Well, friends, it’s been quite the year! When I’m old and grey and looking back on my travels, this will certainly be one of my favorite years to reference. Here’s how our adventure-filled 365 days played out:
Jupiter and Marathon Key
Well friends, I’m back from what can only be described as an epic girlfriend’s trip. Although it did take both myself and my friend Lisa a couple days to unwind from a few recent projects that we only justbarely turned in before we left for Florida, once we did relax, it was resplendent.
The fact that I was gone for 10 days means that I can’t really go through every single detail of the trip, but I did want to bring up a few important points, the first being about where Lisa’s parents live:
- My friend’s parents live in Jupiter, Florida, which is where we spent Thursday through Sunday at the beginning of our trip, as well as Saturday and Sunday at the end. If you happen to find yourself in Jupiter ever, you must visit Castaways (aka the Square Grouper Tiki Bar), Dune Dog Cafe and Guanabanas. [If you drive your boat to Guanabanas and dock it there, you get a 10% discount. Lisa’s dad would have wanted me to tell you that ;)]
^^ Gorgeous flowers in the Gerry’s backyard.
^^ How amazing is this? These are the mangroves that you walk through in
Lisa’s parent’s backyard to get to where their boat is docked.
^^ I could have ridden around on that boat all day, just checking out the gorgeous houses.
^^ Lisa’s parents took us to Dune Dog’s on our first night,
and Lisa taught me the proper way to crack crabs. Thanks, Lise!
^^ The famous Jupiter lighthouse.
^^ Oh my goodness you guys. Lisa’s dad works on the Everglades Restoration,
so he’s big into the environment. Lucky for me, because I’m pretty much obsessed with animals
and the environment. I loved hearing from him about all the work they’re doing, as well as visiting the
Loggerhead Marinelife Center and turtle rehab hospital. All the sea turtles this organization has
rescued — or that people have rescued and brought there — are swimming around
in their own tanks in the Center as they rehabilitate. How. Adorable. Are. They??
^^ I also made my first visit to a Bubba Gump’s Shrimp Co. on this trip — wahoo!
This particular Bubba Gump’s was right on the water and had live music.
We ordered every single appetizer on the menu and fancy Mojitos. Not too shabby.
Anyway, after checking out the amazingness of Jupiter for a few days, Lisa and I hopped into her mom’s car and headed down South to our second stop — Marathon Key.
So this particular Key, my friends, is unlike Key West (if that’s your only experience with the Keys, as was mine). This Key is much, much more … well, low key. Lisa’s parents have owned this particular timeshare at Hawks Nest in Marathon since before Lisa was even born, and Lisa’s whole family has been visiting her entire life. The 7-mile bridge is only a handful of feet from Hawks Nest (cars can no longer drive on the old bridge — which is right next to the newly constructed bridge — so it’s only for walkers and bikers. The old bridge where you can walk is actually only a little over 2 miles in distance each way, so about a 4-mile round trip.), and Lisa and I walked that almost every day. We saw sharks and dolphins and manta rays and starfish and tarpon … it was just one of the most amazing things ….
^^ Where we plopped ourselves every single day after our bridge walk. Hello, ocean!
^^ I posted this little guy yesterday as my photo of the week, but how cute is he!?
He came up and swam with this group of children for over an hour,
letting them rub his belly and feed him fresh water from a hose.
^^ Did I mention it was my birthday while we were there? Ugh, I’m old 😉
But my sweet, sweet husband made me feel better about being old
by sending me a letter and necklace while I was away, as well as flowers
and he treated us to breakfast on my birthday, as well.
That’s some hubby, I have!
^^ Beers with a view. (That’s the 7-mile bridge in the background …)
^^ Iguanas were everywhere! We went kayaking through the mangroves
on my birthday (which was insanely awesome!) and our tour guide told us
that she had grown up in Marathon, but that the iguanas had really
become prolific lately, most likely due to people getting them as pets
and then releasing them in the wild once they get too big.
^^ Bloody Mary’s at the Sunset Grille & Raw Bar right next to Hawks Nest on our last full day.
We won’t go into detail in terms of how many of these we had …
^^ Cheeky French Toast on my birthday. Thanks husband!
