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Sometimes... You plan a camping trip in June, and its 93 degrees of sweaty summer heat. Sometimes you even get a thunderstorm on top of that. You leave Northern Virginia with a goal of catching sunset from Crescent Rock Overlook in Shenandoah National Park, but traffic delays arrival until well after the moon has risen. You wait for the night sky to reveal a wondrous starry night sky, only to have clouds roll in, obscuring the Milky Way. You plan to hike to up to the top of a mountain with some of your closest friends, but life gets in the way, and you're relegated to, "Wish I could, but some other time guys!" You aim to build, "the biggest fire the North has ever seen," but run out of dry firewood by 9 o'clock, and end up cold in the dark.

But this time... The campfire burned through the night. We shared laughs over a picnic from a summit with an incredible view. The clouds part, and the Milky Way shows itself to the naked eye. Traffic eased enough to allow us to see all of sunset's beautiful colors in the valley below. Days of humidity melt away, and we were left with a perfect weekend in June.


Scotland’s capital city, and the country’s second most populous, Edinburgh is an enchanting city with the uncanny ability to transport visitors back in time via its narrow closes, medieval buildings, and lush gardens. Having been inhabited by various cultures, clans, and monarchs since as far back as the Mesolithic, the city (and especially its Old Town neighborhood) has a rich and varied history. It has been home to kings and queens, and holds Scotland’s Crown Jewels to this day. It’s been described not just as the Athens of the North, but also as “Auld Reekie,” a city of loud, crowded pubs and decadent restaurants. To us, it was home for four days in late May.

Princes Street Gardens and downtown Edinburgh from the top of Edinburgh Castle.

We arrived via train, by way of London late on a Sunday afternoon. Our Accommodation was a lovely little mewes apartment in Stockbridge (it seems it must’ve been a carriage house and garage at one point). After the long journey, we found it prudent to stay local for our first evening, and explore the neighborhood. A short walk downhill took us to the nearest thoroughfare, and after a pint at one of the local pubs (Stockbridge Tap, whose pints made up for what it might have been lacking in atmosphere), we found ourselves at The Scran & Scallie. Having been recommended by multiple friends who’d been to the area before, S&S was our introduction to the food of Scottish Chef, Tom Kitchin. It was a wonderful first impression. The Sunday Roast was phenomenal, and we left with full bellies and tired bodies, but ready to see the city.

Monday morning was a quintessential Scottish morning, chilly and gray, and the forecast had us worrying that rain might be in our future. Luckily the weather held, and after a bacon & egg “butty” and coffee at a little coffee & wine bar called Vesta, we set out to see Edinburgh’s Old Town.

The view down Princes Street form Calton Hill

Our first stop was in what are probably Edinburgh’s most famous gardens: Princes Street Gardens. Covering 29 acres, the parks were created following the draining of what was once loch used as part of the city’s defenses. Today, the parks are home to quite a bit of green space, an amphitheater, as well as numerous statues and memorials. As we moseyed through the parks, we noticed a bit of crowd gathering, including men and women in uniform. Unbeknownst to us, one of the memorials in the Princes Street Gardens is a Scottish-American War Memorial, at which, soldiers from both Scotland and the United States were presenting their respective colors for an annual US Memorial Day ceremony. It was quite a nice surprise.

Caroline taking flight atop Calton Hill

Next on the itinerary, was Calton Hill. Right in the city centre, it’s impossible to miss, as it’s topped by Edinburgh’s own Acropolis. Not nearly as ancient as its namesake in Athens, Scotland’s version was also never finished, as funds ran dry during the 1822 construction of what was once called the “National Monument,” leaving only a facade complete. Calton Hill is also home to an old observatory and to Nelson’s Monument, but its true attraction is wonderful views of the city, and of the nearby Arthur’s Seat. Despite the cloudy day, the views were great, and it’s a spot that I’d recommend to anyone visiting Edinburgh. The Hill would be a great spot for a picnic lunch. It is easily accessible, not too crowded (though there were quite a few people there), and not a very difficult climb.

