Japan Adventures – Museums and Shrines

Today, we’re talking about the museums and shrines we visited. This includes Ghibli Museum, the Museum of Nature and Science and Meiji Shrine.

Ghibli Museum

I’m sure most of your guys know about Studio Ghibli. They’ve made a lot of well-known animations including My Neighbour Totoro, Howl’s Moving Castle, Spirited Away and so much more. Getting tickets for this is actually very tricky. There’s three times you can come in during the day, and they only sell certain amounts. So you have to get these months in advance! It was a bit confusing to get to Mitaka, we took a combo of trains. From the station though, there is a bus that will take you straight to the museum. It’s hard to miss.

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We weren’t allowed to take photos of inside the museum, which was incredible! We got lots of background information on the films, including storyboards, concept art, models and heaps more! We also got to watch a short film that you can only see at the museum. The outside areas were free to photograph, and they all looked like they belong in Ghibli museums. The front entrance was very popular for a good reason. In the end, I bought an official Totoro stuffed toy from the gift shop.

One of my favourite exhibitions inside was the food one. They had lots of models of the actual food from the movies, and it all looked so real!! There was also a cafe in the museum, but it was really packed and we didn’t want to wait. They had a side stall that sold hotdogs and icecream which we stopped by at. Outside near the roof, they had a robot soldier from Laputa Castle in the Sky.

We all had such an amazing time at the museum. If you get the chance to go, even if you’re not a really big fan of Studio Ghibli, it’s an amazing place to see!

National Museum of Nature and Science

This museum is very close to Ueno Zoo so we visited right after. We didn’t stay too long though as I started getting really hungry as it was getting to 3pm and we hadn’t had lunch. Getting that out the way though, I really liked the museum! There were lots of exhibitions, all about  technology, science, animals, nature and everything.

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There was a special exhibition on about the human body which I was really wanting to see, but it cost extra and I was getting a bit hangry so we didn’t go. Always make sure to eat before visiting things people. My favourite thing we saw here though was definitely the dinosaur exhibition, where they had reconstructed heaps of skeletons!

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All in all, I do wish we had explored a little more of the museum. Especially the human body exhibition as it looked really cool!

Meiji Shrine

There are quite a lot of shrines and temples in Japan, but this is one of the most famous ones in Tokyo. It’s quite close to the Harajuku station, so we stopped by before visiting the Hedgehog Cafe.

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I really enjoyed the walk up to the shrine. There were lots of these big official entrances along the way. Despite the amount of people around, it was still a very peaceful walk.

I really liked seeing all the lanterns along the way. I’m sure that if you came before daylight, they’d look so cool all lit up. We also saw this little exhibition made out of rice paper. Each one had a unique design. The walk up to the main shrine took around 20 minutes, but it didn’t feel that long! It’s such a beautiful and serene space.

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Once at the shrine, we looked around for a bit. The architecture is definitely very interesting, but we didn’t stay too long. We were keen on getting to the hedgehog cafe if I’m honest. We had our priorities. I’m still really glad we stopped by though!

Previous Japan Posts:

Tomorrow, I’ll be talking about what we got up to in Kyoto and Osaka!

Angela.

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Japan Adventures – Zoos and Cafes

Hello! Welcome to the first Japan recap post! I’ve decided to group the posts by similar experiences, otherwise I’ll go on forever. I do have quite a few photos to share in each post, but I also tried to stop myself from going too overboard.

In this post, I’ll be sharing about our trip to the Ueno Zoo, Kotori (Bird) Cafe and Hedgehog Cafe in Tokyo.

Ueno Zoo

This was the first place we officially visited in Tokyo. We spent way longer there than I thought we would! They had such a huge array of animals, way bigger than any other zoo I’ve visited in New Zealand. If you watched my highlights video, the first minute is basically devoted to the animals at the zoo. My personal favourite was discovering the Secretary Bird (pictured below). It is a wonderful creature.

As well as watching all the animals, we spent a decent time in the gift shop. Pretty much every souvenir shop we went into was filled with so much cute things. Every store I ever went into Japan was filled with cute (sometimes weird) things I wanted to buy. I did resist in this gift shop, but all the cute little animals were calling out to me.

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Themed foods are also something that will keep showing up in photos. The amount of themed things in general in Japan is incredible! Most places we visited had a mascot, and some kind of themed food.

