If you missed my Travel Tuesday: 24 Hours in Savannah, GA [Part 1], you can check it out, here!
I left off talking about my love for the speakeasy, Alley Cat Lounge. The drinks were fantastic, craft cocktails at their finest!! The next morning, I was feelin’ all that vodka, so we went to get some hangover curing Bloody Mary’s at The Collins Quarter. The Bloody came with bacon, shrimp, & had just the right amount of spice, so it was basically to die for. For brunch I ordered a Collins Quarter signature dish, the #Tag this Hash. Of course, it tasted amazing and was just what I needed to kick that hangover to the curb. The Collins Quarter does brunch every day so it’s the perfect spot to visit when recovering from an Alley Cat Lounge hangover, or if you’re just really hungry on a weekday morning!
I just got back from an awesome week long girls trip with my bestie, Heather. We bounced around in NOLA, Savannah, and ended in Hilton Head, South Carolina. I’m going to have quick little travel guides for each, but since I wanted to get one posted today, I decided to start with Savannah!
We flew into Savannah from New Orleans, with a quick layover in Atlanta. On the way back I was able to get a direct flight from the SAV airport into DC, which was so quick and cheap. I highly suggest my DMV area readers to book a trip down to Savannah for a girls, or a solo, weekend!! If you have a bride to be in your tribe, Savannah is a great (& super popular) bachelorette weekend destination too.
Happy Tuesday! If you missed my Travel Tuesday: Philly Pt I last week, you can check it out here! We stayed at the awesome Kimpton Hotel Palomar, and saw some great art around the city.
The one aspect of the trip I saved for its own post was…of course…the food.
We were able to hit quite a few unique Philly restaurants, and I was so pleased with everything I ate in the city. For lunch after The Barnes Foundation we were in search for the best cheesesteak in town. We ended up at Woodrow’s Sandwich Shop, which is just a couple years old, located on South Street. It’s also just down the street from Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens, so it’s the perfect spot to head to if you’re feeling hungry for lunch before or after you visit the gardens!
Paulina, Sabah, & I all ordered cheesesteaks, with their homemade truffle cheese whiz…yes, you read correctly…homemade…truffle…cheese…whiz. & it was amazing. I honestly can’t even begin to tell you how delicious it was, & with the cajun fries on the side…ah, I want some right now!! Def stop by Woodrow’s Sandwich Shop for a cheesesteak, it’s low key, and I feel like not too many people have realized how amazing the cheesesteaks are here…yet. They will soon though, that cheese whiz is mesmerizing.
Ok, full disclaimer before I get started…Philly has always been my least favorite city. Way to open up a Travel Tuesday blog post, right? Well, my thoughts on Philadelphia have been slightly changed by a recent girls trip over MLK weekend with Sabah & our fab travel organizer, Paulina! We were able to fit in a lot in our one night stay, and I left Philly thinking hey, I might want to come back here again!
Paulina got an awesome deal at the Kimpton Hotel Palomar, located in the City Center neighborhood. This was my first time staying at a Kimpton, and it did not disappoint. The Palomar is a chic boutique hotel, in a perfect location for sightseeing. Check-in was super quick, the woman behind the desk was friendly, and even though we were a few hours early she was able to accommodate and get us a great room right when we arrived. Throughout our short stay, the customer service was great.
If you missed it last week, I started my Travel Tuesday series with a recap of my trip to Reykjavik, Iceland! Visiting The Blue Lagoon is def at the top of most people’s lists when visiting Reykjavik, so I wanted to have a little post for it on its own, especially since I talk about the face masks I used while at the lagoon!!
Make sure you check out my last Travel Tuesday post on Reykjavik, here! & don’t forget to read about my Reykjavik food adventures, here!
