Ravello, the City of Music, is an enchanting little town overlooking the Amalfi Coast. With its cobblestone streets, lush gardens, and breathtaking views of Italy’s beautiful coastline – Ravello is a charming town one must definitely visit during their stay in the Amalfi Coast!
How to Get to Ravello from Positano
As Ravello is situated above the Amalfi Coast, it is not easily accessible via ferry like the other towns and villages on the Amalfi Coast, making it a little more challenging to visit. Although one can visit the town using the city’s bus, SITA, we opted for the more scenic and touristy approach – the City Sightseeing open deck tour bus. This was extremely easy to do once we had figured out the details! We figured it would be helpful to share how we got to Ravello if you choose not to use the city’s bus for whatever reason (i.e., the bus does not run as frequent during low season, the buses can get very crowded).
Ferry Ride from Positano to Amalfi
As we stayed in Positano, the first part of our journey began with a quick ferry ride to Amalfi. We were able to book our ferry ride to Amalfi the same morning via Direct Ferries’s website. [Tip: If you are visiting during high season (between June and September), we would recommend booking your ferry rides a little bit more in advance]. You are also able to purchase ferry tickets at the ferry port, as well.
We used Positano Jet for the first ferry at 9:05am which docked the Amalfi port at 9:25am (one-way ticket was EUR 10 per person). Our hotel, Hotel Marincanto, was conveniently situated in the center of Positano which made it a short ten minute walk from our room to the ferry port – and not to mention it was extremely easy to figure out with a direct pathway to the boardwalk where the ferry stands were located. Once on the ferry, we were able to sit back and enjoy the beautiful scenic views of the coast – you’ll enjoy the ride and it’ll be over before you know it!
Once on the ferry, we were able to sit back and enjoy the beautiful scenic views of the coast – enjoy the ride as it’ll be over before you know it!
Bus Ride to Ravello
Once docked in Amalfi, the stop for the CitySightseeing bus is a very short walk away. Upon exiting the ferry terminal, all you have to do is make a right and walk towards the round-about – taking you less than five minutes to get there.
You will spot a CitySightseeing attendant who will assist you in purchasing your ticket. Tickets can only be purchased onsite and are EUR 5 per person each way (EUR 10 for round-trip). Also important to note, they only accept cash (euros NOT dollars). If you do not have any euros on hand, don’t worry (we didn’t either), an ATM machine is conveniently located across the street.
Once on board, it takes about thirty minutes to get to Ravello. The bus has wifi and they also pass out headphones if you are interested in listening to any history on the drive up.
First Stop: VillaRufolo
Our first stop in Ravello was Villa Rufolo. The walk from the bus stop to Villa Rufolo is under ten minutes and extremely easy to find. Once you disembark from the bus, you follow the sidewalk with the coastline to your left-hand side until you reach a tunnel. Shortly after passing through the tunnel, the entrance to Villa Rufolo will be on your left hand side.
Villa Rufolo, located in the historic center of Ravello, is a two-story villa which features beautiful gardens. The gardens at Villa Rufolo are known as the “Garden of the Soul”. The best views are from the second floor of the villa where multiple balconies are accessible to visitors.
Admission into Villa Rufolo is EUR 7 per person. Cash (euros) and credit cards are accepted, with the exception of Amex.
Second Stop: Villa Cimbrone
Once you have taken in all the beauty offered by Villa Rufolo, your next stop in Ravello is Villa Cimbrone – which, in our opinion, is even more breathtaking than Villa Rufolo!
Villa Cimbrone is definitely more hidden and it takes a 10 to 15 minute walk from Villa Rufolo to Villa Cimbrone. Several directional signs are located throughout Ravello so you can be sure you’re going in the right direction.
It will be a pleasant walk to your next stop – the path is lined with plenty of shops and a few restaurants in case you’d want to pick up any souvenirs or a quick bite to eat.
After a few minutes of climbing uphill and taking steps downhill you will finally arrive at Villa Cimbrone.
Villa Cimbrone, which sits atop of a promontory, offers spectacular views of the coastline and Mediterranean sea. Villa Cimbrone is actually a private hotel in Ravello but allows guests to visit its beautiful gardens.
Admission into Villa Cimbrone is also EUR 7 per person which is astonishing because we definitely felt that admission should be higher for this garden! Credit cards and cash (euros) are both accepted, as well.
After wandering through the gardens, prepare yourself to have your breath taken away as you approach the Terrace Infinity and become immersed with the views of the Mediterranean sea. It is easily one of the most memorable sights in Amalfi Coast.
Once you have visited both gardens, you can walk towards the city center (near Villa Rufolo) to rest your legs if you wish! Make sure to check the bus return times and coincide it with the ferry schedule so you don’t end up waiting around for a long time for a ferry once you’re back in Amalfi.
Also, if you only have time to visit one garden, we definitely recommend Villa Cimbrone over Villa Rufolo. However, if you have time to visit both gardens we would not dissuade you from doing so – both of these villas offer immense amounts of beauty in their own respect!
Hope you enjoyed this blog post and find it helpful! If you have visited Ravello before or plan to do so, let us know in the comments section! Until next time. Happy and safe travels!
When visiting the St. Regis Maldives resort, a trip to the Iridium spa is a MUST! On our first time visiting the resort, we opted to visit the spa at nighttime which was a wonderful experience but it was completely different than visiting the spa during daylight hours. During our second visit to the Iridium Spa we opted for two services – the ‘Private Blue Hole Experience’ (during the day) and the ‘Iridium Signature Massage’.
Iridium Spa’s Waiting Lounge
Upon arrival to the Iridium Spa, guests are directed towards the waiting lounge where they are greeted with cold towels and flavored ice cold water as they await for their treatment.
Within the lounge, light relaxing music is played throughout and several glass floor openings are located in the area allowing guests to take a glimpse of the vibrant marine life located under the spa.
Restrooms and Amenities
The restrooms in the Iridium Spa offer showers, toilets, lockers, a sauna, and steam room for guests to use before or after their treatment. The restrooms were extremely clean and welcoming.
