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Tips for Traveling and Packing while Pregnant

5 Jul

I first started googling this subject when I was three to four months pregnant and traveling to California for vacation and London for work, but have often found myself referring back to these tips. What should I wear on the plane? What do I need to pack? Can I go through the metal detector? (The answer is yes by the way). With so many questions, and multiple websites and blogs to comb through, I spent a lot of time honing in on the right options, without overloading my suitcase. Hopefully this post can help bring all of them together.

*Disclosure: I do not have any affiliation to the company’s or products in the links I post. These are purely based on my personal purchases.*

What to wear? 

One of the hardest things you may struggle with when you find out your pregnant is what to wear. My favorite pants for travel and overall maternity wear are Spanx Mama Look at Me Now Leggings. These were incredibly supportive and seem to have some compression to them. For work, I also heavily relied on the Spanx Mama mid-thigh shaping tights and sheers. These are surprisingly really strong and although pricey, have lasted with no snags or runs.

Going into the third trimester and being active was getting tougher and tougher. I thought about buying a belly band, but really liked the BLANQI Women’s Maternity BodyStyler, High-Performance Belly Support Tank Top. If they were not sold out at the time I would have considered buying their maternity leggings as well. This top provided support and while some people have complained that the underarms are tight, I did not have this issue and will likely buy a postpartum option as well. This company is a bit pricey, but it has held up in multiple washes and is well made.  In addition, I bought a couple of Ingrid & Isabel tanks and cami’s which can be found at Target and can be worn post-pregnancy as well.

For compression socks/stockings, I bought this pair on Amazon from the company TOFLY. I recommend sizing up as they were tight and I wore these on flights to and from NY and London. Since I bought the stocking and not the sock, my ankles held up well, but most of the fluid went to my feet so I would recommend getting a full sock. I would have really liked to try these Comrad compression socks, which seem to be a great option as well.

For shoes, I found these AllBirds to be my new favorite and comfortable slip-ons as well as Sperry’s with memory foam. When I was doing my research initially I found all the shoes on blogs to be incredibly ugly, outside of the Vans  and Toms sneakers and slip-ons. The Allbirds are machine washable and super light. They literally feel like walking on clouds.  When it came to boots, the options were even more ugly! Instead of spending money on a new pair of boots, I invested in a gel insole for my existing tall black boots. Uggs are great, but can be slippery on ice and therefore not the best for later in pregnancy. Instead I would suggest a duck boot with good grip, such as a pair of Sorel’s. While not super fashionable, they are reliable and have generous give if your feet are swollen. I always pack a pair of havaianas in case I need to shower at the airport or the hotel floor is gross, but these are also great for swollen pregnancy feet.

What else to pack?

I was really fortunate to not really be nauseous, physically ill, or suffer from heartburn (with the exception of one or two times), but I always carried Tums as well as ginger flavored Tummy Drops just in case.

I also traveled with and applied twice daily, Bio Oil, to avoid stretch marks. They make a small 2oz. bottle that is therefore TSA approved.

Don’t forget to take your prenatals! I was buying these in bulk from Amazon but traveling with multiple pill bottles takes up unnecessary space and putting pills in baggies may lead to some unnecessary TSA searches. Like an elderly person, I bought a pill organizer, and sorted my prenatal, Vitamin D3, Vitamin C and a stool softener (because constipation is always a bad idea).

Staying hydrated is also incredibly important. I personally swear by S’well bottles and recently discovered EcoVessel, (I own this one and this one) thanks to my doula. These bottles keep drinks ridiculously cold (or hot) for hours, even in extreme hot weather. If you don’t want the extra weight of carrying a water bottle, I suggest buying a bottle at the airport after security to carry with you and/or coconut water, which is incredibly hydrating.

It goes without saying that you should always carry snacks. Preferably something that will keep you full, but isn’t a salty bag of chips or pretzels that will mess create more swelling. I stuck to protein granola bars, preferably with peanut butter. Nature Valley, Kind, and RXbars, have been my favorite. As a pick me up, I also really love these Sugarfina green juice gummy bears.

I used this Betabrand travel tote as my work bag and carry on which doubles as a backpack to ease shoulder pain and has lots of convenient pockets.

Just in case

A note from your doctor authorizing you to fly. I did not get one of these until I was 26 weeks, but depending on how much you are showing it might be a good idea to get one earlier, and later of course. Most airlines will not let you fly past 34 or 36 weeks, not like you will want to anyway. Also, my doctor pretty said no to any long haul flights over 8 hours in the third trimester (28+ weeks).

I did not need these until the last month or so, but panty liners can come in handy and are easy to throw into a purse or suitcase. I did not splurge on any special maternity underwear, but rather just sized up on some breathable cotton pairs.

During the winter, I also carried a large Alpine Plaid Wrap Scarf which doubled as a blanket due its generous size.

A travel pillow. I used an inflatable neck pillow to and from Europe that i could easily inflate and deflate, but otherwise I do not try and add unnecessary weight or bulk.

