A Date Around Seattle

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

As much as we love traveling to faraway places, we love where we live. It's been super gloomy and rainy in Seattle the past couple months (making us want to get on a plane), but when we had a sunny Friday last week, we spent the day at some of our favorite spots close to home.

Seattle was one of the first car2go cities to get their hands on the new Mercedes-Benz GLA and CLA fleet and they gave us a car to try out. car2go is is so easy—you check the app to find the closest car to you, hop in and drive anywhere, then drop it off in any legal parking spot. You're charged by the minute while driving (you can currently take out a Mercedes-Benz for only $0.41 per minute), but as soon as you park, you're off the hook and you don't have to pay for parking!! Street parking in Seattle is as high as $4.50 per hour, which is ridiculous and totally not worth it if you want to spend the day in the city. We loved driving the new wheels for our Seattle date.

If you're in Seattle for a day, try something from our ideal Seattle day... 

  1. Walk along the boardwalk and enjoy views of the water and ferries coming and going at Alki beach, just a few minutes from where we live in West Seattle.
  2. Drive to Volunteer Park and wander through the Volunteer Park Conservatory to admire all the amazing plants (and warm up in our favorite cactus room). 
  3. Park in Capitol Hill and visit some of our favorite shops—Totokaelo, Elliot Bay Bookstore, Glasswing, and Likelihood. Even if we're not buying anything, these shops leave us feeling inspired.
  4. Head to Pike Place Market before it closes. Stop by Rachel's Ginger Beer in Post Alley for the tastiest, local ginger beer with flavors like blood orange and white peach. Enjoy the live music, flowers, local goods, and lively atmosphere of the market.
  5. Since we're already parked downtown, walk to Japonessa for our favorite sushi happy hour for dinner (happy hour is all day in the bar except 8-10pm, and it's sooo good).
Seattle is not the most walkable city because of all the water, bridges, and hills separating the neighborhoods, so car2go is super handy when getting from place to place. 

This post was sponsored by car2go. All opinions are our own.

Three Swiss Cities in One Day

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

It's a new year, and we hope to share our Europe travels a little more frequently or we'll never get through our photos! After Switzerland, we still have Germany, Italy, France, and Belgium to share. 

Being hosted by our friends, Zhanna and Gary, in Switzerland was amazing because we got to do activities they normally enjoy, like climbing a via ferrata and hiking to their chalet in the mountains. It also meant we did a lot of non-touristy things around home, like go soak in the local hot springs pool at night, eat their fave Thai takeout for dinner one night, and swing by Gary's mom's house to meet some of the family members we'd been hearing so much about.

Toward the end of the week, we decided we needed to venture further away from home and packed up for a short road trip. We were headed toward Lauterbrunnen, and spent a day stopping along the way in a few beautiful cities—Neuchâtel (where I did a short portrait session for Zhanna + Gary), Bern, and Thun. 

There's something so wonderful and picturesque about layers of crammed rooftops, and the Swiss landscape has done the cities a favor with it's rolling hills. There are so many good view points in hilly cities! Bern especially, was one of those cities that seemed to fit in one postcard-perfect frame from up on the hill across the river as soon as we got out of the car. No need to trek anywhere.

On our third stop in Thun, we met up with a couple of photographers we had connected with through Instagram. Gosh, the internet is crazy cool. We instantly became friends with David and Kathrin over a pasta lunch at a lovely sidewalk cafe. After lunch, the six of us wandered around Thun, casually wandering through a castle (no big deal), and taking each other's photos, because that's what photographers do when they get together. David and Kathrin have friends who own a bed and breakfast retreat of some sort on Lake Thun, and they invited us to come see their beautiful property, have a coffee, and take a row boat out on the lake. The weather was overcast and a little hazy, and the light fading over the lake at the end of the day was absolutely beautiful. We didn't see a single other person or boat out—the lake was all ours.

As we traveled northwest from Monthey, the language changed from French to Swiss German. Our hosts speak French and our new friends speak Swiss German, so it was really interesting to see that English can still be the common language even between people from one country!  

