Friday, January 29, 2010

I think I'm pretty funny...

But I think this is a lot funnier than me!  Admittedly, it might be a stretch to figure out a way to incorporate such a thing into your wedding, but it definitely fits how I feel today, given that I'm trying like crazy to avoid thinking about returning to work Monday!

[caption id="attachment_1861" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="click image for source"]click image for source[/caption]

I promise more recaps next week, but in the mean time, head on over to and have yourself a good giggle... and yes, I do keep a copy of this exact image on my desk.  I recommend you do the same.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Honeymoon Travel Tips: Sarasota

Today's guest blogger is Adrienne, a coworker, fellow alumna and my new running buddy!  Adrienne hails from the magical land of Florida where sunshine and charm abound.  And based on what I've heard, her hometown of Sarasota would be the perfect place for a vintage inspired, low key and fun honeymoon.  Read on for more of Adrienne's excellent advice on how to get the most from a romantic Sarasota getaway!

I didn’t know it at the time but I grew up in paradise.  As a teenager, I kept a bikini and a beach towel in the backseat of my car in the way that people up North always travel with an ice pick, because you never knew when you’d need them.  I left Florida at 18 but now as I get older, I find myself going back to visit more and more. Lately, I’ve taken to suggesting to friends planning vacations and honeymoons, “Why don’t you just go to Florida?  You can do all of that in Sarasota…”

And really, a stateside honeymoon in a Florida beach town has a lovely 1950’s vintage vibe and you can save a ton on flights.  While Sarasota may have a Ritz, it also has countless adorable mom + pop beach bungalow resorts and you will have the opportunity to go both fancy and budget.  Below is a quick hit list of retro Florida charm from my hometown….

Siesta Key is a 7 mile barrier island off the Gulf of Mexico.  Two bridges tether it to mainland Sarasota.  The sand on the beaches is 99% quartz, making it some of the whitest sand in the world (which keeps it from getting too hot in the summer - - - hello 7th grade physical science!).   A good way to stay on the beach and save is to stay at a resort that shares beach access with another resort – this will allow you to stay alongside the beach and always have a parking space.  Google Siesta Key and lots of fun retro options show up – prices are cheaper after spring break and stay that way until December.

While you’re out on the Key, be sure to check out Siesta Key Village (locals just call it the Village).  The Daiquiri Deck offers some fun Florida silliness with a wall of machines mixing 13 different frozen concoctions (and one non alcoholic daiquiri of the day – ask your server).  It’s 2 for 1 Daiquiri’s from 3-7 and you’re on vacation so it’s totally fine to start drinking at 3 (or 11 am for that matter….) A word of advice – don’t drink the ones that boast grain alcohol….those are for the single girls and you really don’t want to end up barfing into your honey’s hair….

Up the street is the Old Salty Dog, a Sarasota fixture with great hot dogs and an awesome blackened grouper sandwich.  You’ll pass all the cute souvenir shops on the stroll where you can pick up postcards to use for thank you cards!  Be sure to also get a waffle cone from Big Olaf’s – sooo tasty! 

My hometown is not all deep fried hot dogs and custom-built booze slurpee machines.  We have a pretty excellent cultural scene for a town so small!  At the turn of the 20th century John Ringling commissioned a museum to house his art collection which became open to the public in 1931 and houses a Renaissance heavy collection.  This commitment to the arts has lived on in future residents and we also host the Florida State ballet, have an opera house, and a great number of galleries around Main Street in downtown Sarasota.  You can also wander the grounds alongside Sarasota bay and see the old Ringling mansion (which was featured in the remake of Great Expectations).    While you’re driving around, check out the public access radio station, WSLR 96.5.

Finally you can’t get vintage Florida without checking out the state parks or having some time out on the water.  There are tons of places to rent kayaks or jetskis if you’re staying on the key.  Close to Sarasota are two state parks, Myakka River State Park and Oscar Scherer State Park.  At Myakka you can rent canoes, go on boat tours or just go hiking and biking – they’ve also built a canopy walkway on one of their trails which is absolutely gorgeous.   Oscar Scherer also features canoe rentals, hiking and has a lake for swimming.  It also connects to the Legacy Trail a “rails to trails” path that connects Sarasota to Venice, a town a little ways south.  The trail is great for biking and jogging.  

Happy Honeymooning!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Aloha from Maui!

Aloha everyone!  Today J. and I are wrapping up in Maui and heading for Oahu's north coast.  Maui was a fun island!  I'll be honest, some of the things that were hyped up here, were not as good as I'd hoped, but some were waaaay better. For instance, when we checked into our hotel on day 1, the Royal Kahana "upgraded" us to a two bedroom suite which was absolutely the grossest hotel room I've ever seen (and I don't generally mind budget accommodations).  I can't say enough bad things about it, do not stay there people!  I freaked out and told them it was unacceptable, so they then sent us to another room which was only marginally better and only because the bed wasn't super saggy in the center.  Yuck.  So I got on the horn with our travel agent, we threw some money at the problem, and after one irritating night at RK we moved to a significantly better condo at this place called the Mahana.  *cue heavely angels*  It is literally right on Ka'anapali beach which is this long stretch of super-perfect sand, where we can walk a few hundred feet in either direction for incredible snorkling and nice waves for swimming.  The beach also happens to be about 20 feet from our room and we have a perfect ocean view.  We can also see the island of Molokai, and this part of the ocean is where whales come to give birth so we're seeing whales all over the place.  It is such a 180 from where we began, and the trip has been divine ever since!

