Hannah Drake

Bucket List

2019 Summer Bucket List

Self CareHannah DrakeComment

I’m oddly excited about summer this year. I prefer spring and autumn to summer, which is maybe why I moved to England where the summers are much more mild than Colorado. But this year I’m looking forward to it!

The last two years, I’ve done both an Autumn Bucket List and a Christmas Bucket List. This year, for the heck of it, I decided to do a Summer Bucket List for the first time. I’ll admit I mostly do these lists for myself. I like to set goals for myself and making a public declaration helps me keep them. (It doesn’t always work, but often enough.) It probably seems silly for someone nearing 30 to list ten things they want to do each season, but I really enjoy envisioning what I want my season to look like, whether that be summer, autumn, or Christmastime.

HOST A GARDEN PARTY

My friend Taylor and I have been dreaming about hosting a garden party for over a year now. We were hoping to do it in 2018, but our schedules didn’t allow for it to happen last year. Right now, we’re in the throes of garden party planning and I truly cannot wait to see it all come together next month! We’re envisioning a quintessential English garden party—or as close as two Americans can get—complete with floral dresses, pastel hats, and all the makings of a proper English tea. Plus prosecco, of course.

VISIT ENGLISH HERITAGE SITES

Earlier this week, we joined the English Heritage with a 15-month membership. We got a booklet of all the sites we have access to and I’m very excited to explore so many of these places across England. We don’t have any plans to leave the country this summer, so I’m hoping this will motivate us to do plenty of travel around England to dive into the rich history surrounding us. The #1 English Heritage site I want to visit this year is Stonehenge!

TAKE A ROAD TRIP

What better to see all those English Heritage sites than a road trip?! With a map of all the locations at the front of the booklet, it will make it easy to plan a trip around the sites or to add sites to an already planned trip. Of course there’s nothing like an American road trip, but I haven’t really done something similar here. We’ve driven a number of places in the last two years, including Wales and Scotland, but it wasn’t quite the same. We didn’t stop overnight anywhere or even make a special playlist just for the trip.

GO WALKING

I guess this is the English version of hiking? I’m not really sure. All I know is that I suck at hiking up mountains, so I’m hoping I’ll fair better in the rolling hills of England. I’ve spend a lot of time thinking about what I want my ideal life to look like and one of the things I frequently see is us walking through the English countryside in our waxed jackets and walking shoes, umbrellas in hand as needed. Though I won’t say no to a nice sunny day!

MAKE AN AMERICAN FLAG CAKE

I usually make an American flag cake every year for the Fourth of July and have even done so the last two years while living in England. It never fails to impress people, which I especially enjoy doing with my baking. We don’t currently have plans for any sort of Fourth of July celebration, but that doesn’t mean I can’t make the cake regardless! This year, I’m considering using a red velvet cake for the red layers instead of dyed white cake. I’m curious how it would turn out!

HOST A BBQ

Last year we hosted a First of July BBQ (hence the sign above), but it could possibly be a crazy time at our house by July, so we haven’t made any decisions yet. Still, it’s always nice to have some friends over for grilled meat in that famous British sunshine! I find the differences between American and British BBQ so be very strange indeed, though. Unless my family is strange for Americans, they seem quite different. In the States, you might have the option between burgers or brats/hot dogs and the guests might contribute some sides or desserts to the BBQ. In the UK, a lot of the BBQs I’ve been to, especially those not put on by an American, are usually BYO meat and have very few side options. I mean, where are the half dozen options to eat potatoes, Brits?! C’mon!

SPEND SATURDAY MORNINGS AT THE FARMER’S MARKET

I had hoped to start this in May, but the month proved to be a bit too hectic for us to manage. So we’re hoping to start in June (tomorrow, in fact!). It’s a really great way to support local agriculture and sustainability. I’m baffled at how often fruits and vegetables come packaged in plastic at our grocery store, so even though we have reusable produce bags, we don’t get to use them as often as we’d like. We’ve also been eating increasingly more plant-based meals, so a farmer’s market would be a great place to help with that. I’m terrible about shopping and eating in season, so it’ll be great to be in the market looking at what’s currently available and talking to the people who grew it all. I even got a new bag for all our shopping!

HAVE A PICNIC

I’m a huge fan of picnics! There’s no doubt about that. In fact, Luke and I did picnic-themed engagement photos. (See!) I think we’ve only had one each of the last two summers, so why ruin the streak now? We have a gorgeous picnic basket (albeit a heavy and inconvenient one) and we have to put it to good use! I kind of wish we had one of the lighter, easier to carry hampers that are available in most stores in the summer, so maybe I’ll look into selling ours and upgrading.