The colorful storefronts of Victoria Street were J.K. Rowling’s inspiration for Diagon Alley in the Harry Potter books.

Our afternoon took us to the heart of Old Town in Edinburgh for a tour of the city’s centerpiece: Edinburgh Castle. The castle sits atop Castle Rock, overlooking the Royal Mile. It has been home to monarchs, military, and now tourists (fun fact: it is actually still an active military installation!). We joined one of the castles guided tours, and were glad we did. Our guide provided just the right amount of context and history as she showed us around the site. We explored the Scottish National War Memorial, toured the Great Hall, gazed up on the Honours of Scotland (amongst the oldest Crown Jewels in all of Europe), and walked through what used to be the castle’s prisons (seeing what is one of the earliest renditions of an American flag, dating back to the American Revolution).

Edinburgh Castle

As the resident history buff of the group, I found the castle fascinating, particularly the story of the Black Dinner, which is said to have inspired Game of Thrones’s infamous Red Wedding. As a historical landmark, Edinburgh Castle is certainly one of the city’s must-see landmarks, and I think the opportunity to spend some time walking around, learning about the Scottish capital’s history was well worth the price of admission.

Our first full day in Scotland concluded where the previous evening did: in Stockbridge. Lauren and Caroline’s cousin Joanna was scheduled to arrive via train after dinner, so we made sure to grab a bite at local pub (The Bailie’s fish and chips really hit the spot!) before embarking on a pub crawl of sorts, with a stop for a couple of pints at Hectors on our way back to The Stockbridge Tap for a second visit in as many nights, where we welcomed Jo to the traveling party, and wound down our evening.

Edinburgh Castle from behind.

Tuesday began as Monday did, with a walk through the heart of Edinburgh over to Old Town. This time, our destination was a tour of a different sort at Mary King’s Close. A historic close located along the Royal Mile, Mary King’s Close has become something of a tourist destination (maybe even a tourist trap). An old street of partially demolished and buried tenement buildings (the city’s Royal Exchange was built on top of what remained of the buildings), the close has a history of hauntings and is the subject of many urban myths. Today, it is a historical tour that takes visitors on a journey through the old buildings’ remaining rooms and through time; telling tales of sewage in the streets, residents falling to their deaths from rickety ladders, and the horror of the plague. While elements of the tour were fascinating, I’m not sure its a tour that would top my list of recommendations for future visits.

After spending a morning in the dark and dusty remains of a buried street, we emerged into the fresh air; making our way to the nearby Leith for the highlight meal of the trip at The Kitchin. Showcasing the best of Tom Kitchin’s ideas, the restaurant is one of eight in Scotland showcased in the Michelin guide (with 1 star), and one that showcases the country’s ingredients. Highlights of our meal included an ox tail appetizer, guinea fowl main, and the wonderful cheese cart. The Kitchin is not to be missed when in Edinburgh.

The Scott ladies pause to pose on a sunny Edinburgh afternoon.

As we left the restaurant, we found ourselves in the midst of a bright sunny day, and took the opportunity to take the scenic route back to our accommodations with a stroll along the banks of the Water of Leith, a meandering little river that connects Edinburgh to Leith. Along the way, we passed numerous cyclists, residents out for an afternoon walk, and of course a number of westies being walked by their owners.

Our Tuesday adventure wound to a close with happy hour pints on the patio at The Raeburn, a trip to the local Waitrose, and a light meal back at our AirBnB, where Caroline spent the better part of our evening introducing Lauren and Jo to the wonders of First We Feast’s The Hot Ones.

Looking out towards Arthur’s Seat from Calton Hill.

A drizzly selfie.

