Caribbean Adventures

When booking our trip, we wanted to make sure that we selected an itinerary that included as many ports as possible. We’ve never spent a great deal of time in the Caribbean so why not see as many different islands and ports, right? On our journey on the Carnival Breeze, we had stops in St. Maarten, Antigua, St. John, and the Dominican Republic. In each port, we had a very different experience, but from spotting planes in St. Maarten to kayaking in the Dominican Republic, we had a fantastic time exploring each of our beautiful Caribbean stops.

 It was so incredible to experience all four of these places on one trip. Logistically, I can’t imagine planning a trip to all these separate spots on my own so I was more than thankful we were cruising! It really allowed us to maximize our time enjoying ourselves vs. worrying about transportation, lodging, and how to get to the next location. Easy as can be!

 antigua5

maho1
Today, I’m sharing some of what we did in each port, general tips, and what our favorite spots to explore were on each island.

maho2

For our first stop, we dropped anchor in St. Maarten where there are both Dutch and French sides of the island. Full disclosure: this was the stop I was most excited for, and it did not disappoint at all. Just a 15 minute walk away from the port is a great shopping area in downtown Phillipsburg that we enjoyed walking through, but we had our hearts set on traveling to Maho Beach (on a different part of the island) to see the famous plane landings at Princess Juliana International Airport, located just beyond the beach area.

maho3

maho4

I’ve seen photos of the plane landings online for year, and I’ve always wanted to see them in person so we couldn’t have asked for a better first stop. We took an inexpensive local bus to Maho, and despite our apprehensions about finding the right bus, it could not have been easier. We got to the beach in about 30­-40 minutes, grabbed some snacks and drinks, and found a good patch of sand to settle into.

maho6

Planes flew in fairly regularly, and words can’t even describe what an incredible experience it was. There was so much excitement about seeing the planes all across the beach, and just the idea of seeing a plane fly just a few hundred feet overhead is pretty wild. We made some great friends on the beach, and really had to tear ourselves away to make it back to the boat in time.

After our experience in St. Maarten on the first day, we opted for a more quiet time in Antigua at Dickenson Bay. In contrast with our previous day, Antigua was low key with very few people on the beach, and definitely no plane landings. It was a quick ride from the port, and home to the most perfect turquoise waters I’ve ever seen.

antigua3

On any trip, it’s always good to have a good mix of active days, and more relaxing ones so we tried to make sure we did a good job varying it up. There were a few different local spots along the beach at Dickenson Bay if you’re looking for a bite to eat, and if you’re not one to relax in the sand for more than an hour or two, there’s also the option to take a horse ride right on the shore.

antigua4
From Antigua, we made the short journey to St. John, part of the U.S. Virgin Islands. There are a lot of different beaches in St. John to choose from, and we definitely had a difficult time figuring out which we’d like best. In the end, we settled on Coki Beach which was a quick cab ride away from the ship’s port. We were hoping for a beach that had snorkel rentals, beautiful scenery, and one that didn’t feel too cramped. Though we heard that Coki can get crowded at times, it wasn’t bad at all, and it could not have been easier to rent a chair and get a good spot right by the water. As the day went on, things definitely got a bit more lively so try to get there early if you want to get a good spot.

antigua2

The same person that helped us with the chair rental handled our snorkel rentals (how easy is that?) so after a traditional island lunch consisting of fresh fish, we set off in the water with our gear. At the end of Coki Beach is the Coki Dive Center so we were excited for the sea life we’d be able to see, and luckily there was quite a bit out there to look at. Snorkeling and scuba enthusiasts will absolutely love this spot.

stjohn3

Though we had explored each of the other three ports on our own, for our final spot in the Dominican Republic we opted for one of the planned excursions to La Casa En La Playa, a beachside getaway complete with kayaks, snorkels, paddle boards, a chef and bartender, and plenty of lounge seats. After planning each of our other island trips (which was a fun but at times overwhelming process), it was so nice to hand the reigns over to someone else.

dr1

dr4
The beach is completely secluded, and absolutely beautiful with the most picturesque palm trees lining the water. We fit in some snorkeling, kayaking, reading in hammocks, and walking along the short all in one afternoon which was quite the feat.

