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Travelblog Gone with the Wine

Travelblog and lifestyleblog. Life under the Californian sun - Gone with the Wine. Trips, food and wine from all over the world. Solo and family adventures.

Filtering by Tag: instagram

The Silliest Pictures on My Instagram

Paula Gaston

All these pictures are from my Instagram account. You can follow me @paulagaston

It has been a little bit quiet here on the blog since we have been traveling for a week. Traveling with a baby (or kids) just doesn't leave a lot of time to write during the trips. When you finally get the kids to bed in the evening, the parents pretty much crash quickly. Before I tell you about our Spring Break trip, I thought I would share some Instagram pictures with you again.

Lately there has been so much talk about Instagram and how hard it is to get more followers. This is due to algorithms that don't show pictures on peoples feeds in chronological order. Many people also complain that travel blogger feeds often look identical and they are bored with that. Some stage their pictures and travel to famous destinations like all the other instagrammers do. That made me think about what kind of pictures I like on Instagram. I like colorful and happy pictures. I like pictures from destinations that I have already been to or hope to travel someday. I like feeds where I can sometimes see the blogger as well since it makes it more personal. Overall, I like positive photos. 

If you have looked at my instagram account, you have probably noticed that my feed is a happy mess with no logic at all. I have tried all kinds of photos and filters but it just didn't feel like me. Maybe someday I will find my own style for Instagram, but right now I just post pictures I like, and some of them are not the most stylish... like these:



When I was just starting my blog, we were about to travel to Finland for Christmas and before that we went to get a Christmas tree from a farm. This picture looks like I'm done and leaving the place even though that was not the case. It just happened to make a funny photo. That same year I took a photo of the halloween decorations here in the U.S. at the wine section of the grocery store. The unintended thought I got from this picture was that there are consequences for drinking some wine. 



I took this photo of the Finnish singer Paula Koivuniemi at a Venetian party which at the end of the summer house season. Traditionally it is also a celebration of fire, so this worked well on my photo. Of course her hair was not really burning, it was just the pyrotechnic display in front of her at the right time. The other picture is from Finnish Lapland. Have you ever seen a camel in the snow?



Pretty often we fly with Norwegian Airlines and they have pretty funny barf bags onboard.  The "In a while you feel fine" -bag can be helpful if you feel yourself sick but we have mostly used it for trash. The other picture is a map from the lobby my old work office. Long Island has changed to Wrong Island, and if you look closely, you can see that the cities are in the wrong order. 



Over time I have been able to use all kinds of chairs. These must be the biggest of them. 



A few years ago we were in Yosemite National Park in California and were goofing around by taking silly pictures. I ended up drinking some water from a water fall. On the right is a picture from a Trick Art museum that we visited in Japan. In the museum you could create illusions with different backgrounds and this was one of the best ones I got. 



One year we drove from California to Utah. While we were in Nevada we saw a "no shooting sign" on the road. And of course the sign was full of bullet holes. In Utah we had dinner in a restaurant that served some of the best ho-made pies. 



Writing a blog is fun since you can do it almost anywhere, even in a giant tea cup. My blog also features some food which is an important part of my travels. This time I am trying some donuts.

What kind of Instagram pictures do you prefer?

The Most Bizarre Beaches on My Instagram

Paula Gaston

All these pictures are from my Instagram account. You can follow me @paulagaston

Both my husband and I were born and raised on the coast. We have always lived close to the water and the ocean. I am from a small town in Finland and my husband is from California, so water is a familiar element for us. And like many others, we often head to beach destinations for vacation. So it is not a surprise that there are many pictures of beaches on my Instagram account. 



There is so much you can do at the beach. We don't really go to the beach to tan ourselves. Instead, we like to go to beach for snorkeling or swimming. And that is why I really miss warm waters. And of course having kids has changed things too. Kids just love the beach and could play or collect seashells for hours. Unfortunately, I think my kids will not set their feet in the cold waters of Scandinavia like I did as a kid. They are only used to swimming in warm waters.

Here in Northern California the ocean is rarely warm enough for swimming, but we liked to go to the beach anyway. It is nice to get some fresh air and maybe even have a picnic. It is fun to walk around the beach and check our what kind of sea life the waves have brought in. And many of the beaches have tide pools where you can see little sea creatures that got trapped during high tide. A few times, I have been horseback riding at the beach. There is nothing cooler to a horse lover than a nice ride at the beach! Here in California you can do it in many places, and I wish I could do it more often. In Washington, we did a bicycle ride at the beach. 



While traveling around the world, we have of course seen all kinds of beaches. The most unique of them have been here in the United States. The Green Sand Beach is the most rare beach we have seen; there are only three of them in the world! We visited one in the Big Island, Hawaii a few years ago. The most bizarre beach was maybe the Glass Beach in Fort Brag, California. The glass comes from an old garbage dump that used be on the beach. Sparkling in the sun, the beach looked like it was full of diamonds.  