While traveling (In the air/car/train)

I have a smart watch and fully leveraged the “stand” feature as much as possible. I also practiced prenatal yoga, which helped with stretches and posture. Additionally, remembering to do the following really helped while traveling from one place to the next:

  • Calf and hamstring stretches, potentially while waiting for an airplane bathroom
  • Rolling and wiggling ankles and toes while seated
  • Standing and/or walking at least once an hour
  • Elevating feet and ankles, and potentially bending over to reach said feet and ankles (if possible)
  • Frequent bathroom breaks and sitting in an aisle seat

If standing is getting uncomfortable, due to the extra weight in your front, turning your toes in slightly to stand a bit bow-legged can really help take the pressure off your upper butt and lower back. My doula and yoga instructor teaches this regularly and I was surprised by how much it really works and that it was never mentioned in anything I read.

I also experienced the following:

  • leg cramping, almost like a charlie horse but not as intense. A remedy is to make sure you are staying hydrated, getting enough potassium and magnesium and staying mobile, which includes stretching.
  • sore fingers, mostly first thing in the morning. For this I have upped my Vitamin D3 intake as well as calcium as much as possible which includes having organic milk and yogurt daily. (Even lactose milk will work)

Bumping Through Airport Security and Radiation 

I definitely felt somewhat targeted and discriminated against while traveling through airport security. This occurred not just in the US, but in Europe as well. It is incredibly shocking how rude and completely senseless airport security agents can be. Although I have TSA pre-check, I was “randomly selected” for additional screening at 14 weeks and asked to go through the Advanced Imaging Scanner. I requested a pat down instead, given I had not asked my doctor and wanted to be on the safe side. After waiting for 20 minutes and watching a female TSA agent have zero regard for the elderly or pregnant, I went through the scanner in order to avoid missing my flight. While some articles warn against these detectors, they have fairly low radiation compared to say the actual tin metal can called an airplane that you are about to fly in.

That being said, if you fly very often, and especially on long haul flights, now is the time to speak up to your employer or consider changing your plans. The longer the flight and therefore higher the altitude, the more radiation you are exposed to. Taking multiple long haul flights within a short time frame is not recommended, but always check with your doctor.

I hope you found these tips helpful, but please remember to check with your doctor or healthcare provider to let them know of your travel plans while pregnant.

Other helpful references:

The Bump

Baby Center

Baby Center #2


The Travel Hack




4 Jul

Back in June 2014 my friend Tracy and I met up in Lisbon for a girls weekend while we were both working in Europe. Fast forward to September 2017 and now it was time to return to Portugal for another friends wedding in Estoril. Planning this trip was exciting because not only had an old friend of mine recently moved to Portugal from Brazil, but this would also double as a one year anniversary vacation.

TAP Portugal is not the most glamorous airline, but they have great direct flights from Newark (EWR) to Portugal. And by great I also mean reasonable because lets be honest no one wants to pay $1200 for a 5-6 hour flight to Europe. TAP also lets you bid on a business class seat. This was incredibly appealing to me because going to Europe on a red eye is miserable, but coming home and gaining 6 hours of time is more tolerable. Check out their bidding rules. Relaxing before the excitement!

We flew into Lisbon the day after US Labor Day 2017 and stayed (once again) at the Sheraton Lisboa. My husband was not interested in doing anything but sleeping and relaxing, so I went with my parents, who were also in town for the wedding, to Belem Tower.

Ah the line! We took an Uber since it was the three of us, it was hot and we didn’t want to spend the extra time taking public transit. There was still a long line to get in as we did not buy tickets in advance, but it was totally worth it. There were waves crashing up on us from the changing tide which kept us cool! and the UNESCO Heritage site did not disappoint. Just down the way there is a monument called Padrao dos Descobrimentos which commemorates Portugal’s explorers.

We did not pay to go into the monument, instead we took an Uber back to the hotel pool to relax before dinner with family and friends. Dinner was at 100 Maneiras in Bario Alto. It was recommended to us by friends and while it did not disappoint, my father and husband were not exactly singing its praises.  It is a tasting menu with potential for wine pairings, and while reasonable compared to other Michelin guide restaurants, there were some unusual items and my dad was not a fan. Otherwise, the rest of us loved it regardless!

The next day we went to the Gulbenkian museum, which was fascinating and huge! We mostly went to see the founders collection which has pieces dating back ~5000 years. They have exhibitions there as well, but we are not really modern art fans and didn’t really care to pay the extra money to see the current exhibit. Thanks to Yelp and FourSquare we stumbled across an amazing restaurant close by called Laurentina O Rei do Bacalhau. Bacalhau is cod fish which is the most popular fish in Portugal , although strangely enough most of the cod actually comes from the Nordics, but its prepared a number of different ways. We definitely ate too much, but our waiter and the food were amazing. On our way back to the hotel we stopped at Pingo Doce, a local grocery store. We like to pick up some wine and waters at the grocery store rather than pay 7Euro for an extra bottle at the bar (which my husband def did btw!). For dinner we went to a traditional Fado show at O Faia (again) in the Bario Alto district. The octopus was outstanding, and while we couldn’t understand what the Fado singers where singing about, their voices and the experience were well worth it.

Since we had really liked Yellow Cab Tours 3 years prior, we decided to go with a private tour to Sintra, Cabo da Roca, and Caiscais, which ended with them dropping us off at the Palacio Estoril Hotel for the wedding weekend. We had lunch a great seafood restaurant called Nortada. Some highlights from Sintra:

After the wedding, we rented a car and headed north to the Douro valley for a relaxing wine and port vacation! Driving in Portugal (aka. not Lisbon) was not very complicated and was incredibly scenic. We stayed at the Wine House Hotel at Quinta Da Pacheca. This was probably one of the best places we have ever stayed. I mean how can you beat sleeping in a vineyard with a gourmet restaurant?! The hotel/vineyard provided bikes which we took to nearby five star Five Senses resort and back again. We took the tour of the Quinta da Pacheca vineyard as well as a tasting at another nearby vineyard, Quinta do Tedo.