Take a Day Excursion to The Blue Lagoon
Use Reykjavik Excursions as your transportation, as mentioned above, it takes about an hour. & treat yourself by upgrading your admission to the Premium Package. There are four options for admission into the Blue Lagoon, I think the premium package is the best option, it’s about $100 USD. The difference between this package and the less expensive packages is this one includes an extra face mask, use of robe & slippers, and a guaranteed reservation at their restaurant, Lava, with a glass of sparkling wine. I took advantage of securing the reservation at Lava, and had a light lunch there, which you can read about in my food post, here!
All transactions that take place while your visiting scan onto a bracelet (just like in Disney World), and then you pay for it all at the end. They make it super easy fro you, which was great!
In terms of time, I spent about 5 hours total at the Blue Lagoon. I had the earliest entry time, 7:30am, and loved being there so early, it wasn’t too crowed. They have lockers available in the lounge/ shower area, there was such a long line for lockers by the time I left at 12:30pm. I noticed some people just leaving their things unattended instead of waiting, something I’d never do, but as I said, there was a long line. The locker room area had decent showers, plenty of changing room, hair dryers, and some amenities to use once you’re ready to leave.
PS: You can only buy 3 alcoholic drinks!!
I was so shocked when I realized I had spent 3 straight hours in the lagoon, the weather was beautiful, it was slightly chilly but the water was so warm and soothing. I had been having back issues before my trip, and sitting in the lagoon was the perfect remedy. I brought a book, and was able to sit in the water, which was awesome.
Through the 3 hours I did 2 face masks and a scrub, all of which were incredible! I started with the Lava Scrub, to exfoliate and prep my skin for the masks. This scrub is made from lava that surrounds the Blue Lagoon- it was quite grainy and gave a great exfoliation. Even if you have sensitive skin, I think you can still use this, you just might not want to scrub as hard. After my scrub I let my skin rest a bit before applying The Blue Lagoon’s signature Silica Mask, which is the typical mask you see people applying at the lagoon. This is a mud mask that aims to deeply cleanse, perfect after exfoliating with the lava scrub, strengthen & illuminate skin, & tighten pores.
The last mask I applied was the Algae Mask, this is a part of the Premium Package I bought. The Algae Mask is geared toward preventing fine lines and wrinkles with The Blue Lagoon’s patented algae. I found this mask to be super refreshing, and it’s strong, so you don’t need to leave it on for too long, just about 5-7 minutes.
These masks are def not cheap…I can’t say I would ever buy them solo, I think my favorite The Body Shop and other masks might be better. At the end of the day, it’s about the experience with the masks, and the experience was top notch!! I’m looking forward to visiting the Blue Lagoon again some time, it’s an experience not to be missed!
Back in July I went on a two week European adventure through six countries, only one of which I had been to before. Aside from the perfect summer vacay, the main purpose of my trip was to attend the wedding of one of my best friends, Sabah, in Bulgaria. I was more than honored to be her Maid of Honor, if you didn’t see my post on 5 Tips on Throwing an Unforgettable Bachelorette Party, you can check it out here! Seeing that I’m a teacher, & having the summer off to recuperate from the school year, I wanted to take full advantage of being able to travel through Europe. I did just that, and planned quite the trip over the course of two days. I had been watching flight prices for months…yes, literally months, and I had finally found prices I was thrilled with, so I bought one, then just kept going!
I’ll be featuring a new country per post, for the next few Tuesdays. I’m a huge planner, whether it’s in the travel, teaching, or party realm. If you’re looking for additional tips on how to up your planning skills, in any area, feel free to email me & we can chat! I can always be reached at email@example.com!
The first leg of my European adventure landed me in Reykjavik, Iceland, a nice little departure from the hot humid weather in Washington D.C. The first question everyone asked me was, oh that’s so cool and all but, why Iceland?!. Well, as I mentioned in my Reykjavik food post, which you can read here, Iceland is def having a moment! I’ve seen countless bloggers visiting Reykjavik, the country has seriously upped their tourism reach out, and since it also has a connection with Game of Thrones, I feel like people are just flocking to visit the unique Nordic country. Aside from the fact that so many people are visiting Iceland, I could not beat the one-way ticket I found, departing from Newark Liberty International in Jersey. I was able to snag an evening flight, that landed me in Reyjavik at 5am, for $250.
