Alabama · Atlanta · Family Relationships · Family Travel · personal · travel

TrippinTwins:Why We Travel 

Recently a dear family friend of ours lost her cancer battle. It was especially upsetting because she had been diagnosed less than a year ago.  I could write an entire article about the role she played in our life, but suffice it to say she was such a gentle and kind soul who made an impact on so many.

 Most of our conversations over the last several months had centered on her trip to Europe she had taken last summer and our recent trip to Rome in March. Both were big deals. For her, it was her trip back to where she was born. She loved every minute of reconnecting with her family in Germany. Her favorite city was Paris. She didn’t fall in love with Rome, but was super excited when we told her we were going to surprise our parents with a trip there. She wanted us to tape the surprise reveal when my mom, who had never flown overseas, would find out she would have to finally have to face her fear of flying over an ocean. When we returned, she asked a million questions. She shared her pictures and stories and we shared ours. These last conversations, along with the numerous kindnesses she graced us with over the years, are how we are going to remember her.

When we found out she passed and began reminiscing, the conversation turned to a discussion about what we thought it was in our background was that has led us to make travel such a major part of our life. 

When we were kids, we went to the beach nearly every summer. We loved these trips. I remember being so excited to be back playing in the sand, visiting the latest restaurants, catching sand crabs and staying out for late night beach walks. I also remember being so excited when we were finally old enough to get in a jacuzzi at the condo we usually stayed in. 

We were definitely born with a love of the water, but we yearned to discover more landscapes. We grew up in a small city, but had dreams of seeing the world’s largest.  Our first trip to a major city was to Atlanta to attend the Atlanta Olympics in 1996. We had a blast riding the MARTA and exploring different restaurants and neighborhoods. We were sad to leave and bugged our parents to take us back over and over again. 


We are certain that it was our maternal grandmother who unknowingly made us fall in love with the idea of traveling around Europe. We didn’t know anyone growing up that traveled as much as she did. We loved looking at her pictures and listening to her stories. She took a cruise to Alaska the summer before she passed away and it’s been on our list since.

It was our grandfather that introduced me to photography. He collected cameras and enjoyed taking us on road trips to take pictures. He bought me my first camera and is responsible for me taking an interest again as an adult. 

Unfortunately, my grandfather got sick during our sophomore year of high school. It forced my grandmother to find replacements for a trip to Greece and Turkey she had paid for. Tara and I were the lucky ones that got to take their place. It was a trip with mostly teachers at the high school we attended, who took on the responsibility of keeping an eye on us. It was a bit overwhelming for a lot of reasons. It was a trip of a lot of firsts-our first flight, our first overseas trip, our first cruise, first time away from home for longer than a few days. It was a lot do take in, but we were hooked.

We saw pictures of a trip our grandmother and uncles had taken one summer to Colorado. The  pictures decorated our house because it was the last trip my grandmother had taken with her son before he passed. We were ecstatic when we found out the summer before our Senior year in college we were actually going. We spent a week in Lyons with family and took some amazing day trips. To this day, Colorado holds a special place in our heart as it turned out to be the last trip we had taken with our grandmother. 

Today, we travel for those we’ve lost. For they are who continue to inspire us. We travel for those that can’t, for those that are afraid, those that need guidance to plan their next adventure and for those that can’t wait to hear our stories. We travel to escape the mundane of our work life, to discover what’s around the next corner. We travel to continue to build confidence and self-assurance. We travel to keep learning, growing and moving forward.

Although we often choose to travel together, we are two very different people with very different personalities. Travel has taught us sacrifice, compromise and patience, which has grown to make us even closer. We consider ourselves lucky to be able to have shared so many experiences with our best friend by our side. We look forward to the next great adventures, including our parents in some more trips, for  they are who initially provided us with opportunities to travel.

Do you ever reflect on how your past has shaped your reasoning for traveling to a destination or made travel a priority in your life? 

