^^ Well friends, this is the fourth and final photo that I’ll be posting for the ’52 Project’ series from our trip to South America. We saw this little guy when we were about halfway through our bus ride from Escazu to Tamarindo, Costa Rica, and he pretty much embodies what I think of when I think of Costa Rica. Vibrant. Lively. Fun. Pura Vida, baby! As I type this I’m sitting at my mom’s dining room table back in upstate New York. We arrived home from our trip around midnight last night, and I’m looking forward to going through all the photos and posting some more in-depth info from the trip which was, without a doubt, the trip of a lifetime.
Things here have been a bit … hectic! We were in Pennsylvania this past weekend for our nephew’s first birthday party, which was so cute and fun :
Until Sunday night when my whole family started to drop like flies as we one-by-one contracted pretty much the same stomach bug.
Anyway, we’re moving on from that, because thank goodness I’m better for tomorrow, when I fly out to Marathon Key! I’ll be gone for 10 whole blissful days (yahoo!), and my best friend and I plan to do nothing but lay in the sun, go out on the boat, snorkel and drink tasty drinks the entire time, with maybe a little hiking thrown in here and there.
I’ll be back in early April (holy cow, April!) to update you on the happenings in Marathon Key. Until then, bis bald, my friends!
So winter is apparently determined to drag on. And on. And on and on and on. I mean …. I’m just about getting a little sick of it. In my mind, if it’s not going to snow (don’t be mad at me, I’m know you’re all sick of the snow, too!), then there’s just no point in having cold weather.
The point is — thanks goodness I’m headed to the Keys next week with my best friend! If you’ll recall, I was in Key West a couple years back with my lovely sisters …
This time I’ll be heading to Marathon Key, which I’m super excited to check out. Then, only one short week after getting back from Florida, Chris and I will head to Colorado (Boulder, Breckenridge and Denver) with my sister and her boyfriend to check everything out.
Ah, the thrill of upcoming travel. It really does give us something to look forward to, doesn’t it?
Bis bald, friends!
Last Monday was our last day in Iceland. (A tear.) We had had an absolutely amazing time up until then, what with making friends and seeing the Northern Lights and watching a geysir explode and eating some delicious food. But we had something on tap for Monday that, if I’m being completely honest, was high up on my list of reasons why I wanted to visit Iceland in the first place.
Let me tell you a little bit about this place, my friends. According to their website, “the Blue Lagoon was accidentally formed in 1976 during operation at the nearby geothermal power plant. In the years that followed, people began to bathe in the unique water and apply the silica mud to their skin. Those with psoriasis noticed an incredible improvement in their condition. Over the years, the Blue Lagoon has been innovative in harnessing this gift of nature to develop different spa services and products. Today, Blue Lagoon is recognized as one of the wonders of the world.”
In other words, friends, the Blue Lagoon is straight up magic. The silky blue water is just warm enough that you never want to leave, but not so hot that you can’t stand bathing in it for hours on end. (We were there from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.) The silica mud — placed in little containers around the outskirts of the Lagoon that you can spoon out and spread on your body — makes your skin feel like perfection and gives you a glow that lasts for weeks for come. There is a swim-up bar with smoothies and wine and beer, a waterfall that you stand underneath whose pressure feels like the best shoulder massage you’ve ever had in your life, a steam and sauna room and so, so, so much more.
You can get lockers as part of your Blue Lagoon package (there are a bunch of different package options … we picked the cheapest one), and there is a space to store your luggage. The Blue Lagoon is about 20 minutes from the airport, and about a 40-45 minute ride from Reykjavik, making it the perfect activity either directly after arriving in Iceland or right before heading back home. You can book a package, like we did, that provides transportation to and from the airport and or your hotel.
A word to the wise when it comes to the Lagoon — this is no place for modesty, friends. Full showers are required both before entering the Lagoon and after, and this means sans bathing suit showering. Lots of naked people are gettin’ about in these Lagoon locker rooms, my friends, and there’s no use feeling awkward about it, because you’ll just be out of place. Another tip is to load your hair up with as much conditioner as possible — and leave it in, don’t wash it out — before heading into the water. Even so, you’ll probably end up leaving the Lagoon with a mess of mangled, salty hair, but it’s totally worth it.
And so that was about it. After four hours of relaxing in the Lagoon and the steam room, after smothering our bodies in what could only have been pounds and pounds of silica mud and after eating delicious smoothies, we headed back into the locker rooms to shower and dress and catch our bus to the airport to head home.
Iceland. Oh, Iceland. I had an idea of how amazing you were before I visited you … but I never in a million years could have imagined the impression you would leave.
If it’s within your ability to do so, I would highly recommend making the trip. Believe me … you’ll thank me later.
Bis bald, friends! A quick last-minute addition to my travel list for this year is a trip to Marathon Key with my bff for my birthday in early April. It’s a 10-day trip using her parents’ time share … and yes, I do believe I am one of the lucky ones.
Okay, now bis bald, friends!