^^ Lisa made shrimp boil for dinner on my birthday. Ummm … it’s my new favorite thing!
^^And she made this delicious dessert with homemade whipped cream.
I’m seriously one spoiled lady …
^^ Lisa and I took a liking to swinging in the hammocks in the
late afternoon. This was our view.
^^ Fried Key Lime Pie at Burdine’s Waterfront on our last full day.
It was every bit as delicious as it looks.
^^ We took in the spectacular sunset on our last night and caught
this man paddle boarding with his water-loving pup.
^^Making pic stitch’s of our time together may have become a theme 😉
After spending seven days in Marathon, I think it’s safe to say all of our cares had melted away. Despite all our relaxation, though, we managed to fit a lot in as well, with the bridge walks and kayaking — we even made it to Key West one night to visit friends and have dinner at Blue Heaven. We left Saturday to drive back to Lisa’s parents’ place in Jupiter, where we once again took advantage of the fabulous weather to take one more long boat ride.
^^ This was an actual hot dog/hamburger stand in the middle of the water. Genius.
^^ Ahhh! We saw so many alligators on Saturday’s boat ride! It was crazy!
Saturday night we watched True Lies with Lisa’s parents, since the second to last scene in that movie actually takes place on the 7-mile bridge. So that’s pretty cool.
And that was about it, my friends — our girlfriend’s getaway in a nutshell. We head off to Colorado this upcoming Monday — Boulder, Breckenridge and Denver — with my sister and her bf, so that should be absolutely amazing, as well.
Bis bald, friends! Let me leave you with these awesome moments of beautifulness ….
Marathon Key … Tomorrow!
Things here have been a bit … hectic! We were in Pennsylvania this past weekend for our nephew’s first birthday party, which was so cute and fun :
^^Photographers who can wrangle kids into taking awesome, synchronized photos deserve a medal.
^^ But the mayhem is fun, too 😉
Until Sunday night when my whole family started to drop like flies as we one-by-one contracted pretty much the same stomach bug.
Anyway, we’re moving on from that, because thank goodness I’m better for tomorrow, when I fly out to Marathon Key! I’ll be gone for 10 whole blissful days (yahoo!), and my best friend and I plan to do nothing but lay in the sun, go out on the boat, snorkel and drink tasty drinks the entire time, with maybe a little hiking thrown in here and there.
I’ll be back in early April (holy cow, April!) to update you on the happenings in Marathon Key. Until then, bis bald, my friends!
Vacation on the Horizon …
So winter is apparently determined to drag on. And on. And on and on and on. I mean …. I’m just about getting a little sick of it. In my mind, if it’s not going to snow (don’t be mad at me, I’m know you’re all sick of the snow, too!), then there’s just no point in having cold weather.
The point is — thanks goodness I’m headed to the Keys next week with my best friend! If you’ll recall, I was in Key West a couple years back with my lovely sisters …
This time I’ll be heading to Marathon Key, which I’m super excited to check out. Then, only one short week after getting back from Florida, Chris and I will head to Colorado (Boulder, Breckenridge and Denver) with my sister and her boyfriend to check everything out.
Ah, the thrill of upcoming travel. It really does give us something to look forward to, doesn’t it?
Bis bald, friends!
The Year 2013: A Review
Well it’s that time of year again — the one where everyone takes a couple minutes to take stock of how the past 12 months have gone? This year has been a particularly important one for myself and Chris. It was our first year of married life. It was a year spent celebrating our marriage around the world with family and friends. It was a year that we made some pretty big decisions about our future (not yet shared here!), and one that had a lot of amazing traveling in it …
St. Augustine Follow-Up
Since I ran out of photo space on the blog when I was trying to post about Chris’s birthday trip to St. Augustine, I feel like I somewhat short-changed the update. I wanted to just add a couple more photos here from our time spent in Florida a few weekends ago, and to give another big shout-out to Mike’s Yacht of Fun, which we did the Saturday we were there. That whole experience on the yacht really helped make our trip …
^^ You don’t have to be 12 to enjoy a good handstand on the beach.
^^ Mike’s yacht of fun. Seriously. Lots of fun.
^^ Manatee! I mean honestly, look how close we were!
^^ Pulling up to the Conch House for lunch.
