The Ultimate Packing List for the Beach

As you have probably realized by now, I do really enjoy beach destinations.   I love going to the Caribbean, Florida, or even beaches close to New York City.  I never feel like I can get enough time at the beach though, but I think the secret is to be prepared.  With my complete packing list for the beach, I can make sure I get the most of my beach time!  

On a nice summer day, everyone wants to be at the beach! - "The Ultimate Packing List for the Beach" - Two Traveling Texans
On a nice summer day, everyone wants to be at the beach!

If like me, you enjoy your beach time, then this list may give you some ideas to make your beach day even better. This list contains a variety of things that you might need for the beach along with some fun items that you might enjoy.  I think you will find this beach packing list helpful whether you are going to the beach for a day or it’s a weeklong beach vacation.  Click on any of the pictures to check current prices, availability and get more information.

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The Beach Essentials

My packing list for the beach starts with the items that you really need for your day in the sun.  If you are flying to the beach destination, you will need to know the baggage rules for the airline you are flying.  Also, think about what items will be available at the beach you are going to.  For example, if you are going to the beach at your hotel, there may be lounge chairs there you can use. (more…)

Why I Loved the Moorish Castle and You Will Too!

The Moorish Castle may not be as elaborate as Pena Palace or the National Palace, but it is a really fascinating place.  Now the castle is just ruins, but there is still lots to see and the views are spectacular.  It ended up being my favorite place in Sintra, so I wanted to share some of the history of the Moorish Castle and the highlights of our visit.   

The Moorish Castle perched atop the Sintra Hills - "Why I loved the Moorish Castle" - Two Traveling Texans
The Moorish Castle perched atop the Sintra Hills

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Note: The Moorish Castle is also known as the Castle of the Moors or in Portuguese, Castelo dos Mouros.

Brief History of the Moorish Castle

Flags still fly proudly from the castle.- "Why I Loved the Moorish Castle" - Two Traveling Texans
Flags still fly proudly from the castle.

The castle was built at the top of the Sintra hills, on extremely uneven terrain, by the Moors in the 8th or 9th century mainly for protection. It was conquered by King Afonso Henriques in 1147, and the castle’s Muslim rule ended.

The 1755 Lisbon earthquake caused considerable damage to the chapel and affected the stability of the castle.  Later once peace was restored, the castle lost its strategic importance as there was no need to provide protection.  Soon after the Moorish Castle was abandoned.  

In 1838, King Ferdinand II acquired the Moorish Castle along with the Pena Palace.  He worked to restore the medieval ruin and surrounding areas.  In 1940, there was another restoration in preparation for the ceremonies celebrating the foundation of Portugal.  

In 1955, the Sintra Hills where the Moorish Castle is built was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  It’s hard to comprehend the castle is over 1000 years old! (more…)

Plan Your Own Sintra Tour

If you love castles, like I do, you really must visit Sintra. Sintra is a beautiful town less than an hour away from Lisbon where Portugal’s elite built exquisite palaces, extravagant residences, and decorative gardens. The “Landscape of Sintra” is on the UNESCO World Heritage List. I was really surprised and a little overwhelmed when I learned just how much there was to see – I couldn’t even fit it all in one blog post! I wanted to share what I learned from my visit to help you plan your own Sintra tour.

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The bright colors of Pena Palace make you feel like you are in a fantasy land. - "Make Your Own Sintra Tour" - Two Traveling Texans
The bright colors of Pena Palace make you feel like you are in a fantasy land.

Getting from Lisbon to Sintra

The best way to get from Lisbon to Sintra is by train. The train runs every 30 minutes from the Rossio Train Station in Lisbon and the journey takes less than an hour. We ended up taking the train back to the Oriente station in Lisbon since that was the next train out of Sintra, but there are no direct trains from Oriente to Sintra. When we rode the trains there were plenty of seats, it was clean, and overall the ride was pleasant. (more…)

Met vs MOMA: Which Museum is Best?

When it comes to the Met vs MOMA you really can’t go wrong.  Both the Metropolitan Museum and the Museum of Modern Art are amazing museums.  I have been to both museums many times and highly recommend that you also go to both if you can.  However, I know that sometimes you can only fit one museum in the itinerary, so here are my thoughts to help you choose.

Rodin's work at the Met - "Met vs MOMA: Which Museum is Best?" - Two Traveling Texans
Rodin’s work at the Met

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Building

As you would expect, MOMA is a modern building opened in 2004 and that really works well for a modern art museum.  The building blends in with other buildings in midtown and if it weren’t for the large sign outside you might not even expect that there a museum inside.    The Met, however, is housed in an iconic building that opened to the public in 1880!  It has now expanded to cover more than 2 million square feet.  Like I learned on my When Harry Met Seinfeld tour, the famous steps outside have been part of many TV shows and movies like Gossip Girls and Hitch.  The Met is also home to the Met Gala, also known as the Superbowl of Fashion, which is held on the first Monday of May each year. (more…)

Cave of the Winds: Niagara Falls Close-up

I read a bit about the Cave of the Winds before my trip to Niagara but I wasn’t really sure what to expect.  The name I thought seemed a little misleading because I knew there wasn’t really a Niagara Cave.  And almost everywhere around the falls was windy.  I didn’t really get the excitement of the Cave of the Winds Niagara Falls.  When I was tight on time, I was tempted to cut it out of the itinerary, but I am really glad I didn’t.

The American Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls are right next to each other. The Bridal Veil Falls is on the right. - "Cave of the Winds Niagara Falls Closeup" - Two Traveling Texans
The American Falls and Bridal Veil Falls are next to each other. The Bridal Veil Falls is on the right.

The Cave of the Winds is the best way to get close to the falls on the American side.  There are actually three main waterfalls that make up Niagara Falls: the Horseshoe Falls, American Falls, and the Bridal Veil Falls.  Both the American Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls are in the US, while the Horseshoe Falls is in Canada.  The American Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls are separated by Luna Island.  The Bridal Veil Falls are impressive but significantly smaller than the other falls.

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When we took the Hornblower cruise, I saw all the people wearing their yellow ponchos and realized that was the Cave of the Winds.  You climb up scaffolding that goes right to the base of the Bridal Falls.  The weather conditions created by the falls are so intense that they have to rebuild the scaffolding each year.   (more…)