Afternoon Chat: Vacation Morning Views

By Kate Riley July 29, 2020

I just returned from a three day trip to Bass Lake and Yosemite National Park. My teens have been home for months, so I wanted them to get a taste of life outside our hometown before their school year started. We kayaked on the lake and went on a few small hikes in the national park. It’s so nice to wake up to a view different than the same one we have at home.

Whenever I travel I do it on a budget and it’s rare I ever splurge on accommodations. I like clean and simple and in close proximity to what I want to see. I reason I’m only in that room to sleep and shower before I head out to explore, so I don’t spend a lot of cash on hotels. As a result of my budget choices, often my view is of a back alley. :)

As I sat on the deck of our little cabin at Bass Lake, I had a peekaboo water view through the trees and as I sipped my coffee, I recalled there have been a few places in my travels where I’ve woken up to views that were especially memorable.

Salzburg still holds the #1 spot in my heart as favorite European city (with Porto falling into a very close second place). When I visited Salzburg in 2016 I had rented a room in a hotel that backed to the side of a mountain. It was covered in greenery with only a small courtyard below.  When I swung the windows open on arrival I was staring into the face of a mountain. The perspective was so cool because instead of looking at a boring building, it was nature right up in my face. I loved it because I could leave the windows open in the morning at at night and listen to the church bells that ring every hour all around the city while I stared at a 100 foot wall of green.


On a family trip to New Zealand in 2015, we had been traveling for two weeks together, so Matt rented us a townhouse with room to spread out so we could have a little space. The big surprise was that its living room doors opened up to a view of Lake Wakatipu. I admit, it was hard getting out to explore the town when we had this view to appreciate. I remember having coffee here every morning convinced in that moment that New Zealand was the world’s most scenic country.


Another favorite morning view was when I stayed at a converted monastery in Cusco, Peru. I still remember way it smelled as we walked to breakfast downstairs, it was the combination of old floors and bricks and the freshness of air at high altitude. I felt if I closed my eyes long enough and listened I could probably hear monks singing in the corridors.


Now it’s your turn!

Describe for me one place you’ve visited where you’ve peeled back the curtains in your pajamas and just thought to yourself “Wow, I can’t believe this is my morning view!” I’d love to read your stories and why that view was special to you.


  1. Years ago we stayed at the Burg-Hotel in the walled city of Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany. The hotel built along side of the wall and we had gorgeous views of the Tauber valley below. We felt like we were in the Sound of Music. Just beautiful and the city is lovely too.

    • wow, amazing! putting that on my list since I haven’t been to Germany in almost two decades!

    • We lived in Germany for 3 years and Rothenburg is one of my favorites!

  2. We went to Mexico for our honeymoon over 20 years ago. The views from our room were nice, enough, but leaving the French doors open all night and listening to the rain and the church bells were magical! Fantastic memories! Favorite views from our room would be when visiting the Almafi Coast though.
    New Zealand is on my list next, I loved your post on it.

    • Fresh air and good sounds at night are the BEST! I can’t wait to see the Amalfi coast, hopefully someday soon.
      You’ll love New Zealand! The friendliest people, most beautiful views, and the food is so good too!

  3. We stayed overnight on Mont Saint-Michel, and our room was up quite high, which gave us a lovely view over the roofs to the flats/water. We looked down on a mossy church roof where gulls would perch picturesquely. It was very peaceful. In New Zealand, we arrived at our hotel in dense fog one night. When we woke up in the morning and looked out the door of our rustic (as in truly old and charming, not new rustic) one room A-frame cabin, we looked across a river to mountains where it had snowed overnight. We had no clue that view was there!

    • No clue about the view is the BEST surprise!
      I forgot that you can stay in Mont Saint-Michel – I’ve never done it but it’s on my list!

  4. My most recent magical place was a small hotel in Erice, Sicily, which sits atop a hill outside Palermo. I was already enchanted with the small town, but when the church bells woke me the following morning, I opened my eyes to see that the clouds off the sea were coming into my room through the open windows. Rising to a fog-filled room was the best:-)

  5. My daughter and I went on a group tour to the Christmas Markets in Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France a couple of years ago. One night we arrived at our hotel in Germany, a smallish, very Alpine-looking place in the Black Forest. We were exhausted, and when we got to our room, we walked straight to the balcony, stepped out, and we were in a winter wonderland……..our balcony overlooked a rushing stream in the forest, there was a light snow falling, lights were glowing from around the front side of the hotel, and we could hear Christmas music playing. A couple of our tour-mates had just stepped out onto their balconies at the same time, and we all looked at each other with our mouths open in surprise! Such a sweet memory!