Adventure · colosseum · Europe · family · Family Travel · Italy · Itinerary · photography · Roma · Rome · travel · Trip Ideas · Trip Planning · wine

TrippinTwins: Day 1- Rome with the Parents 

Ever since someone said to us, “Italy is my country and Rome is my city”, we had an interest in visiting Rome!  We had been looking for flight deals for close to a year so we could afford to take our parents along to a city they had also dreamed about visiting. After nearly a year of not having any luck, Tara found an airfare sale to Europe that fit within our budget and date range. We were both thrilled our plans worked out and we were all able to jointly experience this magical place.

We grew up Catholic and our father is still practicing.  Since Rome contains so many places that are historically important to the Catholic faith,  we spent much of our time exploring them. We talked to locals, took tours given by archeologists and history professors, walked and walked some more -Oh & Yes! We ate!  If you’re planning to visit Rome in the future, which we highly encourage, we hope our itinerary provides you with some inspiration.

Day 1:

After a not so fun flight on a cramped Delta/KLM plane, we landed bright and early in the morning – around 6:00 AM in Amsterdam.  We only had an hour layover, so we spent most of our time standing in line at customs.  It was inconvenient at the time, but it was nice once we landed in Rome 2 hours later. All we had to do once we landed was grab our checked baggage and walk through the non-declare door.

Our host had offered to arrange transportation from the airport to the apartment, but we declined and decided to get our own.  We were so tired though that instead of waiting in line,  we went with the first ride offer we received, which was a non-official taxi.  After a super fast ride, that we were told would be twice as long, we arrived intact at our apartment where we had arranged to stay the week.  Since we arrived so early in Rome, it was hours before our official check in time.  Our host was gracious enough to meet us at the apartment and assist us with our luggage up to the apartment. We paid the city tax and he gave us a short overview of the apartment and neighborhood, recommendations and answered our questions.

Our dad wanted to attend a mass in Italian, so our host suggested we visit the church he grew up in that was in very close to the apartment.  The church we attended is named Basilica of San Clemente. It’s a minor Basilica dedicated to Pope Clement I (d.99 AD).


Front Entrance of Basilica di San Clemente

We were greeted warmly at the door even though mass had already began and quickly found seats in the back. Although the service was in Italian, my parents familiarity with Latin, found it easy to follow along. After it concluded, we stayed with a few other curious ones to explore the main sanctuary.

There was a sign that said no pictures, so I just sneaked this photo of the area we were sitting in just for our own memories. And although Tara and I hadn’t attended mass since we were teens, we found it to be a fascinating experience.


A peek into the courtyard from the street

We all wished  we had planned for a return visit to explore the Bascilica more in depth.  For just 10 Euro, one can tour both the 4th Century church the current Basilica was built on top of and the 1st Century shrine of Mithras.

After exploring some, were hungry and ready to find somewhere to eat. After asking for suggestions, we walked down the street and were immediately seated at a table at Valore Ristorante Pizzeria.

It was my first time trying an Italian pizza. What can I say? I was a bit shocked at their enormous size!! It’s the size of a normal American medium size pizza that I usually share with 2 or 3 other people. Evidently, Tara knew this but didn’t think to say anything before we both ordered. So, we both had huge pizzas to attempt to tackle.  If you’re looking for good sausage pizza though, this is one of the places to come.

Obviously Tara’s mind was not so much on the food,  as she was overtaken by her excitement of being able to drink some good Italian wine.

I mean she just looks so happy with that glass on wine. Just not sure she could look more sleepy…haha!

We even got to enjoy some entertainment for a few minutes when a traveling musician stopped in. He was really accommodating when I wanted to take his picture. He saw my camera and immediately came to our table. We stayed for probably 20-30 minutes in the restaurant playing for tips before moving on.