So after much, much, much planning, research, debate, blood, sweat and tears on our part, Chris and I have finally locked down a South America itinerary that we’re — well let’s just say it — absolutely ecstatic with! Here’s how it goes:
We’ll arrive in Cusco, Peru a couple days ahead of our 5-day tour of the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu with Cusi Travel. That tour looks a little something like this:
In Quito we’ll connect with our second tour group, Southern Explorations, for our 12-day tour of the Galapagos Islands (I can’t breathe when I type that I’m so excited) and the Amazon Rainforest. That tour includes jungle walks, butterfly sanctuaries, canoe rides, bird watching, canopy walks and zip lines in the Amazon, as well as walks along Darwin’s Way, snorkeling with Galapagos penguins, sea lion, giant tortoise and Blue-footed Booby meetings, and so much more, in the Galapagos.
We’ll end the trip with a little over a week at an all-inclusive beach resort in Tamarindo, Costa Rica.
I don’t think I really need to tell you guys just how excited we are for this trip. It’s the trip of a lifetime, and we feel more than a little lucky to be able to go on it.
Oh, and in other news … we leave Thursday for our trip to Iceland. That snuck up on us! Can’t wait to share all that info and the photos here with you guys when we’re back. As a heads up, we’ll be taking a Northern Lights tour, as well as a Gulfoss and Geysir Express Afternoon tour and a trip to the Blue Lagoon.
Bis bald, friends! Here’s to really livin’ it up in 2014!
So January — and the new year in general — feels like it’s solidly in place now, wouldn’t ya say? We’ve packed the Christmas decorations away, the tree (which we lovingly named Mr. Big) is laying sadly on the curb outside our apartment awaiting its final destiny, the credit card bill with all those Christmas presents on it has arrived and the 2014 goals are written and action is being taken to fulfill them. (I’ve already read one whole book — wahoo! That’s one of my goal 14 for the year down …)
Anyway, travel destinations are always on my resolution list, and this year is no exception — with one big exception. While nothing is set in stone yet, Chris and I have big plans for this year. After a deluge of weddings every weekend in September and in the beginning of October (so fun!), the plan as of right now is to head to South America for a couple of weeks right after, come home for the Thanksgiving holiday, and then — are you ready for this? — move to Colorado.
Oy. It’s a big step friends. This plan is one of the main reasons why I’ve been trying to make the most of the city recently, particularly during what may very well have been our last Christmas season here.
I may start crying right now.
Don’t get me wrong — I do believe this will be a good move for us, it’s just … while we’re still here, it’s sort of hard to imagine not living here, you know?
Anyway, all of this moving stuff is for another day. The point of today’s post is to say that I’m in full-on planning mode for our South America trip, because nine months is certainly not a long time to have to plan for a multi-week, multi-destination trip. There’s health and travel insurance to think about. Travel visas. What to do with our stuff (not to mention our pets!) while we’re gone. Oh and cash flow — that’s a big one, too.
The South America itinerary at this moment in time includes, in no particular order:
- The Galapagos Islands (Wahooo!!! I get to check something off my Bucket List!)
- Machu Picchu/Peru
- Costa Rica
While I’m thrilled with the prospect of traveling to all these amazing places, the thought of planning this trip was daunting. Then I had a brilliant thought — travel agents. The only time I’ve ever dealt with a travel agent was when my cousin was getting married in Jamaica and he used one. According to him, having this person help out with all the planning and documentation really took a lot of the stress off of him.
That seemed nice to me.
So I reached back out to her. And while we’re still in the very, very beginning stages of planning, I will say that so far it’s been going pretty well. There are a lot of emails back and forth, but I’ve given her the basics — budget range, desired locations and timeframe, type of travel we’re hoping to do (active, leisure, etc.) — and she’s working on putting something together.
Now I do know that there are some pitfalls to using travel agents. While some agents charge an upfront fee for their services, this particular woman I’m working with right now doesn’t, because she’s paid by the hotels, etc., that she sets up for us during our trip. That of course means that she works within a set group of hotels, etc. I’ll have to do a little bit of research once we hear back from her to be sure that the places she uses are the types of places we’re looking for — but at least it will be a good starting point.
So that’s it, friends. I’ll definitely keep you updated throughout the year as this process moves along. I can’t believe that we’re actually making moves on this South America trip — I feel like we’ve been talking about it forever. Then after that will come Colorado.
But that’s a story for another time, friends.
Well it’s that time of year again — the one where everyone takes a couple minutes to take stock of how the past 12 months have gone? This year has been a particularly important one for myself and Chris. It was our first year of married life. It was a year spent celebrating our marriage around the world with family and friends. It was a year that we made some pretty big decisions about our future (not yet shared here!), and one that had a lot of amazing traveling in it …
In February we took an amazing weekend trip to Tarrytown for our first Valentine’s Day as a married couple, where I had one of my absolute favorite meals of this entire year.
In March I took a relaxing trip to visit my best friend in D.C., where we practiced wedding makeup for Chris and my upcoming wedding party in April.
April was a holy-cow-of-a-month for us! First, I turned 30 (ah!), and we celebrated with a gorgeous hike up Breakneck Ridge with friends.