An interesting beach is also the Bowling Ball Beach on the Pacific Coast Highway in California. In order to see the round, bowling ball rocks you must be at the beach on the right time; during the low tide. We were not able to hit that, but at least we managed to see a few of the rocks. Black sand beaches are also interesting. The picture is from Reynisfjara, Iceland which is close to the village of Vik. We also visited a black sand beach on the Big Island, Hawaii called Punaluu, and there is one even here in the San Francisco Bay Area; Ocean Beach. 


Then there are two interesting beaches we went to where you can't swim. One is located by the Pacific Coast Highway in San Simeon, California, where the beach goes on and on but is occupied by elephant seals. The other beach marks the southernmost point of the United States and is located in Hawaii.


We still need to see the famous pink beach! I have forgotten where it is, but that would complete our list.

And since I love the ocean, I don't mind spending time there during the winter. You can even ski on top of the ice in Finland. But here in California, we already got some lovely, warm days this week!


Closing the Door to the Travel Year 2017

Paula Gaston

All these pictures are from my Instagram account. You can follow me @paulagaston

It is time to sum up again what has happened in the past year; ups and downs, and then move on to new adventures. Even though we were not able to travel as much last year, it was still a memorable year for other reasons. 


In January, I traveled to Finland to visit my family and friends. At that time we had just found out that we were expecting a baby, and I knew that most likely I will not be able to visit Finland later in a year. I thought we might be traveling to closer destinations, but honestly, during this pregnancy I felt like home was the best, so our travels were minimum this year. 


While I was visiting Finland I also went to Matka Nordic Travel Fair in Helsinki. It had been a few years since my previous visit to the fair and it was interesting to see all the changes.





After visiting a travel fair in Finland I also participated in a fair here in Santa Clara, California. The high light of the Travel Adventure Show was meeting Phil Keoghan from the Amazing Race, but there were also many other interesting keynotes at the show.


In March, my friend and I toured around Eugene Oneill's Tao House in Danville (the main picture). He was a famous novel writer who also won a Nobel prize. The house is part of the national parks system and so I was able to mark it off from my list.

In April, we got some guests when my husband's family was visiting us. Their only wish was to see Alcatraz. So we headed to San Francisco and took a ferry to Alcatraz Island in the beautiful spring weather. Even though I had been to Alcatraz before, there was still plenty to see there and we had a great trip.

In May, we headed out on a road trip to Southern California. Our little miss got to experience Disneyland for the very first time, and of course, that was the highlight of the year for her. 


The actual reason for this road trip was a family wedding. It took place in Temecula Wine Country which was so beautiful.

After the wedding, the trip continued all the way to San Diego. We visited famous Old Town San Diego, some beaches, Cabrillo National Monument, the Gaslamp District and some Top Gun filming locations


From San Diego we headed back up north, but we stopped at Joshua Tree National Park, Mojave desert, Cesar Chaves National Monument and Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks. At Sequoia we saw one of the biggest trees in the world: General Sherman. We also drove part of the original Route 66

After the road trip it was time to settle down and get ready for our new family member. We did one shorter trip and went to see Port Chicago National Monument as well as the house of John Muir. They are also part of the national park system. 


At the end of April, during the great solar eclipse in the US, we had a beautiful little baby girl. Absolutely the highlight of our year! A couple of months went by just like that, while we were trying to adjust to our new life. I at least managed to visit some old colleagues at Instagram Headquarters for lunch.  


The year 2017 was one of the worst wild fire years in California. We also got our share of it when the winds blew all the dangerous smoke our way. On those days we had to stay inside the house. Even the sun was just a little dot in the sky which could be seen through the smoke. Both Napa Valley and Sonoma Wine Country suffered tremendously, and hundreds of people lost their homes. It was horrible!

One of the most unique places I visited this year was for sure the Museum of Ice Cream. I have never been to a place quite like that and certainly never swam in a pool of sprinkles. We had fun in the museum even though we would have gladly stayed there even longer. 


Our new baby did her very first trip when we travelled to Southern California for the holidays. The drive over there was long and slow, but coming back home was nice since we cut it in half by visiting Solvang. Solvang is a cute, Danish-style town close to Santa Barbara. Very close to Solvang is Michael Jackson's Neverland, where we visited before driving back home. You are not able to go in of course, but you can see all the mementos and pictures the fans have brought to the gate, and read some of the things they have written on the stones.


At Christmas time, we visited The Mission Inn Hotel & Spa in Riverside, California. Every year it is beautifully decorated for the holidays. We also went to the Historic McDonald's Museum. I will be writing about both of these places in a post soon.


Happy New Year to everybody!

The Most Popular Instagram Pictures of 2017

Paula Gaston

All these pictures are from my Instagram account. You can follow me @paulagaston


The year 2017 is ending soon which means people are summing up the highlights of their travel year in different posts. My summary is Instagram related, as I wanted to see which pictures on my account were the most popular ones. And here they are:




Morning swim at Clarion Hotel Helsinki's rooftop

Swimming after sauna and sauna after the swimming. The rooftop in January was cold, but at least the sauna made me warm again. This picture is from Helsinki, Finland, where I participated in the Nordic Travel Fair. A morning swim at sun rise really wakes you up!

It was also nice to visit my home country Finland!





Visit to the Instagram Headquarters in Silicon Valley

I was invited to the Facebook/Instagram Headquarters, and of course I went. We had lunch, toured around the campus and drove from one building to another by shuttle bus. I also saw Mark Zuckenberg. Since it is Instagram, there is of course some photo spots where we took some pictures. 

You can read more about life in Silicon Valley from here. 






At Alcatraz Island in San Francisco

In March we visited Alcatraz Island in San Francisco. The weather was nice and we had a lot of fun. The tickets to Alcatraz are sold out months before, so if you are planning to visit, make sure you book early.








Memories from lovely Stockholm

This post was inspired by a sad tragedy; a terror attack at Stockholm. Despite this, my own memories from this beautiful city are only positive and fun, and I hope to visit Sweden soon again. 







California road trip - Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Trees Park is in the Mojave Desert in Southern California. We spent a day in Joshua Tree National Park and saw some rare plants and animals.








Tightrope walker at Joshua Tree National Park

Both hikers and climbers love Joshua Tree National Park, and we saw multiple groups on the rocks. I bet this group was the most photographed, since they were doing tightrope walking. 







Pregnant blogger

This year has been different and very special to us. In the summer months we had to take a step back and relax since as you can see, my tummy got huge. This is at the end of my pregnancy in our yard in California. The whole time, I was feeling well, even though I wasn't able to travel as much as I did with my first pregnancy.

Read about travelling pregnant.






Point Reyes lighthouse in California

Point Reyes lighthouse is on California coast in the Point Reyes National Seashore. You can visit inside the lighthouse if you first descend 300 steps down. Just remember, you also have to use the same steps to get up. We have been there many times, and you can read about it here. I would recommend this place to anyone who loves outdoors.




A new family member

In August, during the American Solar Eclipse, our family grew with a little baby daughter. Now there is four of us conquering the world. Passports and papers are already ready for some future travels. New adventures are awaiting! 









Tarantulas in California's Golden Hills

In October you might see some tarantulas crawling around the California hills. They come out to find a mating partner. With this picture, I wanted to remind people about the post from last year when I went to hike to see some tarantulas. I was surprised to see that it was the most popular picture in October.







Lake Tahoe - The pride of California and Nevada

Beautiful Lake Tahoe is located in Northern California, on the border of Nevada and California. It is a popular skiing destination, but in summer time people can swim, hike and camp. The picture is from my post about Lake Tahoe.







December is not over yet so a picture will be added to this gallery later. Maybe it is the main picture of this post; the City Hall of San Francisco which was lit up in blue and white to honor Finland's centennial. (Photo credit: Paivi Hakala). Go check out my Instagram account @paulagaston, and like the picture from December that you think is the best!

Small Luxuries on My Travels

Paula Gaston

All these pictures are from my Instagram account. You can follow me @paulagaston

When travelling it is nice to spoil yourself a little. We usually don't travel in business class or stay at five star resorts, even though we have tried both of them. The luxury on our trips comes from small things. We usually like to explore our surroundings and be in nature, so staying in a resort sometimes feels like a waste.

At least the following things bring us joy and feel like a luxury on our trips:




We love to try local foods and we especially love seafood. When travelling we eat out a lot which definitely feels like a luxury to me, since I don't have to cook all the time. All the moms know what I mean! You don't have to think "when do I have time" or "what ingredients do we have". You can just sit down and enjoy.



Every country or state seem to have their own drink. It is always nice to try something new and different. When traveling on wine regions we always choose a local wine, and my husband likes to try local beers as well. We sometimes also get a cocktail for an aperitif. 



You can't ever go to the theatre too much. I feel like we don't do that often enough, but most trips we end up going to a museum at least. There are however, some cities or countries that you can't leave without seeing a show or a musical first. Also, some seasons require an occasional visit to the opera or ballet. 



We are huge coffee snobs. When home we always grind our coffee from fresh beans. Finding a good cafe while traveling feels like luxury since most coffees served in hotels are like poison. I am not a big friend of Starbucks or other chains; the best coffees are served at small, independent cafes. 



Best ever! I love it when I get to escape the city somewhere where I can only hear the sound of nature. There is nothing better than that.



And then there are moments when you really are not in a rush and you can totally relax. Very often this happens on a vacation when you are travelling.



Here in California, I am sometimes missing a real winter. My childhood Christmases were always white, so I miss that. Especially when the evenings are dark and Christmas lights are already up, it would be such a luxury to have some snow. It really brings the Holiday feeling!

All Nippon Airlines business class dinner.

All Nippon Airlines business class dinner.

A warm crater at Homestead Resort in Utah.

A warm crater at Homestead Resort in Utah.


OK, fine. I can't lie that I wouldn't enjoy if I sometimes got the first class treatment, that "real" luxury. Sometimes it is nice to stay in a better room, fly with more room for yourself or eat in a fine dining restaurant. Especially the last one is familiar to me due to my old job, and I still like to find great restaurants. But when you don't get these things every day, you will appreciate them more.

What is your luxury when you travel?