MAKE S’MORES IN THE BACK GARDEN

You can’t find graham crackers around these parts, but we make do with digestives. Luke built a fire pit one night last summer, which allowed us to toast mallows whenever we wanted! (BTW, let’s just all agree that Reese’s are best with peanut butter.) Now we even have beautiful adirondack chairs that Luke built last summer to sit in while we roast them!

ADOPT A PUPPY & A KITTEN

Okay, this is a big one. And maybe this summer is a bit ambitious, but this is one of the only things I even want this whole year! We’ve been itching to add a puppy and a kitten to the Drake household for months now. Well, perhaps since I moved two years ago. It’s closer than ever now and it may actually be time to start looking! We’re really set on getting them at the same time or at least around the same time so we can hopefully foster a good relationship between them and neither is too territorial or unsure of the other. Obviously we already have the names picked out, we just have to find the right ones! I’m hoping that at the very least, we get them both in the autumn. But of course hopefully sooner.

What's on your list for this summer?

Engagement Photos by Brianne Haagenson Photography.

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8 Game of Thrones Locations to Add to Your Bucket List

TravelHannah DrakeComment

Unless you’re brand new around here (in which case, HI!), you probably know that I’m obsessed with Game of Thrones. Unsurprisingly, that comes with the ultimate dream of visiting pretty much all of the filming locations used in the show (and pretending not to be disappointed to discover they were enhanced with CGI and lots of green screens), most of which are fairly “easily” accessible to me living in Europe. I’m still trying to convince Luke, though, to do one long Game of Thrones adventure.

So, in honour of my Game of Thrones obsession and the premiere of the eighth final season Sunday night in the States (or at 5:00AM for us…and again Monday night), I’m sharing the eight filming locations that top the list for me, one from each season. (Which was really difficult to do so I’m going to mention scenes from other seasons for most locations too.)

This post may contain spoilers for Game of Thrones through season eight, episode one.

SEASON ONE - KING’S LANDING

We’re introduced to a lot of castles, cities, and regions in both Westeros and Essos in the first season. But it is the game of thrones we’re talking about here, and as Queen Cersei tells us in episode 1.7, when you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. From the very beginning, the show is built around this idea and of course the throne everyone is after is the Iron Throne, located in Westeros’s capital city of Kings Landing. So with everything building to who will sit on the Iron Throne, I figured Kings Landing would be a good place to start.

Dubrovnik, Croatia is used for many exterior shots of Kings Landing and has been the location of some iconic scenes, not just in season one, like:

  • Joffrey’s name day tourney, when Tyrion arrives as Hand of the King, in episode 2.1 was filmed at Fort Lovrijenac

  • Myrcella’s departure to Dorne in episode 2.6 was filmed at West Harbor

  • Tyrion, Bronn, and Pod walk around the City Walls of Dubrovnik in episode 3.1, which are actual medieval city walls and a UNESCO World Heritage site

  • The gardens, first seen in episode 3.2 when Sansa dines with Olenna and Margaery, then throughout seasons three and four were filmed at Trsteno Arboretum

  • Joffrey and Margaery’s wedding, AKA the Purple Wedding, in episode 4.2 was filmed at Gradac Park

  • The trial by combat between The Mountain, Gregor Clegane, and The Viper, Oberyn Martell, in episode 4.8 was filmed at Belvedere Atrium, but is not open to the public and only visible from outside

  • Cersei’s walk of atonement (SHAME!) in episode 5.10 was filmed on St. Dominic Street and the scene in which she crosses into the Red Keep was filmed at the Ploče Gate, the entrance to Dubrovnik's Old Town

SEASON TWO - DRAGONSTONE

Even though the season seven premiere is named for Dragonstone, we’re first introduced to the castle (and it’s amazing carved table) in the season two premiere, when it was held by Stannis Baratheon. Historically, it was the seat of the Targaryens, as its where they landed when they first sailed to Westeros, but Stannis was given the castle when Robert Baratheon won his rebellion. It’s not a glamorous castle, but probably befitting Stannis. In episode 7.1, Daenerys finally lands in Westeros and arrives back at her home.