Then Chris’s parents came for a visit, and we all took a trip to London so that Chris could run the 5th race in his World Marathon series.
We also celebrated our marriage at Magnanini Winery in upstate NY with friends and family in April, but I didn’t blog about that because I didn’t have photos for a long time. I have them now, though! Here are some of my faves.
In June we celebrated our wedding in Jersey with some close friends and family. Here are some of my favorite shots from that party:
In August I took another trip back down to D.C. for a “sprinkle” baby celebration …
I feel like I should take a moment to pay homage to all of the activities we took part in this summer that were right here in New York City, like seeing Shakespeare in the Park, hosting my nephew’s very first trip to NYC, riding bikes through the park, seeing the NY Philharmonic in the park (are you sensing a “park” theme?!), checking out the Met, going for a sail from Pier 25 on the west side and strolling around DUMBO, Brooklyn … to name a few.
September was another busy month for us. First we took the ferry out to Governor’s Island to go exploring.
We headed to Australia (also here) at the end of September and into October to celebrate our wedding with Chris’s side of the family, as well as to take a honeymoon trip to The Great Barrier Reef.
I headed to the suburbs of Philly in November to visit an old friend and her family, and we took a trip out to the Philadelphia Zoo while I was there …
This month we surprised my stepdad with a Super Secret weekend trip to Syracuse, his alma mater, for his 50th birthday.
And we took a Christmas trip to Stowe, Vermont with some family
And that about sums up 2013, friends! On the docket for 2014 so far is …
- A trip to Saratoga Springs the first weekend in January to celebrate our one year anniversary. I’m particularly excited about the hotel where we’ll be staying — Saratoga Arms – it’s gotten amazing reviews.
- Iceland in February!
- Denver in April with my sister and her boyfriend
- A trip out to Cape Cod for a friend’s wedding (not to mention lots of other friends’ weddings scattered throughout the year!)
- A potential 1.5-3 month trip in South America at the end of the year. Lots more on this to come.
Bis bald, friends! And may your new year be filled with fun travels, great friends and awesome experiences!
I know I talk a lot about my favorite bloggers here (heads up: I’m about to do it again!), but they just inspire me so. Blogging is about so many things. A lot of times when I’m traveling I’m often taking photos of things that I think will look good on the blog. (Signs to remind me exactly of where I am, for example, or cute people I see out and about who are just too darn adorable not to photograph.)
But then there are times when, in the middle of taking those photos, I wonder: Would I be having more fun if I weren’t so concerned with what photos I’ll be putting on the blog? Or with jotting down every last detail so that I’ll have it to write about later?
Would I be more in the moment during my travels if I (gasp!) didn’t have to blog about it later??
And then of course there are times when, five years after visiting a place, a friend asks me what the name was of that adorable little rooftop drinks place in Rome and I can say, “You know what? Let me just look that up in my blog …” and it all goes away.
The photos I take. The memories I write down. They’re all part of this ongoing journey I’m on to see as much of this crazy, beautiful, wonderful world as I can. And yes, maybe sometimes taking photos takes me out of the moment for a couple of seconds just so I can get that perfect shot! But I think, I hope, that if a moment is really worth having all to myself (or worth having with just someone special), that I know just when to put the camera down, and to just sit there and savor it. All for myself. Not for the sake of the blog.
Anyway, as I said at the beginning, I’m constantly inspired by bloggers I follow religiously who have beautiful photos, gorgeous families, travel up the whazoo and seem to just always, always have it together. Today, however, one of those favorite bloggers of mine wrote a post that was so real and so authentic, that it got me thinking I should do the same.
Here’s my version …
- I know I blog a lot about how amazing it is to live in New York City, but sometimes I really don’t feel that way. In fact, sometimes I hate it. Sometimes I hate walking up four flights of stairs to get to my apartment. Sometimes I hate being shoved around on the subway. Sometimes (pretty much all the time) I hate the sweltering summers, with one tiny air conditioner for the whole apartment and sticky subway platforms and no cooling breezes or oceans to play in. But then I remember — I truly do believe that this is one of the best cities in the whole, entire world, and for however long my life keeps me here, I’m incredibly lucky to have this time.
- The No. 1 tippity top place on my list that I want to travel to is the Galapagos Islands, and sometimes I get frustrated with myself that I haven’t made that enough of a priority.
- Travel, to me, is about broadening my horizons. It’s about learning new things and meeting new people and seeing how everyone around the world lives.
- I get incredibly jealous of other people’s travels, and I hate that about myself.
- Sometimes, just sometimes, when I’m traveling, I wish I wasn’t a vegetarian so I could try more of the local cuisine.
- Occasionally I feel guilty about how much money I’ve spent on travel over the years. I always try to be cheap about it, but let’s be honest — traveling is expensive. I’m young, and I have a lot of years to save up, but I’ve made traveling my priority for a while now, and it might be time to start thinking about some other things that’ll take up some money in the future. When I do start to feel guilty, though, I just go back and read some past travel posts. Then I remember that really, every trip I’ve had has been priceless.