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All in all, we spent a really nice day at the zoo. There were heaps of kids around as there was a school trip on as well. It definitely made the day more interesting. The size of the zoo itself is massive, and it’s also apparently the oldest zoo in Japan, opening to the public in the late 1880s. The zoo is most famous for the giant pandas. I did get to see them, but I couldn’t take a good photo due to the sheer amount of people around though!

Kotori Cafe

This was an impromptu place we visited. Across the road from this cafe was the Ghibli Museum. We arrived early so we decided to kill some time at the bird cafe. They had a huge selection of little birds!

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Bird Cafe 01

I spent a lot of time with my face right up to the glass watching all the little birds do their thing. I tried to take lots of photos, but most turned out blurry. The birdies are fast! The cafe also had lots of cute little bird-themed desserts, which we had to try.

I can’t remember what these desserts were!! Little details escape me over time. You can bet they tasted as cute as they looked though! All in all, we had a great time chilling with the birds, eating some sweets. You could pay to enter the rooms with the birds, but that made me nervous as I didn’t want to disturb them! For some reason, they also had this random parrot mask which we all had turns wearing.

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Now onto another animal cafe we visited in Tokyo!

Harry Hedgehog Cafe

This was the cafe that I was the most excited for. We visited Harajuku with this cafe in mind. When we got there, it was already quite busy, but they found a space for us. The little homes for the hedgehogs were fairly spacious for the little guys which was nice. Some were super sleepy, so I just watched one little guy curl up in a ball and sleep.

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One kept waking up when we offered him a treat. We had dried mealworms which we could offer them. They seem to really love those! We were shown how to gently pick up the hedgehogs, so we all had a go holding one of these cute little animals.

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Some were quite active and would look around at us and their environment as we held them. The one I picked up was awake at first, but then I guess he wanted to go back to sleep.

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All in all, this was just the cutest experience I’ve had in my life. Hedgehogs are so adorable, and being given the chance to actually hold them was amazing!!

Bonus Owl

So for this last one, we didn’t actually visit the Owl Cafe. I do wish we did though! But when we came across the girls with the owls (who were advertising for an owl cafe nearby), we had been walking around all day, and I really wanted to get back to our hotel (which was a 30 minute train ride away at that point). Back to the owl. It was so mini and beautiful!!

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The owl also yawned at one point, and I swear my heart skipped a beat.

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All of these animal interactions were highlights of our trip to Japan! I’m sure there’ll start catching on with the rest of the world. It’s always such a fun (and cute) experience!

Previous Japan Posts:

Tomorrow I’ll be talking about our visit to Ghibli Museum, National Museum of Nature and Science and Meiji Shrine.

Angela.

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We’re Back from Japan!

Hello friends!!

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We made it back home a few days ago, and we had such a blast in Japan! It was such a beautiful place, and we had so many new experiences! We managed to see and do pretty much everything we wanted to. There wasn’t a day where we didn’t go out and explore, and I would love to go back again one day!

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That being said, it feels really nice to come back to blogging after a long break! I have so many Japan posts planned, it pretty much carries me into April. I’ll be back to blogging everyday for the rest of the month, just because I have so much I want to share! While I organize all our adventures into cohesive posts, I have made a little montage of our trip from the little videos I took along the way. As I fully wanted to enjoy the trip, I didn’t do vlogging of any kind. The videos are more little clips of where we were, and mostly of the animals we came across!

I hope you guys enjoyed the sneak preview of our trip to Japan! I’ll get a lot more in-depth in the posts of everywhere we went and what we did. There’ll be a lot of photos, but I won’t share all of them, as I literally took thousands!

If you guys were following me on Instagram then you would have seen quite a few photos from Japan already! I was very active when it came to posting photos and sharing stories on there, which you can still check out if you want to. I’m really happy to be getting back into blogging, I’ve missed my online friends!

Tomorrow, I’ll share all about Ueno Zoo, and our visit to the bird and hedgehog cafe!

Angela.

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How I Pack for a Trip

This post isn’t really necessary but here’s what I’m bringing on my big Japan trip! Let’s break this down by group.

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Clothing

This probably isn’t the first step you should think about when planning for a trip, but it’s always what comes on my mind. I have to take into account how long the trip is, what activities we’ll be doing, and what the weather will be like.

