{Happy Friday + Meet Jenna!}

Happy, happy Friday!!!
You may or may not have noticed that I haven’t blogged since last Friday.
Well, Tuesday I got really sick with the stomach flu or food poisoning or something that had me completely bed-ridden and miserable. 
That put me out of commission until Thursday. 
Thursday was an insane day at work because it was my last day in the office before our two week trip to South Africa (!!!). 
And right now, as you read this, I am in London for the day.
So needless to say, it has been a craaazzzyyyy week and I have many things on my to-do list that have yet to get done.
But alas, tomorrow we’re off to Africa. A place I honestly never even dreamed of going. It just seemed so far away. We couldn’t be more excited! 
Everything we’ve read and heard about South Africa is that it’s the most incredible place in the world.
As I was packing I realized that I completely forgot how to prepare for big trips like this – it’s our first vacation over a week since our honeymoon in 2010!
I have a feeling I didn’t do a very good job packing for all our activities, but only time will tell 🙂

I have this crazy idea that I’m going to blog a photo and a travel memory  each day(ish). While we’re gone. Knowing me, I can’t be sure this will actually happen. But I’m putting it out there because I want it to happen. I think it’d be really awesome to look back on, and I also think it would be fun to keep you guys updated on what we’re up to. It may be a photo from my camera or just one from my phone (but I promise it won’t be one I already instagramed). So, wish me luck with that!
And last, but certainly not least I want to introduce you to another sponsor! It’s particularly awesome and coincidental that I’m introducing you to Jenna from A Home Away From Home this week because she just so happens to live in South Africa!! In my opinion she puts my blog to shame as she posts about all her incredible and unique travels through Africa.   She got engaged to the love of her life last summer and is planning on getting married in South Africa this December! You should really head over and check out her exciting life. I have a feeling she’ll become a new daily read for those of you that don’t already know her! A little more about Jenna below (in her own words!).
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Hello Explore.Dream.Discover readers!  My name is Jenna and I blog over at A Home Away From Home about my life as an American ex-pat living in South Africa.  South Africa started out as a semester study abroad experience for me, but after I met and fell in love with a local I just sort of never left, and still find myself here five years later!  Most of my posts are about our adventures in and around Johannesburg, but you’ll also find plenty of travel, ex-pat, and recipe posts thrown in for good measure.  And… in the most recent turn of events Jurgen proposed {!!!}, so you can bet that a quite a few wedding-related posts will also be making their way into the mix soon 🙂  I hope you’ll stop by and say hello!

{Congratulations Mr. & Mrs. Graham!}

Our weekend in Scotland was absolutely perfect.
Megan and Stephen tied the knot on a rare + gorgeous sunny day in Glasgow.
We then wined and dined and celebrated the happy couple at the ridiculously amazing Cameron House in Loch Lomond.
It was an incredibly beautiful day that honored an incredibly beautiful couple. 
Keep an eye out for wedding photos and recaps over on Megan’s blog.
Once she’s finished recapping I’ll post some photos over here too!
Thanks again to the Grahams for letting us be a part of their special day – and an even bigger thanks for trusting me enough to photograph this momentous occasion. I truly hope I did your wedding justice – it was pure perfection!

Love you guys and congrats again!
{Photo © Liz Denfeld Photography}

{Scotland Here We Come + Meet Danica}

Well, we’re off again! This time we’re heading to….
But not just that…
We’re going for a very special occasion…
Megan + Stephen are tying the knot!!!
Corey + I are so excited to be there for this huge moment in their lives.
And even better – Sophie will be joining in on the celebration, so I finally get to meet her! Hooray!
We’ll be instagramming the weekend away, no doubt. So feel free to follow along if you’d like:

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I’d also love to introduce you to a darling new sponsor! Danica from GoodHeart is a sweet girl who writes her blog from our old hometown of Portland, so I’m always longingly reading her posts missing home! She’s super sweet, posts fun outfits (this one would be perfect in Amsterdam) and inspiring quotes. Find out more about Danica below and then hop on over and to her blog and you’re sure to find a new daily read!
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Hi everyone! I’m Danica and I blog over on Goodheart . I’m a recently turned 24 year old (as of February 27th!) Texas girl, who decided to move to Liz’s hometown, Portland, Oregon. It’s now been almost two years since I moved, and I’m loving it! Thessaloniki, Greece is possibly my favorite place in the world, I’m a big fan of cold weather, and I love chai tea lattes. My blog is all about fashion, travel, photography, and other things I find inspiring. Come on over and say hi! 