Once we got settled- really settled- we started exploring the North coast of Maui with the top down in our Jeep (a small upgrade from J!), which has an incredible cliff-hugging drive with these semi-secret "Olivine Pools" which you have to basically have to climb down a cliff to get to- but which were absolutely awesome in person.  And the Hana highway?  Pretty cool even with this season's lack of rain (no seven sacred pools this year!)- we saw an ancient temple, lava tubes and arches, a black sand beach, and let's not forget how we followed our guidebook's instructions and did some off-the-tourist-road hiking to find an amazing waterfall and perfect swimming hole with NOBODY there!  Whale watching?  Better than I ever thought possible!  Our boat ended up being surrounded by three whales for about an hour, so we got to get within 10 feet of humpbacks, watching them play and breach.   We've mostly done cheap or free things here to account for the extra hotel expense, but with so many natural wonders, that's been easy to do.  And of course, the restaurant scene here is outstanding!  Overall, I give it an A++!  So here's some of the highlights from our five days of Maui-mooning:

[caption id="attachment_2110" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Our room with a view!"]Our room with a view![/caption]

[caption id="attachment_2111" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="The Olivine Pools- Secluded Secret or Death Trap?"]The Olivine Pools- Secluded Secret or Death Trap?[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_2112" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Whale tail!"]Whale tail![/caption]

[caption id="attachment_2113" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Yes, there are THREE whales in that photo!"]Yes, there are THREE whales in that photo![/caption]

[caption id="attachment_2114" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Luau!"]Luau![/caption]

[caption id="attachment_2115" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Piilanihale Heiau, the largest ancient temple in Hawaii."]Piilanihale Heiau, the largest ancient temple in Hawaii.[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_2116" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Poised on the edge of a lava tube! "]Poised on the edge of a lava tube!  [/caption]

[caption id="attachment_2117" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="J. braves the icy spring water for a shot at our "private" waterfall!"]J. braves the icy spring water for a shot at our "private" waterfall![/caption]

[caption id="attachment_2118" align="aligncenter" width="200" caption="I savor a sunset and watch the big boys surf near Mama's Fish House (home of the best seafood ever)."]I savor a sunset and watch the big boys surf near Mama's Beach House.[/caption]

Honeymoon Travel Tips: Jamaica

Next up, a post from my college roomie, bridesmaid extraordinaire, and awesome gal pal Erin!  Erin and her husband Anthony planned a destination wedding and honeymoon in Jamaica (you've seen them before on The One!) and so when planning some post for while I was away, obviously Erin had to be a guest author.  Read on for everything you've ever wanted to know about honeymooning in Jamaica!

[caption id="attachment_2055" align="aligncenter" width="214" caption="Remember these love birds?"]Remember these love birds?[/caption]

Let me preface this entire entry by saying that if you are a high-maintenance person or someone with little patience, Jamaica is NOT the destination for you.  I mean it.  Don’t even bother reading on.  Jamaica takes “island time” to a whole new snail-paced level!  From the time you get to immigration and customs (prepare for a long, hot wait), to the time you get in line for your boarding pass home, you will be inching your way through each day.  But if you’re looking for an escape, isn’t that part of the draw?  Bring your patience!  There.  Now that we’ve gotten that business out of the way, let’s continue!

[caption id="attachment_2054" align="aligncenter" width="225" caption="Pancakes of the day: worth the patience!"]Pancakes of the day: worth the patience![/caption]

My husband and I chose Jamaica as our weddingmoon destination for myriad reasons: it’s easy and relatively inexpensive to get there (compared to other Caribbean destinations), it’s absolutely covered in all-inclusive resorts, it only has a 24-hour “residency” period before couples can legally wed (and no pesky blood test),  it has a definitive island culture (I loathe islands that make me feel like I’m still stateside!), and it has LOADS of things to do.  Plus, as neither my husband nor I had ever visited Jamaica, it would be a new adventure we could forge together. 

[caption id="attachment_2053" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Seriously, how cute are these two?"]Seriously, how cute are these two?[/caption]

Ultimately we zeroed in on Negril, Jamaica, home of the famed 7-Mile Beach,  often featured in “world’s top beaches”-esque specials, and Rick’s Café, a great place to enjoy some cliff diving.  Negril has a wide variety of hotels and resorts ranging from economy to luxury.  The majority of the hotels are on right on the 7-Mile Beach (Couples Swept Away, Hedonism II, Sandals Negril, Negril Treehouse, and Idle Awhile), although you will find several all-inclusive resorts further north on the Bloody Bay (Couples Negril, Riu Palace Tropical Bay, and Breezes Grand), and a variety of smaller hotels and resorts further south on the West End (Rockhouse, Catcha Falling Star, and Tensing Pen).  Picking a hotel when you’ve never visited a location before can be quite daunting.  I find that maps are helpful to put things in perspective [for a fabulous map of Negril’s hotels (and restaurants, shopping, and more!), click here!]  Do your research, but beware of online reviews.  If you’re a seasoned traveler, you’re probably already aware that the Internet and sites like TripAdvisor give a voice to any and everyone.  For every glowing positive review, there is a scathing negative one.  Sometimes it sounds like they’re talking about two completely different resorts!  Try to keep realistic expectations and read reviews with your eyes open.  I was floored that people complained about bugs around the resort, or that restaurant service was slow, or that it rained every day.  Um, hello, folks?  You’re in the Caribbean; there are bugs, island life moves more slowly than the hustle and bustle of the big city, and tropical islands are visited by rain (almost every afternoon in Jamaica – a great time to enjoy indoor honeymoon activities).  Why did you even visit a tropical island?  Sheesh.  At any rate, you have more than ample choices!   

