Posts filed under Travel

Making Memories at Alden Suites Beachfront Resort in St. Petersburg

One of my favorite cities in Florida is St. Petersburg, which is located in the gulf coast and is part of the Tampa Bay area. From the Dali Museum, to amazing shopping and culinary experiences, this city has so much to offer.

A couple of weeks ago, Alden Suites invited a group of Central Florida bloggers to enjoy a weekend stay in their beachfront resort.

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As soon as we arrived, we were greeted by the friendly staff and were treated to a welcome reception, which included a speech from the CEO of the resort as well as delicious appetizers and drinks from 1200 Chophouse, a local St Pete steakhouse.

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After mingling and getting to know the other bloggers, we were all treated to a sunset cruise- which was the highlight of the evening! There is nothing more beautiful and peaceful than watching the sun set from the water. The colors in the sky were simply breathtaking!

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The next morning we woke up refreshed and ready to take on the action packed day. Alden Suites, in collaboration with Suncoast Watersports, provided a bucket list of activities for us to take part in. The great thing about Alden Suites is that you can have the best of both worlds- great atmosphere to just kick back relax and work on your tan or fun water activities to get your blood flowing.

We opted for both!

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We decided to do waverunners and parasailing but there is also paddleboarding, kayaking and snorkeling available.

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After all the fun in the sun, we worked up a huge appetite! Luckily, Snapper’s food truck was on property, so we didn’t have to go far for lunch. We both ordered the Mahi Mahi tacos and they were the best seafood tacos I’ve ever had! So fresh and flavorful!

Plus, you can’t beat lunch with a view!

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From start to finish, Alden Suites provided an unforgettable weekend filled with comfort, fun and a WOW factor found all throughout the property.

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Situated on four acres of private beachfront, Alden Suites boats 141 one-bedroom suites, each designed with the comforts of home. Amenities include free Wi-Fi throughout the resort and every guestroom, plush beds, flat screen HD TV’s, fully equipped kitchenettes (with Publix grocery deliver service available), large closets, and comfy living rooms with plenty of space to spread out.

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Most rooms also feature private balconies with stunning views of the pristine white sand beach.

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It’s no surprise this beautiful beachfront resort boats Trip Advisor’s Award of Excellence and Traveler’s Choice- providing the perfect combination of relaxation, recreation and value.

Take a look at all the suites available and book your next vacation at Alden Suites!

*GIVEAWAY*

Alden Suites was nice enough to give one of my readers the chance to WIN a Two (2) Night Stay in a Poolside One Bedroom Suite! All you have to do is follow me @fiorella.reategui and @AldenSuites on Instagram and tag who you would take with you on my latest IG post. Super easy!

Winner will be chosen on 11/19/18.

Good luck!


Posted on October 26, 2018 and filed under Travel.

Airplane Must Have Items For Traveling

Traveling is something I could never grow tired of doing.  I always look forward to boarding the plane and exploring a new country or city!

This year my mom is turning the big 6-0, and we're celebrating this milestone in Italy!!

I'm returning to this beautiful country after seven years! Last time I was there was back in 2011, and I didn't get the opportunity to explore the Coast. For this trip, my family is renting a car and we’ee driving from Rome all the way to Positano! Excited doesn't even come close to describing my emotions!

Since I'm no stranger to traveling, I've narrowed down the top must-have items I take with me on a plane.

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Airplanes and airports are notoriously known for being extremely cold, no matter your destination.

I like to dress comfortably. Which means flats, hair up and no makeup.

I typically wear either jeans or leggings, and I never board without a jacket or sweater. I made the mistake one time and nearly froze to death! 

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Now to my backpack items and my airplane must haves for traveling.

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Book: My flights are generally over 2 hrs, so it's the perfect opportunity to catch up on some reading.

Snack: Airplane snacks are never healthy, mostly chips and soda. I like to bring an energy bar that will keep me full throughout the flight and will avoid me from falling into temptation. 

Earphones: If I’m not in the mood to read, watching a movie in-flight is the best way to pass the time. Unless you want to purchase earphones, I suggest you bring your own.

Glasses: I never wear my contacts when flying. I tend to sleep on the plane, so contacts become uncomfortable and dry up easily. 

Facemask: Airplanes are harsh on your skin. A 15 mins mask will leave your face feeling refreshed and hydrated. Plus you’ll be in your seat so no one will see you. 

Journal: I like to document my traveling journey whenever I can. Taking 5 mins to write down three things you’re grateful for will start your trip on a positive note. 

Cleaning Wipes: Let’s face it, planes are filled with germs. I like to wipe my pull-down tray before I use it and when I finish eating I like to clean my face and hands. Luckily, I carry the Kleenex Germ Removal wipes with me on my trips. 

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The wipes are free from dyes, alcohol, parabens, sulfates, and phthalates.

No harsh chemicals means they are gentle enough for your hands and face.

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There are 3 types of Kleenex Wet Wipes - and Target sells them each for only $1.49!

* Gentle Clean (blue pack, 24-ct)

* Germ Removal (orange pack, 20-ct)

* Sensitive (green pack, 20-ct)

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Now you can clean your hands, face or body on demand, no sink required. This on-the-go germ removal is perfect for traveling!

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What are your travel must haves?


Posted on April 3, 2018 and filed under Travel.

#Come2Germany: Wiesbaden

My next #Come2Germany destination took me to the stunning city of Wiesbaden!

From the moment I stepped off the train, I knew I was going to love this city. The architecture and people immediately drew me in. There are certain places you travel to and for some strange reason, they feel like home.

Wiesbaden was one of them.

After I checked into my hotel, the Radisson Blue - which by the way, is the most beautiful hotel I've ever stayed in, I met up with the Wiesbaden's Marketing Director, Yvonne Skala, for dinner and drinks in the city center.

Radisson Blue - Wiesbaden

We had dinner at a cute corner restaurant called Wenzels.  I had such a great evening with her. We talked for hours about everything- life, relationships, blogging, traveling- you name it. It felt like I'd known her for years. I wished I would've taken a picture with her that night, but we were so engulfed in the conversation that I forgot to ask. Perhaps that will be my excuse to visit Wiesbaden again!

The next morning I woke up early and ventured into the city plaza. Whenever I travel, I love to walk around and explore. No set agenda. Just walk and take in as much as I can- the sights, smells and sounds.

During my little stroll, I came across a cute Farmer's market. I hadn't had breakfast yet, so the timing was perfect. It was hard to decide on what to eat with all the different cheese and bread options, but I opted for a healthy fruit juice instead.

Farmer's Market- Wiesbaden
Farmer's Market- Wiesbaden
Farmer's Market - Wiesbaden
Farmer's Market- Wiesbaden

After a few hours of sightseeing, I went back to my hotel and took a much needed nap. If you follow me on Snapchat, then you already saw how amazing my room was at the Radisson Blu. I got spoiled and was given a Junior Suite just for little ol' me! I could've  stayed in my bed all day. Thankfully, I set my alarm and woke up in time to get ready and meet up with my tour guide, Patrick, to do some evening sightseeing.

