rainy rio.

I love planning adventurous things to do in new cities. I especially love exploring outside so when I picked up a trip to Rio de Janeiro I was pretty excited to go hiking in the mountains. Once I arrived in Rio I quickly realized that I would be exploring by myself in the rain - not ideal hiking conditions for a girl in another country. It was cloudy so that ruled out Christ The Redeemer and taking the gondola up to Sugar Loaf - which are the two things most people consider the “must do’s of Rio”. Believe me - I will come back to do those things but here is a recap of my 40 hour trip to Rio de Janeiro that didn’t involved the most touristy things around and perfect activities for a rainy day or overcast day.

  • Eat at Terra Brasilis - This lovely little restaurant sits right on the water at Red Beach with perfect view of Sugar Loaf. Everything is delicious - from their cocktails to the main courses - you simply cannot go wrong at this restaurant. When I was there at night, they even had live music. Take a stroll along Red Beach when you’re finished eating. It’s a small but beautiful beach and not at all crowded.

  • Walk the Sugar Loaf Trail - This area is completely paved and a beautiful way to get in good scenic views of Rio without the climb. It’s near a military base so it is safe, open, and there are a lot of people around. I saw the cutest little monkeys, walked right along the ocean, and stopped to take in the views. This area right off of Red Beach and the perfect place to explore on a rainy day. Price: FREE.

  • Royal Portuguese Reading Room - This is something I may have never discovered if it weren’t for the rain. This quaint little library is absolutely breath-taking. With floor to ceiling books and the most ornate architecture you definitely want to add this to your to-do list in Rio - rain or shine. It is free to get in and you don’t need to stay long - but it is a must-see!

  • Escadaria Selaron - “Selaron Steps” - These are the famous mosaic stairs of Rio. This area is pretty touristy but still a must - if you want to get a photo without everyone else in it - make sure you climb all the way to the top of the stairs. Don’t forget to grab some empanadas from the people selling them from their homes along the way.

  • Carioca Aqueduct - This is a fascinating structure that I highly recommending driving past on your way from the Reading Room to the Escadaria Selaron - I don’t recommend walking around this area, it isn’t safe.

  • Copacabana Beach - On a rainy day you will have this place all to yourself. I ran on this beach each morning and it was lovely. Once the clouds cleared, I could see Christ The Redeemer on my run. Remember to take a stroll along the Copacabana mosaic sidewalk and make sure to pick up an acai bowl at some point - they are everywhere - you’re sure to find a good spot.

How do you make the most of your rainy days? How do you make the most of a trip when things don’t go as planned - be it weather or unforeseen circumstances? Let me share with you something I learned on this trip that I will take with me wherever I go. There will be rainy days, canceled events, change of plans, reroutes, diversions, and everything in between but it’s how I handle those moments that make or break the trip. I have even learned to apply this to my every day life. It’s not how I handle the perfectly scheduled day that goes according to plan but it’s how I handle the crazy days that truly determine how I grow. While trips or days or life may come with unexpected and unwanted surprises, my attitude is completely up to me. It may feel like staying inside and being upset is the only option but it most certainly is not. I can tell you my most memorable moments and trips have not always been the ones that went according to the spread sheet but the moments I learned to dance in the rain.

Rachel Fenimore
amsterdam.

Amsterdam came as quite a surprise trip for us, but a wonderful surprise at that. Austin and I were planning to take his younger brother to Germany to study abroad and we thought it would be a fun, mini vacation for us in Germany. Well, as standby life would have it, we missed our flights to Germany and had to stay a night in New York. We spent hours retrieving our checked bag, finding a hotel, and planning for how we would get to Germany the next day. After looking into multiple options, we settled on Amsterdam and we would take the train to Heidelberg, Germany. Once we finally made the flight, Austin and I decided we would stay in Amsterdam and just take his brother to the train. We waved goodbye and began to explore Amsterdam. Neither one of us had ever been to Amsterdam and we were a little bummed that we only had 2 of our 3 days left to explore but we decided to make the best of it. We booked our last minute Airbnb on the plane and we were good to go! We took the train into town, walked around a bit and settled at a little cafe around the corner from the Anne Frank House called Lunchcafe Dialoog. They had a luggage storage room which was perfect since we couldn't get into our Airbnb for a few more hours. The Anne Frank House is something you have to book months in advance so that will have to wait until next time.

We wandered around the canals and explored little shops - around every corner it was absolutely gorgeous. I always knew Amsterdam was known for it's bikes but I wasn't expecting hundreds of bikes on every street. Since we weren't planning on being in Amsterdam we just walked around the city. We walked for miles without any plan or direction. It was peaceful and very different from most trips we take where we pack the itinerary. We finally landed at the cutest little Italian place for dinner called Casa Sabatelli. If you are into nutrition, gluten free, or just interested in food, I highly recommend clicking on their link and reading about the restaurant and their wheat. All the organic, natural, and gluten free you could want. It was so good we ordered a third plate to split. We took our time, sipped on our wine, chatted with the owner, just how meals are supposed to be. It was more than just dinner, it was an experience. We were there for a few hours and ended the night with a tiramisu treat and limoncello. YUM!