[caption id="attachment_2051" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Oh, yeah, THAT's why I visited a tropical island!"]Oh, yeah, THAT's why I visited a tropical island![/caption]

I poured over travel books and websites and magazines before finally convincing my husband that we wanted to stay at Couples Swept Away on the 7-Mile Beach because it was a couples-only, all-inclusive resort with inexhaustible entertainment and dining options on the premises.  I was also bowled over by the die-hard Couples fans on the resort’s message board (and quickly became one upon our return).  CSA has six different restaurants, ranging from a nearly all-day buffet to a Jamaican-Mediterranean fusion restaurant to a dress-code-enforced gourmet restaurant.  My favorite was the Sea Grape Café, a tiny café right on the beach with slightly healthier fare (and a soft-serve machine… I did only say “slightly,” right?).  There are also bars everywhere you look – bars that look like little tiki huts and serve the most amazing frou-frou concoctions ever (I recommend anything involving rum crème).  Another selling point for CSA was the full spa located on their sports and fitness complex.  If you get any spa service (which you must – a massage at least!), first grab a pineapple-infused ice water from the spa juice bar, then show up early to take advantage of the gorgeous Jacuzzi (we were lucky enough to enjoy the sights and sounds of a relaxing tropical rain shower during our visit to the Jacuzzi and spa).  The final selling point for CSA was the variety of activities available each day (all of which are included).  You could go SCUBA diving or snorkeling (seasoned divers – beware – the reefs are pretty torn up from inexperienced divers flailing around, but there is a lot of great marine life to enjoy), take a sunset booze cruise down to the cliffs, take a kayak out on the ocean, learn how to sail a Hobie cat, join a game of beach volleyball, learn some margarita mixology, take a couples massage class, learn the history of Negril, partake in a squash clinic, or just relax on a beach lounge chair and have the frou-frou drinks delivered right to you (thank you, little green flags!).  Honestly, the beach and the ocean are so gorgeous in Negril that it’s hard to pull yourself away! 

[caption id="attachment_2050" align="aligncenter" width="225" caption="Laze around in a hammock?"]Laze around in a hammock?[/caption]

Despite the fact that CSA met all of our entertainment and dining needs, its location also gave us the freedom of direct access to any public 7-Mile Beach activities.  We could walk down the beach from our resort and hail a parasail boat or a jet ski rental, swim out to Margaritaville’s giant water trampoline, or patronize beach vendors selling various crafts.  Being on the beach also allowed us to take advantage of roving musicians and vendors selling “fresh crab, banana, good smoke,” if we were so bold.  Of course, the resort was so fabulous that we only left it to spend time with our family, who were staying elsewhere.  Destination brides, you may want to consider that!  We also ventured off campus to visit Rick’s Café (twice).  It’s a great place to watch a sunset, listen to live music, and enjoy the entertainment of some truly amazing cliff divers (or jump for yourself!).

[caption id="attachment_2049" align="aligncenter" width="225" caption="Cliff diving!"]Cliff diving![/caption]

Let’s talk weddings, since this is a wedding blog, after all.  If you’re going to get married in Jamaica, you need little more than a birth certificateJamaica is a relatively popular wedding destination, so most hotels and resorts have wedding planners who will literally take care of everything for you – you just have to mail your documents, pay the bill, and show up!  Many of the all-inclusive resorts even offer complimentary weddings (with the potential to pay for any upgrade you might imagine).  This was the draw for me, as I’m relatively lazy.  CSA’s wedding planners took care of everything for us; we opted for the complimentary wedding package with upgrades to my bouquet and the arch, plus we arranged for our own photographer, Diana Campbell, to shoot the wedding.  Again, though, be patient; you’re on an island!  Just relax and enjoy your own special day. 

[caption id="attachment_2048" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="The happy couple!"]The happy couple![/caption]

I hope some of you decide to spend time in Negril.  My husband and I have no regrets about our decision.  Negril set the perfect stage for our vows, and we look forward to returning there for future anniversaries.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Honeymoon Travel Tips: Honduras

Today's post comes from friend and kindred spirit, Nora, who currently resides in lovely Honduras!  We all know of the traditional honeymoon destinations like Hawaii and Paris, but Honduras seems like it offers something a little more authentic (read: less staged) for the  well traveled couple.  So read on for more info, and definitely contact Nora through if you want to ask any questions!

[caption id="attachment_2027" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Nora and her boyfriend Fernando getting ready for adventure"]Nora and her boyfriend Fernando getting ready for adventure[/caption]

Honeymooning in Honduras

Central America is a great, tropical, off the beaten track, place to spend your honeymoon and Honduras is a great country to do it in.  Despite recent political strife, these destinations are far from the political epicenter of the country and safe to visit.  You are likely to find great deals too!  Coffee farms and white sand beaches are in store for you if you make Honduras your Honeymoon destination!

I have been living and working in Honduras for 3 years, and I want to tell you about my favorite place here.  It is a coffee plantation outside the town Copan Ruinas in the Western Honduras called Finca El Cisne.  Horseback ride on cool mountain trails, tour coffee and cardamom plantations, savor real Honduran cuisine prepared with products from the farm, swim in rivers, bathe in soothing, natural hot springs and sleep tranquil nights in the country (with your sweetie!).  This is the escape you have been looking for and continues to be the most relaxing place I have been in Honduras.  This great location because it is located 25 km outside of the town Copan Ruinas—where you can tour one of a kind ancient Mayan ruins.   Definitely plan to stay a few days in the region—you won’t regret it.

Then you can hop over to another wonderful treasure that Honduras has to offer:  The Bay Islands

[caption id="attachment_2026" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="The Bay Islands- just lovely!"]The Bay Islands- just lovely![/caption]

These islands with white sand beaches and amazing coral are located in the Caribbean Sea just off the coast of Honduras and offer a great beach getaway.  The three islands: Roatan, Utila and Guanaja, all offer something different.  You can rent a private house, go snorkeling, enjoy fabulous sea food, stay at a 5 star resort, or stay at a modest (read: not expensive) place as well while enjoying your surroundings.   These islands are a national treasure and a vacationer’s paradise!

Honduras is full of diversity and many off the beaten track places.  If you and your future spouse are an adventuresome couple, then Honduras could be the place for you.  Please do not hesitate to contact me via "The One"  for more information.

Nora and Fernando beaching it up!
Nora and Fernando beaching it up!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Honeymoon Travel Tips: St. Thomas and St. John

So although I'm still on my honeymoon right now, I didn't have enough guest bloggers decided to schedule my own little two cents on why you should consider honeymooning in St. Thomas or St. John, and what you should do when you are there!  They are gorgeous islands that just so happen to be right next to each other so you can visit both in one trip!

