Asheville is a beautiful city in the mountains of western North Carolina. It is a town full of art, eclectic shops, and breweries. There are also numerous wineries within 30 minutes of the city center. We were visiting family here in March 2020, when COVID-19 shut down the world. Therefore, we had to quickly get a long term Airbnb and hunker down, while doing some East Coast job-searching. We ended up remaining in the area for several months, unable to return to California. Although many places were not open, we were able to explore some delicious eateries (via take-out) and venture on a few gorgeous mountain hikes. We definitely miss our freedom to travel but are making the most out of this time to explore places close to “home” and spend time with one another.
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While in Canada, and so close to the US border, we decided to visit Niagara Falls! We first looked into staying directly near the falls. However, we decided to be a little farther from the hustle and bustle of tourists and looked into nearby towns. During this mini trip, we were able to sight-see and do some wine tasting!
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After the cruise, we made our way to Melbourne. This was probably my favorite city out of all our Australian destinations. Fortunately, we were also able to stop here again at the end of our trip before flying back to the US. The food was a primary highlight of this city, having some of the highest rated culinary spots in the world. This is also where we saw the most wildlife (actually in the wild!) and enjoyed many excursions along the coast. There are even vineyards nearby that are definitely worth checking out if you like wine, or just pretty scenery.
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The primary reason for our Down Under journey was to go on a two week cruise around New Zealand. I have never seen a country so clean and people who care so much about their environment. This was definitely something that stuck out to me. Our cruise, departing from Auckland, was to make 12 stops. Unfortunately, after two days at sea, our only stop in Australia, Kingston, was canceled due to weather. Therefore, we had four full days at sea in rough water. And I got quite seasick. However, after the early setback, our trip went pleasantly smooth.
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This was one of my favorite stops in Europe. I loved the culture, the food, and the entire vibe the city gives off. I even got to practice my very small French speaking skills. Foodwise, we did not have a disappointing meal in our entire week’s stay. The cafes were amazing and the food quality was unlike anything we’ve had before. I could have lived off of their bread, cheese plates, and wine alone.
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Following our Mediterranean cruise, we visited San Gimignano with some other family members for a few days. This is a gorgeous, historic castle town in Tuscany. We loved the old-timey feel with its cobblestone streets and medieval towers. It was like traveling back in time. We do not recommend driving your own car much through here as the streets are tiny and full of pedestrians. We learned this the hard way. However, this was an unforgettable adventure and one of our favorite spots that we have visited throughout our travels.
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