The wine house hotel restaurant

For dinner, we went to Rui Paula’s DOC which was one of the best tasting menus we have ever had. Rui Paula has a sister restaurant, DOP, in Porto, but we did not attempt to go there.

We ended our northern Portugese adventure in Porto. Due to having the rental car we decided to stay at the Sheraton Porto, which is in a more residential location not really close to the center, but has parking. We took an Uber from the hotel to a free City Lovers Tour of Porto which started in the center of Porto at Praca da Liberdade. This tour was well worth it and all we had to do was tip the tour guide at the end. It stopped at the following historic sites, train station, the Cathedral, and the monument Torre dos Clerigos.

For dinner, we went to our last fancy restaurant of the trip at The Yeatman two star Michelin restaurant which is in the Yeatman hotel. The view from this hotel and restaurant is spectacular overlooking Porto. Even if you don’t want to spend the money to eat here, I would highly recommend coming for a drink and the view.

For our last days in Portugal, we stayed at an Airbnb in Lisbon, right on one of the worlds most photographed streets in a 1 bed loft in the Chiado area of Lisbon. Although it was a huge pain to lug our suitcases up the stairs, and there was a ton of noise at night from the bar below, it was totally worth it to be right in the center of Lisbon for our last couple days.

We were able to meet up with a friend who had recently moved from Brazil who took us to a great trendy bar called Park, which is literally at the very top of what seems like a regular parking garage. I honestly don’t know if we could find it again if we tried, but the sunset view over Lisbon was fantastic as well as the views from Pharmacia which is across from Miradouro de Santa Catarina.

Our very last day in Lisbon was spent on a food tour called Lisbon’s Best Flavors booked through Airbnb experiences. Ruthy and her husband were our tour guide and took us to fabulous small and unique restaurants and bars in Alfama. It was a great way to end our trip and we were sad that our foodie vacation had come to an end.

When we go back to Portugal some day I would love to do the Algarve region as well as the Azores Islands. These are two places we could not fit into our 2 week trip.


22 Jan

I have just returned from my third trip to Peru. This January and last April I mostly only stayed in Lima and went to and from work, with some great restaurants and shopping in between. However, this trip it was also summer, so I got to experience a fabulous beach location called Playa Blanca. While there is no actual white sand to speak of, (the beach has fine black sand) the location was incredibly peaceful and relaxing.


Hotels: I have stayed in both the JW Marriott and the new Courtyard Marriott, both in Miraflores. The JW is amazing and is right across from Larcomar, a popular shopping and restaurant mall right on a cliff overlooking the water. There is also a Westin in San Isidro which is supposed to be great, but unfortunately it has always been a bit out of my price range. The Courtyard is brand new (2 years old by now) so it’s also nice and more in the central part of Miraflores so there is not really a view, but it’s cheaper ($150 a night compared to $195 at the JW). If you are more the spg type, in addition to the Westin there is also a Sheraton more towards the financial district (San Isidro) which is not really in an ideal location to walking around at night. The JW is also supposed to have a great breakfast, but I had breakfast in the lounge which was also really good.

Restaurants: Similar to other emerging markets you do want to be careful about what and where you eat as well as ice cubes, and salads. I am always willing to spend a little more if it means not getting sick because at the good restaurants and hotels you can typically order anything and be fine, but always bring pepto just in case. Another suggestion is to only eat ceviche (aka raw fish) at lunch unless it’s a place you know is safe. This might sound obvious but you’d be surprised how many people order ceviche from a random restaurant after dark.


  • Ceviche – El Mercado o Pescados Capitales (lunch time mostly)
  • Peruvian Sushi – Osaka (needs a reservation and its amazing order the truffled scallop sashimi) – Maido (very upscale / refined option) They have a tasting menu oly served before 9pm which is supposedly sold out for months. My favorite was the foie gras sashimi
  • Peruvian Typical Food – Jose Antonio (it’s a classic), Panchita (from the owners of Astrid y Gaston), El Grifo (literally means gas station, and is built in an old restored one, but has amazing food), Restaurant Javier – local place in Barranco known for its anticuchos
  • Peruvian Chinese Fusion (Chifa – it’s a very known Peruvian type of food that happened after all the Chinese immigration) – Madame Tusan (from the owners of Astrid y Gaston)
  • Peruvian Gastro – Lima 27, Cala (on the water in Barranco and a team favorite go-to)
  • Pollo a la brasas – Pardo’s ( amazing rotisserie chicken of peru, very popular similar to Chifa)
  • Peruvian jungle – Amaz, next to the Hilton hotel.
  • La trattoria in larcomar – good Italian Peruvian fusion
  • Upscale Dining – La Gloria, Rafael, Astrid y Gaston, Maido, Osaka – but you need a reservation in advance. All are amazing.
  • More casual but good spots: La plazita, Tanta (especially for lunch), Danica, Cosme, they all are peruvian fusion.
  • Barra 55 – great gin bar in Barranco.
  • WingMan – wing and beer bar in Barranco
  • Nuevo Mundo – Draft beer bar with some bar food
  • La Cuadra de Salvador – Argentinian steak house in barranco for when you need a good steak

Centrale is also one of the worlds best restaurants but I prefer Astrid y Gaston.

