The world we live in is full of fairytales–you just have to be willing to keep your eyes and your heart open to the magic. Every place on earth has it’s own magical qualities.

However, these 11 places (in no particular order) really radiate an otherworldly and ethereal feeling. We are truly blessed to live on this Earth covered with so much beauty! Let’s cherish and protect it.

1) Banff National Park (Fairmont Hotel)

This hotel makes the list because it’s basically like staying in a beautiful (and haunted!) Castle. The views are absolutely incredible, the grounds are surrounded by elk, and the occasional bear wanders by. It’s right in the Banff National Park where you can take breathtaking little road trips every day around the majestic mountains and look out for bighorn sheep, elk, and if you’re lucky—black bears.

Or you can hike right around the hotel. The trail down to the river is surrounded by large trees, mossy rocks, and little mystical woodland creatures. 🐿

I’m pretty sure it would be practically impossible to be disappointed in this place. Unless the ghosts get to you…. 👻 

The Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel in the Canadian Rocky Mountains
NUMBER 1/10 is…..The Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel in the deep forest of the Canadian Rockies. 

2) Flåm, Norway

Norway itself blows my mind, but the Flåm Railway between the sea at Sognefjord and Flåm feels like a trip through a magical faerie wonderland. It’s only 20 kilometers, but you go through the valley of Flåmsdalen up through the mountains of Myrdal, where you go through several tunnels.

Every time we exited a tunnel, it felt like my heart was bursting out of my chest at the incredible scene each time. So many waterfalls!

This photo was taken at a stop halfway where you can admire this fabulous waterfall and a Norwegian faerie was actually dancing and singing at the base of the waterfall… what! Yes. 🙌

Flåm, Norway and the train that takes you through the mountains and waterfalls
NUMBER 2/10 is…..Flåm, Norway and the train that takes you through the mountains and waterfalls to get there. 

3) Bagan, Myanmar

Watching the sunrise from the top of an ancient temple while hot air balloons fly through the sky is a surreal scene not to be easily forgotten. Bagan is an ancient city full of over 2,000 pagodas and temples from the 9th to 13th centuries dotted across the green landscape.

Rent e-bikes and you can zip around from temple to temple, peeking in at tiny buddhas and giant buddhas of all shapes and sizes all day long. Finding the remote ones are the best as you can be completely alone in a sacred temple just enjoying the energy and space.

Don’t forgot to stop for a delicious vegan lunch at the famous Be Kind to Animals Cafe 🙂 

NUMBER 3/10 is…..Bagan, Myanmar with its ancient temples and hot air balloons. 

4) Mount Kōya, Japan

Getting to Mount Kōya requires half a day of a pilgrimage— taking trains from the city, buses, a cable car and some walking —but once you get to the village of Koyasan at the top, you will be overcome with a sense of peace and calm.

With over 100 Buddhist temples (some with accommodation), you can experience what it’s like to live like a monk and stay overnight on a sacred mountain. The food at the temples is all Shojin Ryori which is wonderful Japanese Buddhist cuisine—that happens to be vegan. They practice Ahimsa- non harm to all beings. 🙌

The best part of Mount Koya is the otherworldly Okunoin Cemetery. This magical place is lined with gigantic cedar trees, ancient mossy tombs, pagodas, and a path to Kobo Daishi’s burial site that you can walk to by candlelight at night to feel his eternal energy. Don’t be startled by the flying foxes and talking toads on toadstools—they will have a sacred message for you that you should listen closely to…at least the toad who was talking to me did. 🐸 

NUMBER 4/10 is…..Mount Kōya, Japan with its giant cedar trees and sacred sites.

5) Plitvice Lakes, Croatia

Imagine the purest blue-green waters surrounded by mossy trees and waterfalls with misty air surrounding you. Plitvice Lakes in Croatia are a series of sixteen lakes connected by ninety waterfalls that flow one lake into another. The boardwalk takes you on a breathtaking walk winding around the lakes and waterfalls. The lakes are of the purest, untouched waters as humans are forbidden to enter the water and contaminate it. 

The mystical legends of the area include a magic queen who created the lakes during a drought, a wise monk who lives in a cave to whom all come to for advice, and lake faeries who entice you into the lakes and then you never come out. 

