My Travel Story // How It All Began…

Over the weekend I was talking with some friends about our trip to Scotland 14 countries, I can’t believe I have had the opportunity to travel that much!

While to some 14 countries is just a typical summer in Europe, to me this is what I used to dream about.

And I still can’t believe I am living out my dream!

Scotland

You know those travelers you hear about who have grown up traveling the world?

Well that is not my travel story.

In fact, if you would have asked me 7 years ago if I thought I would travel in my 20’s my answer would of been, “it’s a dream, I just don’t know how to make it happen.”

So in celebration of my 14th country I thought it would be fun to look back on how my travel story began.

Paris, France

Growing up I always dreamed of getting out and exploring the world.

At the same time I was also terrified of leaving the comforts of my small town. But something in me knew that if I didn’t get out and explore I would always regret. So when I started university I made a promise to myself, I would make a trip abroad happen before I graduated.

I remember talking with those around me about my dreams for travel. Many of them agreed that traveling sounded amazing, yet not one said anything along the lines of let’s make a trip happen. As much as I wanted to go out and travel I was scared to make the leap on my own, and so I just went along constantly looking up travel deals and just hoping that one day I would get to make my dreams of travel come true.

Athens, Greece

During my junior year of university I made a visit to the international office, and was immediately intrigued by all of the study abroad options I learned about.

I always knew about the chance to study abroad in university, but for some reason I hadn’t thought it was something that would be possible for me to do. I don’t know why I never consider study abroad a viable option for myself, it just seemed too amazing of an opportunity to be real.

After that first meeting with an international advisor though there was no way I could let the opportunity pass me by, I had to find a way to make a semester abroad happen, this was my chance to finally travel.

Rome, Italy

Once I had my mind set on doing a semester abroad the next challenge was finding a program to apply for.

My BSc is in business, and my business school, it was very strict on the study abroad programs it would accept. For the 1,500 business students there was about 5 spots avaibale in study abroad programs that would be accepted by our business school.

I didn’t let this stop me though and applied anyways with my fingers crossed I would get in.

Korčula

I remember the day I got the email telling me I wasn’t accepted.

I was devastated.

And at first I took it as a sign that traveling just wasn’t meant to be.

But my little sister, always much wiser than her years and who was just in elementary school at the time, looked at me and said, “why don’t you just look at other options?” I won’t ever forget this, me having a mini meltdown, and my sister just laying around painting her nails giving her innocent advise.

Why did my dreams have to stop with that email?

And so I spent the rest of the evening researching, looking up option after option, and then I found my chance.

An internship program in Australia that my business school would give me credit for!

Kangaroo in Australia

The day I left for Australia will be one I will never forget. I so clearly remember sitting at the airport waiting for my flight, and having the reality of what I was about to do fully hit me.

I was terrified.

I mean I didn’t really need to travel just yet did I? What was so bad about staying in my hometown with all my friends and family around me?

I will never forget the tearful phone call I made to my mom asking her to come back and pick me up, I didn’t want to go to Australia anymore. Her reply, “travel safe, call me when you get there, I love you.”

This is tough love at its best and I will always be thankful for this!

Sydney Australia

Those first few weeks in Australia, I won’t lie, they were hard.

I missed my family, my friends and being in my comfort zone. I even tried changing my ticket to return home earlier, but my mom made me promise I would wait at least a month before I decided.

After those first few weeks my something changed, and I finally began taking in my life abroad and enjoying it.

Each day I found myself getting more caught up in exploring my new home, meeting people from all over the world, and learning about new cultures and languages. I was fascinated, I had to soak up as much as I could before my time in Australia was up.

And you know what, I did end up changing that ticket, but I didn’t come home earlier, I extend it for an extra few weeks!

As they say, the rest is history…

Lake Bled, Slovenia

I met my Viking in Australia and have been traveling the world and exploring with him ever since. But even if I hadn’t met H in Australia I know that I would always have made traveling a priority in my life, I was just hooked after that first trip.

Amazing how just one decision can change so many things in your life.

