Myrtle Beach – September 2016

We were ready for our first trip after enjoying the spring/summer and adjusting to life with two kiddos. Summer was about to end, but we weren’t ready to let it end. We decided to do a little road trip the week after Labor Day. A beach destination was key and the timing was great since school generally starts right around Labor Day so it wouldn’t be too busy. Myrtle Beach ended up being our destination of choice and we got a great deal at the Caribbean Resort which is very children friendly. It’s right on the beach, has several different pools, a lazy river and a water slide. We opted to get an ocean view room since we knew we’d have a napping 6-month old.

Hotel Room

While Alara loves the beach, she spent a TON of time in the pool. We had recently got her the floaties that goes around the waist and arms. It took her a while to get comfortable with them but once she did, she was a fish in the water. There were several children her age to play with, apparently she joined a preschool floatie club.

Alara pool floaties

There was a whole kiddie pool section Alara thoroughly enjoyed.

Alara pool

Adam loved the pool too!

Adam pool

…but got pooped out pretty quickly!

Adam sleep

One benefit of waking up early with kids is that you get to enjoy a pretty sunrise over the ocean.


There were some Myrtle Beach attractions which were closed for the season, like Splashed Waterpark. However, the Family Kingdom Amusement Park (one of the few remaining free-admission parks in the U.S.), N. Ocean Blvd, and Broadway at the Beach were in full effect.

Here is Alara enjoying a soft candy lollipop and hanging out with a dinosaur at Broadway at the Beach.

Wax museum

Alara got a kick out of King Kong from the Hollywood Wax Museum.

We only stayed in Myrtle Beach for a few days, Alara was not ready to leave!

Us Balcony






Alara’s Itsy Bitsy Spider Birthday

This is not a travel post but I couldn’t resist posting Alara’s 3rd birthday party which was a itsy bitsy spider theme. For whatever reason Alara was obsessed with itsy bitsy spider and spiders in general. When her birthday came around it was clear we needed to use that as a theme. We had the party at my parents’ backyard and it ended up being a perfect summer day.

We bought Alara’s cake at Market Basket and it came out perfect. It must have been a weird request for them to do an itsy bitsy spider cake, and I gave them little direction, but it came out great nonetheless.

Alara birthday cake

Alara was surrounded by family and friends with a kiddie pool and bouncy castle. I bought a sun balloon from Party City, used white balloons as clouds and did some arts and crafts for the rain and spider. There were smaller crafted spiders decorating the table and I had printed out coloring pages from here and there.

Alara birthday

After the kids played in the pool, bouncy castle and ate some grilled food cooked by vovo, it was time for cake!

Alara birthday cake 2Alara birthday party

Alara of course had to have the spider as her piece.

Alara birthday party2

Adam had a great time at the party as well!

The rest of the summer of 2016 was spent locally, primarily at the beach, until we were ready for our first trip.

Alara beach 2

Welcome baby brother!

Adam Ismail Pazarbasi was born on March 2, 2016 at 8:52pm, 7lb14 oz. Welcome baby brother and future travel companion!

Adam 2

Adam was born in Boston, just like Alara.

Adam Boston

Alara was very excited for her baby brother to come home and be a big sister! She was also equally as excited to dig into the edible arrangement my work sent us. ūüėČ

Adam big sisterAdam gift

Florida – December 2015

I know what you‚Äôre thinking… Florida? Again?! Yes, again. My brother in law was visiting us in December around the holidays and Alara‚Äôs cousins came too! This was Yagmur and Ruya‚Äôs first time visiting the U.S. so we wanted to make their trip extra special. We spent some quality holiday time together as a family and brainstormed ways to keep the kids entertained during the dead of winter. A trip to Florida/Disney was quick to make the list. Due to the holiday season and the amount of people we had, driving was our best option. We had recently bought a Honda Pilot which comfortably sits 8 adults with the third row seating and still leaves enough storage room in the trunk. We made the spontaneous decision to leave the day after Christmas in the afternoon so we packed plenty of snacks, summer clothes, pool toys, and the stroller and took off. We decided to drive straight through, taking breaks pretty often and changing drivers, but willing to stop at a hotel in case of any stressful meltdowns. We left the Boston area in the afternoon and made it to Daytona Beach by around 10am the next day, so overall we did great timing and thankfully the kids slept through the night in the car. We quickly changed to enjoy some time at the beach and pool while we waited to check into our hotel.


We got a great deal on our hotel due our staying on a weekday. We were right on the beach with an ocean view and a full kitchen. We only stayed in Daytona for two nights since we were eager to go to Disney! We headed to Orlando and made a quick stop to Disney Springs (f/k/a Downtown Disney) to do some walking, shopping, eating, and exploring.