 Why you should go:

(1) It is quite reasonable to go.  J. and I got a package deal off of called a "super surprise special."  That meant for the low low price of $1200, we got airfare and hotel for a week for BOTH of us, but with one catch: we did not get to find out our hotel until the week before we left.  At the time we were watching our pennies so we decided to risk it.  And it was SUCH A GOOD IDEA!  Our resort was called Bluebeard's Castle and it may not have been redecorated in a while, but it had a 1950's vibe and a shabby vintage feel centered around a real pirate's tower from the 1600's!  It also had incredible, incredible views.   Currently the website says it is being renovated- but I hope hope hope they don't lose the vintage charm. 

(2) It is a U.S. territory.  No passports or worries about the low value of the dollar required.

(3) The place has class.  I don't mean that it's the fanciest in the world.  But it is easy to avoid the uber tacky, irritating tourists and do your own thing.  Basically everything you do will be fun.  It is not like spring break in Cancun- so if you were hoping to enter a hot body contest, you'll be disappointed.  But assuming you're not a character person on Jersey Shore, I think you'll love it.

(4) Restaurants here are shockingly good.  If you're used to big city prices, you won't even feel sticker shock.  A fried conch appetizer will run about $7 most places. 

[caption id="attachment_2011" align="aligncenter" width="223" caption="Resort views"]Resort views[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_2012" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="The old tower at Bluebeard's"]The old tower at Bluebeard's[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_2013" align="aligncenter" width="223" caption="View from inside the tower"]View from inside the tower[/caption]

What to do when you get there:

(1) First, go cheap on hotel and use the money you saved to rent a car.  You will need it to really experience the island and it is not that expensive.

(2) Hit the beaches at the nice resorts.  We particularly loved the beaches at the Ritz and the Marriott.  They're all public under U.S. law so even if you're not staying at a given resort, you can go play.  Besides, nobody even checked when we plopped down on the beach chairs, though in theory they were supposed to.  It's just that relaxed!

[caption id="attachment_2014" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="J. and I putting on our Ritz"]J. and I putting on our Ritz[/caption]

(3) Take the ferry to St. John!  Most of it is preserved, and there are feral farm animals roaming the place.  Fan-friggin-tastic!  Not to mention, the ride on the ferry can be stunning.  And while you're there, consider going snorkeling with one of the small local catamarans.  We went with just one other couple and a guide and saw some amazing stuff.  If you can find captain Han, go with him.

[caption id="attachment_2015" align="aligncenter" width="223" caption="One of the many great sunsets we saw from the St. John ferry!"]One of the many great sunsets we saw from the St. John ferry![/caption]

[caption id="attachment_2018" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Just another feral donkey on a Tuesday"]Why hello there random donkey[/caption]

(4) Take a sunset sail even if those Caribbean clouds roll in- they move out quickly- and it makes for better photos!  Just don't expect a gourmet meal- it's all a lie.

[caption id="attachment_2016" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Cloudy sunsets are still lovely sunsets!"]Cloudy sunsets are still lovely sunsets![/caption]

(5) Eat at The Old Stone Farmhouse.  The chef is a genius and the atmosphere- a 200 year old restored fieldhouse- cannot be beat.  Get the tasting menu with wine pairings.  I swear to you that they actually serve wine worth drinking chosen by an actual sommolier and not just random cases the restaurant needs to drink up- a rarity in prix fix menus- and well worth it!

[caption id="attachment_2017" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Ohm nom nom"]Ohm nom nom[/caption]

(6) Go shopping in Charlotte Amalia, but go when the cruise ships are NOT there.  Otherwise you will want to commit violent crime against the whiny, me-first east coasters who have cruised on down to flood the town, cut in lines, and argue with the locals.  Avoid at all costs!  That said, J. got a bargain price on a gorgeous Movado watch while there, and the cobblestone side streets are charming.

[caption id="attachment_2019" align="aligncenter" width="223" caption="The streets of Charlotte Amalie"]The streets of Charlotte Amalie[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_2020" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption=""I sailed! On my first try! I just let the boat do the work.""]"I sailed!  On my first try!  I just let the boat do the work."[/caption]

What you should maybe not do- or maybe absolutely should do?

On our last night in St. Thomas, J. and I decided to hit an open air restaurant in the middle of town for some live music.  During the day, the place is a tourist mecca.  But after dinner, the place turned into a serious night club, which we didn't realize ahead of time.  A metal detector was brought to the door and the club became packed with locals in a neighborhood that we'd been warned was "unsafe" at night for tourists.  But it was already too late by the time we figured this out- we were there.  And the music was insanely good.  Incredible.  We danced and danced and danced!  So yeah we were the only tourists (and only white people) there other than a random Canadian couple, and I'm sure the locals thought we danced like nerds, but it was quite possibly the best night we had there!  Just be aware that if you're considering doing the same, please be careful and use your common sense- I can't vouch for how safe it was :)

[caption id="attachment_2022" align="aligncenter" width="362" caption="Mmmwah! See ya'll next week!"]Mmmwah!  See you all next week![/caption]

Friday, January 22, 2010


Aloha everyone!

First, a public service announcement.  Today our wedding is featured on Wedding Chicks, so go check it out!  Special thanks to Jessica Morrisy for capturing the day with such flair!  Woo!

Now more importantly, at this moment I'm drinking my morning kona coffee and eating some locally grown fruit (which J. made into a salad this morning!) while listening to the sounds of the faux waterfall of the resort out our window right now.  I am in pure heaven!  I just wanted to say hello to you all and recommend that you plan a trip just like this sometime in your future... worth it worth it worth it!  Right now we are in Kapa'a, Kaua'i at the Waipuli Resort- recommended as a money saving option by our travel agent because it is technically a condo and not a hotel.  But for us, that meant an apartment sized room with housekeeping, a full kitchen which we've used every morning and some evenings, a great location and a lovely pool.  And the room itself is local hardwoods, granite countertops, so much nicer than anything the Hyatt can offer.  So travel tip: go the condo route!  Next up, we move on to Maui and another condo (which my research suggests will be slightly outdated inside but with killer views of Molokai and whales)!