Prague

My decision to study abroad set me out on a completely different life path than I could have ever imagined. Never did I think I would be living abroad and traveling as much as I can.

Yet somehow here I am, traveling the world and making my dreams happen. 14 countries and still exploring.

Never give up on your dreams, if it truly is your dream you will find a way to make it come true!

Question of the Day?
What is your current dream? Do you dream of traveling?

Castles, Whiskey and Harry Potter // Our Scotland Adventure

Scotland

Hey everybody!

The Viking and I are back in Iceland after spending the past 5 days exploring all over Scotland. I have been dreaming about a trip to Scotland ever since my aunt shared stories about her Scotland trip with me when I was young. I remember thinking I just had to get over there and explore those castles myself.

It took a few years but I still can’t believe my dream finally came true!

This trip was exactly what I hoped our time in Scotland would be like. We drove around the highlands, went canyoning, tasted whiskey on the Isle of Skye and walked all over Edinburgh finding all the Harry Potter spots.

It was the best trip with my favorite travel partner.

Scotland

If you have been following along for a while you will remember that this Scotland trip was to celebrate the Viking’s big birthday. Well, almost one year later and a few weeks away from his next birthday he finally got to celebrate ha. I don’t think he has any complaints about the wait though, it was worth it!

While it was more stressful than we anticipated driving on the opposite side of the road the stress was definitely worth it, the countryside was gorgeous. I say this like I was driving, but hey being a passenger/navigator can be stressful. And kudos to my Viking for successful driving on the opposite side of the road and only once or twice turning into the wrong lane:)

Portree, Scotland

I can’t wait to start editing all of our Scotland pictures, which is going to take forever because we took hundreds of pictures. People aren’t exaggerating when they say this is one of the most beautiful countries to just drive around.

While I sort through the hundreds of pictures I have an exciting announcement to share with you all!

One of my favorite bloggers, and go to gal for all things blogging advice, Helene from Helene in Between just released her awesome new site Blog Boss Babe and I am so thrilled to be apart of it.

Blog Boss Babe

Are you are apart of the blogging world, thinking about starting a blog, or just in the world of online business? If yes then you need to head over and check out Blog Boss Babe asap! This site is an incredible resource of information regarding all things blogging. From how to start a blog to monetizing your blog you guys seriously have to check this site out.

I am so exited to announce that I have partnered with Helene and 14 other world class bloggers to share all our wisdom and build one kick ass community at Blog Boss Babe. These ladies are all individuals I look up to and respect and feel so honored to be included with them. I truly believe that the absolute best way to grow your blog is to become part of a community that cares. And everyone that is apart of the Blog Boss Babe community, they are all there to grow their passion and support each other!

I’m beyond thrilled to join Helene and the other mentors and bloggers already in Blog Boss Babe, I hope you will all join us!

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And with that exciting announcement I will leave you with one last Scotland picture before I head off to dive right back into reality, hello laundry pile!

Scotland

Stay tuned for many more Scotland pictures to take over this space soon!

Question of the Day?
Have you been to Scotland? What country is at the top of your travel bucket list?

Exploring Iceland With #UnlockingIceland

Haifoss, Iceland

When you live in a place as beautiful as Iceland it is almost a requirement to have a camera on you at all times. You just never know when you are going to see something beautiful!

I wish I got to spend everyday out exploring and taking pictures of Iceland. #Lifegoals am I right? But thanks to all of your gorgeous pictures you all have shared at #UnlockingIceland I get to visit new places through your eyes everyday of the week!

It always puts a smile on my face seeing pictures of others enjoying some of my favorite spots around Iceland! And thanks to your beautiful pictures I have found new places to visit. A big thank you to you all who have shared your Icelandic adventure with us at #UnlocingIceland, keep those stunning pictures coming!

And now onto my favorite pictures in #UnlockingIceland from the pasts few months.

Favorite Waterfall Picture:

A photo posted by Rachel 🌹 (@rachelxgold) on

Just another reminder that I need to make it to the West Fjords this summer! I am certain Dynjandi waterfall is one of those places that a picture just doesn’t do it justice, I can’t wait to visit.

