Sting Ray Helmet Dive: Moorea, Tahiti

Tahiti is a beautiful place. Sean and I were so shocked to see the vibrant & drastic blues of the water. What shocked us even more than the crystal clear water, was how abundant the sea life was. Not only was there so many fish and sting ray, but the way the sea life interacted with human beings, was absolutely mesmerizing! Our tour guides treated the animals like pets, and need I mention, these animals were NOT pets, no where near it. In fact, they were wild animals in the middle of the ocean. What was truly astonishing was the way the animals reacted when they saw our tour guides. It was also amazing to witness the tour guides navigate and find their favorites rays, eels, and fish in the middle of the deep blue.

 

Sean and I chose to do our Helmet Dive with AquaBlue in Moorea, and we are so glad that we did! We loved it so much, we plan on getting scuba certified (more details to come). I will admit, I was incredibly scared to do this dive. I could not wrap my brain around how the water would stay out of the helmet. Needless to say, it did, and we all survived. The helmet was weighted, so it allowed us to walk on the sea floor amongst the wild life. The sting rays came right up to us, along with other fish, and they were all so majestic. They are soft, yet slimy. Very curious little creatures. One of the rays was over the moon in love with our tour guide! She would not leave his side, and even tried to get in the boat with us after we left. The loyalty reminded me of our dog, Tucker. Isn’t that a crazy thought?

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My FAV EuroEats…Hello, delicious!

I don’t know about you guys, but one of my favorite things about traveling is having the opportunity to EAT my way through a new country. Who else gets super excited when they think about all of the yumminess they are about to experience before going on vacation, or traveling throughout a new country? Grabbing drinks and bites is the best way to meet new people, and probably one of my favorites. Whether we speak to someone who works in a restaurant, or the table directly besides us, I have found it is one of the best ways to meet new friends, and discover fun things to do in a new area.

SO, without further ado, (this list was very hard to consolidate), my must haves and FAVORITES in EUROPE, in no particular order, as they are all very equal.

#1 PIZZA

These slices are coming to you from Nice, France, and Florence, Italy. We found that pizza changed throughout Europe, and our favorite slices varied greatly.  We were shocked to find the most delicious pizza, and our favorite in Nice. We met many friendly locals in Nice who educated us on “French food.” They told us specifically that there is NO such thing, and the French adopt recipes from their neighboring countries. Naturally, Nice had great pizza, since it boarders the Italian Riviera. We were also told that consuming your own personal pizza is a right of passage in Italy. Families order their own pizzas, rather than share. Seriously?! That is my kind of place! I was in heaven.

3 of the slices are thin & crispy, from Nice, and the other 3 slices are simply perfection from Florence, where the sauce is sweet, and the mozzarella is fresh and decadent.

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My LOVE/HATE relationship with Barcelona, Spain.

There is no doubt that Barcelona is an absolutely gorgeous city! I mean Gaudi did wonders to the culture, look and feel of the city. To be honest, I really did like my time there. However, when you visit so many other gorgeous cities in Europe (like Amsterdam, Paris, Santorini, Venice, for example) Barcelona (to me personally) falls short. Perhaps I would have liked it more if I visited the busy city prior to hitting up so many other places in Europe? In fact, I wouldn’t visit Barcelona again unless I went FOR FREE (if it’s free, it’s for me). It was unfortunately disappointing, and left us underwhelmed beyond belief. There are simply way too many beautiful places in the world I need to visit before I ever even think of going back to Barcelona.

5 things I absolutely LOVED about Barcelona (in no particular order):

1) The ARCHITECTURE

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2) Gaudi Gaudi Gaudi. Did I mention GAUDI? I mean did you see Parc Guell? 

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3. Barceloneta Beach 

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4. La Boqueria 

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5. FC Barcelona Futbol 

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5 things I absolutely HATED about Barcelona (in no particular order): 

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In a world full of hate, it is easy to find kindness.

You hear it all the time, and I definitely wont be the first or last person to bring up what a sad time in history it is. With all of the darkness in the world, especially now, it’s hard to think love and kindness can be found in someone you do not know. A stranger, to be exact. We are all guilty of judging others. I unfortunately know I am, especially while traveling. It’s like you’re always second guessing yourself: Should I talk to that person? Will they like me? Are they nice? Will I be safe? Can they speak English? Can I say that one phrase I’ve been practicing well enough? Are they going to think I am a dumb American? These thoughts are normal, and a huge part of exploring abroad because traveling makes you vulnerable, and that is the beauty of it. 

Traveling also causes you to get lost… a lot…which I highly recommend. Get lost willingly and purposely, get so crazy lost, you have no choice but to ask a local, and THEN find your way!! AND while you’re finding your way, you’ll find yourself, which ends up being the absolute best part.

