Well, I’m back from Aruba. And what an amazing trip! The island is beautiful. Absolutly stunning. The beaches were just as you would have thought – white sand and turquoise waters.
This was my first time going to an all-inclusive resort, and I really did enjoy it. The hotel – Holiday Inn Resort Aruba – was lovely. The hotel is on a quarter mile of Palm Beach with three seperate towers, multiple restaruants and three pools. The service was also amazing. The waiters were very attentive and the bar staff remembered you.
We did a couple differetn activities when we were there. First, we rented motorized scooters. Let me tell you – these are hard to turn! I ended up falling and eating in hard in a traffic circle, got a little banged up but nothing more than brusies. It was still a neat activity, and allowed you to get around the popualted parts of the island.
Second, we went on a snorkel trip with Jolly Pirates, which was a blast. There were three snorkel stops along with an open bar and lunch served. The ship resembeld an old pirate ship, which was really neat. At the final stop, they had a rope swing and let people “walk the plank,” I highly reccomend this activity!
The final excursion was a UTV ride around the island. This was my favorite thing we did, I loved seeing the different parts of the island, much of which is a desert. We started at the lighthouse and went to the chapel, natural birdge and the nautral pool. The natural pool was by far my favorite thing on the island. It’s in a remote part of the national park, and is only accessible by 4×4 vehicles. Here’s some photos of the natural pool.
The water was clear as can be, though the day we went it was overcast, but still warm. Overall, the vacation was simply amazing. Aruba was a great trip and I’d go back in a heartbeat! Countdown to Europe is on, only 106 more days!
Yesterday was the first really nice day we’ve had. It actually felt like Spring, and even Summer! (The day before was decent, I had to work.) My dad, my dog Riley and I went for a hike. We didn’t do a mountain, but did a loop around some lakes.
Here’s a view of the trail we did. We started at the parking area, and headed to Huckleberry Lake. This was a beautiful lake hidden out here. There was a lean to at each of the lakes as well. The trail was decently well marked, and in good shape. There were a few trees that had fallen we had to work our way around. Once we went past Huckleberry lake and headed to Moon Lake, we decided to just head back to the parking area on the loop instead of making the trek to Wolf Lake.
Starting off on the trail back, we noticed the water seemed to be really high, and soon enough it had engulfed the trail. The actual markers were only inches above the water. We had to improvise and go above the water, but stay close enough to find the trail where the water was lower.
We were really off the trail, and it was a bit frustrating, and exhausting. We found the trail again and then realized the water was high due to a beaver dam! It was a tall dam, the water was pushed back about 8 feet high than it would have been without it. The next half mile or so was the same way, there were 4 more dams down the river that had messed with the trail, in some cases, I think the tress that had the markers had been taken down by the beavers! It was a neat site to see, I even got to see an actual beaver.
Here are some photos of the dam and the damage cased by it. If you look closely, in some of the shots you can see the trail markers either just above the water, or destroyed on the ground.
Finally, we made it back to the car. Overall, it was a nice escape and a great way to spend a beautiful day outside. One week from tomorrow I’ll be on my way to Aruba!
Yesterday, we came home from Boston. Even thought we really only had one full day there, it was a nice trip. The weather wasn’t the greatest, but all that matter is the game went on – and it did!
We started out the morning with breakfast at The Paramount, a small restaurant near Beacon Hill in Boston. We both ordered the chocolate Boston cream pancakes, and they were delicious!
After breakfast, we walked around some, stopped in some shops before heading to the Prudential Center. I’ve been here before, and gone to the top for the amazing views from the sky of the city. Even though the sun wasn’t out, there were still great views.
In the top photo you see Boston towards the harbor. In the bottom center of the photo, you can see the blue bridge looking thing, that’s the finish line for the Boston Marathon, which is happening Monday! It was really neat to see the finish line getting ready for the race. Workers were setting up bleachers as well as other structures for the race. In the Botton photo, you can see Fenway and the iconic Citgo sign, a staple of Boston.
After this, we went down to the harbor area and sought out a place for lunch. We ended up going to the original Regina Pizza, located in the North End. All they served was pizza, and it was really good pizza.
After pizza, we went to find a great cannoli place, which the area has plenty of. There are a lot of great Italian bakeries in the area. We went to Mike’s Pastry, a short walk from the pizza shop, and the cannoli was simply amazing!