Highlights of this week have included an incredible helicopter tour, hiking to "secret" waterfalls where J. jumped off, getting a couples massage at the St. Regis, taking surfing lessons and both actually getting up (!), ziplining through the valleys of a cattle ranch, visiting the "grand canyon of the pacific" from the ground, and getting up close and personal with a Hawaiian monk seal.  So I'm not going to spend much more time blogging, and instead I'm going to go soak up some sun!  I leave you instead with some photos of the best things we've done this week!



[caption id="attachment_2083" align="aligncenter" width="200" caption="J. jumps off a 25 foot waterfall (I was too afraid so I just took pics instead!)"]J. jumps off a 25 foot waterfall (I was too afraid so I just took pics instead!)[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_2084" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Who doesn't love watching a sunbathing seal!"]Who doesn't love watching a sunbathing seal![/caption]

[caption id="attachment_2077" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Here we are on day 1 post-massage in Princeville, enjoying the views of Bali Hai"]Here we are on day 1 post-massage at the St. Regis Princeville, enjoying the views of Bali High[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_2085" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Zipping on "king kong" which was over 2000 feet long!"]Zipping on "king kong" which was over 2000 feet long![/caption]

[caption id="attachment_2079" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="View of the Na Pali coast from our helicopter"]View of the Na Pali coast from our helicopter[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_2080" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Look closely and you'll see THREE whales- a mama and her babies? I like to think so."]Look closely and you'll see THREE whales- a mama and her babies?  I like to think so.[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_2082" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Post-surfing lesson!"]Post-surfing lesson, and yes, we both got up![/caption]

Honeymoon Travel Tips: Walt Disney World

Disney 1

Alright everyone, today's travel tips come from FSIL Diana who has some excellent information for all you children-at-heart, who might be considering a Disney vacation... who wouldn't love sunshine, fancy dinners, fun rides and time with Mickey?

Honeymoon Travel Tips: Disney World

Okay, you’re all set for the wedding and now it’s time to finetune your honeymoon plans. Some of you may be considering spending your honeymoon in Disney World. While we are not spending our honeymoon there, my fiancé A and I recently vacationed there. Here are a few tips for those of you considering this fine location.

First of all, no matter if you’re 25 or 45, you are not too old for Disney World! If you have any kind of embarrassment or guilt about spending your honeymoon here, get it out of your head now. We saw plenty of adults without kids vacationing here during our trip this September. Actually, we were quite surprised by all the “adult” things there are to do – from fine dining to even a bit of nightlife.

Go during the off-season. I realize that you have probably already picked a date for your wedding, but if you are planning on honeymooning during the summer or right after Christmas you should scratch this destination off your list. It is best to avoid Disney World during holidays, school vacations, and the summer in general. By avoiding these times, you also avoid huge crowds and long lines at both rides and restaurants.

Stay at a Disney Resort. If you think staying at a Disney resort means bumping into Mickey and Minnie and dodging strollers in your hallway, think again. Disney resorts are surprisingly nice and un-cheesy. Each resort contains several restaurants that range from cafeteria-style to upscale dining. Plus, you get free transportation (via monorail or bus) to all of the theme parks and Downtown Disney. We stayed at the Polynesian, which was very fun, but the Grand Floridian or the Contemporary resorts may be the fanciest if you are looking for true luxury.

Make dinner reservations a few weeks in advance. This is something that A and I learned the hard way. Disney has a few very nice places to eat, but they book up well in advance, even during the off-season. You may want to look into Victoria & Albert’s, the California Grill, or Wolfgang Puck. I would also highly recommend the Kona Café in the Polynesian resort, which offers a set menu ranging from Hawaiian bread to unlimited barbecued meats and an amazing banana caramel crème brulee. We missed out on the Spirit of Aloha dinner show because we didn’t make a reservation in advance, but it sounded like a blast.

Do some research. If you’re reading this, then you are probably pretty involved in the details of planning of your wedding and honeymoon. I would highly suggest you take some time to check out other Disney-related articles to determine which restaurants you’d like to try, what rides you must go on, and which parks to visit. It will feel quite overwhelming if you arrive without a plan. There is just too much to do! By choosing a few things you know you would like to try, you set yourself up for success but also leave some time to explore.

Check out Downtown Disney for some nightlife. While most of the parks close between 7 and 9pm, there is still something of a nightlife at Disney World. If you are into the bar scene, there are several places to try out in Downtown Disney. We stopped into a cigar bar while we were there and saw several other spots, including a House of Blues, that looked cool. There’s not much else to do here, though, besides shop for souvenirs and eat.

Feel free to hang out at your hotel. Like most visitors, you will be tempted to overdo it here. Take some time to relax – it is your honeymoon, after all. The resorts all have nice pools, areas to sun yourself, restaurants, bars, and perhaps even a hammock. Take a day off from the parks to just hang out. Remember, this is your honeymoon. You can come back in the future to ride Space Mountain. For now, pick the few things that sound most enticing and spend the rest of the time relaxing and getting to know your new spouse. Enjoy!

[caption id="attachment_1895" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Happy Honeymooning!"]Happy Honeymooning![/caption]

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Honeymoon Travel Tips: Nashville

IMG_0692Today's post comes to us from my new sister-in-law and brother-in-law, Tami and Steve!  Tami and Steve spent their first anniversary in Nashville and thought it was an incredibly fun place to travel.  If you're looking for an upbeat, friendly atmosphere that isn't too far from home, and if you love country music even a little bit, Nashville could be the right place for you.  Read on for more!