    • Stunning I’m sure! That’s my dream to spend Christmas in Europe seeing all the markets!!

  6. Another favorite…… husband and I went to Ireland and had a terrible airline experience when we landed in London (our little airline going over to Ireland had gone out of business.) We ended up having a long layover and not getting over to Ireland (to a different starting point) til much later than we expected, after dark. We found a small B&B and went to bed exhausted. The next morning, I got out of bed and walked to the window, which actually opened, and below us was lush green field with sheep grazing – their bells were tinkling. The fences were tumbled and overgrown with vines. The air was so fresh and clean, it was the greenest green I’d ever seen, the heat I felt on my on my feet was from a radiant wall heater (so different from in a regular hotel!). Then the big Irish breakfast was amazing, and our vacation that started on such a negative note was a dream after that!

    • Dream morning after a nightmare arrival! I can smell your description of Ireland!

  7. I’d have to say there are so many wonderful places that it’s hard to choose. Princeville, Hawaii up on a cliff with turquoise water below. Sorento, Italy up on a hillside with views of both bays and the town below. Siena, Italy out in a beautiful farmhouse with views of vineyards and rolling hills. Venice, Italy with a veranda overlooking the Grand Canal. My deck in Park City with beautiful mountains on all sides. Santorini, Greece with the beautiful Caldera and sunsets. We’ve also camped in so many National Parks, and waking up to the sun on the red rocks at Arches is really up there. Camping close to the rim in the North Rim of the Grand Canyon and hearing the wind rumble through and seeing the sun rise…magical. Okay, I’m going to stop. God made some beautiful places for us to enjoy!!!

  8. Trip to Lake Lucerne last fall. We opted to stay in Weggis, a short boat ride from Lucerne. So very worth it. The view was to die for lack side balcony

  9. Kate, your Salzburg story hit very close to home for me. We visited in 2016 as well and stayed in a quaint little hotel overlooking a courtyard of a church that played bells. We were there in October so it was quite chilly but we had to open the windows to get the full effect of the experience. I enjoy reading all your posts but this entry of your visit was especially informative, timely and useful. Thank you for sharing!

  10. Like you, we don’t spend much on accommodations…we are so rarely in our room when traveling. :) Hands down, mine is Corniglia in the Cinque Terra. Just pure magic. I felt like I was living in a dream every second that I was there. Our front doors opened to a view of the town, the cliffs, and the Mediterranean. Our back doors opened to a view of a small church (with a bell that rung). I could almost cry just thinking about it now. So, so beautiful!

    • Amazing! The Cinque Terra is so storybook, isn’t it? The shapes and colors of the buildings juxtaposed against the sea, just beautiful!!!

  11. When my sister first moved to the Seattle area, she lived in Gig Harbor. I visited her in May and everything was lush and green and the pine trees smelled heavenly. The wonderful thing is they don’t have many bugs out there, so you can open your doors and windows and eat outside. Magical!

    • Wow Nicole, my last trip to Seattle was in May too! It was SO lush, I remember I stayed in someone’s home and rented a room (it was so much cheaper than a hotel) but as I walked around the Madrona neighborhood where I was staying, the hillsides were covered with ferns and impatiens that were so happy and healthy and the bushes were HUGE! I’ll never forget it! You’re right, Seattle has that amazing botanicals with a great smell!

  12. We rent the same ocean front condo in Saint Augustine Beach, FL every summer and there’s nothing like having morning coffee watching the sunrise, listening to the water and occasionally spotting a dolphin pod. We always know what to expect and we look forward to that. :)

  13. My husband surprised me with a trip to Bali for my 40th birthday and one of the AirBnb rentals we stayed in was right in the jungle. It was a single room with an outdoor (private) bathroom open to the jungle. When I took a bath I could hear every insect and animal noise going on just feet away. The best part were the french doors that opened into a wall of tropical green. It was absolutely fabulous.

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