Once we finished our lunch, we decided to walk some calories off by going to find place to purchase a metro pass . We took the advice we received from our VRBO host and walked to the Colosseum metro station (Colosseo) where we found a tabaccoist stand. We purchased a 7 day pass for each of us for €24 each. the metro in Rome is very easy to use, comes often,  and is efficient for most places we needed to go.

The area around Colosseo station is very busy. There are vendors vying for the attention of every tourists to buy visitor passes and other trinkets. It was also the first time we would walk by the Colosseum. We saw 2 armed military officers (anti-terrorism forces) with heavy machinery outside. At the time we were unfamiliar with these people and their role so we didn’t take any pictures. We were unaware at the time that we would see them virtually at every other site we visited during our stay.

On our walk back to our apartment on Via Labicana, we saw a site that caught our attention. We stopped to look around and found out it was Ludus Magnus, or the Great Gladitorial Training School. The school had 2 levels, one an arena.  The part visible on Via Labicana are the partially excavated gladiator cells that use to be in the northeast part of the training arena.

After spending a few minutes looking at the ruins, we continued the few blocks back to our apartment for the night.

We spent the rest of the night unpacking, talking about what our first day was like -oh, & discovering the unexpected-my dad’s backpack was missing. His backpack had his medications in it, so that was quite a shock. We figured he lost it at some point between getting out of the taxi we took to the apartment and waiting to be let in. It served as a reminder for everyone to remind each other to stay aware at all times, especially in crowded places.

Lessons Learned from Day 1:

Official Taxi’s should only charge 48 Euro from Fiumicino Airport to the city center and 30 Euro from Ciampino airport.  Here’s a list of official taxi fares in Rome.  The hassle of haggling for that price though, that’s another story!

Pay attention to the taxi company you take in case you leave things in the taxi.  It’s true of anywhere, but especially in a foreign company when you’re not familiar with the companies.

There is no minimum drinking age in Italy, though 16 is the age one can drink wine/beer in public.

Restaurant tipping: Our host told us that if the bill is 113 Euro to round up to 117 Euro and it served us well.








Adventure · Chattanooga · Day Trips · Family Travel · Holiday Travel · Hotels · Kayaking · Nantahala National Forrest · Nantahala River · north carolina · outdoorlife · travel · White Water Rafting

Nantahala White Water Rafting

Labor Day weekend in the US marks the unofficial end of summer and people love to celebrate over the long weekend.  I wanted to go somewhere different and some place not too expensive which meant I didn’t want to fly. While browsing Pinterest,  I saw a pin of the Nantahala National Forrest that caught my eye. I had been rafting there as a young child and always wanted to return, so thought this would be the perfect trip. As Erica already a prior commitment, I used this trip for some father/daughter bonding time.

We chose to drive to Chattanooga, TN the night before going to North Carolina.  It’s a city we both really like spending time in.  Neither one of us had ever stayed at the Chattanooga Choo Choo Hotel, so we decided this would be a great time to try it out.  If you are worried about the price, know the courtyard  is totally worth the price to stay.  Even if you are not staying at the hotel, drop by for a visit because the courtyard is fantastic for people of any age.

We stayed one night and got up early the next day to get on the road to reach Dillsboro, NC where we stayed for the next few nights. It was a beautiful 4 hour drive that passed quickly. On the way, we passed the Ocoee River located in Tennessee in the Cherokee National Forest which we have already decided to visit next year.


Processed with Snapseed.
You’ll most likely run into one of these rafting buses on the trip


I chose the Best Western Plus River Escape Inn & Suites for scenery and location, but it really exceeded my expectations. The property was quiet and had a quaint feeling and look with only 65 guest rooms. The highlight was the balcony overlooking the Tuckaseegee River, located of the breakfast room. When we were at the hotel, we spent our time on the balcony. The hotel is convenient to several great breweries and restaurants we had a chance to try. It is a 30 minute drive to the Nantahala Outdoor Center, where we took our rafting trip.

