Canada – Toronto

For Valentines day, my hubby planned a trip to go to Canada. I was so excited to find out we were going to Canada because it had been on my list for a while.

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On the way to the check into the hotel, my husband and I drove past the Air Canada Centre.  He casually said to me ” I wonder if the Raptors play tonight” They were playing the Heat that night, so on the way to the hotel, we got tickets right there in the car. It was fun to be spontaneous and just buy tickets on a whim.

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We had dinner reservations that night at The CN Tower, which is the 3rd largest building in the world. We were cutting it close, because our reservation was at 6, and the game started at 7:30. Luckily for us, the Tower, and the Arena were walking distance from one another.

Dinner at the CN Tower was very nice, and the view was incredible. However, I would say if you are visiting you can skip out on the meal there. I would just do the tour that takes you to the top. It was about $150 for the two of us to eat, and the food was just OK. Nothing memorable, and wasn’t all that great. The quick bite we got at A&W when we first got there was better LOL.  I also didn’t like that it was a requirement that we both order an entree, and that it was a pre-fixed menu.

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Dinner at the CN Tower

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After dinner, we ran.. literally.. to our car to change clothes and head to the game. It was so much fun. It felt like we were Bonnie & Clyde. LOL. We changed clothes in the car, and ran to the Arena. We got there before the game with about 5 minutes to spare. This was the first time, in the many NBA games that we have been to that we were actually on time, and got to see the opening of the game.

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Raptors Game

The next day we drove to see Niagara Falls. I read that it is a better view from the Canadian side. We only had to pay to park, and received a nice visitors guide. There were a lot of activities and restaurants at the actual Falls.  It would probably be very nice if it was warmer.

When we got down to the falls (which you can walk right up to) it took my breath away. It was absolutely stunning. I liked that you could go right up to the edge where the falls are. There is no way you can do this from the US side.  We didn’t stay long because it was way too cold.

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Niagara Falls

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Overall it was a nice trip, and I cant wait to explore more when it is warmer.

Check out a vlog of our trip here.

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Jamaica – Ocho Rios

For my 29th birthday, my husband & I travelled to Jamaica. This was our second international trip together, and I was so excited. We had lots of excursions booked, in fact we had one per day, and couldn’t wait to get there!

We stayed in Ocho Rios which was about an hour drive from Montego Bay, which is where we flew into. We pre-purchased transportation to the resort via a bus. On the ride to the resort, I kept seeing an animal that I was slightly familiar with, but couldn’t put my finger on what it was. I kept nudging my husband, asking him what was the animal on the side of the road I keep seeing. He said he didn’t know what I was talking about. I described the animal as looking like a dog with horns. When I showed him the next one that I saw. He was in disbelief.. he was like you mean the goat?! Oops. I felt so silly. LOL .. I hadn’t ever seen a goat in person, so I didn’t put it together.. And, to this day, he wont let me live it down. Sigh.

We made one stop on the way to the resort at the request of some of the passengers on the bus. It was to a restaurant called Scotchies. It was some of the best food I have ever had, and so incredibly cheap! We got a whole chicken, tons of sides, and drinks for $12. It is a must stop if you are in Jamaica.

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We stayed at the Jamaica Grande, which is now know as Moon Palace Jamaica Grande. When we arrived at the resort, I asked for a room upgrade. I always do this. Hey, if you don’t ask, the answer is always no.  We had a regular room booked, and they upgraded us to a water front room. We could literally walk right out of our room onto the beach!

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View from our Room

The first day we relaxed and enjoyed the amenities at the resort. It was an all-inclusive, which we always enjoy. They had a couple pools, a swim up bar, a club, and a several restaurants. Everything was really nice!

The first excursion we did was Dunns River Falls. This is a waterfall, that you climb from the BOTTOM up! I had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. The guides made it a lot of fun to climb, but it wasn’t easy. We bought the video to remember the adventure. I recommend anyone visiting Jamaica does it.

 

The next day we did an CHUKKA  ATV tour that took us through the jungle, as well as the beaches of Jamaica. As I have mentioned in previous blog posts, this is something my husband and I try to do in every country we visit. This was an experience I will never forget. The ride was very scenic and the guides were very informative. At one point they stopped at a cliff, and asked if anyone wanted to jump in. I am not that adventurous, and I cannot swim, so it was a firm NO from me. However, my husband did it, and loved it! It was very cool, and looked like a lot of fun.

