Florida Weekend Photo Dump

I’ve been to Florida a bunch of times since I started blogging.  Each trip has some of the same and always adds something new and exciting.  Like bumping into one of my readers at the airport before 6am…ha ha!

 

IMG_20140425_052354713

 

Hope you enjoy these pictures of family fun in the sunshine (aka photo dump)!

 

IMG_20140425_140449382

 

I already miss that sunshine!

 

IMG_20140426_165222367_HDR IMG_20140426_171535605 IMG_20140426_171542514

 

 

IMG_20140427_102136360

 

 

IMG_20140426_181300494 IMG_20140426_181320094

 

 

IMG_20140427_102535087

 

 

IMG_20140426_132841453_HDR

 

 

IMG_20140426_171612237

 

 

IMG_20140426_194543094

 

 

IMG_20140426_193003961_HDR IMG_20140426_194450247

 

 

IMG_20140426_194619984

 

Hope your weekend involves mojitos and sand between your toes!

Tag Along in Tel Aviv

We only had about 24 hours in this city, voted the 3rd most interesting by Lonely Planet in 2011, but we packed in some history lessons, current events, beach time, and night life.   Tag along for the highlights…

 

The Beach

 

DSCN0447

 

DSCN0427

 

DSCN0428

 

DSCN0433

 

DSCN0434

 

DSCN0432

 

 

Independence Hall

 

DSCN0458

 

DSCN0462

 

DSCN0465

 

DSCN0474

 

 

Rabin Square

 

DSCN0476

 

DSCN0481

 

DSCN0489

 

DSCN0490

 

DSCN0491 DSCN0492 

 

DSCN0493

 

DSCN0494

 

DSCN0499

 

 

Lunch at Hippo

Serving Sabich on Lafa or Pita (YUM!)

 

DSCN0517

 

DSCN0506

 

DSCN0509DSCN0510DSCN0511DSCN0513DSCN0514DSCN0524

 

DSCN0527

 

Best lunch EVER!

 

DSCN0529

 

 

Next Stop…Jerusalem!

 

DSCN0538

Friday and Florida

Ah, Friday!  Finally an evening to be home before 8pm, have dinner with the BOY, and sit my exhausted butt on the couch to watch Pitch Perfect.  Oh, and blog about our weekend trip to SarasotaOne week ago, the BOY and I boarded a plane for the sunshine state.  We had a slight complication as the BOY got a flat tire on the way to the airport.  Luckily, we were close enough to swing back home to switch cars.

 

IMAG1565

 

However, my car (having spent the night of the snow storm outside) was buried under thick, heavy snow.  We hurried to clean off my car and move our luggage.  I hate feeling late for the airport, so I definitely had a knot in my stomach as I drove us to O’hare.

 

IMAG1563

 

We made it no problem and a 20 minute delay seemed like nothing compared to all of the cancelled fights throughout the country so I felt thankful to be boarding the plane.  I alternated between reading and snoozing while sipping on my Starbucks.  We landed, caught a cab to our hotel which was only 10 minutes away, and checked in. 

 

IMAG1568 IMAG1569

 

As we walked into the hotel, we were greeted by two of my close high school friends.  I love how life works out that way!  They were heading out to the beach as we were heading up to our room to change out of boots and winter gear and into shorts, tshirts, and sunglasses.  We walked a few blocks into downtown Sarasota which had plenty of options for lunch.  It wasn’t until we were seated outside at a little café ordering lunch and a cocktail that I finally exhaled and FELT like we were on vacation.  I knew it was going to be a relaxing few days!

 

IMAG1573

 

We had a nice mix of down time and wedding festivities ahead of us.  I spent Friday afternoon catching up with friends by the pool at our hotel.

 

IMAG1575

 

IMAG1645

 

By 5pm, I was eager to get in a run before sunset.  I laced up my tennies and headed for town.  Last minute I decided to turn onto a large, steep bridge over to Bird Key making my way all the way to St. Armand’s Circle.

 

IMG_1224

 

I made it home super sweaty (when was the last time I ran in the heat?) and with enough time to shower and watch the sun set from our balcony.