After that, we started getting ready to go to Fenway. The game was great, Boston beat the Yankees 14 – 1. We stopped at a bar near Fenway before the game, it was packed, then stopped at another one after. It was a little rainy before the game, but it stopped just in time. Here’s some shots of Fenway.
Only 24 more days until I’m off to Aruba! I’m not too sure what we will be doing on this trip, I know we’re going out on ATV’s on the island, but beyond that, I’m going to enjoy the beautiful views. We are staying at the Holiday Inn Resort Aruba, and taking advantage of the all-inclusive. The hotel is located right on Palm Beach, we booked an oceanfront room.
We will be there for an entire week, and I cannot wait to get away! Right now, the weather here feels like winter instead of Spring! Here are some more shots of the hotel. Tomorrow I’m off to Boston for a couple days, stay tuned for a post!
Last month, I hiked my first mountain in the winter. I was prepared, and it was not a long hike at all. I hiked Azure Mountain, in the Adirondacks. The hike was only 2 miles round trip, and had a firetower at the top. The weather was a little chilly and overcast. Once we reached the summit, it was incredibly windy, we didn’t stay up for long. Enough to get some photos and enjoy the view.
Being out in the Adirondacks made me wish for spring and summer, I cannot wait to get up on more high peaks this year! This mountain was not difficult at all, and honestly would have been cake if there wasn’t snow. I had micro spikes on, which was incredibly helpful going down. I only slipped and fell once, which isn’t too bad!
Here are some more photos of the hike, enjoy! (All photos were taken with my iPhone X, I didn’t bring my camera along.)
In my last post, I really didn’t talk about the ship at all. I felt this deserved its own post. I’ve never been on a cruise before, so I didn’t have any idea what to expect. I’ve had friends and family that have been on cruises and they loved them. I booked the trip on a whim, and just knew that I needed the cruise to only span a week, no more than Sunday to Saturday, and I wanted to go the end of February, early March.
That’s how I ended up on Empress of the Seas, Royal Caribbean’s smallest ship. (See photo above.) The ship only has 10 decks, and one small pool. I’ll start this off with the food. The food was amazing. Most mornings, we had breakfast at the Windjammer cafe, on deck 10, which was a buffet style breakfast. The coffee could have been better, I wasn’t a big fan. There were endless options for breakfast. One morning we had the “brunch” which started at 930 in the main dining room. The presentation here was really nice, the food was also good, but we were seated with other random people who walked in the same time we did, at tables of 8. Brunch included one free mimosa, which was nice. In the end, we decided to not go here again for breakfast, the Windjammer fulfilled our needs.
Lunch on the ship was at the Windjammer, buffet style. It was served from 1130 – 230, which was plenty of time and worked with our schedule. Food was good, there were many options of what to eat. The Windjammer also served afternoon snack buffet before dinner. For dinner, we always ate in the main dining room, but we did MyTime dining and ate at 7:15 nightly. We were able to sit at a table by ourselves, which was nice. We had the same waitstaff each night, which I loved. Each night was a different theme, such as Italian, American, Greek, etc. I enjoyed all the meals, and our waiter even brought us over additional entrees or appetizers.
The windjammer also served dinner, which we didn’t partake of. I honestly preferred dinner being served versus buffet. There were two specialty restaurants which you could eat dinner at, reservations required and these were additional costs. The cafe also served a late night snack, which we also didn’t try.
Overall, I really enjoyed all the food. We had the all included drinks package, so we made good use of that too.
Entertainment. The ship had a theater, and every night there was a show. They would have two different seating times, due to guests eating dinner. We went to nearly every show, and enjoyed them. The comedian was by far my favorite, he came back a second night and did an adults only show that was later, and it was hilarious. During the sea days, the ship did have something going on all the time, but we didn’t always do it. We did watch the competitions near the pool mid day, but thats about all the entertainment we participated in. We did go to the casino on board, and somehow I managed to walk on board with no cash and leave up $80.
The Room. Our room was incredibly small. Which was expected. When I booked, I didn’t realized I had booked an obstructed view. I wanted a window, and the price was good. We lucked out. We were on Deck 7, which had lifeboats in front of the windows. Our window was between two lifeboats, so we had a great view out the window. There wasn’t much room to move around the room, and the bathroom was incredibly tiny, but we made it work. Here’s some photos of what the room looked like. Though, on a cruise, we we’re there just to sit in our room.
