few sheet masks to use while flying and a micellar water to cleanse. Any other moisturizers and/or serums should already be packed in your bag and good to go!

~Clothing and Accessories~

Now that we conquered all the beauty products and essentials, now it is time for packing clothing. The best way to save space and organize your suitcase is by using suitcase organizers. They are either cloth packs that come in different sizes or plastic seal tight bags. They keep clothing separate and clean.

Always pack your shoes at the bottom. If you are bringing a sun hat, pack it upside down and stuff it with underwear, socks, or swimsuits to optimize space. If it helps, keep polaroids of outfits in the suitcase for instant and easy ideas. Bring a separate bag for dirty laundry, so they do not touch clean clothes. If you forget, check your hotel room for a plastic laundry bag to use instead.

Keep in mind the kind of jewelry you will be bringing. I always recommend bringing inexpensive pieces in a compact jewelry case. I recently purchased one in Target and it has perfect compartments for earrings, necklaces, etc.

~Carry-On~

Now that we have the main two packing tips out of the way, let’s talk about your carry-on items. You are allowed one carry-on that will fit in the overhead compartment and a personal item, which will slide under the seat in front of you. I always bring a small duffle and a purse. In the carry-on, it is important to pack a few items. In case your checked bag is lost, your carry-on should have underwear, socks, pj’s, a bathing suit, and an outfit or two. It’s more of a safety precaution, but can also include a change of clothes depending on how long your flight is. If your carry-on is your only suitcase, then it will contain all your clothing.  In my purse, I’ll have a few entertainment items, my phone, headphones, a phone charger, books, snacks, water, my baggy of liquids that I’m bringing on the plane, and pills. It is extremely important that you always carry-on your medication, whether it’s Advil or allergy medicine.

~Entertainment~

This is the fun part! I obviously always bring my phone and have music on it, but lately I have been reading some great books and downloading a few podcasts. They make the time fly by!

~~~Books~~~

In a Dark, Dark Wood By: Ruth Ware
The Woman In Cabin 10 By: Ruth Ware

Here We Lie By: Paula Treick DeBoard

~~~Podcasts~~~

A Killing on the Cape

Up and Vanished

Unconcluded

In The Dark

Serial

I clearly love true crime podcasts and books in the thriller/mystery genre. If it is not your cup of tea, I recommend checking out iTunes for all the top podcasts and Amazon for the latest book releases and best sellers.

~Relax~

I understand that all of these tips and things to remember can be stressful. At the end of the day, it is important to remember to relax. I love to travel, but I hate the process of packing and actually being on the airplane. I can never get comfortable or sleep and always feel so antsy. For me, bringing skincare items and face masks are ways for me to create a “routine” (which I find comfort in) and do something that I love and that is relaxing to me. I also purchase ear plugs to block out the noise and adjust my ears to the pressure in the air. Anxiety is never fun when traveling, but is completely normal. The key is to find things that will relax you and help you get to your destination. These tips above are aimed to get you feeling organized and to take one less stress away. But reflect and think about what will make you most comfortable if you get travel anxiety. Whether it is writing, drawing, coloring, or watching your favorite movie, the little things is what will make you feel comfortable and have the trip running smoothly. Always engage in self-care and listen to yourself and what will make you feel best.

Happy Summer Travels

-XO Courtney

 

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