10 Little Towns In Europe You NEED To Visit

There are certain bloggers that come out of nowhere and truly make a name for themselves. Margo from Guten Blog Ya’ll is one of these bloggers. I don’t know how, but I hadn’t stumbled upon her blog until she began sponsoring me this month. I can’t get enough! Not only does she share amazing photographs (something I tend to zone in on), but her posts are well-written, informative, and fun. You’ll be hearing more of Margo later this week when her sponsor spotlight rolls out, but for now, enjoy her fantastic post: 10 Little Towns In Europe You Need To Visit!
Hi guys, I’m Margo from Guten Blog Y’all. I currently live in Germany and after snuggling with my sweet Schnoodle, Stuart, I love photography, red wine, and, of course, traveling. Today I wanted to share what I consider the 10 most beautiful little towns in Europe. I hope this wanderlust-inducing list kicks you into booking your next trip, because really, you justhave to see these places.

1 | Burano Island, Italy 
In the Venetian Lagoon, this little island is known as the residence for the large population of fishermen. The vibrantly colored rows of houses were historically used as beacons for finding their way home after a long day at sea. In recent years it’s become a Pinterest sensation and a true photographer’s paradise. While there be sure to try fresh octopus (but not coupled with espresso, like I did).

2 | Positano, Italy
On the Almalfi Coast, this little town is a true treasure. Stunning mountains leap from the clear Mediterranean for dramatic views while the UNESCO-approved village feels as though you’re in an Italian dream. The vacation destination for the stars, I claimed it here as the most beautiful place in Europe and I mean it.

3 | Oxford, England
Whether you’re a Harry Potter enthusiast or just appreciate history, Oxford is truly captivating. One of the oldest institutions in the world is riddled with stories and beautiful architecture. The vibrant town is full of great pubs, restaurants and shops. Charming cobble stone streets led through picturesque alleys walked by the likes of Tolkien, Oscar Wilde, Margret Thatcher and… Hugh Grant. :)

4 | Hallstatt, Austria
A shockingly beautiful lake village nestled in the Alps, Hallstatt is a true definition of European charm. Boating on the Hallstatt Lake is most scenic boat ride I’ve ever had and bucket list worthy for every traveler.

5 | Ronda, Spain
Positioned in the mountains of Andalusia, the views and eats in Ronda are incomparable. High above a steep gorge, the dramatic Puente Nuejo (New Bridge) connects the old and new city. The New meaning 1793, of course. Take a hike down to the gorge then end with yummy churros and hot chocolate. We felt like nobility when we got a free uber-upgrade at Parador de Ronda (two balconies are better than one!).

6 | Nerja, Spain
On the Costa Del Sol this white washed beach town is a true retreat. During your visit expect high stress on deciding which tapa to eat and which beach to relax on. The beauty and fun of the beach plus the vibrant culture of Spain makes it a win-win combo.

7 | Bruges, Belgium
Known as the ‘Venice of the North’ the cozy town of Bruges is a photographer’s AND beer drinker’s dream. Take a canal cruise, munch down moules and frites (mussels and fries), admire the architecture or just sip that lovely Beglian goodness. A super-duper easy train ride from Brussels, Bruges is a MUST if you’re in the region.

8 | Sirince, Turkey
An hour from Izmir, Sirince is a remote village famed for it’s olive oil and fruit wines. So beautiful that at one time it was called ‘Cirkince’ (meaning ‘ugly’) by residents to deter visitors, it wasn’t until 1926 that it was renamed to Sirince (‘beautiful’). Settle in for an amazing Turkish feast with fresh ingredients from the countryside (I claimed this as my best meal of 2013) or stroll the streets and peruse local handcrafts.

9 | Heidelberg, Germany
Perhaps the most beautiful place in Germany, I absolutely adore this town and not just because it’s my home. In the Alstadt (old town) lies endless shopping and fantastic restaurants. Stroll the Neckar River, explore the magnificent ruins of the Heidelberg Castle, enjoy city views from the Philosphenweg (Philosopher’s Walk) then end the day with a glass of local Reisling. Perfect.

10 | Garmisch, Germany
Garmisch is an adult playground. Endless outdoor activities (especially Alpine skiing), fantastic restaurants are all set in a storybook town. On the border of Austria, the looming Alps hugging the town are simply stunning while the traditional German cross-timbered architecture has all the charm you could hope for.

To help out the map-oriented folks like me:

Happy Travels!
 - Margo at Guten Blog Y’all


Filed Under: Guest Post 49 Comments

Pros and Cons of Living in New Zealand (30 day edition)

We’ve officially been in New Zealand for over a month. The time has flown by, and we’re bracing ourselves for the fact that we only have eleven months left now on our current visa. Yes, it seems like a lot, but if the months keep flying by like this last one has, it’ll be over before we know it.

In true expat form, it’s time for a Pros and Cons list.  I only ended up doing one list while I was in Korea, and I wish I had written more. Casey from We Took The Road Less Traveled on the other hand, is an expert at these. I’m determined to be better with my Pros and Cons, and I’m starting things off with thoughts on our first 30 days here.

If you haven’t noticed from my over-enthusiasm for posting Instagram pictures daily, this country is g.o.r.g.e.o.u.s. Literally ever turn you make on the road brings you to an ever better view than you saw before. I seriously can’t wait until spring (ehem my favorite season) – I will be outside constantly!