Blue Hole Experience
The last time we visited the St. Regis Maldives we booked the private Blue Hole Experience during the nighttime. This time around, we wanted to book this experience again but during the day! And we are so glad we did!!!
First of all, the water this time was just the right temperature! And then the beautiful blue hole’s water combined with the ocean’s blue made for the most picturesque moment!
We definitely preferred our daytime experience and would highly recommend all our readers to book during the day versus at nighttime!
Iridium Signature Massage
WOW! WOW! WOW! That’s the only word that comes to mind when describing our couples massage experience at the Iridium Spa.
We booked the 90-minute ‘Iridium Signature Massage’ and it was the most heavenly massage we have ever received! From the second you enter the gorgeous couple’s massage suite, you are taken aback by the combination of the perfect blend of whites and blues.
The suite hosts a private bathroom in which you can utilize to change into a robe and a pair of slippers. The suite has a bathroom, a small changing room, two vanities, and two mini closets to place personal belongings. In addition to the robe and slippers, we were also given disposable underwear to change into as we both arrived in our swimsuits – never seen that before!
Before the commencement of our massages on the massage table, we first received a wonderful foot massage accompanied with a foot scrub. During our foot massage, we were given the opportunity to select which oil we would like to utilize during our respective massages. As we were pretty sunburnt already, we opted for the coconut oil to help ease with our sunburns.
After our foot massages, it was time for the massages! These were the best 90 minutes ever! Our masseuses literally massaged every area of our bodies – from head to toe – using just the right amount of pressure. Throughout our massages, they would also stretch us out. It was honestly such a phenomenal experience!
In conclusion, the Iridium Spa at the St. Regis Maldives is one to not miss! Whether you are enjoying the Blue Hole or getting one of their several treatments – you will not be disappointed. We HIGHLY recommend it.
Hope you enjoyed the first part of our updated review about the St. Regis Maldives! Stay tuned for part two – coming real soon. Until then, happy travels!
Moraine Lake is located near Lake Louise (your second stop) – and in our opinion, is even more scenic than the latter. Surrounded by mountains, the turquoise waters on a sunny day really really stand out and let you appreciate the beauty of this lake. In order to take it all in and enjoy the magic of Moraine Lake, we strongly suggest setting your alarm clocks early to beat the crowd. On our first trip to Moraine Lake, we arrived a little before 9 AM and were able to easily find parking AND take pictures with very fewer crowds in the background. On our second trip, we arrived closer to 10 AM and the lake-area parking was at full capacity so we could not enter (what a difference an hour makes here!). We had to return later in the day and even then it was still crowded – making it almost impossible to take a picture without having a bunch of people in the background.
Visitors who want to get even closer to Moraine Lake have the opportunity to canoe. The dock is open daily from 9 AM to 5 PM from mid-June to mid-September and costs approximately $78 for an hour rental (a bit steep, I know). Each canoe accommodates two to three people and reservations are not accepted (canoes are available on a first come, first basis). Although just a few, we did see people bring their own kayaks – which is good to know as some Airbnb rentals included kayaks.
In addition to canoeing the lake, hiking trails is also accessible at Moraine Lake. The lake offers several beautiful hikes – including Rock Pile, Consolation Lakes, and the Larch Valley trail. As we decided to do our hiking at the trails near Lake Louise we have not done any of these hikes so we can’t speak to how strenuous they may or may not be. A cafe is also onsite – The Snowshoe Cafe – which offers tea, coffee, cold beverages, and sandwiches.
Second Stop: Lake Louise
The famous Lake Louise definitely lives up to its hype and then some! Surrounded by soaring mountain peaks, Lake Louise is the perfect shade of turquoise. During the summer and winter months, visitors can canoe and skate on Lake Louise, respectively. Canoes can be rented at the Fairmont Chateau dock for $115 per hour or $105 per half an hour.
In addition to canoeing and skating, several trails are available for visitors to explore. During our most recent visit, we decided to hike to Mirror Lake which is the halfway point to the famous Lake Agnes Tea House. I have to stress how important it is: the hike to Mirror Lake is strenuous. Our group had to stop several times to catch our breath as the majority of the hike is at an incline. I will say that once we got to Mirror Lake we were pretty disappointed. I do not know if it was the time of the year (early September) that resulted in the lake being so lack luster but we were not impressed and were a little upset we hiked to see this! The view was much better on the ground!
Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise
When planning your time at Lake Louise, make sure to visit the world-famous Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise(not to be confused with the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel). The first time we visited Lake Louise, we chose not to hike and instead opted to enjoy a bottle of wine on the rocking chairs of the property facing Lake Louise. The weather was just perfect and we definitely will be doing this again next time we visit versus hiking any of the nearby trails!
Additionally, if time-permitting, grab a bite to eat at Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. We had lunch there on our last visit – the food was outstanding and service was impeccable! Highlyrecommended!
Third stop: Peyto Lake – Bow Summit
The bluest water in all of Banff National Park is found at Peyto Lake. The lake gets its color from the large amounts of glacier rock flour that flow into the lake during the summer months. The best place to view Peyto Lake is from the Bow Summit – approximately 36 minutes from Lake Louise. Once you arrive at Bow Summit, it is a quick 10 to 15 minute hike to the Peyto Lake lookout area. As this will be your third stop of the day, the crowds should be gone by that time – allowing you to get the best pictures possible!
First stop: Johnston Canyon
Johnston Canyon is one of the easiest hikes in Banff National Park, making it the perfect place for families (including pets) to explore together. Johnston Canyon offers two trails – trail to Lower Johnston Falls and a trail to Upper Johnston Falls (which we haven’t had the chance to do yet).
The trail to Lower Johnston Canyon is just a little over one mile and runs parallel to Johnston creek – making almost every step along the trail the perfect picture opportunity. At the end of the Lower Johnston trail, visitors are able to walk through a tunnel and get a closer look of the waterfall.
Since the trail is great for beginners and it offers such scenic views, it is easily one of the most popular trails to do while visiting Banff National Park. As such, it is highly recommended that you arrive early in order to beat the crowds. The path has some bridges you will pass that are quite narrow – so you’d want to avoid having to constantly move aside as other hikers are passing through. Additionally, if you do arrive later to Johnston Canyon, be prepared to make a line to get a closer look of the waterfall and also having to park further away from the entrance. Just a few things to keep in mind when planning your arrival time to Johnston Canyon (hence why we suggest it to be the first stop of the day).
