If you've been following my adventures on Instagram, you know that we just got home from one of our most frequented vacation destinations, Disney World! I can say that Matt and I a Disney World frequenters. We aren't as consistent visitors as the rest of my family are, but it has made its way onto one of our favorite places. This past trip I shared a lot of details on what we were doing/where we were going on my Instagram stories. While I shared our adventures, I got a lot of questions about the places that we were going that are a bit off the beaten path. I find that usually when I talk to people about going to Disney World they think in terms of rides and attractions only. We are lucky enough to have visited enough times to have the time to appreciate the other little hidden gems that you may not notice on your first or even tenth trip, unless someone points them out to you! I am super excited to share these finds with you. We've had great experiences at these places, which is why they are on our must visit list time and time again. Each of these gems exemplify the detail and magic of Disney in a way that I appreciate so much and hope you will as well! Let's count these down....
Number 5: Dockside Margaritas
First off, I find so many people skip out on Disney Springs during their Disney vacation. In my opinion this is a huge mistake because Disney Springs is full of culinary and shopping experiences that really deliver. I can give a rundown on all of my favorites in another post, but one of my favorite spots to hang out here is Dockside Margaritas. It is located right on the water while also still in the action so you get the best of both worlds. This is one of our go to locations to grab a drink and people watch before dinner reservations. The margarita selection is delicious - their seasonal options are so fun as well - and you really can't beat the view. For couples, like I said, this is a great pre dinner date spot, and for parents this is a great spot to have one parent relax and enjoy a cocktail while the other takes the kids to explore one of the nearby toy stores. Fun fact: this is where Matt and I grabbed bright blue margaritas right before we got engaged.
Number 4: Tony's Town Square - specifically before fireworks
I ride or die for Tony's Town Square in Magic Kingdom. I feel like this place always get forgotten about or hated on by Disney blogs and podcasts and I strongly disagree! Matt and I make it a tradition to eat here during every one of our visits. It is an Italian restaurant right off of Main Street with serious Lady & The Tramp vibes. The food, specifically the gluten free options, are delicious, and they serve decently priced wine by the bottle. If you can get seated out in the sun room portion of the dining room, you can people watch while you enjoy your meal. Personally, those are my favorite seats in the house. If you schedule your meal perfectly, you can be exiting right on cue for the nightly fireworks show over the castle. Since this restaurant is right off of Main Street, once you walk out you are just steps from a perfect viewing location for fireworks, but right near the park exit so you don't have to fight the crowds when the show ends. I highly recommend making a reservation since this place can fill up, especially at opportune times (like right before fireworks). On the other hand, if you aren't picky about timing, this is often one of the restaurants that you can find random openings for a day or two in advance (sometimes even same day!). This is pretty rare for a lot of Disney dining. I chalk it up to park visitors totally underestimating the greatness of this place.
Number Three: Trader Sam's Grog Grotto and Tiki Bar
This is an actual hidden gem inside of the Polynesian resort. They are located behind an unassuming inside of a hallway near the outdoor bar. With a quick knock, you are invited inside of a dimly lit, and usually packed room. What this bar lacks in size, it makes up for in atmosphere and entertainment. The decor is so incredibly detailed, you feel as though you truly stepped into a real, but crazy tiki bar. The decor is something you have to experience for yourself, so I won't ruin the surprise. What I will say is the tiki gods have an impact on the atmosphere, shining light on certain aspects, creating abrupt weather changes, and triggering volcano eruptions. When it comes to drinks, they have some killer tropical cocktails that you can also get in non-alcoholic form, which is a nice touch! They also have a variety of appetizer you can munch on as well, so if you aren't in the mood for a drink there are plenty of other reasons to come check it out. Make sure to keep an eye on other patrons as they order the signature cocktails, the tiki gods can really shake things up depending on what they ask for. Overall, we love this place because just being there is such a good time. We love looking at the detailed decor and interacting with the spirited and rowdy staff.
A few tips to make sure you have the best experience possible : Trader Sam's opens at 4pm most days so make sure to be there right there on the dot to get your name on the waiting list. The space and seating are limited so it can fill up quickly. Due to the limited space, a lot of the seating areas are communal which lends itself to great conversation and meeting other guests around you.
Number Two: Animal Kingdom Lodge
I could do a whole post just about why I love Animal Kingdom Lodge so much. To give you the summary, basically the attention and execution on detailed elements will set this resort apart from anywhere else you have ever stayed. I haven't had the pleasure of staying on property at the Animal Kingdom Lodge yet, but that doesn't stop me from enjoying its various restaurants, bars, and hang out spots. The back of the main lobby opens up onto a savanna, full of native African animals, many of which have been rescued and rehabilitated. You can stroll the grounds while enjoying your morning coffee and viewing, you know, giraffes. On a nice day, one my favorite things to do is grab a book, find an open rocking chair on one of the public decks, and relax. The environment is so incredibly magical and peaceful. I actually have to set an alarm because I will get lost in my book and the beauty of the surroundings. This is also a great pre dinner ritual if you have reservations at one of the restaurants on site, which are stellar dining options as well.
Number One: Nomad Lounge in Animal Kingdom
I could hang out here ALL DAY. Truly all day, I would if I could. I only just recently discovered this lounge, thanks to my family who has made this a regular hangout for them. It's easy to miss as you are walking through Animal Kingdom, but once you discover it, you won't ever want to relax anywhere else. This low key bar is designed all around celebrating the love of traveling. The indoor space is cozy, and features decor with travel quotes and conversation starters beautifully sprawled across the ceiling. The outdoor area has luxurious sofas to lounge on, a view of the lush green landscape, and to complete the luxe effect, draped curtains on the open air windows. The vibe here is so relaxed and the servers/bartenders are incredibly pleasant to interact with. The drink menu is pretty extensive in my opinion, ranging from regionally themed cocktails, to a nice selection of beers and wines. Non-alcoholic cocktails are also offered here, if you are looking to try the concoctions without the booze. If drinks aren't on your wish list, you are still in the right place because, beyond the atmosphere, the food is equally as amazing. Almost all of their small plates can be prepared gluten free and they even have gluten free churros which I wish I could eat everyday for the rest of my life. Seriously.
These are just a few of our favorite gems in Disney, but I know there are a ton more to explore and discover. That is part of the fun of going to Disney again and again, stumbling upon new magical experiences that you didn't even know you needed. We always love new suggestions on where to go so please share your favorites below! Also, make sure to let me know if you end up visiting any of our favorite hidden gems! I'd love to hear about your experiences! Magical travels.
Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of attending my first ever Create & Cultivate conference. I’ve been wanting to go for a couple of years now and finally I was able to make it happen. Let me tell you, all of the hype I gave this event was totally warranted. The displays and installations were incredible enough to make the ticket well worth the cost. Live flowers, Insta worthy walls, and the most perfectly on brand decor was abundant. On top of the aesthetic, the content that was delivered was top notch and the room radiated serious girl boss energy.