^^ LOVE the Conch House. It’s right on the water.The food is tasty and on Sundays they have live jazz music and a great bar.
Okay friends, now I’m done with my St. Augustine updates. Thank you for bearing with me.
Have a great weekend! Bis bald!
Australia … Tomorrow!
So unfortunately it looks like updating this site isn’t going to make it to the top of my list of things to do before we head off to Australia TOMORROW! Bummer. At any rate, to seriously super quickly sum up our Saturday in St. Augustine for Chris’s birthday ….
- We rented Mike’s Yacht of Fun, complete with boat driver Mike and his lovely wife, for the day Saturday. We drank some beer and ate some snacks, went swimming, saw some manatees, had lunch at The Conch House, and just had an amazing time in general. We also met Mike’s son when he rode out on his jet ski to meet us when we were swimming, and he suggested that we all meet up later that night, after the concert, which we did. And it was amazing.
- The concert on Saturday was great! Mumford was totally amazing, and at the last minute the band Fun backed out, so John Fogerty of Creedence Clearwater Revival fame stepped in and was. awesome! He played a couple songs with Mumford and Sons, as well, and it was really just a very good festival — I would highly recommend it for next year!
- After the concert we met up with Riley (Mike’s son) and Jon and Rachel at a bar and ate delicious fried pickles and fried green tomatoes, and drank A LOT of drinks. (Which may or may not have included Absinthe. It did include Absinthe. It was gross, because I hate black licorice, but it was fun to watch them melt sugar over the top!)
Anyway, I really wish I could have posted photos from the concert and our day sailing (we got SO CLOSE to the manatees!), but maybe after I update I will, and I wanted to get this last post up before we leave.
So that’s it, friends! Tomorrow we’re off for two weeks to Australia for our fourth and final wedding celebration, not to mention our honeymoon at the Great Barrier Reef …. awahooo!!!
In the meantime, I’ll also be reading this NY Times piece about spending 36 hours in Reykjavik, Iceland, in preparation for our trip there in February.
Okay, bis bald, friends! Wish us a safe (and short!) flight, and I’ll be back with updates (and photos!) soon!
A Birthday Trip for the Books: Part I
So this past weekend we headed off to my old stomping grounds, St. Augustine, Florida, to take in the Gentleman of the Road Stopover Tour for Chris’s Super Secret 30th Birthday Trip. Two of our friends (who are currently dating, thanks to us 😉 ), came with us and surprised Chris on the plane. He had no idea they would be there. It was sort of amazing.
The entire package was booked through CID entertainment, including our hotel (The Holiday Inn Express Hotel and Suites St. Augustine North — which was fantastic), the 2-day festival tickets, two t-shirts, two posters and shuttle passes to and from the festival grounds until 3 in the morning. They made everything so simple for us, and I was SUPER impressed with them. If you’re ever thinking of booking a package through them, I’d highly recommend it!
Anyway, back to last Friday, our friends Jon and Rachel had surprised Chris on the plane, and we were off! We rented cars in Jacksonville and drove the 45 mins to St. Augustine. Friday we started with some delicious seafood at Mango Mango’s near the beach (try their famous Corn Cakes with Monterrey Jack … to die for!), then we hung out on the beach for a while (where I played touch football for my first time ever … yikes), and got some drinks at the Beachcomber Restaurant, which is right on the beach.
After our early afternoon beach visit we headed to Publix to pick up drinks for Saturday’s boat trip (oh Publix, how I’ve missed you!), then went back to the hotels to shower and get ready to catch the shuttle to downtown for the festival.
A word about St. Augustine’s downtown area. It’s gorgeous. So cute, and a lot of fun to explore. Every street you turn down has a different and interesting feel to it — art stores, cafes, bakeries, bars, it’s just really fun. This trip was not, however, a site-seeing trip, so I won’t be talking much about the downtown area other than to say that if you go to St. Augustine, you must visit it. The concert venue was in a park that was literally in the middle of the downtown, but it was late both Friday and Saturday when we got out, so we pretty much picked a bar both nights and hung out.
On Friday night Chris and I were excited to catch Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes. And they definitely did not disappoint. Neither did the venue, actually …
After the show we did get to take in a little bit of the downtown area while waiting to meet up with our friends.