- I always feel like I haven’t traveled enough. Then I remember (ahem, Chris reminds me) that life is a marathon, not a sprint, and we have plenty of adventures to go on in the years ahead.
- All of my trips have meant so much to me for different reasons, but I’d have to say the one that stands out the most was last summer when I took a surprise trip to Calabria to visit my Grandfather’s side of the family. I visited the house where my grandfather was born and raised, met family members I probably would never in my life have otherwise met … and I’ll never, ever forget the look on my grandfather’s brother’s face when he recognized who I was when I walked in the door.
- Sometimes my travel goals keep me from doing things around New York City that I might enjoy. Chris and I are so busy saving up for future trips that sometimes I wonder if we’re robbing our present selves of interesting experiences.
- I’ve never learned more about my girlfriends and sisters then when I’ve been traveling with them. Sometimes traveling together can be difficult — especially if you come into it with differing budgets and ideas for what you’d most like to accomplish — but if you can find a travel buddy who meshes with your own ideas of what travel should look like … well there’s nothing in the world more fun than that!
- I will never, ever be able to print out all the photos I love most and create the photo albums/frames that I have planned in my mind. That’s just one more reason why I’m so thankful I have this blog to look back on.
Bis bald, friends — and thanks for indulging me!
Since I ran out of photo space on the blog when I was trying to post about Chris’s birthday trip to St. Augustine, I feel like I somewhat short-changed the update. I wanted to just add a couple more photos here from our time spent in Florida a few weekends ago, and to give another big shout-out to Mike’s Yacht of Fun, which we did the Saturday we were there. That whole experience on the yacht really helped make our trip …
Okay friends, now I’m done with my St. Augustine updates. Thank you for bearing with me.
Have a great weekend! Bis bald!
I’m back now with my third and final Australia installation. I seriously cannot believe it’s been more than a week since we’ve been back. Time honestly flies by.
So back to two Fridays ago, Chris and I were boarding our flight on Hamilton Island to meet up with our family back in Sydney …
Welcome back. On to Part II of our Australian Adventure. Last Monday morning (was it seriously only last Monday morning?! Gosh a lot’s happened since then.) Chris and I left his house in Bathurst seriously early in the a.m. with his brother Ben and Ben’s girlfriend to head back to Sydney to catch our flight to … drum roll … THE GREAT BARRIER REEF!
It only takes about two hours to fly from Sydney to the island where we were staying , Hamilton Island, which is part of the 74 Whitsunday Islands all located on the edge of the Great Barrier Reef. And thank goodness, because I was ready to get my relax on! The place we stayed — the Whitsunday Apartments — was actually a group of apartments … obviously.
So we had a kitchen, bathroom, dining room, living room and really huge bedroom. It was nice that we really felt like we were on our own during our honeymoon, but at the same time had the help of people in the lobby if we really had a question or concern. The island itself is relatively small, and it’s pretty easy to walk to the majority of the places you’d want to go (like the downtown shop area, the other resort pools and stores, the beach, the place where you could eat breakfast with the koalas!), but it is pretty hilly, and some of the spots (like one particularly gorgeous sunset area), is much more easily accessible via free bus transportation, or …..
It probably goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyway — the beaches here are gorgeous. And during low tide, you can walk out for what seems like miles into the ocean, with all of these little pools of warm water around you, and tons of sea life surrounding you.
While we spent most of the day Monday familiarizing ourselves with the island and the pools and the oceans, we wandered into town around 4:30, just to check it out, and ended up squatting at the Manta Ray Cafe, which turned out to be a great place to catch the sunset over the harbour, as well as to learn about some of the local wildlife from our waiter:
On Tuesday we rented our little golf cart early in the morning, and then spent the morning eating breakfast with the koalas (yes, my favorite ever), and checking out the zoo.
The rest of Tuesday was a pretty chill day for us. We checked out the island a bit more, had some drinks at the swim-up bar, slept on the beach, drove the car out to this spot with gorgeous views. You know — pretty typical Tuesday stuff.
Onto Wednesday. Wednesday was an amazing day because, as a wedding gift to us, good family friend’s of Chris’s got us a half-day boat ride out to Whitehaven Beach.
Oh Whitehaven Beach … how beautiful were thee? The beach stretches out over 7 km (yup, that’s Aussie speak), and is completely uninhabited. It’s received a ton of accolades, such as “Queensland’s Most Beautiful Beach,” and for good reason. The sand is pure white, and it never gets hot. Plus it’s so fine, it’ll clean your jewelry for you while you sunbathe.
Not too shabby.
Oh, and there’s some sort of ridiculous fine if you were to try to steal sand from it. Something like $35,000. So don’t do that.
So that was how we spent our Wednesday morning — chillin’ on the most beautiful beach in the world. When we got back mid-afternoon we did a bit more pool-hopping and beach sleeping and eating and drinking and card playing … just general merriment.