So, we’re out of the country for 10 days. Not a super long trip, but longer than a weekend getaway. So I want options, which means bringing a bit more clothes than probably necessary. I plan on visiting a lot of places, so we’ll be walking around a lot. So most of what I bring needs to have the comfort factor. But throw in a few nicer items for those special occasions should they arise.

I end up with a mixture of short/long sleeves, one pieces, pants, skirts, light layers, and necessary undergarments. For shoes, I’ve brought a mixture of flats and wedges (for small trips), and giant combat boots and sneakers for all day comfort. Basically, my whole summer/spring wardrobe but condensed to favourites and necessities. It takes up around 50-60% of my luggage really. I do pack it in quite tight, the bottom ones I roll up, and then the top layers are stacked on top of each other. Under all that are the shoes.

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Personals

This includes makeup, which I’ve already dedicated a post to. What’s left is general hygiene care, skincare and haircare. For this, I want to only bring the essentials (or what I view as essential). Those products and tools that I use on a daily basis and don’t want to go without.

Obviously, this includes the general things like toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, and deodarant. I am also short-sighted, so I like to bring contacts so I have the option to not wear glasses.

As for hair care, I like to bring my own shampoo, but that’s cause I’m picky and don’t trust hotel shampoo for my fussy hair. Most places have a hairdryer, but not a straightener, so I bring that. Also, hair ties and general bobby pins. I could probably leave without these…but I want to bring them.

As for skin care, I used to only bring moisturizer, but now I also bring my two Derma E products. The vitamin c serum is refreshing on my face, and the Overnight Peel does wonders on pesky breakouts. This takes up another decent chunk of space.

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Bags

I like to bring around a little crossbody bag for everyday wear, as sometimes I don’t have pockets for things. I’m also packing my camera bag, to protect my camera. My actual camera however comes with me on my carry-on bag. I wouldn’t leave that in my luggage bag.

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That’s pretty much it really. The last thing I do is wrap up all those things with my big jacket I bring for when it’s really cold. To try cushion them all.

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Now we move onto my carry-on bag. It’s a very old bag, but it’s been with me for so long, I don’t really want to replace it.

Electronics

Both things to entertain me, but also necessities in this day and age.

Obviously, my phone. I also will be bringing my DSLR camera, kindle, and iPod. Also, an adaptor, and chargers for all these things.

Essentials

Passport, because how will I leave the country otherwise. Tickets and general booking forms tend to stay in my carry-on bag as I like to be official and have these things printed. Most are available on apps, but I like having the hard copy as well for peace of mind.

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That’s effectively everything. There’s bits and bobs I may not have mentioned, but otherwise I feel quite happy with everything I’ve listed!

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How do you guys pack when you go away on a big trip? Do you consider yourself an overpacker or an underpacker?

Angela.

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What’s In My Travel Makeup Bag?

As regular readers may know, I’m heading off to Japan soon. Since my last big trip, my makeup routine (and collection) has grown a bit. So now the question of what makeup to bring on this trip requires a lot more consideration. While deciding all this, I thought it would be a fun post. I want to have enough makeup for my usual everyday look, and this means bringing at least one of each item. I want to have options but I also don’t want to get too crazy with what I bring. So, here’s what I’ve wound up with.

travel makeup bag 01

Here’s what I’m bringing for my base makeup. These are all the products I use for my everyday look. The Too Faced Hangover Primer, Bare Minerals Foundation, and Tarte Shape Tape Contour Concealer make up my base makeup. These are all tried and true products for me, so they’re definitely making the trip. Finally, I wanted to bring my Rimmel Stay Matte Pressed Powder. I also wanted to bring some extras as well. I chose the Physicians Formula Butter Bronzer and the Becca Pressed Powder Highlighter.

travel makeup bag 02

Moving on, here’s the eye makeup I plan on bringing. For eyebrows, my Maybelline MasterBrow Pro Palette. I wanted to bring an eye palette as well, so I chose my Colour Pop Double Entendre. It’s great for everyday wear, and has lots of warm colours to choose from. I went back and forth on which mascara to bring, and landed on my Tarte Lights, Camera and Lashes 4-in-1. It’s a mini size and perfect for travel. I also wanted to bring my Tarte Double Take Eyeliner, even if I don’t end up using eyeliner on the trip, I like having it there.

