European Excursion

For my 30th birthday, I wanted to do something BIG. After all, you only turn 30 once! I planned a trip to the South of France, Italy, and Spain for my hubby (boyfriend at the time) and I. I was so excited because it had been on my bucket list forever. I told my girlfriends about the trip, and they all said they wanted to go. I thought about how all of our birthdays are in the month of May. I thought hmm, maybe we can all go! I talked to my hubby about making it a girls trip. Although he wasn’t thrilled about being kicked out of the trip, in the end, it was changed from a bae-cation to a girls trip!

I hadn’t done a girls trip of this magnitude before. One of the girls that was coming I actually hadn’t even met before, so if i’m honest, I was a little nervous how it would all work out.  After countless group text messages, and hours long conference calls, we were able to get everything booked and finalized for our ‘European Excursion’ as we dubbed it.

The route we planned for our European Excursion was – Ibiza, Spain – Palma de Mallorca, Spain – Paris, France – Naples, Italy – Amalfi Coast, Italy – Capri, Italy – Rome, Italy, ending in Milan, Italy. We did this in 10 days, with each girl only having one carry-on suitcase & a personal item.  I still don’t know how we did that.

Before we left the US, I wanted to give the girls a little gift, since it was a birthday trip. I got custom mason jars made with each of the girls names in their favorite color. Inside the jar, I put a compact mirror, a travel sized perfume, and a lock (to put on the love lock bridge), and personal trinkets.

729B817B-AE95-4261-B0AC-FB4F18606AEE

F136F326-AB3A-4DCD-9D7D-3C751878B48D

Ibiza, Spain

In Ibiza, we stayed at the Santos Coast Suites. Our suite was called the Nirvana Suite. It was so cute! The resort was beachfront, had an amazing pool, and really fun décor! We loved it.

 

067D17D6-68CF-4164-A976-772B33CC558B

58A25823-27EB-45A4-82B3-000CDA924DAA

When we went it was right before the “party season”, so not a lot was going on. We had dinner, then went to a small little club. We ordered drinks, and before we could even take a sip, a guy walks to our table, and starts making conversation. He was extremely nice. Not long after we started talking to him, another guy came over with a stone cold serious face, and started asking us questions. We told him that we were with the other guy, but he refused to leave our table. He told us he was there for “work”, and that he was sent to kill someone with a completely straight face.  He was Russian.

He was VERY odd, and refused to leave. He made us extremely uncomfortable, so we left. Our hotel was walking distance from the bar. When we stepped outside, there were a group of 4 girls on the corner that we passed on our way back to the hotel. We turned around to look behind us, and the girls were starting to circle us! We didn’t know what to do, so I just screamed “POLICIA!!!” A police car pulled right up, and the girls scattered. I could not make this up.

The next day, we hung out at the pool, and went into town to a fun little restaurant/bar called Km5 Ibiza. We had a great night. On the ride back to the hotel, we asked our driver to get as close as possible to the entrance, because of the fiasco from the night before. As the driver pulled around, I saw one of the girls from the night before, but I was in such a state of shock, I couldn’t even speak. I was only able to point. As we drove around further, we saw the other 3 girls handcuffed and sitting on the curb. It turned out the girls were prostitutes, and thought we were competition. Crazy.

6E350561-90C3-4BBF-9F71-2FC29317F869

The next day we couldn’t wait to get out of there. It had been quite the experience.

Mallorca, Spain

Mallorca was gorgeous! The water was a stunning blue color, and we had amazing views from our resort. We settled into our room, then went out to relax by the pool to enjoy some cocktails. It was Cinco de Mayo, so of course we had to celebrate even in Spain.

B81CD1B1-7BFE-42C9-8CEF-B1FC7592546C

Our hotel had bikes for rent, so we rented them, and left to explore the island. We biked to the city center and got ice cream cones. It was a beautiful day.

2C06410F-B8B7-4ECF-AB9E-0CDCFA0E349B

We changed then had a nice dinner at. The views from the restaurant were lovely, and the food was really good!

The next day we hopped on another flight over to Paris.

Paris, France

This was my second visit to Paris. The first time I went, it was grey, cloudy and a little chilly even though it was summer. I honestly felt it was overrated. This time, the sun was shining bright, the sky was clear, and blue. It was perfect. It really felt like PARIS. We stayed at a hotel that was close to the Eiffel tower.