We parted ways with our new friends, and continued on to Lauterbrunnen with Zhanna and Gary, driving in the dark—such a shame! Now that we're home, I keep seeing stunning photos of Lake Thun and it hurts to think of the beautiful views we missed while driving around that lake. Never travel through Switzerland through the night! 

We'll share photos from Lauterbrunnen, the beautiful place that inspired RR Tolkien's Rivendell, in the next post. 

- Julia + Yuriy

Neuchâtel, Switzerland

(where I did a short portrait session for our hosts, Zhanna + Gary)

2017 Postcard Calendar

Saturday, December 17, 2016

We've continued our tradition and made a 2017 postcard calendar with photos from our travels this past year. It's always really fun to go through our photos at the end of the year and make something we can hold in our hands (and makes our holiday gifts super easy). This year's calendar has photos from our roadtrip to Switzerland, Italy, France, and Belgium (which we'll be sharing on the blog shortly!).

The back of each calendar page has a postcard back. When you're through with the month, cut off the bottom and send the postcard to a friend, or collect all 12 to display as small prints. 

You can shop the calendar here. We also sell travel prints if you need some fresh wall art. Thanks for checking it out!

- Julia + Yuriy

Via Ferrata — Climbing Rock Faces in Switzerland

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

My friend Zhanna had been living in Switzerland for about a year before we visited her and her Swiss husband Gary. I had seen her post photos of many via ferrata climbs on her Instagram (which you must follow if you don't) and knew that was something we had to try when we came to visit. The photos from her first via ferrata took my breath away (here and here). We had never heard of this until she introduced us.

Via ferrata (Italian for "iron trail") is a climbing route made up of iron rung ladders and steel cable bridges. When climbing, you have to wear a harness and helmet. There is a steel cable that runs along the entire route, to which you clip in, so your harness is secured to the rock face in case of a slip. You're clipped in, so how scary can it be right??? Well, I was wrong about that. When you're on a vertical rock face and standing on a little metal step, with the ground far below you, a slip could be very painful and scary, even if you don't go crashing all the way down to the bottom. The entire way up, you are using your entire body strength to get you up... the steel cable seems like it would help, but it doesn't help get you to the top.

Since we were in Switzerland in April, many of the climbs were still closed due to snow. Luckily we found one that was at lower elevation. It was amazing; I can only imagine how good the higher ones are. Like we always say... we'll be back.

- Julia + Yuriy

Mostly Nikon D750 photos, with a handful of iPhone + Moment mixed in.

Friends + Fondue in a Swiss Chalet

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

When you visit friends in Switzerland, and their family has a chalet in the mountains, you definitely fit it into your schedule. From afar, I've seen Zhanna and Gary post photos from this special place during all seasons, and we were so excited to experience it ourselves. The chalet is in a small village with a handful of other homes, a church, and a couple restaurants, tucked away in a high mountain valley next to a beautiful lake, Lac de Taney. In the summer we could have driven up to the town, but in the winter (well... April), we had to park at the bottom, and hike/snowshoe up a steep snowy trail. After reaching the chalet and dropping off our bags, we explored around the area. Gary ventured out onto the frozen but melting lake while we anxiously took photos. What's a popular destination to hike to in the summertime was mostly deserted and the restaurants closed.

Our amazing hosts hiked up with a bag full of cheese, wine, garlic, and bread. The scent of homemade fondue on the stove is almost as good as the meal itself. We learned that fondue (basically melted cheese and bread) is somewhat of a special occasion meal—about once a month.  Hanging out with a Swiss, Gary, and an American who now lives in Switzerland, Zhanna, was the best way to learn about the local culture and food from a familiar perspective. We kept a wood fire going and shared stories and played boardgames until our eyes were heavy and our tummies and hearts full. We need more special occasion meals in our lives. 

- Julia + Yuriy

Friends in Switzerland

Thursday, October 27, 2016

I've always envied people who had friends or family overseas. If you have a cousin or former roommate in Germany or Spain, how could you not go visit them?!? I've never had someone to visit in a foreign country. Until now. 