Something else that was really fun was that the city put gigantic moustaches all around, in random places, in honor of the Gentlemen Tour. They pretty much cracked me up. I wanted to post some photos here, but since I’m out of photo space, I guess that’ll have to wait until I upgrade the site.
Okay friends. I’m off to upgrade this WordPress package of mine so I can hop back on here soon and finish up info from our St. Augustine trip before we head out to Australia this Tuesday!
Bis bald, everyone! Hope you all have fun weekend plans!
Secret St. Augustine Success!
So Chris and I returned from his Super Secret Birthday Trip last night and it was a roaring success, if I do say so myself!
I haven’t had a chance to upload my photos from the trip yet, but as a quick sneak-peak, here are two iPhone photos to tide you over:
Anyway, we went to the beach, listened to amazing music, ate great food, took a boat ride and saw some matinees … all in only two days! I’m exhausted, but it was totally worth it!
More photos to come later this week — and we’re off to Australia in EIGHT days … oh my!
Bis bald, friends!
A Super Secret 30th Birthday Trip for the Man!
So tomorrow is the big day — the day Chris and I fly out for his Super Secret 30th Birthday Trip! And yes, I somehow DID manage to keep the secret! (Well not the whole secret, I accidentally forwarded our flight information to him thinking it was information about a different flight. That was stupid.)
I put together these three envelopes for Chris to open when he got home tonight. Step 1 contained our boarding passes for our flight tomorrow. Step 2 contained our rental car information, becauseeeeeeee … Step 3 were our tickets to the Gentlemen of the Road St. Augustine Stopover Tour!
I’m totally excited for this. Not only will we be seeing Mumford & Sons, fun., Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, and tons of other great acts, but I’ll finally get to show Chris St. Augustine, the town where I lived for a year and 1/2 after graduating from college. It means a lot to me to be able to share that with him.
I also booked a boat tour with Mike’s Yacht of Fun — so I can’t wait to report back on that!
Bis bald, friends! Pray for us to have good weather!
A Trip With My Girls in the Keys
So like I was saying yesterday, I just recently got back from a trip to Key West with my sisters. This was a gift trip from my dad which included:
- First class seats on the flight
- An awesome suite at the Key West Marriott Beachside hotel
- A Mustang convertible to tool around town in
As you can see, there were oh so many things to love about this trip. We came to the decision to go to Key West in the first place because we all wanted some place we hadn’t been before, some place that would be warm in January (but not too far away), and my BFF Lisa has always talked about spending time in the Keys with her fam. According to her, it was an amazing place…and she wasn’t lying.
So we three girls headed out at 4:15 a.m. Friday morning to catch our 6:30 a.m. flight.
Why is it that every single flight I take seems to leave at the crack of dawn.
Anyway, turns out leaving at 6:30 isn’t half bad when you’re flying first class. Free Bloody Mary’s, tons of leg room, a plethora of movies to choose from, warm towels….
The good stuff is just never-ending.
Anyway, after our first flight landed us in Tampa we caught our connecting flight to Key West, which just happened to be a teeny, tiny, 17-seater:
My sisters were less than impressed, to say the least.
I, however, saw it as an adventure 🙂
Anyway, after a quick hop, skip and 1 hour flight, we were finally in the Keys, where we picked up our awesome Mustang convertible!
Then, after only about 15 minutes of tinkering around, we were finally able to figure out how to get the top down:
So that was the first exciting thing to happen.
Our hotel was only about a 10 minute ride from the airport—but when you’re riding in a convertible every trip seems so much cooler.
At the hotel check-in the first day we were confronted with what would be our first clue into the festivities set to take place at the hotel that weekend. Despite his repeated check-ins to make sure that the three of us would have two rooms near each other, when we checked in we were told the hotel was so full, the best they could do was get us a room right above the other room.
But whatever. We were nonplussed. That’s how you are on vacation, right? Things happen, and you just roll with the punches.
Our first order of business (or Steph’s first order of business, at least), was to check out the beach. Lisa had warned me ahead of time (and I had passed the word on), that the Keys don’t have beaches quite like other beaches. Our hotel just happened to have its own beachfront area, so that was nice, but even so, we ended up spending the majority of our time in the hot tub (where we met a medium, a 15-year-old bull herder, a CIA agent and a retired school teacher, to name a few).