Wiesbaden is equally as beautiful in the day time as it is in the night time. There is so much history and culture found in every corner.

Our evening tour took us to Balthasar Ress for some wine tasting and light bites. Patrick and I enjoyed a private sitting area with plenty of wine and the company of the restaurant owner.

The next day was all about relaxation. I was treated to a few spa treatments, including a footbath and massage at the Radisson Blu Spa.

Wiesbaden Toursim certainly knows how to treat their guests!

From day one, I felt like a princess with their generosity and hospitality. The hotel staff was also top notch. I truly felt like a VIP.

Next stop: Baden Baden!


Posted on September 7, 2016 and filed under Travel.

#Come2Germany: Rüdesheim am Rhein

One of the many things I love about Europe is how easy and convenient it is to commute via trains.

Although I did miss one train throughout my #Come2Germany trip, I still consider it a success- and goes to show you that if I can get around from city to city, virtually anyone can. I'm the most disoriented person there is and still managed to safely get to my next destination.

The storybook city of Rüdesheim.

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All you need is a day or two to fully enjoy this pictutuersqe town. I only spent half a day in Rüdesheim and still managed to do so much without feeling rushed.

The first stop of the day was the Siegfried’s Mechanical Music Cabinet- an exhibition that houses one of the most extensive collections of self-playing instruments in the world. The museum features a range of exhibits from fragile music boxes to the gigantic piano-orchestrion.

I've never been to anything like it. Such a quirky and different experience.

Siegfried’s Mechanical Music Cabinet
Siegfried’s Mechanical Music Cabinet
Siegfried’s Mechanical Music Cabinet
Siegfried’s Mechanical Music Cabinet
Siegfried’s Mechanical Music Cabinet
Siegfried’s Mechanical Music Cabinet

During the planning stages of my #Come2Germany trip, I came across a picture on Germany Tourism's Facebook page that blew me away. I immediately added the location to my wish list.

Hotel Lindenwirt.

Hotel Lindenwirt

And what's so special about this hotel?

If you look closely, at the bottom of the building, there are six unique guest rooms made from wine barrels.

Yes, wine barrels!

Hotel Lindenwirt

When these old wine barrels couldn't be used for wine production anymore, someone came up with the innovative idea of turning them into hotel rooms.

Inside each barrel are two small beds, living area and a bathroom.

Hotel Linderwirt
Hotel Lindenwirt
Hotel Lindenwirt
Hotel Lindenwirt
Hotel Lindenwirt
Hotel Lindenwirt

If staying in one of the wine barrel rooms is on your bucket list, make sure you book months in advanced. Due to the limited quantity, availability is not always open.

One of the main attractions in Rüdesheim is taking the cable car, Seilbahn Rüdesheim, to see the Niederwald Monument. The monument is only a small part of the experience. The peaceful and scenic journey up the hill offers the best views of the vineyards, town and the Rhine River. 

Absolutely breathtaking!

Seilbahn Rüdesheim - Cable Car
Seilbahn Rüdesheim
Seilbahn Rüdesheim - Cable Car
Seilbahn Rüdesheim - Cable Car
Seilbahn Rüdesheim - Cable Car
View from Seilbahn Rüdesheim - Cable Car
Seilbahn Rüdesheim - Cable Car
Rudesheim cable car
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Walking up to the Niederwald Monument boasts incredible views as well.

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The Niederwald monument is located in the Niederwald park, overlooking the scenic Rhine valley. The monument was created between 1870 and 1880 as a commemoration of the historic unification of the German Empire after the Franco-Prussian war came to an end.

The central part of the Niederwalddenkmal depicts the figures of Germania and William I. With its location on the edge of the forest and with scenic vineyards to its southern and western sides, a walk up to the historic monument provides beautiful panoramic views.

Niederwald Monument
Niederwald Monument

After sightseeing for a few hours, it was time to relax and enjoy a nice chilled drink.

My drink of choice: Riesling!

Riesling originated in the Rhine region of Germany and is one of my favorite types of wine.

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riesling wine in rudhesheim

Rüdesheim am Rhein is one of Germany’s most scenic wine regions. Next to its extensive vineyards, the city’s rich cultural and historic background make it one of the most intriguing places to visit in the country.

After enjoying my glass(es) of wine, I walked around for a bit and stumbled upon a sunset cruise.

I had a couple of hours to spare before my train departure and the cruise seemed like a fun way to pass the time.

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Rüdesheim Sunset boat ride
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Rüdesheim
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As I stepped off the cruise, I was greeted by the most beautiful sunset I've ever seen. I quickly grabbed my camera out of my purse and snapped away. I didn't want to miss capturing this natural masterpiece.

After a few pictures, I put the camera away and just admired the sun until it disappeared below the mountains.

I couldn't have asked for a better way to end my day in Rüdesheim.

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Posted on June 6, 2016 and filed under Travel.

#Come2Germany: Düsseldorf

After a long 9 hour flight and almost a 2 hour train ride from Frankfurt Airport, I finally made it to the first city of my #Come2Germany trip.

The beautiful city of Düsseldorf!

Before arriving, I didn't know too much about Düsseldorf. The only information I was given was that it's a city in western Germany known for it's fashion industry and art scene.

Fashion and Art? Sold!

As soon as I arrived to my hotel, I dropped off my bags and met up with my tour guide to immediately start exploring this metropolitan city- and before the jetlag set in.

We took a double decker bus and went to the Königsallee, which is an urban boulevard known for its landscaped canal and fashion showrooms and luxury retail stores surrounding it.

We strolled around and admired the picturesque scenery. How breathtaking is the canal perfectly adorned by the Autumn leaves?

Nicknamed Kö by the locals, which literally translates to "Kings Avenue", the Königsallee is by far Germany's most busiest and upscale shopping street.

Even if you don't do any shopping, it's still worth exploring this luxurious area.

Close by is the Kö-Bogen, or the "King’s Bow", which is a large-scale office and retail complex whose sinuous form hugs the point where the Königsallee Boulevard converges with the newly created Hofgarten Park promenade.

The complex sits on two plots, comprised of two structures—one to the east, the other to the west—separated on the ground by a central pedestrian passageway and joined above by a two-story bridge.

The façade is intricately patterned: horizontal from some vantage points, vertical from others, and conceived so that the arrangement of stone and glass panels and aluminum louvers express a homogenous interpretation.

Later in the evening, we ventured to Old Town Düsseldorf, also known as Altstadt.

The Old Town has an area of half a square kilometer- which is less than a quarter of a percent of the whole city and has less than a percent of Düsseldorf's population.

When people visit Düsseldorf, they'll most likely come across an image of a cartwheel during their stay. They are one of the most popular Düsseldorf souvenirs and the city is filled with references and statues of these cartwheelers.

The most famous one is this Cartwheel Fountain in the city’s historic Old Town.