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The Cliff my Hubby Jumped Off

After we rode on the beach, we headed into the jungle. After riding for a little while we stopped in the middle of a bunch of trees and bushes. The guide plucked a piece of grass off the ground, handed it to one of the people in our group, and told them to eat it. They stared at him strangely, then took a bite. It turned out to be lemongrass! The guide then plucked another leaf from another plant, and handed it to me to taste. It was a peppermint leaf! It was so cool to see how the various plants grew naturally in the wild. The guide said that they have all the herbs they need, and they grow naturally there. It was a really unique experience!

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That night we had a nice dinner on the resort. Afterwards, we went to the little club they had on site. It wasn’t very lively, only a handful of people inside, and the music was just ok. It may have been because it was a weekday. That was the only time we visited the club.

The next day was so much fun! We did another CHUKKA tour called “Horseback Ride N Swim”. We rode horses through nature, and then through the ocean bareback. It was an exhilarating experience. I had no fear riding them the regular way, but when it came time to ride bare back in the water, I was VERY nervous. I had the guide tie stay close to me, just in case anything happened. I cannot swim, so I think this is where the anxiety came from. It was still such a blast, and they put my husband and I on horses that were actually mates, so they always stayed close to each other. It was really cute and an amazing experience!

That day was Cinco de Mayo, so that night we went out to Margaritaville to celebrate.  It was SO MUCH FUN!  It was indoor/outdoor, very spacious, and even had a water park. I could tell that it would be a lot of fun during the day also. It was PACKED inside. They had bar tenders walking around with bottles of alcohol that they would pour into the mouths of the patrons, and served margaritas of course. The music was great and overall was just a really great time! We went to the one in Montego Bay last year when we got married, and had a great time there also. Definitely a must go when in Jamaica, no matter what part you visit.

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The next day we had a camel ride and tour of an old sugar cane factory. It was fun to ride the camels, and tour the old factory. Although they no longer harvest sugar, they still had a full garden where they harvest fruits, and coconut trees. It was here that I learned one pineapple plant takes a year to grow. It was unbelievable to me that it would take that long, and I wondered how many must be planted for the amount we consume here in the US. We got fresh coconut off a coconut tree, and drank the water directly from it. I was not a fan. They also gave us some of the “meat” of the coconut with a little pure cane sugar sprinkled on top. I found that to be delicious, even though I really do not like coconut.

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The next day, we left the resort, and toured the city for the majority of the day. We went to the market, and bought fresh herbs to take back home. We also had some food at one of the local restaurants that was pretty good. It was a nice day.

That evening we had a sunset cruise scheduled. On the way back to our room to get ready for the cruise, we passed a table set up in the lobby of our hotel that advertised wedding packages. The packages were very inexpensive. We joked that we should just buy one of the packages and get married because we were having such a good time. (Little did we know 3 years later we would return to Jamaica & get married) I will detail that experience in another blog post! 🙂

We went over to Sandals resort for the sunset cruise. We thought our resort was nice, but that one was exceptional! Just the waiting area to get on the boat alone was amazing. We got on the boat, and the vibe was absolutely perfect! They had Bob Marley playing in the background, and had complimentary hors d ours, and plenty of rum punch flowing. I do not remember how many rum punches I had, but I was feeling GOOD! It was a gorgeous day, gorgeous views.. everything was perfect. I will never forget how it felt.

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View from the Dock We Took the Cruise From

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When we got back to our hotel room, I remember feeling so good, and dancing around the room to “could you be loved” by Bob Marley while my husband just laughed at me. It was complete bliss.

Our last day in Jamaica, we just hung out at the resort and took in our last moments. This is still one of our favorite trips. We truly enjoyed the people, the food, and the atmosphere. Everywhere we went the people were just so friendly, the kind of feeling that you never forget. It will always be a very special place for us, that I am sure we will visit over and over again.

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New Years in Paris

Happy New Year! People have been telling me for YEARS that I should start a blog. I actually had a whole website started years ago, and it just sat there. I never actually used it, but today is the day I change that. I’m doing it! This is my first time blogging though, so bear with me. With it being a new year, I figured the best way to start out my blog would be to discuss, well, my New Year! I did something totally unique this year. My husband & I invited our close friends, and cousin to join us in Europe to celebrate the New Year.