NUMBER 5/10 is…..Plitvice Lakes, Croatia with its many breathtaking lakes and waterfalls.

6) Crescent Island, Kenya

It seems like something magical always happens after it rains, and so it was as we began our boat ride out to Crescent Island on Lake Naivasha. It was pouring rain as we set out with our umbrellas and even the hippos were under cover where we couldn’t see them. As we crossed the lake, we weren’t sure what or if we would see anything in the downpour. Then, suddenly, the clouds opened up to the sun and the island came into view.

My mouth dropped as herds of several types of animals roamed free on the island where there are no predators, and man walk freely side by side with giraffes, zebras, wildebeest, waterbuck, and buffalos. Birds flew in abundance and flowers were blooming on nearly every plant. The serenity, the quiet, and the peace of the animals feels like a scene from jungle book. It’s especially a fairytale thinking of how humans grow up next to these animals and there is a mutual sense of respect. 🦒 🦓 🐃 🦛 

NUMBER 6/10 is…..Lake Naivasha, Kenya with the animals that roam free on the island. 

7) Lahemaa National Park, Estonia

Estonia is a beautiful forest paradise where trees cover 50% of the land in the country. So where else would I rather be? 😍

The Viru Bog in the Lahemaa National Park is only walkable by a boardwalk as bogs are very soft ground that is bouncy and can sink in areas. This is a good way to keep humans away (for the most part) and that’s why, of course, many magical things happen.

Miniature dwarf pines that are suspiciously hundreds of years old grow roots deep into the earth and strange, unusual plants grow here, including sundew, a carnivorous plant. The waterholes are a deep abyss full of healthy minerals that turn the water dark where fairies and other ethereal beings can easily hid in. Maybe, just maybe, you’ll catch sight of a will-o’-wisp!

NUMBER 7/10 is….Lahemaa National Park in Estonia with its fairy bogs, mires, pebbled beaches, and spruce forests.✨

8) Devin Castle, Slovakia

If you want to feel like you’ve gone back to the best of medieval times, Devin Castle will take you there. To get there, you have to take a boat ride down the Danube river from Bratislava. You get dropped off at the riverbank and hike up the hill to the castle. It’s mostly ruins, but the fantastic scenery and the mystical vibe there is real.

If you’re lucky, you’ll get there in mulberry season and just stand under a tree picking fresh berries until they kick you out. Ok, maybe that just happens to us. 😉 

NUMBER 8/10 is…..Devin Castle, Slovakia in its remote high location on a blue green river. 

9) Machu Picchu, Peru

Reaching Machu Picchu is like arriving upon a mystical lost world in the middle of nowhere—or is it the middle of everywhere? The mystery in the air is undeniable as the hummingbirds peeked around every corner at us. They must have wondered where the humans disappeared all those years and now we are suddenly back.

Being above the fog and the clouds makes you feel like you must be in heaven and if you fell off the side, you’d just fall into nothingness. Unless a charm of mystical hummingbirds (faeries) swept you up and placed you back on the mountain. 

NUMBER 9/10 is….The Lost City of the Incas (Machu Picchu) in Peru 

10) Isle of Skye, Scotland (Faerie Glen)

A list of fairytale places would never be complete without a mention of Scotland. In fact, I could very well do a whole series of fairytale places just in Scotland!

Traveling up to the Highlands and over to the Isle of Skye is a journey you’ll never soon forget. A winding and narrow road leads you through the marvels of the misty mountains, waterfalls, incredibly green landscapes, foggy dunes, and rocky cliffs. It’s great fun just to park and run among the bogs with the highland sheep 🐑 🙂

But don’t forget to raveling up to the Scottish Highlands and over to the Isle of Skye is a journey you’ll never soon forget. A winding and narrow road leads you through the marvels of the misty mountains, waterfalls, incredibly green landscapes, foggy dunes, and rocky cliffs. It’s great fun just to park and run among the bogs with the highland sheep 🐑 🙂

But don’t forget to hike over to the Fairy Glen where you feel the whirling energy of the fae at your fingertips. It is said many faeries dwell in the crevices of this magical realm. 

11) BONUS **** Maui, Hawaii (Leilani Farm Sanctuary)

Ok, this one we are a little biased on since we got married here. Yes, barefoot on the beach officiated by a local with a conch shell! 🐚 As a wedding destination, it’s perfect.