I went with Amy (a la AmyScripts) and it was both of our first times attending Create & Cultivate. Since we were both rookies, we didn’t know what to expect at all. I mean we knew to expect as far as the content and flow of the day but as far as the dirty details and insider tips, we were pretty clueless. There were a few things that I wish a C&C veteran would have been able to share with us beforehand to help us prepare and make our day even better than it already was. I am volunteering myself, as the (now) experienced attendee, to share some insight onto what to expect and a few tips for making the most of your Create & Cultivate experience. Before I dig in, I will say, these are just my opinions based on my experience. Yours may be different if you attended in a different city or even if we attended the same conference! I want to hear your thoughts and tips! Please, please share! And, last, if you are looking for a recap of the event, you can watch my play by play via the Create & Cultivate story highlight on my Instagram.
Okay, here is the scoop…..
1. Dress for the day
This seems SUPER obvious but what I thought I should be wearing was not practical and definitely not sustainable for all day wear. I tried to dress cute but comfortable but also in something the represents me and my brand. My floor length kimono was cute in theory but was literally dragging through dirt by the end of the day. Plus, I was really cold. You certainly should pack a jacket and not make the rookie mistake I did. I didn’t understand that a lot of the event was going to be outside so I needed to be able to layer up or layer down based on the time of day and temperature.
I really tried for practicality by wearing heels but bringing flats. I wore my heels for a grand total of 30 minutes all day. And it was truly a pain to carry them around in my bag for the other 10+ hours. Next time, I am wearing comfortable flats and not bringing another option. There were tons of girls in the most adorable outfits with sky high heels, and if that works for them then go ahead babe, but for me I am not fun to hang out with when I am in pain.
Next time I’m opting for a more casual vibe; either jeans and a cute top or a jumpsuit paired with cute flats and a denim jacket of some sort. I’m telling you guys, I would have been SO much more comfortable if I would have followed this advice.
I've pulled together some items on my 'must have' list for next time.
2. Bring a big bag
*With extra room in it. The amount of swag and free stuff you get throughout the day is truly jaw dropping. I found myself wildly under-prepared to tote around my new goodies in my already stuffed (thanks unnecessary heels) bag. Next time I will probably go with a small bag to carry my essentials and a cute and large tote to store everything else. If you are traveling in from out of town to attend also keep this in mind. The gift bag alone is enough to set your luggage over the weight limit so make sure your re packing light and preparing to carry home your loot.
Here are a few of my suggestions:
3. The start time is a suggestion not a requirement
When it comes to schedules I love to abide. Having a solid plan and knowing where to be and when are two things that speak to my soul. That being said, it gave me MAJOR anxiety when Amy suggested we show up around 9am when the start time was 8am. Turns out, she was right. The world didn’t end, and this is a strategy I will follow next time. Create & Cultivate is a SERIOUSLY long day, so unless you can handle a 14-16 hour excursion, you need to get savvy with your scheduling. The morning schedule leaves a lot of down time for checking in and grabbing coffee/breakfast. We used this time to check out the pop ups and additional activities, which was great, but honestly, we could have fit that in later in the day. I also recommend prioritizing the panels you want to attend. If the morning panel isn’t hitting home with you as much as one of the keynote speakers at the end of the night, you may want to skip out in the morning so you can be engaged later in the day. By time we were exhausted, mid afternoon, we were seeing a whole new group of ladies roll in fresh faced and ready to go. They got the memo on how to do it!
This brings me to my last tip...
4. Prioritize and pace yourself
All of the pop ups, activities, speakers, and photo ops can be overwhelming. They jam pack the day with things to do so you are continuously engaged. I went into the day convinced that I needed to check every booth off my list and do absolutely everything. Have to get my money’s worth, right? That was another expectation that was wildly unrealistic. Going into the day, you have to prioritize what you definitely want to do/ what is worth waiting in line for, and make sure to plan accordingly. Getting to everything, while potentially possible, would be downright exhausting. Prioritizing and pacing yourself can ensure you have a fun day while still getting the most out the conference and not burning yourself out.
Create & Cultivate NYC was such a beneficial experience, like I really feel like I got a lot out of it. I came home inspired and ready to channel my inner boss babe. Now that I have the “insider tips” I can’t wait to see how great of an experience I have next time. To be honest, I considered booking a flight so that I could attend the Self Care Summit in Los Angeles in a couple of months, but somehow resisted. The next time C&C is on the East Coast, consider me in. Now, you have the tips to make the best of your Create & Cultivate experience, too.
So, tell me... have YOU been? What tips do you have that I should add to my list?
Last Spring/Summer we spent just about every weekend wrapped up in some type of wedding activity. Whether it was planning our wedding, going to a wedding, or recovering from a wedding, we were busy pretty much 24/7. We spent the colder months in hibernation mode, recouping funds, organizing our house, and binge watching a lot of Netflix. Now that the weather is warmer, Matt and I have been looking for weekend activities that are fun, cost effective, and will get us away from our Netflix cave. We’re in that in between phase of adulthood where frequenting the local bar scene is not at the top of our to do list but at the same time we aren’t ready to cart kids around to soccer tournaments. Over the past few weeks, we’ve been trying out a few millennial adult friendly date night ideas that I want to give you the scoop on. Today I’m sharing all of the details on our first date night adventure that had us in tears laughing and totally wanting to do it again.
Luckily this event is available not just in Baltimore, but across the country. We went to a Murder Mystery Dinner hosted by The Murder Mystery Company! My mom has always loved Murder Mysteries so I was beyond excited that we had the opportunity to attend a professional one. Matt on the other hand was a bit skeptical because he thought he would have to act in front of everyone. I assured him this wasn’t the case and told him there would be food and he was sold. We went on a Saturday night to one of the performances that was held at a local Greek restaurant. The theme was “Til Death Do Us Part”, which basically meant the trashiest wedding you could ever imagine. It was great. Dressing up in the most inappropriate wedding attire possible was encouraged. We weren’t sure how much everyone would really commit so we wore regular date night attire and I wish I would have went big! Next time I am totally dressing up. Everyone’s outfits were hilarious and luckily we got there early enough to watch most of the crowd enter and get their “mugshots” taken.
The Murder Mystery troupe had us cracking up from the moment we entered the room and began dropping clues as they seated us at our table. While we chatted with our table-mates (now teammates!) dinner was served and mysterious binders were passed out. A few members of the audience were asked to join in the fun and play a specific character in the murder case (all of the details were in the binder). After the scene was set, a “murder” occurred and the rest of the night was like a live action clue game. I won’t give away specifics in case you want to go to the same show, but we spent the next couple of hours interviewing characters, discovering motives, and bribing our opponents with fake cash. Matt and I couldn’t stop laughing and we thoroughly enjoyed coming up with wild theories on who committed the murder. Through the information we and our teammates gathered, we were able to narrow down the suspects and identified the killer!
The performance and dinner lasted about two and a half hours and we were kept entertained the whole time. During breaks in the performance guests were able to grab drinks from the bar and chat with other dinner guests. It was a perfect mix between dining, entertainment, and spending time together. After years of going to basic dinners for date night, this was a welcome change that got us using our brains and strategizing together. As avid lovers of game nights, this took things to a whole new level with the interactive aspect.