View from the tower in Hallegrimskirkja. The hotel I stayed in, Hotel Leifur Eiriksson, is the large white building in the front of the picture!
PS: Yes, I live in the D.C. are but I was going home to visit my family first, so it made perfect sense to leave from NJ!
Hotel Choice: Hotel Leifur Eiriksson I wanted to balance having a great vacation with, ya know, not going broke. So, I traded out my usual higher end hotel choices for a middle of the road, family run hotel, right in downtown Reykjavik called Hotel Leifur Eiriksson. I was in Iceland for two days, and I knew I would be out of the room for the majority of the time, so I wasn’t really bothered by the hotel not having much amenities. I had a single room, and the room was very small, one towel, one pillow- which is really no big deal to me, but I know can be a big deal to others. It was a no frills environment, but it was clean, which is always my first concern. Iceland is expensive, so the rate for this hotel did seem a little too much given that it was mid-range, but it was the least expensive mid-range I found. & I quickly realized that with the location, the price was well worth it.
The staff did provide breakfast each morning, & it’s included with the room rate…it was a decent spread, with assorted hot items, waffles, cereal, meats & cheeses. The owner is such a nice man, and let me know that if I had an early morning excursion before breakfast officially started, they would make me a breakfast to take with me. The check-in, check-out process was easy, which is always helpful, and there were no hidden fees or anything like that when I arrived.
Overall, if you’re okay with a middle of the road hotel that’s not too updated, I highly advise Hotel Leifur Eiriksson. As I mention below, the location is amazing, and since Iceland is already expensive in every way possible, if you can help the budget by staying at a 3-star hotel, do it, the customer service at Leifur Eiriksson makes up for it not being a Ritz!
What To Do in Reykjavik, Iceland Use Reykjavik Excursions for Transportation
I used the company, Reykjavik Excursions for my transport to and from the airport, and to and from the Blue Lagoon. I had the best experience with them, and highly, highly, recommend this company over others in Iceland. It was so easy to book the reservations online, I was able to leave within 10m of exiting the terminal at the airport, which was awesome. Also, all buses have Wi-fi which is great. The bus trip to and from Blue Lagoon was also perfect, and I could choose whenever I wanted to leave, there was a bus every 30 minutes. They had great customer service, and the buses were all super super clean and well maintained.
Visit the Tower of Hallgrimskirkja Church
The location of Hotel Leifur Eiriksson cannot be beat, it is walking distance to everything, and is right in front of the Hallgrimskirkja, an Icelandic church and national sanctuary.
I highly advise buying a ticket to go up to the top of Hallgrimskirkja, the view, as seen below, is so gorgeous. It’s a $9 donation to visit the top of the tower, and I suggest getting there nice and early in the AM when nobody is there. I was able to go right when it opened, seeing that I was staying across the street…when I walked back to my hotel later in the afternoon it was packed, and the line for the tower was out the door.
Walk Down Skolavoerdustigur Street & Laugavegur Street
My hotel was on Skolavoerdustigur Street so on my first day I walked all the way down stopping at all different types of shops, it’s a busy street with tourists, but not too crazy. The very end of it is Laugavegur Street where you can walk toward the main square area where there are tons of restaurants, and of course many more shops.
Check out my Reykjavik, Iceland Nomz post for all food related pics and info, especially the amazing restaurant I had dinner at, Sjavargrillid Seafood Grill, which is located on Skolavoerdustigur.
Stroll Through & Have a Drink in Ingolfur Square
Perfect for people watching, a glass of wine and/or a hot dog, and live music. I noticed a lot of the super touristy restaurants are around here, so you might want to go into a more quiet area for dinner instead, but there are so many bars for nightlife or just happy hour that seemed awesome. I had drinks and an appetizer at Uno Bistro while they live streamed the Iceland Women’s EURO game on a big screen TV. It was an awesome mix of locals and tourists.