DR2

dr3

All in all, our goal was to really seize the chance to see as much as possible, and we were so glad that every stop felt like a completely new adventure for us.

 

This post was created for Away We Go with Carnival, the destination for getting in the getaway state of mind. Head on over.

tags studio | 0 Comments

Girls Weekend in Norfolk

Earlier this year, Garden and Gun sent my sister and I a few hours south to Norfolk, Virginia to experience some of the food and art that the city is becoming more and more known for. I’d not been to Norfolk, but I jumped on the chance to see the city firsthand.

Though the city is relatively small (compared to D.C.!), I was impressed with the food, the sweet locals, and how much there was going on. In talking to those who live in the city, it seems like people are really exciting about the direction Norfolk is taking. There are lots of fun festivals, breweries, restaurants, and shops to be explored making for a fantastic girls weekend.

You can see my full guide on Garden and Gun Field Report, and I’ve also included a list of my Norfolk favorites are at the end of this post. Enjoy!

norfolk9 norfolk13

norfolk4

norfolk3

norfolk5 norfolk2

norfolk11

norfolk12

norfolk10

norfolk7

norfolk6

norfolk14

norfolk15

norfolk1

TO EAT

Luna Maya – Owned by two sisters, we loved this place. Amazing Mexican food, good drinks, and it was absolutely packed with Norfolk locals.

Cure Coffeehouse and Brasserie – A great little breakfast spot. In the evenings they serve wine!

Handsome Biscuit – There was quite the line to get into this place, but it was easy to see why. The most delicious, gigantic biscuits out there.

Toast – Another one of my favorites in the city. All toast, all delicious.

Field Guide – We stopped in here for lunch and shared one of their bowls. Easy, inexpensive, and really filling!

TO DRINK

Mermaid Winery – This place has a cute little patio where you can sip your rose under the sun. I highly recommend it!

Coelacanth Brewing – Just down the street from Mermaid, this brewery was fantastic. Their flights are pretty big so it’s easy to just share one.

Press 626 – This was easily my favorite spot in Norfolk. Located in an old house, we sat on the front porch and watched a storm roll in. The wines were wonderful, and the staff was great about giving us recommendations.

TO EXPLORE

The Chrysler Museum – An unexpectedly large and impressive collection of art and artifacts.

The Botanical Gardens – I’m a sucker for gardens in general, but these were really beautiful and absolutely sprawling. I think we probably saw maybe 1/10th of what was there.

The NEON District – This area is home to Norfolk’s emerging art scene. There are galleries, public art, and my personal favorite, Glass Wheel Studio.

GENERAL TIPS

– The women at Visit Norfolk told me about F.R.E.D. (Free Ride Every Day), a free transportation service that takes you around the downtown area. Just call the service, and a driver will pick you up. Firstly, I couldn’t believe it was free, and secondly, why isn’t this everywhere?

– There is a hotel with a rooftop bar opening in downtown Norfolk sometime next year. The renderings looked really beautiful, and I’d love to stay there next time!

tags travel | 0 Comments

4 Caribbean Favorites

This time around, I thought it would be fun to share some of the more unique aspects of our recent trip to the Caribbean with Carnival Cruise Line. On and off the ship, there was so much we encountered that was outside of what I had anticipated (in a good way!). Since it was my first time cruising, I didn’t have much to go from aside from what I’d heard from friends and family so it was fun to experience things for the first time. Here are just a few that topped my list.

The Food

tacos

IMG_5307

Food is a big part of just about every trip I take, and this one was no different. I was so pleasantly surprised with all of the food options we had. On the Carnival Breeze, a big highlight food­-wise was Tandoor, an incredibly flavorful Indian restaurant that we frequented on more than one occasion.

tandoor

Other favorites were afternoon tea (who knew they did this on cruises?), and tacos from BlueIguana that I am not ashamed to admit I had at least once a day. Who’s really going to say no to unlimited tacos?