Wednesday featured a persistent light rain. Luckily, it was not enough to deter us from enjoying our final day. We continued our trend of moving around by foot, as we set off for Arthur’s Seat. Only about a mile east of the castle, the extinct volcano is a striking peak that overlooks the city of Edinburgh. It has been mentioned in a number of literary works over the years, and is thought to be named for the legendary King Arthur, as it may have been the location of the mythical “Camelot.” Our “hike” that day was more of a walk, as we chose to spend our time and energy exploring the base of the hills, rather than brave the wind and rain at the peak. Climbing to the summit will surely be on our list the next time we visit.

How many hands must’ve rubbed the toe of this David Hume statue for luck?

Lunch consisted of burgers, haggis, and a flight of various whiskies at Whiski Rooms. I quite enjoyed the haggis spring roll appetizer, but was less than impressed with the burger. After lunch, we spent the early part of the afternoon browsing various gift shops and boutiques. Caroline had a particularly fruitful visit to Scribbler, as she walked away with more than a half-dozen of their unique brand of greeting cards, while Lauren managed to find a Harris Tweed coat for Lucy that we just could not pass up. With no end in sight to the rain, we spent the remainder of the afternoon and early evening first at Bramble sipping cocktails against an early 90s hip-hop soundtrack, and then at Kay’s Bar milking a happy hour pint (and whisky).

After watching a less than satisfying Europa League final in a return visit to The Bailie, we squeezed in one last meal: a late evening dinner at Nok’s Kitchen. After a few days of delicious local cuisine and pub food, a bit of Thai spice hit the spot. We enjoyed all of the dishes we ordered, but the pad ka prow was an especially tasty choice. Following dinner, we made our way back up the hill from Stockbridge, and ended our time in Scotland with a well-deserved night of sleep.

Edinburgh is a gem of a city. It combines old with new in quite a unique way. Its history is enchanting, and it has a unique Scottish beauty to it. I’m happy to have spent some time in it, and it’s a city that I’ll look forward to visiting again. When I think back to our mornings and evenings in Stockbridge, and contrast them with our afternoons enjoyed downtown, it feels like Robert Louis Stevenson really nailed when he wrote:

“Half a capital and half a country town, the whole city leads a double existence; it has long trances of the one and flashes of the other; like the king of the Black Isles, it is half alive and half a monumental marble.”

Steamboat Springs

It's easy to lose photographic motivation in the winter.

Cold, windy days. Short days. Long nights. It's a time of year that can be brutal for the outdoor photographer. The motivation to get out and explore can often go missing for weeks or months at a time.

Winter can also be beautiful though. Snow. Ice. Mountains. The warm colors of a dying winter sunset. These are some of nature's most beautiful creations. What better place to find all of these and more than the Rocky Mountains?

Earlier this winter, I had the opportunity to visit Steamboat, Colorado for the first time. The trip is one of Lauren's annual traditions, and after spending a week there, I can completely understand why. I made to pack my trusty O-MD E-M1 Mk II, a couple lenses, and promised myself, this would be a perfect opportunity to find some inspiration.

Steamboat Springs is one America's great ski towns. It has proudly produced more Olympians than any other town in North America (98 and counting), and the resort has gone as far as to trademark the Champagne Powder snow (6 percent water compared to the more typical 15 percent) that often falls on its mountain. The resort boasts 18 ski lifts, 169 trails, and spreads over 2,965 acres.


Outside of the mountain, the town also boasts quite a bit to do. There is ample opportunity for cross-country skiing in the winter, more than a few delicious restaurants and bars, and an abundance of hot springs. In fact, the town's name of Steamboat Springs is a callback to the "steamboat-like sound" that early trappers heard coming from the hot springs back in the beginning of the 19th century.

Our week in Steamboat featured a little bit of everything, including the launch of an attempted world record firework (alas, it was unsuccessful). A camera was never far from my grasp.

We spent parts of three days on the slopes (Lauren on her snowboard, myself on a pair of rented skis) enjoying the views, the powder, and the cold mountain air. I enjoyed my leisurely descents down the mountain's less challenging routes, but I really looked forward to our daily lunch at Tbar, a local spot just off the trails. Their Pork Belly BLT was an especially good choice.