We decided before we left that we would bring balloons to have a birthday photo shoot at the tower. We brought the balloons, and I had researched a store that blew up balloons close to the tower. We got them blown up, and headed to the tower to shoot. 4 girls in a cab, with a ton of balloons. It was a pretty hilarious site! It was well worth it, because the pictures came out great!

75FDF177-C554-4313-91BB-1EE6F201A728

cropped-864347bb-cdaf-401e-ba2a-5394fafd077a.jpeg

A9F93F6E-D444-4144-9244-2B147207FC0D

We did all the typical tourist things. We “locked in” our friendship at the love lock bridge, visited the Louvre, and the Arc de Triomphe. We had a packed couple days, but we were able to get everything done!

C79B922C-CB52-43E8-A9C7-EB382C6676CE
“Locking” our friendship on the love lock bridge
0645E8FF-FB76-4E11-83E9-C42BF1CB84CD
The Louvre

329EC1C3-413B-47D7-8AEE-429B438798488BF1E930-1BA9-4A4A-B870-0BE6B9977AB1

From Paris, we took another flight to Naples, Italy.

Naples, Italy

In Naples, almost immediately after landing at the airport, we were warned about how dangerous it was there. We were a little nervous about that, so instead of exploring, we immediately got in a cab, and went straight to the Amalfi Coast, which was our next destination.

Amalfi Coast, Italy

After what seemed like forever, we finally made it to Positano. When we arrived at our hotel – Hotel Margherita, we were greeted by the owners. They were extremely friendly and welcoming with tea and cookies. I don’t know what I was expecting when we got there, but they certainly exceeded our expectations. When they brought us to our ‘room’, they brought us to a house. That’s right, a whole house, just for us! A 2-story home, with a kitchen, patio, bedrooms, everything! To get to the home, we had to walk down a walkway that smelled heavenly. There were lemon trees that lined the walkway, so it smelled like fresh lemons. It was amazing.

9341F294-C323-40C6-AFE7-83DC78682569

29B3286C-241D-4739-93E8-101C9172D751
Lemon Tree Lined Walkway
6DCE4E6B-5C6C-43F9-94D2-230C70F8C39B
View From Our Room Upstairs

 

The views from the hotel were also incredible. There was a outdoor seating area for the guests to either eat or relax. It was so charming.

35DDA89E-7D02-40E1-8BF9-62580CB32737
Amazing Views from the Hotel

 

130C3E9A-73CC-4218-B157-EA0330A1CD0C
View From the Hotel Balcony

 

The first day we went to dinner down in Sorrento. On the way there, we met a girl at the bus stop who was so sweet, and helped us find our way. She was adorable. Her mother came to the Amalfi Coast on vacation, fell in love, and moved there. She owned a boutique shop in the area. I can completely see why she fell in love there. I could see how that happened, because all the men there were so charming, and friendly. It is such a romantic place.

We had dinner at Chez Black. It is a really popular restaurant, right on the water. We sat down, were greeted, and then almost immediately were given a heart shaped pizza. We hadn’t even gotten the menus yet. A few moments later, we were also gifted with limoncello shots. Limoncello is one of the staples in Italy. It is a delicious lemon beverage. The restaurant was amazing! They took excellent care of us.  The view from the restaurant is spectacular as well.

6134B007-59F9-4316-852C-C3D488CD09C5

Capri, Italy

The next day we took a day trip to the island of Capri. The boat ride to Capri was stunning. The water was such a gorgeous blue, and the weather was perfect. When we got to Capri, we had lunch at al Capri. It was a nice little restaurant in the center of Capri. After that, we took a chair lift to the top of the island. I am terrified of heights, but it actually didn’t scare me at all. It was a very enjoyable ride, with incredible views. When we got to the top, it took my breath away! We couldn’t distinguish between the sky and the water. Words cannot describe how beautiful it was.

688095E5-1B96-4134-BCEC-C0ABDD147411

F793D48A-6788-4A82-9988-FB7B0CE25253

After touring the island for a little while, we got back on the boat to head to the blue grotto. The blue grotto is a cave, where the water illuminates in a blue glowing color.  It was a little scary to enter the blue grotto. To enter, you get out of your large boat, and get into a small row boat, that can only fit max 5 people. I wont lie it made me a little nervous, because sometimes the water was so high, it covered the hole that you enter the grotto through. When that happened, they would pause entering the cave until the tide died down. Once you get inside, you can sit up, and then enjoy the beauty of the cave. There was an opera singer inside singing, and the water illuminated a gorgeous blue color. It was a really neat experience! I cannot wait to go back with my husband.