*Fun Fact: The city founded an annual cartwheel championship in 1937, and now more than 700 boys and girls from up to 15 countries compete every year

One of the highlights of the day was riding on The Wheel of Vision, an impressive structure placed on the Burgplatz next to both the Rhine promenade and Old Town (Altstadt), that offers spectacular views and pictures of the river and city.

After a long day of traveling and sightseeing, I went back to my hotel room and knocked out. It's a good thing too, since the next day was another jam packed day of exploring, this time on my own, without a tour guide.

Luckily, I was given a metro and wifi card. A traveler's best friends!

While walking around and taking in all of Düsseldorf's beauty, a big bright wall caught my eye.

If you know me, you know I'm a huge fan of murals. So naturally, I veered off my itinerary schedule and went to take a closer look.

The mural was massive!!

After taking a few pictures, I sat down and admired the wall for a couple of minutes. I think in that moment it finally hit me: I'm in Germany! The day before had been so nonstop that I didn't have time to process where I even was.

Whenever I travel, I love to take time to reflect on what I'm seeing and feeling. It makes you appreciate the journey just a bit more.

Ok, now back to this unbelievable wall!

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The 27 meter long mural, called Hornets, is located on Paul-Klee-Platz, directly behind the Kunstsammlung. I later researched the person responsible for this art piece is English-American artist and filmmaker, Sarah Morris.

She used hand-painted tiles whose overall honeycombed structure alludes to the movements of hornets, hence the mural name.

Sarah Morris’s paintings and site-specific murals are positioned along the threshold between the geometric abstract art of modernism and contemporary graphic design. You can check out more of her work here.

After the mini detour, I headed to Breuninger, where I met up with Dusseldorf Tourism's Marketing team to get a private tour of the five story shopping center.

Breuninger is one of the oldest and most successful department stores in Europe. Founded in 1881, it still remains as one of the best places for luxury shopping.

The company’s passion for style and it's outstanding focus on service has established its status as a premium retailer, guaranteeing an exceptional shopping experience. Today Breuninger operates 11 department stores in Germany, with it's flagship store in Stuttgart and Düsseldorf.

All the stores bring together exclusive fashion, beauty, shoes and accessories from lifestyle labels and luxury brands like Armani, Burberry, Chanel, Céline, Gucci, Jimmy Choo, Prada, and Valentino.

Customers preferring to shop in an atmosphere of privacy can take advantage of the exclusive personal shopping VIP area.

For lunch, we ate at the Breuninger Restaurant, located inside the massive shopping center. I tried, for the first time, an Apfel-Schorle- a sweet apple juice fruit spritzer.   

It paired perfectly with my delicious shrimp pasta. Yum!

My next destination took me to the NRW-Forum museum, where the exhibition called "Ego Update" was being displayed.

I was really looking forward to seeing this project. The Ego Update cleverly illustrates how the "selfie" and digital revolution has influenced and changed photography all over the world. 

"The future of the digital identify revolves around the phenomenon of the "selfie", investigating the fundamental question of "Who am I?" is taking shape, changing and evolving under the influence of digital media. How are world-wide digital and technological developments encroaching on human identity, and what kind of society will ultimately emerge?"

The word selfie was confirmed as the English word of the year in 2013. In 2014 Time magazine declared Düsseldorf the selfie capital of Germany.

Crazy huh?

"I photograph and document, therefore I am" - Ego Update.

Well hello there Mr. Ryan Gosling!

You haven't truly lived until you've seen an actual foot selfie ramp.

Yes people, a selfie ramp!

Taking a selfie in a selfie exhibit.

How appropriate!

After seeing all those selfies, it was time for a drink!

I headed back to Old Town, to dine and taste the famous Altbier (German for "old beer") at Zum Schlüüssel Brewery.

Altbier is a style of beer originating in Germany and is a speciality of Düsseldorf.

Although I'm not a beer drinker, I was pleasantly surprised I enjoyed (and finished) their famous in house beer, the Original Schlüssel. For being a dark beer, it wasn't too strong and it had somewhat of a mild sweet taste.

My kind of beer!

With a beer in hand is how I ended my Düsseldorf trip.

Thank you to Düsseldorf Tourism's Marketing team for planning such a fun itinerary and making sure I had the best time possible.

Next stop on my #Come2Germany adventure: Rüdesheim!

Stay tuned!


Posted on November 23, 2015 and filed under Travel.

#Come2Germany Social Media Ambassador

I'm back from my #Come2Germany Trip!!

The week spent in Germany felt surreal. I experienced my first international solo trip and had the pleasure of working with the wonderful people from the German National Tourist Office.

What a dream!

As most of you may know, I competed in an online voting contest to become a Social Media Brand Ambassador for the German National Tourist Office. It was a month long, extremely competitive contest that had me losing sleep every night!

But in the end, it was all worth it!

I won!!

For one week, I explored the western region of Germany.

The primary focus of my trip consisted of fashion, wine and spa experiences within the cities of Düsseldorf, Assmannshausen, Wiesbaden, Rüdesheim, and Baden-Baden.

#Come2Germany Fio

I traveled to Germany once before, back in 2011,  but only visited the city of Berlin- which is located in the north. I was beyond excited to get the chance to sightsee another region of this beautiful country.

If you follow me on Instagram and Facebook, you probably saw a few pictures I posted already. I'll be sure to publish full blog posts describing each city within the next few days, so make sure to keep a lookout for those.

It still doesn't seem real that I was given this amazing opportunity. I remember being overwhelmed with so many different emotions before boarding the plane. I felt happiness, nervousness, but most of all, gratitude.

There are no words to express how thankful I am for everyone who voted. To have so many people care enough to invest their time and energy on me is truly a testament on what an incredible support system I have. And something I'll never forget.

Thank you so much for believing in me. I couldn't have accomplished this without you.

Stay tuned for all my fun German adventures!


Posted on November 16, 2015 and filed under Travel.

It's Rum Time! Savoring Puerto Rico

A few years ago, my three good friends and I took a relaxing weekend trip to Puerto Rico. We wanted to go somewhere tropical, full of culture and that was close to Florida.

La Isla Del Encanto ended up being the ideal destination!

Two of my friends had previously been to San Juan, so they knew quite well all the good spots to eat and visit.

Hello personal tour guides!

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We started off the trip by checking off two mandatory Puerto Rican staples.

Eating delicious Mallorcas and exploring the breathtaking views of the 400 year old national historic site, El Morro.

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After sightseeing and walking under the heat all day, we had only one thing on our minds.

We quickly headed to a nearby bar to quench our thirst and enjoy Puerto Rico's national drink - and my personal favorite- the Piña Colada!

From the plethora of rum based drinks found around the island, to the cultural and historical significance behind them, rum plays a huge part of the Puerto Rican experience.

Did you know Puerto Rico is responsible for exporting over 70% of the rum consumed in the U.S? This beautiful country has been distilling rum for more than four decades, making the island the Rum Capital of the World.