Goofy Christmas

We bumped into a Goofy Santa at Disney Springs!


Here Alara is hanging out with Minnie and Mickey with her cousins Yagmur and Ruya.


Alara loved exploring with her cousins and uncle (Amca).

Downtown Disney

The next day we headed to Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. We only had time for one park, so we decided the Magic Kingdom was a classic to be enjoyed by the girls. I love how the Magic Kingdom plays out the holidays… Christmas trees, music, the holiday parade (both day and night), and especially the castle being lit up at night. It’s so festive!

Immediately upon walking into the park we were greeted by Pluto.

Goofy Disney

In the afternoon, the holiday parade started. All the classic characters were there and some special guests such as nutcrackers, reindeer, elves and even Santa himself!

The girls absolutely loved the park, especially Fantasyland. I highly recommend staying at the park through the night to see the lighting of the castle along with fireworks (Frozen theme during the holidays) and the electric show parade.

We were ready to leave Orlando after stopping at a few gift shops on the way out. Our next and last stop was Miami! Technically we stayed in West Palm Beach (which Alara referred to as Palm Palm beach) and drove to Miami for the day.

The girls approved of the hotel!

Hotel Bed

We were in Miami for New Years Eve day, South Beach to be exact, to enjoy both the beach and the lively Ocean Drive.

Miami Beach

Near the beach was a little play area, mostly a fitness park but the girls had fun nonetheless.

Maimi Beach Play

It was great to enjoy palm trees on New Years Eve (2015)!

Maimi Palm Tree

We celebrated New Year’s Eve in the hotel and by the time 2016 arrived, it was time to come home and back to the real world. The car was packed with snacks and princess gear for an entertaining road trip back.

We made a pit stop at South of the Border, which the kids enjoyed and said hello to Pedro.

South of the Border

South of the Border is a great place to stop since it’s right off the highway (Route 95) and has decent food, gift shops, arcade, and fireworks for (legal) purchase.

We also made a quick stop through NYC so the girls could see the city.


It was quite cold coming back home and adjusting to New England weather. We already miss the sunny weather, beautiful beaches and of course, Mickey Mouse!

Alara’s Big Announcement!

Alara would like to make an announcement… she is going to be a BIG SISTER!

Her LITTLE BROTHER is due to arrive February 28, 2016 and she is pretty excited to have a new traveling companion! She¬†always says “baby brother” and points to my belly.

Baby Travel Necessities

We are ready to travel in style with this Graco double stroller we got ridiculously cheap off Target clearance ($99) plus my 15% off registry coupon. It’s a sit and stand stroller, so there’s tons of different usage for it.


Alara has been playing with this stroller since we bought it and set it up. She sits/stands on it and says “baby brother sits right here”. I think she might be a little confused on how he will be arriving since I left to go to the grocery store and she said “bye mommy, go find my baby brother!”

Other than that, we plan on using a lot of items that belonged to Alara such as the infant car seat and infant carrier.

Alara has also been very helpful in picking out things for his new room. Thanks to a friend’s inspiration (Thanks, Molly Babes!), Baby #2 will have a traveling themed nursery.

Travel Themed Baby Nursery

We want to have a little safari theme mixed in as well, perhaps some elephants, lions, giraffes, and zebras. Alara was nice enough to give her rocking zebra to her baby brother and we are excited to start planning his nursery.


Probably my first purchase were these cute framed pictures that I found at a flea market. A part of the reason we love to travel in the first place is our heritage and international family. My husband is Turkish and my family is Portuguese. To say “I love you” in Portuguese is “Eu te amo” or simply “Te amo”. Therefore when I first saw these two signs I couldn’t resist! I think they are perfect. Not to mention $1 each.


Hubby purchased a 3,000 piece (yes, 3,000) puzzle of a 1665 world map that I think would look great framed and hung above the crib. That’s if he ever finishes it before the baby is born ūüôā


We saw this in Marshalls and thought it was a great purchase. I love this old map theme and this little storage box will be perfect to hold some diapers and other baby necessities on his dresser.


We also saw this sign in Marshalls and thought it was adorably perfect. “Never Stop Exploring”. We truly hope so.


Lastly, this onesie was a must need! Flight School… Happy Travels.



Happy Travels, indeed.


P.S. Here is the website that originally led to our travel themed idea.