Nantahala River

The Nantahala River is located on the Appalachian Trial in the Nantahala National Forest located in western North Carolina. The Forest is the largest of four National Forrests located in the state, covering more than 530,000 acres of terrain that varies in elevation from 5,800 to 1,200 feet.  It is home to a large number of beautiful waterfalls and serves as a popular place for hiking, camping and white water activities.

The Nantahala River offers family friendly white water activities, with 8 miles of class II rapids and a few class III’s in the last mile.  It is perfect for practically anyone including  children 7 + , or those who weigh 60 + pounds.  White water rafting, canoeing and kayaking are the most popular forms of white water activity on the river.  If paddle boarding and/ or duck mobile rides are your thing, you will definitely have plenty of company on the river too!


Nantahala Outdoor Center

 There are a plethora of outfitters in the area that can accommodate every white water excursion or need. For this guided rafting trip, I chose to book with the largest one, Nantahala Outdoor Center located in Bryson City, NC.  It is a must visit for every outdoor enthusiast.  The 500 acre campus offers both fully and self guided whitewater activities, ziplining, mountain biking and several others.  There are also retail shops and restaurants to visit on property and nearby.

Depending on when you visit, we suggest buying tickets in advance online to avoid long lines. We arrived 20 minutes early which gave us plenty of time to check in at the Adventure Center, take some pictures and meet up with our rafting group.  The rafting tour we chose says it is 3 hours, but one hour of that is on the ground- listening to instructions, watching a safety video, life vest checks, meeting rating group and guide and riding to the rafting site.


Processed with Snapseed.

We spent 2 hours on the river which was just perfect.  There were a total of 6 of us in the raft including the guide.  If you do not want to get very wet, do not sit up front!  There were a lot of people there with Go Pro’s, which this trip is perfect for.  The river was really busy because it was a holiday weekend, but it never felt overly crowded.  We saw a few birds, but not much other wildlife. The trip will take you past several campgrounds and houses, but otherwise the scenery consists the beautiful Nantahala NationL Forrest. If you would like to see a short video of our rafting trip, here’s the link:




  1.  Take a change of clothes.  There are changing facilities and you will most likely feel like changing afterwards, regardless if you get wet or stay dry.
  2. Leave as much as you can in the car, but they will hold keys and phones for you.
  3. Take the time to take in the scenery and enjoy yourself!

California · Day Trips · Family Travel · Ferry Ride · Holiday Travel · Itinerary · Memorial Day · San Diego · Uncategorized · Water Adventures

TrippinTwins: San Diego: Adventures of Day 1

San Diego had long been on our wish lists, so we were beyond excited to get the chance to visit this past Memorial Day weekend.  Initially, we had dreamed of a relaxing beach vacation spending our days sunning on the beach, drinking cocktails & soaking up those rays of sunshine California is so famous for.

However, when we began packing for the trip, we ruled out beach time when we learned the temperatures were only going reach the low 70’s. If you are thinking that’s a bit strange, you’re probably not from the Deep South where it’s not considered the perfect beach day unless the temperatures are at least in the mid-80’s! So, we revamped our itinerary and packing list.

Upon arriving in San Diego, it was nearly midnight. We wearily grabbed our bags from baggage claim and found our way to the exit where we took a taxi to our downtown hotel. We commented to our driver about the chill in the air and were promptly told that the forecasted temperatures and overcast skies were completely  normal for the May/June time frame. We even learned the weather pattern had names  – “May Gray and June Gloom”.

Where We Stayed:

While many people choose to stay in the Gaslamp district, we decided to stay in the downtown area also known as the “Centre City” at the Westin San Diego. It was the perfect location because it put us within easy walking distance to Little Italy, the Gaslamp district,  Broadway Pier and public transportation.

Day 1: Shopping, Food and a Ferry Ride!

