Meet Me in Tortola

tortolaWhile I love the winter, I have always been the summer beach bum type. I was bundling up this morning putting on layers upon layers, and I couldn’t help but day-dream about the beach. Sitting in a beach chair, feet in the hot sand, and pina colada in hand. Sounds like heaven to me. Tortola is one of the British Virgin Islands located in the Caribbean and it’s spot-on paradise. One of the best beaches that I have ever been to is a secluded beach in Tortola. The particular beach we went to was in a bay with nothing ahead but the clear blue Caribbean sea. I can’t wait to go on vacation!!!
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Meet Me in St. Thomas

St. Thomas is hands down one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen in my life. I traveled there with my family while on a cruise a few years back. We started off our day getting a driven tour of the island. We went ventured up to the peaks of the island were we looked out at the ocean that seemed to stretch on forever.  We stopped at various points admiring the views and random animals that were roaming the island. We retreated to Magen’s Bay where we laid on the beach and relaxed in the calm, crystal clear water. The beach was so relaxing and is exactly what I think of when I think of paradise. After a few hours on the beach, we hopped back into the car, where they took us to see the beach we were just at, but from above. This is the first time in my life that I saw something that actually took my breath away. I don’t think any camera can capture how stunning the view really was. I could have stayed there forever. Since we were on a tour, and had to comply with the timeline, we eventually had to leave :(. We arrived back at our ship and departed from the island in perfect time for sunset. All in all, another perfect day in paradise.

[Magen's Bay, from above]

Meet Me in Atlantis, Paradise Island

I’m sitting indoors and hurricane Sandy is taking over the east coast.. it’s pouring out and the rain and winds are out of control. I am sitting here day dreaming of future and past vacations. Ahh.. to be on a sandy beach instead of in the Sandy hurricane….

One of my favorite places that I have been in the past few years is Atlantis, Paradise Island. Atlantis is a place for everyone – it’s filled with the most beautiful aquariums you will ever see, water rides, pools, beaches, dolphin encounters, casinos and restaurants. It is impossible to get bored there. We were only there for one short day and we were determined to see it all. Ruben and I started off our day attempting to map out our plan of attack. I am obsessed with aquariums so we decided to conquer them first – walking through the amazing hotel that was made of caves, underground tunnels and breathtaking underwater views of sea life. From sharks to jellyfish, from eels to clown fish, they had it all. After hours of amazement, we stepped outside to tour the rest of the property. We had a delicious lunch and gambled enough to pay for the rest of our day there. We continued to sight-see until we finally decided to retire to the beach and the pool and enjoy the rest of our day relaxing in the sun and sipping tropical drinks. We left exhausted, satisfied and sun-burnt.  For any of you cruising through the Bahama’s, make sure to make Atlantis one of your stops!Have you ever been to Atlantis? I’d love to hear about your adventures!

Meet Me in Orlando

[The view from our villa]

I had been anticipating going back to Orlando since my childhood, and let me tell you, it didn’t disappoint.  Going to all of these parks is just as fun as an adult.  Each park is so original and has their own specialties, which made each one of them a completely different type of adventure.

For the Movie Buff // Universal Studios:For the Thrill-Seeker // Islands of Adventure:For the Children | To bring out your inner child // The Magic Kingdom:For the Animal Lover // Animal Kingdom:For the World Traveler // Epcot:For the Artist // Hollywood Studios:

Meet Me in Los Angeles

Our last day in Cali we headed over to the Los Angeles area. My friends who had never been there had quite the agenda mapped out for us…  we were such tourists! We spent the day hopping around from Beverly Hills to Hollywood Blvd. Part of the morning we even started following around a Starline tour bus to try to figure out what interesting sites they were showing their paying customers… until the driver yelled at us. I love the palm tree-lined streets that surround this area.

We went to the Chinese Theatre, where so many stars of the past and present have stood. It was just as stunning as all the other times I have been there, but the history of this place always amazes me. We walked down the Walk of Fame, and I found my favorite star, Mickey Mouse. We had the perfect ending to our day grabbing some local food and taking a hike up to the closest spot you can view the Hollywood Sign… The view up there was amazing.