Thursday, then, was the day of all days. On Thursday, we took a full day boat excursion out to the Great Barrier Reef. This tour included oh-so-much. There was a breakfast on the boat, lunch out on the pontoon once we arrived at the Reef and a tea service on the ride back. There was snorkeling equipment at the Reef, a glass-bottom boat ride and an open observatory deck from the pontoon. All of that was included in the price. ($225 per person which, honestly, wasn’t that bad.) You could also purchase some additional activities for an added fee, like Scuba diving (which Chris did), and a guided snorkel tour (which I did). So when we arrived, luckily Chris and I were the first group to go on our perspective diving and snorkeling tours. (A quick note about the jellyfish: Since it was stinger season, we had to wear wetsuits into the water. This was my first experience wearing one and I have to say — I didn’t hate it. I mean, they definitely aren’t the most attractive things … but they kept me warm and safe, so I’m okay with it!)
Then we met up afterwards for lunch, went on the glass bottom boat ride and then spent the rest of the afternoon snorkeling together.
Me oh my, it was amazing. Besides how gorgeous the Reef itself is (don’t stand on it or touch it! it turns to sand!), we saw Clown Fish (aka Nemo), sea cucumbers (which no one else was impressed with, but I was), giant sea turtles, clams the size of my body, this other fish that I don’t remember the name of that is so territorial that when my guide picked up a rock and placed it near the fish, he picked it up with his mouth and spit it out far away from him. Amazing. Plus tons of other awesomely colored and incredibly interesting sea life. Experience of a lifetime, to say the least.
Of course I didn’t take a ton of pictures here, because I was busy doin’ stuff (sorry), but here are a couple shots I was able to snap:
Thursday night we had dinner reservations at coca chu, a restaurant that one of Chris’s aunts had recommended. We ordered delicious cocktails, a bottle of wine and more food than we could even possibly hope to eat in two days. (Seriously, our waiter even told us we ordered too much food. We can’t be stopped.) The food is South East Asian, and our table overlooked the ocean as the fish jumped in and out of the water.
Am I setting the scene enough for ya?
Unfortunately I wasn’t feeling all that well that night (major bummer). I think the travel and jet lag and drinking and eating had all finally caught up to me. No matter — it was still an awesome night with delicious food and fabulous company. That’s all you can really ask for, right?
Friday was our last day on the island, and we spent it doing a bit of shopping, grabbing some delicious breakfast at the local bakery and eating by the harbour, and drinking the last of our wine and beer on the beach. It was seriously sad to say goodbye to Hamilton Island and our little honeymoon, but we had the best, most amazing time. Chris and I both keep saying how we loved that the island provided the perfect blend of fun activities and adventure with just the right amount of leisure and relaxation. You can chose to do nothing at all, and still have fabulous time, or you can do all the activities your little heart desires. (Chris even took a 2.5 mile hike one day while I took a nap. Gotta love that.)
Friday afternoon it was back to Sydney to meet up with our families for our last weekend in Australia, as well as to take in the International Fleet Review.
But I’ll be back with that blog post next week ;) Bis bald, friends! Hope you all have awesome weekend activities planned!
So unfortunately it looks like updating this site isn’t going to make it to the top of my list of things to do before we head off to Australia TOMORROW! Bummer. At any rate, to seriously super quickly sum up our Saturday in St. Augustine for Chris’s birthday ….
- We rented Mike’s Yacht of Fun, complete with boat driver Mike and his lovely wife, for the day Saturday. We drank some beer and ate some snacks, went swimming, saw some manatees, had lunch at The Conch House, and just had an amazing time in general. We also met Mike’s son when he rode out on his jet ski to meet us when we were swimming, and he suggested that we all meet up later that night, after the concert, which we did. And it was amazing.
- The concert on Saturday was great! Mumford was totally amazing, and at the last minute the band Fun backed out, so John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival fame stepped in and was. awesome! He played a couple songs with Mumford and Sons, as well, and it was really just a very good festival — I would highly recommend it for next year!
- After the concert we met up with Riley (Mike’s son) and Jon and Rachel at a bar and ate delicious fried pickles and fried green tomatoes, and drank A LOT of drinks. (Which may or may not have included Absinthe. It did include Absinthe. It was gross, because I hate black licorice, but it was fun to watch them melt sugar over the top!)
Anyway, I really wish I could have posted photos from the concert and our day sailing (we got SO CLOSE to the manatees!), but maybe after I update I will, and I wanted to get this last post up before we leave.
So that’s it, friends! Tomorrow we’re off for two weeks to Australia for our fourth and final wedding celebration, not to mention our honeymoon at the Great Barrier Reef …. awahooo!!!
In the meantime, I’ll also be reading this NY Times piece about spending 36 hours in Reykjavik, Iceland, in preparation for our trip there in February.
Okay, bis bald, friends! Wish us a safe (and short!) flight, and I’ll be back with updates (and photos!) soon!
So this past weekend we headed off to my old stomping grounds, St. Augustine, Florida, to take in the Gentleman of the Road Stopover Tour for Chris’s Super Secret 30th Birthday Trip. Two of our friends (who are currently dating, thanks to us ;) ), came with us and surprised Chris on the plane. He had no idea they would be there. It was sort of amazing.