That first night, at the recommendation of our new “medium” friend, we headed to Duval Street for dinner and to hit up Willie T’s, where bar-goers staple signed dollar bills to … well, pretty much anything they can find to staple it on:
After returning to the hotel Friday night we received our second clue as to the festivities of the weekend. Or should I say the festivities themselves made us aware of the festivities. Basically, at around 4 a.m. this incessant blasting of music started, and after about a half hour of listening to it, Steph and I decided to call down to the front desk. Turns out Jen had called as well, and they sent security up to stop it.
The next day we were told a wedding would be taking place at the hotel that night.
Oh, and it was someone local.
Oh, and there were about 500 people invited.
It wouldn’t be until later that day (well technically it was Sunday morning, to be exact), that we would find out it was actually the owner’s daughter who was getting married there.
But more on that to come later.
So after having very little sleep on Friday night, we nonetheless decided to head out to a few other places. First up was the Southernmost point in the U.S. (which is only 90 miles to Cuba), and to get some coconut water (Literally. A man with a drill was drilling holes into actual coconuts and selling them for $3.)
Then it was on to Mallory Square. Unfortunately we weren’t there at sunset, which is supposed to be the most beautiful (and most eclectic) time there. Oh well, that’ll just have to be for another trip.
After Mallory Square we headed over to this local seafood festival we had seen advertised in a park near the hotel. I’m really glad we ended up doing that. It was all local people and local restaurants with tons of booths filled with beer, seafood, artwork and live music. We ended up trying out lobster, conch fritters (Fried conch, basically. Whatever that is!), and shrimp.
After the festival (in which we all bought artwork by a local artist that was framed with used lobster traps! At the time it was cool…and it looks a lot cooler than it sounds, trust me) we went back to the hotel and the hot tub, before heading back out to Duval St. for dinner and—something I had been excited for the entire trip—Key Lime Pie!!
Now, what I forgot to mention before was that earlier in the day we stopped to pick up some provisions in preparation for the upcoming night:
Yup. Those, my dear friends, are ear plugs. But despite that fact that our sister Jen swears by them, Steph and I just could not seem to get used to them. It’s the oddest sensation to have those things in your ears, and try as we might, at around 3 a.m., when it seemed like we were perhaps in the clear and had avoided any ruckus for the evening, I removed the buds.
Turns out the partying wasn’t going to start until 4 a.m. that morning.
From 4 to 7:30 a.m. we sat up listening to the thump, thump, thumping of the base to the terrible music the party-goers were blasting (in, of course, what turned out to be the room right next to where Steph and I were bunked).
Despite my two phone calls, Jen’s two phone calls, and what I’m sure were any number of phone calls from whatever other rooms in that hotel turned out to not be guests of the wedding, there was nothing the poor manager on duty could do. What was she supposed to do, after all? Ask her boss to kindly turn it down?
I don’t think so.
Anyway, lesson learned. Next time you think something might be up…ask. You’re probably right.
It wasn’t a total loss, though. My dad got comped his miles back for the room that night, and on Sunday night Jen and Steph and I were upgraded to an amazing 3-bedroom, 3-bath suite with a kitchen, dining room, porch and roof access.
Not that we actually needed all that, but it just went so nicely with the rest of our indulgent trip, we had to accept 🙂
On Sunday we ended up spending most of the day lounging, but we did head out to breakfast at Blue Heaven where I had shrimp and grits (which brought me right back to my JMU days. Sad!)
And there was live music (as there is most places in Key West), and ping-pong and art work (as there is most places in Key West):
After brekkie it was back to the hotel for more sun and hot tub. We ordered room service (beer and pizza. Dinner of champions!) and spent our last night soaking up our awesome suite and sharing some last-minute sister gossip.
All in all, it was an unforgettable trip. We spent most of Monday traveling, where we had a five-hour layover in Tampa and spent the entire time in the elite travelers lounge (I told you. This was a fancy trip all the way!), drinking free wine and eating cheese, crackers and salsa (oh, and taking over the TV, much to the chagrin of anyone else in the TV room).