Walk Around the Harbor Area
Great restaurants and some museums too! Some of the old boats were fun to look at as well!
Visit the Blue Lagoon
Check back next week for my tips for visiting The Blue Lagoon! It was such an awesome experience but you should def plan ahead a bit before showing up!
What I Wish I Could Have Done
I only had two days in Reykjavik, so I couldn’t do all that I wanted to do. If I had had more time I def would’ve used Reykjavik Excursions for a full day Golden Circle Tour & Lava Tunnel in southern Iceland. This tour takes you to Iceland’s beautiful hot springs and national park. There’s also Fontana Wellness Geothermal Baths, which would be an interesting option too if you had more than just a few days in Iceland.
I also highly suggest going whale & puffin watching if you have the time, I really regret not carving out time to do this, but I guess it gives me a reason to go back!
Feel free to tweet or email me any questions you have about traveling Iceland, it was an awesome experience! & remember to come back next week for my tips on the Blue Lagoon!
If you missed it, the other week I posted the highlights of my trip to Honolulu, you can check it out here if you missed it! Today I’m focusing on the week of this trip that I spent in Maui, which was, of course, incredible.
Going to Maui had definitely been on my bucket list and I am so happy I was able to go! For a week no less! Traveling from island to island is really quite easy, the flight from Honolulu to Maui was about 30 minutes, perfect for a nap.
We stayed in a gorgeous condo at the Wailea Beach Villas, you can check out the quick Snap videos below. The kitchen was amazing, and I’m now convinced everyone needs two refrigerators, because…why not?? The Wailea Beach Villas had an incredible adult only infiniti pool complete with sunscreen, towels, and ice water. The beach area was just as great, an attendant set you up with lounge chairs and umbrellas. It was really great and the service was fantastic.
The first night Heather & I cooked a surf & turf dinner for everyone, it was super yum…as you can see!
A must see in Maui is the Mount Haleakala sunrise, words can’t describe how awesome it was, so I’ll let the pictures do the talking. A birthday present to Heather & I from her family was the sunrise & bike tour down Mount Haleakala- the 1:45am wake up time was totally worth it! We used Bike it Maui and I was so impressed with the entire tour from start to finish. Our guides were so friendly, gave us great information on Mount Haleakala, and had a lot of extra warm coats, windbreakers, gloves, scarves, etc since the top of Mount Haleakala was so cold and so windy…it was insane, but well worth it. The bike ride down ended with a great breakfast at a local golf course.
Celebrating July 4th with some Lappert’s ice cream
The Wailea Beach Villas are right next to the Grand Wailea Resort, where we spent time going to their incredible spa, Spa Grande, which has been rated in the Top 10 Spas in the United States by Travel & Leisure and Conde Naste Traveler. The focal point of this spa is the Terme Hydrotherapy Circuit, which you start an our before your appointment. It features Roman baths, sauna, steam room, and waterfalls which are amazing for your back and shoulders. You couldn’t take any photos anywhere in the spa, so unfortunately I don’t have any to share, but trust me when I say, it was beautiful!
We also went to a Luau at the Grand Wailea which was also super fun, and had dinner at the incredible HumuHumu restaurant.
Sharing an awesome extra large margarita at HumuHumu
Maui was so gorgeous and I loved every minute of it! If you plan on going to Hawaii I highly suggest stopping in Maui, it was so relaxing and the entire vibe of the island was just so mellow and chill- it was perfect for a teacher recovering from the school year!
I’ve been relatively MIA for a while, life has been going a mile a minute, & here’s why…
It was the end of the school year & my elementary school is being renovated for an entire year, which meant every single thing moving out of our building. Moving everything out coupled with normal end of the year things was…woah overload to say the least…lots of wine involved getting through that one.
The week after school ended I decided to get ahead on my recertification, so I took a week long all day class for credits. Literally, all day long, without my laptop…#help.