We also spent some time on flat(ter) ground, as one morning, we strapped on Nordic boots, and tried our hand at Cross-country skiing (it was my first time). We mostly had a blast, despite the final quarter of our route featuring heavy legs and a few falls (I am certainly thankful for the industry-leading weatherproofing on Olympus's O-MD series).

Even when we weren't skiing, we certainly weren't bored. Our visit coincided with Steamboat's annual Winter Carnival, which culminated in an evening combination ski & fireworks show featuring the "lighted man" (a prom king of sorts, who skis down the mountain covered in LED lights, with fireworks shooting out of a backpack), ski jumpers, local ski club kids, and the aforementioned record attempt (An attempt was made to launch and detonate the world's largest firework. It unfortunately was a dud; fortunately, no one was injured). We also spent more than one day traipsing around the town of Steamboat Springs, checking out the shops, having a vacation beverage or two, and generally just enjoying our time in the mountains. Outside of town, we made sure to spend an afternoon of R&R at Strawberry Park, a local hot spring that offered a hidden oasis for us to rest our tired muscles.

I don't think we ate a subpar meal the entire week. Some of the highlights included the french onion soup (and everything else) at Harwigs, the sauces and perfectly cooked meat at Mahogany Ridge Brewery & Grill, and tinga (and margaritas) at Salt & Lime. It would be a crime not to mention the decadent breakfasts at the Paramount and Creekside Cafe, where it was made clear that sausage gravy is the perfect sauce for chicken and waffles. I'd also highly recommend any of the brews at Storm Peak Brewing Company.

By the time we boarded our flight back to DC, I had a fully belly, sore legs, and a camera full of images that I'm proud of. Almost since the first time we met, Lauren described Steamboat as one of her "happy places," and I can now see why. It's a wonderful town in a picturesque location, and I look forward to my next visit.


When planning our recent honeymoon, Lauren and I considered quite a few destinations. As the big day approached, we narrowed our list, and a mid-October holiday in Southern Europe felt like the perfect celebration of our marriage.

Sometimes the only tool for the job is a real guidebook & map.

Southern Europe provides many great experiences to the modern traveller. Visitors in need of a tan can venture to the Mediterranean coastline, which is home to world-class beaches in places like Crete (Greece), Sardinia (Italy), and Brac (Croatia). Those looking to satisfy their innermost foodie can find can't miss meals in the iconic culinary destinations of Spain (San Sebastián and Barcelona) and Italy (Tuscany, Bologna, and Sorrento). History buffs can spend days and days exploring what remains from some of our most important ancient ancestors in Rome (Italy) or Athens (Greece).

Ultimately though, we agreed to travel somewhere that neither of us had previously been: Portugal.

Raising a glass to our first evening in Portugal.

A country rich in history, but small in stature (geographically, it's only about the size of the state of Virginia), it has, in the last half-decade, carved out its niche as a go-to destination. We constructed an itinerary for our trip that would allow us have a little bit of all of various experiences Portugal has to offer.


The Southern part of Portugal is flanked to the South and West the Atlantic Ocean. The region is known for its seaside cliffs, beaches, bays, and islands.

During the summer months it fills with tourists looking to enjoy a sunny holiday. October, however, is a bit quieter, and ended up being just the kind of place to relax for a few days to begin our trip.

At the recommendation of a friend, we chose to stay at Vilalara Thalassa in Porches. The resort was ideally situated atop a cliff, and had access to a gorgeous golden sand beach. We enjoyed our time relaxing by the water, strolling through the resort's gardens, and enjoying vinho verde poolside. And our single excursion took us to nearby Vila Joya for one of the stand-out dining experiences of our lives. For anyone looking for a resort experience on the Portugese coast, Vilalara Thalassa is hard to beat.

Sunset in Algarve was hard to beat.

The Alentejo

The largest region in Portugal, The Alentejo is made of rolling hills, wide open plains, and green vineyards. Some of Portugal's biggest vineyards are located here, and the landscape is dotted with marble towns and whitewashed villages. Come to enjoy the rich culinary traditions of Portugal (lots of pork!), while experiencing a varied history that dates as far back as the Paleolithic.