Rome, Italy

Our next stop was Rome, Italy, where we had a short layover. We had to see the city even though we didn’t have a lot of time. We went to a cute little Italian restaurant that was across from the Coliseum. After visiting the Coliseum, we went to another place that was SO.MUCH.FUN!  The restaurant was packed, but it felt as if we were the only ones in there. The servers loved us, and gave us shot after shot. They seemed to really like Americans.

108201BF-87D6-45A1-8737-878FAAB89A30

After that, we got some gelato, and walked around before catching the train to our next stop. This was definitely one of the highlights of the trip.

799E90DD-CB02-4323-A580-494489AA265B

Milan, Italy

For our last stop, we headed to Milan Italy. We booked a hotel near the airport. I will never do this again, as the airport is pretty far from the city center, and very isolated from where everything is. Milan ended up being disastrous for us. If I told the story, no one would believe it, so I will spare the details. I will just say the trip ended with us running out of the hotel through the back emergency door in the middle of the night, getting split up with no way to contact each other, and being scared out of our minds.  We didn’t even get to sleep.

A573D032-09B5-42DE-A373-99738479D303

However, despite the crazy beginning and end to our trip, it was the most incredible time. It was a girls trip of a lifetime that I will never forget. We made a pact to do some sort of girls trip every year. While we have done quite a few things together, we haven’t been able to top this one. LOL

 

Advertisements

DUBAI

My husband and I wanted to do something big to celebrate our first year of marriage. We initially planned on going to Australia since it was high on both of our lists. After planning it all the way out, we realized we didn’t have enough time to do it like we would want to. We then decided to do a tour of Italy, with a short stop in Dubai. We bought flights, train tickets, everything. As we were planning out our ensembles, I didn’t like that it would still be pretty chilly during the time we would be there. By the time we left for our trip, we decided to just stay the majority of the time in Dubai, and just spend the weekend in Italy. Because we changed the location last minute, we planned the trip in just 2 weeks, and it ended up being one of the best trips we have ever taken.

255516EE-5564-4423-9B22-1CBCA273AB42

We stayed at the Marriott Al Jaddaf hotel, which is a 5-star hotel. The hotel has a complimentary shuttle to and from the airport to the hotel that runs 3 times a day. We arrived at an odd time (a little after midnight) so we were unable to take advantage of the shuttle. We took a cab to the hotel, which was about 70 AED, or $20 USD. Even though we arrived at the hotel around 3 am, the hotel was very accommodating and let us check into the room early. We were surprised, considering check in is usually around 3pm. We were so grateful, because we were so tired from the long journey.

Everyone at the hotel was EXTREMELY kind and accommodating from the moment we got there.  As I have said in other blog posts, I always ask for a room upgrade, and they were happy to accommodate. They even had a cake waiting in the room to celebrate our anniversary.  The hotel was SO NICE! There were several restaurants, a few clubs, and the rooms were AMAZING! They had  tub/shower combo that was out of this world. We literally could have spent the whole time in the hotel.

7C37E713-5CA2-48F3-9615-B9E2E260D83E
The Sweet Message from the Hotel

The hotel had several complimentary buses to different locations around Dubai. They had several trips to the Dubai Mall, one to Jumeriah Beach, one to Emirates Mall, and one to the airport. We took advantage of the shuttle to the mall almost everyday. The only thing we didn’t like about the shuttle were the times, but we just ended up paying for our own ride to the mall when the time didn’t line up with when we wanted to go. It only cost between $5-$10 USD for our own transportation, so it wasn’t bad.

While we were in the airport someone approached us offering a “special gift” if we listen to a time share presentation. Normally I would say no, but one of my coworkers told me how they recently got a free hotel stay and some other benefits from sitting through one, so I decided to do it. This was our first time doing something like  this. We went to the presentation, and luckily the guy doing the presentation could tell we definitely weren’t buying a time share, so he played a 5 minute video and then gave us the option to pick a free excursion. We picked the Dhow Dinner Cruise.

After going to that, we headed back to the room where we slept a little before heading out for dinner. The hotel made dinner reservations for us at a restaurant at Atlantis. We ate dinner at Yuan Dubai. The food there was incredible! I had the crabmeat fried rice, and my husband had half of a chicken. It was one of the best meals I have ever had. I don’t know what type of rice it was, but it was SO good! The chicken was also amazing! They gave us a little treat for our anniversary that was just as delicious as the rest of the meal.