Lima Tours

Fortunately my local Peru team members took me to downtown Lima to Plaza San Martin and Plaza de Armas and had me try turron, pisco sour ice cream and have an original pisco sour at  El Bolivarcito, where the pisco sour was born.

I also did a food tour in Lima which was a bit pricey ($125) but I really enjoyed it and would do it again in a heartbeat. We learned how to make pisco sours and ceviche and all about the local fruits. There’s also a $135 evening tour but it was already sold out by the time I booked.


  1. Go to Larcomar – as mentioned earlier its an open shopping center on a cliff – if you are staying at the JW, its literally right across the street. Nice restaurants and shops. I buy my alpaca clothing there at Kuna since its known as one of the best and has decent prices for real legit alpaca scarves, sweaters, hats etc.
  2. Tourists love going to the “Mercado Indio” – its like an artisanal market.
  3. There’s a “Mirabus” the little red bus that drives you around Lima.
  4. The Mali Museum – if you are into photography, its Mario Testinos private museum.
  5. Walk the Malecon – (the park development on the coast). Its very nice, and you will get lots of nice pictures. Totally safe. You can start in Larcomar and go either way. I recommend going to San Isidro and Barranco.
  6. The red bus company also has a Lima by Night tour that my coworker has done and loved.
  7. Barranco – its nice to go walk around. Its like the area where all the Spanish Colonial houses are, and now its becoming a trendy area, basically the east village or hipster part of Lima. I’ve gone walking around at night here and was fine. It’s right next to the Miraflores area.

In November 2015, on my first trip to Peru, I flew from Lima to Cusco on LAN to meet up with some co-workers. We used Fer tur Travel, which was good and very efficient except that we were all super busy and booked it a bit last minute so we would have changed a couple of things. Included in our tour for $580 was a transfer from Cusco airport to the hotel, tour of Cusco, transporation and guide from Cusco to the sacred valley of the Incas and the train to Aguas Calientes, one night in Aguas and tour guide for 2.5 hrs of Machu Picchu, bus tickets up and down MP, train from MP to Cusco and transfer back to our hotel.


Hotels: There are some really cheap hotels but we were all willing to pay a little more to stay in nicer hotels. The Palacio del Inka is the spg hotel in cusco we stayed at ($204). It’s right off the Plaza del Armas. There is a JW Marriott as well, which is also nice. I also suggest the Casa Andina hotels as they are very nice as well. Our hotel in Aguas was not very nice, but fine for one night. We wanted to be on one of the first buses to MP to avoid the crowds and incoming rain as well as catch an earlier train back to Cusco in order to appreciate the scenery.  We took one of the first buses up to MP at around 545am (MP opens at 6am) and quit for lunch at the Sanctuary Lodge at 11am and took the 3:20pm Vistadome train from MP to Cusco (Poroy train station). This was one of the best train rides I’ve ever been on. They give you food, offer liquor and additional snacks for purchase, put on two “shows” and sell Alpaca clothing from Sol Alpaca (another good alpaca clothing store). Also the toilets are shockingly nice and clean. I highly suggest following a similar itinerary depending on the weather outlook for the day.

Restaurants: (all require advance reservations)

Limo – they have a prix fixe dinner menu that’s really good as well as good lunch.

Ciccolina – very good Italian Peruvian fusion and traditional Peruvian (ie lomo saltado). I really liked the squid ink pasta and Carmenere.

Baco – I really liked the alpaca burger.


Restaurants in Aguas – I made a reservation at Inkaterra which is also a really nice hotel that I suggest staying at if you can, but we had to cancel our reservations due to altitude exhaustion and poor timing.

Other key tips worth noting:

  • It does not really rain in Lima, just occasional misting.It does rain in Playa Blanca.
  • It does rain in Cusco and at Machu Picchu…harddd.
  • Bring a poncho or buy one from the street vendors for a $1, same goes for rain boots ($10)
  • Bring sunscreen and mosquito repellent. The sun is extremely strong in Peru and you WILL burn in areas that are exposed for more than 5 min. If you have any skin showing (ie ankles, the part of your hair, back of your neck) expect them to be bit by mosquitoes or have sun exposure. Re-apply often.
  • Take altitude pills one to two days before you land in Cusco and once you land if possible. Drink the coca tea in the morning and chamomile in the afternoon/evening. Reminder; the altitude pills are a diuretic so you will need to pee a lot, especially the first day.
  • Review the timing of your itinerary. Also, expect that service will not be rapido. Sit down meals can take 2-2.5 hours.
  • Bring extra toilet paper or wipes and hand sanitizer.
  • We took out soles from the ATMs at the airport, but Peru is dual currency so dollars are also accepted at most locations, as is amex which is the same as mastercard.
  • Take the Green Taxi service from the airport in Lima and Uber around Lima and back to the airport. Uber is regulated for airport pick-up so it can take longer.
  • We checked our large suitcases at the hotel in Cusco while we went to Aguas because we were told that only small bags are allowed on the train and they will charge per kilo for large bags.