Our final thoughts on the Murder Mystery Dinner:
Our verdict: We will definitely be back again, and introducing our friends to the good time that is The Murder Mystery Company.
If you are local to Baltimore, check out your local showtimes. If you are in another city, check out the shows that are near you! The next theme that the Baltimore crew is doing is “Death of a Gangster”. I am already planning my outfit……
Matt and I love traveling together. Being on vacation or on a trip where we are removed from the stresses of everyday life and we just focus on things we love doing and each other is the ideal situation. You find out so much about a person when you travel with them and if traveling is something you want to do as a couple, you have to make sure your travel styles vibe well. Luckily, Matt and I are on the same wavelength when it comes to jet setting so it quickly became something we loved to do as a couple and will continue to do (hopefully more often as long as the money and puppy sitters are there).
When we were making the decision on where to go for our honeymoon we definitely had some back and forth before we came to the final decision. My heart was set on Europe from the beginning because it had been years since I had been abroad and Matt had never been. Matt was pretty open to my suggestion but somehow the idea morphed into him going to see soccer games overseas which was NOT how I envisioned our honeymoon going. I mean that would be a great trip, just not for our honeymoon. I imagined my college days, gallivanting around Europe, without a care in the world, going from city to city while running off of practically no sleep. Back then, it was thrilling and made me feel spontaneous but now, just thinking of living like that gives me a stomach ulcer.
I am not “go with the flow”, I like everything planned, and I knew that as ridiculous as it sounded, in order to relax I would have to plan the shit out of a Euro trip before we went. Usually I would have jumped at the opportunity but when you are planning a wedding, hustling at your 9-5, blogging on the side, and trying to keep your health in check, the LAST thing you want is another thing to plan. Now I do have to give Matt credit, for as non planning as he is, he did offer to help but me being the extremely particular psycho that I am I insisted I was going to do this myself. I felt bad because I wanted us to have an amazing honeymoon but I didn’t have the time to plan something, especially on a budget, but at the same time I wanted it to be super specifically everything I ever wanted.
As Lauryn Evarts would say, “I don’t ask for much”.
Our friends had done a European cruise the year before and absolutely loved it. They were able to visit multiple locations and seemed to have remained relatively stress free throughout the whole thing, planning included. I had been on cruises my whole life growing up for our family vacations (including a European one) and Matt and I went on a cruise together a few years ago. It seemed like a perfect solution. And it was. Here’s why:
You get to experience a bunch of different places.
If we were going to pay for the flight and invest the time into going abroad we wanted to make sure we were seeing more than just one destination. Cruises give you that option! My first experience abroad was on a European cruise and I love that it gave me a little taste of so many different places. From that experience I was able to decide what my favorite cities were and make plans to visit again. With this being Matt’s first time abroad I wanted him to have a similar experience and be able to take in the beauty of the different culture, history, and architecture of a few locations.
Everything is taken care of.
Once you board a cruise you have to worry about absolutely nothing. You don’t have to worry about getting from city to city with all of your luggage, you don’t have to worry about where you are going to eat dinner, you don’t have to plan your days in port because the excursion has already taken care of that. Take it from the most anxious person ever, if I say you have nothing to worry about, you really don’t.
Upfront cost/ easy to budget.
This one is a huge relief especially when you are trying to plan and budget for a wedding at the same time. Before we even left for our cruise we had paid for our flights, the cruise itself, our excursions, and gratuity. This way there were no surprises and we could start paying these things months before we actually went on the trip. The only additional expenses were extra meals we had while in different ports and alcohol on the ship. With that it was super easy to track our expenses though so we didn’t have any colossally terrifying credit card bills to return home to.
We choose to do the 7 Day Adriatic Cruise through Norwegian Cruise Line. It was cost effective but still really nice which was important to us. We weren’t going to be spending a ton of time on the ship because we were visiting so many ports but I am a stickler for good food and service so we were not going to compromise on that.
Our itinerary was:
Sunday: Venice, Italy (EMBARK) --- Cruise leaves at 5:30 pm
Monday: Kotor, Montenegro --- 2:00 pm-8:00 pm
Tuesday: Corfu, Greece --- 10:00 am-4:00 pm
Wednesday: Santorini, Greece --- 2:00 pm-10:00 pm
Thursday: Mykonos, Greece --- 8:00 am-4:00 pm
Friday: At Sea
Saturday: Dubrovnik, Croatia --- 7:00 am-1:00 pm
Sunday: Venice, Italy (DISEMBARK)
We choose this cruise specifically because I was dead set on going to Santorini and we both really wanted to do the Game of Thrones tour in Croatia. This itinerary gave us the option to do both and also stop in Mykonos which was another destination I had wanted to check out.
We left out of Venice, Italy and neither of us had ever been there before so we were super pumped about this and wanted to get there a few days early so we had some time to explore. I also ALWAYS recommend getting to the port city early if possible just in case of any delays, missed flights/connections, or any other SOS moments. It also starts your vacation off a whole lot smoother when you aren’t stressed because you are down to the wire on your schedule.
We booked our flights so that we would fly overnight on a Thursday and arrive in Venice on Friday morning. That would give us half of Friday, all day Saturday, and half of Sunday to explore before we boarded the ship. The question here was, where were we going to stay? At this point we had invested the majority of our budget into the flights and the actual cruise so we were not going to be staying at any fancy hotels on the water. I looked. They were amazing. I tried to justify it. But I couldn’t. Instead we opted for an Airbnb that cost us about $120 or so per night. As much as I am a fancy hotel lover, I also really love staying in an Airbnb, especially in a new city. I feel like it really gives you the opportunity to immerse yourself in the culture and what it would actually be like to live there.
Our small apartment was perfect for our stay. We had a full bed, a kitchenette, our own bathroom, and, thankfully, air conditioning. My favorite part is that we were tucked away from the street in a building that opened up to a private courtyard where we relaxed and enjoyed wine before we headed out for dinners. Our Airbnb host was so friendly and extremely helpful. She met us at the water bus station and walked us to our apartment. Since there are no real streets in Venice, things can get a bit confusing so we were thrilled she was there to help. We weren’t in a super touristy area so we had the chance to try out cafes that weren’t flooded with tourists and explore the residential areas that surrounded us. We stopped at the fancy hotels I mentioned before to grab a cocktail on their terraces and enjoy the views and then strolled back to our cozy home away from home. I absolutely loved it. AND it was way more budget friendly than the alternative.
TIP: We actually were able to cover the Airbnb expense with the points from my Capital One Venture Card. I got this card about two years ago to use for all of my business expenses. This means that I can pay that off every month with the money my company reimburses me with while racking up points to use to my next vacation. The thing I love about this card is you can use your points toward any travel expense, not just flights. That means pretty much anything from hotels down to your Uber. You also get a substantial point bonus if you spend a certain amount within your first three months of having the card. I can’t remember the exact amounts from when I signed up but we were able to use that bonus to put a serious dent into our flights to and from Hawaii back in 2016.