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I also wanted to bring at least two lipsticks. I settled on my NYX Soft Matte in London as a neutral colour, and my favourite Tarte lip paint in Grand as a brighter colour. I also had to bring my Urban Decay All-Nighter Setting Spray.

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All that’s left are the tools I want to bring. My Real Techniques miracle sponge was a must. As for the brushes, I had quite a few in mind. For face brushes, I’m bringing my Real Techniques expert face brush, buffing brush and contour brush. For eye brushes, I planned on bringing my Wet’n’Wild angled liner brush, crease brush and Real Techniques Base Shadow brush. I also am bringing some tweezers and my eyelash curler as a bonus.

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That’s all of it! It may sound like a lot to me, but I do use most of them on a daily basis so I want them to come with me. There’s a few extras, but I did try to stick (mostly) to the essentials.

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What makeup do you bring when you go travelling?

Angela.

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How I Plan For a Big Trip

You guys may know that I’m going to Japan in a few month, because I keep bringing it up. Well I thought it would be fun to do a post on how I plan for a big trip. It’s the same way I planned for my Peru trip with Sarah in 2014, and Sydney trip with Rory back in 2016. It’s not how I planned for our honeymoon in Fiji last year, as we went with a resort package, so we just chilled. Basically, I like to plan a lot of the details. All of them, if at all possible. I’m talking flights, accommodation, transportation, activities, the whole nine yards.

Okay, so there’s wiggle room when it comes to activities, but basically, the more planning I do, the more prepared I feel.

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For Sydney, I was a little more lenient with things. I planned flights and accommodation in advance, that was it. But we were travelling to our neighbour basically, so there wasn’t a culture or language barrier.

For Peru, we planned a lot. For each town we hit, we booked flights, transport, hotels, most activities in advance. Along the way, we would check up with each accommodation a few days before to make sure everything was all good. This month long trip went pretty much without a hitch. Our over the top planning made worked for us, and we even did a few spontaneous activities.

Some people are fine with leaving it to chance, and working it out as they go. I am not one of those people. If you say let’s go on a big trip. I want to know where we’re going, what will the weather be like, how long will it take to get there, do we have a place to stay at. Even with restaurants, I like booking in advance. Sure we could wing it, but then what if there’s no space, wouldn’t it have been better to make a reservation earlier. You get the picture, I like planning things.

So, rambles aside, here’s how I plan a big trip.

Destination. Obviously, you start with the destination. Where is it we want to go? Taking into account, how long the flight would be, how much it would cost, what do we know about the destination already (language, culture, sights), etc. For us, Japan had been a dream destination for a while. I was also keen on Iceland, but it takes over a day for us to fly there, and also costs an arm and a leg, so Japan it is!

Flights. The next thing I look at (or was already looking at) is flights. I try to pick ones with less layovers or stops, and that are on the same airline. I’m not fond of having to run through an unknown airport to catch a next flight on another airline. Lucky for us, Air New Zealand has direct flights from Auckland to Tokyo. Unlucky is that it leaves early in the morning, so we have to fly up to Auckland the night before. Once we find flights we’re happy with (and sometimes there’s a sale on!),  we buy them. I used to go through agencies, but now I like buying them on my own.

Accommodation. The idea of travelling somewhere and not booking a place is bizarre to me. Why wouldn’t you want the security of knowing where you’re staying in a foreign land? I’d want to know the reviews of the place, what’s around, prices, photos, etc. Trip Advisor is good for this, as it has photos taken by people who stayed there, as well as the professional one.

Budget. This is normally figured out right at the beginning, but once flights and accommodation are sorted, I really start glaring at those numbers. I need to figure in activites, transporation, food, and of course, some spending money.

Sights and Activities. Normally, after picking the destination, there’s already a few things I want to see and do there. Once I have the flights and accommodation booked, I turn my full attention to this. This can take the longest, and is also the most fun part of planning for me. Once I’ve picked everything I can think of, I start narrowing it down by price, whether it’s a day trip, half a day, or just a quick stop. Can you tell how much I plan things?

Itinerary. Okay, so, it’s not a really specific hour by hour itinerary, but I like to know which days require travel, or if we’ll be doing an all day trip. Especially if we’re going to multiple cities. This does have wiggle room though, some days it just says that we’re in a particular city all day. I just need to have pretty much the whole trip laid out in my head. This is where I’m up to for our upcoming Japan trip.