A few more notes on The Keys and its awesomeness:
1) There were a group of feral cats at our hotel, which my sisters weren’t quite too fond of, and, as per usual, I was obsessed with:
2) There are also tons of roosters (or hens? Not sure I’d be able to tell the difference) around Key West, which cock-a-doodle-doo at all hours of the day (seriously, not just at dawn):
3) And lastly, if you go to Key West you must ride a bike. Sadly, I do not have a photo of me and my sis’ riding around on a bike, because we didn’t rent any, but it seems that when in Key West, this is the thing to do, so I would recommend it.
And that’s about it friends! My sisters and I were so, so grateful to have had the opportunity to go on this trip together. And I would suggest that if you ever get the opportunity to head over to Key West, I’d jump on it. I haven’t been anywhere else quite like it.
Bis bald, friends!
Back From Key West!
So my sisters and I arrived back in NY last night after an awesome trip to Key West. It’s 11:40 at night right now, so I’m not going to write up the entire Key West blog post, but as a preview, let me say:
- Flying first class is ah-mazing
- Key West is eclectic, funny and wonderful
- I lost my dad’s headsets
- Comped 3-bedroom/3-bathroom suites are also ah-mazing
- Driving a Mustang convertible is as fun as it would seem
Anyway friends, tomorrow=full blog post, I promise.
Until then…bis bald!
MIA = Me
Hi guys! So I’ve been MIA again lately…my bad! I’ve been plugging away on my travel plans for this year and, oh yeah, I got engaged 🙂
VERY excited about all that! Of course, that doesn’t really have anything to do with travel (although I will say that we will most likely be having a destination wedding. So that will most certainly be about travel!)
Anyway, besides all that, my sisters and I are headed off tomorrow for a trip to Key West. I’m beyond excited. This will be the first time that the three of us are going on a trip alone together, so I think it’ll be a lot of fun. I haven’t (yet) convinced them to go snorkeling with me, but don’t worry, I have time to do that…
In other news, Chris is all booked for the Berlin marathon in September. We’re thinking our Europe trip will be a couple of days in Berlin for the race, a couple of days in Munich for Oktoberfest, then renting a car (which is my new favorite aspect of this trip!) and driving to Venice for a night, before training it to Rome. Chris has never been to Germany or Italy, so I’m really excited to show him around there, especially Rome.
Yup, it’ll be tiring. That’s how most of my vacations turn out to be. However, my sisters have made it well-known that they would like for this Key West trip to be a relaxing one. I’m cool with that. I think I have it in me to do a relaxing trip!
Okay friends, you know how it goes….bis bald, until next time! I’ll be back soon with Key West photos and updates!
Something old, something new…
Chris and I have entered into an ages old dilemma when it comes to travel. With a few extra days of vacation left in both of our pockets, we’ve decided to actually take a trip together this year, when we thought originally that this wouldn’t be possible.
So let the decision-making fun begin. There are a few factors we’re using to narrow down the choices:
- We won’t leave the country for this vacay
- We’ll keep the flight and hotel stay to under $500
- We’ll choose a “relaxing” vacation this time, as opposed to something where we’ll feel the need to run around and sight see all the live long day
- We’ll shy away from the West Coast for this trip, since it will only be for a couple of days
We tossed around the idea of picking a place where a specific action would do the guiding—as in “We went to Arizona because they have the best sky diving”—but I think we may have decided against that.
A quick goggle search of the Top 10 cities to visit in the U.S. left me feeling a bit jipped.
1. San Francisco– West Coast
2. Charleston, SC—Been there
3. Santa Fe, NM—Possibility
4. NYC—Live there
6. Honolulu—Been there
7. Carmel, CA—West Coast
8. Savannah, GA—not sure I see the draw
9. San Diego—West coast
10. Boston—Been there
After adding New Orleans and Phoenix to the list, we still only had a couple of good options.
So we threw the list out, and I think we’re going to go with Florida. It’s cheap. It’s tropical. I know my way around it. Now the decision is this:
St. Augustine—where I used to live, but could be fun to show Chris around the place, and I know the best places to go/stay/eat
The Everglades—neither one of us has been, but we’re dying to see some alligators
This might be a tough one….