21794A69-CE63-46D4-BC2F-4FF72A41C2E3

 

D5435BA0-4225-4471-95BE-8FFC1B4B7098
Nice Treat from Yuan

After dinner we walked around Atlantis.  It was AMAZING! The decor, the fresh flowers, the grandiose buildings. Everything was really nice. I wanted to see what it looked like in the daytime.

The next day we slept for 12 hours.  I think we were tired from the traveling and the time change. It was so nice to rest and do nothing. We managed to take a trip over to the Dubai mall for a couple hours. The mall was on another level! There was an aquarium inside, an underwater zoo, and 3 levels of shopping. It was unlike anything I have ever seen. The mall is also where the Dubai Fountain, and the Burj Khalifa are.

26EE590D-D2C2-4E8E-9E70-B50A12E9F3DC

CBAED581-E0B8-4322-B6A4-D4D033677841

The buildings and architecture in Dubai are breathtaking. Everything looks futuristic, and the design of the buildings are so grandiose. It reminded me of the Jetsons. Everything is also very clean, and well taken care of.

BED95616-F564-4A13-AAC2-65D77785184F

Later that day we had a safari excursion that we pre-booked online. The excursion included ATV riding, Dune Bashing, Sand Boarding, Camel Ride, Henna, and a Bar-b-que with belly dancers, and a fire breather. It was a great value for the cost.

The first part was the ATV, which was a lot of fun. I thought we would have been out in the dessert more, but they had everyone in one contained area, that you drive around in circles.  They tried to up-sell us on a “faster bike”, but we used what we paid for.

3EA6F76D-D849-4EAF-BE55-50D0BD14C51F

4DFA1B1F-8438-4D83-BD9E-059E6D91CDE0

4CF89A4E-16B5-4956-8449-702F58934F45

The next part was the craziest thing I have ever done.  Dune Bashing. You will see this in the Vlog, but they basically take you out into the sand dunes in the dessert in a 4×4 SUV, and drive as erratically as possible. It was a like a violent roller coaster. We went up and down the hills, and sideways on the giant dunes.  The girl next to me almost got sick.  My husband had no idea what all we were doing on the excursion. He only knew about the ATV, and the bar b que, so it made it more fun for him.

After that, it was time to Sand Board. I was so shaken up by the dune bashing that I couldn’t even attempt to do the sand boarding. My husband did it, and did a great job. He said that it wasn’t too hard, but climbing back up the dune was the real workout.

6B132724-60F5-4601-8137-EF8B3E436AB5

F670C00E-D59A-43C2-9972-8C484CA19790

After sand boarding, we drove to a camp where they had henna artists, camels, and a plethora of other activities to do. We upgraded to a VIP table which allowed us to not sit on the floor, and we were served the food instead of waiting in a buffet line.  They said that there were gonna be hundreds of people, so it made sense to us.  They had shisha available, and had lots of performances during dinner. Overall it was a nice night, and a lot of fun. I would recommend it, as it includes a lot of activities, and is fun.

B72C1B1B-0640-4E55-A198-37FD53691FA1
His -N- Hers Henna Tattoos

The next day we went back to the mall. We did a little browsing at the stores, and then had a nice lunch at Wafi City. The food was so good, and they had the best smoothie I’ve ever had in life. They have water shows several times a day, so after lunch we watched the show. It was really nice.

AACBD224-39FB-431C-AB38-4C3D79AF9397

 

93C7BCC6-DE9F-4202-8707-CF378CC0CED5

That night we went to the Dhow Dinner show that we had gotten for free for sitting through the time share presentation. It turned out to be a big waste of our time, and money, since we had to get our own transportation to and from the ship. The first clue should have been that the hotel staff didn’t know where we were going. They had been very helpful over the course of the trip getting us where we needed etc, but they didn’t know about the location of this particular activity. When we got there, we walked for what seemed like forever to get to the end of the dock where our boat was. It was an old wooden boat with LED lights strung all over it. They served a mediocre meal, and then had “entertainment” which was a strange character that danced around the boat. It might have lasted 2 hours total, which I’m grateful because I wouldn’t have been able to stand much more.  In hindsight we should have taken the tickets to the Burj Khalifa.