That’s pretty much it! Once I’ve hit all these things, then I just keep looking over it and counting down the days till we go! I’ve only done a few big trips, but they’ve gone pretty smoothly. I just like planning as it helps me feel less anxious about travelling away from home. Especially if it’s across the world.

How do you plan for a big trip?

Angela.

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New Zealand Travel Wishlist

I’ve shared a travel wishlist recently about other countries I’d love to visit one day. In fact, I’m always thinking about travel and wanting to see something new, so why not make a list of some of the places I would like to see in my own backyard? It’s closer for one, and will fill that sense of wanderlust without requiring me to travel halfway across the world.

Queenstown

I don’t think I’ve ever been to Queenstown. Queenstown in general looks so beautiful, both in winter and summer. I’d love to experience both, and it’s only a one and a half hour flight away. It is super popular all the time though, and not that cheap. So this will take some extra planning, but you can bet I’ll get there.

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(Photo by Samuel Ferrara on Unsplash)

Milford Sound is also in Queenstown. Mitre Peak is the highest point I think, and it has lots of waterfalls cascading and plummeting down. It’s meant to be very impressive. It’s also home to colonies of seals, penguins and dolphins. There’s lots of boat tours to do there and everyone who’s been says it’s amazing. So I need to go there.

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(Photo by Anderson Aguirre on Unsplash)

Coromandel

Another spot I’ve always wanted to visit. It’s fairly close to Auckland, and while I’ve been there lots of times, we never got up to the Coromandel. It looks amazing! They have the aptly named Hot Water Beach. At low tide, it gets very crowded as everyone digs in the sand and finds bubbling, hot water. I don’t know how hot it gets, but the whole thing just sounds like a lot of fun, and it looks beautiful.

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(Photo by Ivan Sanford on Unsplash)

The other main appeal is Cathedral  Cove (Te Whanganui – A – Hei). You can only get to it by foot, boat or kayak. The track is around 2 hours, and takes you past some amazing sights. The Cove itself is just stunning!

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(Photo by Tyler Lastovich on Unsplash)

Abel Tasman National Park

Golden beaches, sculptured cliffs and a world-famous coastal track. Just looking at pictures of here make me want to go already. This is located on the north end of the South Island. The coastal track takes a few days, but there are huts along the way that you can book to stay in. You pass natural rock pools, suspension bridges, rivers and waterfalls…plus you may get to see some fur seals! I definitely hope to do this walk one day.

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(Photo by Andrea Schaffer on DOC/Creative Commons)

Hokitika Gorge

Another beautiful little spot. Bright turquoise water, that apparently is even brighter in real life. This is home to another great track to wander in, or go for a scenic drive.

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(Photo by Josquin Arts via Flickr on 100% Pure New Zealand)

There’s more places I want to see, but I now want to share some of my own photos from around this beautiful country. I’ve already been lucky enough to see lots of incredible places in New Zealand. Just to name a few, here are more places that you should check out if you ever have a chance to visit!

Tongariro Alpine Crossing

One of the great walks of New Zealand, but also one of the shortest taking just 5 hours to complete. Of course there’s extra parts to do if you want to push yourself, but for me, 5 hours was enough. What I got to see during my time there was amazing though!

Waiheke Island

I got to visit this beautiful island off Auckland for my sister’s wedding. They couldn’t have picked a more gorgeous spot!

Pancake Rocks

To be fair, my memories of this place are a little more vague. The last time I’ve been here was 2007, but look at those crazy rock formations!!

Kaikoura

Again, I haven’t been here for a few years (not since 2011), but this coastal town is home to many fur seals. We often visited here for a day trip during our summer holidays down to the South Island.

Maybe I’m just showing off now on how incredibly pretty and diverse our country is, and there’s still so much to see! New Zealand is definitely a bucket-list worthy place to travel to! Even to us living in it, most of us probably haven’t seen half the wonder that’s here.

Is there somewhere in your own home country you’d love to visit?

Angela.

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A Trip to Cape Palliser

We took an impromptu trip up to Cape Palliser over the weekend. I was looking for day trip ideas, and this one came up. It’s just a two hour drive out from Wellington, and we were promised lots of beautiful coastal views and a lighthouse. So off we went!

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The last 45 minutes of the drive were really stunning! As promised, we got lots of coastal views.

