travel Posts

Wanderlust: Nepal

By: Stephanie Andrews

A few weeks ago I revisited one of my favorite places on Earth: Nepal (home of Mt. Everest, Hindu temples, Buddhist stupas, and quite frankly the most beautiful people I’ve ever met). My brother-in-law, Bhupesh, is a Nepal native and owns Nepal Travels there, so my family got the inside scoop of a lifetime when we went!

Photo courtesy of Edward Andrews.

After a grand total of 30 hours on two different planes, we arrived at Bhupesh’s family home in Kathmandu. From there we trekked The Golden Triangle to Pokhara and then to Chitwan National Park. I say “trekked” because although we had an expert driver, the roads were long, bumpy, full of potholes, and often closed altogether. But the journey is part of the experience, and we were able to enjoy the true flavor of local villages along the way! We also went white water rafting with a local guide, his wife, and his kids. Summertime in Nepal is hot, and we were all looking forward to taking a dip, especially with possibly the most beautiful view ever.

Photo courtesy of Edward Andrews.

Quite an adventure awaited us in Pokhara, which is a charming little lake town with lots of shops and beautiful inns like the one we stayed in. We experienced paragliding like never before! A quick drive brought us to the top of a giant hill (here in Georgia we would definitely call this a mountain), got a running start, and leapt off the edge for a 20 minute ride of a lifetime to the lake below. I once again had to place ultimate trust in a complete stranger. Incredible experience!

Photo courtesy of Travel Tipsor.

Then there came Chitwan National Park, where we rode elephants and bathed them in the river. These incredible creatures got us up close and personal with deer, rhinos, and crocodiles. But it was bathing in the river and massaging them with smooth rocks that really fostered my love for these gentle giants.

Photo courtesy of Stephanie Andrews.

After this journey we returned to Kathmandu to visit a dear family friend Bina Basnet. She is the founder of Orchid Garden, a school/daycare for kids who have little besides their big hearts, joyful laughter, and ability to welcome us as their new best friends. They were so loving and welcoming that my daughter Allie asked to spend the rest of her summer break there volunteering. Of course I said yes! Just look at these amazing children.

Photo courtesy of Edward Andrews.

Photo courtesy of Edward Andrews.

In conclusion, Nepal is one of my favorite places on Earth. If you get the opportunity to go, please don’t hesitate to contact me for information and tips. I would love to share what I know and relive the adventure!

Pop Up Shop: Turkish Bazaar

We love Turkey, linens (towels, bedding, and throws), and supporting our neighbors’ small businesses. So when we got the opportunity to help our Turkish neighbors by offering our studio for a weekend pop up shop, we jumped at the chance! Come by Balance Design in Candler Park this Saturday and Sunday to find the perfect beach towel, bedding, or a treasured gift. See you there!

Wanderlust: San Diego

By: Shelby Adamson Pawlak

My husband and I recently had the chance to jaunt to the west coast, where I was a bridesmaid in a good friend’s wedding in San Diego.

Photo courtesy of San Diego Eater.

Photo courtesy of NBC.

Upon arrival we made our first stop at Liberty Public Market. Old navy barricades were transformed into eateries, bars, and craft vendors. What I loved about the space, besides the food and unique artful gifts, were the farmers market booths on the lawn and the vegetable garden growing out front. Spanish style architecture and bright paint helped us to appreciate not only the food but the detail in the structure as well. We loved it so much we went our first and last day in California.

Photo courtesy of California Beaches.

Photo courtesy of Traveldigg.com.

The next place on our list was Balboa Park. Rich in history, the park is home to multiple museums, performing arts venues, beautifully lush gardens, greenhouses, trails, and of course the San Diego Zoo. San Diego has the perfect climate for vegetation and it’s easy to lose yourself in the vast rose and cactus gardens. Our personal favorite was the greenhouse, which had an abundance of every plant you can think of. We even saw a staghorn fern that was close to 6 feet tall! Spectacular!

Photo courtesy of La Jolla Mom.

Photo courtesy of Hipmunk.