During our one year anniversary we took a little trip to the heartland of America and experienced everything Nashville had to offer.  Weeks of planning, googling, and interviewing friends who had been to the city prepared us for the perfect long weekend in early August.  We found the below items the most important points for a fun trip that experiences everything the Country Capital of the World has to offer!

Above everything else understand you are going to the Country Music Capital of the World.  While Nashville is the birthplace of most musicians careers, ranging from rock to rap, country music is the backbone of the city so be ready to jam out with the top country songs of the year!

When searching for a place to stay, make sure to stay in downtown Nashville.  Anywhere within 5 blocks of Broadway and 2nd street will place you right in the heart of the action.  We stayed at the Courtyard by Marriott in downtown Nashville which was perfect.  One block of Broadway and two blocks off 2nd so all of the nightlife was within walking distance.

Everywhere you turn there is live music rockin’.  The street corners and establishments line up and down Broadway and 2nd streets with young musicians playing their dreams for anyone who will listen.  Any night of the week you’ll hear covers of Brooks & Dunn, Toby Keith, Travis Tritt, or Kenny Chesney to name a few.  The hot spots for the best up and coming performers are Tootsie’s, the Wild Horse Saloon, Legends, The Stage and the Cadillac Ranch.  Also, note if you are walking by one of these spots and hear a cover that is curiously close to the real thing, pop in and check it out – many of today’s stars often stop back to their Nashville stomping grounds to treat the crowds with a free little concert.

Being in the heartland of America means southern style cookin’.  A great lunch spot is Jack’s Bar-B-Que on Broadway.  Keep an eye on Jack’s as you walk up and down the street during the day because the line can stretch out the door.  We would not recommend waiting too long but the food is certainly worth at least a 30 minute wait.  The best dinner spot that we hit was BB King’s House of Blues.  The Country Fried Chicken and White Cheddar mac-n-cheese was outstanding and the live music provided an upbeat and energetic atmosphere!

2 must-see places in the Country Capital of the World include the Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame.  As soon as you book your visit to Nashville, check out the Grand Ole Opry’s lineup for the nights you’ll be in town.  The Grand Ole Opry has been the “You Made it Sight” for all the new comers to the county music world.  Check out this link for the history and upcoming schedule You’ll have to take a taxi to Opryland since it is about 10 minutes outside of the city, but the history in the theatre is a must.  The hall of fame is walking distance from any downtown hotel.  You can walk in and purchase a tour whenever you arrive – don’t worry about booking this in advance.

Two fillers that we enjoyed during the days include a drive out to Brooks & Dunn’s winery (Arrington Vineyards) and hitting the cowboy shops on Broadway.  The winery was about 25 minutes outside of the city in the hills of Arrington, Tennessee.  The views are beautiful and the wine is good (not great, but good.)  Pack a lunch and enjoy a bottle of whatever you prefer while taking in the countryside.  The shops on Broadway give you a sense of being a true country girl or guy as the salesmen dress you in boots and hats along with any other accessory available.  The experience is fun and the charm of the city makes you feel like a regular, however, much of this wardrobe is priced high and looses its flavor once you are home.

Lastly, our trip was just the two of us and a perfect experience for our first anniversary.  We went for four nights and enjoyed every bit of it.  In the future though, we recommend 3 nights as the perfect tenure and also a party of at least 4 friends to make the experience even more fun.  Most of the time is spent drinking, eating and enjoying live music so the more eyes in your group the more likely to catch everything the city has to offer!


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Honeymoon Travel Tips: Honolulu

003 Happy Wednesday everyone!  Today, my dear cousin Laura is our guest blogger, and she's got some incredible tips for you if you are considering honeymooning in Honolulu, Hawaii.  Laura honeymooned there herself with her husband Greg (these are photos from their trip), so she's definitely the expert on this topic- one I fully intend to listen to!  Read on for her excellent suggestions on how to make the most of a Hawaiian honeymoon!

1.  Keep in mind: during all the hugs, kisses, and handshakes on the big day you will exchange many germs! USE GERM-X OFTEN because the stomach flu makes for a LONGGGG 8 hour plain ride!

2.  Don't have high expectations for that first night when you arrive.  The wedding day, in combination with the jet lag, will make you feel like an old couple who has been married for years!

3.  You will receive leis upon arrival at that airport.  Preserve them by hanging them to dry, and bring along some preserving spray (got mine at JoAnn Fabrics) so you can enjoy them for many years to come.  I have my own hanging from a shelf in my bedroom with my bouquet!

4.  The homeless sleeping people on the beach won't hurt you!

5.  But you know what will hurt you?  Sharks!  Keep your eyes out on Waikiki at all times for fins, and don't swim in risky conditions- choppy water, overcast weather- we've all seen enough Discovery Channel to know the drill.

6.  Don't buy drinks at the hotel bar for $20 apiece... instead walk a block or two to the "everything store" where you can grab six packs of Bud Light for $10 (which, hilariously, is still expensive).

7.  Oh, and that reminds me, BRING A LOT OF $$$$$$$ because everything is expensive!

8.  Take the North Shore Tour.  It is awesome!

9.  Go snorkeling in Hanauma Bay and make sure to bring your waterproof camera!

10.  Bring an umbrella because it rains nearly every day in the rain forests (yeah, what a surprise right) but it rarely rains on the beach.

11.  Enjoy a lovely dinner cruise and watch the sunset from the water... its amazing!  But don't forget your Dramamine because cocktails and motion sickness do not mesh well!

12.  Know that no matter how sneaky you think you are, you won't get away with stashing that pineapple in your suitcase... They will confiscate it at the airport on your way home!

Reminds me of Lost
Reminds me of Lost

[caption id="attachment_1429" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Gorgeous view!"]Gorgeous view![/caption]

[caption id="attachment_1432" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="The lovely bride and handsome groom!"]The lovely bride and handsome groom![/caption]

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Honeymoon Travel Tips: Italy

New ImageToday's post comes from one of the most sophisticated world travelers I know- my friend Phara!  Who, with her fiance Jeff, are planning to honeymoon in Italy!  Here are some of her favorite tips for planning a memorable and romantic Italian getaway!