Speaking of flights…..
Flights are always the budget buster and there isn’t really a solid way to get around that. Of course if you are spontaneous and can randomly book a trip somewhere you can take advantage of those flash deals on flights and things of that nature but when you are traveling at very specific times, your options are limited. A trick that we used for this trip and our trip to Hawaii was piecing together one way flights that were more cost effective instead of just settling on the roundtrip package. On our way to Hawaii we did a one way flight to LA, hung out for a few days, took another one way flight to Maui, and then booked another one way flight home. It ended up being cheaper than the alternative and allowed us to break up our travel time. On this trip we searched surrounding cities for cheaper flights going abroad. Luckily, living in Baltimore gives us access to flights out of quite a few major cities within only a few hour drive. We found an Aer Lingus flight out of Philly that stopped in Dublin and then flew straight to Venice. Score. For our home flight we booked one from Venice, back through Dublin, and then to Boston, then Baltimore. It worked out really well and saved us a chunk of money that we could then put into other vacation related expenses.
Since we were already paying a decent amount to fly overseas, I wanted us to get the most out of our trip and not sacrifice any potentially great experience because of money. But at the same time I still didn’t want to blow our budget out of the water. We have other trips on the horizon that we need funds for too! We found a pretty good balance where we splurged on some things (like good food and wine) but saved in other areas that didn’t necessarily matter as much to us. Let me give you an example… On the ship they offer specialty dining packages which are really cool but not cheap. They allow you to visit the specialty restaurants that have some amped up décor and service along with a special menu. We did end up doing one night of specialty dining but the rest of the time we ate at the regular restaurants on board which still had great food/service and we had already paid for it in our initial booking price! Instead of spending big on the ship we went to nice dinners in Venice and Santorini where we could get courses of fresh local food and bottles of wine for a fraction of what that would cost on the ship.
The main expense that we accrued while on board the ship was alcoholic beverages. On our previous cruise we purchased the alcoholic beverage package that allowed us pretty much unlimited drinks for the duration of our , all for a flat, prepaid rate. We looked into the packages this time around but the cost seemed too steep for what we thought we would actually be drinking. Plus, we were going to be off of the ship for the majority of the time in ports where wine was cheaper than water. Definitely a better choice than on ship purchases.
At dinner we would split a bottle of wine that complimented our meal. The bottles were pretty decently priced in my opinion and the ones we tried were pretty good! I’m not a super wine snob or anything so I would think for someone with a more elevated taste they may disagree. I am at least moderately picky when it comes to wine though and they had viable options in just about every category. I did splurge on a few glasses of Veuve one night.
What about excursions?
Our excursions were prepaid from when we booked them months ago and some of our wedding guests gifted us excursions through our Wanderable site so that covered a large amount of our activities we had planned. If you are big into traveling I highly recommend registering on Wanderable. The website allows you to create your own page detailing your honeymoon plans and allows your wedding guest to purchase different experiences for you. The whole thing is customizable and you can add anything from excursions, to on board credits, to spa treatments, that your friends can contribute to or purchase in full. I am always into giving an experience instead of a material item so I think it is super cool to be able to actually see the couple you are gifting to, enjoy an adventure you purchased for them.
Even in Venice, where we obviously didn’t have any excursions, we didn’t spend a ton of money on activities. Everything is walkable to the transportation costs were very low. When we did need a boat or a car to get somewhere, we relied on public transportation which is very affordable. In Venice we did splurge on one activity which was a total MUST while we were there. A gondola ride. It was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life and it actually felt unreal. It was 100% worth the 100 euro we dropped and I would certainly do it again next time.
TIP: Before we left for our trip we opened up a Southwest credit card. Now these credit card tips aren’t supposed to make you think it is no big deal or that you should just open a bunch of credit cards. We don’t have a ton of cards and choose wisely based on the points/rewards which cards make sense to open when. We have been planning a trip to Florida in December and we knew that if we signed up for the card, spent money, and got the new sign up bonus points, it would basically cover our plane tickets for our next trip. This trick worked perfectly and by both using just one credit account to put all of our travel purchases on we were able to really track what we were spending and realistically communicate that to others now when they ask.
What’s the verdict?
Matt and I both agree, we are thrilled with our decision to have done a cruise for our honeymoon. Exploring Europe in such a carefree (but preplanned!) way allowed both of us to relax but also experience so many different places in the Mediterranean. Everyone always asks us if we wish we had more time in the ports. “It seems like such a short time!” is the number one concern I hear when other people are considering booking a trip for themselves. Of course we wish we had more time in ports. I would have loved to have spent a week on every Greek island we visited. That being said, I also don’t have months off of work and a trust fund to boot. For the time we had and the budget we had, there is no better way that I think we could have seen these destinations.
Now that Matt is at least a little more familiar with Europe and I am done with wedding planning, our next trip abroad will probably be planned out in my typical OCD fashion. It probably won’t be another cruise again for a little while just because we like to mix things up but I certainly will do a European cruise of some type again.
My overall verdict is that if you want to go to Europe on your honeymoon, you want to see more than just one place, and you want to actually relax, a cruise is 100% the way to go.
Hopefully this article helped to break down how we decided on our trip as well as how we made things as cost effective as possible. I know there were a lot of questions about this topic so if there are areas I didn’t touch on or things I didn’t answer send me a DM or drop it in the comments and I will make sure to address your topic.
Over the next month or so I am working on creating posts highlighting the different destinations we visited along with some tips, tricks, and recommendations from those places. Stay tuned and follow along on Instagram (@crohnicallyblonde) to be the first to know when these posts go live!
I am BEYOND excited that the Sprouts Ellicott City location is finally open! Yesterday I had the pleasure to tour the brand new store and experience all of the amazingness first hand.
Let me tell you, this exceeded my expectations in every way. There are seriously so many great things I want to share with you I don't even know where to start.
The selection of products is truly extensive and they really do focus on organic products so you feel good about anything you choose to purchase. I really appreciated the amount of specifically gluten free items they carry and this was definitely highlighted in the bakery section. The amount of gluten free bread selections they offer are more than I have ever seen. The baked goods are the same story; tons of delicious options.
There is a huge focus on produce so contrary to most grocery stores, all of the produce is in the dead center of the store! The fruits and vegetables that are in stock are plentiful and the options are vast enough that you can find even the most obscure ingredient from a Pinterest recipe. Not only is there a ton of great produce but it is actually decently priced. Now, I was definitely skeptical when I heard that Sprouts had 'great deals'. I feel like every store says this but rarely delivers. Sprouts is not messing around though. I was SOLD when I saw that avocados were 2 for $1. And, get this, they were actually ripe. Another rare situation in my grocery shopping experiences recently.
Moving on from the produce, there are a ton of other food sections to explore. There are ample selections of kombucha, fresh juices, cheeses, packaged goods, frozen meals, dairy, and just about anything you can think of. I usually try and stick to fresh foods but my hectic schedule sometimes leaves me staring in my freezer trying to see what the heck I have that I can heat up in three minutes. Luckily Sprouts is here to save the day with a selection of healthy, frozen meals (that are gluten free) and they even have frozen pizzas with cauliflower crust. Oh, and all of the frozen food was 20% off when I visited. WHAT!