Favorite Icelandic Horse Pose:

A photo posted by Cami (@petitepostcard) on

The Icelandic horses, they are just the most adorable models don’t you think? While I am happy that the weather is getting warmer I will miss the Icelandic horses fluffy winter coat, it makes them look extra cuddly.

Favorite Water-break Picture:

You won’t find better tasting water than the fresh of water in Iceland! When I am traveling the water is something I always miss from Iceland. This picture is a hilarious reminder to always stop for a water-break in Iceland.

Favorite Road Trip Picture:

Open roads and mountain views, a road trip in Iceland is always epic no matter where you travel to! If you are planning a trip to Iceland make sure and rent a car for your own Icelandic road trip, you won’t be disappointed.

Favorite Street Art Picture:

One thing you might not think of when you think of Reykjavik is street art, but the city is full of it! I love all the beautiful art work you find around town, and the bright colors are definitely helpful in brightening up the dark winter days.

Favorite Hiking Shot:

A photo posted by Hope (@the_everydayexplorer) on

You guys have shared so many gorgeous pictures at #UnlockingIceland, this picture looks like it belongs in a hiking magazine! The pictured hiking trail, Fimmvörðuháls, is also on my list this summer, now I just need all that snow to melt so I can explore the entire trail.

Favorite Colored Houses Picture:

A photo posted by Steph G (@insertclassyhere) on

I am always a sucker for a colorful door picture! I think I could do an entire post just on the colorful doors in Reykjavik. I am happy to see other travelers appreciate the charming colorful in Reykjavik.

Favorite Sunset Picture:

Sunset over the Glacier Lagoon, ya it looks as magical as it sounds. Soon the Midnight Sun will take over so I am trying to take in every sunset I can until then.

Favorite Yoga Pose:

A photo posted by Amanda C (@unrestingsea) on

You just can’t visit the Icelandic countryside and not get your zen on. I love seeing yoga pose pictures with the Icelandic landscape, it makes for an epic shot!

Favorite Group Shot:

A photo posted by @lifewithaview15 on

Traveling around Iceland is always amazing, but traveling around Iceland with your favorite gal pals is the ultimate adventure. If you love having Iceland pictures in your Instagram feed check out my friends Jeannie and Stacey’s feed, they have some gorgeous pictures!

Favorite Picture I Took:

A photo posted by Kaelene (@unlockingkiki) on

I love the fact that I have been exploring Iceland for two years and there is still gorgeous places to discover. Our trip to Kerið is one of my favorites so far this year, that blue water was just amazing!

Thanks to all who shared their pictures last month! If you are heading to Iceland be sure to share your pictures with #UnlockingIceland so we can all feed our Icelandic wanderlust!

Question of the Day?
What are your favorite Instagram hashtags to browse? What is your go to social media?

Castle Exploring in Slovenia // Predjama Castle, Slovenia

Currently the Viking and I are out exploring Scotland, and by exploring Scotland I mean stopping at every castle we see. Lucky for me my Viking loves castles just as much as I do, we are in castle heaven at the moment.

While the castles we have seen so far in Scotland are beautiful, there is one castle that will always stick out to me.

The unique and beautiful Predjama Castle in Slovenia.

Predjama Castle, Slovenia

I mean, this castle is inside of a cave. Predjama Castle mic drop!

For our trip to Slovenia we didn’t have much planned as we were traveling with a group and wanted to just go with the flow. Two places we did have on our list though, Lake Bled and Predjama Castle.

Before our group headed off to Predjama Castle we made our way to the coastal city of Koper where we had some work meetings. I still can’t believe I am living out my dream of traveling for work! Especially when my work takes me to charming coastal towns in Slovenia.

Koper, SloveniaKoper, SloveniaKoper, Slovenia

The best part about these work meetings, you get to spend time with the locals who are more than willing to share everything they know about the area. Bonus, sometimes they even take you on a tour around the city and to their favorite restaurant. It feels more like VIP treatment than work!

