All posts by Josh Harrison

I love photography and travel. Anytime I have the opportunity, I jump on an airplane and head out on an amazing adventure.

New Camera!

My old camera died and went to camera heaven. I took my new one out and snapped some pics…

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Beautiful Rome

Rome is such a magical city.  Unlike many other European cities, there are no skyscrapers dotting the skyline, casting shadows over their ancient and medieval monuments.  This is a city whose inhabitants consider themselves Romans before being Italian, and take great pride in their heritage and their food.  I wasn’t sure what to expect when I got to Rome…I had heard it was a bit dirty, and the chance of being pickpocketed was higher than other places.  I found it to be rather charming, though.  Sure, there’s trash on the streets here and there, and the sidewalks are crowded with tourists and city dwellers.  I’ve been to many European cities and villages, and Rome had its own unique atmosphere.

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It was early November when I arrived.  The sky was dotted with clouds, and most of the weather forecasts called for rain almost each evening.  I live in Seattle, so a little rain isn’t going to scare me away.  Rome can be notoriously hot in the summer, so I was glad to be there in the fall, when there are also fewer tourists.  I booked this trip kind of on a spur of the moment.  I had been there once before, but only for about a day and a half…certainly not enough time to experience all that the city has to offer.

I had purchased a pass that included entry to several different attractions, but I didn’t use it.  I found that, with so much history surrounding me, I needed guided tours.  There’s a wonderful company I had heard about while surfing YouTube for travel ideas.  The company is called Walks of Italy, and they specialize in walking tours around the city, and grant visitors with unprecedented access to some of the city’s most famous sites.  I went on more than one tour with them: Pristine Sistine, Gladiators’ Gate at the Colosseum, the Catacombs, and an extensive tour of the ruins at Palatine Hill.

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Of all the tours, I think Pristine Sistine was my absolute favorite (they were all fantastic, though).  Our guide, Davide, was animated, funny, and very informative.  He’s the one that told us that Romans consider themselves Roman over Italian.  This tour gave us early access to the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel.  We didn’t have to push through large crowds, and it felt like a very intimate, private event.  There were only a handful of us in the group, too.  The tour ends inside Saint Peter’s Basilica, so tour groups are awed from beginning to end.

Seeing the Colosseum was a dream come true as well.  I found myself going there several times during my week in Rome, sometimes just to stand outside and marvel at it.  It’s so amazing to see this behemoth that was constructed 2,000 years ago, and picture the masses of people sitting around the arena.  IMG_2332

The catacombs are a definite must-see, as well.  I had a mishap with my camera, and pictures are not allowed inside the catacombs, so there aren’t any pictures of my tour.  We saw three different sites: The Capuchin Crypt, one of the least visited Roman catacombs, and the Basilica San Nicola in Carcere.  You can find out more about that tour, and see pics here.  In the catacombs we visited on this tour, we saw the oldest known painting of the Virgin Mary and Jesus, painted in the 200’s AD.  Even as an atheist, I found this tour very interesting.

The food was beyond amazing!  To replenish my body at the end of the day, I would gorge myself on carbonara and tiramisu.  Historia La Vacca won my vote as best restaurant in Rome.  The food was so good, I ended up eating there twice.  IMG_2740

If you haven’t been to Rome yet, put it on your bucket list.  Everything about it makes it a must-see.  Take a little peek at my Instagram: @thesolovoyager, for more pics of my trip.  Due to an accident with my camera, most of my pics were taken with my iPhone.

My New Love Affair With Delta Air Lines

When I fly international, I usually try to fly a flag carrier of the country I’m going to.  I’ve had the opportunity to experience the wonderful service on board Qantas, Air France, and British Airways, just to name a few.  On my recent trip to Italy, however, I was faced with the opportunity to fly on Delta.  I’ve flown with Delta domestically many times, and have been very pleased.  One of my more recent trips, from Seattle to LAX, the head purser greeted us with a smile and a, “Hello, friend!”  For my trip to Rome, Expedia gave me the option to fly Delta One, their business class product, from Seattle to Amsterdam.  From Amsterdam, I was on a KLM flight, which I’ll discuss later.  Spoiler Alert: I love KLM too!

Delta has a pretty large presence here in Seattle.  There are billboards everywhere, and it seems like Delta and Alaska Airlines own the terminals.  Check-in was a breeze, and I was given the option of choosing between two lounges to relax in.  I opted for the Delta lounge in the S terminals, where Seattle’s international flights arrive and depart.  The lounge was comfy, but a bit crowded.  It was Friday, after all, so that was to be expected.  Everyone was glued to the windows to watch the snow falling outside.

After a bit of a delay due to the weather, it was finally time to board the big, beautiful A330-300 aircraft that would whisk me across the US, Canada, Greenland, Iceland, the UK, and into Amsterdam.  I was already in love with the Delta One seats, after watching some YouTube reviews.  I settled in with a drink, and waited to take off.

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The window seats are perfect for anyone traveling alone, as they point slightly toward the windows to give passengers a sense of privacy.  The middle seats point toward each other, so there’s a little less privacy there.  Each seat has direct aisle access, a nice big screen for the in flight entertainment (IFE), and a seat that lies fully flat.

The service was PHENOMENAL!!!  That goes for my return trip as well.  The food offerings were great, and there was a small setup at the front of the cabin with little snacks and beverages.  The seat was comfy, and I never felt bored with all the IFE options.  I can’t think of a single bad thing to say about my time with Delta.  Actually, flying with Delta gave me a sense of security and comfort.  I had a short connection in Amsterdam on the way home, and jumping back on a Delta flight made me feel like an old friend was picking me up to take me home.