The next day after a wonderful breakfast at the cutest cafe, we decided to plan a couple activities including a tour of the Heineken Experience and a canal tour. I highly recommend both. The Heineken tour is just a blast and the canal tour is peaceful and you learn a lot about Amsterdam. Both are very affordable and most of the canal tours have drinks included, which is nice. We went with Boat Amsterdam and chose the Old City Route. There are plenty of different companies and routes you can take. Check Groupon and Trip Advisor for deals. We also wondered around the Rijksmuseum Museum and of course we took our photo with the I AMSTERDAM sign. Next time we would love to explore this museum more and check out the Van Gogh Museum right next door. We ventured down every ally we could find, exploring book shops and boutiques. We took in every bit of architecture because it was all so fascinating and so new. We picked out our favorite house boats to live in and had the hardest time finding a coffee shop that actually served coffee. Ask me why if you don't know.  

We ended the night on our private rooftop drinking our Heineken and watching the sunset. It was freeing to have no plans in a new city. We saw a place we liked and walked in because we had no where to be. This is not something I do well, I enjoy it, but it takes some extreme focus on my end to just be and not have a plan - to not worry about planning the perfect trip or vacation, to just enjoy walking the streets of a new city instead of embarking on a new activity. This trip almost forced me to do just that because we didn't even know we were going to be in Amsterdam until the day we were there. Yes, plans and agendas are good and have their place but there is something so beautiful in having a blank calendar for a couple of days. We feel like we truly experienced Amsterdam. I think we walked down almost every street and really took it in. We enjoyed the days and it felt like we treated ourselves. Amsterdam is truly a beautiful and unique city and I highly recommend you give it a visit.

If I can give you one piece of travel advice that I learned from this trip it's this: plan a trip to a new city but don't plan on doing anything in particular - even if it is just a day trip to the next town over. It may seem crazy but ask people around you for recommendations. Walk around and just enjoy the change in scenery. Enjoy the company if you have someone to join you or enjoy the probably much needed alone time. If you see an interesting shop, go in. If you see a cute restaurant, grab a little bite to eat. Walk slower than usual. Look up, down and all around you. Sometimes we explore a little too quickly. Slow it down a bit. 

alaska.

First I want to give you a little insight into our world when it comes to traveling on my working trips, particularly this Alaska adventure. We are sitting in the living room in Denver, Colorado talking about places we want to go. As I scroll through looking for trips available I see it...ANC - Anchorage, ALASKA! 32 hour layover out of Seattle which means the trip starts in Seattle - I have to get their on my own from San Fransisco and Austin from Denver. Alaska has been a dream location of mine to visit, above even most international places so I picked it up right away and we left 2 weeks later. That may sound soon but 2 weeks is actually a long time compared to most of our trips we plan - maybe I'll write a blog on last minute travels sometime. If you ever only have 1 day in Anchorage, Alaska I cannot think of a better way to spend it than how we did. 

FRIDAY: I arrive in Seattle from San Fransisco at 9am and Austin was supposed to arrive at the same time. He missed his first flight and due to weather in Denver he was delayed and delayed and delayed. The Anchorage flight I'm working leaves out of Seattle at 5:30pm so we figure he has plenty of time to get to Seattle. As fate would have it, his flight lands right at 5:30pm and we take off without him *cue tears*. Thankfully we had a flight leaving 3 hours later but we were pretty bummed he wouldn't be getting in until around midnight. Austin ends up surprising me by flying another airline arriving less than an hour after I land *awww* (we get super discounted rates on other airlines). Lucky for him, he flies into Alaska right at sunset. His photos are absolutely breathtaking. We get into Anchorage around 9pm and have dinner - halibut and salmon. It was DELICIOUS! 

SATURDAY: We wake up early and have breakfast at Snow City Cafe in Anchorage. This is probably one of the best breakfasts we've ever had and yes we've been to Snooze. Austin got the breakfast burrito which when ordered gluten free actually comes as breakfast tacos - sooo good. They have so many good vegan and gluten free options which was wonderful. I got the golden benedict (gluten free) - it had grilled pineapple on it! I also had breakfast tea - they have a pretty decent tea selection. The restaurant gets busy so plan on getting there early or having time to wait. If you're by yourself or with just one other person - we recommend sitting at the bar if you can - it's open seating. Next we went to pick up our rental car.

We got an SUV just in case but we really didn't need the 4 wheel drive. You can find good deals on rental cars. Check with the hotel where you're staying because a lot of times they can get better rates for you. Just the drive itself took our breath away! Driving around the Turnagain Arm is a MUST! Keep an eye out for Beluga Whales - unfortunately we didn't see any this trip. First stop was Alyeska Ski Resort. We rode the tram up the mountain (prices here) to see some incredible views! There is an observation deck, a gift shop, and a restaurant at the top. The tram ride is worth it for the views alone.

Next we stopped at the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center. It's not very big and you can drive-thru and see so many animals. The moose came right up to the fence and was so cute and friendly - we may have snuck a little pet in there (PSA: they aren't cute and friendly in the wild - they are terrifying creatures and please don't touch them) - But this one was really nice! We stopped at the bears next just as they were getting fed. They came right up to us! They look so cute sitting down - like fat little babies. It was so neat to see such magnificent creatures up close. We saw lots of other animals before ending our animal adventure with the porcupine. He was in a little training session with one of the employees. She showed us his quills - they can have up to 30,000! And no, they cannot shoot them - myth BUSTED! 