Second stop: Banff Gondola
Visitors who want to experience Banff National Park from a higher elevation point have the option of taking a gondola ride up Sulphur Mountain. The glass enclosed gondola holds up to four individuals and offers each guest a 360 degree view. Just recently, the summit visitor center was remodeled enhancing the overall experience provided to visitors. Visitors can experience mountaintop dining, take a stroll on the rooftop observation deck, and so much more! Tickets can be purchased in advance for $58 per person.
48 Hours & Beyond
Unfortunately our schedules limited our time to two days to visit Banff National Park so we weren’t able to see more of this Canadian beauty. Needless to say, we have started making a list of different spots we definitely want to check out next time we are visiting Banff National Park and wanted to share it with all our readers in case you are planning to spend more time there than what we had:
Jasper National Park
Make sure to stay as close as possible to the main attractions during your visit. The first time we visited Banff National Park, we Airbnb’d a condo near Calgary which was about an hour drive from Lake Louise and Lake Moraine. On our second trip, we stayed a little further away as we were a much larger group and wanted a house to accommodate all of us. Although we were able to all stay in the same place, this made our drives extremely long – almost three hours each way! We definitely won’t be doing that again as we ended up spending more time in the car than sight seeing!
Hope you enjoyed our two-day itinerary for Banff National Park! Make sure to let us know what your favorite things to do while visiting Banff! Happy travels!
Congratulations, you’re engaged!! When’s the big day? How did he pop the question? How soon will you have kids? And can your long lost uncle come to the wedding? All these questions are some just of the many million questions that quickly following the announcement of your engagement. But the only question that should cross your mind if you’re a fellow travel junkie like us is, “Where can we go to take our engagement pictures?!”
Given that we have grown up in Florida our entire lives, we knew we wanted a change of scenery for our engagement pictures. We had been wanting to visit Bryce Canyon for quite some time and decided this would be the perfect opportunity! We found THE most perfect photographer who was based out of Utah (Kandice Breinholt) and arranged our session to take place January 2017.
So you’re probably wondering how did we end up in Zion National Park instead of Bryce Canyon. Well Mother Nature actually made that decision for us! The day we were scheduled to take our pictures, a snow storm hit Bryce Canyon which resulted in the park actually closing. Not willing to come back another weekend (as we already taken time off from work, paid for hotels, booked makeup and hair for Jackie, etc.) we decided to just take our pictures at Zion National Park instead! Sometimes you just have to roll with the punches when travel plans change unexpectedly.
During our session, it was about 20 degrees Fahrenheit, snow flurries were falling on us, and of course all the dresses I was wearing were all sleeveless! I am not sure if it was the rush we were feeling during our engagement shoot or the sips of moonshine we would have during our outfit changes (all done in the car) but we did not feel cold at all!
& That’s A Wrap!
The following day, before we headed to Las Vegas to catch our evening flight, we were able to explore Zion for a couple of hours. During our photo session we mainly stayed in the area closer to the visitor center so we decided to drive further into Zion to see a different side of the national park. During one point in our drive, we remember going through a tunnel and the scenery completely changing! It took our breath away. Even though we tried our best to capture the beautiful scenery, pictures really don’t do this place any justice.
While we were exploring the top of the mountain it was actually pretty scary because we couldn’t tell where the edge of the mountain was with all the snow!
As seasoned wedding planners (that may be a stretch…), there are two pieces of advices we would love to share with any newly engaged couple! Number one – do whatever makes you both happy! People will always complain but at the end of the day always remember the main reason behind the wedding – to celebrate YOUR love. Number two – before all the stress that comes with wedding planning begins, take a trip together and capture the love that you share for each other on film! You will have these pictures to cherish forever and it’s the perfect way to capture the start of this new chapter in your life. Hope you enjoyed this blog post and happy travels!
Hey There! We’re Andres and Jackie, two travelers who are addicted to traveling and always looking for our next adventure! We began our own little adventure – that is our love story – in 2011 and ever since then we have had the privilege of traveling to so many amazing destinations together. We decided to create this travel blog to be a time capsule of all the wonders of the world we have explored together and also to help others plan their own escapades using some tips we have learned along the way. We hope you enjoy following us along on our journey!
We are officially embarking on our epic three-week long trip to the Maldives, Positano, Capri, and Madrid. For the next three weeks we will definitely be living our best lives and we couldn’t be more excited to catch a break for our daily normal routine, disconnect and recharge.
We arrived in Doha around 4 PM after completing the first leg of our trip, which was approximately 14 hours long! The first thing we were dying to do was brush our teeth and take a nice warm shower. As our flight to Male would not depart till 2 AM we had pre-booked a room at Doha’s airport – Oryx Airport Hotel which is a total game changer for us. As a note, we definitely recommend making a reservation ahead of time as you run the risk the hotel may be at full capacity – we witnessed other travelers without reservations being turned down as we were checking out.
The Oryx Airport Hotel is your usual hotel – nothing fancy but offers all the standard amenities one may need. The hotel offers a spa, temperature-controlled swimming pool, gymnasium, racquet ball court, and a golf stimulator (okay, this one probably isn’t a standard amenity).
Now for the room. We will admit that the rate (USD 322) per night (or nine hours) is pretty steep – given that there are no other options without having to leave the airport, we were left with no choice. The room in itself was extremely clean and the bed was relatively comfortable – we fell asleep right away. The toilet is a little oddly shaped so it’s not the most comfortable and the toilet paper was definitely more on the rough side. We apologize if the latter was too much personal information – just trying to be honest and thorough. We also weren’t able to get our air conditioner to properly work but we weren’t drenched in sweat either. Lastly, and probably the most important thing to note for foreign travelers, is that the WIFI offered by the hotel is subpar. The connection was very spotty, the speed was extremely slow, and we were continuously having to reconnect as it would kick us out.