We began our first full day a little late as we had a late arrival the night before. When we were ready to leave the hotel, we headed to a nearby coffee shop to grab a cup of coffee and a quick snack. We figured this would hold us over until our lunch we had planned for later. We needed to make a stop in a nearby CVS in Westfield Horton Plaza to pick up a few things we had forgotten to bring. As we arrived, the bold colors and architecture of the indoor/outdoor mall, amazed us.  We had not planned to spend much time there,  but once we realized there were over 100 stores on various levels set up like a maze, we spent a few hours window shopping and taking in the scenery.

When we decided our bank accounts were done with the mall. Since we were already in the trendy Gaslamp Quarter, we set off to find the 94 restored Victorian era buildings the area is famous for.  When it was founded in the 1850’s, it was well known for gambling halls and brothels before cleaning up its act during the 1980’s. It is now a thriving district offering eclectic dining and shopping options.  After spending some time window shopping, the smells coming from the surrounding restaurants had made it impossible to ignore our hunger. We headed to Little Italy, where we found the restaurant that had been recommended to us,  Filippi’s Pizza.

We were advised to check out this location   because it is the original and operates as both a grocery and a restaurant. Even if you aren’t hungry, it is worth stopping by to check out the ceiling covered with wine bottles. Our waitress told us we should not miss their famous homemade meatballs, so we choose to put her recommendation to the test. We agree, it was delicious!


Wine Bottles that adorn the ceiling at Filippi’s Pizza

After we finished lunch, we headed to Broadway Pier. We bought ferry passes for $4.75 , and took the 15 minute Coronado Ferry to Coronado Island. We choose to take the ferry because it gave us time to take water pictures of the picturesque area and was the first US ferry  we had the chance to take since we were children.

Processed with Snapseed.
Broadway Pier waiting on Ferry to Coronado Island

Processed with Snapseed.
Tara enjoying the view on the ferry
Once we landed on Coronado Island, we walked to the Coronado Ferry Landing. This is the view you will see when you land and walk towards the island. We were tired after a long day of shopping and walking, so we decided to hang around this area to browse the shops, grab a bite to eat and watch the sunset.

Processed with Snapseed.
Shops on Coronado Ferry Landing

We enjoyed some time relaxing on the beach. It was too cold to get in, but the views were great.

Processed with Snapseed.
View from Centennial Park looking back at San Diego
After enjoying the views, we decided to check out the restaurant options. We settled on Candelas on the Bay for a quick bite to eat. We enjoyed the views and the food. The service could have been better, but it didn’t bother us because the scenery was great.

It had been really cloudy for most of the day, so we did not have high hopes for a good sunset. However,  we got lucky  because the sun made an appearance as it got later and cleared the fog to reveal a stunning sunset. This was a great way to end our evening on Coronado Island.

Processed with Snapseed.
Sunset on Coronado Island Ferry Landing

After the sunset, we took the return ferry back to Broadway Pier where we walked the few blocks back to our hotel. We had an early activity planned for day 2 -a Whale and Dolphin tour that we were really looking forward to and decided called it a night.




Exhibits · Family Travel · Museums · Seattle · Tours · travel · Trip Ideas · Washington

Seattle Center-Chihuly Garden & Glass Exhibit

On a recent trip to Seattle, we had the opportunity to  visit the Chihuly Garden and Glass. The exhibition opened at the Seattle Center in 2012. A Washington native, Dale Chihuly is a world renowned glass artist with current displays all over the world. We have both been lucky enough to see his works at a few other exhibits and have been blown away each time, so this was high on our list of places to visit.

The Exhibit is divided into three main areas: The Interior Exhibits, the Glasshouse  and the Gardens.

Interior Exhibit

Glass Forest: 

This room is subdued, but eye catching as its only piece is designed with neon colors. For those that are unfamiliar with Chihuly, it is here you will be introduced to the size and scale of some of his designs as well as to the black plexiglass base that is used to display many of his works.