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Even from inside the car, I was getting snap happy. Seeing the rock cliffs on one side and the sea on the other was really pretty.

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We stopped a couple of times along the road and took some more photos. The scenery along the coast got more rocky. Soon we spotted the lighthouse in the distance.

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It’s striped red and white and high up on the hills! We kept driving down the road and kept getting closer.

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Eventually we saw the track to get up to the lighthouse. The track was short, but can you spot the massive staircase? 258 steps to get to the top. I started off confident, but by 100 steps in, my legs were begging me to stop. But you can’t, cause this is a long, steep staircase, no space to sit, and nowhere to go but up!

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Once I made it to the top, I sat down for a bit. I had to catch my breath, and wait for my legs to stop being shaky. Eventually I did, and I was able to fully appreciate the view! In a way, I felt like I’d earned it.

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Can you spot that tiny yellow car on the road? I loved watching the cars driving along, they looked like toys! Now that we made it up, we spent a while taking lots of pictures.

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It was crazy windy up there, and even though my hair was braided, loose bits kept getting knocked out and whooshing around.

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We both took photos of each other, as well as a few selfies. Selfies that I probably won’t share because my hair looked insane in every single one of them. Seriously, it was so windy!!

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After enjoying the view, our sights turned onto the lighthouse. It’s locked up since it’s not really in use anymore. It’s also huge close up! It took lots of maneuvering and crouching for me to get the whole lighthouse in one photo.

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We stayed up there for a while, enjoying the sights and just basking in the sun. We had the place to ourselves for a few minutes while the next group made their way up those crazy stairs.

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Finally, we decided to head back down. Walking up was tiring, but walking down was daunting. Those steps were really steep. I made my way down very slowly, and soon we were back down where we started.

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Before leaving to find lunch somewhere, I took a few more photos of the sea. Isn’t is incredibly blue??

That’s all for this post! I hope you enjoyed coming along on this little trip to Cape Palliser! It was so beautiful, and gave me yet another chance to play with my camera. Rory and I also had quite a fun road trip up, we had the windows down, and did lots of singing and talking.

Have you guys gone on a little day trip lately? Where’d you go?

Angela.

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DIY – Travel Scrapbook (Peru Adventures)

Before we get into this, a little bonus surprise! I edited together a montage video of our vacation back in Peru! Feel free to take a look, before getting into the scrapbook I made for our Peru trip!

I don’t know why I haven’t shared this before. Basically, back in 2015, I made my first ever scrapbook. I wanted to do something for my big Peru Adventure. For those who don’t know, Sarah and I went away for a month, to explore all over Peru. This was the topic of my very early blog posts, and I still like to go back and reread them. I also love my scrapbook I made of my time there.

I bought lots of scrapbook bits and pieces, printed off lots of photos, and found lots of mementos and pieces of paper that I kept as souvenirs. It took me forever at the time, but I was having so much fun.

I chose a nature themed scrapbook, as it was just adorable.

Scrapbook

I made a title page so everyone would know what they’re about to see. I didn’t trust myself to be able to write a big neat title, so I printed one off. I also printed off a few maps of Peru. Then, I added little decor stickers here and there. I love the camera one!

scrapbook cover

I broke up the pages in chronological order of the places we visited. I pre-planned how each page would look in a notebook, before putting it in the scrapbook. First, I added the photos, as they were the biggest. Then I made room for any memorabilia I had, like tickets. Next, was the titles. Again printed, but also added on to a little border I made from spare coloured paper. Finally, I threw on more decorative stickers!

scrapbook 1

For some of the photos, I tried to make it look like a polaroid. I had white paper, so I stuck the photo on it, and then cut out a border. I left more space at the bottom so I could write a little caption of where it was taken.

scrapbook 2

I had kept essentially all paper memorabilia from our trip. They were stored in a little box, but I wanted a way to display them. This is how my scrapbook came about.

scrapbook 3

When it came to doing the Salkantay Trek up to Machu Picchu, I couldn’t help but share even more photos.

scrapbook 4

Look at all the embellishments. But I bought so much, and I liked adding them all on!

scrapbook 5

scrapbook 6

scrapbook 7

There you have it! I do love my scrapbook. I spent so long on it, and I’m proud of how it came out! Have you guys made a scrapbook of a vacation before?

Angela.

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