We took the free shuttle over to Jumeirah beach the next day. I was completely enamored with how nice the beach was. The boardwalk was spotless, the sand was perfect, and the water was crystal clear. There were TONS of little food trucks serving sushi, ice cream, crepes, you name it. Everything was picture perfect.

984F04AB-F809-4DEE-B522-83E187244839

1DB87162-4FFA-4B2F-A867-375AC95AB574

42F0CE44-E260-4D7E-8511-7BB72BD27DB5

We got breakfast from one of the little shops on the boardwalk, then relaxed for some time at the beach.  We really enjoyed the beach, but we would have loved to bike or roller skate down the boardwalk.  The boardwalk was pretty long, and we got tired walking down it.

1F6C0EF1-2F53-4BE4-9644-6D8E298CF585

After relaxing for a few hours, we were ready to head back to the hotel. The hotel only offered one shuttle per day to and from the beach. The pick up wasn’t until 4, and it was a little after 2. We couldn’t imagine staying a couple more hours, so we took a cab back to the hotel.

B98E6416-005A-4823-8C3B-36DBF5C04CA15B544EA4-A9A8-4342-AFA3-46508798547D

Back at the hotel, after we cleaned up and changed clothes, we went to the rooftop to check out the pool. There was only one other person at the pool, so we had it to ourselves.  The set up on the roof was really nice. They had lots of lounge areas, tables, and a bar. They also had covered cabanas that were complimentary for hotel guests. The view was also stunning. You could see all of downtown and the Burj Khalifa.

2D2C5C89-EC90-42A8-88FA-5D8F8078FD1F

We had dinner at the hotel that night. They had an amazing buffet, with a huge food selection. The food was really tasty, and there were so many varieties. Definitely something for everyone.  We loved the buffet so much, one day we went there and just ordered desserts. It was awesome!

The next day we visited the Burj Khalifa. It was less expensive to do a tour in the morning or late at night, basically the non-peak times. I highly recommend getting tickets in advance. The entrance is at the mall, and it is extremely busy, so the times fill up quickly. We tried to walk up and get tickets a few days before, and they were completely sold out.

The attraction itself is extremely nice, and very well thought out. The whole way to the top is filled with information, and they make it very interactive and fun. There are a lot of unique features. For instance, the elevator ride to the top is only 60 seconds. It doesn’t even feel like you are going that fast. The only way I could tell is from my ears popping.

382FE271-94B5-435A-983E-6427F2119698
View from the Top

66FA9F7D-29B8-4C40-8021-5172A673A82A

2C832F79-822B-4186-80C3-A5EDD9076AAE

That night we had dinner at Katana, which was AMAZING! It was by far the best dinner we had in Dubai. The food, the atmosphere, everything was PERFECT.  We picked a table that overlooked the fountains, and also had a direct view of the Burj Khalifa. They had a show at the Burj Khalifa every 30 minutes, and one big show was at 8. They also had water shows simultaneously at the Dubai Fountains. I wont spoil it, but the fountain shows are incredible. One even went along with thriller, but you have to be there to see how amazing it is.

2BB83819-BBFE-471E-B2A7-4C72C4A216BB

E9D13516-D233-4ECC-93C9-5C7FE932DBD1

When we got back to the hotel, we were advised by the staff of a ladies night going on upstairs. We went to take a peek, and it was a very interesting sight. The patron were TURNED UP! Everyone was having a really good time. It was mostly the locals in the traditional garb. I would have stayed, but it was entirely too much smoke in there for me.

We were going to head back to our room, when we noticed ANOTHER club down the hall. We stopped in there, and it wasn’t as packed. The hostess told us in an hour the place would be packed wall to wall, and we wouldn’t be able to get in. It is a very popular club in Dubai that is open until 6am, called 24 Karat. It looked amazing inside, and I could imagine with the crowd, it would be a lot of fun.

91245C01-29D4-4966-9456-FF103BBB2EEF

We spent the following day enjoying the amenities at the resort. We had been so busy exploring, we didn’t take time to enjoy the comforts of “home” or the hotel. We hung by the pool for a little, ate, and relaxed for the majority of the day.

F564F647-A419-4FE5-9FF4-7119A842D41A

That night we headed out to Atlantis again to have our official anniversary dinner. We had reservations at Nobu. My husband proposed to me at Nobu in Malibu, so there was significance in celebrating our one year anniversary there. We had a really nice time there together.