Our next stop was the highlight of the trip for me and completely unplanned. We drove passed Portage Lake - which is a glacier lake and noticed people out in the middle of it - the lake was frozen! We decided to stop and walk/frolic/skip across. We could see the glaciers and the mountains behind the lake were beautiful. When the lake isn't frozen, you can do glacier tours. We snapped a few photos and continued on our way to our most unique stop of the day - Whittier.

The little town of Whittier is separated by the Whittier Tunnel - the longest through mountain tunnel in North America. It is 2.5 miles long and has 8 safe houses spread throughout the tunnel. The tunnel is only one lane and is shared by cars and trains traveling in both directions - making the tunnel very narrow but very tall. It was an interesting experience and it's just one of those "got-to-do-it" things. Austin and I have found if something is the only, the longest, the biggest something wherever we are - we just want to see it. We cross over to the extremely windy town of Whittier and not much is there - the shops and restaurants were all boarded up! Maybe they closed for the winter or maybe it shut down completely - we aren't really sure. We only spent about 30 mins there just taking in the views. 

We drove back through the tunnel and then drove south admiring the mountains surrounding us on all sides. We have both lived in Colorado and have never seen anything like what we saw in Alaska. We saw a lot of areas where people did heli skiing - which is now on our list of things to do. We headed back toward Anchorage and stopped at Moose's Tooth Pizza before dropping off the rental car. We are pretty sure the entire city of Anchorage was at Moose's Tooth that night. All day we hardly saw any people until then - that's how you know it's a good place. We ordered the Pesto Chicken Pizza and the Avalanche - both on gluten free crust. I would have to say easily the best pizza I've ever had - and I believe Austin would agree. 

Lastly we were able to catch the sunset and grab a couple of souvenirs. You all, we have barely even begun exploring Alaska and it is more breathtaking than I could have ever imagined.

To sum it all up in just one word - Alaska is WILD. 

Rachel FenimoreComment
dublin _ ireland.

I love surprises - for myself and for other people - so when I found out Austin had never been out of the country I couldn't wait to make his first international experience a surprise. I decided to pick up a working trip to Dublin, Ireland and of course I didn't tell him. Since I was working the trip, it only gave us a 24 hour experience of this diverse city. When the time came, I told him to meet me in NYC and I would let him know where we were going only hours before our trip. I researched a few things for us to do during our quick trip. We arrived at JFK where I gave him a card which read "I am LUCKY to have you." It took him a moment but after some thought he said, "Are we going to Ireland?!? YESSSSS!" I had been to Ireland but never Dublin so I was excited for us to share this new experience together - I know it's one we will never forget. 

We got on the hop on hop off bus tour and heard some history of the city. Tip: If you do this tour, be sure to print your ticket ahead of time. They ended up figuring it out for us but it's much better if you have your printed ticket. We got off at the Guinness Factory and explored for hours. That place is truly incredible. We have both had our fair share of beer tours but this by far tops them all (DUH!). Because of the time change, me working the red eye flight and him barely getting sleep on the flight, we were hitting a wall while sipping on our Guinness. We crossed the Ha'penny Bridge and headed over to the Temple Bar. The Starbucks on the other side of the bridge is pretty cool and it also has a bathroom (important info). 

The temple bar area is all very cool but it was pretty touristy. We spent a few hours walking around the area trying to find the area with the hanging umbrellas. There is a new adventure down each ally way - lights, umbrellas, murals, graffiti, and more! We heard live music in the streets and people celebrating the rugby match. We were looking for a place for dinner, quite exhausted at this point, when we decided to take the train back and order room service. It was 8pm by the time we got back and we were ok with that. We woke up early for some traditional Irish breakfast. They even had a full honey comb out on the table! It was delicious! 

We would have loved to visit a museum, check out The Book of Kells, enjoy a traditional Irish bar with the locals, visit the Jameson tour, and eat at The Brazen Head. Looks like we have a list for next time. 

Every trip I take I learn more about traveling, myself, and the new city I'm exploring.

THINGS I LEARNED IN DUBLIN, IRELAND:

  • Stop over planning already! If we see one new thing we've never seen before then it is a successful trip. The span of 24 hours should be spent planning to do 3 things and filling the rest with whatever adventure is thrown your way. But no matter the length of your vacation, don't ever over plan. Leave time to think, explore, and rest. You will most certainly miss something because every city has so many new things. Make a note of those things and plan to see them again some other time.

  • Find your perfect travel buddy. I spend too much time trying to make every trip perfect for Austin and I've come to realize (finally) he's just happy to be somewhere new with me; everything else is bonus. He said at one point as we were about to cross a street, "Even if all I did was stand on this very confusing Irish street corner, I would be content. Because I've never been to this street corner and neither has a lot of people." Find yourself one of those people and do literally everything with them.
  • Know when you're tired - and let that be ok. Don't push yourself too much. We really wanted to find a fun Irish bar with some fish and chips. We wanted to clank our glasses together and fall off of bar stools (gracefully of course because we aren't from Ireland). But we will have to save that for next time. Instead we put on our slippers, ordered room service, I took a bath, and we watched a movie. I have a much harder time being ok with this when I'm in a new city but I'm learning. 
  • Not everything will go the way you think it will - especially if you over plan (see point #1). Be ok with that. Smile often. Don't be disappointed in what you didn't do and be excited about the things you did. 
Rachel Fenimore
mt. tamalpais

Back in January, Marlin and I hiked up to Mt. Tamalpais in California and did a little photoshoot. These are the results. Watching the sunset from here was absolutely magical. The sky changed colors so many times and looked like cotton candy with the most incredible shades of blues and pinks I have ever seen. You can even seen San Francisco from here. Even though I don't have a lot of modeling experience, I gave it a 'shot' and we had a lot of fun. 