For the Glass House piece, he teamed up with Mr. James Carpenter, a colleague of his at the Rhode Island School of design. They were interested to see what designs could come from their differing backgrounds-combining Carpenter’s background of architecture, light and sculpture with Chihuly’s background in textile and sculpture. These forms were made from standing atop a ladder and letting the glass drop down while inducing neon into the pieces.

The Northwest Room:

Cylinders, Baskets & Soft Cylinders 

Chihuly’s goal here was to make Indian Baskets out of glass. He discovered that he could push the boundaries of glass forms using fire and gravity.  Pushing the ability to form glass to the edge, just short of collapse, he was able to get the glass thin enough to  create new forms that mimic the patterns and designs from Native American culture.

Sealife Room

This room reflects Mr. Chihuly’s love of the sea. Growing up in the Pacific Northwest, he always had a love of the water. He saw a lot of similarity between the movement of water and movement of molten glass. Although sea life is only occasionally featured in chandeliers and towers, he designed this 20 ft tower to show how important water was to his work.

This is a room where we spent quite a lot of time just staring in awe at this magnificent tower.


Persian Ceiling:

Created and sculpted by Dale Chihuly and Martin Blank. Walking into the walkway with this eye-popping ceiling sort of catches one off guard. Your eyes are immediately drawn to the top of the room.

You will be surprised at how long you will stand around with your eyes glued to the plethora of remarkable Persian glass designs erected in the ceiling. Although you will recognize many of the designs, you will stand in amazement at others contemplating just who were those geniuses who dreamed such a thing.


Mille Fiori:

Inspired by glass blowing processes and places he’d visited over the years, this piece combines common shapes found routinely in nature with bright primary colors.

Ikebana and Float Boats:

The inspiration for this one came while in Nuutajarvi, Finland while he was working for his exhibition Chihuly Over Venice. He stood  on a bridge and threw glass into the water to experiment with its reaction to the glass.  Local teens would pick up the glass pieces and place them in row boats. Chihuly liked how his glass looked in the boats which led to the creation of these these pieces.

Chandelier Room:

The concept was inspired  by a chandelier he had seen at a restaurant in Barcelona, which was the first time he had seen one at eye level. It was then he got the idea that chandeliers could be made without being functional, just serving as a decoration. A chandelier was first displayed for an exhibit in 1992 at the opening exhibition at the Seattle Art Museum. His chandeliers can be anywhere from three to 30 feet long and can contain as many as 1,000 pieces.

Macchiato Forest:

Chihuly was very excited when an expanded color palate was available to him through use of the German colors. Originally, only available for the stained glass industry, he was determined to use all the 300-400 colors that were newly available to him in this exhibit. Macchiato means spotted in Italian.

Glass House:

The glasshouse is the centerpiece of the center.  It is 4,500 sq ft and 40 ft tall.  It holds a red, orange. amber and yellow 100 ft sculpture , which is one of Chihuly’s biggest.

The Garden:

The garden surrounds the glass house and was our favorite part of the exhibit. On a nice day, allow time for walking along the lined paths between the sculptures. We spent about an hour roaming around the gardens, but could have easily spent longer if time had permitted.

Tips before you go:

Depending when you visit, consider bringing your own snacks.  There is a cafe on site, but is usually very busy.

No selfie sticks are allowed, but they do have employees stationed in the various galleries that are eager to take your picture for you.

The exhibit is open Monday-Thursday 9:00 am -9:00 pm and Friday and Saturday 9:00 am – 10:00 pm.

Admission is considered pricey at $27 for ages 13-above with reduced admission for Seniors, Youth and Locals. Costs can be reduced by buying a  Seattle CityPass or by buying admission to the Space Needle at the counter.