  • The steps to the castle were filmed at San Juan de Gaztelugatxe in Bermeo, Spain, though the dragon gates and castle are of course digitally added

  • The beaches of Dragonstone that we see especially in episodes 7.1 and 7.3 were filmed Itzurun Beach in Zumaia, Spain

SEASON THREE - BEYOND THE WALL

Again, there’s an episode literally called Beyond the Wall in season seven, but we spend quite a bit of time with the Wildlings in season three before they climb the wall with Jon is episode 3.6. Like many of these locations, we go beyond The Wall every season, but it just seemed to fit best here. We did see the first spiral from the White Walkers in season three. Anyway, if you’ve ever heard Kit Harrington (Jon Snow) on a talk show, you know they filmed A LOT in Iceland, from season two and beyond. (Season one’s scenes that take place north of the Wall were filmed at a quarry in Northern Ireland.) All the scenes and locations below were filmed in Iceland, but keep in mind there were some other awesome scenes filmed in Iceland, but took place south of the Wall in the show (like the path to the Eyrie, seen in episode 3.8 and the Hound and Brienne’s fight in episode 4.9).

  • The Frostfang mountain range is filmed at Höfðabrekkuheiði glacier

  • Jon and the Night’s Watch capture the Wildling Ygritte in episode 2.6, filmed at Svínafellsjökull glacier

  • Sam first finds dragonglass at the First of the First Men in episode 2.8, filmed at Mýrdalsjökull glacier

  • Sam and Lord Commander Mormont are attacked by the Army of the Dead in episode 2.9, Jon is brought to the King Beyond the Wall, Mance Rayder, in episode 3.1, and Ygritte steals Jon’s sword (before going into the cave) in episode 3.5, all filmed at Dimmuborgir

  • Sam running from the Army of the Dead in episode 3.1 was filmed at Hverir

  • Jon and Orell’s confrontation about the Night’s Watch in episode 3.5 was filmed at Lake Myvatn

  • Ygritte seduces Jon in the cave in episode 3.5, partially filmed at Grjótagjá, though reshoots had to be done on set as the steam from the pool kept fogging up the camera lens

  • The Hound sees a mountain in the flames in episode 7.1 and in real life in episode 7.6, the Westeros which was filmed at Kirkjufell

  • Jon and company sail to Eastwatch-By-The Sea (technically on the Westeros side of the Wall though) in episode 7.5, filmed at Reynisfjara Beach

  • The Westerosi Avengers capture a wight in episode 7.6, filmed in Stakkholtsgjá Canyon

  • Jon rides Rhaegal with Daenerys on Drogon in episode 8.1, using Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon as the setting

  • They land the dragons at Skogafoss waterfall (though the surrounding area, including higher waterfalls, were digitally added later)

SEASON FOUR - MEEREEN

Daenerys Targaryen first lays seige to Meereen in season four, taking the city. She then spends the next three seasons in control of the city before finally sailing toward Westeros at the end of season six. It was a long three seasons in Meereen, there’s no arguing with that.

  • The underground passages Grey Worm and the Unsullied use in episode 4.4 was filmed in the cellars of Diocletian's Palace in Split, Croatia

  • The execution of a Sons of the Harpy prisoner and subsequent riot outside the city walls in episode 5.2, was filmed at Klis Fortress in Croatia

  • The Meereenese Fighting Pit seen in episode 5.9 when Daenerys first rides Drogon was filmed at Plaza de Toros de Osuna in Seville, Spain

  • Exterior shots for Meereen in season 6 were filmed in Peñíscola, in Castellón, Spain, including Portal Fosc, Calle Mayor, Parque de la Artillería, and Plaza de Santa María

SEASON FIVE - DORNE

The Dorne story line from season five is arguably the worst show-original plot they’ve had. Personally, when I realised Bronn and Jaime would be paired up for some buddy adventures, I was stoked. And when they introduced three of the eight Sandsnakes, I had high hopes. But it was all a major flop and instead gave us some of the worst lines ever uttered by any of the characters. Regardless, we still journey to the southernmost kingdom of Dorne for the first time in the fifth season and it gives us some gorgeous locations.

  • The water garden scenes seen throughout season five was filmed at the gardens of the Alcázar of Seville, Spain

  • Jaime meets with Prince Doran to discuss the release of Bronn in episode 5.9, filmed at he Ambassador's Hall (Salon de los Embajadores), the throne room of the original Arabic Palace at the Alcázar of Seville

  • Scenes at the castle of Sunspear in season six were filmed at Alcazaba of Almería

  • The scenes at the Tower of Joy in Bran’s visions, where a young Ned Stark, with Howland Reed, fights Ser Arthur Dayne of the Kingsguard and Lyanna gives birth to a baby later revealed to be Jon Snow, her legitimate son with Prince Rhaegar, throughout season six were filmed at Castillo de Zafra in Spain

SEASON SIX - THE GREAT SEPT OF BAELOR

The Great Sept of Baelor was the setting for one of the most iconic scenes in the whole show—maybe even television. We as viewers visited Baelor in hopes Ned Stark would be sent to the Wall by Joffrey and got the shock of our lives when he was promptly beheaded. But there’s no arguing that our visits to the Great Sept picked up later in the show. The coronations of both Joffrey and Tommen were inside, as were the weddings of Tyrion and Sansa, Joffrey and Margaery, and Tommen and Margaery. But once the High Sparrow showed up in the fifth season, we spent a lot more time on the steps. But we all know the real reason I put Baelor in season six happened in the beautifully scored opening sequence of the season six finale.