 

IMAG1582

 

IMAG1586

 

The BOY made us a dinner reservation at a place on the Marina overlooking some ginormous yachts.  We both love seafood and Sarasota is definitely the place for fresh fish.  Afterwards, we attended a cocktail hour hosted by the bride and groom.  It was wonderful to catch up with some old friends, and we were home and in bed early after a long day.  Saturday night was the wedding, but we had the day to spend at the beach.  We hitched a ride to Siesta Key to bury our toes in the white sand.

 

IMG_1166

 

We found the perfect sand bar to wade in the crisp water looking for seashells.  After which, we lounged in the sun under a clear blue sky enjoying the warm weather and eclectic mix of company.

 

IMAG1605 IMG_1170

 

IMAG1587

 

It was amazing to see people biking on the beach, and I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t jealous!

 

IMG_1181

 

After the most enjoyable day, we had just enough time to fight the crowds back into town, grab a quick bite to eat (fish tacos and truffle fries), and shower before the wedding.

 

IMAG1610

 

When you combine a beautiful evening, with a stunning hotel, and an amazing couple, it can only be described as magical.  The wedding was personal and sincere, and I was so happy to be part of this special event!

 

IMAG1612

 

IMAG1614

 

Cocktail hour took place in the garden at sunset.  A truly breath taking scene!

 

IMAG1621

IMG_1194 IMG_1199

 

The BOY and I enjoyed the entire evening and were actually the last to leave the wedding : )  After midnight, as the wedding guests retreated to the bar, a few of us made our way to the hotel pool and hot tub.  Needless to say, I awoke the next morning with frizzy hair and wreaking of an over-chlorinated pool.  The BOY and I had no plans for Sunday, so we took a taxi out to Lido Beach.

 

IMAG1631

 

We took a long stroll down to the end of the beach overlooking Long Boat Key enjoying another spectacular day!

 

IMAG1632

 

From the beach, we walked a few blocks to St. Armand’s Circle.  After Friday’s run, I was eager to get back.  Per our taxi driver’s recommendation, we ate lunch at Columbia Restaurant.  The Spanish food was incredible and possibly the best meal we had all weekend!  With an afternoon Indiana game ahead, the BOY suggested cocktails and basketball.

 

IMAG1637

 

He didn’t have to ask me twice to spend Sunday Funday with a Mojito in the sun!  We got back to our hotel with enough time for a dip in the pool and nap before one last seafood dinner with the bride and groom and a few of their friends who had also stayed the extra night in Florida.

 

IMAG1640

 

Monday morning came way to quickly.  I pulled out my running shoes for one last 70 degree winter run.  This time, I stayed along the bay.  There is just something about running along the waterfront that I love!  By the time I came bounding back into the hotel room, the BOY was starving and ready for breakfast.

 

IMAG0148

 

We had a fresh and filling breakfast at the Toasted Mango leaving more than enough time for one last swim.

 

IMAG1644

 

Do I even need to tell you how hard it was to leave all of this and pack up for the airport???

 

IMAG1653 IMAG1659

 

But sadly we did!  Our weekend was so bright and wonderful.  The BOY and I had some time to relax, and we returned feeling rejuvenated and already talking about our next vacation!  I’m hoping that just looking at these pictures will keep me warm through the last few weeks/months of winter.

Good Bye Sunshine State

IMG_1168

 

So, I’m sure you can tell by the title of this post that we are back in town after an absolutely incredible weekend in Sarasota, Florida.  I so appreciate everyone’s travel wishes!!!  We easily made it down to Florida and then spent 4 days exploring the city (despite all of my trips to Florida, I rarely make it to the gulf coast) and catching up with old friends.

 

IMAG1586

 

We buried our feet in the sand…

 

IMG_1222

 

Kept cocktails in in hand…

 

IMG_1205

 

Splashed around in the pool…

 

IMAG1575

 

Drank green smoothies to stay cool…

 

IMG_1228

 

Walked around town…

 

IMAG1639

 

And dressed up to boogie down…

 

IMAG1620

 

We admired the setting sun…

 

IMG_1202

 

But way too soon, our trip was done!