{Scotland photo by Megan}

{Madrid: Around Town}

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When we moved to Europe we made a huge list of cities we wanted to visit while we were living abroad. The list was long. Way too long to accomplish seeing all these beautiful places in two years. We’ve put a dang good dent in those cities, but there are still many on our list. One that wasn’t on our list? Madrid.
To be honest, as an American, you hear way more about Barcelona than you do about Madrid. And I remember a year and a half ago when we researched Madrid for a quick weekend away, we realized there really weren’t any notable sites we felt like we had to see, so we scratched it off our list.
Well, then Nicole moved to Madrid and she raved about how incredible it was – even saying it was more amazing than Barcelona. I trust that girl’s opinion, so a few months after she moved Corey and I booked a quick weekend visit. I am so glad we did. Madrid isn’t about any specific sites, it’s just about being a big beautiful city packed with charm, beautiful architecture and really good Italian food (What! I know, strange, but true.). We so enjoyed our weekend in Madrid and only wished it would’ve been a teensy bit warmer (but when do we not wish that?!). Hanging out with Nicole is always such a treat! And what’s not to love about having a personal city guide?! She showed us all the best parts of her new home. Here are some snaps from all around town. I hope they give you an idea of just how gorgeous Madrid is!
P.S. A few travel tips below the photos if you’re looking for Madrid suggestions 🙂
 {If you find yourself in Madrid – here are a few places we suggest you don’t miss (many pictured above!): Retiro Park, Mercado de San Miguel, Chocolateria San Gines (for the most amazing churros – be prepared to wait in line), Plaza de Oriente, al fresco lunch at Cafe de Oriente, Plaza Mayor, Vertical Garden at CaixaForum followed by coffee and a treat at the Vertical Cafe, Templo de Debod, and my biggest tip of all (thanks to Nicole), dinner at Piccolo Diavolo – get the pasta with pear and ricotta. I know it sounds crazy, and we were totally skeptical, but Nicole convinced us it was the best thing she’s ever eaten, and goodness was she right. We returned the next night to have that dish!}
{We stayed here. We found the location to be great, the price to be fantastic, and the place was comfortable and cute}

{Madrid: Retiro Park}

We started our first morning in Madrid with a run through Retiro Park. Clearly I had to go back so I could take pictures. It was pretty quiet in the earlier hours of the morning when we were running, but once we returned later that day it was packed with runners, roller bladers, dogs, strollers, you name it. It was chilly out, but the sun was shining, and everyone was out enjoying it. We even saw an adorable impromptu puppet show being watched by a huge crowd of kids – it was the most darling thing ever! We’ve noticed that almost every major European city we’ve visited has a massive city park (or two or three or four) right smack dab in the city center – something you don’t find much outside of New York City’s Central Park. Visiting all these parks has become one of our favorite things to do on weekend getaways.
 {Photos © Liz Denfeld Photography}

{Three Things}

Happy, happy Friday! 
I’ve got three things for you today…

First… Hop on over to Aspiring Kennedy to see the maternity photos I took for Lauren and her hubby, Tyler! She is seriously glowing and they were so much fun to take pictures of.
Second.. We’re off to Madrid for the weekend to hang out with Nicole, drink sangria and check out the city! I’m losing count of how many cities Nicole and I have met up in… San Francisco, Barcelona, Amsterdam, Seville…Now we’re adding Madrid – it’s going to be a great weekend! I’ll be Instagraming my little heart out – so follow me there if you’d like to see what we’re up to 🙂
Lastly.. I have spots for sponsorship opening up. Shoot me an email if you’re interested, I’d love to have you! exploredreamdiscoverblog {at} gmail.com
Have a great weekend!

{Montreux, Switzerland}

Before our trip to Switzerland, I’d honestly never heard of the city of Montreux. We passed through it by train on our way from Geneva to Val d’illiez and noted how beautiful it looked perched on the edge of Lake Geneva, the Alps appearing to plunge right down into its waters right before your eyes.  We were so captivated that we decided we’d day trip back to check it out. Unfortunately, had we done our research ahead of time we would’ve realized that Montreux is home to one of Switzerland’s best Christmas Markets. We were a day late, and walked through the market as all the vendors were closing up shop for the year. We were bummed we missed it, but happy we chose the day we did to visit because it was absolutely beautiful. The sun was shining and it glimmered so brilliantly off the water that it really did blind you (in the best way possible). We were so enjoying the sun and our perfect walk along the Lakeside Promenade that we ended up abandoning our original plan to visit the Chateau de Chillon. I’m a little sad we didn’t make it there, but happy we spent time basking in the sun instead! The entire time we walked along the water’s edge I couldn’t stop thinking about how amazing Montreux must be in the summertime. I decided right then and there we had to come back someday – hopefully when the weather was warmer!
 {Photos © Liz Denfeld Photography}

{Champery, Switzerland}

Champery is a small village that was located a 10-minute tram ride from the town we were staying in. It’s the quintessential Swiss ski resort town I had always imagined in my head. All the stores and restaurants with views of the Alps, everything made of wood with Swiss flags swaying every way you turned. On Christmas Eve we were feeling antsy to get out of the house so we decided to make the short trip over to walk around, ride the gondola up the mountain, have some hot chocolate, and ultimately have dinner at a cozy restaurant back in the town center. It was incredible to climb up the mountain in the gondola and come face-to-face with the peaks we had been staring up at for days from the window of our chalet. It was windy when we were up there, but it was so breathtaking we didn’t even care! We missed our families so much that day, but experiencing this awe-inspiring sunset together on top of the world definitely made us feel a little better!
 {Photos © Liz Denfeld Photography}

{This Weekend…}

It was so much fun to head to London for the weekend to celebrate Lauren and her twin girls!
We had a bumpy start on Friday night.. But all was well by Saturday morning.
It was a pretty low key weekend filled with girly chats and brunch dates. My idea of perfect!
I even got to take some photos for Lauren and her hubby to mark this special time in their lives. I can’t wait to share! 
Sadly, I’m still sick, so I’m back to bed today. Learned my lesson last week that I won’t get better unless I rest, so I’m making that a priority!
What did you do this weekend? Anything fun? Hope you have a wonderful Monday!