As a fairytale destination, it’s also a dream come true. The road to Hana with its incredible views on every turn, and the green everywhere. I mean, it’s SO GREEN. Taking a helicopter over West Maui mountains is highly recommended as well as kayaking and swimming out to see the turtles and the humpback whales that are abundant in the area.

Don’t forget to visit The Leilani Farm Sanctuary which is a literal heaven on earth for rescued animals! These farm animals live very freely in an ideal landscape with no predators to worry about! It’s a real life garden of Eden.  🌈

Leilani Farm Sancuary in Maui
A place where a pig and turtle cuddle in their house, while a goose stands guard.

Thanks for checking out our blog! See more of my photography at www.capturedbybrooke.com.

Peace, Love, Travel!

~Brooke

The Priority Pass is a little card that you can use to get some great travel benefits, like Priority Pass Lounge Access, free meals, and more.

Priority Pass Lounges are labeled in the airport with a little sign that says “Priority Pass Accepted” or go to this link for the list of lounges worldwide. If you are not flying in business class, then you can’t get in these lounges. Some lounges are nicer than others, but they will give you a refuge from the rest of the airport with comfortable seats, free snacks and drinks, a place to charge your electronics, free Wifi, restrooms– and sometimes showers, good meals, free massages, and other perks.

One of the best perks from the Priority Pass card we have found was two $15 food certificates at the Minneapolis/St Paul Airport. You bring your card to the PGA Lounge above the French Meadow Cafe, and they will give you the free food passes. We used them at the French Meadow to get some vegan deliciousness– a Tempeh Reuben and some Vegan Chili and Rice. Yum!

To get the Priority Pass, you need to apply for one of these credit cards, or buy the Priority Pass separate, which can be expensive. We recommend these credit cards in the order listed below, as they also give you additional travel benefits including the Priority Pass lounge visits.

(Some of these contain referral links that would give us a few points when you sign up, others are just perks for you!)

1) Hilton Honors Ascend Card

This card provides 10 visits to Priority Pass lounges per year. The annual fee for the card is $95 and includes Gold status in the Hilton Honors Hotel Program which gets you room upgrades and free breakfast. To me, it is the best value out of any of the cards that provide priority pass. It also has a signup bonus of 100,000 bonus (value of $500+) when you sign up for the card and spend $3000 in 90 days.

Sign up Link! 

Jerrod’s Bonus Tip: The annual fee is pretty reasonable at $95. With 10 visits to the priority lounges along with a nice signup bonus, I would say this card is worth it for a light single traveler.

2) Hilton Aspire Card

With the Hilton Aspire Card, you get unlimited visits for both you and 2 guests. The fee is $450 a year but includes a lot of perks including Diamond status in Hilton Honors Hotel Program, a $250 airline credit per calendar year, a $250 resort credit (We used it for snorkeling and kayaking in Maui) per card anniversary year, a free night annually (We used it for a room at the Grand Wailea in Maui with prices going for over $800 per night at peak time). It also has a signup bonus of 100,000 bonus (value of $500+) when you sign up for the card and spend $4000 in 90 days.

Sign up Link!

Jerrod’s Bonus Tip: While the annual fee of $450 is quite high I was able to get over $2000 of value from the card for the first year ($250 airline credit x2, $250 resort credit, and an $800 room for the night along with free breakfast, and 100,000 Hilton Points). I will probably keep this card going forward as I can easily justify the $450 fee.

3) Amex Platinum Card

This card includes unlimited visits for both you and 2 guests. The fee is $550 a year and includes things like 10 free GOGO WIFI passes, Hilton Gold Status, SPG Gold Status, a $200 airline credit, $200 in Uber Credits, access to American Express Lounges, and access to Delta lounges (only for yourself). The current signup bonus is 60,000 points when spending $5000 in 3 months

Sign up Link!

Jerrod’s Bonus Tip: There are a lot of perks with this card, but the fee is too high for most people to justify keeping the card for the long term. It might be worth getting for the short term if there is a nice signup bonus.

4) Amex Business Platinum Card

This is a business card and includes all of the benefits of the Amex Platinum Card, but the annual fee is $450 vs $550. It has a signup bonus of 50,000 points after spending $10,000 in 3 months.