Their roster only includes the finest brands like Bacardi, Don Q, Ron del Barrilito, Ron Llave and Palo Viejo.

Seeing that the Bacardi Distillery was located in San Juan and is the largest rum distillery in the world, we couldn't possibly leave Puerto Rico without paying them a visit.

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If you're a rum fan like me, I recommend checking out Rum Times!

Rum Times is a new web series created in partnership by Rums of Puerto Rico and HISTORY.COM, that explores world history through the eyes of Puerto Rican rum.

The series plays on the idea that, because Puerto Rico has been distilling this spirit for more than 450 years, Puerto Rican rum has probably been at the celebrations of many historical milestones throughout history.

In each episode, Rum Times recreates behind-the-scenes parties and celebrations of important achievements, such as the quest for electric light, the development of motion pictures, and the invention of sports.

What a fun and creative way to experience Puerto Rico and it's unique rum!

Now, pour yourself your favorite Puerto Rican rum cocktail and view the first episode of the series that showcases how Thomas Edison celebrated his invention of the light bulb.

Make sure to visit Rum Times to view the other episodes and obtain information and recipes for the world's best rum!

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Rums of Puerto Rico. All opinions are 100% mine.


Posted on May 4, 2015 and filed under Travel.

Birthday In Dubai!

To celebrate my birthday, I wanted to do something different. Something big. Something I had dreamt of doing for years.

I wanted to go to Dubai!!

After all, it was my 30th birthday, so it had to be extra special!

And that's exactly how the trip turned out. Unforgettable, filled with so much gratitude and excitement.

As you get older, you learn to appreciate the special moments spent with your loved ones a bit more. There's nobody else I'd rather see the world and celebrate a new chapter in my life, than with these three right here.

My family!

One of our first stops in Dubai was visiting it's downtown centerpiece, the Burj Khalifa. At over 2,716.5 ft and more than 160 stories, this skyscraper holds the record of being the tallest building in the world!

The views from the observation deck, At the Top- which is also the largest in the world- provides the most stunning and breathtaking views of this rich city.

Nestled at the bottom of the Burj Khalifia, is the Armani Hotel, the world's first hotel designed and developed by Giorgio Armani.

Everything about this hotel reflects pure elegance and sophistication. I can't even imagine what the price for a room there a night would be . But by just looking at the cars parked outside, my guess would be:  outrageously expensive!

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Another area that offers picture perfect views of Dubai, especially at night, is the Dubai Marina.

How lucky are the residents that live there? So beautiful!

Everything in Dubai is so grandiose and extravagant. Even their mall is something else. The Dubai Mall is by far the biggest and most beautiful mall I've ever been to. A shopper's dream!

One of the many extraordinary things you can find inside the mall is the Dubai Aquarium.

Yes, an actual aquarium!

The next day we took a boat ride on the Dubai Creek. It was a neat experience to see a completely different side of the city- not just the high end malls and high rises that most people associate Dubai with.

After a 15 mins ride, the boat dropped off us in the north side of the creek called Old Deira, which is located in Old Dubai. 

We then walked to the Gold Souk- it was a must.

I was in heaven. Gold everywhere!

On the actual day of my birthday, we got to see the famous Burj Al Arab, the most luxurious hotel in the world!

Unfortunately, the only way to get in, is if you're a guest staying there. They have tight security all around the premises. And at around $2,000/night, I think I'll settle with just seeing if from the outside.

But, trust me, you can still admire and take pretty pictures from far away... and not go broke!

Later on, Dani and I had a lovely sister day.

We had a sushi lunch date at Katsuya, that had the most amazing view of the Burj Khalifa and Dubai Fountain. 

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We were even treated to an unexpected fountain show while we were having lunch.

Dubai has such an architectural mixture of traditional and modern luxury- and it's evident when you tour the city.

We drove to one of the Palm Islands, Palm Jumeirah, but there's really not much to do there since it's all primarily residential buildings. The only thing worth seeing is The Atlantis- and only from the outside- unless you're dinning or staying there, you're not allowed inside.

My Birthday trip was everything I wished for and more.

From exploring Abu Dhabi, to marveling the beauty of the Dubai Desert, to sightseeing all over Dubai. What more could a girl ask for?

Here's to making my 30th my best year yet!


Posted on February 26, 2015 and filed under Travel.

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque - Abu Dhabi

If you only have time to see one thing in Abu Dhabi, make sure it's the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.

The first word that comes to mind when describing this mosque, is simply breathtaking! It reminds me of the Taj Mahal in India- which is another landmark that is absolutely stunning beyond belief.

While we were in Dubai, we decided to take the less than 2 hour drive to Abu Dhabi. It's a small, fairly new city that is rapidly developing and becoming one of the wealthiest cities in the world.

We visited a few other places in Abu Dhabi, but the main reason we went, was for the Sheikh Zayed. I remember seeing it in one of those Beautiful Destination Instagram accounts, and was mesmerized by the picture! And since we were already heading to Dubai, it was perfect timing.

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To enter the mosque, ladies have to cover up. No part of the body can be exposed, including hair. Even though I was wearing jeans and a long sleeve shirt, I was still provided with an Abaya, a black robe, in order to comply with their strict rules. I suggest bringing a nice colorful scarf to add contrast- which looks nice in pictures.

Be prepared to be hot, very hot! An abaya and scorching weather, is not the best combination - but if it means being able to enter this architectural delight, then it's totally worth it!

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When taking pictures, men and women are not allowed to touch- even if you're related. I got reprimanded for hugging my dad - so make sure to keep your distance.  

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Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque was initiated by the late president of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who wanted to establish a structure which unites the cultural diversity of Islamic world, the historical and modern values of architecture and art.

The mosque was constructed from 1996 to 2007.  It is the largest mosque in the United Arab Emirates and the eighth largest mosque in the world.

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The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque has seven imported chandeliers from the company Faustig, in Munich Germany, that incorporates millions of Swarovski crystals. The largest chandelier, is the second largest known chandelier inside a mosque, the third largest in the world and has a 33 ft diameter and 49 ft height.

The carpet in the main prayer hall is considered to be the world's largest carpet made by Iran's Carpet Company and designed by Iranian artist Ali Khaliqi. The carpet measures 60,570 sq ft, and was made by around 1,200-1,300 carpet knotters. The weight is 35 tons and is predominantly made from wool (originating from New Zealand and Iran). There are 2,268,000,000 knots within the carpet and it took approximately two years to complete.

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The library, located in the north/east minaret, serves the community with classic books and publications addressing a range of Islamic subjects: sciences, civilization, calligraphy, the arts, coins and includes some rare publications dating back more than 200 years.

Such a unique and beautiful cultural experience. A must see if you're ever in Abu Dhabi!


Posted on February 5, 2015 and filed under Travel.

Desert Dreaming in Dubai

How could I even begin to describe my trip to Dubai! It was everything I envisioned and more.

Nothing short of magical.