1.  With any honeymoon, make sure you have a large enough memory card in your camera to cover this special vacation.  However, when traveling in Italy, be aware that most museums will not allow picture taking.  Even in the rare location that the museum you are visiting does allow cameras, flash photography is definitely frowned upon. 

2.  Many museums are closed one day a week, often on Monday.  Plan your itinerary accordingly. 

3.  Most churches are open from early morning until noon, when they close for three to four hours, before reopening again, and close at 6 p.m.  A few major churches, such as St. Peter's in Rome, are open all day.

4.  If you're traveling in the Amalfi Coast or Capri, make sure you adjust your itinerary based on the weather.  If you are planning on traveling to Positano or to visit the Blue Grotto, make sure to go on the first sunny day you have.  Ferries and boats will not run in the rain, and may not even run the day after rain. 

5.  It is best to travel with your own medication.  Aspirin is generally easy to find, but specifics like Motrin, Tylenol and Advil are not.  Pharmacies are generally open weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., and from 4:00 to 8:00 p.m., plus a few hours on Saturdays. 

6.  Pickpockets and purse-snatchers are common in any large city.  Be alert and exercise caution, especially when traveling on the trains.  Try to avoid carrying passports, credit cards, travel tickets and cash together in handbags or pockets.  Only carry with you what you need for the day.  Your hotel will have a safety deposit facility that you can use (but do not leave valuables in your hotel room).  You may also want to make use of a money pouch that can hang around your neck, and tucked inside your shirt.  Watch your luggage, as well. 

7.  Make a copies of your passport before you leave.  Leave one at home with a family member or friend, and keep the other copy with you.  This way, in case your passport is stolen, you have the information you need.

8.  It's best to drink bottled water or mineral, as Italian tap water is sometimes heavily chlorinated.  The "table wines" in Italy are fantastic.  They are often served in jugs or pitchers, and will be just as good, if not better, than most bottles. 

9.  Try to book a hotel that includes breakfast, especially when traveling to the Italian countryside.  In the cities, it will not be difficult to find a quick breakfast, though it may take you out of the way of your sight-seeing.  Smaller hotels in the countryside will charge an exorbitant rate for breakfast, sometimes upwards of 35 Euros per person.  It's best to know that your breakfast is taken care of, even if that means paying a little bit more per night. 

10.  Don't wait for the check at an Italian restaurant; you must ask for it. 

11.  Tipping is usually done with cash, even if you're paying your bill with a credit card.  However, be sure to check if "servizio" or "mancia" is included on your bill.  A service charge is usually included.   

12.  Both lunch and dinner are usually several courses.  A restaurant may think it is strange if you do not order at least two courses (not including dessert).  Pasta usually takes the place of an appetizer, not an entree.   

13.  Do not be surprised if your entrees are not served together.  Many restaurants will serve each dish as it comes out of the kitchen. 

14.  Rent a car for travel in the countryside (i.e., Tuscany), but definitely not in the cities.  Be extremely careful if renting a car in the Amalfi coast.  The roads are notoriously difficult to drive, especially if you're not accustomed to such twisty, narrow roads.  You will also be surrounded by Italians driving very fast and honking at you.  You're better off taking a taxi than risking it yourself.  (Plus, Italian traffic police can charge on-the-spot fees for infractions - meaning you need cash on hand.)

15.  August is the worst month to travel to Italy because most of the country is on vacation.  It will be very difficult to shop and truly enjoy Italy this time of year.

16.  Train travel is a great way to get around Italy.  If possible, buy your train tickets online or in advance.  In the cities, you can also buy your tickets from a ticket agent.  However, be careful with ticket machines.  In Italy, as with many other countries in Europe, credit cards have a chip that American credit cards do not have.  It may not be possible for you to purchase your train tickets from a ticket machine, unless you have cash.  After you purchase your ticket, be sure to "validate" it before you board the train.  There should be a yellow box posted on the wall near train boarding.  Simply insert your ticket into this machine to validate your ticket before boarding.  After boarding, it is customary to greet your fellow passengers with a simply "buon giorno" when you sit down. 

17.  Taxis in Italy are metered (except for flat rates to and from airports).  It's still a good idea to ask the cab driver for a fare estimate before you go, so you can have cash ready and to try to protect you from roundabout trips.

18.  Be sure your hotel is at least a 3 star.  You may be disappointed, as the European hotel rating system is different from the U.S.  Two-star hotels can be very questionable.  Try to request a room that does not face the street.  Lesser expensive hotels may not have air conditioning, so facing the street can be a noisy venture. 

19.  Every restaurant is required to give you a receipt.  (As a general note, you should keep all of your receipts from hotels, restaurants and stores.)  Be sure to carry your restaurant receipt with you when you leave the restaurant as an "Inland Revenue Official" can ask to see it to make sure you paid your bill.  This usually happens within a few meters of the restaurant, but you can be fined if you cannot produce your receipt. 

20.  Italians celebrate many holidays.  In addition to Christmas, New Year's, and Easter, Italy celebrates Epiphany (January 6), Liberation Day (April 25), May Day (May 1), Festival of the Republic (June 2), Farragosto (November 1), All Saints Day (November 1), Immaculate Conception (December 8), and Feast of St. Stephen (December 26).  Feast days for saints are also common in local cities and towns.  If your honeymoon falls over one of these holidays, plan on relaxing that day as small cities and towns may come to an almost standstill. 

21.  Let your hotel know in advance that it's your honeymoon.  Italy is a very romantic culture.  They may be more likely to upgrade you, or just to scatter rose petals or chocolate in your room before you arrive.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Honeymoon Travel Tips: Safari

Well everyone, this is it!  J. and I are officially off on our Honeymoon!  While we're gone, I've taken the liberty of scheduling some fun, helpful and hilarious guest posts which I hope will provide you with hours a few minutes of entertainment, and help you plan your own potential getaway!  I may even check in with you all from Hawaii.  Gotta love modern technology!