Shot and edited by Marlin Kjoermo

Iphone X photos

Rachel FenimoreComment
kona _ hawaii.

6 reasons why Hawaii is a must

1. SIMPLICITY. 

We tend to pack the most into each minute of every day. We are driven. We crave activity. We get bored easily and we look for something to fill our short attention span. This beautiful little place is no concrete jungle and it's not swarming with busy people. Instead it's filled with individuals all searching for the same thing - some peace and quiet. Rarely do we have the opportunity to sit and just listen to the waves crash on the shore and where else can we just read a book for fun.

2. NEW ADVENTURE.

Usually people try something new in Hawaii. Jet skies, surfing, stand-up paddle boarding, scuba diving, snorkeling, zip-lining, hiking, sailing - it's all here. Doing something you've never done before always makes the adventure more memorable. When was the last time you really got your adrenaline going? Try something that scares you a bit, it's good for you.

3. ROCK YOUR BODY.

People are either on the beach confident and ready to show off their hard work or they realize they haven't met their goals and they are feeling self-conscience. Whichever category you fall in on your first day in Hawaii, you quickly realize the rest of the beach didn't come to Hawaii to look at your body. Everyone is there because they need a little break from life. Once you realize no one cares about your body - no matter how great or not so great it looks - you're able to confidently soak up the sun in your new bathing suit and confidence looks good on everyone.

4. CHANGE OF SCENERY. 

When it comes to our daily - we tend to crave routine. We don't like it when our groove is thrown off. But when we are on vacation - we embrace change. We are ready for a change of scenery. We are tired of the midwest squirrels and city rats and we are fascinated by the new wildlife. We have prepared for this and our eyes and our mind just soaks it up. We are creatures of habit but in order to get a recharge, we have to do something different. 

5. PINEAPPLE EVERYTHING. 

Pineapple should be in all of your drinks and all of your drinks should be in pineapple. It should be on all of your sandwiches and burgers.

6. THE CURSE OF OVER PLANNING IS BROKEN. 

I have watched people on their European vacations who are stressed to the max because they try to fit way too much into one day. They don't allow the slightest break to soak it all in, to spend a little extra time at dinner, or to divert from the path to check out something not on the list. I have found in Hawaii, people tend to plan a little less. Sometimes the whole days schedule simply says "BEACH DAY." Not many people can point to a day on their calendar that only has one activity on it - but you should try it in the real world too, it's pretty magical. Or really throw yourself for a loop and leave the schedule blank for a day! *gasp*

My Week in Hawaii

Thursday

I travel standby so trying to catch a flight is always the first adventure. I met up with another flight attendant, Bonita, from Colorado. Thankfully, we didn't have much trouble getting our flight this time around. As soon as we landed we picked up our rental car - which I highly recommend getting if you plan to explore a lot in Kona. I also recommend getting a place that has a kitchen (p.s. there's a Costco near the airport. If you borrow your friends card you have to pay in cash). Hawaii is VERY expensive and wouldn't you much rather spend your money on activities? We stopped by Kekaha Kai Beach Park to watch the sunset on our way back to our place. If you're in a car, the drive down to the beach will seem a bit treacherous but keep going, you'll be alright - famous last words right? 

Friday

We slept in and Bonita cooked the most perfect breakfast. We took our time because we are on island time. We drove out to Pu’uhonua O Honaunau National Historical Park or Two Steps. Honaunau means "place of refuge" and this area used to be a safe haven for people running from the king. Google it. It's a bit of a drive so we blasted our island tunes and Havana on repeat. We grabbed our snorkel gear, hopped in, and saw beautiful coral and the most colorful and unique fish. This is one of the best spots for snorkeling. We stayed there and watched the sunset while we drank our Kona beer and smoked a macadamia nut cigar - I'm not much of a cigar person - this was my second one ever - but it just felt right. Every night we drove back to our place and cooked dinner (ok Bonita cooked dinner).

Saturday

We started off the day with an alert informing us that a ballistic missile was headed our way. Thankfully we were already on the boat with Kona Huna Dives and the locals were skeptical of the reality of the threat because no sirens were going off. We decided we would be safer covered in 80 feet of water and about 40 minutes later they said it was a false alarm. It was an interesting way to start off our day but we were thankful it was a false alarm. Now dive time - Full discloser about my diving skills - before this dive it had been a year since my last dive...which was my first dive. I was feeling pretty good but the first 15 minutes I was a little nervous. It honestly takes some time to convince yourself you're ok, but once you slow your breathing down and realize you're exploring underwater like a freakin' mermaid - it's actually one of the most peaceful experiences. After the first dive I wasn't feeling great - I came up a little too fast and I let my nerves get the best of me. I will be honest - I almost didn't go down for the second dive. But I strapped on that insanely heavy gear, turned on my GoPro, and took the plunge. Within about 10 minutes, I was feeling great. I was comfortable being my mermaid self and I was at complete peace in the water - just like I remember my first dive feeling. We explored a reef arch and some caves and it was incredible. I saw the most variety of trumpet fish I have ever seen - those fish are so bizarre. We rewarded ourselves with the most delicious shaved ice from Scandinavian Shaved Ice - best shaved iced on the island. You all - it has ice cream in the middle. We ate it while we watched the waves crash on the shore. We headed back to our hotel - went down to the pool, watched some dolphins play, and watched the sunset - which is a trend for each night we are here if you haven't noticed. We came back to our room, Bonita cooked and incredible meal and we watched a movie. Perfect ending to a perfect day.