Overall, this is our second time staying at Oryx and we would definitely stay there once again if we are ever lucky enough to find ourselves on this side of the world in the future.
Al Mourjan Business Lounge
As we had redeemed miles for business class seats from Miami to the Maldives, we had access to Qatar’s business class lounge – the Al Mourjan. The lounge itself is beautifully decorated and offers many wonderful amenities including – two dining areas, showers, a family room, a game room, and plenty of seating with an abundance of electricity ports to charge all your gadgets!
While we were there, the restaurant a very generous spread including pasta, soup, lamb, curry chicken, humus, etc. Andres sampled a little bit of everything and was satisfied the food is better than the airports’ food court options. If you have access to the lounge, we’d definitely recommend spending some time there!
Hamad International Airport
Hamad International Airport is a very impressive airport. One of the first things you’ll notice is how clean it is kept. The airport offers several shopping locations – including multiple Duty-Free stores, high-end retail store fronts such as Tiffany & Co, Rolex, Gucci, etc. Before you depart the airport, make sure you snag a picture with the famous teddy bear – trust us, you won’t be able to miss him! Complimentary WIFI is located throughout the airport but once again not the best connection. One thing we did note is that the airport comes to life late at night. During the day not many travelers are seen but at night the airport is packed! Never seen that before!
Next stop – the St. Regis Maldives!
Hope you enjoy following us along on (at least virtually) during our three week vacation! Stay tuned for our updated blog post about the St. Regis Maldives! In the meantime, make sure to check out our first blog post about our first stay in the St. Regis Maldives! As always, wishing you all happy and safe travels!
This weekend Andres and I decided to take a road trip to Gainesville, FL to explore a different part of our home state. On the agenda – floating through Ginnie Springs. Ginnie Springs is a privately-owned park offering one of the clearest spring waters in Florida. The outdoor nature park is the perfect spot for all ages given the variety of activities that are offered – such as diving and snorkeling, camping, canoeing and kayaking, paddle boarding, swimming, and river tubing. The park is open year-round and no matter the weather conditions, the spring remains a cool 72 degrees at all times.
Upon arrival to Ginnie Springs, visitors are instructed to enter on the right-hand side of the entrance in which you receive a small piece of paper that you are then required to take to the ‘Dive/Country Store’. At the store, guests pay the entrance fee ($15 per person for adults) and rent any equipment needed (snorkel gear, tubes, kayaks, etc.).
Although the website states that a waiver must be signed before entrance to the park, we were never asked to confirm we submitted this waiver. We decided to bring our own double float (which had a built-in cooler) and snorkel gear so we didn’t need to rent any equipment. After paying the admission fee, we needed to exit the park and re-enter but this time on the left-hand side. We handed the attendant at the entrance our receipt (proof that we had paid the entrance fee) and proceeded towards the spring.
Tube Air Stations
As we decided to bring our own float, we had come prepared with a small pump to inflate our tube once we parked. However, to our pleasant surprise, the park actually has two tube air stations where we were able to inflate our tube in under five minutes! It was definitely useful as we would have easily taken MUCH longer with the small pump we had brought from home.
Now that we had our float all ready to go, we headed straight to the ‘Ginnie Springs’ parking lot entrance in search for a parking spot. We got pretty lucky and were able to snag a spot just a few steps away from the entrance to the springs in matter of minutes!
Now the Adventure Begins!
One of the best ways to cope with the temperature of the springs is to pack a cooler with your favorite adult beverages (anything is allowed as long as it is not a glass container)! On our way to Ginnie Springs, we stopped at a nearby grocery store and bought a mini cooler and filled it with ice, beers, and some champagne. The size of the cooler made it super convenient to easily carry to the entrance of the springs. There are several stairways allowing for multiple locations to enter the springs. We were able to easily throw our tube into the springs and use the ledge of the steps to hop right in!
Tip: We brought along our waterproof Bluetooth speaker and connected our phones (also waterproof) to be able to enjoy some tunes as we floated along. We bought this speaker back in December and have actually used it quite a bit – best of all, it’s waterproof so it can tag along for water activities like this one. The battery life on the speaker is amazing – we played music for over four hours and it still has the majority of its battery-life left. If you’ve been thinking of getting yourself one, we’d definitely recommend this one here. Just make sure to download music ahead of time as reception is spotty once you get out to the river so don’t count on being able to stream your tunes.
We had a great time floating through the river but will admit it wasn’t as relaxing as we thought it would be. The river was very busy so we were frequently pushed away towards the river edges by other (bigger) floaters and found ourselves having to constantly paddle back to the current. The few areas where the crowd would dwindle down were the best – but these were not very frequent. However, the scenery was spectacular. The water was one of the clearest waters we had ever seen and with the contrast of the greenery around us, it made it such a picturesque spot.
The End of Our Adventure: In The Back Of A Cop Car!
Unfortunately (and I guess fortunately because it has given us a story to tell) our time at Ginnie Springs turned into a complete disaster. As mentioned above, we were constantly getting pushed to the outskirts of the current and one of these times happened to be as we approached the “Tube Exit” signs. A huge multi-person party float pushed us to the opposite side of the tube exit and by the time we paddled our way from the edge we had missed our shot at making it out. Naively thinking the current would eventually loop us back around, we figured this was no big deal and could just go around one more time and catch the exit on our second trip. In the beginning it was actually pretty peaceful since it was much less crowded. However, when we stopped to look around (probably 30 minutes after we had passed the tube exit) we realized we were the only people out there on a tube – all the others were either on a motorized boat or a kayak/canoe. It wasn’t until about 45 minutes after passing the tube exit that two kayakers with a map asked us if we had been there on a float before – leading them to inform us that this river would NOT loop around and we should have gotten off at the tube exit. At this point, panic mode started to creep in.
Looking at their map, the kayakers informed us that if we kept floating with the current, we would eventually run into a bridge where a boat ramp was located and we would be able to safely get off and possibly have better cell phone reception to call for help. We floated for about another 30 to 45 minutes without any sign of people or the bridge until desperation kicked in at full-speed – we realized our time with daylight was only decreasing and we would not want to find ourselves at the mercy of the river’s current without any sun. At one point, we managed to park the float on the side of the river and considered walking the river’s edge back towards the direction of the tube exit. However, we quickly learned that we were pretty much surrounded by a swamp and since we did not have any footwear, the unknown animals in this swampy area were a risk we weren’t ready to take. Scared that we would encounter snakes or possibly alligators we hopped right back on the float.
