california love

Big Sur Guide, on a budget (as per usual)

This week we took a super last minute trip to Big Sur. Stephan has been wanting to photograph the Milky Way there and last time we tried it was a fail. The fog was thick every single day we were there and we saw no sunrise, sunset or night sky. But Sunday night he looked up the weather and this week it was gonna be perfect conditions for seeing the Milky Way, so at midnight we booked a hotel and left the next day after work.

  • Accommodation

Since any hotel in Big Sur is very expensive and even camping isn’t too much on budget, both times we decided to stay in Monterey, at a hotel called Pacific Inn and I super recommend it! It’s not fancy, of course, but it’s super clean and the room is very nice. It had a microwave, coffee machine and a fridge, which for us was a must. Because it’s not located right in the water or downtown Monterey it’s cheaper than other hotels and still so close to everything.

  • Food

Stephan and I have traveled quite a bit, and we figured that the easiest way of saving money is not eating out so frequently (unless you’re in South East Asia). In Eastern Europe, we would only book Airbnb’s with kitchens so we could cook. Here in California, we try to plan our meals ahead of time, go to the grocery store before a trip and pack our food along with us. For this Big Sur trip, we got yogurt, granola, bananas, and blueberries for breakfast, had peanut butter and banana sandwiches for lunch and for dinner we would eat Trader Joe’s salads or wraps. I spent a total of $41 on all of our food for 3 and a half days. We ran out of food the last day and decided to eat lunch in Carmel, at the most affordable and chill place I found. On that one meal, we spent $30. It’s fine to do it once in a while and to have an experience at a certain restaurant, but if you eat out for every single meal, do the math. It adds up.

  • Things to Do

Good news here, most of the activities in this area are free! You basically will only be spending money in gas for all the driving. Here’s a list of my favorite spots for hiking and taking pictures!

  1. Garrapata Beach

    The parking lot that leads to this trail is just a bigpull out on the side of the main road. The trail goes along the water and it’s huge! We didn’t even do the whole thing and had amazing views, photo opportunities and tired legs from all the walking!

2. Bixby Bridge

It’s famous for a reason. Watching sunset there is magical. It can be pretty crowded during the day, but it isn’t so bad closer to sunset, especially during summer, when the sunset is at 8:15 PM, lots of people don’t stay that late.

Photo by Stephan Alvin, available for print   HERE

Photo by Stephan Alvin, available for print HERE

3. Mcway Falls

My very favorite spot of all! The path that begins at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park is still partially closed, but don’t worry! This view is actually from a pullout on the side of the road, just before you get to the actual entrance of the park, and it’s beautiful and most importantly: empty!

4. Point Lobos State Park

Not free, but worth it! Such a beautiful place to wander around, hike, take pictures and breath some fresh air! These photos are from earlier this year, February to be exact. And because it was winter it was pretty empty, we had no problem parking inside the park whatsoever. But since then we’ve been to Big Sur twice and every time we drive by the entrance it says the parking lot is full and there are loads of cars trying to park on the side of the road. So my tip is, go during winter or go really early, like as soon as they open!

5. Pfeiffer Beach

The entrance is a little tricky to find and there are no signs leading to it, and since the signal at Big Sur is pretty spotty I would download the offline map before you go! It’s a 5 to 10 minute drive down this super windy and tight road that leads you to one of the most photogenic beaches in Big Sur! You can’t miss this spot!

There is so much to do and see in Big Sur, and if you haven’t been you should plan a trip there ASAP, it’s gorgeous!

Not convinced yet? Check out more landscape photos from this amazing place at Stephan Alvin Photography!

A Magical Place Called Yosemite

First time at Yosemite together, hiking to Vernal Falls!

First time at Yosemite together, hiking to Vernal Falls!

There is no place in this world like Yosemite. After traveling around the globe on tour with Disney On Ice, Stephan and I landed in Fresno and have been taking advantage of being so close to the park nearly every week. Going up there for half a day, either sunrise or sunset is so refreshing. The moment you enter the Valley is like being in a movie.