Delta’s partnership with KLM and Air France make it easy to get from the US to any point in Europe.  I think I’ll go out of my way to book myself on a Delta flight next time I have the opportunity.  I transitioned safely to a KLM flight from Amsterdam to Rome, and fell madly in love with KLM as well.  I’ll write more about them early next year…I’ll be flying their 787 on my way home from Edinburgh.

So, thank you, Delta Air Lines!  You’ve reached the summit of my list of favorite airlines.

PNW’s Autumn Colors

While Washington may be known as the Evergreen State, it sure does like to get colorful when autumn rolls around. The evergreen trees provide a beautiful, lush background that further enhances the yellow and red leaves of all the other trees. I do a lot of walking since I don’t own a car, and I love seeing the colors deepening every day. I think it takes me twice as long to get where I need to go, because I’m soaking in the sights and taking pictures with my phone.

This is my absolute favorite time of year.  Not only because of the beautiful leaves, but the weather is cooler, my three favorite holidays are here, and I’m itching to put my Christmas tree up.  I’m keeping myself under control, though…no Christmas decorations until after Thanksgiving.

Paleo Pumpkin Cookies

I never intended for this blog to be a cooking/baking blog, but I’ve been having so much cooking and creating delicious foods that fit my new lifestyle. Losing 56 pounds and feeling so much better has been a huge motivator. While I do love a fresh piece of fruit after a delicious, healthy meal, I sometimes crave some of my favorite junk foods. So far, I’ve made pumpkin brownies, and now I’m trying pumpkin cookies. I love pumpkin, no matter what season it is.

Ingredients:

  • Coconut oil – 2 tbsp melted
  • Eggs – 3
  • Vanilla extract – 2 tbsp
  • Maple syrup – 1/4 cup
  • Pumpkin purée – 1 can (15oz)
  • Coconut sugar – 1/4 cup
  • Almond flour – 1 cup
  • Coconut flour – 1 cup
  • Baking soda – 1 tsp
  • Almond milk – 1/2 cup
  • Pumpkin Spice – 1 tbsp
  • Cinnamon – 1 tbsp

Let’s Get Started:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the coconut oil, eggs, vanilla extract, maple syrup, and almond milk.
  3. Add pumpkin purée, pumpkin spice, and coconut sugar and mix well.
  4. Stir in both types of flour.
  5. The mixture should be nice and gooey. Spoon out into golf ball-sized balls and space evenly on a parchment-lined cookie sheet.
  6. Place on the middle rack of your oven and cook for about 10 to 15 minutes.
  7. Once done, let cookies cool on a cooling rack. Cookies should be nice and soft. If you want crunchier cookies, let them cool on the cookie sheet.
  8. DEVOUR THEM!!!

Give these a try and let me know what you think. I hope you enjoy them!!

Paleo Treats

Something a little different for my neglected blog…

Josh’s Paleo Pumpkin Autumn Oat Things

Ingredients:

3/4 cup Almond Flour

3/4 cup Arrowroot Powder or Coconut Flour

1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder

2 cups Coconut Sugar

12 tbsp Coconut Oil

3/4 tsp Salt

1 cup Gluten Free Rolled Oats

1 cup Pumpkin Purée

1/2 cup Cacao Nibs

2 tbsp Vanilla Extract

1/2 cup Almonds (Whole or sliced)

1 Egg

2 tbsp Strong Coffee (room temp)

1 tsp Pumpkin Spice

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and grease a casserole dish with Paleo-friendly oil (i used coconut oil). Line with parchment paper.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk almond and arrowroot flours and baking powder. Set aside.

3. In a medium saucepan, melt the coconut oil and add coconut sugar over medium heat. Stir often. Once mixture is well combined, set aside and let cool. When mixture is cooled (room temp), add egg, vanilla, and salt.

4. In a large mixing bowl, combine the coconut oil/sugar mixture with rolled oats, coffee, pumpkin spice, and pumpkin purée. Add flour/baking powder mixture, cacao nibs, and almonds and stir together.

5. Pour evenly into casserole dish and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Use a toothpick to test the middle. If done, toothpick should come out clean.

6. Let them cool. Cut and enjoy.

Sailing

The summer has been crazy gorgeous this year, and I’ve been finding different ways to go out and enjoy the sun.  It’s pretty easy to find things to do around Seattle, and one of my favorite parts about living here is all the water we live around.  I came across an Instagram account for a company on the Waterfront called We Sail Seattle, and booked an hour and a half sailing excursion.  I had an incredible time!  I even attempted to catch everything on my new GoPro, which I had never used before.  I still have a lot to learn about filmmaking.

There were about 35 people on board the sailing yacht on Saturday, including myself. As someone who suffers from chronic back issues, I should have been in line to board first to get a more comfortable spot on the boat. I ended up at the very front, which had its perks, but also its downsides. I had an amazing view of everything, but I was sitting cross-legged on a hard surface with no back support. I’m not complaining, by any means, but simply pointing this out to anyone who may also have issues.

The weather was beyond perfect!  Beautiful, blue skies, and tons of sunshine.  It does get a chilly on the water, so take a jacket, no matter what time of year you go.

I can’t say enough nice things about We Sail Seattle.  The crew and staff were very friendly, and I will gladly go on other excursions.  Visit their website at www.sailingseattle.com for their most current prices, schedules, and excursions.  I paid $36 for an hour and a half.  There’s also a 2 hour sunset sailing for a bit more, which I will definitely try out before the summer is over.

Love Where You Live

I usually hibernate near the air conditioner during the summer, because I usually hate everything about it. I hate the crowds, the sunshine, and most of all I hate the heat! Give me clouds and rain any day! This summer is a bit different, though. I’m enjoying being out in the sun, and walking around the city and various open green spaces. 

When I travel, I always remember that I’m an ambassador for where I live. I cannot say enough great things about Seattle and the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Here are some pics I took with my iPhone today while out and about: