Category Archives: Travel

Thailand 2019

Pinterest Graphics

I don’t even know where to start.  I just returned from a two week long trip to Thailand with three friends.  This trip has been on my list for a few years now and I’m so thankful that I was able to go.  Here is my attempt to summarize our trip!

Anne and I met Kristina in the Chicago airport.  Let the 21 hours of travel begin!

We arrived in Bangkok around 9:30pm on February 10th.  My best friend, Annette, was already at the hotel in Bangkok and I was dying to get there as soon as I could so I could hug her!

We were in Bangkok for one full day.  We INTENDED on taking a taxi to the Grand Palace then pick up a boat tour to begin our adventures but the gentleman driving the cab decided to bring us to a different part of town and put us on a different boat tour.  We got Bangkoked!  Thankfully things aren’t very expensive so if you make a mistake it doesn’t cost much.

We still enjoyed the boat tour we ended up on and ended at the Grand Palace so all in all not a huge mistake.
Feeding the fish for good luck
Bangkok skylineThailandBlog-9

Got off the boat for our first meal out.  Made a good decision with green curry. Watch out for those chilis!

After lunch we visited the Grand Palace.  It’s a group of buildings in the heart of the city where the King and his government used to live.  You can also view the Emerald Buddha.

First, here are our snazzy tourist outfits we wore as we toured the Grand Palace.  We showed up thinking a scarf would be sufficient to cover our shoulders as it is at most temples.  But they’re strict here and require t-shirts.  How convenient that we could purchase one at the entrance for 200 Baht 🙂  Bangkoked again!  Annette had leggings past her knees and those weren’t good enough either so she got herself some elephant pants.
image1 (1)

The palace was pretty incredible.  Gold mosaics everywhere! But also suuuper crowded!


Traveling by tuk-tuk is a tourist must-do.

Icon Siam Mall
image1 (2)

Dinnertime views!


After two nights in Bangkok – off to Chiang Mai!  Chiang Mai is in the northern part of the country, closer to the mountains.  I really loved this city.  The Thais here were so sweet and hospitable.  We felt so welcomed at our hotel and enjoyed chatting with the locals and our tour guides.

Here’s our first meal, near our hotel.  Unfortunately, Annette can’t do spicy!

One of my highlights was a cooking class where we learned how to make seven different things.  They picked us up at our hotel and brought us first to a market to talk about the different fresh ingredients used in Thai cooking.  Then we were taken to the school where we learned how to cook some delish dishes and eat until we couldn’t eat any more!

Here’s our instructor, Doo.  He was so knowledgeable and hilarious!ThailandBlog-18ThailandBlog-19ThailandBlog-20
Ready to make some Pad Thai!
image2 (1)
I made this Pad Thai!!  So proud of myself, haimage1 (8)
Coconut soup, yum! (And ingredients for papaya salad in the background, yum yum!)
image1 (4)

The next morning we were picked up at our hotel again and traveled about 40 minutes to the Patara Elephant Farm.  We learned about the elephants in their care (there are 67), how they make sure they’re healthy and helped them in their daily tasks of feeding and bathing them.  It was incredible!  Annette and I were paired up with a mama, Manoi, and her baby, Natee.  It was a surreal experience!

Look at her side, she’s pregnant!
image1 (5)image2 (2)image3 (1)image4

We did NOT know this was going to happen….
How beautiful is this lunch?!
image1 (9)

That evening back in Chiang Mai dinner at Dash. I had Pad See Ew 🙂
image2 (5)

Some sights as we walked/shopped around the city…image1 (6)image2 (3)image4 (1)

Lunch the next day at Woo!  This is one of the most beautiful restaurants!  Tons of fresh flowers everywhere and the food was delicious.

Side note: we learned that there is a notoriously stinky fruit in Asia called Durian (mostly by walking through it’s stench on the street).  It cracks me up that establishments will have signs like this on their doors: “No Dogs, No Outside Food & Bev, No Durian!”
image1 (7)image3 (3)image4 (2)
Pineapple fried rice!

The next day we traveled about an hour and a half from Chiang Mai to visit the Doi Inthanon National Park.ThailandBlog-27ThailandBlog-28ThailandBlog-29
We visited the Karen Village where we had a coffee & tea stop.  We ground fresh coffee beans and this sweet woman (and our tour guide!) made us coffee and green tea for Annette and I!
ThailandBlog-30ThailandBlog-31ThailandBlog-32ThailandBlog-33ThailandBlog-34ThailandBlog-35ThailandBlog-36Lunch time!
image3 (4)image4 (3)

Last stop for the day
image3 (5)

Our last morning in Chiang Mai we wandered around the city shopping and exploring and taking a break from the heat for smoothies (we ate mangoes in some form every day).  We returned to a shop we’d already visited because we loved the shop owner so much.  Isn’t he the cutest??
image4 (4)

After five nights we said goodbye to Chiang Mai (and Kristina had to leave us, too) and headed to the beaches!  More specifically, Krabi.  I honestly didn’t take many photos here.  I just enjoyed a few days to relax!  We stayed at the Centara Grand Resort and Villas.


IMG_5041image2 (7)
Okay, I’m still dreaming about this Tim Tam Chocolate Frappe from The Coffee Club.IMG_5059Our resort was only accessible by boat or this monkey trail 🙂  Unfortunately, we didn’t see any monkeys 😦

If eating chips in our bathing suits isn’t the perfect vacation, I don’t know what is.

Back to The Coffee Club again because we loved it so much 🙂  This first pose, “the dolphin,” is inspired by the water aerobics class we did at our hotel with all the old ladies, ha!

Our last full day we spent a few hours on a boat island hopping!  The beaches turned more turquoise as we got away from the main land.  We stopped at four different islands to swim and also did a bit of snorkeling.  So beautiful! image1 (11)IMG_5155


We watched the sunset every night.  Here’s our last one!  image3 (6)IMG_5177

So sad to say goodbye! Had a fabulous vacation with these ladies.  Until the next adventure… 🙂




2018 Wrap Up!

2018 was a big year for Melissa Griffin Photography!  Before I begin thinking about resolutions and goals for 2019 (I’m a type A and love January!) I wanted to look back on personal and professional highlights from the last 12 months.  I’m so grateful!

Me in my element leading a Photo 101 class in January.  I really enjoy teaching so more to come in 2019!  IMG_0832IMG_0831
My first adoption homecoming session!  The happy tears were flowing!WelcomeHome-5It’s always a joy to welcome friends’ newborns into the world!  Ezra and Annagrace made their appearances earlier this year!Ezra'sDebut-101EzraNB-10Kassim-3I went full time in May!  After six years and some slow and steady growth I took the (scary, but exciting) leap to go full time!  And haven’t looked back.IMG_1898College reunion in July! We hadn’t all been together in 15 years.  IMG_2702I had a unique shoot where I got to capture Izzie finding out she was going to be a big sis for the first time!K_SM-10I traveled to Columbia for a newborn session and to Greenville for a family shoot.  Would love to begin traveling more in the future!Molly-16H-11Each year I try to travel somewhere new.  This year it was Ithaca in my home state of New York with some besties from NY and Charleston!  Here are photos from our hike at Watkins Glen.WatkinsGlen-7WatkinsGlen-82018 saved the best for last!  My nephew, Asher, was born!  We met on Christmas Eve and he’s a snuggly little love bug 🙂  FamilyPhotos_Dec2018-11FamilyPhotos_Dec2018-65

Thanks for following!  Cheers to a fabulous 2019!

Watkins Glen

I just returned from a vacation in upstate New York.  I explored the Finger Lakes region with some friends before visiting family in Syracuse and Albany.  If you haven’t been to the Finger Lakes do yourself a favor and make some plans to go!  Here is one morning of our trip spent hiking Watkins Glen.  Nineteen waterfalls in a two mile stretch!  The hike also included 50 flights of steps so we got our workout in for the day.  (Probably a good thing – it made up for the yummy food and wine we had!)


Here’s the entrance of the park:WatkinsGlen-13WatkinsGlen-1WatkinsGlen-2WatkinsGlen-3WatkinsGlen-4WatkinsGlen-5WatkinsGlen-6WatkinsGlen-7WatkinsGlen-8WatkinsGlen-9WatkinsGlen-10WatkinsGlen-11WatkinsGlen-12

Charleston Photographer: Vacation Photos Turned Artwork!

I drove downtown today to see the final result of some images that were printed on canvas and are now hanging at 40 Bee Street Flats in downtown Charleston.  I took the photos this summer while on vacation in France and Denmark.  I’m loving the photos printed on canvas from  Now I need to get one for my apartment….  🙂40BeeSt-140BeeSt-240BeeSt-340BeeSt-440BeeSt-5

Travel Photos: Kobenhavn 2017

Here are photos from my recent trip to Copenhagen to visit my bestie!!!


Annette’s apartment.  Always nice to have a free place to stay in a fun country 🙂

Embrace the way locals do it!  Biking is the best way to see the city.

NyhavnCopey2017-3Copey&Corse2017-14Copey&Corse2017-20Copey&Corse2017-26Escaped the rain for a bit at The Laundromat Cafe for some chai tea and french fries

I didn’t visit Tivoli on my first trip to Copenhagen so this time we went and saw a ballet of Cinderalla with a couple of Annette’s friends.  Loved meeting Katie and Sherina! Tivoli is famous for being the 2nd oldest operating amusement park in the world.Copey2017-1


Wulff & Konstali our first morning for an amazing brunch!  We’re talking salted caramel on waffles people.

Enjoying the sunset after dinner at Paper Island.

On a mission to get truffle fries with rosemary mayo in Torvehallerne

My friend Mandy told me about this food truck, Hija de Sanchez, in Torvehallerne. The chef used to be the pastry Chef at Noma, a famous Danish restaurant located in Copenhagen.  Two out of the three were yum!Copey2017-7

And (surprisingly) loved the avacado ice pop with caramel and freeze dried raspberries!
FullSizeRender (14)

Bikes, bikes, bikes! Copey&Corse2017-95Copey&Corse2017-102Copey&Corse2017-104Copey&Corse2017-110

Annette and her friends, Tabita and Rose, made breakfast each morning which was such a treat!  The morning we returned from Corsica Tabita brought us breakfast – homemade rolls, cheese, pastries, fruit, eggs.  Here’s Annette the next morning making breakfast sandwiches.  I was spoiled!  Breakfasts with these girls was so hyggeligt!Copey2017-26I wanted to bring them all back to the states with me! 🙂Copey2017-28Copey2017-27Annette taking some photos of me doing my thing Copey2017-8Copey2017-12Admiring Amagertorv

We biked around some more (of course) on my last day there.  I saw the International School where Annette teaches, right on the harbor.  We met up with some of her friends (some new to me, some old!) and got some ice cream.Copey2017-29
In the Metro on our way to Höst, a nice restaurant Annette had been waiting to visit!  We made reservations for our last night together.  Friends.  It was seriously the best meal we’d ever had.Copey2017-32Copey2017-33
We ordered the three course meal, but they sneak in 4 extra dishes so we had plenty of delicious bites to try.  This is me in my happy place, ha!

Here was our menu.  Some of it sounds kind of different but it was all perfect.  We also had champagne then white, red and dessert wines.
-Baked Witch flounder with peas, shrimp and roasted chicken skin
-Grilled pork neck from Grambogaard with corn, cherries and pickled Wood ear”
-Rosehip ice cream with red and green strawberriesCopey2017-35

That’s 31 years of friendship right there!  Love this girl to pieces and I soaked up every minute of our time together since we don’t get as much face to face time these days as I’d like.  But we make the most of it when we do.  Cheers to our fun times in Copenhagen!



Travel Photos: Corsica Road Trip!


Friends.  Spoiler alert, you don’t have to read ahead, I’ll just tell you.  If you EVER get a chance to travel to Corsica, DO IT.  I was lucky enough to travel around this French island recently with two fun friends, Janie and Annette!  We stayed for 6 nights and road tripped around the entire island during that time.  The food, people and scenery all made for an unforgettable vacation.  I really want to go back.  Like yesterday.

Our vacation basically goes like this…. beach, pizza & gelato, shop, eat, sleep, repeat.


Day 1
Before heading to Corsica, Janie and I flew to Copenhagen to visit my best friend, Annette, who lives there.  (Photos of Copenhagen coming soon!) We arrived at the Bastia airport around 11:00am on Friday.  We picked up our rental car… automatic, please!  None of us drive stick and there was no way we were learning on those windy roads!  Our first meal in Corsica was the most delicious salad and pizza at a little shop not far from the airport.  We should have taken more time to learn a little French before our trip, because we quickly found out that English was not very widely spoken.  Nonetheless, the people were very friendly and patient with us as we struggled to order.  I kind of enjoy the challenge of it 🙂

We drove about 2 hours to our hotel and settled by the pool for the afternoon.  Janie and I went into full vacation mode: we sat at the bar and treated ourselves to a Nutella and banana crepe chased by a vacation beverage- a gin fizz for me and a mojito for her 🙂

For dinner we drove and found the restaurant 37.2 right on the beach, Plage de Cala Rossa to be exact.  We sat at a table right on the beach with the most beautiful oceanside view.  We ordered delicious seafood dishes- shrimp ceviche, crab and spring rolls– and wine of course!  Again, the people who worked there were so friendly and fun.  Our waiter, Roman, taught us a French phrase we’d use for the rest of the trip.  “Chin Chin!” (“Cheers!”)

Day 2
The next morning we drove into the town of Porto-Vecchio to have some breakfast.  We walked around and did a little shopping and made our first purchases.  The towns all over Corsica are so charming and beautiful.  We then started our short drive to Bonifacio. (And stopped at our first beach on the way, of course!)

IMG_9149 (1)IMG_8848

Onto the next city…

Bonifacio was our favorite spot!  Our hotel was in the perfect location near the harbor and very walkable to the city.  This part of Bonifacio is at sea level where large yachts, shops, and restaurants line the harbor.  Then as you can start walking up, up, up and rest of the city sits high on the rocky coast overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.  It’s worth the steps!  Here’s Annette halfway…


For dinner….a charcuterie board, mushroom pasta, pesto gnocchi and lasagna. And wine.  🙂  We wandered around, shopped, ate gelato, and looked at the crazy fancy yachts on the harbor.

Day 3
Since we loved this spot so much we decided to stay for awhile before making the drive to our next city.  We picked up breakfast and snacks for the day at the local grocery store and found some steps in the city to sit and eat and people watch.

Off the coast of Bonifacio are the uninhabited Lavezzi Islands with good spots for swimming and snorkeling.  They offer boat tours from the harbor, so we grabbed our picnic lunch and snorkel gear that we got at the grocery store (we’re real serious about it!) and boarded.  The islands were beautiful and I snorkeled for the first time.  We found a beautiful little beach to swim, nap and enjoy lunch.  The color of the water is just stunning!  Of course the photos don’t do it justice.

FullSizeRender (3)

One thing we learned: we can pound an entire bag of potato chips in one beach sitting.  #vacationdiet

FullSizeRender (2)

An unexpected surprise on the return trip… being invited to come up to the cabin and steer the tour boat.  I will not argue with that. I think they had pity on us since we were the only English speaking people on the boat and had no clue what was going on 🙂


After our Lavezzi Island adventure it was unfortunately time to bid farewell to Bonifacio.  (If -WHEN!- I go back to Corsica I’d spend more than one night here!) We hopped in the car and began our longest drive of the trip (about 2 1/2 hours) to the capital, Ajaccio.

We stayed at a Best Western and were pleasantly surprised when we arrived and received keys for an apartment instead of a normal room.  Upgrade!  Our hotel was right on the water which we walked along into town.  I hate to say it but this particular city didn’t impress us too much — good thing we spent the extra time at the last stop.  Maybe we just missed the fun, cute part!  We walked around for awhile trying to find a place that was actually open for dinner!  We landed at a place and got (surprise!) pizza and salad.  Deeee-lish.  We also tried the local beer, Pietra.  We’re fans. 🙂

Day 4
We had a nice breakfast at the hotel and then continued on our way because we were excited to get into the mountains.  We left Ajaccio and drove to Corte.  It was the first time we got away from the coast and it did not disappoint!  We all took motion sickness meds before getting in the car because we knew we’d hit some windy roads and we’re getting old, ha!


We decided that during our 6 night stay we would splurge on one hotel and this one was it!  Guys.  It was beautiful!  The hotel has a river that runs directly behind it.  You can swim in the pool or the river.  There’s even a little tent so you can get a massage out by the river!  We would have stayed there for a week if we could.

Upon arriving, we relaxed by the river and ordered off the hotel’s restaurant menu.  We made our best guesses of what we wanted from the French menu and chose a couple of snacks.  Thankfully we guessed wisely and got a charcuterie board and a caprese salad plus eggplant.  Chin chin!
Let’s just say we demolished it.  This meal was one of my highlights.  Sharing food with good friends when you’re not rushed and can just enjoy it all = my happy place.
FullSizeRender (9)FullSizeRender (10)

Annette read online that people will drive along the river then park their cars on the side of the road, climb down the rocks to the river and swim.  This is the only point on our vacation that I almost had a nervous breakdown.  I got to a narrow spot where two cars were not able to safely pass and there was a rock wall on my right and a drop off to the left.  Drivers were having to back up and pull to the side and let others pass.  I did not like that one bit.  But… we drove a few kilometers and pulled over.  We laced up our sneakers to hike down along the rocks then camped out for awhile on the river.  The water was FREEZING.  But very refreshing and crystal clear and beautiful!

FullSizeRender (4)FullSizeRender (5)FullSizeRender (6)

After our river adventure (don’t worry, I made it back down the windy roads to the hotel OK) we got ready to venture into town.  The little town of Corte is beautiful.  It sits up high and is surrounded by incredible mountain views.

You can’t lose with this food!  We found a restaurant with good reviews and ordered lamb and two penne pasta dishes. One with prawns (this dish was no joke!) and another with chestnuts.  So yum!  Our waitress, Isadora, was so helpful and sweet.  I literally got stung in the neck (?!) by a bee during the meal and she brought me vinegar to put on it, ha!
FullSizeRender (13)

Day 5
You may have noticed me talking a lot about food, but this vacation seemed to lend itself to trying new Mediterranean dishes.  Well, and pizza 🙂 We enjoyed our last meal in Corte, breakfast at the hotel, on our favorite patio by the river before heading to our last city- Calvi.  I ate my first soft boiled egg.  As we cracked into them Annette said, “These are raw.”  Yep!  They sure were. The waitress was mortified and tried again!

At breakfast we happened to sit next to a sweet French couple who gave us some pointers.  (They said after eavesdropping on us they thought we were all from New York.) He was from Calvi and recommended a beach to visit on our way.  We took his suggestion and went to Le Pain de Sucre, literally “Sugar Bread” beach.  It was fun to see how each beach we visited was unique.  This one had rocks to one side, giving us some nice shade.  We got ourselves some Corsican beer and camped out here for awhile.  And ate another bag of potato chips 🙂

FullSizeRender (11)FullSizeRender (12)

Our drive that day was about an hour and a half total.  As we were driving we’d turn a corner and just say “WOW.”  The view of the coast and the mountains from the windy road was breathtaking.  Again, photos don’t do it justice.  You may have to go and see for yourself!