The entire package was booked through CID entertainment, including our hotel (The Holiday Inn Express Hotel and Suites St. Augustine North — which was fantastic), the 2-day festival tickets, two t-shirts, two posters and shuttle passes to and from the festival grounds until 3 in the morning. They made everything so simple for us, and I was SUPER impressed with them. If you’re ever thinking of booking a package through them, I’d highly recommend it!
Anyway, back to last Friday, our friends Jon and Rachel had surprised Chris on the plane, and we were off! We rented cars in Jacksonville and drove the 45 mins to St. Augustine. Friday we started with some delicious seafood at Mango Mango’s near the beach (try their famous Corn Cakes with Monterrey Jack … to die for!), then we hung out on the beach for a while (where I played touch football for my first time ever … yikes), and got some drinks at the Beachcomber Restaurant, which is right on the beach.
After our early afternoon beach visit we headed to Publix to pick up drinks for Saturday’s boat trip (oh Publix, how I’ve missed you!), then went back to the hotels to shower and get ready to catch the shuttle to downtown for the festival.
A word about St. Augustine’s downtown area. It’s gorgeous. So cute, and a lot of fun to explore. Every street you turn down has a different and interesting feel to it — art stores, cafes, bakeries, bars, it’s just really fun. This trip was not, however, a site-seeing trip, so I won’t be talking much about the downtown area other than to say that if you go to St. Augustine, you must visit it. The concert venue was in a park that was literally in the middle of the downtown, but it was late both Friday and Saturday when we got out, so we pretty much picked a bar both nights and hung out.
On Friday night Chris and I were excited to catch Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes. And they definitely did not disappoint. Neither did the venue, actually …
After the show we did get to take in a little bit of the downtown area while waiting to meet up with our friends.
Something else that was really fun was that the city put gigantic moustaches all around, in random places, in honor of the Gentlemen Tour. They pretty much cracked me up. I wanted to post some photos here, but since I’m out of photo space, I guess that’ll have to wait until I upgrade the site.
Okay friends. I’m off to upgrade this WordPress package of mine so I can hop back on here soon and finish up info from our St. Augustine trip before we head out to Australia this Tuesday!
Bis bald, everyone! Hope you all have fun weekend plans!
So Chris and I returned from his Super Secret Birthday Trip last night and it was a roaring success, if I do say so myself!
I haven’t had a chance to upload my photos from the trip yet, but as a quick sneak-peak, here are two iPhone photos to tide you over:
Anyway, we went to the beach, listened to amazing music, ate great food, took a boat ride and saw some matinees … all in only two days! I’m exhausted, but it was totally worth it!
More photos to come later this week — and we’re off to Australia in EIGHT days … oh my!
Bis bald, friends!
So tomorrow is the big day — the day Chris and I fly out for his Super Secret 30th Birthday Trip! And yes, I somehow DID manage to keep the secret! (Well not the whole secret, I accidentally forwarded our flight information to him thinking it was information about a different flight. That was stupid.)
I put together these three envelopes for Chris to open when he got home tonight. Step 1 contained our boarding passes for our flight tomorrow. Step 2 contained our rental car information, becauseeeeeeee … Step 3 were our tickets to the Gentlemen of the Road St. Augustine Stopover Tour!
I’m totally excited for this. Not only will we be seeing Mumford & Sons, fun., Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, and tons of other great acts, but I’ll finally get to show Chris St. Augustine, the town where I lived for a year and 1/2 after graduating from college. It means a lot to me to be able to share that with him.
I also booked a boat tour with Mike’s Yacht of Fun — so I can’t wait to report back on that!
Bis bald, friends! Pray for us to have good weather!
Well we’re firmly into the second quarter of 2013 here, and it’s time for me to start getting excited about some of the trips we have planned for the rest of the year.
So let’s see. For starters, my in-laws will be making their way to the U.S. the week after next, and Chris and I will be heading to London with them to watch Chris run the London Marathon:
^^A little flashback to when Steph and I first visited London back in 2010
Then, Chris and I booked a trip out to Arizona to visit an old friend of mine for the weekend of July 4th. Neither one of us has been before, so we’re super excited. We’re going to go camping and hiking, and visit Lake Powell and Havasu Falls:
September will be a big month for us, too. We’ll be heading to Australia to celebrate our wedding with Chris’s side of the family, and then taking a couple-day honeymoon to The Great Barrier Reef:
There will be another trip in September two weekends before Australia, but that’s super secret for now, as it’s a surprise trip in honor of Chris’s 30th birthday. Let’s just say—I’m super excited about it!
And that’s about it (for now)! Bis bald, friends! I’ll catch up with you again super soon …
So my sister finally posted some photos from my surprise bachelorette bash in the Hamptons, and I thought I’d share them here. I loved our time together talking, eating, drinking, taking in the hot tub and watching movies by the fire. It was perfect, and I’m blessed to have the sisters and friends that I have …
Bis bald, friends! I hope you all had a lovely holiday!
Welcome back friends! I’ve come to the part of my travel blogging that I always hate–the part where I write about the rest of the trip and then I’m done. It always feels so finite, like I’m actually finally done with the trip. There’s nothing left to do. The last word has been written. As long as I still have these blog posts to write, the trip is still alive in my mind, you know?