Germany/Italy/Turkey (May 2015)

My brother in law was planning a road trip from Germany to Turkey to pick up my in laws and invited us for the trip. We thought this would be the perfect opportunity to go back and see more of continental Europe as well as visit family. Alara would also be turning two soon so we thought it would be nice to plan one last trip before being required to purchase her a ticket. ūüôā

Regensberg, Germany

We flew into Munich to stay with my BIL and his family outside of Regensburg. This time my in laws were not here to watch the kids so this vacation was much more family-friendly and Alara was quite the explorer this time around. We spent some time around the area, doing family activities such as an indoor water park and going back to the Dult (no beer tent this time!).


The kids absolutely loved the Dult festival. Alara went on her first pony ride and loved it! She even cried when it was all done and we took her off the horse.

Dult horse 2Dult horse

There were also plenty of amusement park rides that the kids loved and Alara got to ride them with her older cousins.

Neuschwanstein Castle

We took a day trip to Neuschwanstein Castle, which is also near the Hohenschwangau Castle, and offers lovely shopping, gift shops and restaurants in between.

N Castle landscape

There is also a great view of the Alpsee lake, beautifully surrounded by mountains and you can dip your feet in.

Castle lake

There are horse drawn carriage rides that you can take up the hill and see the castle.

Horse carriage

Neuschwanstein Castle was built for King Ludwig II of Bavaria in the late 1800s and was opened to the public immediately after his death.

Hohenschwangau Castle was King Ludwig II’s childhood residence and was built by his father, King Maximilian II of Bavaria.


On the way in and out of the area, there was this beautiful field with great views of Neuschwanstein, so of course we had to stop and take pictures.

Castle field

Innsbruck, Austria

We decided to take a few days and go on a mini road trip. Italy’s border is fairly close to where we were staying so we mapped our visit to include a stop at Innsbruck, stay in Venice, stop in Florence and end up in Rome before coming back home. Innsbruck is less than a 2 hour drive from Munich was worth every kilometer traveled. It’s a city in the middle of the Alps, known for its Imperial and modern architecture. It offers the most breathtaking views of snow covered mountains behind colorful buildings and a quaint downtown area.


The Golden Roof in downtown Innsbruck is considered the city’s most famous symbol. The roof was covered with over 2,500 fire-gilded copper tiles for Emperor Maximilian I for his wedding to Bianca Maria Sforza. But don’t look too quick, you might miss it!


One of the most noticeable landmarks in the city is the St. Anna’s Column, which is located in the busy center of¬†Maria-Theresien Street.


Maria-Theresien Street is a pedestrian street filled with restaurants, shops and outdoor cafes. It is considered the main street in downtown Innsbruck and is a beautiful place to spend a couple hours.


Overall, Innsbruck is one of the most beautiful old cities of Europe. I’m sure there was so much more to see and do there, but our main purpose of the road trip was to see Italy, so off we went!

Venice, Italy

Our next stop was in Venice, which was less than 4 hours away. Driving through Northen Italy was absolutely gorgeous with all the views of the Alps and green pastures, wineries and small villages. We got to Venice at night, just enough time to check in to a private room in a hostel in Mestre (main land Venice) and relax a little bit. Alara was pretty excited for her first hostel experience.


We took a bus to downtown Venice the next morning, which Alara clearly really enjoyed.


Venice (Venezia) is made up of 118 small islands, separated by canals and connected by pedestrian bridges. It is like a maze navigating through all the narrow walkways, alleyways, and bridges but so beautiful to take in.


As you can imagine, there are no automobiles allowed. There is a parking lot at the main bus terminal where we got dropped off. Small boats, or gondolas, are used for commuting purposes.


Venice is overall very beautiful, known for its picturesque canal waterways, architecture and artwork.

Piazza San Marco is the place to visit in Venice as its the principal public square of the city. It is noted that Napoleon called it “the drawing room of Europe”.¬†St Mark‚Äôs basilica¬†(Basilica di San Marco) is the city’s most famous church and¬†one of the best known examples of Italo-Byzantine architecture. The artwork outside of the basilica was just amazing.

A couple of other major landmarks in Piazza San Marco includes  Doge’s Palace, which once held political power; and Torre dell’Orologio, a clock tower built in the late 1400s.

The Grand Canal is a major commuting hub for water-traffic and is a beautiful sight.

Grand Canal


One thing I wish I knew about Venice before visiting is how it is NOT stroller friendly at all! The walkways are extremely narrow and there are so many pedestrian bridges with many, many steps. Overall, carrying the stroller was a lot of work which left us all exhausted but we were glad we visited.