One of my best friends in Seattle met a Swiss man in Peru, married him, and decided to make Switzerland her new home (bummer for me, but who could blame her?). Visiting them in their home together was the best way to start our Europe trip. 

A couple years ago, we traveled to South America with Zhanna. She was our beloved third wheel. So when she found a cute Swiss guy with a French accent in our group on the Inca Jungle Trek, I thought, "oh good, she has someone to keep her occupied". I thought it was a harmless crush and she'd never see him again. Much to my surprise and horror, at the end of our travels, she bought a one-way ticket to Switzerland with Gary, and decided not to come home.  

I never thought I'd see Gary again, just like I thought Zhanna would forget him in a week, but here we are, staying in his home on the other side of the planet from Peru, in a small town in Switzerland. One of the first things we did was a small hike with a killer view of the town and lake below, the perfect place for a picnic lunch of cured meats, cheese, and bread—my favorite food. We took it easy the first day or two, stopped by a castle near their home (how is that possible?!), drove though a few small towns, enjoyed home cooked meals, played boardgames at night, and ate Swiss chocolate with every meal. It was amazing not to have to google anything and not feel like you're missing something. We went where they took us, and we were happy. Having a personal guide and translator everywhere we went was such a treat.

Zhanna and Gary dedicated a week to showing us around, and we'll share more from a snowy trip to their mountain chalet and climbing up rock faces in the next few posts. Though I lost a friend in Seattle, I gained two friends in Switzerland. 

- Julia

P.S. I didn't realize until later just how much I was shooting with my phone and Moment lenses, so a handful of the images below are from my phone.

Let's Roadtrip Through Europe

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Oh hey. It's been a while. Anyone still around these parts of the web??? We have some dusting to do around here. 

Updating our travel blog has been on our to-do list for about a year now. The more time that passes, the bigger of a project it's become, and we just couldn't prioritize it this past year.  If you follow us on Instagram (Yuriy / Julia), you know we're still our usual selves, still living in Seattle, still traveling when we can, just not sharing as much here. Last summer I finished design school and started doing design full time for a startup. The past year was an adjustment as Yuriy took over more of the photography business and I poured most of my time into my new work. After being in school and super busy for a while, if I had any free time this past year, I wanted to spend it with friends, not on the computer. 

I miss this. Blogging helps us to go through photos instead of letting them rot on a hard drive, forces us to reflect on a trip, and document memories more thoroughly than on Instagram. As things slow down with photography, I'm excited to spend this fall and winter going through tons of travel photos and updating the blog. 

Earlier this year we spent a month roadtripping through Europe to celebrate our five year wedding anniversary (yeah, already!). Even when we traveled for 6 months after our wedding, there was so much that we missed in Europe. This time we visited France, Switzerland, Germany, Italy, and Belgium, and the only place we revisited was Paris. Everything else was new. And we wished we had more time. 

This post marks the beginning of our roadtrip. We flew into Paris, rented a little Fiat for the month, and drove straight to our good friends' home in Switzerland, about a five hour drive. After a red eye flight and with Yuriy behind the wheel, I fell asleep immediately, so not a single photo here is mine. Yuriy is a lover of roadtrips, and couldn't resist stopping in all the small towns along the way. Later in the trip, we wouldn't have stopped so many times, but when you first arrive in a foreign country, everything is beautiful and awe-inspiring. How could you not stop for a photo?

Yuriy woke me up with his hands full of food—perhaps the best way to wake up. He stopped by a gas station on the side of the highway, and came back with a couple of amazing sandwiches on really good bread, fresh chocolate croissants, and coffee. In the States, you want to stay far away from gas station food, so we were pleasantly surprised with the random find. From that first bite of ham and cheese sandwich, I could hardly wait for all the meals to come in the next month. 

Hope you enjoy a glimpse of French countryside on our way to Switzerland. Tomorrow I'll share some photos from our time in Switzerland with good friends.

- Julia