Blog

A Taste of Japan: Arashiyama Bamboo Grove

One of our top spots on our photography list, this famous bamboo grove is magnificent, beautiful, and humbling. Be sure to stop by if you’re in the area… or put yourself into the area so you can stop by!

LotsaSmiles Photography

A visit to Kyoto isn’t complete without a trip through the stunning bamboo grove of Arashiyama.  There is nothing more humbling than acres of majestic trees towering above your head, cutting thousands of completely vertical lines 115 feet into the sky.

Bamboo has been revered for its durability for centuries, and it grows incredibly fast, making it a popular renewable resource; the wood is used in thousands of applications.  It is particularly important to the Japanese, who view it as a symbol of prosperity and see its simplicity as representing purity.  Bamboo is unique in its elegance, which is why stalks frequent many zen-hopeful desks, but they are seldom seen in such magnificence.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2015

View original post 113 more words

Advertisements

Portland: Historical Architecture

As a native of Portland, I have seen the city change quite a bit during my time here. Today there are more cranes than ever as the city is rapidly growing. It is almost difficult to walk the sidewalks with so much construction everywhere. Since I am a person who is fascinated with architecture, I set out to capture some older buildings. These buildings are beautiful in their own way and have a story.

portland-pin-1

Empty Streets Downtown Portland

Continue reading “Portland: Historical Architecture”

A Taste of Japan: Nighttime Shrines

If you find shrines are too busy during the day, try them by night! Most are open late, and this could afford you a unique take from the typical, touristy experience. Fushimi Inari was one of our favorites, and it was top on my to-photograph list.

LotsaSmiles Photography

I only have a few more of these highlights before I get into the real meat of our trip.  This week has understandably been busy catching up from our vacation and preparing for another over Thanksgiving.  I know you’re anxious for the full daily accounts, but I’m afraid I’ll have to tease you for just a short while longer…

When you visit Japan, unless you try explicitly not to, you’re bound to wind up at a few shrines.  Fortunately, that’s ok, as every one is unique in their own way.  If you really want to mix it up, try visiting them after dark.  Check to make sure they’re accessible after hours, but if they are, this can provide a great opportunity to beat a lot of the crowds at some of the more popular destinations.

View original post 168 more words

A Taste of Japan: Shrines

It’s hard to visit Japan without visiting at least a few shrines, but they’re all so different and uniquely beautiful that it’s also hard to get bored doing so!

LotsaSmiles Photography

It’s difficult to visit Japan without tripping over at least a dozen shrines and temples.  While most of the Japanese population wouldn’t consider themselves particularly religious, many practice the standard rituals of visiting shrines, saying a prayer, and drawing fortunes.  The young go hoping for favorable test scores or new love; others simply wish for good luck and good health.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2015

View original post 42 more words

Norway: How we Traveled on a Budget in an Expensive Country

Norway is one of the most expensive countries in the world. Food, lodging and transportation costs can really add up. Despite these high costs, we were able to do this trip on a budget without sacrificing experiences. We even got by without handling any Norwegian cash until we found some while cleaning out the rental car. Here are our actual expenses from our trip to Norway.

money-pin-1

Driving Norway

Continue reading “Norway: How we Traveled on a Budget in an Expensive Country”

A Taste of Japan: The Philosopher’s Walk

A trip down the peaceful Philosopher’s Walk is beautiful any time of the year. Next time, I’d love to see it blushing with the spring sakura, but it was stunning burning with autumn’s glow.

LotsaSmiles Photography

If you find yourself in Kyoto, set aside a morning for the Philosopher’s Walk.  Best un- (or lowly-) populated, early morning will afford you a quiet path upon which to calmly take in the song of the water and contemplate life’s mysteries.  The entire path is a little over a mile and is lined with shops, street vendors, restaurants, and temples.  Decorated with hundreds of sakura trees, this area is popular during cherry blossom season and is a great spot for fall color.

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2015

View original post 53 more words

We Learned How to Drink Like a Russian

Life is full of all sorts of fun experiences, most of which, you never plan for.  In fact, it is the unexpected moments that make the best memories – the ones that stick with you throughout the years and make you smile when everything else dissolves into nostalgia.

drinking-pin-1

 

We had one such evening, quite by happenstance.  We had the pleasant fortune to learn what it really means to drink like a Russian.

russian-drinking-3

Continue reading “We Learned How to Drink Like a Russian”

A Taste of Japan: Street Food

Sometimes we say we travel just to eat. After all, food is one of the best ways to experience a new place. We never tire of all the culinary variety the world has to offer!

LotsaSmiles Photography

Some of the best meals we had in Japan came from small street vendors.  We’re no strangers to personal proprietors specializing in a single dish (or few) from a small booth on a street corner; Portland’s food cart culture is renowned.  While we feared these establishments would be less adept at English, they actually proved easier when it came to ordering.  With only a few items offered – most physically present behind a glass pane – it was a simple matter of pointing and holding up two fingers.  And very like the much-loved, tiny food vendors at home, their business only survives if they’re really good (as patrons frequently have plenty of alternate options).

© LotsaSmiles Photography 2015

View original post 114 more words

Norway Waterfalls

Norway: Raging Waterfalls

Since we are from Oregon, it takes A LOT to impress us when it comes to waterfalls. We have them everywhere. However in Norway, they are not only everywhere, you can see many at the same time! The volume of water coming off of the glaciers is so intense that you feel more alive as the water rushes down the mountain. Here are a few of our favorites.

 

Continue reading “Norway: Raging Waterfalls”