The customizable approach they take to grocery shopping is something I really love too. Sprouts not only has a make your own trail mix area but also a wide variety of coffee beans you can select by amount and type, and just about the coolest thing ever, a spice counter where you can purchase the exact amount of certain spices that you may need. This helps to not only reduce waste but also helps to save you money because you don't have to buy a whole container of an exotic spice for one recipe.
If you're looking for some fresh, healthy food to grab on your lunch break they have a station where you can purchase freshly made sandwiches, prepared sides, and they have a delicious looking salad bar. While you're there, you can even pick up a fresh cut of meat for for dinner from the in house butcher.
The thing about Sprouts is you can literally get everything from this store. As if the amazing food selection wasn't enough, the vitamin section and the beauty are swoon worthy. There are vitamin experts on site that can provide you with any guidance you may need. And you may need it because the selection is super serious. I mean, I am a probiotic/supplement/natural remedy fanatic and this place really left me speechless. There are a ton of natural remedies which I struggle to find elsewhere and things like liquid chlorophyll that most people have no idea what the heck I'm talking about when I rave about it, but Sprouts gets me. The beauty products are another story because they also have such a selection I could get lost for hours. I did come home with a bottle of jojoba oil to cleanse my face with....
Overall, I had just an amazing experience at Sprouts and I was super impressed with their selections, their customer service/knowledgable employees, and their prices. Where else can you find Perfect Bars buy one get one free at $2.99 a pop? The answer is nowhere.
I can't wait to head back there this weekend to stock up on some new items for the week ahead. I can definitely see Sprouts becoming my regular stop for grocery shopping because it is just that darn good!
Sprouts in Ellicott City is open everyday from 7am to 10pm everyday so make sure to visit them ASAP, and chances are you may run into me there. Most likely piling the whole shelf of Topo Chicos into my cart (:
Our new podcast is up on iTunes! We are recapping all of the details of our trip to Charleston, SC. Make sure to give us a listen below or via iTunes.
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Living in Baltimore, we have the advantage of be driving distance to so many cool day trip or long weekend destinations, one of my favorites being the Big Apple. My short stint living in NYC mad me realize two things, 1. that I could never actually live there long term, and 2. that New York is still one of my favorite cities ever. While I am more of a suburban girl as far as living arrangements, the appeal of NYC never faded when it came to visiting and experiencing all of the life that that city has. For the past few years my mom, sister, and I have made it a tradition to visit New York at least once a year during the holidays. I try and visit more often because it is home to some of my favorite stores, restaurants and other hidden gems to visit but that doesn’t always fit in with my schedule. I always know that I can look forward to a long weekend around the holidays where I can not only enjoy time with my mom and Amanda but also indulge in some of my all time favorite places to eat and drink!
I wanted to put together my list of favorite spots to eat and drink from our most recent visit so that you can enjoy NYC how we did next time you go. My picks are based on food, drinks, and definitely atmosphere. One of my favorite things about visiting another city’s restaurants is experiencing new atmospheres, and let me tell you, New York has quite the array of ambiance.
I hope you guys try some (or all) of the places on this list because, I promise, you will not regret it! I made sure all of the places are dietary restriction friendly and accommodating so that you can relax and feel taken care of! Make sure to drop me a message and let me know where you have tried from this list and where your favorite New York City spots are!
I can’t wait!
373 Park Ave S.
This is one of my all time favorite Mexican food places. I love any place with good guacamole, tacos, and tequila and Dos Caminos does not disappoint in any category. It has been a tradition for years that every time we visit the city we have to go to Dos Caminos. We usually go to the Park Ave. location which has a fun atmosphere as well.
As far as good goes— the salsas are to die for and are delivered to your table ASAP. Aka a hungry girl’s dream. I usually forgo my usual tequila/ soda water/ extra lime combo and splurge to try one or two of the margaritas on the cocktail list. I definitely recommend getting the fresh guacamole because in all of my guacamole sampling I’ve only found one place that I think gives them a run for their money. At this point I'm pretty full but leaving without trying their tacos would be a travesty. Even ordering an order for the table (they come with three) is perfect because you get a little taste of the deliciousness. I’ve tried quite a few of their tacos over the years but my tried and true are the fish tacos.
For everyone with food allergies they are seriously accommodating and will make sure you are taken care of. This makes dinner infinitely more enjoyable when you know you can trust the kitchen and relax.
No lie, I’m going to dream about their guac tonight.
230 Fifth Rooftop Bar
230 5th Ave.
My mom and sister came across this rooftop bar when they were visiting the city two years ago. I hadn’t been before so this year my mom insisted we go so that I could check it out. After taking an elevator to the top of the skyscraper you walk out onto a heated rooftop deck, complete with heated igloos to stay warm in! We were there during the holiday season so there was Christmas music blaring, fake snow falling, and a view of the Empire State Building lit in red and green. I can’t imagine this is a place where locals frequent but that means more room for me to bask in the holiday cheer. I’ve always been so anti “touristy stuff” because I was scarred from a long semester of working in retail in Herald Square. This place really changed my mind though. My mom who loves anything holiday and anything themed was completely living her best life.
They have a variety of delicious beverages, most of them hot which is needed when you are at the top of a building in the dead of winter. The spiked hot chocolate was mouth watering but I stuck with a white beach Bellini.
I definitely recommend checking this place out if you are visiting and if you are a local and haven’t been I recommend it to. There is something to be said about playing tourist in your own city!
THE FLYING COCK
497 3rd Ave.
This was a really, really good brunch spot. Pitchers of bottomless mimosas and Bellinis were flowing, the food was amazing, and the music/atmosphere was upbeat. This place is definitely worth a visit but you have to get there and get in line prior to opening to ensure you get a table, especially if you have a large party (they don’t take reservations). Depending on the day the wait time varies but I would recommend getting there at least a sold 10-15 minutes before opening.
The music is fun and the servers are great and so friendly. They make sure to keep your drinks constantly full which is a big accomplishment for a busy, bottomless brunch spot. The menu has a variety of options from classic egg dishes, to salads to burgers, to breakfast sandwiches, and some more unique picks as well. I am in love with the baked eggs in tomato sauce which is something I’ve made many times at home but never found one at a restaurant that I really like. Well, I found it.
174 Elizabeth St.
To be honest, before I visited this place I thought it was just an Instagram fad. I mean, what 90’s girl doesn’t love a place that feels like a real live Barbie Dream House but was it really more than that? It is.
The cozy environment with limited seating makes Pietro Nolita feel wildly exclusive and the all pink decor makes you feel like you are in a dream world. We stopped by here for drinks and were not disappointed. We sat at the bar and tried a few cocktails that were as pink as they were delicious (very pink, very delicious). My favorite was the Voiletta which was lavender vodka mixed with elderflower, lemon, and honey. This is definitely a place to grab cocktails or brunch with your girls. With the husband? Not so much. Matt thought the drink were good but the overpowering pink and lack of draft beers had him wishing he was back at The Flying Cock (ample beer there!). My sister, mom, and I absolutely adored it though.