Anyway, as they say… all good things must come to an end, I guess.
So here we go, on with the final few days of my trip.
So my sisters and I arrived back in NY last night after an awesome trip to Key West. It’s 11:40 at night right now, so I’m not going to write up the entire Key West blog post, but as a preview, let me say:
- Flying first class is ah-mazing
- Key West is eclectic, funny and wonderful
- I lost my dad’s headsets
- Comped 3-bedroom/3-bathroom suites are also ah-mazing
- Driving a Mustang convertible is as fun as it would seem
Anyway friends, tomorrow=full blog post, I promise.
Until then…bis bald!
VERY excited about all that! Of course, that doesn’t really have anything to do with travel (although I will say that we will most likely be having a destination wedding. So that will most certainly be about travel!)
Anyway, besides all that, my sisters and I are headed off tomorrow for a trip to Key West. I’m beyond excited. This will be the first time that the three of us are going on a trip alone together, so I think it’ll be a lot of fun. I haven’t (yet) convinced them to go snorkeling with me, but don’t worry, I have time to do that…
In other news, Chris is all booked for the Berlin marathon in September. We’re thinking our Europe trip will be a couple of days in Berlin for the race, a couple of days in Munich for Oktoberfest, then renting a car (which is my new favorite aspect of this trip!) and driving to Venice for a night, before training it to Rome. Chris has never been to Germany or Italy, so I’m really excited to show him around there, especially Rome.
Yup, it’ll be tiring. That’s how most of my vacations turn out to be. However, my sisters have made it well-known that they would like for this Key West trip to be a relaxing one. I’m cool with that. I think I have it in me to do a relaxing trip!
Okay friends, you know how it goes….bis bald, until next time! I’ll be back soon with Key West photos and updates!
So last night, at around midnight, Chris and I arrived back in NYC after our trip to Jamaica for our cousins wedding.
It’s so sad to come home from a trip, especially one that was as fun as this one to Jamaica was. We stayed at an all-inclusive resort, the Iberostar Suites, in Montego Bay, Chris and I sharing a room with my sister, which was totally fun (well, for us it was! I’m pretty sure Jen would say she definitely knows Chris a bit better after that experience).
All in all, the five days we spent in Jamaica were amazing. It was fun to hang out with the entire family, and the weather was great. The only time we had rain was late one afternoon while some of us were visiting the little shacks off the hotel property (ominously labeled by the sign: “Enter at your own risk”) where local people sold goods they had, allegedly, made. We bought a painting and some wooden pooh bots, with each and every seller offering Chris a hit of their weed, as well.
He declined, of course.
And somehow, despite all the drinking and sitting around in the sun by the pool and the beach that we did (and trust me, we did a lot of this), we managed to be a bit active. We did water aerobics in the ocean (taught by one of the many beautiful staff workers at the Iberostar), and Chris, my dad, Judy and I also decided to test out the snorkeling that was available from the hotel, which was amazing.
We went to a beach party that included lots of provocative dancing and a fire-eating dancer, and went to a disco. With my dad. I went to a disco with my dad.
I got stung by a jellyfish, and, perhaps most importantly, revealed to my dad and Judy that I had a tattoo. After having waited years to tell my dad this, when I finally did tell him that I had a tattoo, his response was: “I know. I saw it on the boat.”
Sheesh, it was anticlimactic.
Anyway, here are some visual memories:
And that’s about it, my friends! Here’s hoping some of my family reads this and shares their own memories (hint, hint!).
Here’s to the next trip—Key West in January with the sisters.
Bis bald, friends!
Hey friends! So it’s only 9 days left until our trip to Jamaica … so exciting!
Our brochure and tickets (actual plane tickets! Do you even remember what those look like?!) came in the mail the other day, and we are so, so, so excited!
And speaking of trips, as this year begins to wind down (which, by the way, I seriously can’t believe…), I’m starting to get really excited for the trips I have planned for next year (as is usually the case with me).
Here’s what’s on tap (hopefully) for next year:
- Key West in January with my sisters
- Costa Rica in April with Chris
- New Orleans with Lisa at some point
- Berlin, Munich, Rome and Venice with Chris and some other friends for the Berlin marathon and Oktoberfest in September/October
Man I love traveling :)
Bis bald, friends!
U.S. News & World Report has named South Padre Island the “Best Affordable U.S. Vacation” and “Best Family Beach Vacation” in their first-ever Best Vacations rankings, found here. According to a press release, the rankings compare the most popular travel spots against one another for the benefit of prospective travelers. They use a combination of how strongly a collection of published travel writers recommend the destination and how strongly U.S. News Travel website users recommend the destination to determine the winners.
I’m loving this list of the top 20 up-and-coming destinations from NileGuide. It’s a nice combo of fabulous, far-off destinations (hello Greece, Brazil) and awesome places that are (practically )right here in our own backyard (Florida, Boston, even Brooklyn).
Check out the list and get inspired for your next trip.