I really like Peru and hope to go back again. It’s important to note that Machu Picchu does close for a couple weeks a year, typically in April, for routine maintenance. Also, reservations are required well in advance. Due to erosion, there is a cap on the number of people per day.  The Inca trail – the 4 day hike to MP, books out years in advance.

Finland and Estonia

12 Oct

I arrived in Finland after spending the prior 4 weeks on the road in San Jose Costa Rica, Deerfield IL and Puebla and Mexico City Mexico. When I landed in Amsterdam after my first leg I quickly started rushing towards the gate and the nearest lounge. For some reason I thought I had a quick layover. When I got to the KLM lounge I took a shower first thing which was fantastic! Little did I realize that I still had about 2.5 hours to kill before boarding to Helsinki aka HEL. While there were no beds in lounge I utilized the earplugs from the plane and napped with my phone alarm ready to go. Once on the flight I also quickly fell asleep and had a nice egg roll for breakfast where the stewardess asked me if I was going home! Ha apparently I look Finnish which I took as a huge compliment as all the Finnish people I met are massively attractive and very nice. Once safely in HEL, I headed to Avis to rent my car. Even though I had practiced my manual skills I thought it was probably best to stick to automatic. In the US that would typically mean a nearly powerless Chevy, Ford or Nissan of some sort, but everywhere else that means a BMW or some sort of nice European car with actual horsepower.

It took me a couple of days to get the hang of driving back and forth from downtown HEL to Espoo using the most direct route but I was determined to not have to rely on GPS. The first couple days I used google maps which was actually pretty hilarious because of how it phonetically pronounces every word. The first time I heard it I burst out laughing. “Turn right to exit at juvenmali juvenmalmen nippereri nippert” WHAT?! By the time it finished speaking I’d past the exit. Thankfully I got the hang of it without having to listen to google maps give me a mouthful every time I made a turn. I also had some very interesting experiences at the gym. Women wore make up and heavy perfume, and one even wore slippers on the elliptical machine. People don’t like to sweat and only spend about 3 to 5 minutes doing cardio. A guy next to me on the treadmill ate toast while he walked all of 2 mph and I was going full speed ahead trying not to sound like a beast.

Since I was working Finnish and partial US hours I didn’t get a change to take any organized tours, but every night I tried a new restaurant, mostly in the Kamppi area, all of which were fantastic, Sushibar + Wine (fabulous smoked scallop roll), Lappi (for traditional reindeer filet and whitebait roe), Putte’s Pizza and Bar (gourmet pizzas), and Bistro Kämp in the one and only spg property in Helsinki. On Friday I walked around as much as possible in order to get the “lay of the land” including walking through the Senate square and listening in on a free play, through the esplanade, and along the water.

Saturday morning I checked out of my ghetto Radisson and made my way to the Linda Line to catch the express ferry to Tallinn, Estonia. Apparently many Fins go to Estonia for the cheap alcohol, and nearly everyone started the libations as soon as they got on the ferry. I knew I was in the right place! Beer on the ferry goes for 4.90€ compared to 7€ at restaurants in Helsinki.

I met a nice couple on the ferry from Finland who hadn’t been to Tallinn in over 10 years. As a civil servant the older gentleman gets 6 weeks of vacation a year compared to the 4 weeks industries get. Wow! Once I got off the ferry I headed for the Radisson Blu Olumpia which was worlds better than the Radisson Blu Royal Helsinki, for one there was temperature control! And a fabulous view of Old Town. I then headed straight for Old town which was every bit as adorable as I had imagined. It was already late afternoon at that point and I was starving so I went to Olde Hansa, a “medieval” restaurant serving Elk and Bear and other traditional Estonian foods. I had a complementary schnapps shot, thanks to the hotels coupon, a .5 liter jug of dark honey beer and Elk filet, which was well worth the money. It was incredibly tender and came in a truffle mushroom sauce with juniper berries and spelt. After such a heavy meal I walked  all around to old town square, some souvenir shops and then to the key tourist sites, St. olaf’s church (where I paid 2€ and climbed the very steep narrow staircase to the top) and Aleksander Netsky cathedral through St Catherine’s pass. On my way back to the hotel I bought an A. Le. Coq Estonian beer to try because I couldn’t resist the name. While there was much more to see in Tallinn I decided to go for a good sauna, another thing the baltics, Nordics and Scandinavians are well known for.

Upon my return to Helsinki it was Restaurant Day! Four times a year anyone is welcome to open their own food stand and sell whatever they want. The movement started in Helsinki because of the incredible difficulty in opening a restaurant, but other cities have started to catch on. While I didn’t eat anything from the pop-up food stands, I did have some great rainbow trout during my walk through the esplanade at Kappeli, and a nice pistachio ice cream in the market square. I was tempted to buy an elk or moose rug but resisted the urge. It’s incredibly hard to buy winter items in the middle of summer.

On Tuesday, I treated myself to a three course dinner with wine pairing at Passio. The restaurant has very mixed reviews on trip advisor but that didn’t stop me and it was incredibly close to my hotel in Kampii. The first time I tried to go to this restaurant  the previous week, the kitchen was closed, and the second time they were fully booked. I’ll be damned, but I made a reservation for one on Monday. Come Tuesday, I strolled in there and proudly told the flamboyant maitre ‘d who had turned me down those two times before, “reservation for Sonya” and guess what? he showed me right to my seat without a word. Success! I was in! Except that then I proceeded to wait approximately 10 minutes for any sort of waiter to bring me water or a menu. Ah the joys of traveling as a solo female. The food ended up being fantastic and the three course menu was actually more or less a five course menu. The following day, my final meal in Helsinki was at the recommendation of the hotel, Ravintola Rivoli a French restaurant. I had the escargot and the toast skagen which is a traditional Nordic meal.