  • Ned is executed by order of King Joffrey in episode 1.9, filmed at Fort Manoel in Gżira, Malta

  • Jaime attempts to rescue Margaery from the Faith Militant in season 6 episode 6 culminating in a stand off between the Faith Militant and the Lannister and Tyrell armies, which was filmed at the Cathedral of Saint Mary of Girona in Girona, Spain

SEASON SEVEN - THE DRAGON PIT

The Dragon Pit was the set of the big meeting between so many of the main characters in the final episode of season seven and it’s one of my favourite scenes to date, so I had to choose it to represent the whole penultimate season. They talk a little bit about the history of the dragon pit in that episode, but it’s also mentioned earlier, in episode 7.1 by Ed Sheeran and his merry men. It’s considered one of the great structures of King’s Landing, along with the Red Keep and the Great Sept of Baelor. The Targaryens built it hundreds of years ago, when it was first home to Balerion the Black Dread, though they mention what a cruel joke it was to have the tiny dragons contained there before they went extinct.

  • The gathering between Cersei, Jon, Daenerys and their advisers (AKA the group project Jon and The Hound presented) took place at the Roman Ruins of Italic in Seville, Spain

SEASON EIGHT - WINTERFELL

Winterfell is seen throughout all eight seasons, has been the subject of many conflicts, and has been prominently featured in the opening credits since the very first season, first with the Stark banners, then burning, then with the Bolton banners. And now we get to see the inside in the credits! The reason I chose Winterfell for season eight is simple: The episode 8.1 is named Winterfell and it’s one of two locations seen in the episode we’ve seen so far.

  • Exterior shots for Winterfell in the unaired pilot were filmed at Doune Castle in Scotland, but production never returned to Scotland for the series

  • Exterior shots for Winterfell have been filmed at Castle Ward in Northern Ireland (where you can now travel back in time to practice archery and attend a feast fit for a Royal Visit)

  • Ned and his sons finding the dead direwolf and her pups in episode 1.1 was filmed in Tollymore Forest Park in Northern Ireland

  • Arya’s escape from King’s Landing on the Kingsroad and the start of a journey intended to return her to Winterfell in episode 2.1 was filmed at the Dark Hedges in Northern Ireland (Yes, it’s closer to King’s Landing on the Kingsroad, but being in Northern Ireland like much of Winterfell, I figured it would fit here.)

Which one of these—or other—filming locations would you most like to visit? Luke and I are seriously considering a roadtrip around Northern Ireland in the next year or so to see all the locations they used there. (Most of which, I didn’t even include!)

Fingers crossed they’ll one day create a Game of Thrones studio tour like they did with Harry Potter because many of the interior shots (including the Great Pyramid of Meereen and the Great Sept of Baelor) were shot on set.

For more on Game of Thrones:
7 Game of Thrones Inspired Cocktails
How to Throw a Game of Thrones Viewing Party

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What's On Our 2019 Travel List

TravelHannah DrakeComment

Last year I shared the top ten countries we want to visit next. It was such a fun post to create because it sparked some really exciting conversations between me and Luke and researching your dream holidays with no consideration for your budget is really fun. So I decided to make it an annual post as we cross some countries off our list and set our sights on new corners of the globe. We each make a list of five countries that would be our dream vacations if money and time were no object. The only rule is to make it onto the list, it has to be a new country for that person and if there’s overlap, only one person can claim the country and the other has to pick a new one. Even though we have separate lists, we both agree that in a perfect world, we would travel all over the globe and see everything we possibly can!

In 2018, we crossed off two countries from our top ten, one from each list. We visited France in February with two of our friends. It was a quick weekend trip to visit Disneyland Paris, but on the first night, we did go into Paris for dinner (gotta love steak and frites!) and to see the Eiffel Tower lit up at night. France is definitely still on my list as I’d love to spend more time in Paris and the country as a whole. (Read about our trip here and here.) In September, we honeymooned to Italy and spent nearly two weeks travelling around the southern part of the country. We visited Naples, the Amalfi Coast, and Rome. We would both love to go back to see more of the country, like Florence, Venice, the Lake District, and more!