Sunday

I had this morning to myself because Bonita had a meeting to attend. I uploaded photos and videos, got a head start on my blog and ate some left overs. Once she was finished with her meeting, we had some pancakes and coffee then headed to 49's Black Sand Beach. It's beautiful but don't stay long because you will fry - because the sand is black, if you didn't catch that. We went to the pool to lay out for a bit longer before our Manta Ray dive. Unfortunately, our dive was canceled due to the gnarly swells. I don't actually talk like this but it felt right for this situation. We decided to drive up to Mauna Kea Observatory (13,796 ft) since we had 26 hours of being at sea level after our dive - which is a thing, you have to space out elevations. This is supposed to be the best sunset in all of Hawaii and it did not disappoint. We drove up to 9,000 ft where they asked us to acclimate for about 30 mins before continuing up. As I'm walking, I hear someone yell my name..."Rachel Fenimore?!?" I turn around slowly to see my friend from college! How crazy! She was also on vacation with a friend I have known since 1st grade! What a small world! Once we acclimated, we continued up the mountain - even with the discouragement from the patrol man. It is HIGHLY recommended you have a 4x4 vehicle but we attempted it anyway - be careful and don't be dumb. It actually wasn't too bad and from the top we watched the most magical sunset. It was a little chilly and we even saw snow! We stayed until dark to see the stars and it is by far the most magnificent display of stars I have ever seen. While we were looking up into the night sky I couldn't help but play the song "How Great Thou Art." Being in God's creation is just the most humbling experience and I am in awe of His power and that such a great God loves me. 

Monday

Today Bonita headed off to a surf lesson while I had coffee with a high school friend of mine. We laughed and caught up on life and it was such a beautiful and refreshing time. The rest of the day we didn't have much planned so we hung out with their family. They had a pool and 6 children between all of them. It was fun just to see the kids play and enjoy the sunshine while we continued to catch up. We ate paninis and ice cream out of a papaya. We ventured down to the beach at the Four Seasons with the kiddos, played in the water and watched the sunset. All of the beaches in Hawaii are public access. The black sand beach and the Four Seasons are all through a gated community but just go up to the gate and say you would like to the beach and you're free to go! Feel fancy.

Tuesday

Our last day in paradise. We woke up, had wine with our breakfast - because why not - and made our way back to Scandinavian Shaved Ice to get our last shaved ice for the trip. We stumbled upon Angel Donuts along the way and decided to indulge - cue headache to follow. Once we finished our shaved ice we went to the beach to catch our last rays of sunshine and mentally prepare ourselves for this red eye flight - oh and we saw some turtles. We had dinner at the hotel and packed our bags. As I was packing, I reflected on the incredible trip I just had but I was looking forward to going back to California and embarking on my next adventure. I think that is the perfect ending to any vacation - to feel as if you fully embraced each adventure, to truly rest, and to be fully ready to embrace what is coming next. 

Rachel Fenimore
washington dc.

I had 16 hours to spend in Washington D.C. and I was determined to make the most of it. I woke up at 6am to have breakfast with a friend who I haven’t seen in a while. We went to Founding Farmers. They had a great breakfast and I highly recommend their coconut green tea. It’s always great having a layover where I can catch up with a friend. We finished around 9am and I made my way to the Museum of the Bible. It was about a 45 min walk and most of the museums open at 10am. I decided to take a scenic walk by the White House, the Washington Monument, and a few of the other museums like the African History Museum, American Indian Museum and the Air and Space Museum (which is the next one on my list). There's a really cute little park right before the Air and Space Museum where I took the photo of the fountain - so keep an eye out for that. I arrived to see a large line outside of the Museum of the Bible. It just opened in November so it is pretty popular but the line moved fast. You do have to reserve a time online for this museum. It said online that the first available time was at 1:45pm but I just reserved that time while I was standing in line and they let me in at 10am. So just book a random time and go whenever you want I suppose. Most of the museums are free.

I toured the museum from bottom to top but I will tell you the order I recommend touring this museum. Start on the 3rd floor. There is a 30 minute walk through of the Old Testament with lights, sound, and video. It was great. Next check out the 12 minute video of the New Testament. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to see this because I ran out of time. Lastly on the 3rd floor, walk through The World of Jesus of Nazareth. Here you can walk through what Nazareth looked like and interact with actors like a Princess at Disney World. 

My favorite section was the Bible Now and Impact of the Bible on the 2nd floor. There was a screen that asked the question “How Does the Bible Make You Feel?” People wrote all good feelings and some wrote in other languages. Sometimes we hear so many negative comments toward the Bible and what it stands for so it was refreshing to see so many positive feelings. In the Bible Now exhibit there is a big screen with a live feed from Jerusalem and a small cubical where you can record yourself talking about how the Bible has impacted you. I recommend stopping at the station in the Bible in America exhibit where you can watch and listen to actors reciting quotes from our founding fathers like they are talking back and forth to each other. While they have different opinions, it is obvious that each of them held the Bible in high regard. There are also stations where you can hear how the Bible has impacted different people with different backgrounds and occupations. I encourage you to listen to a few of their stories.