We’ve been there countless times and there are still so many moments that continue to take our breath away. Driving out of the tunnel into Tunnel View, seeing Bridal Veil Waterfall on the right and El Cap in front of you as you’re driving in, will never get old. I’m originally from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, a pretty incredible city I have to say, where you’re constantly spoiled with beautiful mountains, forests, beaches and all sorts of different landscapes all over. And still, Yosemite takes my breath away.

The first time I ever visited this place Stephan and I had just started dating. I never thought back then that two years later I would be packing my things in two suitcases, moving from Rio to Fresno and getting married. I never thought when we had our engagement pictures done at the park that, a few months later, we would be taking couples up there and capturing their love ourselves. Life is full of turns, isn’t it?

We went from Disney On Ice skaters to wedding photographers, and that still blows my mind. Whenever we miss the constant traveling we make time out of our week to drive to Yosemite, and it’s amazing what getting out of the city can do. We breath fresh air, take beautiful pictures, feel good and recharged. It’s a habit that helps us get away from the routine and stay motivated running our own business.

Yosemite holds a special place in our hearts and we will never take it for granted living only two hours away from it. If you have a place like this in your life, or a habit that makes you feel good, do it. Make time for it, get your batteries recharged from all the hustle.

I have been to 44 countries, and Stephan to 71, and yet, Yosemite National Park never ceases to amaze us.

Our Top 3 Favorite Cities in the US

Everytime I think about a topic for a travel blog post my mind always goes international. I’m always thinking I should write about somewhere really far, like Asia or South America. And then I remember that there is SO MUCH to do in the US, and that Stephan and I have travelled all over this country several times and we rarely talk about that!

So I thought, nothing more appropriate for this 4th of July than sharing what’s on the top of our list when it comes to cities in the United States.

1 – San Francisco, California

Marshall’s Beach, at Sunset.

Marshall’s Beach, at Sunset.

So predictable, I know, but I can’t help it. I absolutely love San Francisco. I’m from Rio, a city where everyone walks, or takes the subway or the bus. Cars are welcomed and nice to have but not necessary. So whenever I’m in a city in the States where you can actually walk around and see people doing the same, I get really happy.

There is something to say about walking cities, the streets have energy, color and life! And that might be one of the things I miss the most living in Fresno, you need a car to go basically anywhere!

So I mean yeah, the Golden Gate Bridge is amazing, the whole city is photogenic and there’s a million things to do there, but my favorite thing about San Francisco is just being there. Just walking all day, up and down those crazy steep hills till your legs can’t walk anymore, makes me really happy!

 

2 – Austin, Texas

Hamilton Pool Preserve. Pro tip: go on a weekday.

Hamilton Pool Preserve. Pro tip: go on a weekday.

Fun fact, going to Austin was actually our first side trip as a couple! We had just started dating and our show was playing Houston, but we had a couple of days off, so we decided to rent a car and spend our days in Austin. Yay for good decisions!

We had heard that Austin was fun, different, corky and that had some of the best restaurants in the country. Well, all of those rumors were true. We had some of the most tasty food ever, from a nice restaurant for a date night to a single slice of pizza at a Brewery, everything I ate I said it was the best I ever had!

If I had to give recommendations, one would be to go to Hamilton Pool, which is a bit far from the city but worth the drive. And another would be to have dinner at Moonshine Grill. I ordered Mac&Cheese, simply. It was the best Mac&Cheese I ever had. Other than that, you make your own script, find restaurants, breweries or coffee shops that appeal to you and you won’t be disapointed.

 

3 – Savannah, Georgia

Photo Credit :   Stephan Alvin Photography

This one was not on my list because unfortunatelly I’ve never been, but it’s one of Stephan’s favorite cities so he made sure I would write about it. He said the whole city seems to be covered in old trees with hanging moss, which made every street very photogenic. Walking around you see that every block has a little park square, breaking up that urban feel.

I kept asking him what he liked the most and he said “the houses were big and old. In a good way”. Then he explained himself and elaborated a little more saying that every house had a pretty unique style and that you could tell there was history behind every wall! Guys, there is a reason why I write this blog, not him.

Anyways, happy 4th of July everyone! Enjoy your family and friends, bbq and fireworks and be safe!

I’m working on a Myanmar post and I can’t wait to share some of our adventures in that amazing country, but I’ll try to post more about travels within the US as well.