550 LaGuardia Pl.
Usually I am not a dessert lover. Every now and then I will go for a creme brûlée or gluten free chocolate lava cake, but I am usually craving something salty instead. The raw cookie dough craze has been something I had pretty much ignored due to the lack of gluten free option and just overall lack or interest but when I hear about Do I actually really wanted to give it a try. They have gluten free options which are surprisingly delicious and a line that runs out of the door that boosts their credibility to those passing by.
I got a small gluten free chocolate chip scoop and couldn’t even finish because of how filling and rich it was. Definitely yummy and worth a taste but I recommend splitting with someone because they give you quite a decent amount.
WHILE WE WERE YOUNG
183 W. 10th St.
I love this place. LOVE LOVE LOVE. The decor makes me wish my whole home looked like the inside of this restaurant and the drinks were so freaking delicious. While We Were Young, like Pietro Nolita, has a small but exclusive seating area. The booths are blush colored velour and the tables are a clean white marble which, like I said is the dream of what I want my home to be. The bar is very cutely decorated and the bartenders were insanely friendly which made this a pleasant place to pop in to grab a few cocktails before our trip home.
I became seriously obsessed with their ‘Too Good For You’ drink. It is tequila, kale, lime, agave, and cucumber. I also had them add chili to it, extra chili if we’re being honest, to make it spicy. I felt like I was drinking a refreshing kale juice spiked with a bit of iced tequila. The other drinks that I sampled were just as delicious, not too sugary, and had unique ingredients mixed in. This place just screams Sunday Funday spot for either you and your girls or even a date (Matt’s verdict was the pink here was a lot more manageable).
Last weekend I had the opportunity to check out ROAM Fitness, the FIRST EVER past security airport gym. A few months ago I did a post (link here!) on the creation of ROAM and the backstory of how this revolutionary idea came to be but I am so excited to share my experience of actually visiting and having the chance to work out there.
ROAM Fitness is located at BWI airport in Baltimore, Maryland (right near my house, lucky me!). It is conveniently located in the international terminal which is great because often times for international flights you arrive to the airport extra early and are trying to find something to occupy your time. Around the holidays it's exciting to get to travel and see family and friends but it also can be super stressful. The crowds, the delays, the disruption in your usual routine.... I'm stress sweating just thinking about it. ROAM is a retreat from the stress of holiday travel, or travel in general, and takes care of literally everything so that you can get your body moving and release some endorphins prior to reaching your destination (and potentially sitting on a super long flight being sedentary and feeling like you need to do some downward dogs in the aisle of the plane).
When I arrived at ROAM I was greeted by the manager who let me know all of the features that the facility had. The rest of the staff was super helpful as well and made sure that I had everything I needed during my visit. ROAM makes it so there is no excuse why you can't get a workout in while traveling. They provide top of the line workout gear that you can rent (provided by Lululemon so you know its good) and if you want to wear your own gear they can vacuum seal it at the end of your workout so you don't have to board the plane with smelly workout clothes in your carryon. There are lockers on site where you can store your belonging while working out and there are even charging ports in each locker so you can make sure your devices are ready to go for the flight.
Once I was changed and ready to work up a sweat I snapped a few selfies, of course, to share with you guys. I wore my own workout clothes to the airport but I couldn't resist trying out the rentals. I am so happy I did because I totally fell in love with the whole outfit and was super tempted to purchase everything to bring home with me.
ROAM isn't huge but they definitely designed the space in a strategic way that allows a variety of equipment and various areas to workout in. There are treadmills, a spin bike, an elliptical, and a rower as far as machines go. Additionally there are free weights, medicine balls, TRX equipment, and a separate area where you can stretch or do some yoga. I am never a huge fan of cardio because I get so bored but I actually love the elliptical they have. There are various environments that you can select on the screen and it mimics running through that scenery. There are also options to listen to music or watch Netflix which can make a workout infinitely more enjoyable. There were quite a few people working out while I was there and there was still plenty of room for everyone to do their thing without any issues.
When I finished my work out I headed to the showers to test out how those amenities were. Let me tell you guys..... these bathrooms were out of control and the showers were total #showergoals. When designing the bathrooms they legitimately thought of everything. They are complete with rainfall shower heads, heated toilet seats, and high quality shampoo, conditioner, body wash, body lotion, and mouthwash all available for free use. I probably could have stayed in that shower for a good half hour but I was trying to be courteous of other visitors and not be extremely rude. I did come home and tell Matt we need to do a master bath renovation though.....
Once you are all clean you have free reign of the vanity area that is fully stocked with post shower essentials-- blowdryer, deodorant, hairspray, you name it and they've got it. I also like that they have a monitor with updated flight and gate information so that you can make sure you are on schedule. I told you, they thought of everything. If you are planning ahead and know you are going to be working out at Roam you can book a shower time to ensure you can have the most efficient experience.
On the way out of ROAM make sure to grab some healthy snacks for your flight. They have a variety of bars and protein powders as well as waters and kombucha. They even have my absolute favorite travel snack, RXBARs! I love that they have such a variety of options and I know when traveling I have a go to spot to pick up gluten free snacks.
I had such a great experience at ROAM and I can't wait to go back next time I am traveling. Not only did I get a great workout in but I also had a great experience from start to finish. I seriously recommend you guys budget some time into your holiday travel schedule to get a quick workout in at ROAM and see how great it is for yourself.
They also have a great deal going on right now for the rest of 2017. Anytime you purchase a day pass from ROAM (only $25!) you can get an additional day pass as a gift for 40% off. These are great stocking stuffers for the travel lovers and fitness gurus in your life!
I have to end this post by giving a HUGE thank you to ROAM for letting me check out their space and for giving me such a pleasant experience at the airport which can be so rare these days!
Recently I had the chance to learn about an insanely cool new addition to BWI that I am pretty obsessed with on all levels. Roam Fitness is the first in airport gym that is actually past the security line. Yup. You heard that right.
My favorite thing about Roam is that it is really about creating a whole experience. When the founders of Roam were building the foundation of the gym they took into account everything that a customer would encounter during their journey of working out in an airport. They identified the pain points of travelers wishing to work out and created an all encompassing solution which leaves you really no excuse why you wouldn't want to workout at Roam! Their goal is to make the travel experience better overall.
So here is my breakdown on why Roam is so freaking cool.
The location. Roam is past security. This little detail makes a huge difference. Think about how early you arrive to the airport just to go through security (especially for international travel) and then once you are through you are bored out of your mind. But, if you wait to go through security, your luck will probably leave you with a two hour line and a missed flight. By Roam being located past security you don't have to worry about having to stand in line post workout and you can maximize your workout time.
The equipment. The founders of Roam made sure to do ample research about what people really wanted in an airport gym. Since space is limited they had to make sure that what was being put in really was going to be utilized and the best of the best. They have state of the art cardio equipment ranging from treadmills, a rower, and spin bikes. They also have free weights, TRX equipment, and an area for yoga and stretching. There is something for everyone which I think is great. If I am up early catching a flight I might want to get in my usual cardio workout or if I have a delayed flight and am stressed out of my mind some yoga could be the answer.