Koper, Slovenia Koper, SloveniaKoper, Slovenia Koper, Slovenia

While Koper is a very small town and is not known for any major sites or tourism I loved getting to spend some time at one of Slovenia’s coastal towns. And the fresh fish we enjoyed in Koper, it was a meal we won’t be forgetting anytime soon!

Our delicious lunch in Koper may of ran a bit longer than planned (no complaints, the wine, fish and company was amazing, thanks Aleš!) so we didn’t make it in time to explore the inside of Predjama Castle. We were an easy group to please though and were beyond happy to get to see Predjama Castle, and with a castle that gorgeous you really can’t complain.

I mean even the drive back to the castle, while very windy, was beautiful!

Koper, SloveniaPredjama Castle, SloveniaPredjama Castle, SloveniaPredjama Castle, Slovenia

Predjama Castle was built in the late 1200s into the high rocky arch in the stone wall to make it difficult to access. I spent the entire time at Predjama Castle imagining how in the world they built this magnificent castle, the architecture humans have created seriously amazes me!

Unfortunately Predjama Castle was closed when we arrived so we couldn’t go inside and learn more. If I ever get the chance to return to Slovenia I know where will be my first stop!

Predjama Castle, SloveniaPredjama Castle, SloveniaPredjama Castle, SloveniaPracticing my princess pose for the day I have my own castle:)

Predjama Castle made the Viking and I that much more excited for all the castles in Scotland. Something about a castle just instantly makes the place magical don’t you think?!

Predjama Castle, Slovenia

Our time at Predjama Castle may of been short but it certainly left an impression on us.

If you are planning a trip to Slovenia make sure to add a stop to Predjama Castle, hopefully during open hours so you can explore more than I got to!

For more castles follow along with our Scottish adventure on Snapchat @kaelene and Instagram!

Question of the Day?
What is the most beautiful castle you have seen?

10 Festivals to Experience in Iceland

10 Festivals in Iceland

Growing up in Oregon there seemed to always be a new festival to check out, and I loved it! From music festivals to art festivals there was always something to do. I will admit that when I moved to Iceland I was really worried that I would miss this aspect of life in Oregon, I mean Iceland is small there couldn’t be that many festivals to check out could there?

I am happy to report that I was wrong!

Iceland may be small but this country knows how to have some fun. You would be impressed to find out how many festivals there are around this country. From outdoor music festivals to the must see gay pride celebration, no matter what time of the year there is something exciting to check out in Iceland.

If you are like me and enjoy checking out local festivals and events while traveling add one of these 10 festivals in Iceland to your travel calendar! There are many more events then these ten (these are just some of my favorites), you can find a full calendar of events here to see what is going on during your trip.

Or just plan your trip around these 10 festivals, I think that is an excellent idea as well:)

Reykjavik Winter Lights Festival

Reykjavik Light FestivalWinter Light Festival, IcelandReykjavik Light Festival

The Reykjavik Winter Lights Festival is an annual event held in February that celebrates both the winter world and the growing light after the long months of darkness. The four day festival includes light installations all over the city, a museum night where many museums in Reykjavik are free of charge, and a pool night where pools in the city open to all with light installations, live music and more. My first winter here the light festival was a much appreciated break from the dark winter days. Who knew you could make dark winter days fun with a bunch of colorful lights?

Sónar

An electronic music festival held at Harpa in February, Sónar Reykjavik is one festival I have yet to make it to but it is on my list! This festival combines all types of music with audiovisual production, which to me basically means you get to dance the night away with a bunch of fun lights flashing around. There are five stages at Sónar, even the underground parking is turned into a nightclub, so you can be sure to find your kind of music to dance the dark winter nights away to.

Food and Fun Festival

IMG_6825Food and Fun Festival, Iceland

This is one festival that I always make sure to mark in my calendar! Held at the end of February/beginning of March, Food and Fun brings some of the best International chefs to Iceland where they collaborate with restaurants to create unique dishes using only Icelandic ingredients. The restaurants then use this menu for a week, and at the end of the week there is an event at Harpa where you can sample many of the International chefs creations. I am all about using local products and have been impressed each year with the dishes these chefs create! My favorite one so far, a licorice macaroon, I swear it was absolutely amazing!