At this point, as we were slowly approaching sunset time, I started to think we were going to end up spending the entire night out here on this float and began having a full-on panic attack – tears and all. It was then that we were able to get only single bar of cell service and called 9-1-1 for help! We spent over 40 minutes on the call with the dispatcher (praying the call wouldn’t drop). He pinged our phone location and was able to see that we were on our way towards the bridge. This whole time we saw no one else out in the river and the only noises besides our call and paddling were birds from a distance. It felt like we were paddling for hours and hours before we got to the bridge and were able to make our way to the boat ramp where it looked safe to exit from the river. It was exhausting, terrifying, and so stressful!
We left our float in the middle of the woods once we got to land and waited at Santa Fe River Park for about 30 minutes until the cops came to escort us back to the entrance of Ginnie Springs park. We had floated so far that the car ride was almost 5 miles back to the park! During the ride back, the deputies actually told us that on a weekly basis they have to rescue people in our same situation – that it is actually a frequent occurrence – which made us feel less like idiots! And even worse, they told us that if we would have kept floating we would have eventually ended up in the ocean. WHAT?!
In the end, we were able to get back to our car safe and sound, ten minutes before sunset, and we had a great story to tell and write about. And although it is such a great story to tell, the most IMPORTANT thing we wanted to share in this post is – GET OFF AT THE TUBE EXIT!!! Park employees do not inform you of how important this piece of information is but it is actually VERY CRUCIAL!
We wanted to give a big thank you to the cops and the 9-1-1 dispatcher that pretty much saved our lives and also to our wonderful float, abandoned in the middle of the forest, that stuck it out with us throughout our 4-hour long journey! Best $34 we have ever spent!!
Hope you guys enjoyed our story about the first time we visited Ginnie Springs and rode in the back of a cop car all in the same day! And like always, happy and SAFE travels!
For quite some time, we have been captivated by Saint Lucia’s beautiful landscape and it’s iconic landmarks – the Pitons. Saint Lucia offers such breathtaking views that it makes it almost impossible to not fall in love with the island and even more impossible to not quickly add it to your never ending list of ‘must visit destinations’. So that’s exactly what we did and now we are looking forward to finally crossing it off our bucket list!
Flights to Saint Lucia – Initial Research
The first thing we always research when planning our next trip is obviously the cost of flights. As we already have a big trip planned during the first half of the year, keeping the cost of the entire trip as reasonable as possible was a big determinant in deciding if it was possible for us to visit Saint Lucia now or put it off for a later time. To figure out how much a flight to Saint Lucia would cost, the first step is to determine when is the best time to visit Saint Lucia. To do this, we performed a quick and simple Google search!
Now that we know our travel dates, our next step was to search Google Flights to evaluate how much flights were. Even though it is a short flight from Miami, about 3.5 hours, a roundtrip flight was still set us back about $1,000 for the both of us.
Evaluating Other Options
Before we decide whether we should book a flight with cash, we always like to evaluate whether we would be better off utilizing any airline miles or credit card points we have saved up. The first step in our evaluation process is determining how many miles we would need in order to book the flights we had in mind. In searching American Airlines, we noted that for the travel date selected we would need approximately 15,000 miles each way per person.
After figuring out how many airline miles the trip will cost, we consider how many credit card points we could use – we like to save our airline miles for booking international travel (as these have historically been our best redemptions). One travel tip we have learned over the years, is that credit card points are more valuable when transferred to airline and/or hotel partners instead of redeeming them for gift cards or statement credits. Jackie recently took advantage of a promotion being offered for the American Express Gold card (mainly Jackie just wanted to get the limited edition rose gold American Express card) which earned her 25,000 American Express membership reward points after meeting a minimum spend of $3,000 in the first three months of the account opening. American Express has great travel transfer partners and one of them happens to be British Airways (which is part of Oneworld Alliance along with American Airlines)!
Per the American Express Rewards portal, 1,000 American Express Reward points translates to 1,000 British Airways Airline Avios. As such, I transferred 20,000 American Express Reward points to British Airways. The transfer immediately occurred and my British Airways account was updated to credited 20,000 Avios.
Shortly after we logged into our British Airways account and proceeded to book our flights!
Success! We were able to book our flights to Saint Lucia, roundtrip, for a total of $241.02 for both of us ($120.51 plus 20,000 Avios per person)! This resulted in a total savings of $763.44. Definitely cant’t beat this deal and now it allows us to splurge a little bit on our lodging!
We hope you find these travel tips useful and hopefully it will help you check off another bucket list destination while saving money at the same time! We can’t wait to blog about our trip to Saint Lucia in the near future so stay tuned for that. Happy Travels!
We visited Mykonos for the first time in October ’18 and had the pleasure of staying in two different resorts – the Santa Marina Mykonos and Myconian Kyma. (Stay tuned for our review of the latter).
Upon entering the gates leading up to the Santa Marina, it was hard to keep your eyes on the road ahead as you couldn’t help but be drawn to the breathtaking views! The attention to detail was refreshing and the service was impeccable. Granted our stay here was for two nights only which made it even harder to leave!!
Our ‘Deluxe Suite with Private Pool’
We visited Mykonos the last few days the resort was open for the season – which resulted in us feeling like we had the property to ourselves. It definitely helped us out at check-in when we were informed that our room had been upgraded (one of the many benefits of Andres’s side-hobby of reaching elite status with hotel loyalty programs) to one of the hotel’s newest rooms. But little did we know what an amazing upgrade they had surprised us with!
We were greeted with a bottle of chilled white wine and some snacks!
We were upgraded to a ‘Deluxe Suite‘ which had a private pool and amazing view of the sea. During October, the nightly rate for this room is approximately $2,100 a night. However we made our original reservation using SPG (which is now Marriott) points so we actually paid $0 for our stay, resulting in total savings of approximately $4,900 with taxes and other fees!