The amenities. Roam left no rock unturned when they were thinking about the customer experience. Every excuse that you could come up with to not workout, they have an answer for. The number one thing I thought of when I heard about the concept of an airport gym was, well what if I didn't pack workout stuff in my carry on? Roam thought of that too. That is why they actually have clothing and shoes that you can rent. They have a selection of Lululemon workout gear (yaaaaasssss!) and Brooks shoes that you can borrow and return, as well as a retail space where you can purchase your own to take home if you love them so much. If you do bring your own clothes and shoes, they have you covered there as well. They actually vacuum seal your workout gear before you take off so that your sweat isn't stinking up your carry on. This concept is absolute genius. Obviously you are going to want to take a shower before boarding your flight so they have shower facilities that you can reserve ahead of time for 15 minute increments. There is no college dorm waiting for the shower kind of thing going on and you can proactively plan this into your travel schedule. All shampoo, conditioner, and soap is provided and there is a styling bar with every complimentary product you could think of from hairspray to tampons. They really did think of everything. While you are working out you can lock your luggage away in state of the art lockers that even have charging ports for your electronics. To add to the convenience there are monitors located around the facility with flight updates and announcements so that you can track your departure time conveniently.
The people. Roam made it a point to hire team members coming from hospitality backgrounds so that they can play a part in enhancing the customer experience. The airport experience can so often be unpersonalized, stressful, and sometimes people are just downright rude. When you go to Roam you are promised to be greeted by a friendly, helpful face that can assist you through your whole experience at Roam. I don't know about ya'll but for me just having a friendly person to connect with during a stressful experience can make a world of difference. I also like that having such trained and skilled team members really elevates the experience and makes the whole process feel pretty darn luxurious.
The brand. You know I am ALL about a cohesive brand that really thinks of everything. Well if it isn't clear already, Roam has that going for them. They want to create that "me time" feel of traveling and really encourage people to utilize Roam as an escape from the stresses of travel and pamper themselves. From getting your body moving and feeling good, to pampering yourself with a relaxing shower (with great products!), to continuing the feel good vibes through your day by picking up some of the delicious healthy offerings that Roam sells to eat and drink.
The other really cool thing about Roam is that you get to have a luxurious experience with a reasonable price tag. A day pass is $25, a month pass is $100, and a year pass is $350. With each pass you have access to the entire facility, all of the amenities, and the expertise of the on site staff. I pay $25 at the airport for a handful of magazines and some iTunes episodes of The Bachelor to keep me busy. That money could be a lot more well spent.....clearly......
I am so happy that I had the opportunity to get some behind the scenes insight into Roam Fitness and the journey of its creation. I love hearing stories of entrepreneurs who hustle hard and create things that benefit the greater good. Something that really stuck out to me that the CEO, Cynthia Sandall, mentioned was how much research went into creating Roam. The years of testing out facilities, deciding on equipment, making sure that customer pain points were addressed, and implementing little touches that make the brand so cohesive really set Roam apart as a company.
I know so many Crohnically Blonde readers are local to the Baltimore area and travel out of BWI regularly so there is no excuse now why you shouldn't carve out some time in your travels to treat yourself to a luxurious workout experience. I know for me, health is a huge thing that I worry about while traveling. I have to keep up with my activity and nutrition so that my Crohn's doesn't wreak havoc on my vacation or work trip. I am honestly relieved that I know there is a place so close to home that really values making your health a priority physically and mentally even while traveling. I can't wait to frequent Roam every time I fly out of BWI and I am looking forward to seeing some of you there!
Make sure to check out their website for more details on what Roam Fitness has to offer and give them a follow on Instagram to stay up to date with the latest and greatest happenings (@roam_fitness).
**I will also be doing a giveaway on Instagram for a one day free pass for Roam Fitness @ BWI so make sure to follow me (@crohnicallyblonde) for a chance to win! **
I am so excited to share with you all my recap of our LA/Hawaii trip! I wanted to really put a good amount of detail in this so I wanted to wait until we got all settled so I could focus and give this post the TLC it deserves. I hope you all enjoy it and if you have any questions at all about our travels or tips/places to go if you are visiting the same areas please feel free to reach out. Enjoy Crohnies xx.
Matt and I love being able to escape real life for a few days here and there and by time this trip was here we definitely needed some R&R as well as some new adventures. My mom has a timeshare in Maui so we knew we would be visiting there almost a year before the actual trip. Being the crazy reality TV obsessed person I am I insisted to Matt that we stop in LA on the way to Maui so that we could go to SUR. Yup. I requested we visit a city just to go to a restaurant. Matt vetoed that idea unless we spent a few days hanging out and checking out the LA life. I was thrilled, found an Air B&B and the rest was history.
I was definitely nervous for this vacation because our last vacation that we went on I got really sick a couple of days in and I wasn't really prepared. This time I did my due diligence, which you can read all about in my traveling with a chronic illness post. There were a few speed bumps but we had an amazing time! Instead of letting being sick stop me from traveling I use my travels as practice to get better and better at traveling with Crohn's. More of a reason to take more vacations right?
PART 1: LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA
We left on a Friday morning and got to LA midday which was the perfect time to grab lunch at In N Out Burger before we checked into our Air B&B. Neither of us had In N Out before so this was a BIG freaking deal. They are so gluten free friendly I am absolutely obsessed. I got my burger "animal style" of course and I don't think I've ever eaten a burger to quickly in my entire life. So good. Next time I fly to the West Coast it might just be to go to In N Out..... just saying. I finally understand all of the hype.
Our Air B&B was in a perfect location in West Hollywood, walkable to The Grove. It was so cute and had everything that we needed for such a good price. Matt and I took a serious nap that we really needed thanks to the time difference and were ready to take on the town. We got all LA ready (photo above) rocking my Stassi inspired look. Our reservations weren't until 8:45pm so we figured we would stop at this wine bar down the road that I saw had gluten free avocado toast. There will be a whole separate post on this goodness within the next few days so stay tuned. I have to say it was probably the BEST avocado toast I have ever tasted in my life.
SUR was and everything I thought it would be. Very Lisa Vanderpump. A lot going on. And, yes I did go to the famous bathroom where everyone cries. We met DJ James Kennedy... the legend himself, and his girlfriend... and his roommate. He is a reality TV gem and let me tell you he is just as out of control in person. I will leave it at that. His roommate bought me a drink and told me I looked like Stassi so uh life freaking made. I made sure to obnoxiously mention this to Matt for the rest of our trip and tell him that people will probably start asking for my autograph soon. Being delusional and optimistic works for me. Lisa's son, Max, was our server and really killed it. He was very knowledgable about gluten free dishes which made me like him even more. The food was, to my surprise, actually really great. I got the lobster bisque and the seafood risotto. The signature drinks were a bit too sweet for me to I switched to my usual Tito's and soda water but they had a great fruit selection so I had them add some raspberries. Now that's my new thing. After SUR, we went to Pump and it was everything you would ever dream of Pump being. Lots of scantily clothed attractive gay men, a lot of pink, and a lot of over the top everything. It was great. We didn't stay out too long because we were pretty jet lagged and had a big day the next day but I accomplished my goal and finally made it to SUR! Plus side, Matt also enjoyed himself.