During our stay in Dubai, my family and I decided to venture out of the city and do some Dubai Desert exploring. I've been to a desert before, the Sahara Desert in Morocco, but was still as excited as if it were my first time.

There is something so peaceful and beautiful in being surrounded by a sea of nothing but sand. Something I recommend everyone doing once in their lifetime.

Being able to share this experience with my family made it that much more special.

Neiman Marcus: Teal Top │Angie: Pant Leggings│Alfino: Scarf│ Michael Kors: Flat Sandals│ Karmic Blessings: Mala Inspired Bracelets │ Marc Jacobs: Sunglasses 

I've always wanted to go Dune Bashing. It looked like so much fun and something different to do. Little did I know, it was going to be the most scariest car ride of my life! I honestly thought we were going to roll over and die!

Ok, I'm exaggerating, maybe not die- but it was definitely a terrifying experience. 

All that movement actually made me sick and nauseous! Luckily, the scenery made up for it.

I tried to capture what it felt like being tossed around in the desert, but obviously the video doesn't do it justice. At least you'll be able to hear our screams! Ha!

After playing in the sand, it was time for our dinner and belly dancing show.

My dad wanted to be cool and get his very own turban.

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If you ask me, I think he succeeded. 

He looked very cool! :)


Posted on January 29, 2015 and filed under Travel.

The Hamptons

The Hamptons

I've been to New York several times before yet I never ventured out of the Manhattan area. There is always something to see and do in the Big Apple, that sometimes there's no need to leave the city.

Since I was going to be spending a month in New York, I figured it was the perfect time to explore - and the Hamptons seemed like a great choice.

My sister was joining me for the weekend, so we decided to rent a car and take the mini road trip. It was only about 2 hours from the city.

I've always been intrigued with visiting The Hamptons. In my mind, I pictured it as being a party city with celebrities always roaming around.

It was quite the opposite!

It was actually a pretty and peacefully quiet town.

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The Hamptons
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The Hamptons

The first thing I wanted to see was the Dash store.

I admit, I'm one of those people who actually like and enjoy watching The Kardashians. It's my guilty pleasure!

Their Dash store was designed as a pop up shop, only in the Hamptons for the summer. So obviously I just had to pay them a visit!

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The Hamptons
Dash Hamptons

Look who I found in front of their store:

Buddha!  

Buddha Hamptons

Even though the weather was gloomy and drizzling, we wanted to stop by the beach and take a look.

As you could imagine, there was no one there except for us and this little guy.

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Our next stop was the Montauk Point Lighthouse, which is a national historic landmark located in Montauk, about 45 mins from South Hampton.

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Montauk Lighthouse
Montauk Lighthouse

I'm afraid of heights, especially when going up small confined staircases, so going up was not pleasant at all!

But my sister seemed to handle it better than I did.

Dani going up like a pro!

Dani going up like a pro!

Montauck Lighthouse
Montauck Point

Despite having to go up those scary stairs, the view was well worth it!

Montauck Lighthouse

This is why we love to travel.

To get to see new places. To reflect and take in the all the beauty that surrounds us.

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Montauck
Montauck

After spending a beautiful day exploring, we were ready to head back to the city.

While we were driving back, a vineyard caught our eye.

Since there was still some daylight left, we decided to pop in and sample some wine.

Wolffer Estate Vineyard Hamptons

The place was called, Wölffer Estate Vineyard, and it ended up being the highlight of our trip!

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Wolffer Estate Hamptons
Wolffer Estate Hamptons
Wolffer Estate Hamptons
Picture perfect scenery!

Picture perfect scenery!

I don't think the day could've ended on a better note.

Wolffer Estate Hamptons

Great way to end our amazing weekend trip to The Hamptons!

Posted on December 4, 2014 and filed under Travel.

Airboat Adventure

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The last time I went airboating,  I was 7 years old. I went to the Everglades with my family when we used to live in Miami. That was a long time ago, but I remember it being such a fun experience. When I got invited by Marsh Landings Adventures Airboat Tours to go on their airboat ride, I was ecstatic to experience airboating all over again!

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Marsh Landings Airboat Tours is located in the St. Cloud area, about 30 minutes from Orlando. The waterway that you go on is actually connected to the beginning part of the Everglades. That gives you an idea on how massive the Everglades really is.

I invited my friend Brenda to join me. The sun was shinning and we couldn't wait for our airboat adventure to begin!

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We took part of the 90 minute tour, on a 6 passenger boat. They also offer two other tours of 60 and 120 minutes.

With our hot pink headphones on, we were ready to go!

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We made sure to sit in the first two seats of the boat. We wanted to be in front of all the action!

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Yes, that's an alligator!!

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The alligators lay their eggs in mounds, like this one, that they build with swamp grass.

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At one point in the tour, we got close enough to see baby alligators- which obviously the overprotective mama alligator did not like. She started hissing at our boat.

I didn't even know alligators could hiss!

But we got the hint and continued on with the tour.

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We then came across this little guy. It's seems like he came out of nowhere.

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You can't tell by picture, but we were going pretty fast!

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Besides being on an airboat, I really enjoyed seeing all the beautiful scenery. It's not everyday that you get the chance to be that close to nature.

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If you're ever in the Orlando area and want to do something fun and different, then you should check out Marsh Landings Adventures Airboat Tours. It's an experience that the whole family will love.

Thank you again Marsh Landings, we had a great time!

Posted on October 13, 2014 and filed under Travel.

Cronut Mission Accomplished!

cronut

If you're wondering what in the world a Cronut is, let me introduce you.

Besides being my obsession for the past year, a Cronut is a cross between a donut and a croissant.

The pastry was created and trademarked by Chef Dominique Ansel in New York City. It was first introduced to the public on May 2013- and since then, I had been dreaming about sampling this delicious little creation.

These little $5 pastries caused a frenzy when they first came out. If you didn't have the time (or want) to stand in the long line (more on that later) or was lucky enough to get one (they only make 200 per day) then you could buy one for $40 on the black market.

You read that correctly, the black market!

The bakery quickly caught on and implemented a 2 Cronut per person rule, to avoid scalping from happening.

As you can already tell, these little guys are kind of a big deal!

Luckily, a few weeks ago, I attended a month-long course that happened to take place in New York. So you can imagine what was on the top of my New York to-do list.

Yep, you guessed it- my Cronut mission!

There was only one thing standing in the way between me and my Cronut.

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cronut line

Remember that long line I was talking about?

It wrapped around the corner!

(I guess I wasn't the only one obsessed with trying a Cronut.)

As I mentioned before, I was in New York for a whole month, but didn't attempt to try and get one until the last week I was there.

Why you ask?

Well, if there is something that I love more than food, is my sleep. And quite frankly, the thought of waking up before the sun came up for this bad boy, didn't seem too appealing. But how could I be in New York and not have one? I would never forgive myself!

So early Sunday morning, I woke up at 5:30am, got dressed and walked out the door determined and excited!

Since I'm not familiar with the subway system in New York, I decided to make the 45 minute walk to the bakery. I didn't want to risk hopping on the wrong train.