The lower level had a fantastic walk through displaying the story of the song Amazing Grace. It was incredible to see the history of the writer - John Newton - and to see the impactful lyrics posted so boldly. I also walked through an emotional sculpture display of the stages of the Cross - depicting the emotions of  Jesus in His last day. 

The 6th floor consists of a beautiful view of the Capitol building, a coffee shop, and a restaurant. It's worth heading up there even if only for the view.

This museum was especially impactful to me because I am a Christian and I hold the Bible very dear to my heart. It was special to see the stories come to life and see how this book has influenced our country as well as so many around the world. While the Bible may be controversial to many people, there is no denying it's impact and importance on our world. No matter what you believe, this museum will take you back to a time and introduce you to a Man who changed the world forever.

Things to skip:

  • The video on the first floor about the Bible in film. It’s a small red curtain that encloses around 15 seats. It’s just a 12 min video of movie clips quoting the Bible. 

What I wish I would have spent more time in:

  • The History of the Bible - 4th floor
  • illumiNations - 4th floor
  • The smaller art exhibits - 1st floor - Lobby level
  • The temporary exhibits - 5th floor and lower level
  • Stations of the Cross exhibit - lower level

What I didn’t do that I would have liked to:

  • Washington Revelations - 2nd floor - it’s a virtual reality ride. I don’t know much more than that but it sounded cool and it cost $8.
  • New Testament video - 3rd floor
  • Drive Thru History video - 4th floor

Order to see the museum:

  • 3rd floor
  • 2nd floor
  • 4th floor
  • Lower 1st floor
  • 5th floor
  • 6th floor
  • 1st floor - Lobby area
Rachel Fenimore
a nyc christmas.

There are not many places as magical as New York City at Christmas time. It may be the Christmas trees and the window displays. Or it may be that all of my favorite Christmas movies are set in New York City so being there makes me feel those Christmas movie vibes. Whatever it is, there is no denying that New York City is the place to be at Christmas time. This weekend I visited for no other reason than to enjoy the Christmasy scene and because it was on my schedule - and you guys...IT SNOWED. I am still not used to Christmas in California where it is sunny and 65 degrees and you picnic with your friends in Napa in the middle of December. I know that sounds lovey to a lot of you but I feel silly driving around blasting Christmas music in this weather. So here is a recap of my lovely, snowy, magical Christmas in NYC. 

I woke up to the biggest snow flurries falling from the sky. It literally felt like I was in the middle of a snow globe. I grabbed coffee in the hotel lobby and met up with a friend. We took a taxi to the financial district to see the Louis Vuitton exhibit. It was a beautiful tribute recapping the early stages of his innovative work. It was so interesting to see how people traveled back then and how each LV piece is so timeless. The exhibit is going on through January and I highly recommend it. After the exhibit, we grabbed a burger and a beer at Suspenders. It is a quaint little place with lots of character. They have happy hour on the weekends and the turkey burger was fantastic and a great price. 

From there I ventured over to 230 Fifth Rooftop Bar to check out the igloos! Unfortunately there was a long line of people celebrating Santa Con so I opted out of this one. But the igloos should stay up for another couple of months so I will have to go back. I have been to this bar quite a bit and it has some of the best views of the city so I recommend it all year round. I headed to Madison Square Park where they had a Christmas tree and a light display on the lawn. The snow perfectly settled on the park benches and the trees so I had to snap a few photos. Next I slushed over to Saks Fifth Avenue for their beautiful dancing light show and window displays and I watched a man dressed as an elf face plant into a puddle. Magical I tell ya! By this point, my socks were soaked and I was pretty chilly. I finished off the night at the Rockefeller Center where I heard lots of claps and woos from various engagements and laughter coming from the ice rink below where professional skaters and wall huggers unite together under the massive Christmas tree. 

My favorite thing about Christmas time is hearing everyone sing carols together. No one is arguing about lyrics or politics but we are all singing about Jesus coming to earth to bring peace to this crazy little world. Even those who don't celebrate Christmas can't help but smile at the beautiful light displays. I know some are arguing about lyrics and there are those trying to boycott this holiday all together but I feel we are united for the most part. Underneath all of that stress for gifts, vacations, and the perfect holiday outfit for all of the holiday parties there is a sense of peace, joy, and unity. I pray this Christmas the things that matter don't get drowned out by the things that don't. It truly is the most wonderful time of the year. 

Things I wish I could have added:

The Outfit

  • 2 pairs of socks
  • Black Chelsea Boots
  • Black Jeans with my leggings underneath
  • Black base layer
  • Off-white Chunky Sweater
  • White Peacoat
  • Grey Scarf
  • Black Beanie
  • Grey gloves
Rachel Fenimore
paris.

I woke up at 3:00am in California to take the 6:00am flight to NYC so I could work the red eye flight to Paris. I arrived in Paris by 7:00am and to the hotel by 10:00am - dressed and ready to go by 11:00am. There are a few time changes in there but in order to keep my sanity I won't do the math. First stop on this beautiful Halloween day - The Catacombs. I have heard it takes hours to get through the line so I am going to share with you my little secret. Note: This will work best for 1-2 people. Go to the front of the line between 10am and 11am. You will see 2 lines and to the right you may see a sign for guided tours. There will be workers standing inside of a roped off area, just ask one of them if there are any guided tours in English you can join. If so, they will give you a time to be back to that spot and you will walk right in and only pay 20 euros. The next best thing is the skip the line audio tours which are around 30 euros and can only be purchased online. Although it may be twice as much to skip the line, it is well worth it! You do not want to waste hours of your precious Paris time standing in line. 

