Tag Archives: hiking

A Day in La Jolla - DesignLively

A Day in La Jolla

As time goes by, one thing my husband and I have learned about our vacation-style is that we love to hike. On every major trip we’ve been on, the time we spent hiking has always been one of our major takeaway highlights.

A Day in La Jolla - DesignLively

In Jamaica it was Dunn’s River Falls, in Scotland, Arthur’s Seat, and in Italy we hiked the Cinque Terre trails. When I started asking around for hiking recommendations in Southern California the resounding recommendation was Torrey Pines State Reserve.

A Day in La Jolla - DesignLively

Torrey Pines is famous for its golf course, but the state reserve is a beautiful location full of trails. We spent about 4 hours in the reserve, and hiked most of the trails – our favorites being Yucca Point and Razor Point.

A Day in La Jolla - DesignLively

A Day in La Jolla - DesignLively

Of course about two minutes into our afternoon of hiking I notice the sign that says “Warning: These trails are rattlesnake heaven and they are hiding under every crevice!”. Okay, so maybe that’s not what the sign said, but that’s certainly what I read. I am happy to report that not a snake was seen.

A Day in La Jolla - DesignLively

The reserve is beautiful – and a very different visual feast for the eyes than what we are seeing in New England. Craggy rocks, cacti, and dry dusty landscape – what a departure from our snow!

Hiking in Torrey Pines is free, as is the parking.

A Day in La Jolla - DesignLivelyA Day in La Jolla - DesignLivelyA Day in La Jolla - DesignLively

After an active morning of hiking we headed into the town of La Jolla. We headed straight for Children’s Cove, home of the famous seals.


Spend half an hour admiring the flocks of pelicans and these rolly-polly chubbers flop around on the beach. Just be sure you don’t stand down-wind. You’ll smell it when you do.

A Day in La Jolla - DesignLively

A Day in La Jolla - DesignLively

It cracks me up that they all look so smiley!

A Day in La Jolla - DesignLively

Perhaps if I was blissfully unaware of my sheer amount of blubber, and got to lie on a beach all day like a rotund Queen I’d be smiling like that too!

The rest of our day was cut short – as we had plans that evening back in L.A. So we hit the road and enjoyed another famed California adventure – the traffic. : )

That brings an end to my California travel recaps – if you are lucky enough to be going to California soon I hope my recommendations help!

Read about the rest of my California adventures here.

Italy Travels: Cinque Terre Part II

Two days in Cinque Terre, Italy

Cinque Terre is a UNESCO world heritage park, and it’s easy to see why. The area is full of natural beauty that should be preserved. In 2011, Cinque Terre suffered from flash flooding and mudslides, and the area was massively devastated. It has since rebounded, and, as an outsider, I would have never guessed. With the exception that several of the hiking trails were still closed. The trailheads from Riomaggiore to Vernazza were closed, leaving only the Vernazza to Monterosso trail open – which is lucky for us because it’s the longest and hardest (!)

Two days in Cinque Terre, Italy
The views are breathtaking from above. The Vernazza-Monterosso trail is the only one from which you can view all five villages. If you visit and do not hike in Cinque Terre, you are only getting half of the CT experience.

This hike is certainly not for the faint at heart. You are, quite literally, climbing a small mountain.

The trails are narrow and rocky – a far cry from the wide paved sidewalks you’ll see on the easier trails. Trail passes can be purchased at the trailhead for about 5 euro per person. They are good for 1 day. To purchase a trailpass that includes train passes, purchase your pass at the train station.

Two days in Cinque Terre, Italy

I’d recommend hiking early in the morning. We waited until late morning and the trails were PACKED. And when you have a 12″ wide trail and a brigade of “older” German female hikers wielding sports bras and hiking sticks trying to pass you the opposite way…. well, you’ll be glad you decided to head out early. Otherwise you’ll have to watch them all get a hairy armpit in the face (not mine, obviously) as they clamber by.

Yes, the trails are narrow enough in certain spots that you have to touch strangers.