Sign up Link!

Jerrod’s Bonus Tip: This card includes a lot of additional perks and is $100 cheaper than the Amex Platinum Card. It is a business card, so you would have to apply with a business or sole proprietorship.

5) Chase Sapphire Reserve Card

You will get unlimited visits for both you and 2 guests with this card. The annual fee is $450 but includes a $300 travel credit each year. There is a signup bonus of 50,000 points (that can be transfer to multiple airline and hotel partners) after spending $4,000 in 3 months.

Sign up Link!

Jerrod’s Bonus Tip: This card is a good option if you have applied for less then 5 credit cards in the last 24 months. It has $300 travel credit that offsets some of the $450 fee per year.   If you have more than 5 applications in two years, you cannot get approved for the card.

6) Citi Prestige Card

This card provides unlimited visits for you and 2 guests. It includes a $250 travel credit each year and 4th night free at hotels when booking through them and staying 4+ nights. The annual fee is $450 and there is currently no signup bonus at the moment.

Sign up Link!

Jerrod’s Bonus Tip: This card is good if you typically spend more than 3 nights in a hotel and you pay with your credit card. We usually don’t pay with credit card, so if we could not use this perk.

7) US Bank Altitude Card

You’ll get 4 visits for both you and a guest per year. It includes a $325 travel credit each year and 12 free GOGO WIFI passes each year. The annual fee is $400. The current signup bonus is 50,000 points ($750 value for travel) after spending $4,000. This card is only available for current US Bank customers.

Sign up Link!

Jerrod’s Bonus Tip: This is a good card, but you can only be approved for it if you have a current relationship with US Bank (credit card, loan, checking, etc.)

 

We hope this helps you with more enjoyable traveling!

Peace, Love, Travel ! xo

~Jerrod

Me alone in the forest

With only the rustling

Of leaves and the songs

Sung by birds

Tiny seedlings popping

Out of the ground—they love

That there is no one else around

I teeter over a log on a muddy stream

This all must be a dream

I drift out into

A clearing of trees

Sitting there quietly,

a sacred young deer who

Locks eyes while

Putting me in a trance

Looking me up and down

And says, “ok, you are

Welcome here

But steer clear.”

Slithering snakes come out

Of an ancient decaying tree

I wonder aloud where have you

Been all my life

“Here, we are one,” they said,

“The beauty in me is

The beauty in you.”

The woodpecker grinned,

And the frog grunted

So I agreed.

Off I floated

Down the path

Me in the forest

I am not alone.

~Musings by Brooke

 

Obsessed by a fairy tale, we spend our lives searching for a magic door and a lost kingdom of peace. ~Eugene O’Neill

Yes, you heard right. There is an island in Kenya: Crescent Island. Okay, it’s not “technically” an island.  It’s actually a crescent-shaped piece of land that juts out on the very large, freshwater lake in Kenya—Lake Naivasha— where herds of animals run happily.

Arriving in Kenya, we really didn’t know what to expect. We had driven half way across the country through the amazing Rift Valley with a guide who promised to show us where the best wildlife is. And Lake Naivasha was no exception.

It was pouring rain at the time we were to board a rickety boat to go across the lake, where we had heard that hippos swam around in abundance. So I was a little nervous, but excited!

Boats for exploring Lake Naivasha

Boats for exploring Lake Naivasha

Our boat driver said, “Nothing is guaranteed. Sometimes the animals will hide when it’s raining.”

The boat engine rattled on anyway, and we remained hopeful in our rain coats while holding up an old umbrella with holes. I don’t mind getting wet, but I’ve got to keep my camera equipment dry!

Cloudy skies above Lake Naivasha

Cloudy skies above Lake Naivasha

We drove on for about an hour along the coast of the lake shore not seeing much except these amazing trees jutting out of the water that looked like rugged branches piercing the sky. Then we headed towards the island.

All of a sudden, the rain stopped and the island came into view.

Wildebeest and zebras on Crescent Island

Wildebeest and zebras on Crescent Island

We could see zebras and wildebeest running in herds around the island as if playing tag. We could see majestic water buck up to their necks in the water, enjoying the abundance of water plants. An amazing array of birds of all shapes, sizes and colors flocked around the island.