4FEEC6C3-9093-4B59-8DBC-23F23421A0D2

5BA63BF8-03BA-4E33-A546-FA12EE77CD45

When we ate at Nobu, in Atlantis, we paid $150 US for our meal, and we only got 2 meals, and one roll of sushi. At Katana, we got cocktails, 2 sushi rolls, 2 entrees, and shisha, and it was only $120 USD. It was definitely a better value, and the food was GOOD! Not to mention we got to watch all of the shows right from where we sat.

While we were at Atlantis, we went to a club called Indulge.  The music was pretty good. They had a nice mix of both old and new music. There weren’t a lot of people when we went, but we went really early. The were VERY attentive, making sure we were ok at all times. The drinks and shisha were good also. We didn’t stay long, because I wasn’t feeling well, but I have no doubt that it would have been a lot of fun if we stayed longer.

A33CFFB5-B879-470B-BAB3-5B8535D962EA

As you may have noticed, we spent quite a bit of time in Dubai. We were supposed to leave to head to Italy, but we never did. We ended up spending the whole time in Dubai. We enjoyed it so much we didn’t want to leave! We even ended staying an extra day longer than we planned for the whole trip. A nice surprise was that the last day we were there was mothers day, so they had free dinner for the moms at our beloved buffet. It was a nice touch.

Although we were in Dubai for a long time, we feel like we didn’t even scratch the surface of all there is to do. We cant wait for our next trip back!

Be sure to check out the vlog of or trip!

Vlog Part 1 – Vlog Part 2 – Vlog Part 3

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.

9FAC83EB-2663-42D1-AE03-71451B4468F2

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.

720E24F0-2BAD-4C26-ADC6-3D618AD2D165

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.

97EB0ED3-0A52-4961-A55E-E5D15A7952D4
Dinner at the CN Tower

F0996DCD-ECE3-4F00-85EF-57D3E1A14288

 

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.

B9DDC9AE-98F8-47F4-95E1-7BFBAFCEA5E7
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.

A11A1B86-B287-490C-A5A1-387E5A74F21A
Niagara Falls

DFA00797-354A-431A-98AB-8873619B91817984689B-8F7E-4652-8366-D4F17CB052F99C9A778B-C2BD-4A54-A305-ECFD31276FAA

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.

67318650-7571-4E37-8FE2-72609B834A42

C77EBA2A-ABCC-439D-984D-9A727B6648C7

 

 

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.

C481939F-D848-44D1-9AFC-4140858DF621

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!

3C412E07-8020-4CBA-8A74-D329EC48565E
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.

18A4ECC3-FD21-4349-8AE6-FD3A1403C8AC
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!

89ADA55A-D196-4019-917C-C3BF30134DBA

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.

38A0ACEC-5E3D-4503-A082-9FE2293F0429

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.

5822E7F8-BD66-49D1-B943-9919D59B1110

06C5CF78-20FD-4B12-9636-376076B3E15C1C32A9BA-D875-421A-B6F6-ABD7597B5376

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.

90F11A36-031F-45D2-91C5-D7C12A9323C8
View from the Dock We Took the Cruise From

22D70DDA-9E5C-48FB-A507-1B198FE1F2DB

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.

6A7C6F21-4C88-468A-8F12-C87D21F086A4

F79E2C52-4E3E-4AB8-84A2-516D588DAC9F

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!

936DBDFD-9278-45DB-ABD8-597FEEF8424C

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!

9F22C00C-3FA1-4028-9F40-F537A8BD1D2A
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.

 

B86F1CF3-3802-4A96-90AA-E1C9D6639343
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.

CB5C5EB0-4FFC-42DE-9066-9D5BE5CB463C
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.

7DEDD7A1-EC82-4A70-9E44-8ACA20331216
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.

843F55C1-588B-4400-8F27-C3E8E2F08D7B

0BCAEEBE-667B-4369-A9BB-5711E5D9AA5A

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.

2BD0B882-A063-4512-B53C-BB2BF7F5D33A

598F3518-001D-4185-B89F-3F3F1C707833

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.

C52831D5-1912-4A48-8940-C5DF88F0B1CE
Midnight Kiss Under the Fireworks in Paris on Champs – Elysses .. someone pinch me!
BFAAA03A-EE59-4279-8EFD-63B83251A561
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.

3B81E4FB-D669-49FD-8E5D-83DFB9CE0805
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!

F6D1E34E-4A9C-4188-AB49-18A6B9D5D38A
The Crew!