South Island, New Zealand

There’s nothing worse than coming from the dead heat of summer to the middle of winter (dead cold I guess). Thankfully neither of us got sick, but I can’t seem to ever get warm. Derik makes fun of me for wearing thermals under my sweats and socks to bed…and that’s with the electric blanket turned on. Luckily the winter views are spectacular here, so that makes winter easier to deal with. Sooner or later Derik and I will make a trip back to Queenstown to go play in the snow…maybe that’ll help my relationship grow?

I can’t tell you how much I missed breakfast food while in Korea. If you’ve ever traveled through Asia, or lived there for an extensive amount of time, you’ll know breakfast food isn’t readily available. We would make the occasional 4 hour trip up to Seoul just to pay an ungodly amount of money for an egg on a piece of bread with bacon. Here? Breakfast is everywhere, and it’s so good! It could just be because I haven’t ordered off a legitimate breakfast menu for three years, but I can’t get over it.

Although food in New Zealand is generally cheaper than it was in Geoje Island, South Korea, it still isn’t fun paying the bill after going out to eat here. Most main course menu items cost 16-22 dollars (I keep forgetting it’s NZ dollars though), and Derik and I can easily run up a 50 dollar ticket without getting drinks. That being said, the food is really good so sometimes it’s worth it. We’ve scaled back on going out to eat…as shopping at the grocery store is semi-comparable the US in pricing. Except cheese. Cheese is super expensive here.

Fergburger, Queenstown

It’s probably just coming from Asia, but there isn’t anyone driving on the roads these days! I guess it’s also dead winter and ‘off season’ here as far as tourists go, but the fact that we can drive for 15minutes to an hour without seeing anyone else on the road? Mind boggling. We’ve only been in one traffic jam, and that was after a gigantic chocolate festival where 15,000 people attended.

Roadtrip in New Zealand

This is still so confusing to me. Half of my brain tells me it’s actually ‘right’ now to drive on the wrong side of the road. The other half of me still tries to get in on the right side as a passenger while Derik drives. It’s so weird seeing people (who should be driving according to US standards) just sitting there leisurely, on the left side of the car, texting on their phones, reading a book, or staring blankly off in the distance. Let’s not even talk about being a pedestrian trying to cross the road. I almost get run over every single time.

Now that I feel like I thoroughly confused you, let’s move on.

Sandfly Bay, Dunedin, New Zealand

I’m not a huge meat eater, but that first bite into a NZ meat pie changed my life forever. I’m a huge pie crust addict, and the fact that I can eat something enclosed in pie crust for lunch is mind-blowing. I’m almost positive (even at 30 days in) that the pies are going to be one of the things both Derik and I will miss when we leave.

I’m convinced houses are not insulated here like they are back in the US. We have one main heater (mounted on our wall just like an AC unit), and the very second we turn it off it gets bone-chillingly cold. I would think I was making this up, but even my husband agrees. I read a lot on NZ before we came here, and quite a few people mentioned something about poor heating…I just had no idea how bad it actually was.

I can’t say enough how thankful I am for our electric blanket.

Royal Albatross Lookout, Dunedin



Filed Under: New Zealand 44 Comments

The Suitcase Designs (New Look + Premades!!)

I don’t usually intermingle my web/blog design business with my personal blog, just because the two have nothing to do with each other. However, my design business has been my primary form of work for a few months since we began wrapping things up in Korea and moving here to New Zealand. Also, I’ve noticed I have quite a few new readers, so maybe it’s time to introduce my business again?

The Suitcase Designs

So here’s a brief introduction: I started The Suitcase Designs the beginning of last year as a fun hobby and as a creative outlet. Throughout the year my business has grown and I’ve incorporated WordPress.org, WordPress.com, and Blogger designs, transfers, referral programs, and finally premades into my business plan. I’ve had an absolute blast getting to know my clients and working with them to create a design they absolutely love.

Obviously as time goes on my personal tastes and preferences change, so I’ve given The Suitcase Designs a fresh new look, one that’s cleaner, more girly, and hopefully easier to navigate than the last one. I loved adding a feminine touch to my design site as this travel blog is more about Derik and I. I don’t think he’d be into the pink color scheme as I would be!

The design is still a work in progress as I have a few more pages to add, adding a better layout to the design blog , and a few other misc. things. Overall I’m super excited about how it looks, but I’m even MORE excited about what I’ve released with this new site design.

If you check out my Premades  page you’ll see six entirely new premade designs. They’re all part of (what I’m lovingly calling) my Summer Collection, and all designs I developed from previous clients’ feedback as to what they wanted in a design: simple, subtle colors, light, classy. All designs are offered on WordPress  ($60)and Blogger ($40), the WordPress designs being fully responsive (meaning they’ve been customized to look awesome on all your mobile devices), and I’ve also customized the Blogger Mobile layouts to match their full theme design.

Right now I only have the live view on WordPress, but Blogger will be coming soon. You can still order both WP and Blogger premade designs as of today, I just won’t have the live view of Blogger up for a bit; I didn’t think it was necessary since they are exact replicas.

If you don’t have time to go to The Suitcase Designs to see the new premades, here’s a few of the designs for you to check out now!

(Check out the other designs: Into The Woods, The Flight Plan, Day in the City)

All designs can be customized (colors, fonts, images) for a minimal fee. Feel free to send me an email for a price quote!


Filed Under: Blog Design 22 Comments