I immediately started researching fun, unique activities, and looked for hotel accommodations. The first thing I do when planning our vacations, is always book hotel & airfare. I do this since it is usually the most costly, and the price goes up every day that passes. I like to get that out of the way, then, I find activities. One of my go-to sites for excursions is Viator. They have some of everything and you can read reviews, get tips, and even see pictures of the activity to see if it is something you would want to do. Lastly, I research fun places to eat, and top rated restaurants, because outside of traveling, my favorite thing to do is eat!

After I have a general itinerary written out, I start the fun part – SHOPPING!! On every vacation, I carefully plan out each ensemble, all the way down to what I wear to the airport. Also, my husband and I are that cheesy couple that wears coordinating outfits. I find that it looks better in photos if we wear things that go well together rather than clash. I also think it is important to plan out your outfits. I want to be sure my photos come out great, and I never want to look back at the memories we created and think “what was I wearing?” I will do a more detailed blog on packing for my trips later.

Now, the fun part – the actual Trip!! We started in Amsterdam, and did something I have never done in my multiple trips to Amsterdam, and that was stay in a Hostel. There were 6 of us … 3 couples, so it was a challenge to find one that could accommodate all of us. I found this really cool, modern, ultra hip hostel called Via Amsterdam. It reminded us of being back in college. The room had 3 sets of bunkbeds, a set of lockers, a bathroom, and a seating area. If i’m honest, this was the part of the trip I was most nervous about. How will 6 people share one room? How long will it take 6 people to get ready? One Bathroom?These are thoughts that ran through my OCD, detail – oriented brain. All of that worry was for nothing! It turned out to be so much fun, and an awesome way to bond, and start out the trip…minus the serial snorer LOL!

 

 

Confession: We were so exhausted from traveling overnight, and being in airports for over 24 hours, that when we took the train from the Amsterdam airport to our hotel, we rode it back and forth for at least 30 minutes just so we could sleep. Not one person objected, and we still are not sure how we decided to do it, but were glad we did. I don’t recommend anyone do this, but, we needed the power nap and we now laugh about it.

The first day I didn’t plan much, because I knew everyone would be tired and jet-lagged from the overnight travel. To my surprise, everyone was down to get out and explore. We went to dinner at a cute little Italian restaurant. We knew we were at the right place when as soon as our waiter saw we were American, he said “Fxck Trump!”. LOL.. perfect start to the night. After dinner we hung out at a little night club next door, then ventured off to the Red Light District. In my many visits, I had never actually been to the red light district, so this was intriguing.  We walk down the alley past windows with red lights, and scantily clad women waiting on their next “guest”. Shockingly, as my cousin stated, these women were “booked and busy”. The majority of the women were ‘booked’, and only a handful were actually available. Interesting!

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The next day we had a full day planned. We started with high tea, at The Duchess inside of the W Hotel. We had a blast! They have a cocktail called “in the clouds” – I highly recommend it, as it will definitely leave you in the clouds. The place is so picturesque – perfect to take cute Instagram photos, and the food was really good as well!

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Tea Time at The Duchess

 

Next up was the Heineken experience. My husband had been wanting to do this for awhile, so he was particularly excited about this part. We did the package that included a canal cruise, as well as access to a view point that looks out over all of Amsterdam. We never made it to that part. We had such a blast at the Heineken experience that we literally shut the place down! We drank up all the beer, and it will take years to replenish. Kidding. But, it sure felt like we did. The entire experience is really cool, interactive, modern, engaging, and something I highly recommend. At the end, you end up in the basement, which is setup with multiple bars and was a really cool place to hang out. I am not a beer drinker, so while I tried it to be a good sport, I gave my husband all my beer tokens, which in turn started the competition of who could sneak the most beers.  We each took turns going to the bar, and pretending that we lost our tokens, or just flat our snatching beers. It was so much fun! I am pretty sure they caught onto us, but they let us have our fun. Definitely a must-do if you ever find yourself in Amsterdam.

