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.

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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.

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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“Locking” our friendship on the love lock bridge
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The Louvre

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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.

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Lemon Tree Lined Walkway
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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.

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Amazing Views from the Hotel

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

 

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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!