DesignMarch

Iceland, Reykjavik, Design March

An annual design festival, DesignMarch showcases some of the best on the Icelandic design scene. During the four day event held in March (hence the name DesignMarch) Reykjavik is transformed into a design venue with hundreds of events occurring over the city. This is one of H and I’s favorite festivals to spend the day exploring all the different venues. There is always something new to check out and get inspiration from.

Reykjavik Art Festival

Reykjavik, Iceland

Reykjavik Art Festival held in May is one of the oldest and most respected festivals in Europe. Started in 1970, the Reykjavik Art Festival has invited hundreds of artists from all over the world to perform over the years. Performances and exhibitions both of contemporary and classical works are found all over the city during the two week festival.

My favorite part of this art festival, the performers use unconventional places around the city as exhibitions. My first experience with the Reykjavik Art Festival, watching dancers from California perform on a side of a hotel! An unconventional spot for a stage, and so amazing to watch.

Secret Solstice

Secret Solstice

Secret Solstice is an outdoor music festival that occurs during summer solstice in June, which means festival goers can dance the night away under the midnight sun. I joined in on the fun last year and I have to say, the party really never does end when it doesn’t get dark out!

Secret Solstice is a new festival in Iceland but is quickly growing into one of the most popular festivals in the country. There are several stages and a range of music, popular artists and up-and-coming talent, Icelandic and international artist. I am super bummed to miss it this year, Of Monsters of Men is playing!

Þróðhátíð

Þróðhátíð, Iceland The valley where Þróðhátíð is held

While I still can’t quite pronounce the name of this festival, Þróðhátíð is one of Iceland’s biggest music festivals held over the bank holiday weekend in August. Þróðhátíð takes place over the long weekend in the beautiful Westman Islands during which time the small islands population grows from 4,000 to 16,000. From all the stories I have heard this is one unique Icelandic experience that I really have to check out! And after my trip to the Westman Islands last year I am even more intrigued about heading back to magical place for a weekend of singing and fun!

Gay Pride

Gay Pride Reykjavik 2015

One of my favorite events in Reykjavik, the glittery and over the top Gay Pride celebration! Over the second weekend in August Reykjavik is taken over with people dancing, colorful costumes, fun music in the air and glitter everywhere, it is a citywide party. Even the streets are painted in celebration! If you are in the city for Gay Pride put on your most colorful outfit and hit the streets to celebrate with the locals.

Menningarnótt

 Menningarnótt

Menningarnótt, Culture Night in English, is an all day festival held on the third weekend of August. It is a great event to end the summer filled with dance, music, art, performances and all sorts of interactive activities and entertainment happening all over town. My favorite part of the day, the firework show to end the night!

Iceland Airwaves

Iceland AIrwaves

This increasingly popular weeklong music festival held in November is a must for all music lovers! The festival includes established and emerging Icelandic bands as well as international performers. Concert venues are set up all over the city, from inside local cafes to the large concert hall Harpa, music can be heard from all over Reykjavik. If you are in Reykjavik and don’t have a ticket to Iceland Airwaves be sure to check out some of the off-venue performances, there are plenty of performance to check out free of charge!

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I told you Iceland has a lot happening. And we didn’t even talk about the bacon festival or the Viking festival! If you are in Iceland and have the chance I highly recommend adding a visit to a festival to your schedule. It is such a fun and unique way to experience the country!

Question of the Day?
Have you heard of any of these festivals? Which festival would you add to your calendar?

Inspiration Is All Around

When I first met the Viking I did what one normally does when they start dating someone new, I Googled everything I could about his home country.

That is what one is suppose to do when they met a guy from a place they no nothing about right?! This at least was the explanation I gave my co-worker at the time when I told her I needed to spend my lunch break learning as much as I could about Iceland.

So there I am researching Iceland, trying to learn as much as I can about this unique place the handsome guy I just met is from, and I am totally blown away. How had I heard so little about such a gorgeous country?