While it does tend to get a bit lonely eating dinner every night by yourself, my trip to Helsinki and Tallinn was truly enjoyable and I would love to go back at some point to really experience the northern lights and a reindeer farm. And while I don’t necessarily agree with the socialist economics that are rampant throughout Europe today, it’s always nice to see and learn about different cultures and ways of living. Some things I learned:
– maternity leave is paid for roughly one year
– everyone has 4-6 weeks of vacation and most of the country completely shuts down in July
– most people really take 9 to 5 very seriously

– there is not a lot of traffic
– awkward silence is not awkward
– quite a few people do this weird intake of breathe at the end of their sentences
– The cost of living is expensive

-tons of people are blonde. Like REALLY blonde. No bottle blondes (well maybe there are still some! see girl with makeup at the gym).
– everyone seems relatively happy, although when I told my coworkers Finland topped the list of happiest people on earth, they were shocked and couldn’t imagine why!

Smoked scallop roll

View of Old Town Tallinn from my hotel room

Reindeer at Lappi Ravintola 

Italia Adventure 2015

12 Oct

Back in January I went to a destination wedding expo and the very first vendor I saw was from Tuscany. I took this as a sign that a destination wedding in Italy was exactly my cup of tea. It was slightly harder to convince my fiancé and our families and friends that this is a fantastic idea. Fortunately, people are starting to come around, especially considering that we live in Northeastern United States where weddings are on average $50-75,000…ahhh! While hunting for marriage requirements in Italy… and St. John USVI ….and the Maldives (sometimes eloping sounds like a great idea)… I discovered the Italian Wedding Event who plan weddings in Italy and decided to inquire for weddings on the Amalfi Coast. What they sent back was a plethora of information and a whole website of potential wedding locations all over the Amalfi coastline. After many site visits and inquiries to locations in NY, NJ, CT, RI and Long Island, we decided to book a trip to Positano and perform a site inspection with the Italian Wedding event. In addition, they arranged for us to get our engagement photos while we were there.

We landed on a Monday in Rome on the Delta direct from JFK. From there we took the Leonardo Express from the airport to Rome Termini station. Once at Termini we took the fast train to Naples. We almost got on, what looked like, a regional train, but fortunately we got off in time, grabbed a prosciutto e crudo panini and waited for the fast train which was 30 min late. We arrived at Naples where we were greeted by Claude, our driver from Naples to Hotel Conca D’Oro in Positano. Lots of, what I call “creative driving,” is required in Naples and all along the Amalfi coast. The roads are tight plus there are pedestrians and no real sidewalks. There were many times in downtown Positano where a bus went by and we both jumped a little bit. When we first got to the hotel a porter was waiting for us and promptly strung a rope around our bag handles, hoisted them over his shoulder and continued up the stairs to reception. Shortly after being shown to our room a bottle of prosecco arrived which we promptly enjoyed on the balcony. Being beat from the plane and the train journey, we ate a low key dinner at the hotel with fresh fish and spaghetti bolognese.

The next day we met one of our planners, Valentina, on Via Mulino in the downtown area of Positano. Our first stop was the church on the beach followed by Rada restaurant which has a great balcony overlooking the beach as well as a club inside of a cave on the side of the mountain called music on the rocks. Right above Rada is Hotel Marincanto which has gorgeous views and spacious rooms. From there we looked at two villas which both overlooked all of Positano. After seeing these great locals how could we not get married here?!

The following day we met our photographer, Massimo, for our engagement shots. While holding two cameras, my purse and with a cigarette in his mouth, he artfully took our photos all over Positano. While it seemed strange to have everyone stare at us while Massimo clicked away, it got us used to posing and smiling.

With the “work” part of our trip out of the way we booked excursions to Pompeii, Mt Vesuvius, and Capri. The bus to Pompeii picked us up from the hotel at 7am and drove the entire coast line before getting on the highway. Of course among the last people we picked up was an 18 month old! For the rest of the bus ride we listened to crying and the adventures of Peter rabbit. Once in Pompeii we explored the ruins including brothels, a miraculously preserved bath house, amphitheaters, and the main forum. After a quick lunch at a relatively cheap tourist restaurant, Da Andrea, we went on to climb Mt. Vesuvius. We had never climbed a volcano before, let alone the most dangerous volcano in Europe. The thought was a bit daunting. Once we got to the top I half expected to see liquid magma boiling and steam rising all around us, this was definitely not the case. The center of the volcano was surprisingly tame with trees even growing inside. Once we made our way back down the volcano and back onto the bus, and to Positano for dinner. James picked a restaurant with controversial reviews, and was pretty busy, but it was one of the best meals we had. Our waiter at Da Vincenzo was also a great sales person. While it was a bit pricey, we always order the house wine which came out to 7€ for a carafe or something ridiculously reasonable.