My heart stopped for a second.

These are the best feelings in life, being surrounded by untouched nature in the middle of nowhere, witnessing such magic.

In dry season, they dock the boat and you can walk among the animals! But we were in wet season and the shore was washed out and inaccessible. We felt like we were disturbing them less by just floating by in a boat, so we were okay with that. Also, the animals walk right up to the balconies at the lodge we stayed at— the amazing Sopa Lodge! (more about that at the end!)

Surreal.

I fell in love with water bucks. Who can resist a heart-shaped nose?

And the zebras! I don’t know, but they seemed like striped unicorns to me. Magical.

Bird lovers paradise!

Egyptian Ducks

Fish Eagle

 

Pink-backed Pelican

On the way back, we DID see the hippos, but they were taking a nap.

Back on land, it is a paradise where humans and animals roam free in harmony, like the garden of Eve.

 

The Sopa Lodge is right near the lake, where all the animals graze on the grass day and night. During the day, herds of waterbuck, zebras and giraffes walked right by us. At night, we had to be more careful, as the hippos came out of the water and were eating grass right below our balcony. Magic, magic, magic!

Sopa Lodge – Lake Naivasha

Baby Water Buck

 

To be continued with our adventures in the Maasai Mara in Kenya!

Keep in touch with our everyday travels by following us on Instagram at @compassionatenomads!

To purchase prints, contact capturedbybrooke@gmail.com or visit www.capturedbybrooke.com 

Peace, Love, Travel!

x

Brooke

 Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

As we are all aware, flying on a plane isn’t the most eco-friendly activity. Neither is driving a car, which is hard to avoid unless you live in a city and ride a bicycle everywhere. I truly love you, bicycle riders. I miss being close enough to work to bike it!

I’m hoping someday we can fly all flights on alternative fuel. There are several airlines offering biofuel already, and it’s been increasing in the past few years, reducing the carbon footprint. Biofuel is actually trash that is converted into fuel. I’m excited for a future where we don’t use fossil fuels for transportation.

You can reduce your carbon footprint in several ways right now and still see the world!

  • BRING YOUR OWN REFILLABLE WATER BOTTLE
    We always bring our own stainless-steel water bottles when traveling. It is convenient to fill up at drinking fountains in the airport and— if you are lucky— in cities where there is clean drinking water. If there is no clean drinking water, you can try a water filter for your bottle.If all else fails and you have to buy bottled water, get the biggest jug you can find— or able to carry— instead of buying several smaller bottles. Make sure it goes into recycling, if you can find a bin. Plastic is awful for the environment. Just making a conscious effort to reduce those one-use disposable plastics will help!
    On the airplane, some flight attendants will give a new plastic cup with every beverage. I always tell them I’m trying to reduce disposable plastic usage, so please use my water bottle instead of a plastic cup!

Filling my stainless steel water bottle in a natural spring in Croatia.

      • BRING YOUR OWN CONTAINERS/UTENSILS
        Along with reusing your water bottle, you can bring your own containers and utensils to avoid using the plastic cutlery and styrofoam and other non eco-friendly materials. I usually bring a silver spoon, fork, knife, bowl and plate in my luggage. Wrap it in a reusable shopping bag that you can use to avoid plastic bags while shopping. Never take the knife or fork in your carry-on; it will probably get confiscated by security. I even got a spoon confiscated once! Try a bamboo utensil set.

     

      • WALK, BIKE, OR TAKE TRAINS
        When possible: walk, bike, or take trains to your destination and/or around your destination.  Not only is it more environmentally friendly, but you’ll see more of the landscape and scenery, interact more with the environment, and meet people while traveling overland. We’ve had some of the best times walking around for miles lost in a foreign city or an ancient forest. Hey, it’s the journey, not the destination! 😉

     

      • STAY AT AN ECO-LODGE
        I love eco-lodges! They always seem to have a good vibe to them. Eco Lodges are built and designed to have the least environmental impact on the natural environment around them. Hence, they are usually really green and in a remote location! Sometimes they have gardens growing food, composting, recycled materials, and they use methods to save water and other resources.