Sean and I have been awe struck at how many times complete strangers have shown kindness to us while traveling abroad. Whether we asked, or not.

During our first extended travel trekking through Europe, we found kindness in Paris, and then it happened again and again and again. 

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Santorini, Greece

Santorini, Greece, I am almost…not quite…but almost at a loss of words for how unbelievably breathtaking this magical place is. I am NEVER at a loss of words, but when I think of this place I can only think of adjectives that describe its beauty; however, the words gorgeous, beautiful, amazing just don’t seem to do it justice. Everything about Greece is filled with character; however, in Santorini the mass amounts of character that spews from the alley ways and blue, wooden doors is remarkable. Sean and I have said multiple times that we wish we could teleport back. Why can’t I be Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz and click my Steve Madden sandals 3 times and be there?  Seriously if only we could! I think the world would take advantage of this however, but if I could only do it once in my lifetime, I would choose to go back to Santorini. Sean and I were lucky enough to meet two photographers on our cruise that were able to get off the cruise ship and take our engagement photos. They were so friendly and talented! We honestly felt like movie stars with their big silver reflector.

Overall, Santorini was just so wonderful. We had so much fun walking around Fira and Oia. From the moment the cruise ship anchored and we stepped out onto the outside terrace and looked up at the mountains formed by lava rock, we were in awe. All you could see were little white buildings spread across the mountains, and it was just so cool! There is no other way to describe it. It was just so much different than absolutely anything we had ever seen traveling. Once you tender ashore, you have the option to either take a donkey ride up the mountain or a cable car. Since we were doing our engagement pictures, we opted for the faster, and nicer smelling cable car ride, although hearing from others the donkey ride up was quite the experience! After the pictures, we explored the towns, had the best frozen mojitos ever, and enjoyed an amazing sunset dinner facing the caldera! Oh what I would do to make my way back there. 8621_Aleman-57 Read more

Venice, Italy: Surprise Engagement!

Exactly 30 days ago the man of my dreams proposed to me in Venice, Italy! I can’t think of a better way to celebrate this than to share our special moment with my followers. Sean is the most handsome, special, and caring soul I have ever come across. He makes me feel so at ease, so incredibly loved, so beautiful, so safe, and so special. I am so thankful God brought him into my life. I thank him everyday because it is truly such a blessing. I promise not to get too sappy in this post, but the love I have for this amazing man is unexplainable. Before meeting Sean, I always use to wonder how and why people would say, “OMG like I’m going to marry my best friend, OMG” Honestly, I thought this comment was kind of annoying because I couldn’t relate. I honestly thought that it was impossible! I have my best girlfriends. How could a guy become a best friend? But falling in love with Sean changed it all. He did not take over my best friends’ role of being my best friends, he became my partner, my confidant, my everything….so much more than a best friend. Anything I could ever want in a best friend, he became, and it is so much better than that because we share a one of a kind love that I get to cherish my entire life until we are old and frail. We know I am a hopeless romantic, this is not new news. I have always been a believer in true love, and I believe everyone will find it. However long it takes. I have finally found my forever love. To say Sean and I are happy is a serious understatement. We laugh in normal conversation because we have fallen more deeply in love since our romantic proposal….in just 30 days.

When my parents renewed their wedding vows on their 25th anniversary in Kauai, they said they loved each other so much more than the day they got married. I wondered again how that could happen when “you are the most in love on your wedding day.” I was wrong again. Love teaches your young soul so many things. In just 30 days, I have loved Sean more than when he proposed to me, and a heck of a lot more than  when I first told him I loved him on January 2, 2012. I can’t wait to love him more and more each day until our hairs turn as grey as our silver fox, Tucker (cue laughter). I love you, Sean. Thank you for changing my life for the better each and every day. Thank you for being mine.

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Split, Croatia: Extreme Canyoning on the Cetina River

Split, Croatia is an adventurer’s dream. Not only does it give you the ability to marvel at nature’s beauty, but you literally have the opportunity to do anything from hiking, zip-lining, kayaking, cliff jumping, rock-climbing to canyoning. Sean and I wanted to do something completely and utterly awesome while in Split…something out of the norm. While researching Trip Advisor and reading reviews, I stumbled across Adventure Omis , and I am so glad that I did. Ivan, our tour guide and one of the owners of the company took very good care of us. He was knowledgeable, down to earth, accommodating, and never once made us feel unsafe. While reading about the activities they had to offer, I knew Extreme Canyoning was for us. We had SOO much fun canyoning on the Cetina River. We swam through crystal clear natural pools and rapids. We cliff jumped into various lakes and waterfalls. We abseiled 164.5 feet along the side of the great Gubavica waterfall. It was fabulous! Words cannot describe the beauty we witnessed, or how crystal clear the water was as it rippled with each step. Pictures simply do not do it justice.  

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