The following day we walked down to the main beach in Positano to catch our boat to Capri. Our captain was a one man show named X and he was kind enough to break out the prosseco promptly at 10am. He brought us to the different grottos but unfortunately not the blue grotto due to rough waters / high tide. Apparently it’s only passable once every 4 days. Our next stop was the marina and a taxi ride to ana capri to take the chair lift to the top of the island. On the boat we met a really nice couple from Omaha on their honeymoon. We traveled with them from the porto to Anacapri and took the advise of the captain by buying panini’s at the bottom of the hill (and some adult beverages at the top). We had lunch with a view of Naples and the Amalfi coast and then walked through old town before getting back on the boat to Positano. More prosseco was had by all, James fell asleep starboard and we rolled into port reluctantly. After a failed attempt at souvenir shopping, James surprised me and picked another restaurant winner, da Gabrisa Ristorante & Wine Bar! Instead of walking into town we walked up the hill to a wine bar attached to a hotel with (of course) great wine and a risotto served In a lemon larger than James’ fist. The meal was bittersweet as the next day we had a scheduled fast train back to Rome.

James and I were last in Rome in 2012 after taking a Costa Cruise. Somehow we managed to do most of main attractions in Rome in one day. This time, I booked us advance tickets to the Sistine chapel in order to skip the ticket que. it was well worth it, although I do suggest taking a tour and skipping the audio guide. The last time I was In the Sistine chapel my mom was chastised by the guards for taking a picture and threatened to have her film taken away. Digital photography has made it much more difficult for the guards to catch picture takers if you are stealth. Also remember to whisper. The Sistine chapel is one of the most utilized rooms and while its recently been restored, relatively nothing has fallen from the ceiling in years which means you never know! After James took a few illegal photos we walked on to the square at St. Peter’s before heading back to the hotel. Little did we know that Saturday nights in May really require reservations as many places turned us away. We ended up at a restaurant that’s a favorite of my parents and somewhat hidden, Ristorante La Grotta Amatriciana.

For our last day in Rome, we took it easy and went to a restaurant recommended to us by the Omaha newlyweds we met in Capri, La Prosciutteria. The place is small, but we were there at about 11am so we had no trouble finding a seat. Not only was this place reasonable, but it had great music and ambiance. We went with a mixed wood platter and a couple different types of bruschetta. We then walked to the Trevi Fountain (which was under construction!), the Pantheon, and on to the Spanish steps. For our last evening in Rome we went to the roof of the hotel across the way for one last look at Rome. We walked down the street to Caffeteria Ristorante Diadema. It was one of the few restaurants that was open on Sunday and the waiter/owner was so nice, (after all we were the youngest people in the place) he brought us the bottle of lemoncello after dinner.

Every trip to Italy seems more magical than the one before. Next year we can’t wait to return to Italy for our wedding!