Florence, Italy

We stopped at Florence, since it is on the way from Venice to Rome. Florence is the capital city of the Tuscany region of Italy. It literally gave birth to the¬†Renaissance, a period of great culture change transitioning between the Medieval times to early modern Europe. Some popular names you may recognize from Florence include¬†Dante Alighieri, Giovanni Boccaccio, and Leonardo Da Vinci. We didn’t have too much time in Florence, so we went straight to the¬†Piazzale Michelangelo, which offers spectacular views and the replica of¬†Michelangelo’s statue of David.

We also visited the Florence Cathedral (Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore) and was overwelmed by both the architecture and artwork inside the church.

There were many beautiful paintings and stained glass windows inside the Cathedral, but the most impressive artwork was probably the paintings inside the dome completed by Federico Zuccari.

We then walked to the closest pedestrian bridge filled with painters and street vendors that offered amazing views of the Arno, a river that runs through the Tuscany region of Italy.


We wish we had more time in Florence, but hopefully we’ll be back. We were really excited to visit Rome, so we grabbed an ice cream cone and were back on the road.

Ice cream

Rome, Italy

By the time we got to Rome, it was pretty late so we just checked in our “hotel” and relaxed before going to bed. I say “hotel” because while it had a hotel name under it really ended up being more of an AirBnB. The woman we rented it from was really nice, the apartment was really cute, was located a few blocks away from everything and the price was very reasonable.

We woke up the next morning and headed out to explore. We walked one block and saw some amazing Roman ruins.

I have to admit this day did not start the greatest. Alara was extremely overtired and just did not want to do anything. Poor baby.

Nonetheless, we managed to start walking to the Colosseum, which was the closest attraction to us. On our way, we visited the Italian Parliament Building (Palazzo di Montecitorio) and were so impressed with the overall architecture.

We continued walking and could see a glimpse of the Colosseum!

walk to coloseum

This oval amphitheater was the largest one ever built, estimating to hold between 50,000 to 80,000 spectators. The Colosseum was used for¬†gladiatorial contests and other public spectacle events. We didn’t have time to go inside for a tour (the wait was about 2 hours, I’d recommend getting tickets in advance!) but we grabbed an ice cream cone and enjoyed the view.

We continued walking towards many other famous landmarks that were ultimately on the way to the Vatican. We saw the Pantheon, one of the best preserved Ancient Roman building which was dedicated to the worship of every god.


We took a break and hung out at the Piazza Navona before continuing on our walking tour.

piazza navona

As we were entering the Vatican area, we first came across the¬†Castel Sant’Angelo, which was first used as a¬†mausoleum¬†by Roman Emperor Hadrian and later used by popes as a castle and fortress. This was also a popular feature in the book/movie Angels and Demons. ūüôā

We continued walking and could finally see the Vatican!

St Peters sq

We got to St. Peter’s square and were in awe of the overall beauty of everything as well as the history and significance of where we were standing. Unfortunately, we were not able to get a tour (again, 2 hour wait, get tickets in advance!) but we were pretty content with our surroundings.

Alara must have had an exhausting day because she finally fell asleep in her stroller which we has never done before!

Alara sleeping

Overall, Rome was the most impressive city I had ever seen. There was so much history to take in, views of Roman ruins right in the middle of a very modern European capital with so much culture. I never thought I could say I would see Rome in a day, but in a sense that statement is also not really true. There is so much more to see and so, along with experiencing more of the food and wine, which we did not have the chance to. We will absolutely be coming back and spending an entire vacation in Italy, mostly Rome, alone.

We had a long drive back to Germany, which we drove through most of the night. We spent a few days hanging out with family before we packed up the car and started our 24-hour road trip (gasp!) to Turkey.

Tekirdag, Turkey

We drove through several countries to get to Turkey and it was quite an experience! We drove through Austria, Hungary, Serbia, and Bulgaria before reaching the Turkish border. Overall, driving through most of the countries was a breeze as they are EU countries and have open borders. However, Serbia is not part of the EU so we had to go through passport control entering and leaving that country, as well as entering Turkey, since again they are not part of the EU. One good thing about our ridiculously long road trip was that rest areas were very clean and most even had playgrounds for kids to play on.

Road Tip playground

We were pretty relieved when we finally reached the Turkish border!

Turkey arrival

A couple hours later we finally reached our in laws house in Tekirdag, Turkey just less than 2 hours away from Istanbul. We only had a few days in Turkey, so we mostly spent time with family but I¬†also got some quality shopping and coffee time with my sister in law since we had someone else to watch the kids. We also celebrated my sister in law’s birthday.

family bday

We took a day and went to visit family who lived in a village area. It was nice to see a more simple lifestyle and enjoy sitting outside in a beautiful garden while catching up with family we haven’t seen since our Turkish wedding about 4 years before.