Day Trips · Edinburgh · Europe · Family Travel · Museums · Scotland · UK · United Kingdom

TrippinTwins: Experiencing Edinburgh’s Camera Obscura 

We knew New Year’s Eve would be a late night, so we planned a leisurely New Year’s Day morning.  We were not super concerned with setting an alarm, figuring we would wake up in time to catch our bus into Old Town for brunch and an afternoon walking tour. Hindsight is 20/20 as they say, but that was certainly not the sharpest idea either of us have had. When Tara woke, it was an hour later than expected and she panicked, calling me to wake up saying, “Get up, get up! We have to leave soon.”

Barely awake, we managed to agree to reduce our usual “get ready” time to remain on schedule.  In those few minutes, we both managed  to make the same assumption that a light jacket would be just fine to carry us through the day. Boy, were were wrong!! When we walked outside, it was sooo much cooler than expected. Tara, not as easily bothered by cold temperatures, somehow talked me into sucking it up and hoping for the best, as it was really my only option.

I agreed to head to brunch, since I had to agree that finding food would improve my mood significantly. Hoping it would warm up after brunch turned out to be only wishful thinking. It somehow managed to only get colder and windier. Tara agreed that staying warm on the walking tour with light jackets would be a challenge, so we would play it by ear.

After the first hour and a good stopping point, we thanked our guide and bowed out in search of a coffee shop to warm up. Afterwards, while walking towards Edinburgh Castle, we noticed a crowd gathered outside Edinburg’s Camera Obscura & World of Illusions and decided to head inside to check it out.

Upon walking in, we quickly joined the ticket line where we learned the entrance fee secures all day access as long as the entrance stamp remains on your hand.  The six floors can be tackled in any order, but a majority of the crowd seems to make their way up to the top with the rooftop deck/camera demonstration before making their way down to experience the World of Illusions.

It was already around 3:30 PM when we bought our tickets, so we heeded the ticketing agent suggestion and made our way up the tight and windy stair cases to the sixth floor.  Once there, a staff member inquired as to whether we were interested in attending the last fifteen minute camera demonstration of the day. We were thankful for the notice and after telling him we in fact were, then directed towards the rooftop deck to spend some time taking in the amazing view of the city. Although the views are not hard to see, telescopes are offered and are quite the crowd pleaser.  The best part was that we arrived at the perfect time for a perfect sunset view!


When it was time for the camera demonstration, we were taken to a dark room and instructed to gather around the camera viewfinder, which is about the size of a medium round table. Our guide demonstrated how the camera worked by moving it around the viewing area, giving the group a virtual tour of Edinburgh. The sun had already set, so we were told our views would be limited to well known brightly lit neighborhoods and buildings. We were pleasantly surprised at how many city landmarks we could identify along with the areas that had been lit with holiday lights. The definite crowd pleaser was being given white pieces of paper which we used to “pick up” objects and landmarks.

If this demonstration is a priority for your visit, we suggest getting there earlier in the day. We were told the views are better on sunny and less cloudy days.

After the camera demonstration, we spent the next two hours exploring the World of Illusions starting with level 5 and working our way down to 2. (5: Magic Gallery 4: Light Fantastic 3: Eye Spy Edinburgh 2: Bewilderworld)  Every floor is divided up in smaller sections with various activities and hands on learning opportunities fun for both kids and adults. Many of the displays allow for hands on learning experiences using light displays, color and other optical illusions.  In addition, there are puzzles, a vortex tunnel, a mirror maze, which are all popular.

Like many places with multiple exhibits/stations, we quickly found out that a few stations attracted more crowds than others. We skimmed the rooms for the stations with the fewest people, did those first and came back to the others later.  We had a fantastic afternoon reading and learning about Edinburgh and photography, learning about the illusions, playing with the hands on experiments and learning the explanations behind the tricks. It took us about two hours to do every station we were interested in, but we can see others easily spending 3-4 hours.

Camera Obscura is a fantastic place to add to your Edinburgh itinerary that most everyone can enjoy.

Hat tips:

The stair cases are very narrow and steep, which can be challenging

All strollers have to stay in the lobby

There is no elevator

Families seemed to use the all day access for easy restroom access 🙂