The landscape I saw pictures of just amazed me, but the thing I remember most about that first researching session was one unique fact about Iceland that has always impressed me.

One in ten Icelanders will publish a book.

As an avid reader, and someone who has it on her bucket list to write a book, I found (and still find) this fact amazing. I remember thinking as I read this fact that everyone must be up in Iceland just bubbling with creativity. How were there so many authors?!

The amazing creative talent of Icelanders doesn’t stop there.

Just about everyone you meet seems to have some type of passion that shows off their creative talents. Author, actor, singer, musician, they have it covered. For such a small country this place is overflowing with talent which makes me wonder how in the world are there so many creative people up here on this tiny island?

And then I go out into the countryside and I understand where all this creativity comes from.

Thorufoss, Iceland

The Icelandic nature is just so darn inspiring!

Never have I had as much creativity floating around in my mind as I have since moving to Iceland. From writing daily for my blog to learning as much as I can about photography and even getting into some DIY projects, not a day passes that I am not inspired by something.

And if I am ever feeling in a rut or in need of inspiration all I have to do is step out my front door.

Ocean ViewsThe most epic “thinking spot”

I am still surprised by the fact that I have been blogging for over two years and still find things to write about. I think I am actually more inspired and motivated now to work on my blog than ever before! People often ask me how I can continue to think of content to write for my blog, where do I find my inspiration?

My answer is simple, getting outside and exploring the nature.

For the past year it has been my goal to try and leave the city for a little adventure every weekend I can. These adventures are a ton of fun, and they always leave me feeling refreshed and inspired. I come home with ideas just ready to pour out, sometimes they actually do, other times I can’t quite get a set focus on what exactly it is that I am trying to say, but I always have several new ideas to work on.

The point of this ramble is I am so glad I have found what inspires me, and for this blog which has been such an amazing creative outlet that continues to push me and inspire me at the same time. I never want to be the person who lives her life just running along on the hamster wheel, and thanks to writing for my blog it has made me stop and take in my surroundings and just simple enjoy.

Have you ever stopped and thought what inspires you? Is it something that you take enough time to fit into your life?

I think we all need an outlet that gives us inspiration and a break from our daily grind. Whether it is a quick hike, trying out a new restaurant, or just curling up with a good book, these little breaks are important parts of our daily routine that need to be made more of a priority. If life in Iceland has taught me anything it is that you should always take time to relax and enjoy the things that you love the most.

If your in need of some creative inspiration for this week join me for a virtual road trip around what I think is one of the most beautiful areas (and close to Reykjavik!) Hvalfjörður.

Thorufoss, Iceland Thorufoss, Iceland Thorufoss, Iceland Thorufoss, Iceland Thorufoss, Iceland This guy was born to be a model!

Thorufoss, Iceland Thorufoss, Iceland Thorufoss, Iceland Thorufoss, Iceland

I just have to brag about Iceland once more.

This little road trip loop we made, it is less than a three hour round trip from my house and back. I realize how incredibly lucky I am to get to enjoy views like this on a random Saturday afternoon.

From the ocean views as we drove along the fjord, to the rolling green grass and farms, this was one gorgeous drive that you can’t leave not feeling inspired and rejuvenated!

Thorufoss, Iceland Thorufoss, Iceland Thorufoss, Iceland Thorufoss, Iceland

And because all Icelandic adventures need a waterfall, let’s end this with a new to me waterfall from this weekend!

Thorufoss, Iceland

This new to me waterfall is called Thorufoss, and what an unexpected gem it was!

Neither H or I have been to Thorufoss before and we were both so impressed with its size. The waterfall is found just off the road literally in the middle of nowhere, which means you get to enjoy the waterfall with no one else around. My kind of place!

Hvalfjörður is full of beautiful gems like this, check out Jeannie’s great post with more beauty from this area.

Thorufoss, Iceland Thorufoss, Iceland Thorufoss, Iceland

And this little road trip my friends, this is what keeps my inspiration going through a busy week ahead.

Question of the Day?
What inspires you? Do you make time for your creative outlets?