We got our tour time and had about an hour to kill so we went to Cafe L'Ecir and had breakfast. It was adorable! I had the most tasteful cappuccino I've ever had and my friend tried the Irish coffee! We also split the cheese plate. Everything was delicious and bonus: free wifi and they take American Express!

We headed to The Catacombs and I didn't know what to expect. I hadn't done a lot of research prior so all I knew was we were about to see a lot of bones. I won't spoil too much for you but there is a lot of history involved and it is much more interesting than it is creepy. The guided tour is about an hour and a half long so you are in caves with bones for a good bit so just be prepared. There are short cuts so you can get out quicker if you feel uncomfortable. 

Once we were back in the crisp open air I quickly grabbed a Nutella crepe and we started walking. We walked through quaint little neighborhoods and passed the most adorable coffee shops. We saw old men playing bocce ball in Jardin du Luxembourg - a beautiful park I wish I would have spent much more time exploring. I noticed something so special about the people in Paris as I watched them in their cafes. No one had their coffee in a to-go cup so they could run anxiously to their next activity of the day. They sat still and enjoyed the company around them. It was refreshing to see such stillness. We finally arrived at the The Louvre.

I still have yet to do a tour of The Louvre because I want to come back when I have a few days to spend in Paris, but it is on the list. I've heard you can spend all day in this magnificent museum. For the purpose of this short trip, we walked around in the court yard, snapped a few photos and then took a cycle rickshaw to the Arc de Triomphe. This is a must see in Paris and my only regret is I didn't go to the top. They have fast passes for this online and I highly recommend getting those ahead of time. There are several combo tickets online depending on which activities you would like to do. 

We of course finish our night at the Eiffel Tower. One day I will go up in it but that day was not today. It was getting dark and we looked for a place to buy champagne but we didn't find anything, probably because it was pretty chilly. Usually there are people everywhere selling bread, wine, champagne and lots of other goodies. We watched it sparkle a few times, grabbed a bowl of soup, and took a taxi home. Note: The taxis DO take credit cards. We quickly stopped by the supermarket to pick up some wine and champagne to take home. Note: Do not buy wine and champagne in the small street markets because you will end up paying 30 euros for something you can get for 6 euros at a supermarket. 

Oh Paris has stolen my heart like I'm sure it has with anyone who has ever been. It's one of those places you can walk around forever and never see enough or you can stay in one place, sit and stare for hours and never get bored. I will leave you with 3 tips to take with you wherever you go.

3 tips to any new place:

1. Learn little phrases even if it is just "hello" and "thank you" which is "bonjour" and "merci" in French. 

2. Appreciate something you aren't used to - for me, it was the lack of to-go cups and stillness of the cafes.

3. Try something new - either food or an activity. I tried some funky looking cheese that I ended up really enjoying.

If you have any questions about Paris or travel in general, please leave a comment or visit my Ask Me Anything page.

Rachel Fenimore
hotels.

It's no secret - hotels are my home away from home. There are months where I am in a hotel more than my own bed so I notice little things here and there certain thing that really stand out. These subtle differences make sleeping in a strange place feel not so strange.

1. Color - Enough of the white on white already! Don't get me wrong, I love the white fluffy comforters but all you have to do is throw a splash of color with a pillow or even on the wall and I'm sold.

2. Knick Knacks - I love decorating my room back home with fun little trinkets so when a hotel does it too it makes all the difference. 

3. Patterns - Trendy patterned wall paper in the bathroom or even on a throw pillow or two takes the bland out of the room. Many times the hotels I stay in all look the same but when you throw a fun pattern on the desk chair it makes it feel a bit more like a home.

4. The View - Some days (like today) I use my layovers to catch up on work and rest. I love to explore new cities but sometimes I need to stay in and sleep, workout, and blog. So when I can look out of my big window and see the beautiful city it makes the times I need to stay in more enjoyable. 

5. Pictures - I'm not just talking about the abstract, generic pictures on the wall - I mean give me something fun and interesting to look at and make me smile. 

6. Coffee maker - This just makes sense to me and when there is a Keurig I get a little extra excited.

7. Outlet plug in the lamp - When I come into the hotel either super late or super early, my phone is almost dead and I just want to crash. Having the outlet in the lamp next to the bed makes it easy to plug my phone in and go to sleep right away. 

8. A good gym - I travel too much to have a gym membership so the only gym time I get is at the hotel. Sometimes I am super excited to get in the gym and sometimes I'm tired and I'm just not feeling it. The gym doesn't have to be elaborate but having a nice gym with all of the equipment I need is motivating after a long day. 

9. A place for my suitcase - I am in and out of hotels in just a few hours sometimes so I don't ever unpack. When I have a little stand to put my suitcase on it makes getting in and out of it much easier and convenient. 

10. Robes - It is rare I have a robe in my room but when I do -- heaven.

BONUS: Good food!

Keep an eye out for these hotel game changers on your next stay!

Rachel FenimoreComment
northern california.