We had booked a VRBO and met the owner at the apartment.  Thank goodness for the Google Translate App, otherwise I would not have been able to communicate with him! We found the cutest little restaurant, U Fornu, in town a couple of streets over from the busy area and sat out on the terrace.  The food was just okay but it won us over in the ambiance department.  And we loved the pitcher of rose.  Calvi is a busy little tourist town with a really fun vibe!

Day 6
The great thing about our VRBO was that it was a 5 minute walk to the beach!  We went over late morning and may or may not have stayed for 7 hours that day 🙂  We stood in the clear water in the Bay of Calvi and could see the city of Calvi to our left and the mountains to the right.


This raft is the best 5 euros Annette ever spent.


After our really stressful beach day 😉 we enjoyed some local Corsican Columba beer on our back patio then got ready for our last dinner!  We ended up at the outdoor patio of Via Marine Le Resto right on the water.  Our waiter, Lucio, was from Argentina so we practiced our Spanish which isn’t great but it’s better than our French!  We ordered pizza and salad to share (our go-to) and somehow unknowingly ordered a green salad with ice cream on it.  Parmesan ice cream.  Not sure how that happened, but it did. Salud!

Day 7
Boooooo!  It’s our last day in paradise, say it isn’t so!  It was time to make our way (slowly) to the airport so we took the advice from a gentleman we met on the very first day back in Bastia and visited the town of St Florent on our way out.  One more beach and one more lunch before returning to Bastia airport.

Had such a fabulous time with these two.  We vacationed hard and laughed a lot.  Until we meet again, Corsica!



Pacific Northwest 2016

This month a few friends and I traveled to the Pacific Northwest, starting in San Francisco and making our way through Portland and Seattle then ending in Vancouver.  It was such a great time!


A perfect place to grab breakfast in San Fran, the Ferry Building Marketplace
Huntington Park
Soooo many hilllllsssss
Only on vacation {and if it’s Ghirardelli} will I spend $12 on an ice cream sundae. Worth it!
Alcatraz in the background
Made it to the Golden Gate Bridge!
Mission Beach Cafe a block away from our Airbnb, so delish!
The Full House house! 1709 Broderick Street 🙂
And the painted ladies from the opening credits, yep we completely geeked out!
Graffiti art in San Fran
We happened to be in town to attend the annual Haight Ashbury Street Fair where Jefferson Starship performed.  As you can imagine the people watching was fantastic.
Driving up Highway 1 in California
Stinson Beach, CAPNW_2016_SM-21
Perfect spot for fish tacos on the beach
Elk! In Northern CaliPNW_2016_SM-27
Obligatory tourist photo with a redwood 🙂
Somewhere in Northern Cali…
Aww, new friends 🙂
We had expectations of seeing Crater Lake…until we actually got to the park.  It was snowing so hard we couldn’t see a thing from the lookouts.  Not super disappointing since we still got pretty views of the trees with snow on them.
Our first morning in Portland!  Coffee {tea} date with Jenny at Barista Coffee Shop.
PNW_2016_iPhone-9Portland Rose GardenPNW_2016_SM-40PNW_2016_SM-41PNW_2016_SM-42PNW_2016_SM-43
Portland Japanese Garden
Food Carts in Portland are a must
Ridiculously large book store
Best ice cream at Salt & Straw. I highly recommend the Cinnamon Snickerdoodle.

Onward to Seattle!
Seattle!  The view from Kerry Park

Pike Place Market
Cider tasting at Schilling Cider House, yum!
We kept hearing about some troll under the bridge so we had to check it out…
Kristina found this great breakfast place, Portage Bay Cafe
On a rainy day we checked out the EMP Museum {Experience Music Project} downtown
And somebody got a tattoo in Seattle!

We got some goodies at the Granville Island Public Market then enjoyed them on our balcony with THIS VIEW!
Biking around Stanley Park. Loved it!

Such a great time.  Will definitely be back!