Determined people, determined!

After my mini exercise, I finally reached Dominique Ansel Bakery at 7:15 am.

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Doors don't open until 9am on Sundays, but if you want to have a chance on getting your hands on a cronut, then there is no way in getting around the 1-2 hr wait.

My friend Allison was suppose to meet me at the bakery around 7am but she was running late.

So it was just me, my hunger, the strangers in line, and the rain.

Oh I forgot to mention, it started to rain while I was in line!

And to make things worse, I decided to take the umbrella (that I had been carrying with me every single day) out of my purse to avoid having to walk around with too much weight.

But remember, nothing or no one was going to get in the way of me and my Cronut, not even a little rain!  Thankfully, I chatted up a few guys that were in front of me and they shared their umbrella. Lifesavers!

After 30 minutes, the rain stopped and an angel appeared with samples! It's like my prayers were answered!

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samples

There's nothing better than free food to make the time pass by faster.

Allison finally showed up at 9:15am, just in time to go into the bakery! (perfect timing)

We were greeted with a beautiful display of pastries.

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They looked delicious, but I only had one thing on my mind.

The Cronut!

As I was about to order, I somehow remembered that I had seen on The Today Show, Chef Ansel talking about his new creation- the frozen S'more. And the week prior to that, the bakery had unveiled their latest creation, the Pretzel "Lobster Tail".

So obviously I had to try them all!

This is what a nutritious, well-rounded breakfast looks like.

dominique ansel

And this is what a giddy, happy girl looks like.

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Allison was excited to try the S'more.

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s'more

The Frozen S'more consists of honey marshmallow wrapped around a Tahitian vanilla ice cream with chocolate wafer crisps, served on a smoked willow branch and torched to order.

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s'more

Delicious!

We decided to split the lobster tail since it looked big enough for both of us to share.

lobster tail

The "Lobster Tail" is a soft pretzel filled with peanut butter and buttercrunch, topped with Maldon sea salt and served with a whipped brown butter honey sauce.

After sampling the opening acts, I was ready for the main event- the star of the show!

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The moment had finally come!

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(insert cheering and the close-up)

cronut

So, I bet you're wondering...

Was it good?

YES!

I enjoyed it, although I would've preferred it plain, without the frosting and filling inside. The pastry dough with just the sugar would've been enough for me- that part was amazing!

Would I wait in line for them again?

NO!

I came, I saw, I conquered!

Plus, just the thought of waiting in that line again... no thank you.

If you're interested in trying a Cronut but are not in the New York City area and are not as crazy as I am to wait in a 2hr line, then you're in luck!

Chef Dominique Ansel is spilling his recipe secrets in his new cookbook. You can order his book Dominique Ansel: The Secret Recipes here.

You can take a glimpse of the detailed Cronut recipe, that was just released this week, here.

I don't know about you, but just looking at all the steps and knowing that it takes three days to make, makes the two-hour line, seem like a walk in the park.

If baking is not your forte, you can preorder the Cronuts online. Keep in mind, there is a 6 Cronut limit and you have to order at least two weeks in advance. The pre-order list fills out fast, so make sure you order ahead.

After a year long wait, I'm happy to finally be able to check off cronut off my list!

Now, I have to find something new to obsess over, any suggestions?

In the meantime, I'll...

cronut
Posted on October 8, 2014 and filed under Food & Entertaining, Travel.

What Lifts You: Street Art

New York

On my recent trip to New York, I visited the "What Lifts You" street art mural created by up and coming pen and ink artist, Kelsey Montague.

Montague's piece of street art is located between Kenmare and Mott St. in Manhattan's NoLita neighborhood. Combined with the hashtag #whatliftsyou, the artwork depicting angel wings is a strong statement about positivity and empowerment.

"Your wings already exist, all you have to do is fly"

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She created the wings with the hashtag #whatliftsyou, in hopes it would inspire people to interact with one another and share what inspires them.

What a creative way to spread such a beautiful message.

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I love the attention to detail on the wings. If you look closely, you can see New York city and what it represents to her and to many, on both sides.

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"I was so excited but pretty damn nervous when I first started. The wall seemed impossibly big and just flat out overwhelming, but starting is always the hardest part right? It got easier once I dove into it." Kelsey explained.

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Watch as Kelsey creates this masterpiece and talks about the concept behind her vision.

Kelsey has been busy replicating these wings all over the world. Her latest creations can be seen in Colorado and Costa Rica, with more to come.

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Costa Rica
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If you get the chance to view these wings and post your picture on social media, make sure to use the hashtag, #whatliftsyou, in order to include your picture to this rapidly growing online community.

Visit Kelsey's blog to see more behind the scene pictures and to catch up with her latest and future projects.

If you'd like to purchase her artwork, check out her Etsy shop.

Such a simple question but with so much beauty and power behind it.

What Lifts You?

Update: Thank you so much Kelsey for viewing the post. I'm beyond thrilled you liked it :)

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Posted on September 25, 2014 and filed under Travel.

Round The World Trip: London

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After settling in our room and Dani going over the safety procedures (you know, "lock all your belongings, don't leave anything lying around" type of rules) we migrated downstairs to the common area. I quickly discovered why hostels work.

(Clearly it's not the sleeping arrangement- as I experienced moments ago).

It's the social setting aspect of it. The being amongst people who are just like you. People who want to discover the world and are eager to connect and share stories. This is what staying at hostels is all about.

I have to say, being around that type of environment got me even more excited for the next few months.

After about an hour of chatting with a few people, we headed back to our room to finally rest. After all, the next day would officially be the first day of our much-anticipated Round The World trip!

Hello London!

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Thankfully the language was not a barrier for us yet, so getting around was a breeze.

The first thing I wanted to do before exploring more of the city, was to take the infamous red telephone booth picture. I know, such a tourist move, but hey, it's a London must!

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Since we were still recovering from the jet lag, we didn't plan too much for the first day. We just wanted to walk around and enjoy ourselves without cramming everything at once.

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How cute are the cabs?
How cute are the cabs?

After walking around for a few hours, we decided to take a stroll by the Thames River, which is located in an area called Southwark. It was the perfect place to people watch and grab a bite to eat.

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I'd never eaten fish n' chips before, so I was excited to finally try it. And what better place to do so than in England.

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After dinner, we wanted to walk a bit more before heading back to the hostel. We took a moment to stop and admire the Tower Bridge. Unfortunately, it was too late  for us to take the tour inside but from what I hear, it's highly recommended.

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The next day, we were fully recharged and ready to take on this beautiful city.

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Besides fish n' chips, red telephone booths, and double-decker buses, what else comes to mind when you think of London?

Big Ben of course!

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I'd like to point out that London is known to be gloomy. It's rare to have sunshine last throughout the day, so the fact that we managed to have perfect weather the whole three days that we were there, is unheard of.

So thank you London weather for being so good to us!