 

IMAG1664

 

Isn’t that always the case?!  We’ve got a busy week ahead, but hopefully I’ll find some time to drop in and share a few more photos and stories.

 

IMG_1185

 

Sending warm wishes from the sunshine state your way!

Local Eats (and Drinks)-St. Kitts

We spent the most amazing day on St. Kitts at a magnificent beach club.  With $3 local beers, we decided to bypass the fancy restaurant and hit up the beach bar instead. 

IMG_1002

 

You know it’s a small world when you start chatting with the people across from you and it turns out they live in the next town over back home.  They were big basketball fans and the BOY needed to discuss the recent Indiana game.  I was happy to get some restaurant recommendations for when we got home.  I was all set to order a Carib (as it was my third day in the Caribbean and I was yet to try one) when the bartender suggested two other local brews.

 IMG_0996 IMG_0997

 

The Skol, he explained, was what the islanders REALLY drank and the Stag he described as ‘the man’s beer’.  With a sales pitch like that, I ordered the Skol and the BOY went for the Stag.

IMG_0998

 

I loved the view from the bar, but took my second beer ‘to go’ leaving the BOY discussing basketball with our new friends and headed back into the sunshine.

IMG_0999 IMG_1004

 

IMG_1006

 

The BOY returned hungry, and so we decided to take a stroll down the beach to see what was available.  We discovered a popular local beach bar and grill.

IMG_1018

IMG_1019 IMG_1025

 

While the BOY waited for his burger, I walked around to explore.

IMG_1031 IMG_1032

IMG_1033

 

The beach bar was inviting, and the colors were so dynamic!  I couldn’t stop taking pictures…

IMG_1037

 

IMG_1022

 

 

IMG_1035

 

IMG_1036 

 

The BOY was thrilled with his burger, which was a steal compared to our beach resort restaurant.

IMG_1041 IMG_1042 IMG_1043

 

And as always, I was in LOVE with the view!

IMG_1045

 

IMG_1046

 

IMG_1048

 

The only thing missing from the day was a Carib, but I guess that’s a good enough reason to schedule our next visit to the Caribbean.  Don’t you think???

IMG_1024

Last Island-St. Kitts

IMG_0922IMG_0927IMG_0928

 

So I totally didn’t mean to get a panoramic view of the port and just realized it as I loaded up these pictures.  I think it gives you a good idea of my view from the boat during my morning run and yoga session.  Who wouldn’t love getting sweaty running laps around a tiny track with a view like this?!

IMG_0921

 

We took our time getting off the boat and enjoyed breakfast in the dining room.  We had no real plans for St. Kitts…just a bathing suit on our backs, towels and sunscreen in our bags, and camera in my hand.

IMG_0933 IMG_0935

 

We wander through the built up port looking slightly lost as we discussed our options.  There were plenty of taxi drivers available to take us around the island flashing pictures of dazzling beaches.  We asked about one beach that we had looked up online before the trip and were told it would cost us $28 each way. 

IMG_0937 IMG_0940

 

We continued walking through the little port town debating our options when a man chased us down waving his arms and offering to drive us to the beach for $5 per person.  He explained that he already had 4 people in his cab so it would be cheaper.  We continued to go back and forth…having no real plan or destination in mind.  I’m always nervous when something sounds to good to be true, but I liked the idea of a $10 cab ride and I really liked the idea of having other cruisers in the taxi with us as we traveled unknowingly across the island.  We finally decided ‘why not?’ and started walking to the parking lot with our new escort. I was slightly nervous we wouldn’t be able to find his cab as he continued to try to round up patrons, but it was easy to spot since there was only one RED TAXI in the parking lot.  The Reggae Van!

IMG_0941

 

IMG_0942

IMG_0943

 

The road to the beach was narrow and windy and in true Caribbean fashion, our driver dashed in and out of cars and around rock slides as he pointed out local landmarks.

IMG_0956

 

IMG_1076

 

I held on for dear life with one hand while I tried to snap pictures of the bright scenery with the other.