THEN, as soon as I ended that week long class I jumped in my car, drove up to Jersey, and flew to Honolulu to meet my best friend, Heather, and her family! FINALLY, relaxation. It took a while, but I finally made it to summer vacation!
Blogging was certainly put on the back burner during the month of June, but I’m looking forward to writing tons of content this summer. I have some exciting posts coming up with Evian, Hask Haircare, and some fun new recipes to share as well.
But first, I want to share some pictures of my incredibly awesome vacation in Honolulu & Maui! This post, Part I, will highlight the first part of my Hawaiian adventure Waikiki, while Part II will highlight Maui and Disney’s Aulani Resort back in Waikiki.
Waikiki, Honolulu, Hawaii
In Honolulu we stayed at the Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort which is right on beach, can’t get more perfect than that! Heather’s family vacations to Hawaii every 5 years to celebrate her parents wedding anniversary, this year they celebrated 40 years of marriage, so awesome. The Outrigger is where they stayed during their honeymoon, so it’s extra special, & I was so grateful to join them on this trip!
View from our room nice & early in the AM
Only the bestest of best friends will have Processo, wine, snacks, and beach essentials awaiting your arrival!
Here are some of my suggestions for how to move through, what to do, and where to eat, in Waikiki!
Taking Robert’s Hawaii (can be found on all of the islands) from the airport to your resort is hands down the best move to make. The round trip option, airport to hotel and vice-versa, for $30 ($15 each way) beats out any taxi or Uber price. Also, you’re greeted with a Lei upon arriving to Honolulu, a little something extra that just makes ya feel more welcome!
You can even use Robert’s Hawaii for tours, such as to Pearl Harbor, for a reasonable price (lunch included). We didn’t do this, but after totaling up transportation + ticket fees + snacks at Pearl Harbor, it’s a decent deal.
The Waikiki Trolly is also a great way to explore Honolulu- there are multiple lines, all of the stops are perfect for tourists, and as long as your trolly pass is valid you can hop-on-hop-off as you please. I didn’t use the Trolly at all since I was not in Waikiki long, but I’ve heard, and it looked, like a great transportation option. Heather’s parents used it, and they’ve used it many times before, and they agree!
If you aren’t using Robert’s Hawaii or the Trolly for transport, I highly advise using Uber. Taxis aren’t guaranteed to take credit, and when we did use a taxi it was double the price of an Uber X. We took Reliable Shuttle Service to and from Pearl Harbor, suggested by our resort, and it was a disaster. We made multiple stops, mostly to the airport, and it took forever. On the way back from Pearl Harbor we were so close to Waikiki, our driver got a call from dispatch to pick people up from the airport, and during rush hour, we turned around to pick them up- making the trip back to the resort about 1.5 hours.
Obviously, the number one stop for anybody visiting Hawaii needs to be Pearl Harbor. I was looking forward to visiting and I know I will be back here in the future. Couple of things to note before visiting Pearl Harbor…no bags allowed, and it costs $3 to check your bag. If you plan on seeing all the Pearl Harbor areas have to offer, which is a lot, plan on a half to full day. I took us about 2 hours to go through the USS Missouri alone, which was an awesome experience.
Also, something I didn’t really focus on until I was there is the prices for all of the memorials, museums, etc. It’s $7.50 to visit the USS Arizona Memorial but it is more expensive to visit the other areas such as the USS Missouri, USS Oklahoma Memorial, USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park, and the Pacific Aviation Museum. There’s an option to purchase all of the aforementioned spots in a bundle, which is def the way to go instead of paying for it all separately (does not include the admission to the USS Arizona).
Double also, there were quite a few individuals around us who apparently just did not understand where they were or why it was so important to be reflective and oh I don’t know…QUIET. So, that was frustrating and, if you know me you know this is totally true, I almost turned around and told them to shut up. However, after 20 seconds of consideration, rather then being disrespectful to the purpose of my visit, I just did the bitch face stare down instead, and I think that worked. Point is, you will probably run into some people who are not so respectful (this apparently happens often), so don’t be alarmed.