    Upachaya Eco Lodge in Roatan, Honduras

    Upachaya Eco Lodge in Roatan, Honduras

      • LEAVE ONLY FOOTPRINTS
        Please don’t litter, harm natural environments, or disturb wildlife while traveling. It’s easy to leave a place the same way you entered it or better. Pick up trash along the way, protect wildlife, and keep the Earth beautiful!

 

      • AVOID ZOOS, AQUARIUMS, AND ROADSIDE ANIMAL ATTRACTIONS
        Zoos and aquariums take animals out of their natural habitat and put them into cages for human entertainment. We love animals, so we go on wildlife tours or explore natural habitats to see them in their natural environment  Legit animal sanctuaries exist where you can see the animals and volunteer while they are being rehabilitated to be released back into the wild, or taken care of if they are disabled or unable to be released.
        Seeing animals in the wild is so much more rewarding. It’s not guaranteed so you appreciate it more. It also motivates the locals who share their environment to help protect them instead of see them as a hindrance.

        Seeing animals in the wild is so rewarding. Gorillas in Uganda

 

      • BUY LOCAL
        Supporting local artisans and businesses is not only eco-friendly but it helps the people living in the place you’re visiting. One good thing is the product doesn’t have to travel as far to be sold to you. Another is the products are most likely made from local resources and it contributes to their economy.
      • PACK LIGHT
        I know this is hard for many of us but the poundage you take on a plane really adds to the fuel it needs to get you to the destination. Not only will the environment thank you, but so will your back!
      • TRAVEL WITH A TOUR COMPANY THAT GIVES BACK
        Aim to go on tours with local guides that give back to the community and find ways to be more eco-friendly and respectful of the environment.

      • EAT PLANTS
        Last, but not least, eat plant-based vegan food. Animal agriculture contributes to global warming and environmental destruction more than ALL transportation combined. We’ve managed to travel to 60+ countries and have not had to eat animal products. Of course, some countries are easier than others but there are vegans and plant-based food in nearly every country in the world- in fact it’s usually the cheapest staple (i.e. rice, beans, fruit, grains, etc). Even the Aryan tribe in the harsh, cold Himalayas have been vegan more than 5,000 years. Check out our post How To Travel As A Vegan for some helpful tips.

        Vegan cheeseburger in Melbourne, Australia. Made from plants!

         

        Eat Fruit!

Thanks for checking out my latest post! If you have any more ideas to travel compassionately, please comment below.

Peace. Love. Travel.

xoxo

~Brooke

P.S.  If you’d like to see more travel photos, FOLLOW MY INSTAGRAM at www.instagram.com/capturedbybrookephotography. 🙂

 

 

 

Ohhhh, The Places You’ll Go! ~ Dr. Seuss

hiking and travel

I was born in a small town in Northern Minnesota in an area called “The Iron Range”, heavy on mining and bars and not a whole lot to do for kids. Although we moved around a lot from town to town around the Range, I never really experienced a big city until I was around 10 or 11. When we finally drove down to the big city of Minneapolis and the first time I saw the skyscrapers, I was blown away.

I just had this feeling of awe in the pit of my stomach and a flutter in my heart.
Read More

Myanmar, the Land of Golden Pagodas!

untitled-7084

Read More

I felt almost a sense of nostalgia stepping foot in Finland, the same place where my great grandparents set off to America from in the early 1900’s.

Read More

untitled-5288-Edit-Edit-Edit

So oftentimes, we go on and on about compassion for others, but in the process, we forget about ourselves. We tell ourselves negative things about how we aren’t good enough, we deprive ourselves of sleep, we deny ourselves radical self-love because, you know, we don’t have time for that. This has been a lifelong struggle for me.

“Never mind. The self is the least of it. Let our scars fall in love.” –Galway Kinnell

So I’ve come to realize, we are worthy of giving ourselves compassion too. The saying goes, you gotta love yourself before you can love anyone else. And to expect reciprocation from others in order to validate ourselves isn’t always viable. In fact, it can make us crazy if we spend our whole lives waiting for someone to be nice to us or return the favors. We just have to let our inner love radiate out and it will touch everyone you meet and someday, maybe, it will boomerang back (it will).
Read More

I’m a huge animal lover. HUGE. And not just that, I think the least we can do in the world is not harm animals when we have no reason to.

sanctuary-2We can live and thrive wonderfully without harming others and by living vegan.

Read More