IMG_5317

The Glimpse Into Local Life

local2

I was a little worried that I wouldn’t get enough time at each port to really experience each locale, but luckily, there was enough time to get a taste of what each island had to offer. From trying a local beer at each port, to getting off the beaten path to see unique parts of the islands, this was one of the best parts of the trip. We got a chance to chat with locals, see some of the watering holes they frequented, and get a sense of the places we’d like to visit again. local local4

By waking up early (you’ll have time to nap on the beach later!), and getting off the ship on port days early, we were really able to maximize our time to explore. As result, we got to see so much.

local3

Sea Day Brunch

seaday1

On every sea day, a pretty amazing brunch was served up for us. It sounds like something insignificant, but it was such a fun, relaxed part of our trip. Brunch classics like eggs Benedict and pancakes were on the menu alongside some more out­-there options. On most days, we’d ask for a seat by the windows, order a mimosa or two, and tuck in for a long, indulgent brunch. Brunch on land is already great, but brunch at sea is even better.

seaday 2

Details On Board
One of the things I loved the most on the trip was the sheer amount of little details on the ship. From the unique bars to the running track to the spa, there was so many little things that made a huge impact on my trip.

IMG_6092 IMG_5803

details

As someone who tends to make overly detailed plans when organizing trips, I always find that what I love most about my trips are the unexpected details that weren’t planned. In this case, it couldn’t have been more true. From starting mornings running on the track to a lazy brunch, these little details made for the perfect time aboard the ship.

This post was created for Away We Go with Carnival, the destination for getting in the getaway

state of mind. Head on over.

 

tags studio | 0 Comments

A Weekend in Philly

Earlier this year, we took a road trip to Philly with Madewell as an ode to the art of the weekend road trip. Philly is just a couple of hours from DC, and though I’d been there in the past, it had only been for short stints. I’ve never really gotten to know the city until now but let me tell you; I’m in love. The food, the architecture, everything – it’s one of those great cities that I loved right away. The entire city is actually a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it’s easy to see why. I did a longer recap on the Madewell and Artifact Uprising blogs, but thought I’d share a few outtakes here. Until next time! madewellblog2

madewellblog1

madewell11

madewell6

madewell10

madewellblog4

madewellblog3

madewell7

madewell9

madewell8

madewell12

Where we stayed: 

Loews Philadelphia – This hotel was stunning with incredible views, and cloud-like beds, a must after a long day walking around the city.

Where we ate: 

Little Fish – Absolutely amazing seafood in a cozy, intimate BYOB spot

Hungry Pigeon – A great spot for some good coffee and a pastry before starting your day

Root Restaurant – A newer spot with a beautiful interior and a great menu

Tredici Enoteca- This wine bar and restaurant is amazing! You’ll come for just a glass and want to stay the rest of the evening!

What we saw: 

Race Street Pier – Beautiful bridge views right on the waterfront

Philadelphia City Hall – A historic building that is such an icon in the city

Longwood Garden – This is outside the city, but a must-visit! I could have spent an entire day here exploring the gardens. It’s such a unique and inspiring place.

tags studio | 0 Comments

On and Around the Farm

Back in January when we visited India, the first few days of the trip were spent around my family’s farm, about four hours south of Mumbai. My dad grew up on the farm ,and my mom is from a nearby town so it made for a really great, special part of the trip. The day before we left we toured the actual farm land, and got to see some of the crops (banana trees, coconut palms, mango trees) which was pretty crazy/amazing. These snaps are from around the farm, and the neighboring cities of Navsari and Bilimora (where my grandparents used to live!).

farm8

farm15

farm9

farm13

farm3

farm2

farm10

farm6

farm14

farm5

farm4

farm12

farm7

IMG_0862

tags travel | 0 Comments