Overlooking Pearl Harbor
Enjoying a relaxing catamaran ride aboard Kepoikai II Catamaran for $25 is a total must while in Waikiki. The boat was nice & well kept, an on board Mai Tai was strong and inexpensive, and…WE SAW DOLPHINS. LOTS OF DOLPHINS, enjoying their perfect Hawaiian dolphin life. We had excellent views of Diamond Head and the hour and a half ride was great. Also, there’s a dog crew member on board, so I mean, it was destined to be perfect. Bonus: day and sunset cruise options.
I love learning about history, especially if that history involves ghosts, so Heather’s sister had the bright idea of taking us on the Myths & Legends of Waikiki walking tour, which I loved! It was over 2 hours long, but filled with tons of stories and historical facts about Hawaii, along with creepy ghost and spirit stories of course. We started our tour at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, which is a super cute area of Waikiki to walk around and go shopping or grab a bite to eat. If you’re looking for a cute fun thing to do, this is perfect for any age.
Sunset during our tour near the Hilton.
Moana Surfrider’s Veranda has an awesome breakfast buffet andmenu for those of us who prefer to orderà la carte. They also have a Canella blood orange mimosa, and it was so very tasty. This hotel is incredible and I need to stay here one day.
Breakfast views, too bright so you can’t really see, but that’s the ocean right in front of me!
Duke’s Waikiki, a restaurant in our hotel, also had a great breakfast buffet for only $17. Everything was fresh, hot, and tasted delish. They also let us watch soccer at 7am while drinking mimosas and screwdrivers…something I’m pretty sure D.C. doesn’t allow.
Heather’s parents had their vows renewed by the Captain of the Star of Honolulu, where we had an awesome surf & turf, steak and lobster, dinner. It wasn’t your average dinner cruise, it was upscale with an added Luau type show, a super fun night to celebrate an amazing accomplishment of 40 years of marriage!!
I’d never taken apart my own lobster, but I think I did an okay job??
This is how we always take pictures.
Before our Legends of Waikiki tour we had happy hour at Doraku which is a great sushi place, no frills, great drinks & food, perfect price point. The Lomi Lomi roll & Spicy Tuna roll were great, and Heather & I loved the hot options on the happy hour menu, although I can’t recall any of the names of the dishes now! Also, hibiscus vodka is incredible.
One night Heather & I decided to grab some after dinner drinks back over at the Moana Surfrider’s Beach Bar, which is a much more upscale beach bar than what one is typically used to. The handcrafted cocktails were excellent, and we split the Ahi Nachos, which were also pretty good, although Heather noted the ahi wasn’t as fresh as it could’ve been, but I still thought it was yummy!
Final verdict is, everyone should go to Waikiki, NOW.
DCPS had a late spring break this year…it seriously took forever to finally arrive, and when it did I hopped on a plane with my girl Tiana to Cozumel, Mexico!
I’m happily surviving my first year of teaching, so why not treat myself…right??? RIGHT?????
We stayed at the Hotel Cozumel & Resort, which was nice…nothing spectacular, but really, I didn’t care. It was all inclusive, which was perfect. The food was okay, but the drinks were pretty decent, so once again, really who cares.
Naturally, we swam with dolphins at Dolphin Discovery in Chankanaab National Reef Park, because who wouldn’t want to swim with dolphins????? I also had the opportunity to swim with manatees, and OH MY GOD, they are just the most amazing creatures ever. I’ve always loved manatees, so I was freaking out- they’re adorable and just so large and cuddly!! Sadly, they don’t take pictures of you swimming with them, which made me mad, but oh well.
[Dress: LOFT, last year, no longer available]
We also visited the Mayan ruins at Tulum on the mainland. Those Mayans were effing psycho… Anyway, the ferry ride over to Playa del Carmen was super easy and once we were there we took a simple tour followed by beach time.