Wandering the streets of Évora.

Évora is one of Portugal's most well-preserved towns, as its walls date back to the 14th century. Inside those walls, we found ourselves wandering the narrow medieval streets, taking in the Roman columns of the Temple of Diana, climbing the cathedral's towers for a rooftop wander, visiting the lively town square, and finishing things off with a fantastic meal at a small restaurant that made us feel like we were family.

The cathedral of Évora, where we wandered around on the roof, and found a 360 degree view of the town and surrounding area.

While in The Alentejo, we also made time for a road trip, where found ourselves transported back in time to one of Portugal's oldest villages, Monsaraz. It would not have been a complete trip to The Alentejo though without a trip to a vineyard though, so we made sure to spend a couple hours in the tasting room at Esporao, where we had the opportunity to try some wine aged in clay barrels.

When it was time to check out of our hotel (the charming Albergaria do Calvario — we'd both highly recommend it!), we were sad to leave behind the charming history of The Alentejo.

A young couple takes in the view from atop the castle in Monsaraz.


It's hard to think of Portugal without also thinking about Port wine. Located in the Northern part of the country, Oporto is the home to Portugal's famous Port wine sellers. Their storefronts and cellars line the bank of the river Douro in Gaia, and the city of Porto steeply rises on the opposite bank.

Golden hour in Porto.

Câmara Municipal do Porto

It's a city with a unique charm, as well as a bit of an edge. It's also a city that caught in the midst of transition. The riverfront's historic buildings and port cellars are juxtaposed with the business of tourism happening on the river itself. These days, you're just as likely to see high-powered jet skis whiz by as you are to see a tree growing out of the side of a crumbling building.

After the relaxation of Porches and quiet streets of Évora, the bustle of the Porto was all the more apparent.

Lauren and I posing in the gardens of Serralves.

We spent about half of our time in Porto along the riverfront, where we sipped port wine and snacked on calamari and fish (but unfortunately did not arrive in time to tour any of the cellars). A hop-on/hop-off tour bus helped us explore the rest of the city, where we first strolled through the gardens of Serralves, and then found our way to the ocean for some incredibly fresh (and delicious) fish. We even found our way to what can only be described as a [combination vintage shop-art gallery-tapas bar], where we quenched our thirst and cooled our brows with afternoon caipirinhas.

Gaia is home to Porto’s world-famous port cellars.

Porto has been described as a one of Europe's "second cities". I'm not one to bestow or validate that kind of label, but it is a city that in 2018, very much feels like it's on the rise, with its own culture and uniqueness, and one that I might imagine will be very different if and when we return.

Porto’s train station is a beautiful example of the tile that can be found throughout Porto (and Lisbon).


It wouldn't be a trip to Portugal without a visit to Lisbon. It's a city with a long, proud history that was almost completely destroyed nearly 300 years ago by a massive earthquake. That earthquake in many ways has come to define the city, and to this day there seems to be a struggle between the old and the new.

Museu Nacional de Arqueologia

Confusing, narrow (but charming) streets in areas like Alfama contrast with the wider avenues and crush of tourists of the Baixa downtown. The city's skyline is as dotted by construction cranes as it is by the famous white cathedral domes. The Castle of St. Jorge is a perfect encapsulation of this, as some of its original fortifications date back to the 6th century, yet much of what's standing today was restored in the early 20th century.

Lisbon’s tram depot

Our Lisbon experience began in earnest with a long, winding walk from our AirBnb through the Bairro Alto & Chiado to a dinner reservation. It was a bit of prescient start to our visit, as the ups and downs of the journey mirrored the rest of our trip.

A Lisbon sunset, as seen from Miradoura da Graça.

Lisbon at night.