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Obviously, we wouldn't dare to leave London without saying Hi to the Queen, so next stop was Buckingham Palace.

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Wish we could've stayed longer in London, but our wallets were begging us to get out of there as soon as possible.

Because boy oh boy is it expensive! Easiest way to describe it, is to take your $100 bill and automatically cut it's worth in half.

Yikes, not pretty at all. But thankfully, the city was. I hope to return one day and discover more of what London has to offer.

But for now, it's off to our next adventure.

Paris!

I'll give you a glimpse on how we got there.

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Confused, intrigued, scared?

Good, so was I.

Posted on August 1, 2014 and filed under Travel.

Round The World Trip: The Journey Begins

I remember the day like it was yesterday.

May 31, 2011.

The day our journey began.

But let's rewind three months prior to that. I was standing in the airport with tears rolling down my face, as I was saying goodbye to my sister. She was about to embark on her once in a lifetime "Round The World" trip. I remember feeling so proud of her for what she was about to accomplish. Something that most people only dream of doing but never actually get the chance to.

She started off in Mexico, working her way down to South America. Posting all her adventures and sending us text messages of all the people and places she had seen.

Oh and did I mention, she was doing this alone?

To have the courage to do that, definitely takes a special type of person.

I remember looking at all her pictures and thinking to myself, "Wow, she's so lucky to be able to travel the world!" Places that I've only seen or read in books- she was actually living and seeing them in person.

So inspiring.

Little did I know, I was soon about to join her.

The plan was for her to spend three months in Central and South America, come home for a week, and then head back out to Europe for another three months.

As I mentioned in my previous post, a month before her arrival back home, a blessing in disguise would allow me to join her on the second leg of her trip.

Before I could even think about it, I was already booking my flight and agreeing to take part in this amazing trip of hers.

The countdown for her return seemed like an eternity.

I wanted to be on that plane already... heading to Europe!

It would be my first time overseas, so you could imagine the excitement I had built up in my head on what our journey would be like. Filled with amazing food and sightseeing. Everything would be perfect and I would have the time of my life.

Well, let's just say, the start of the trip was far from perfect. More like a disaster!

I remember thinking, "What the hell have I gotten myself into?"

The Bad And The Ugly

Remember how I said I would share with you the good, the bad, and the ugly parts of our Round the World trip?

Well, I wish I could start off with the good, but unfortunately, it didn't work that way for us.

Our First Mistake

Our flight from Orlando to London couldn't have gone any better. It was a direct non-stop flight on Virgin Atlantic, which is by far the best airline I've ever been on. Eight hours later, we had finally landed in Europe!

It was early morning when we landed, so the plan was to take a quick nap, then explore and take in the beautiful city of London. Except for one minor problem.

We didn't have a place to stay.

I know what you're thinking, who books a trip to Europe and doesn't book a hotel room, hostel, an apartment... something, anything??

These girls!

What had happened was...

Dani had explored all of Central and South America without ever having anything booked or planned. True backpacker style. She stayed at any hostel that was available and worked her way across from country to country without any major difficulties.

She assumed it was going to be the same way in Europe.

Boy was she wrong!

Our plane landed at 7:30am, 2:30am our time. The last thing I wanted to do was start looking for places to stay at that time. But that's exactly what we did.

We entered a Starbucks -which quickly became our best friend during the trip for their free WiFi- and started looking online.

Fast forward to 5pm and we still hadn't found anything.

By this point, I was beyond exhausted, hungry, bored and annoyed! How was it possible that everything in London (in our price range) was sold out?

I wanted to hop back on that plane and return home and forget all about this nightmare of a trip.

I could tell Dani felt bad.

I think she was more concerned about putting me in that situation then anything else. After all, in a way I was her responsibility. I was joining her on her trip.

Miraculously, somehow she found two beds available at a hostel nearby.

Hallelujah!!

We quickly grabbed our luggage, hopped on the metro, and reached our destination.

St. Christopher Village.

Before this trip, I  had no clue what a hostel was. And quite frankly, I didn't care either. I was just relieved that we were going to be able to finally sleep.

We check-in and went straight to our room.

I was already dreaming about opening the door and collapsing in my nice warm bed.

"Umm, what do you mean we have to share a room with eight other people???"

Yes, Fio, that's how hostels are.

Oh, great.

Day 1 on our Round The World trip, and only 89 more to go.

I promise, it gets better.

Posted on July 24, 2014 and filed under Travel.

Round The World Trip

Lately I've noticed many of friends traveling.

And while a part of me is extremely jealous, the other part is happy to see them going out and exploring this beautiful world we live in.

"Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer"

From my earliest memory, I could  remember taking a yearly trip with my family. Even if it wasn't a distant destination, my parents always made it a point for us to see a new part of the world, every year without fail. A tradition that we haven't broken yet. Till this day, grown up and all, we still go on those unforgettable trips.

And no, we didn't grow up rich or have an excess amount of money. Which I think is the biggest misconception about traveling. If you sat down and did the math on what you spend your money on each month, you'd be surprised on how much you actually waste.

Money that could easily go towards a plane ticket to anywhere in the world.

Traveling might not be for everyone- which always astonishes me when I hear that from someone- but hey, there are people like that out there. But for me, traveling has completely enriched my life.

Especially back in 2011.

That year will forever be engraved in my heart.

The Backstory

In 2011, my sister and I embarked on a "Round The World trip."

Actually, more like:

I joined my sister on her Round The World trip.

I could never take any credit for it. I'm just blessed and lucky enough to have been able to join her on this life changing experience.

Because that's exactly what it was. Completely life changing!

How It All Started

Back in 2010, my sister decided that she was going to save up for a whole year, quit her job and travel the world.  Simple plan, huh?

Well, in a way it was.  From what I've learned and seen through my sister, there's really not much to this madness. It just requires you to take the plunge and actually do it. Obviously there is planning  involved, but for the most part, and quite possibly the hardest part, it's all about following your heart and taking that leap of faith.

Which is what my sister Dani did.

I'm not going to lie, when she first mentioned about taking this trip, I thought she was completely crazy!

Well, my initial reaction was to ask her if  she had won the lotto.

After her disappointing no response, I asked her once more if she was crazy.

(I might have added an F word somewhere in there.)

At a time where people were struggling to obtain and keep their jobs, my sister was going to go ahead and quit hers- just like that?

Yep, all signs led to crazy.

What was even crazier was my parents' reaction:

Go for it!!!!

What??

Ok, not only did a have a crazy sister, but now I also had equally insane parents to add to the mix? I was starting to wonder if I was the crazy one for not seeing how this was a great idea.

I was hoping their lack of judgment would fade.

But it didn't.

And I can't tell you how happy I am for that.

The Most Asked Question

Hands down, it's the good ol' "funding" question.

In my case, I think everything aligned perfectly in order for me to take this trip. Like it was meant to be.  It was certainly not as well thought out or time-consuming as Dani's plan.

But I'll elaborate more on that later.