So as you may or may not remember, I was invited a while back to attend a press trip in Cabo San Lucas for the grand opening of the new luxury Grand Solmar Resort & Spa. Having never been on a press trip before, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.
Turns out I should have expected a pretty amazing time—because that’s exactly what we had. On top of the awesome hotel, the breathtaking views, the flowing drinks, and the tasty food, we also had a few days-worth of really fun off-site adventures, and the other people on the press trip were totally sweet and fun, as well.
Our Delta flight had us flying out of JFK at 6:20 a.m. on Thursday, which is obviously super early, but at least that meant that we would arrive by 12:30 Cabo San Lucas time, so that was the good part about it.
And here’s the thing about Grand Solmar—when they say luxury, they really mean luxury. Grand Solmar is not a hotel where I could ever afford to stay in the future (unless of course I become a wildly successful travel writer some day :) ), which means it was that much nicer to stay there this past weekend, and Steph and I could appreciate it so much more. The views were beautiful, and the rooms were spotless (complete with comfy robes, turn down service, and tasty treats left every night), with huge porches overlooking the ocean. As this was not an all-inclusive, meals and drinks were a bit pricey (I bought two bottles of Fiji water for almost $20, people. $20). But everything that was included by the press company—dinner at restaurant/tequila bar Hacienda El Coyote (which, by the way, is owned by the same family who owns Grand Solmar) in the town on Thursday night, the outback camel safari with Cabo Adventures including lunch and tequila tasting, appetizers and drinks on Friday night, swimming with the dolphins and a fancy, ocean side dinner on Saturday night, were all amazing. The food was quite tasty—and this time, no revenge (knock on wood!).
So on Friday morning, Steph and I set out on our camel and safari ride with the group. We took a huge open-air truck through the jungle and hiked up along the mountains. Then we headed to the beach where we literally rode camels, and then it was off to a tortilla making class, a great lunch, and a tequila lesson (the best tequila will have bubbles that last for at least 30 seconds when you shake it. And also, there is a certain type of tequila that people take a shot of and then follow with a cooked cricket chaser. Yes, really. A cricket cooked with salt, pepper, and garlic. I abstained from experiencing cricket on my little Mexico adventure).
Saturday we headed back over to Cabo Adventures for our session to swim with the dolphins. If you know anything about me, friends, you’ll know that I’m an animal lover. I wanted to be a veterinarian for a long time, have always volunteered with animals, and am a vegetarian. So heading into this little adventure, I was a bit apprehensive, to say the least. But still, it was something I’ve always wanted to try, and why not try it when it’s free, right? Who can blame me?
Unfortunately our little session only proved me right in terms of feeling apprehensive. Don’t get me wrong—the actual rides with the dolphins (which included a “belly” ride where you hold on to their fins as they swim upside down and a “dorsal fin” ride where you ride on top), and the kisses and the “dancing” you do with them, all of that was super fun. Dolphins are cute. And friendly. And apparently very patient.
Except for that Saturday. These dolphins seemed to have about had enough. It all started when the first dolphin that Steph was supposed to ride with absolutely refused to come over and be a part of our little show. He wasn’t feeling it. Maybe he had a fight with his girlfriend that morning—who knows. Then, a girl in the group next to us had her foot cut on the tooth of a dolphin who came up behind the one she was riding and she accidentally kicked into his mouth.
That was the first time we were ordered out of the water.
The second time we were ordered out of the water was when the same girl (poor girl!) and her friend were taking their photo with the dolphin. Another dolphin came up behind the one they were taking photos with and tried to start playing with him. Both dolphins got antsy and jumpy, the girls got knocked in the head, and we were yet again ordered out of the water, this time so they could “let the dolphins be dolphins for a while,” meaning let them swim around crazily and play and not perform.
All in all, a bit of a sobering experience. I say—let the dolphins, free people! It’s not that important to take photos with them, and they clearly aren’t all that happy being held in captivity. Just let the dolphins go!
After our morning with the antsy dolphins, Steph and I headed out to the marina where we found a restaurant on the water that had $1.50 fish tacos with a fixin’s bar that allowed you to throw on all the guacamole, salsa, cole slaw, and other goodies that you could ever want. Delish.
On our final night we attended a ribbon cutting in honor of the naming of their new check-in bar area—Infinity (a Grand Solmar Facebook fan had won the contest to name the bar, along with an all-expense paid trip to the hotel that same weekend. Oh the wonders of Facebook), then we all headed to the ocean-front dinner, complete with live music and “casual elegance” attire. We had five courses, along with different wines for each course and a tequila liquor to finish it off.
Cabo, my friends, is everything everyone says that it is, and I can certainly see why celebs love the place. The only sad thing, if it can be called that, is the fact that it’s hard to find a spot in Cabo where you can actually go in the ocean. The waves are monstrous—I mean really, monstrous. Much larger than anything I have seen in Hawaii or Australia.
Still, I plan to go back some time friends, and I would highly recommend a trip there for anyone who loves the sun, appreciates fabulous Mexican food, and enjoys tequila.
Bis bald, my friends!