Two days in Cinque Terre, Italy

While the hike took about 2 hours in the morning, we hiked back mid-afternoon in the height of the heat. It was HOT, but the trails were empty, and we did the hike in about 1 hour.

Both times were an amazing experience, but I’d certainly try to time it so you aren’t hiking with the masses.

Two days in Cinque Terre, Italy

Monterosso al Mare

Monterosso al Mare is the largest and most resort-like of the five CT villages, and has the largest, sandiest beach.  As it’s the only village accessible by car, it is also significantly more populated.

Two days in Cinque Terre, ItalyYou can rent an umbrella and lounge cars and sit the day away in the sun. (We looked longingly at the beach, but failed to think to bring our swimsuits on the hike with us.)

Two days in Cinque Terre, Italy

There is a much larger town to explore. Italy has amazing old churches hidden in every town.

Two days in Cinque Terre, Italy

And sleeping cats lie in patches of sunshine all over Monterosso.

Two days in Cinque Terre, Italy

If shopping is your idea of vacation, Monterosso is your place. Of all the Cinque Terre villages, it has the largest number of shops to look through.   Two days in Cinque Terre, Italy

Overall, Monterosso was a colorful and fun place to spend an afternoon! A welcome distraction from a morning of hiking.

Two days in Cinque Terre, Italy


Two days in Cinque Terre, ItalyOn our last afternoon we stopped by Manarola  on our way out of town. Looking down on the town of Manarola is the “classic” Cinque Terre photo opportunity you see all over Pinterest and covers of travel books.

Manarola is a bit larger than Vernazza and we walked through town, among the many boats that were pulled up on to the roads. If you’re looking for “deep water swimming”, this is your place. And, although we weren’t able to test the waters, it sure looked fun!

Two days in Cinque Terre, Italy

Before we departed CT, we added fresh anchovies to the list of local specialties we tried. They were not bad, just really salty.

We absolutely loved our stay in Cinque Terre and hope to return again someday! While I had spent quite some time debating whether to visit the Amalfi Coast or CT, I don’t regret my decision one bit! It was beautiful and relaxing.

Next step, Firenze!

Read about how much we loved Vernazza and our Cinque Terre hotel experience here!

The Finger Lakes, NY: Hiking Grimes Glen and an Airport Diner

Upstate New York is entirely underrated. In case you were wondering.

The region is associated with the three snowiest cities in the United States (Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse, thank you very much), but very little is it associated with the summer months!

Let’s keep it that way, eh? I like driving on an empty highway.

It is beautiful – sunshine, blue skies, budding vineyards and lots of big yellow fields that reminded me of Scotland!

A month or so ago, we spent the weekend in the Finger Lakes and spent the morning in Naples, NY. It’s right next to Rome, NY and Italy, NY.

No, really.

We had breakfast at the Middlesex Airport Diner – a small building on a small meadow that small planes fly in and out of.

While our waiter informed us we were a bit late for the usual plane sightseeing (what? 11am is too late for breakfast?) we still managed to see a few of them.

After breakfast we drove to Grimes Glen.

Grimes Glen is a hiking path in a glen. No surprise there.

It has a one mile creek walk up to some beautiful waterfalls.

Go ahead and swallow that vanity. Put on a pair of ugly nature sandals and walk all the way up the creek! (Some currents are a bit strong, but most places weren’t deeper than 12 inches of water. I was carrying my SLR around my neck).

We went on a Saturday morning and there was a fair amount of hiking traffic.

via flickr debpaul2010

Next time I think I’ll leave my camera in the car and bring my swimsuit.

There were lots of kids playing in the water. We went over Memorial Day weekend, so the water was nippy, but enjoyable! We only hiked to the first waterfall, so we were only going for an hour or two.

We spent the rest of the beautiful Finger Lakes afternoon doing a little bit of fishing, dock sitting and boating.

And of course a little bit of this:

The lazy, hazy summer afternoon was made for me!

What’s your favorite lazy, summer activity?