The suite was divided into two sections. The first part of the suite was the bedroom which offered an extremely comfortable king-sized bed, a walk-in closet with ample storage room, and a spacious bathroom with two vanities, a tub, and a shower.
The television was hidden inside the chest located in front of the bed which would pop up at the touch of a button on the bedside remote!
The room was also equipped with a safe to store your valuables and extra blankets in the walk-in closet. Additionally, a Nespresso machine was tucked away in the walkway between the bathroom and closet.
The second part of the suite included a living room area with a sofa, coffee table, and a desk. The suite did have a partition which allows guests to separate the bedroom from the living room if additional privacy was desired.
Outdoor Balcony Space
The outdoor space of our suite was outstanding! We had a terrace that featured two lounge chairs and a private plunge pool. The best part about our outdoor space was easily the view we had (can you tell we cannot stress this enough!)
From our suite we were able to enjoy the beautiful Aegean Sea in the privacy of our own terrace.
As we visited Mykonos in October, the water was freezing EVERYWHERE – our private pool was not excluded. Unfortunately, we were unable to take a dip in our plunge pool. Being that we are from Florida, the water was honestly not bearable for us. This was the only “con” about our suite if we really HAD to give one!
One other thing worth pointing out is that although this was a private space, there’s a main stairway right behind the entrance of our room which allowed visibility from the stairway straight into the “private” terrace – just a minor detail.
We ended up pulling our lounge chairs to the edge of the balcony to catch some sun with the south of the ocean in the background – I could have stayed here forever!
View from Our Private Balcony
As mentioned above, the best part about our suite was easily the view we had. I mean, does it get any better than this?
We were able to catch the sunsets right from our balcony!
Santa Marina’s Pool
The pool at Santa Marina was one of the highlights of the property. The pool was huge and offered plenty of seating options.
As the hotel was approaching its end of season, we were the only ones out by the pool along with an idle bartender – which we figured we should help keep busy with uncorking a few Prosecco bottles. While the pool temperature was not spared from frigid temperatures, we mustered up the courage to take a very quick dip.
The views from the pool were like none other!
Overall, we had an exceptional stay at Santa Marina and would recommend this property to anyone visiting Mykonos! From the amazing views experienced from any point on the property, the impeccable service given to us by all staff members, and the spectacular rooms and amenities offered on the resort, Santa Marina is one-of-a-kind! If you have had a chance to stay at Santa Marina, we hope you will share your experience with us! Until next time, happy travels!
We kicked off our month-long honeymoon in December ’17 with a blissful week at the St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort! It was the perfect way to unwind after all the planning and pressure of putting together our wedding. We could vividly remember how bummed we were checking out of our room at the end of this ‘once in a lifetime’ trip – but little did we know that, in less than two years, we would be heading back to celebrate Jackie’s big 3-0 birthday!!! With that being said, we figured now would be a great time to blog about our first experience at the St. Regis Maldives to get us ready for our upcoming trip in April! We also plan on blogging about our second visit so stay tuned for that!
Let’s Talk About Money… I Mean Points, Baby!
With such a remote destination, a hefty price tag is sure to follow – nightly rates for overwater villas at the St. Regis start at around $1,795 (without taxes and fees) so you can quickly rack up a $10,000 bill for a five-night stay here (on accommodations alone) – a serious splurge! Thanks to Andres’ frequent travel with his job, we were able to save up enough hotel points (and airline miles) to allow us to visit the St. Regis Maldives (twice) and also subsidize several other trips to other destinations at a fraction (and sometimes $0) of the cost! If you would like us to write a blog post on how we did just that, let us know in the comment section below!
Arrival to ‘The St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort’
Upon arrival at Male’s airport, we made our way to the international terminal pickup area for St. Regis. We were quickly greeted by the St. Regis’s airport butler who assisted us to a nearby private car (with complimentary wifi) to transport us to the St. Regis Lounge (also known as The Great Room) to await the seaplane. The lounge offered complimentary snacks and non-alcoholic beverages along with complimentary wifi – which was nice to have after being disconnected during the almost 17-hour journey to the Maldives. At the lounge, we went through the check-in process so that once we arrived at the resort we would be able to head straight to our villa. We actually never saw the front desk of the resort as even during check-out our butler came to the room to assist us with that!
We did not have to wait a long time for the seaplane to arrive. As the seaplane is shared with other resorts, there were several other individuals on board. The total flight time was approximately 45 minutes which included two stops. The seaplane did not have any air conditioning – just a small fan near the pilots – so definitely make sure to dress accordingly. On our flight we saw a couple of atolls through the window but the majority of the time all you really see is miles and miles of the bluest water! Upon arrival to The St. Regis, we were greeted by several friendly hotel personnel who were waving from the dock! Once we disembarked from the seaplane, we met our butler who offered us some fresh coconut water and escorted us to our villa on a golf cart.
Important Things to Note:
The cost of the seaplane transfer is now $695 roundtrip (it used to be $645 when back in December 2017 so check their website for any pricing updates).
The seaplane operates from 6:00AM to 3:30PM so if you have a later departure flight you will have to spend a couple of hours in The Great Room. Complimentary food and non-alcoholic drinks are still provided.
Seaplane timings can only confirmed one night in advance.
Private seaplane charters are available.
Maximum baggage allowance is 66 pounds (30 kilograms) per person – including hand luggage. Excess baggage will be charged an additional fee.
Accommodation: Sea Facing Overwater Villa
The St. Regis Maldives has beach and overwater villas – but since we were making it all the way out there and we were celebrating our honeymoon we automatically knew we wanted to stay in an overwater villa (it’s what the Maldives are known for after all). When it comes to the overwater accommodations, location is key – there are three views for these overwater villas: beach-facing, sea-facing, or sunset-facing. We were assigned a sea-facing room for our stay which gave us the ultimate privacy and some of the best morning views. Our bed faced the ocean so we would wake up every morning to the beautiful Indian Ocean.
The villa also comes with an iPad which enabled us to control everything in our room from it. It was linked to the lights, curtains, fan, and even room service and housekeeping!