The thought of "home" has been on my mind lately. I have a German birth certificate, a Colorado drivers license, and a California license plate. My family lives in Oklahoma, my boyfriend lives in Colorado, and my mailing address and most of my stuff is in California - so I suppose California is home, technically. Next week I venture back to Oklahoma to see my family and attend my 10 year high-school reunion. I am excited to be "home." Lately I have struggled figuring out where I belong and wondering where I should invest my heart and my time. Being connected in so many places has the tendency to leave us feeling disconnected all together. This is not something only I feel because I travel so much. Don't you feel it to? You take care of family in the morning, you work during the day, you see your friends on Saturday, you may attend church on Sunday, and you are many places in between. Most of the time when we are in one of these locations we are thinking about something in another - we are at work thinking about the weekend. 

I am realizing more and more that silly little quote rings true - home is where the heart is - and my heart is in many different places right now. And that is OK! The feeling of discontentment comes from not allowing ourselves to be ok with our heart being in different places at once. Maybe you find yourself all over the place - spread a little thin. Let me encourage you - be present. Let your heart dive in wherever you are at the moment. Embrace home wherever it may be at this time. If you have lived in the same place your whole life, be there and enjoy it. If everyone you know is spread out, embrace the diversity and put in the work to make the connections where you can. And no matter where you are - explore.

If you're always dreaming of far away places, find something to explore close to home. It could be 30 minutes away or 3 hours but go see something new and learn about that little place you call home - wherever that may be. Even if you don't feel you live in the most interesting place, I guarantee there is something you haven't seen. This summer we had the chance to explore Half Moon Bay, Yosemite, and Point Reyes - all within 1-3 hours of my house. No fancy plan. No spread sheet. Just my little Jeep and a destination. I would love to hear from you about where you live and what fun and interesting things there are to explore around you! Find the contact me link at the bottom of the home page and let me know about your home

Rachel Fenimore Comment
boston.

Boston has quickly become one of my favorite cities. I take a stroll down Newbury street and start the morning off with a dirty chai from the Thinking Cup. The shops along Newbury are cute and trendy making Boston feel a bit like a small town. I take a lap around Fenway Park during the Boston/Yankees game and it is busy and exciting. I then head to the Freedom Trail and walk past historic buildings and landmarks including the Union Oyster House. I visit a couple museums including the Institute of Contemporary Art, sit along the water, venture into Restoration Hardware, and end the night with delicious ice cream from FoMu on Newbury street.

When I visit a city while I am working, I typically have between 15 and 30 hours to explore. The best way to experience a city in a short amount of time is to make a list of just a couple of things you would like to see and leave room to explore along the way. If you pack your schedule with thing after thing after thing, you don't give yourself time to venture into a quaint bookstore or try out a local coffee shop. I quickly realized if I enjoy the handful of activities I experienced in my short visit, I will make a point to come back.

Boston - I'll be back. 

Rachel FenimoreComment
puerto rico.

I thought I would tell you a few things I learned during this trip that we all can apply to every day life. At the end I will add the activities we did and links if you would like to travel to Puerto Rico someday. If you have any questions, feel free to send me a message on my Ask Me Anything page. 

1. Go with your person. This is how we should travel but also the way we should do life. There are certain people you DO life with - the every day knitty gritty - daily chills - they know the best and worst about you and they love you the same. Plan trips with those people. Plan life with those people. The ones who encourage you, make you stronger, challenge you and love you. If you don't have this person in your life, maybe it's time to allow yourself to be a little vulnerable. Share something with a friend that you haven't. If we are the only person who knows the ins and outs of our own heart, we will find ourself to be pretty stagnant and lonely. We won't try new foods. We won't do something a bit scary. We won't grow as a person and we won't change. If you want to make the most out of your trip and the most out of your life, be with the people who bring out that little bit of spunk you didn't even know was there. 

2. Rest. Day 4 - the schedule said Old San Juan but our body said pool day. Listen to your body. Rest. Take deep breaths. Read a book. Take a bath. Rest well. Life's most enjoyable moments are most enjoyed when you have the energy to appreciate them. The same goes with any vacation, long or short. You can't plan an activity every day. You can't wear yourself out on life and drag yourself through it. Enjoy the little things. Allow for breaks during your busy schedule. If you're done with work at 5:00pm you don't have to schedule that appointment for 5:15pm. Give yourself some time. We watched TV and ate microwaveable pizza more times than we would like to admit on this trip. We got our fun in but we rested well. 

3. Be on the lookout for something new. We had a plain ole beach day scheduled for the last day and we found ourselves renting surfboards and jet skis. We each tried something new this day and it was probably our favorite day of the trip. While you're on vacation, do something you've never done before. It will make the trip stick better. It was spontaneous and we each got to experience something new together. In your day-to-day life, look for new opportunities. Take a different route to work. Try something new with your hair. Register for an online class. Jump right into that yoga class with your friend. Make life stick. 

The Itinerary:

Day 1: Always fly Delta. Don't plan anything for the first day.

Day 2: Catamaran / Snorkeling 

Day 3: Rain Forrest and Bioluminescent Bay Tour

Day 4: Chill beach/pool day at The Ritz-Carlton.

Day 5: Rented a Jeep and drove to Luquillo Beach and Old San Juan. Explored the colorful buildings and a beautiful fort

Day 6: Beach day - rented surfboards and jet skis.

Day 7: Travel Day

Day 8: Aromatherapy and Deep tissue Massages

Rachel FenimoreComment