So without further ado, I'd like to introduce you to Heather.  Heather is my dear law school friend, who with her husband Greg, spent her honeymoon on an African Safari.  Heather has a variety of excellent tips to keep in mind if you too are planning such an adventure!

Honeymoon Travel Tips: Safari

New ImageTip #1: Hot air balloons do not land gently.


More tips to know...

Don't wear blue (it attracts tse tse flies).

Deet does not repel tse tse flies.

Tse tse flies bite through clothing, but you should wear long sleeves and long pants anyway.

Yes, your malaria medicine will make you have very vivid nightmares!

Don't pet the hippos.  Don't pet the elephants.  Actually, just keep your hands to yourself.

The "African Massage" (the car bumping along the dirt roads) is not relaxing.

The best dehydration salts (which you should be sure to bring) are made by the World Health Organization!

Lions do not roar very often, generally they make huffing noises, all night long, and that IS them outside your tent.

The "loo with a view" is generally a bucket.

Bring boots, there are snakes.

Pack a liver.  There are brunch drinks, drinks at lunch, drinks at the "bush bar" while on safari, sundowners, cocktail hour, drinks at dinner, and after-dinner drinks.

Put items that you don't want messed with in the monkey box.  The monkeys will destroy whatever isn't in there while you're sleeping.

Bring long sleeves, long pants, and a headscarf so that you can be appropriately attired if going somewhere predominantly Muslim (like Zanzibar)- your "Everyone Loves a Jewish Girl" t-shirt should be left at home.

Keep in mind that you can pretty much wear whatever you want on safari, so pack clothing that is comfortable.

When a hotel says "laundry included" - this means everything except women's underwear - pack accordingly.

Bring extra cameras and memory cards- we took 3300 photos and would have taken more.

Bring an SLR or DLSR if you want good animal photos.

Actually, bring everything you might need (including plenty of batteries and battery chargers) - there's no Walgreens.

At the same time, don't pack too much - they won't let you on the small planes without a soft satchel that doesn't weigh much.

Wildebeests do not necessarily cross the Mara River like National Geographic suggests.  They often stampede all the way to the waters' edge, mill around for hours, think about crossing, and disperse.

No TV, no radio, no phone, no internet, no newspapers make for a very romantic vacation

If you like chess, checkers, monopoly and scrabble, you are in for a treat.  They are everywhere.

Your guide may think your name is VERY funny.  Everyone I met laughed and laughed when I introduced myself as "Heather."  Eventually I got used to following that up with "like weather, but with an H."

When you're the only people on a plane its not because you're flying privately.  It's because you're going to be on a cargo flight with a bazillion vegetables.

Despite being required to throw out tweezers and nail scissors, you WILL be allowed to bring a Masaai spear on the plane - ours was disassembled and wrapped in newspaper.  They make awesome souvenirs.

In whole foods, you can buy amazing coffee from Tanzania.  In Tanzania, however, there is no coffee (which, in retrospect makes sense).  Instead, enjoy your morning tea and cookies (the buttery sugary dutch kind)!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Practice Makes Perfect: The Rehearsal!


Alright friends, I have one last recap for you before I leave for my honeymoon, but I promise many more upon my return!  In the mean time I've lined up some wonderful guest bloggers who are sure to educate and entertain you in my absence.  Plus, I'm bringing my laptop to Hawaii (to watch movies and play YoVille of course) so I'll try to check in with you while I'm there!  Keep reading and I'll see you all again in two weeks!

. . .

Once checked in and settled, the ladies who stayed in my suite and I decided to start getting ready.  I was psyched to put on my crazy platform peeps (which the group affectionately called "hooker shoes") and yes, they were harder to walk in than I expected.  We all wore hats, headbands, flowers or fascinators in honor of the occasion- below you can see that my little sister and MOH B. ended up wearing my hair flower, while I ended up wearing a headband belonging to bridesmaid C., and C. wore a sparkly headband I had purchased as "backup."  After all that work on my hair flower, it just was not jiving with my dress.  But somehow it all worked out!  Of course, B. and I had to take a few goofy photos (our signature look) before we left the hotel!

Slide1Once we started for the church, it was like "Holy Traffic Batman!"  With all the traffic, of course I was the last person to get to the church.  Go figure.  I arrived flustered and worried, but the church coordinator Carol had already started getting everyone up to speed, parents and friends had made their introductions, so I got a few hugs and then hopped to!  Carol and the Reverend immediately went through the order of the ceremony.  Meanwhile, our ring bearer and flower girl sat quietly and absorbed the commotion.


After the first walk-through, we all recessed down the aisle.  I had encouraged everyone to work it down the aisle backwards (in the style of Juvenile's Back That Azz Up) but nobody else thought that was a good idea so we just went normally.

Slide3And then we lined up and did it again!  This time I got an official walk down the aisle from my dad.

Slide4There were tiny blue stickers on the floor telling the bridal party where to stand.  They even received instructions on how and when to pivot toward the alter (which, if you're wondering, should be done when the bride and groom walk up the stairs and start their vows).  The parents were also instructed on how to present us for marriage, at which point my father started laughing and said "well buddy, good luck with her!"

Slide5We even practiced the vows- thankfully the Reverendjust said "do you?  and do you?" which was helpful.  If he had gone through them, J. and I both might have cried.  J. claims he doesn't cry but he's actually a very sensitive dude; and me, I'm like water works when I get going.  We also practiced lighting our unity candle, at which point I remembered how much I loved my DIY unity candle (I have a short attention span).

Slide6After that, just one more recessional and we were done!


The final step was to sign our marriage license with our witnesses, and then we headed to the Cornerstone for the big dinner!


Up next, party time at the Rehearsal Dinner!


And how did we get here?  Checking In.