The bathroom in the villa was very spacious – two vanity sinks, a separate area for the toilet, an extremely large shower, and (the best part) a stand-alone tub that faced the deck of our villa.
Additionally, we had a walk-in closet and living room space.
One of our favorite amenities in our villa (besides the private plunge pool, the amazing view, the huge shower and closet…) was that the fridge was stocked daily with fruits, wine, champagne AND a bar cart filled with a variety of liquors (vodka, whiskey, etc.). We got use out of the bar cart after realizing it was slightly “cheaper” to open up a bottle in our room than order individual drinks at the restaurants. Not to mention with the view and all the amenities in our villa, it was hard to leave!
One thing we did take note of was that the ocean-facing villas have limited sun exposure – for us this meant that our pool did not get direct sunlight and made our plunge pool a little cooler than we would’ve liked.
Best Place to Watch the Sunset: Whale Bar
The Whale Bar is the perfect location to watch the sunset (even if you are staying in a sunset overwater villa)! Unfortunately, due to jet lag, we only caught the sunset here once (we literally slept through almost every sunset). One of the nights that we finally adjusted to the local time and were able to stay up to experience a sunset in the Maldives we headed straight to the signature Whale Bar (yes – notice it’s actually shaped like a whale in the pictures). We arrived a few minutes before sunset and were able to grab a couch right away towards the back of the dock. If possible, get there about 30 minutes before sunset in order to snag a front row seat! We ordered a couple of drinks (Andres ordered the ‘Island Mary’ which is a bloody mary served in a conch shell) and watched the sun set over the Indian Ocean as we listened to the the bar’s saxophone player in the background. Such a romantic sunset and setting! Tapas can be ordered at the Whale Bar as well. The Whale Bar is open from 5PM to 11:59PM everyday and reservations are recommended.
The Whale Bar is also a great spot to grab drinks after dinner. We passed by one night and they had a DJ playing some beats to unwind after a day of relaxing. We were the only ones there which was actually really nice! When you are ready to head back to your villa, you can request one of the staff members to call your butler to pick you up and take you back to your villa. Or enjoy the walk back to your villa – although it is pretty dark.
Iridium Spa: The Blue Hole Experience
The most iconic part of the Iridium Spa is by far the Blue Hole Pool. Apparently, it is best to take a dip in the Blue Hole Pool at the beginning of your trip because the jets in the pool are suppose to help with one’s jet lag. We learned this tip after we had booked our spa appointment so we didn’t get a chance to test this theory out!
During our visit to the spa, we opted to do the ‘Private Blue Hole Experience’ which allowed us to have the pool all to ourselves. We decided to do this experience at nighttime instead of during the day, as we thought it would be more romantic, so we were unable to get those Instragam-perfect shots at the Blue Hole Pool. In hindsight, we definitely wish we would have done this experience during the day but nonetheless it was nice to get to experience it at nighttime. Although the resort’s website states that the Blue Hole Pool is heated, we do remember the water being a bit chilly. The resort offered us a ‘honeymooners discount’ for this experience – which was extremely nice and greatly appreciated!
Dining at Crust
Crust is the resort’s pizzeria which offers phenomenal views of the resort’s pool and the ocean! Guests can enjoy a delicious thin crust pizza while sinking their toes in the sand. Andres and I usually grabbed lunch there every day in an effort to save some money as we usually tended to splurge during dinner. A pizza from Crust can also be ordered to your villa!
Dining at Alba
As Platinum SPG members (which is now part of Marriott’s loyalty program), we were able to choose complimentary breakfast for two people at Alba (a value of $67 per person per day). Not only did Alba host an amazing spread of breakfast items, from multiple cuisines, but an a la carte menu was also available. As we ate breakfast here everyday, Andres was able to try a different entree each day and he thoroughly enjoyed each one – zero complaints! My personal favorite was the Eggs Benedict – which I ordered every morning! We also enjoyed dinner at Alba one night – once again delicious!
Each morning we rode our bikes – provided to all guests free of charge – from our villa to Alba for breakfast! Good way to burn off some calories before stuffing our faces!
Unlimited Bloody Mary’s and bottomless mimosas were also offered at Alba during breakfast! We definitely took advantage of this each morning – I mean we are on vacation after all!
Dining Experience: Decanter
Our dining experience in Decanter surpassed all our expectations and was definitely worth the splurge! We actually enjoyed it so much that when we return in April we will be enjoying Jackie’s birthday dinner there! Dining at Decanter is an experience on it’s own. The restaurant is open just twice a week (Wednesdays and Saturdays) and only has seating for 12 guests. As the restaurant is located in a wine cellar it is pretty chilly so shawls are provided to the women. A five course meal is served throughout the night and each entree is paired with a wine. The restaurant’s sommelier and chef both do an exceptional job describing each entree and explaining as to why the selected wine pairs wonderfully with each entree. Each entree that was presented to us was superb!
Although the presentation of each dish was beyond remarkable, the real winner that night was the flavor within each dish!
As Decanter only hosts an intimate amount of guests per seating, it enhances the overall experience. We met so many wonderful people that night and thoroughly enjoyed everyone’s company! We were able to interact with each other and enjoy some amazing food, wine, and share some laughters!
Dining Experience: Private Dinner on the Beach
As a surprise for Andres, I worked with the resort to coordinate a private beach dinner for one of our nights there. I arranged dinner to start shortly before sunset and it was pure magic! Honestly, this night felt like we had a date planned for an episode of ‘The Bachelor’. Right in the middle of the resort’s beach, a candlelight path led us to our table in which had lights surrounding our table in the shape of a heart – seriously these guys didn’t spare any details. Our dinner that night was superb – like every meal we had in the resort. We stayed on the beach for a couple of hours taking in the moment and realizing how lucky we were to be able to experience this moment together. This was definitely the most magical night of our stay and I would recommend any couple visiting, budget-permitting, to do this at least once!
St. Regis Maldives’s Infinity Pool / Private Beach
We hope you enjoyed our review of the St. Regis Maldives. This place is beyond surreal and we are extremely excited that we get to visit it once again this April! Stay tuned as we definitely plan to post an update all about our second visit to the resort. In the meantime, happy travels!