We made a game time decision on Saturday to do a super touristy celebrity home tour which actually ended up to be awesome even if it was a little corny. Beforehand we went to brunch at The Guild in West Hollywood. We hadn't heard of it before, we just kind of stumbled upon it but it was absolutely amazing. The decor was so on point and the owner actually hung out with us for a while and explained his design decisions. He made all of the beautiful reclaimed wood tables in the whole restaurant. I got some herbal tea, bottomless mimosas, and duck confit nachos. SO. GOOD. If you are in WeHo I totally recommend you go here. You can sit outside and enjoy good weather and the service and food are so spot on. After our delicious brunch experience we made our way over to our tour and spent the afternoon cruising around WeHo and Beverly Hills. I'm usually not into really touristy things but I am happy we did this tour. It was an easy was to see everything from celebrity houses to the Hollywood sign, without having to rent a car or get lost. It was nice just to enjoy the beautiful day and the sights with Matt worry free.
That night we were supposed to go the The Parlour which I was super excited for but I just did not feel well. A lot of times my first few days of vacation for me are rough with the different foods, sleep schedules, and just changes in general. I wanted to really feel great by time we got to Hawaii so we had an early night and just got to enjoy time together watching movies. I felt a little lame that we were doing exactly what we would be doing at home on vacation but it was actually great because at home we have a million other things going on so we never get to just actually, really chill.
Overall, LA was amazing. There are so many more details that I probably could have done seven different posts about but I won't bore ya'll with that. I can't wait to make my way back to LA for a bit more time.... that trip will be hopefully coming sooner rather than later! We both loved it.
PART TWO: MAUI, HAWAII
Our flight from LAX to Maui was on Virgin Airlines which I had never flown before but I was definitely blown away. Their customer service and their branding are so on point. They also really won me over with the cheese plate that came with gluten free crackers. I spent our flight devouring cheese and reading Andy Cohen's new book. Needless to say it was a very enjoyable flight. I'm a sucker for cheese plates and Andy Cohen.
Once we got to Maui we got a cab from the airport to the other side of the island. The ride to our resort was absolutely beautiful. Looking at the coastline made me feel like I wasn't even in the real world. Matt and I were so blown away. We made it to the Kaanapali Beach Club where we were staying and immediately got some pina coladas and hit the pool. We explored the resort, checked our our suite which was insane (shout out to my mom for seriously hooking it up for us!), and we grabbed some groceries for the week from across the street. By time we were all settled in my mom and her boyfriend had made it to the resort so we all had dinner and got our leis!
Our whole week was an absolute whirlwind of fun but we still found pockets of time just to relax and take in our surroundings. I got to spend quality time with not only Matt but also my mom who just moved back from Rome. I got to do a ton of blog planning and read a few great books. I was completely wowed by the amount of cool things that we got to do and the places that we were able to go. I tried to really be present and in the moment with a lot of this things that we were experiencing so I wasn't on my phone documenting 24/7. I compiled the highlights of where we went and what we did though!
We went on a beautiful dinner cruise out of Lahaina and watched the sunset on the water. The night was complete with some baby whales making an appearance right next to our boat. I couldn't have asked for a more perfect and romantic night.
My mom treated us to a mouth watering dinner at one of her favorite spots on Maui, Duke's! I got the seafood risotto which was loaded with fresh lobster, shrimp, and scallops. Partnered with a chilled glass of Pinot and I could not have been happier.
I got to live out my Playboy Mansion fantasies, kidding, or maybe not. The pool at our club had the coolest grotto that we spent time relaxing in. Between the pool, the grotto, the beach view, and the poolside bar, I probably could have stayed and just hung out at the club for a full week.
We found this hole in the wall Mexican place that was walking distance from our club. They had the best fresh margaritas, ceviche, and fish tacos. Needless to say, we were there a lot throughout our stay.
Matt, my mom, and I went on a day trip on the Road to Hana. It was honestly one of the coolest experiences of my life. The views were unbelievable and we had the chance to really experience the Hawaiian culture. This tour really put into perspective for me how so much of the island really does live off of the land. They have true respect for nature and appreciation for the land that provides for them. We had the opportunity to do a lot of hiking and explore everything from red beaches, to black beaches, to ocean caves, and the Seven Pools. It was a long day but worth all of the bumpy roads.
Even though we were busy adventuring, we did have time to explore the town of Lahaina and relax on the beach right outside of our club for a bit. Even just relaxing by the beach you have a view of dolphins hopping out of the ocean and whales breaching. For someone who is obsessed with marine life, these views were an absolute dream. While we were at the club I also had the opportunity to do yoga right next to the water which was definitely a bucket list experience. I also went with my mom to some great water fitness classes. In Hawaii it seems that everyone at the resorts and clubs are so focused on wellness which I love. It also made it easy to eat pretty healthy because everything is so fresh.
I had these super fresh fish tacos at Pacific O's in Lahaina and was so in love. If you know me, you know I am constantly on a mission to find the best fish tacos and I think these may be topping my list at the moment. Matt became obsessed with ceviche on this trip which he had never had any interest in before. He may be disappointed when he tries to get it here in Maryland... not the same!
Pacific O's also had kombucha on tap which I was kind overly excited for but it was amazing so clearly I deserved to be. I'm going to be doing a whole post on kombucha. There actually was someone on site at our club that taught us how to make kombucha. It's big in Hawaii and its big with me. Match mad in heaven.
Our last big event was also one of the coolest things I've ever done. We went snorkeling on the coast of Molokini and Lanai. We started off our journey pretty early in the morning so we saw a ton of mother and baby whales breaching as we made our way out to the snorkel spots. The sunrise on the water was absolutely beautiful, I literally felt like I was in a different world. The first snorkel spot was home to a lot of interesting fish and some resident sea turtles which we got to get on camera (thanks GoPro!). The second spot was my favorite. It was an abandoned sunken bridge that is now home to a variety of different fish as well as turtles and even some sharks. My dream has been to swim with sharks and even thought these were just some reef sharks not a Great White it got me a bit closer to my goal. Being out in the water is one of my favorite things because there is always a bit of unknown when you jump off of the boat into the ocean. You never know what you are going to see so there is constantly adrenaline pumping.
This trip to Maui was a once in a lifetime experience that I am so thankful for. If you have the chance, definitely try and visit because it is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen, the locals are so incredibly friendly and helpful, and the nature experience you can have in Maui are beyond what you could ever imagine.
If you have any questions or want any more details about our trip feel free to comment or email me!
Blonde babe. Maryland native. Crohn's crushing puppy mother to two sweet rescues.
Welcome to my unfiltered commentary on crushing chronic illness in your 20's and everything that goes along with that.