Hannah's 2019 Travel List
Luke's 2019 Travel List

AUSTRIA

Austria would probably be my dream winter vacation. (Hello Hallstatt, amirite?) This year, I would love to go abroad to get some proper winter weather and experience more authentic Christmas markets. Countries for that kind of trip would include Germany, Switzerland, France, Austria, and Belgium. But Austria definitely takes the cake.

BELGIUM

Everyone I know who has been to Belgium couldn’t recommend it more highly. All of the photos I’ve seen from my friends’ travels seem like they’re straight out of a fairy tale. This might be one that’s realistic for us this year since it’s so close and would be so easy to get to. (Fun fact: Luke rode his bike to Brussels once for an Alzheimer’s charity.) We’re considering it for our anniversary weekend in September, so if you have any autumn in Belgium tips, let us know!

BRAZIL

Brazil was on Luke’s list last year too, actually. Last year he told me he wants to see the Amazon Rain Forest and São Paulo and I can’t fault him for that. We’ve talked about visiting South America on an extended trip (some day) to see as much of the continent as we can and we would certainly be remiss if we didn’t explore all of the wonderful culture and beautiful sights that Brazil has to offer.

CANADA

This was the only one that was in the top five for both of us, but I claimed it first. (Luke’s the real winner though because that means he gets six to my five!) We actually considered going to Canada for our honeymoon last year, tacking it onto our trip to Colorado for my brother’s wedding. We did a decent amount of research and I absolutely fell in love with the Banff area especially. When we were booking our trip back for Christmas, we looked into having a night or two layover in Old Quebec City, but it just didn’t make sense logistically. We have been looking at adding it to our dream road trip through New England though. Canada just seems like such a beautiful country on the whole, no matter what season, and I would love to visit some day. Actually, it’s also a country that has been in our discussions of where we might live in the future. To me, it seems like a good balance of having the space America has and the socialism that Europe has.

CHINA

I’ve noticed a shift in our dream holiday conversations. Instead of talking more about weekend escapes in Europe, we’ve been dreaming about longer trips to explore other corners of the world, particularly Asia. There’s so much about China specifically that intrigues both of us. History, architecture, food, culture, fashion. All of it, really. It would be a dream come true to see all the different things China has to offer from big cities to sweeping landscapes. And of course The Great Wall.

GREECE

I included Greece this year because we’ve been talking for months for taking a spring or summer trip to visit some Greek islands. I’m not sure if that’s going to happen anymore, but one can dream, right? After all, that’s what this post is for! I would definitely love to visit those picturesque islands one day and my sister found an amazing deal on a villa on a lesser-known island that’s just as beautiful. So win-win! Not to mention, I’ve always had a fascination with Greek history and mythology. I would love to explore some of those places mentioned and see as much ancient history as I can!

JAPAN

Japan seems like such a beautiful country with a rich history and delicious food. I’ve honestly been putting off watching Jiro Dreams of Sushi on Netflix for years because I’m pretty sure I would just hop on the next plan to Japan and I might not come back! I know there’s a lot more to Japan than sushi, but that’s definitely the biggest lure for me at this point in time. I hope we get to visit some day so I can do more research about the country and its history.

NEW ZEALAND

New Zealand was on my list last year. To be honest, it will always be on my list. (Until we go.) From what I can tell, nothing beats the beauty of the New Zealand landscape. I mean, there’s a reason why Lord of the Rings was filmed there! We would love to rent a camper van and drive it around New Zealand for a month. And try to count all the sheep!

RUSSIA

I probably could have guessed the others on Luke’s list, except for Russia. I was really surprised he included it. Especially since a few days before we talked about our top five, I told him that if we ever visit Russia he has to wear one of those big fur hats. He hates hats! I don’t know why he would agree to it! But now, with these stakes, I’m more determined than ever to visit Russia!

SINGAPORE

Okay, full disclosure: I have become obsessed with visiting Singapore since I saw Crazy Rich Asians last fall and read the books over the holidays. The way that Kevin Kwan describes the food and landscape seriously make me want to hop on the next plane. I didn’t know a lot about Singapore before I started reading the books and it just seems like the most magical (and cleanest) place! Ever since reading the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy, I firmly believe a tourism company needs to start a CRA tour that offers similar experiences from the books. I would pay serious money for that, I promise.

What’s on your list for 2019?