The rest of the ship. The top deck did not have enough placed for people to sit. On the sea days, there just weren’t enough chairs for those on board. Which was incredibly frustrating. The first day at sea, we were able to snag a seat. The second we weren’t. And the most frustrating part was seeing people not in chairs, but towels and books were there, so clearly, someone was saving their seat. The pool, very small, was always crowded during sea days, we never even got to enjoy it. The jogging deck, which also had outside seating, was also full. We ended up sitting inside sadly.
So, overall, I enjoyed the cruise. The staff aboard were amazing, and everything was a smooth process. I just wish there were more places to enjoy the sun on sea days! I did book a cruise for next May, a 7 day alaskan cruise with Royal Caribbean, but aboard Ovation of the Seas, one of the newest ships by Royal. Until next time!
Now it’s time to tell you all about the cruise! Let me start off with I’ve never been on a cruise before, so I have nothing to compare this too. I honestly was a bit confused about how it all worked. I couldn’t have been more excited to get away.
We had a direct flight to Fort Lauderdale with Jet Blue, arrived at the airport about 1030. We had to be at the ship before 330, so we were all good timing. Took an Uber to the port, which was about 40 minutes away! Jet Blue didn’t fly into Miami airport, only Fort Lauderdale. Arriving at the port was pretty easy, our ship was at the last terminal of course, so we had to go all the way around the port. Getting on the ship was also really easy, check-in was quick. Upon getting onto the ship, we learned we couldn’t access our room until 1 PM, it was about noon at that time, which was tad frustrating, we’d been up and traveling all morning and a quick rest would have been nice. That’s when we quickly learned how meals work on ships. We were told on the top deck there was lunch waiting.
Lunch was served on Deck 10 at the Windjammer Cafe, which is buffet style and had pretty much anything I could have wanted to eat. Fast forward, the rest of Day 1 went well. We were able to get to our room, which was small. Very small. We had dinner in the main dining room, and enjoyed the show which was a comedian. Here is a photo of the ship.
Day 2 was Key West. I’ve been to Key West before, so I had a decent idea of what to do and how to get around. We took the Conch Trail Tour, which wasn’t that expensive, and allowed us to see what was in Key West without having to walk miles. We had lunch at the Hard Rock and then proceeded to go to Zachary Taylor Beach. Honestly, I didn’t have a clue how exactly to get to this beach, it was over a mile walk from where the train tour ended, but we had a few hours left and wanted to enjoy the beach. The keys aren’t known for their beaches, but this was a nice little gem. Very rocky for the first few feet, but then sandy perfection. Here’s some photos.
The next day was spent at sea before arriving at Cozumel on Day 4. We booked an excursion, Dune Buggy and Snorkel. I’ve been snorkeling and I scuba drive, so I was excited to see what Cozumel had to offer. We arrived at the pier and found the group for our excursion. Our leader was wonderful and walked us down to get the dune buggies. Sadly, these were manual and I can’t drive manual. Because four people have to go in one, we ended up sitting with a nice couple, which honestly worked out. I could enjoy the views and not have to drive. We made our first stop at a place to snorkel, stayed for about an hour, then drove around the island. The second stop was beautiful, the water was much too choppy to snorkel, so we were allowed to just enjoy the beach for about 45 minutes, then we headed back to the boat. Here’s some photos from Cozumel.
The next day was also spent at sea before we arrived back in Miami. Now one thing we didn’t realize before the cruise was we had the option to do an excursion in Miami as our flight didn’t leave until 7 PM and the ship docked in Miami about 730 AM. We took the Big Bus Miami tour, which I highly recommend. For us, it included our airport transfer and luggage storage while we did the tour. There were two loops, a beach loop and city loop. Each loop was about an hour and a half. We did both loops and then had lunch at the Hard Rock. The weather was just beautiful too. Here’s some photos from Miami.
We arrived at the airport about 4 PM, plenty of time for our 7 PM flight. Unfortunately, that flight was delayed and delayed again – which meant the time to make our connecting flight in Charolette was diminishing. We did end up making it back home, about 3 AM!
There is so much more to write about the ship itself, I’ll save that for the next post. Overall, the vacation was wonderful. Each place we went too was lovely and we were able to do and see a lot of things. Thankfully, the weather also was lovely. Less than four weeks until I’m off to Aruba!
I also started a dedicated Instagram for this blog, @idrather_havecake. I’ll post photos of my travels as well as some motivational things, because, let’s be honestly, we all need that once in awhile.