Meet Me in Vegas: Part 2, An Insider’s Guide

If you saw my post the other day about Vegas, it’s clear I was a total tourist the entire time I was there. While I loved every minute of my trip, there are definitely a few pointers that could have helped me out while I was there. Rachel of How Bout Some Cake has been lucky enough to actually live in Vegas [there is no way I would survive that haha!] All summer I have been reading her posts and have been astonished by all of the hidden gems we missed while we were there. I asked her if she would mind sharing some of her wisdom with us. So without further ado…
Hi!  It’s Rachel back again with another guest post.  This time I’m here to talk about living it up, Vegas style!
Being engaged to a professional poker player means that I spend a lot of time in Vegas. While my better half spends most of his time there working, I’m free to explore and enjoy everything Sin City has to offer.  Over the past couple of years I’ve picked up some tips and tricks to make the most out of it, and I’m going to share the best ones with you today:

  • Map your cab route.  Taxis are a necessary evil in Las Vegas.  Even if you rent a car, you’ll probably be too drunk to drive it at some point.  Vegas cab drivers are notorious for taking advantage of customers.  I always tell the cab driver the route I want to take when I get in the car.  If I don’t know the best route, I look it up on my phone.  Sometimes it shaves a few bucks off, and sometimes it saves more.  The drivers love to play “Mr. Nice Guy” and ask where you’re from, what you’re doing here, et cetera.  This is his crafty way of confirming that you’re a clueless tourist, and keeping you talking so you don’t realize he’s taking the long way to your destination.

  • Save your room keys if you visit often.  Most Vegas resorts have fabulous pools for their guests to use.  All you have to do to gain entrance is flash a room key.  By saving old keys from places I’ve stayed (or friends have stayed) before, I have access to half a dozen different pools both on and off the strip.

  • Don’t be afraid to leave The Strip.   Sure, it’s glamorous and fabulous but it’s also over-priced and crawling with tourists.  There are some amazing restaurants off the strip that are well worth a visit.  Some of my favorites are Firefly and Lotus of Siam.  For a super casual meal, my favorite is Metro Pizza.

  • Watch out for resort fees.  Most Vegas hotels charge daily resort fees that can be as much as $25.  The annoying part is that those fees don’t really get you anything, but can add up quickly.  Research your hotel’s fee before you book so you’re not surprised.  Or seek out a hotel that doesn’t charge them and treat yourself to a nice dinner instead!  Among others, Caesar’s properties (like Caesar’s Palace and The Rio) don’t charge resort fees.  If you do stay somewhere with resort fees but have a problem, you can ask that they be dropped.  For example, we once checked into a hotel and couldn’t get the room we wanted, so they dropped the resort fees for us.  Don’t be afraid to ask- the worst they can say is no!

  • Get Player’s Cards- even if you’re not a gambler.  Player’s cards are free and provide two distinct benefits: accruing rewards and earning discounts.  Casinos reward people who play at their casinos a lot by giving them “comps”.  These can be redeemed for meals, drinks, or even nights at their hotel!  If you do gamble a lot, get a players card and game in one place to earn as many freebies as possible.  Note that comps don’t usually expire quickly, so if you get a lot, you can keep them for your next trip.  Player’s Cards also save you money on casual dining.  If you’re hitting the buffets or food courts, players cards can save you as much as $10 a person!

  • Most clubs offer free or discounted cover if you arrive early (usually before midnight).   Most of them have people handing out passes on the casino floor.  So if you want to hit a nightclub, stroll through the gaming area first and look for someone handing out flyers or wristbands.  The drinks are expensive enough- paying a cover charge is insane!  Another way of scoring free entry is by contacting a promoter a day or two in advance.  Look for them on Facebook or Twitter.
I hope these tips come in handy next time you’re in Sin City!  Please come check out my blog for tons of Vegas reviews.

Meet Me in Vegas: Part 1

Sin City is a place that everyone needs to head to at some point in their life’s. Vegas is a place unlike anywhere else in the world. Clocks and watches basically don’t exist here, and it’s hard to say whether the night life, or the pool parties are a better time. Las Vegas is probably the only place that I have been to (besides New York) where you can always find something to do… no matter what time of the day or night. Vegas isn’t all about the gambling, nightlife, and drinking… but as a tourist, that was pretty much all I cared to do.  Let me tell you, it isn’t called Sin City for nothing. One of my favorite parts about Vegas is that every place you go is so different and original – The lobbies of all the hotels are stunning, the restaurants and bars have views like you’ve never seen, and the glitz glam and surrounds are completely unique and seriously live up to the hype. Here are a few of my favorite places in Vegas:

The Bellagio Hotel // The gorgeous lobby:

The Palms Hotel // The Hugh Hefner Sky Villa.. yes we were lucky enough to have a night here!:

Rehab // Sunday party at the Hard Rock, probably one of the best parties I’ve ever been to:

Minus 5 // A bar that is completely made out of ice:

The Strip:

The Shows // My favorite was the Beatles Love Cirque du Soleil

Come back later this week if you want to see some insiders tips from a friend who actually lived in Las Vegas!