 

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Beer Tasting at the Heineken Experience

 

Next, we headed back to our hostel. We were tired from being out all day.  We ordered the best pizza the night before, so we decided we would just hang, eat pizza, and play some games. When we walked into the lobby, to our surprise, there was a DJ spinning vinyl hip hop records to a full crowd but empty dance floor. Immediately, without any thought, we all run to the dance floor and start dancing and singing to classic hip hop songs. Everyone stared at us in awe for a few minutes, and then we felt the lights on us, as everyone starts recording us. I am pretty sure we are on quite a few YouTube videos, Snapchats, you name it across the world.

Saturday morning, we headed out to our next destination – Paris! This was what everyone was waiting for. The only thing planned for this day was a cabaret show. We booked the late show knowing that we would be busy traveling during the day. We had a nice dinner in the private room at Vesuvio on Champs- Elysses, then headed to the show.

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Headed to the Lido Show in Paris! … and no our outfits weren’t planned 🙂

We met the head dancer LaMichael ahead of the show. He immediately realized from our non-accent that we were American, and it turned out he was originally from Brooklyn.  We had a nice conversation, snapped a few photos, then the show started.

The show was INCREDIBLE! We watched in awe as the singer and dancers worked the stage. We sat in the front row – my husband could literally touch the stage, so we were able to really interact with the cast. We had the best time! At the end, we got a personal shout out from LaMichael saying how we were the best group they ever had, and how much they appreciated us. A personal shout out at a world renowed cabaret show? Life made.

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Us with LaMichael before the show

We actually weren’t sure whether to book a show at the moulin rouge, or Lido. We ended up going with Lido, since it had better reviews, and are so glad we did! I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who wants to attend, but I HIGHLY recommend that you see it if you make your way to Paris. You wont regret it.

Sunday – New Years Eve – we planned a sunrise photo shoot at the Eiffel tower, complete with formal dress. We wanted to take really nice New Years Photos, so we could have great pics that we could have forever to commemorate the trip. Despite being out until 3 AM the night before, we still managed to get up at sunrise, which was 8 am. Minus the freezing cold temps, we managed to look alive, and take beautiful photos.

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Next, we went back to our rooms to nap, and then headed out to do some shopping. We only made it to one store. A common trend on this trip was shutting places down. We went to Louis Vuitton first, as I planned on making a purchase there. If you are going to add to your Louis Vuitton collection, there is no better place to purchase from than the flagship store on Champs-Elysses. There was a long line to get in, but of course we were able to walk right in (cant share that story, ha). We immediately got some bubbly and the shopping began. After a few round of bubbly, and after everyone bought more than they intended, we headed out to get ready to bring in the new year.

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Shopping at Louis Vuitton

My husband an I have a few friends who live in Paris, who we met up with for dinner. We had a nice meal together, and they suggested we join them at Queen nightclub to ring in the New Year. We quickly changed, then headed back out to bring in 2018. We started on the streets on Champs-Elysees to do the countdown, and watch the fireworks. As we had been doing the entire trip, we shut down the streets of Paris. While walking to Queen, we were blowing our party horns, dancing, and just enjoying life. Everyone was marveled at our unapologetic knack for having fun, and either joined in, or recorded us. Im telling you, we are on SEVERAL YouTube videos, and Snapchats around the world. LOL.

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Midnight Kiss Under the Fireworks in Paris on Champs – Elysses .. someone pinch me!
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New Years Eve!

 

 

The next day, we planned to see the Palace of Versailles in the morning. Didn’t happen. We also planned to go sight seeing, and maybe do some of the shopping we didn’t get to do the previous days. Also didn’t happen. No one got out of bed before 3pm. Everyone was EXHAUSTED from our non-stop adventure, staying up all night, and waking up early. We had a dinner cruise that we pre-booked months prior. That was the only thing we made it to.  I think the cruise was the perfect end to our trip. We got to relax on the boat as it glided past some of the most popular attractions in Paris – the Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, and the mini Statue of Liberty. They played music on cue to each attraction; for instance “New York” by Alicia Keys played when we passed the statue of liberty and Moulin Rouge. It was perfect.

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View of the Eiffel Tower from our table on the Dinner Cruise

 

 

We planned to possibly go out after the cruise since it was an early dinner cruise. Nope. Everyone retreated to their rooms, and didn’t surface again until morning.

Overall, it was an incredible experience, one you had to be there to experience the full effect. I have gone over the trip in my mind a few times wondering if it is something that I would do again, and I say absolutely! In fact, I wouldn’t change a single thing if I were to do again. Time to start working on next years plans!

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The Crew!