For my sister, it was a year of changing herself and rearranging her lifestyle. Cutting back in every way possible. This meant, no eating out, buying unnecessary things, and saving every penny she possibly could. I have to say, it was motivating to watch her do so.  For that, I have to applaud her. Maintaining that type commitment for a whole year is extremely difficult.

Being a witness to her dedication, made me realize that this trip was actually becoming a reality. It was also an eye opener to see how much a person could truly save when they put their mind to it.

Now back to my story.

It's not as compelling, to be honest.

I got laid off, had money saved up and newfound time on my hands.

Want to go around the world?

Sure, why not.

Let me remind you, that being part of this trip was never in my plans. I mean, who doesn't want to see the world? But the only thing I could think of was "How could I possibly join Dani on her trip??" I hadn't been planning for a whole year, I didn't have nearly as much money saved as her, but most importantly, I wasn't mentally ready to go on this crazy journey.

This was something my sister was preparing and planning for, for over a year- I had less than a month to do the same.

But this is when you don't question the opportunity the universe has given you.

You just take it!

It's funny how life works. When you have money, you don't have the time to travel. And when you have time to travel, you don't have the money.

Somehow, at that moment in my life, I had both.

At first I was upset from being let go. Even a little confused. But being laid off was by far the best thing that could have ever happened to me.

It gave me the chance to see the world.

With my best friend.

The biggest regret I have from this journey was not writing anything down. So many experiences and adventures that are now only kept in my lousy and forgetful memory. Luckily, I have pictures.

But it's not the same.

So, I'd like to officially welcome you to my new Round The World Journal.

Since I didn't blog back then or keep a diary, I'm going to recount my trip through this new series on my blog.

I want to have a place where I can look back and relive all those amazing moments again. It can also serve to give you inspiration and tips on places you've been wanting to visit.

I plan on sharing with you the stories and pictures from all the amazing destinations we went to. Recount all the incredible moments we experienced- and even the not so incredible and sometimes even scary moments.

The good, the bad, and the ugly parts of my Round The World Trip.

So get ready to follow me on the most memorable year of my life.

Posted on July 17, 2014 and filed under Travel.

The New SunRail

The excitement over the new SunRail has been building up all throughout Central Florida. Not only will this represent a huge advancement for the city of Orlando, but it will also offer a new and alternative travel choice for residents and visitors.

The SunRailis a commuter rail transit project that will run along a 61-mile stretch of existing rail freight tracks in the areas of Orange, Seminole, Volusia and Osceola counties.

The first phase of the SunRail will serve 12 stations, linking DeBary to Orlando. Phase two will serve 5 additional stations, north to DeLand and south to Poinciana.

Service is scheduled to begin on May 1, 2014.

Last weekend, I attended the grand opening of the Maitland station and had the opportunity to take a first look at the SunRail.

Inside it's so spacious!

One of the features of the SunRail is the added leg room. You will be able to actually enjoy the ride without feeling crammed.

Upstairs, you will find that the majority of the seats have tables- which makes it convenient for you to work on your laptop or read.

The SunRail also provides unlimited Wi-Fi and power outlets for your electronic devices.

How awesome is that!

I have to say, the seats were surprisingly comfortable.

The SunRail will provide free rides from May 1-16th. The free service is designed to allow passengers to experience the comfort and ease of commuting on the SunRail and to become familiar with the SunRail schedule.

Unfortunately, services will only be available Monday-Friday. Hopefully, they'll add weekend schedules in the near future.

It was pretty neat to have been able to see the commencement of something that, who knows, could possibly expand beyond Central Florida.

If you're not sure if the SunRail will work for you, take advantage of the two-week free service and test it out.

Hopefully the SunRail will help alleviate your commute to work and avoid having you go on the congested nightmare that is I-4.

-Fiorella

Posted on April 16, 2014 and filed under Travel.

Bahamas Cruise: My Trip Of The Many "Firsts"

This year I decided to only have one New Year's Resolution; to live life to thefullest! To savor every minute and to immerse myself in new adventures and experiences. 

I know we all have this mentality at the beginning of the year, but somehow it always seems to fade within the first couple of months. I've been guilty of this as well. However, this year I'm making a conscious effort to successfully accomplish this goal.

So far, this year has been off to a great start. Last weekend I went on an incredible trip with my family. Not only did I have an unforgettable time, but I also experienced many new things that I've always wanted to do.

1) I finally went on a cruise: Yes, I was one of those rare people who had never been on one. Crazy right? Well, I'm happy to say, it was everything I imagined and more. I'm pretty sure you can assume what my favorite part was... the unlimited food! Their selection is endless! (I have yet to step on the scale, and most likely will be avoiding it until next month.) If food is not your thing, there is a variety of other fun activities you can do. It's virtually impossible to get bored! Overall, my cruise experience was a success thanks to Royal Carribbean. Definitely will be going on another one!

2) Went to the Bahamas: Living in Florida, Bahamas would seem like an obvious destination to have visited. Once again, not for this girl. The two stops our Royal Caribbean 3 day cruise made was in Nassau and CocoCay. We got lucky that there was beautiful weather all throughout the weekend. A clear blue sky and crystal clear water, I mean, what more could you ask for? Oh Bahamas, expect my return real soon!

3) Went to the Atlantis Resort: You can't go to the Bahamas and not go to the Atlantis. This place is absolutely breathtaking! Even if you're not staying there, you can still enjoy all of their amazing amenities, such as their pool and beach. It is a little pricey but trust me, well worth it. We purchased the pass that allowed us access to walk around the Atlantis, entrance to the Aquarium and Dolphin Cay. Which leads me to my next new experience.

4) Went swimming with dolphins: This was a dream come true for me! Ever since I can remember, swimming with dolphins has been on the top of my bucket list. We went to Dolphin Cay, which is located at the Atlantis Resort. You can't help but smile when looking at a dolphin. They're just so darn cute! Our dolphin's name was Electra. She had such a vibrant and playful personality, and in my opinion, the best dolphin there. I can honestly say, that day was one of the happiest days of my life.

5) Ate Conch: Before this trip, I didn't even know what conch was. Conch is a type of shellfish that is eaten raw or cooked. In the Bahamas, conch is typically served as fritters and salads. It is considered to be the country's main dish. We went to this cozy little restaurant called Twin Brothers and tried it for the first time. We couldn't decide what to get, so we ordered it all! The conch chowder, fritters and salad. I enjoyed the chowder and the fritters- the salad, not so much. The texture of conch is similar to that of calamari, but for me, calamari is much tastier.

This trip not only allowed me to visit another county, but it also made me realize how blessed I am to have been able to experience such wonderful new things.

We sometimes get too comfortable in our daily routines that we forget to really live. Doing new things and creating new memories is truly what life is all about.

"Don't get so busy making a living that you forget to make a life."

Try new foods, experience new cultures, make new connections, take a trip... the list goes on.

Time waits for no one. Go out and experience this beautiful journey we call life!

Posted on January 23, 2014 and filed under Travel, Mind & Body.