Meet Me in Fire Island

This past weekend I went away for my annual Fire Island mini-vacation. Every year my friends and I take this trip on the same weekend, stay in the same crappy hotel room, and love every second of it. For those of you who don’t know where Fire Island is, it is a long and skinny island directly south of Long Island. The amazing thing about it is as soon as you arrive you seem to be in another world. You have to take a boat to get there, and once you have arrived, the main mode of transportation is a bike. The streets are lined with adorable shops, intimate restaurants and beachy bars. This was exactly the weekend escape I needed after a long and stressful week. Too bad anytime you go away with eleven girlfriends, you can’t plan to get too much rest!

Meet Me in Ecuador

Let me start by saying that last year I was lucky enough to take an amazing vacation to Ecuador with my boyfriend and his family. This was one of the best vacations of my life, and while we were there for a very short period of time, I was privileged to see so many amazing places, experience so many new things, and make memories that will stay with me forever. I can not wait to take another trip to South America.

Guayaquil. This is where our nomadic vacation started. Guayaquil is one of the largest cities in Ecuador. We spent most of our time here visiting famous landmarks and places of the families past. They spent this time slowly breaking me into the culture…

[the fish at the airport // a tower of live crabs!]

[past leaders]

[the 444th stair, that lead us to a breathtaking view of the city // the lighthouse at the top // the Church that Ruben's parents went to when they were little]

[overlooking the city of Guayaquil]

[the famous Ecuadorian breakfast // a "bolon" which is made of plantains and cheese. It was so delicious, and if you are a fan of plantains, they come on the side of everything here!]

[the Iguana park which was basically filled with exhibitionist animals]

[Monument depicting the meeting for the independence of South America]

Salinas. We headed to Salinas for a few short days to visit some family. I was extremely excited to finally head to the coast! Guayaquil is mainly inland, so the first site of ocean practically made me scream.

[an amazing "sand castle" welcoming people to the beach]

[I was told we were going to the best oyster restaurant in Salinas. I was not expecting to walk into this place. However, it really did live up to its name. They would literally dive into the ocean (which was less the 100 yards away), bring up the oysters, clean them and prepare them right in front of you. They could not be fresher]

[part of the oyster prepping process]

[the beach at night]

[soup you ask? no that bowl is actually filled with thousands of baby SHRIMP // enjoying some science at an amazing shrimp farm]

[a coconut stand on the drive home from Salinas // aka a guy on the side of the road with a machete]

Puerto Lopez. I won’t touch on this too much, because I already have another post dedicated to it. Here are a few pictures to sum it up, but check out  more details of our quick day trip/adventure whale watching.

[Whale Watching]

[the water, once it finally calmed after the mini-storm that was going on during whale watching!]

[birds feasting on a dead fish]

[Montanita // Also known as "Hippie Beach"]

Quito. Quito was a definite must see for me during our trip to Ecuador. It was around 8 hours from where we were staying in Guayaquil, so we ended up flying there for a day, since the flight was under an hour. One day was not nearly enough time, but for one day we managed to see a lot!

[the middle of the world]

[the Equator]

[Me in the Northern Hemisphere and Ruben in the Southern Hemisphere]

[A church made almost entirely of gold // the statue of "Virgin of Quito" which overlooks the entire city]

[view of Quito]

[altitude- this is why it was semi-hard to breathe here]

[another gorgeous church]

I can’t wait to go back. Next time I will definitely be heading to the Galapagos Islands!

Meet Me in Barbados

Barbados has always been a place that I have been dying to go. I don’t know anyone who has been there and I knew I had to check it out. One of my travel dreams is to visit every island in the Caribbean.We just returned from our ah-may-zing trip and I can finally check this off of my list! Here are a few pictures from my vacation. I’m looking forward to sharing my snorkeling pictures!

The Sand: As I’m sure you can tell by now, I am beach and sand obsessed. The sand in Barbados was completely unique to any I have ever seen or felt. It was so soft in-between my toes, I could have laid on that beach forever. The sand was very white, although had a more yellow-ish tint when it was wet. My favorite part, was if you look very closely you could see little pieces of pink sand.  Love it.