Our last leg of the trip was the wedding in La Jolla. The drive up was incredibly stunning with bright yellow and orange wild flowers climbing their way up the cliffs along the highway. We were lucky to have the venue directly on the beach, and allowed ourselves to get lost staring into the vast turquoise of the ocean and the beautiful topography of southern California. We treated ourselves to a night at La Valencia hotel, a Spanish style establishment built in 1926 that boasts original hand painted murals from the 1940s and is set right on the ocean. We did not want to leave!

We loved our visit to southern California and the only regret we had was not staying longer!

Our Picks: The Ideal Poolside Chill Spot.

By: The Balance Design Team

Things are heating up here in Atlanta. Summer is just around the corner, and in our neck of the woods that is one long season! How do we plan to beat the heat? Dive right in!

Stephanie’s pick:

PoolSA

Photo courtesy of Home Designing.

I feel very inspired by Japanese zen gardens, like this one in Kyoto, Japan. My dream includes a natural pool with Koi, moss, pavers and boulders, wonderful Dr. Seuss-like trees and zen temples. Every place I look would be a place for my eye to rest and marvel.

Elisabeth’s pick:

PoolEP

Photo courtesy of Stylish Eve.

I imagine a scene where an architect, landscape designer, electrician, and pool installer held hands and sung “Kumbaya” when they designed this perfectly transitional poolscape. Always on the search for such cooperative examples of indoor-outdoor space, this patio has it all: outstretching architecture, multiple hang-out levels, sultry lighting, tropical foliage, even an impressive outdoor shower. Let’s throw some Moroccan tiles on the side of that hot tub and call it a day (or night), folks.

Shelby’s pick:

PoolShA

Photo courtesy of My Design Chic.

The foliage, the loungers, the incredible and beautifully set table — this pool area incorporates my two favorite ideas: hostessing and relaxing. This photo screams summer garden and pool party to me. Who wouldn’t want to sip on some bubbly rose at this beautiful pool?  Swoon worthy!

Danielle’s pick:

PoolDC

Photo courtesy of Life With a View.

Look, I’m just gonna say it: I hate hot weather. But I love water. How do I reconcile these two extremes? Natural hot springs, of course! This geothermal pool is nature’s hot tub, surrounded by a sturdy yet beautiful rock ledge and the delightfully gritty Icelandic fields beyond. Be still, my icy heart.

Melody’s pick:

Melody Pool

Photo courtesy of Decoist.

When I think of relaxing poolside my mind immediately goes to my childhood summers, where I would spend several weeks in Turkey. To bring that feeling home requires special touches of the mediterranean. In my ideal poolside setting there is beautiful blue tile work to channel the feeling of the crystal clear waters. It is also incredibly important to me to have a space to entertain and/or lounge from day to night and still interact with people in the pool. This setting gives me just about everything I could hope for; there is space to comfortably lay out and tan, swim, entertain, and even build a fire in the evenings. It is my ultimate mediterranean oasis.

Deirdre’s pick (our newest team member!):

PoolDF

Photo courtesy of Ritz Carlton.

I love the greenery surrounding this pool, the lines and dropoff of the infinity pool, the wood deck, and the water feature gargoyle spouting water into the pool. Total eye candy. And the most beautiful and spa like pool I’ve been in! Dorado Beach, Puerto Rico.

However you choose to kick it poolside, we hope our favorites have given you the get-up-and-go to head outside.

Tihar: Nepal’s Festival of Lights

By: Stephanie Andrews

The end of October marks an incredible festival in Nepal called Tihar. Five years ago I got to witness this beautiful celebration in person in Katmandu, and it was truly an amazing experience. Dogs, cows, and homes were adorned with marigold garlands and lit up at night with candles, creating a breathtaking atmosphere.

One day of the festival is dedicated to cows, who are venerated with garlands and the best grasses because they signify wealth and prosperity.

nepal4

Photo courtesy of Mashable.

Colorful earthen lamps are used to decorate the home during this festival of lights.

nepal2

Photo courtesy of Avax News.

Cows aren’t the only animals celebrating Tihar. Dogs are also honored during the festival with flower garlands and vermillion (and food!).

nepal1

Photo courtesy of Life With Dogs.

The festivities during Tihar are truly a one of a kind sight. Just another reason visiting Nepal should be on your bucket list!