Westin Europa & Regina
During our two-night stay in Venice, we stayed at the Westin Europa and Regina property. It is important to note that the property is currently closed for renovation and will be re-opening in Spring 2019 as a St. Regis property – ‘St. Regis Venice’. As such, we have not experienced firsthand the changes that will be made to the property during this renovation period. Nonetheless, the one constant that shall remain will be the superb location of the property. The Westin Europa and Regina is situated along the Grand Canal – offering exceptional views – and walking distance to major sites such as St. Mark’s Square (six minute walk) and the Rialto Bridge (13 minute walk). Our room and bathroom were very spacious for a European hotel – however, the shower was not. The shower in our room was so tiny that it was challenging to even move around in there. However, to make up for the world’s tiniest shower, we had a fantastic view of the Grand Canal. From all three windows we had a picturesque view! We were able to open up all our windows and enjoy the sound of the boats passing through. As we visited Venice in December – when the weather tends to be pretty chilly – we didn’t get the chance to grab a drink at the hotel’s restaurant which has outdoor seating adjacent to the Grand Canal. Definitely make time for that during your visit! Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed our stay at this property! We can’t wait to see how the property will look once renovations are complete and it becomes the St. Regis Venice!
St. Mark’s Square (Piazza San Marco)
Take a stroll through Venice’s famous St. Mark’s Square! St. Mark’s Square is the principal public square of Venice – where St. Mark’s Basilica is located. The Piazza has several stores and restaurants located on the outer skirts.
Grab a bite to eat at Cafèe Florian. Cafèe Florian is the oldest cafè in the world and located in St. Mark’s Square. On arrival day, we had a late lunch in the cafè and enjoyed it so much we returned the next day for breakfast and lunch once again! During the summer, this cafè would be an ideal spot to people watch as outdoor seating is available! Great food and excellent service! Definitely recommend!
St. Mark’s Basilica (Basilica di San Marco)
Visit St. Mark’s Basilica located in St. Mark’s Square. St. Mark’s Basilica is the city’s most famous Roman Catholic church. The Basilica is the most visited site in Venice and after taking one look at the architecture of the Basilica there is no surprise as to why! Reservations for guided tours can be made in advance online. During our visit, we opted to not do a tour and we just strolled around the Basilica on our own.
St. Mark’s Clock Tower (Torre dell’ Orologio)
Book a tour of St. Mark’s Clock Tower. On our first day in Venice, we booked a tour of The St. Mark’s Clock Tower. Now I have to be honest – we didn’t learn much while on this tour because unfortunately due to our limited time in Venice and available tour times, the only tour we could make it to was in italian – in which none of us speak italian! So we pretty much spent the entire time trying to figuring out what the tour guide was saying and just smiling back at her whenever she would look at us. But it did appear that everyone who did speak italian was enjoying their time and learning a lot! With that being said, we still had a wonderful experience as we were able climb the clock tower and get a closer look at the clock’s machinery. The tour also gave us access to the rooftop where we had an amazing view of Venice and St. Mark’s Square.
St. Mark’s Campanile
Take a ride up to the top of St. Mark’s Campanile. A visit to the top of St. Mark’s Campanile allows one to view the city from above and a definitely MUST do! St. Mark’s Campanile is the bell tower of St. Mark’s Basilica – located in St. Mark’s Square. The St. Mark’s Campanile is 323 feet tall making it one of the most recognizable symbols of Venice. Unless you purchase a ‘Skip the Line‘ pass beforehand, visitors usually spend a significant amount of time in line waiting to go up to the top of the campanile. As we visited Venice during their low season (in December) we did not purchase this pass online beforehand (as it is only available for purchase between April 1st through October 31st) but luckily there was no line (definitely a perk of visiting Venice in December – although it was freezing up there!). After the view, of course, the best part about visiting the St. Mark’s Campanile is that one can ride an elevator all the way to the top. This is HUGE bonus that we definitely missed when we visited Florence and had to climb 414 steps to get to the top of Giotto’s Campanile! The cost of the pass is 13€ for adults and 9€ for children. Reservations are non-refundable and can’t be changed.
Palazzo Ducale (Doge’s Palace)
Tour Doge’s Palace. Doge’s Palace was the seat of the government for several centuries. A Doge is someone who is elected to a government post for the entirety of one’s life. During our visit, we decided to do the ‘Secret Itinerary‘ tour, which we were required to book in advance. The cost of this tour was 22€ per person and lasted a little over an hour. Our group consisted of approximately 20 people and our tour guide was really good about waiting for everyone to enter each room before she would begin sharing with the group any information. The decor in Doge’s Palace is quite impressive and elaborate – especially the ceilings in some of the rooms. Would highly recommend this tour!
A historical collection of weapons and armaments is stored within multiple rooms of Doge’s Palace (Palazzo Ducale).
Rialto Bridge & Market
Take a stroll through the Rialto Market and cross the Rialto Bridge. The Rialto Bridge is usually crowded right before sunset with tourists trying to capture a picture, but a definitely a must do while in Venice. You can grab a bite to eat and/or a glass of wine in one of the several restaurants in the area before you jump into a gondola to experience Venice from the water!
Gondola Ride on the Grand Canal
Take a gondola ride! A gondola ride along the Grand Canal is definitely one of Venice’s most iconic experiences and a must do for first time visitors. Although we enjoyed our gondola ride we both definitely agree that it was probably not worth the price. Gondola rides are approximately 80€ during the daytime and 100€ after 7pm. Our gondolier did not interact much with us which we think if he would have it would have probably enhanced our experience – we saw other gondoliers singing and acting as tour guides to their passengers. Nonetheless, since it was our first time visiting Venice we couldn’t leave without strolling along the Grand Canal and the smaller waterways of Venice in a gondola. Definitely a romantic moment!
Roam the Alleys of Venice
Before you depart Venice, one of the best things to do is just wander the streets of Venice aimlessly! You never know what you may stumble across – which is the best part!
Hope you enjoyed our weekend itinerary in Venice! Let us know what your favorite things to do while visiting Venice are! Happy Travels!