We thoroughly enjoyed the history lesson we received from our walking tour guide. We were not disappointed by the Pastéis de nata from the famous Pastéis de Belém. We got lost (in all the best ways) exploring the trendy LX Factory. We enjoyed varied restaurant experiences, which ranged from the michelin-rated Belcanto to a small traditional eatery in Alfama. We fell in love with the city's scenic views, both at sunset and in the afternoon.

Seen in the distance here, the Ponte 25 de Abril, connects Lisbon to Almada.

In Closing

If the trip taught me anything, it's that in a place like Paris, romance can be found on nearly every street corner; in Portugal (Lisbon in particular), it's there, but at times needs to be sought out (or even unexpectedly stumbled upon).

Lisbon’s number 24 tram (not quite as famous as the 28, but you take what you can get sometimes).

Look past the street art and crumbling buildings, the overeager street vendors and purveyors of illicit goods, and the ever-present cranes and construction, and you'll find the sunset views of the miradouros, that unexpected neighborhood wine bar with delicious tapas, the winding streets of Alfama, beautiful beaches, delicious food and wine, and some of the friendliest people you'll ever meet as a tourist.

StoriesMark TegethoffTravel
West Sussex & Hampshire, UK

Labor Day marks the traditional end of summer here in the States. This year we joined Lauren's family in the UK for an end-of-summer holiday.

We could not have asked for a better week to visit, as the weather in Southern England was the perfect respite from the stifling heat and humidity of Washington, DC. Our days were marked by crisp mornings and delightfully warm afternoons, and we lived out-of-doors about as much as in.

It was a trip filled with quality family time, but also marked by its excursions to a series of delightful neighboring towns.


Our home for the duration of the trip, Chichester, is the only city in West Sussex. It has quite a long history, with parts of its original Roman city walls still standing to this day. Additionally, the Chichester Festival Theater is one of the UK's flagship producing and touring theaters.

Staying just outside of Chichester with Lauren's aunt and uncle, this was our home base for the trip. Whether relaxing at the house and catching up over a glass of wine (or two or three), going for a morning run through the countryside with Caroline, or strolling through town, we thoroughly enjoyed our stay in Chichester, and look forward to our next visit.

Lauren and I relaxing on the lawn in Chichester.


On a peninsula situated between The Solent and Portsmouth Harbour on the Southern coast of England, Gosport was one of the Allied staging beaches for Operation Overlord (D-Day) during World War II. Its 17 miles of waterfront include a pebble beach at Stokes Bay that offers views of the many passing ships and pleasure craft.

Families and sailors alike enjoy a late summer afternoon on Stokes Bay.

We spent parts of a few days in Gosport this trip visiting Lauren's grandmother. This included a Sunday pub lunch at the Anglesey Hotel, followed by an afternoon stroll along Stokes Bay.

The view of Portsmouth and its Spinnaker Tower from across the harbour in Gosport.


A short ferry-ride from Gosport, Portsmouth has been a significant naval town for centuries, and its historic dockyard contains the world's oldest dry dock. Its the birthplace of Charles Dickens, the home of Portsmouth FC, and the Spinnaker Tower (one of the UK's tallest structures).

After a brief ferry ride from Gosport, our visit to Portsmouth was marked by a walk around the Historic Dockyards, and meal with a view at a Wagamama's in the Gunwharf Quays.


Home to Arundel Castle, seat of the Duke of Norfolk, Arundel is a small town in West Sussex. It's situated along the River Arun in a steep vale, and offers visitors a wonderful afternoon of visiting shops, touring the castle and its grounds, or enjoying an afternoon tea (or coffee).

Arundel Castle

While we arrived a bit too late in the afternoon to tour the castle on the day of our visit, we did visit a few of the shops, and spend a few moments relaxing over cider along the river.

West Wittering

A small village in the Chichester District of West Sussex, West Wittering boasts an unspoiled sandy beach with views of Chichester Harbour and the South Downs.

A panoramic view of West Wittering Beach

Our visit included a peaceful and pleasant walk along the large beach, and was a perfect cap to the trip.

The dunes on West Wittering Beach

StoriesMark TegethoffTravel