We also visited other family in the village who had cows. Alara got a kick out of them but was pretty hesitant to get too close.

village cow

So we enjoyed some Turkish tea and good conversations with family. The drive to and from the village offered some pretty great views of Tekirdag.


Overall, Alara had a great time with her grandparents and being silly with her older cousins.

family silly

Unfortunately, our amazing trip was coming to an end. We drove to Istanbul and flew home.It was the longest flight Alara had ever been on, approximately 12 hours. She had a really hard time at one time fighting sleep. Luckily, she made friends with another little boy. They played in the airport and on the plane. The parents actually switched their seat to sit next to us on the plane, which was very nice of them. The two kept themselves entertained and Alara eventually fell asleep on the later part of the flight. Alara was quite the traveler this time around and I think she really enjoyed her trip. Thank you to my brother in law for a great European experience!

Daytona Beach, Florida (March 2015)

Surprise, Florida again! Back so soon, you ask? Well, besides surviving the Boston snowpocalypse of 2015 and being sick of weekly blizzards for over a month straight, I was ready to look at something other than the 6 feet of snow in my backyard. My aunt was staying in the Daytona Beach area for 3 weeks, so I felt like I had to be a good niece and visit her. Alara wanted to come too, of course. This was my first time flying alone with Alara so I was pretty nervous! Unfortunately, there are no direct flights to Daytona so I had to do my best to choose the cheapest one with a minimal layover. I also decided not to do a rental car since I was fully expecting to sit our bums on the beach all day long. I did some research and thought one taxi company offered child seats (per website and even lady on the phone confirmed) but apparently when I called to make the reservation, two different employees on the phone were convinced they do not have child seats. One star rating on Yelp later, I contacted the private car company my aunt used who said they offer child seats with taxi services, free of charge. That taxi lady ended up being a godsend, but I’ll get to her later.

Flying alone with Alara actually went better than expected! She was probably the most behaved she had ever been on an airplane. However, my briliiant planning of having a 38 minute layover with a slightly delayed first flight was not the smartest idea. I just barely caught my connecting flight while running through the Atlanta airport, air tram and all, with a stroller. We flew with Delta and with my experience, they are one of the least baby-friendly airlines. They do not give any additional allowances with a lap ticket besides the car seat and stroller. Even though I reserve our seats, they always move us to the back row of the airplane. You know, the least desirable one that is seated next to the restrooms and the seats don’t decline? Yeah, those. The only advantage to them doing that is we usually end up with an extra seat next to us. Other than that, I’m pretty sure they do that so babies don’t disturb other passengers on the flight, especially near first class.

We landed in Daytona and the taxi lady had texted me to make sure I knew where to meet her. It turns out that she ended up purchasing the car seat right before picking us up since the one the company offered was being used by someone else! She was a really sweet lady and we ended up using her a couple times on our trip.

We finally arrived at Daytona Beach and enjoyed the nice flat sand and shallow waters. But we had to watch out for cars driving on the beach! We are not exactly used to that while hanging out at the beach. It also turned out to be Bike Week, but surprisingly the motorcycles didn’t turn out to be as disturbing as I thought. Alara got a kick out of the sound the motorcycles made. The condo resort we stayed in also had a nice pool, so we got to split time between the beach and the pool. I think Alara preferred playing around at the beach and chasing the seagulls.

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We had dinner one night at the Top of Daytona restaurant, which had great food and amazing views of the beach.


There was also one rainy day that we decided to get some ice cream and play some games.

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We were actually staying in two different resorts during our trip and had to transition to New Smyrna Beach about half way through our trip. Since there was a period of time between checking out of the first resort and checking in to the second, we decided to kill some time at the Orange Spring Carnival. There were vendors, activities, food, games and rides. Alara had a great time!


New Smyrna is a much quieter and a little more residential than Daytona Beach, although they still allow cars to drive on the beach. We really liked it there and I could honestly see ourselves purchasing a condo here to come back and relax!

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One good thing about staying in a condo resort with a full kitchen is saving money on eating out. We got to enjoy classy, home-cooked meals like our fancy fish sticks, green beans, mac and cheese, topped with a glass of wine (apple juice for Alara) meal. ūüôā


Overall, it was really great to enjoy some quality time with my aunt and get to enjoy the nice beach along with some nice weather. We were ready to head out, thankfully the nice taxi lady picked us up at 5am to catch our early flight. If anyone needs car ride services in the Daytona area, I would absolutely recommend her, just let me know. I also hope she gets some use out of that car seat she bought with us in mind. While Alara thoroughly enjoyed this trip, she as pretty exhausted and thankful to have the entire back row of the airplane. Thanks for something, Delta.