IMG_0946

 

IMG_0951

 

From the looks of the parking lot still under construction, I didn’t know what to think when we arrived at our beach destination.  But the minute I walked through the door, I knew we had hit the jackpot.

IMG_0965

 

IMG_0966

 

IMG_1067

 

The colors were magnificent and it looked like a scene straight out of a movie.  We rented two chairs, but we ended up spending most of our time in the swimming in the water taking more goofy pictures with our disposable camera, walking along the beach, or searching for seashells in the sand.

IMG_0977

 

IMG_0976

 

00660003

 

IMG_1055

 

Time flew by way to quickly and before we knew it, our Reggae taxi was back to get us.  The BOY and I decided that we wanted to stay and that it would be okay if the boat left us in paradise for just a few more days.

IMG_1066

 

IMG_1068

 

As we were exiting the parking lot, I realized that I had no idea where I was.  Last minute, I tried to snap this picture to remember (and recommend) the beach when I got home.

IMG_1071

 

The Carambola Beach Club is overlooking St. Friar’s Bay.  It is only a few weeks old and they are still working on the website.  It seems that they are known for their Caribbean cuisine and wine; however, the menu is pricey.  Unfortunately, we just missed the tapas bar that opens at 2:30 each day.  The good news is that you can get local beers for $3 and the view is priceless!  Speaking of views, on the way back to the ship, our driver stopped at the top of a hill so we could get pictures of this breathtaking view where the Atlantic meets the Caribbean.

IMG_1078

 

IMG_1086

 

And the other side of the hill, home to the St. Kitts Marriott which can house up to 900 guests at a time!

IMG_1090

 

IMG_1094

 

I really hope to be staying at that Marriott one day!  The funniest part of our ride back was the man riding the donkey that literally bumped into our taxi as we crept up to the top of the hill.  He had the most adorable monkey on his back, who was holding on for dear life, but popped up just as I snapped my picture.

IMG_1083

 

We returned to the boat excited for two more days at sea, but sad to be leaving the sunny Caribbean behind.

IMG_1110

 

Is it cold and snowy where you live?

There are more beautiful views and islands stories of St. Maarten and St. Lucia to warm you up.

Snorkeling in St. Lucia

Good morning St. Lucia!

 

IMG_0820IMG_0805IMG_0819

IMG_0808IMG_0809IMG_0810

IMG_0811IMG_0812IMG_0814

 

I enjoyed breakfast on the balcony as we pulled into the island.  A few of my ‘neighbors’ were up to check out the view too.  Needless to say, I didn’t get much reading done.  I was too busy snapping pictures.

IMG_0792 IMG_0830

 

The BOY and I were scheduled for an excursion at 11:30AM.  This gave us a little time to get off the boat and roam around the shops in the port.

IMG_1258

 

IMG_0839

 

IMG_0865

 

We saw a visually impaired band that was really pretty good and bought a few little trinkets to take home.

IMG_0874

 

Then got back on the boat to change into our bathing suits.  We boarded a speed boat and headed out for a 60 minute ride to the pitons.  The pitons are twin volcanoes on the west coast of the island and a popular site to see in the Caribbean. 

IMG_7088 IMG_7092

 

On the way out there, we received our snorkel equipment.  With size 15 feet, the BOY always has trouble with this part.

IMG_7118 IMG_7120 IMG_7121

 

The view from the boat was incredible.

IMG_7136 IMG_7142

IMG_7164 IMG_7175

 

And snorkeling between these towering green mountains was tons of fun!  I can’t say that it was the best snorkeling that I’ve ever done, but there were some colorful fish to see and a spectacular view to enjoy!  The colors even looked good on our disposable camera.

00660018

00660010 00660011

 

Afterwards, we enjoyed a cold Piton beer (a local brew that we hadn’t tried yet) and a stroll beside this beautiful beach resort.

IMG_7199 IMG_7202

 

After a full day on the island, we got back on our boat for some free rum punch and another scenic route ‘home’.  We boarded the cruise ship and set sail for our last island, St. Kitts.

IMG_7214