Positano Engagement Photo

The Pantheon

La prosciutteria

St. Peter’s 

Lemon risotto

View from Anacapri


The boat to Capri 


Mt. Vesuvius


Marina grande

Hiking up to the hotel with our luggage

From Cali to Turkey

3 Jan

Prior to arriving in Izmir I was a bit flustered to say the least. I was coming off a friends three day wedding extravaganza, a trip to Ontario California (also for work), two nights on a plane and two hours spent in my apartment re-packing, showering and picking up my passport. #consultinglife at its best. For the first time I flew Turkish Air which I was skeptical about at first, but it’s an amazing airline. While I didn’t fully appreciate being given fresh fruit juices instead of the usual champagne on delta, (a girls gotta get some sleep yo!) it was tastefully refreshing, and the man in the chef’s uniform that made it for me was adorable. Note to self: buy boyfriend chefs uniform. Now since our flight left JFK and hour late, we were roughly an hour late to Istanbul, which meant sprinting through the airport to our connection. This completely derailed our plans of actually showering and changing in the famed Turkish lounge in the international terminal. Bummer. Instead we ran to the domestic terminal and still missed the connection, but no worries the guy told us, “I put you on next flight in one hour,” ok well don’t we need a new boarding pass then? “No” . Yea ok guy, like I’m going to believe that when you walk away I will automatically have my same seat on the next flight an hour from now. I don’t think so. After changing and taking a face wipe to my body and pretending to be fit for work, we got in line to board the next flight, where sure enough, we had to wait because we needed a new boarding pass. Shocker. Once we arrived we were greeted by our coworker who was kind enough to pick us up from the airport and bring us to the client site.
Somehow we stumbled through the day and checked into the Renaissance Izmir, which is only about a year old and gorgeous! I would stay there again in a heartbeat. The breakfast was lavish and the hostess greeted us by name. The room was huge with an illy instant espresso maker, and the location was close to the harbor, the bazaar, (Kizlaragasi Han) and our firms office. The first day we decided to explore the city. We started by walking toward the bizarre and ended up instead by the clock tower. We continued to wander while also looking for a cafe when we happened upon people selling mini doughnuts under a tent on the street. We went over and got some but couldn’t figure out who to pay and there was no price posted and no one else seemed to be paying so we started backing away slowly and then walked away. Yay free doughnuts, I love this country already! Around the corner we found a nice cafe and went in for Turkish coffee and some “real food”, which ended up being a waffle covered in fruit and chocolate.
Our next stop was Konak pier which was designed by none other than Gustav Eiffel and was the former customs house. (Yes that Eiffel) Now, of course, it’s been completely redesigned with shops and restaurants. On the recommendation of a NY times travel article we went to the 100% Rest Cafe for some wine and mezze, (appetizers), and then bought olive oil at Taris Zeytin, one of Turkey’s oldest producers. We made a second attempt at finding the bazaar and went on a search for postcards and other souvenirs. While we were looking at magnets, a man, who we thought owned the store, asked us if we were looking for leather. We politely declined, said we were looking for postcards, and asked the price of the magnets. He turned to the real store owner and negotiated a good price for us, and said he had postcards. Thinking that he was going to lead us to his stall, we followed, and he led us to a leather store. Son of a…sure enough there was a rack of postcards! The owner of the store invited us to sit and offered us a drink. This is a sign of hospitality and as the guests it is rude to refuse, so we sat down and had tea. My coworker proceeded to suck down the whole cup, but I was a little wary of these shop owners. I was thinking, “Are they going to drug us and force us to buy leather?” “Would they kidnap us for ransom?” And now my 6′ 3″ coworker / bodyguard will be down for the count! I can’t carry him! Anyway, turns out one of the owners has a house in Patterson, NJ and ships rugs and leather to sell in the US. Go figure! I had mentioned to my coworker that I wanted to buy a rug while we were in Turkey. Of course, just then he had to then mention to our “would be captors” that I wanted a rug…great…just great. They led us out the back of the store… Mmm a little sketchy… And out around the bazaar, up to a second floor rug store which had thousands of rugs. It was game time now. What size did I want? colors? Design? Wool on wool or silk on wool? budget? After a bit of deliberation I chose a wool on wool design (cheaper than silk), I would carry it on instead of shipping, and I negotiated him down $500 from his asking price (thank you Asian markets and taxis). We drank more tea, and went straight back to the hotel for a beer and to book our trip to Ephes (or Ephasus to us Anglophiles) for the next day. Our adventure to dinner was even more sketchy as my coworker led me back to the bazaar, now closed, to find a restaurant on trip advisor, also now closed. (Sidenote: we would later go here for lunch during republic day and it was worth the wait.) For plan B we headed to the touristy but delightful waterfront to a restaurant our Turkish coworker had recommended. We had fish, mezze, and the local Raki, which is a local Turkish liquor similar to ouzo and sambuca. It’s prepared by adding water and sometimes ice. We somehow closed the restaurant down by 11pm on a Saturday and headed back to get a good nights sleep for Ephes.

Zürich München Lisboa

3 Jul

Two weeks ago for work I was asked to go to Zurich to assist on a very interesting project. The trip was booked fairly last minute, but I couldn’t wait to get back on the road since I’ve mostly been driving from Manhattan to NJ on a daily basis. (Awful!!!) Also, the opportunity to work on such a cool and different project was very exciting. My friend, formerly from the NY office, now in Houston, has been living part time in Amsterdam for work. We decided it’s been way too long since we’ve seen each other which was the perfect excuse to meet up and see a new city on my return to the US.

The last time I was in Zurich was for a brief 2.5 days and was in the beginning of January, so going back in summer was guaranteed to be better. Sure enough, the weather was much warmer and the longer experience was welcomed. We initially stayed at the Renaissance closest to the client site where I had stayed previously. However, the rooms are dated, the breakfast is bare and there are limited food options in the area. Apparently they’re also closing the hotel. The very next day we had planned to wrap up our meetings at noon and hop in a rental car to Munich for a meeting and client dinner. Even though Munich is fairly close, a 3-4 hour drive, the flights were $1100-1200 and the direct train was sold out but the local train was still $400 and would take about 5-6 hours. But the best laid plans don’t always go as smoothly and this was an example of how that was very true. The car we rented was a two door, which meant yours truly was sitting in the back with the extra luggage. Also, Google maps anticipated the drive would take us a little over 3 hours, however, it didn’t account for getting out of the parking garage, stopping to grab lunch, or the road construction along the way. Needless to say we got to the client site an hour and a half late! Also due to the last minute plans many hotels were sold out, so we ended up staying at two different Hilton’s. For dinner I made reservations for Restaurant Broeding which was ranked number 1 on trip advisor. The food did not disappoint! It was five courses, which change daily, with an optional 6th cheese, but who says no to the cheese?! The dinner was longer than anticipated but well worth it. Afterwards, our client offered to take us through Marienplatz even though it was 11:30pm. I hadn’t been to Germany since the summer after I graduated college, but it’s always a different experience going with new people.

Driving back to Zurich the following day was painful. It was an early morning in order to ensure we made our next meeting on time. The senior manager and myself fell asleep in the car and when we woke up, we were in line for a car ferry! Besides the fact that the car ferry didn’t take credit and we had limited euros / francs, the ride was nice and refreshing and we were able to make our meeting on time. Few! That night we went to an authentic Swiss restaurant with the client and walked around the old town area before dinner. What a difference it makes walking around in January versus June. The streets had tables, it stayed light out after 9pm and there were lots of people out and about. While I do enjoy a good fondue I think I can only go for it about once a year… in winter. Also, for those of you who haven’t been to a true fondue restaurant outside of the melting pot, the smell of cheese in the restaurant is incredibly pungent. After our traditional restaurant experience we checked into the Renaissance in downtown Zurich. What a difference! There was a real concierge lounge, champagne upon check-in and a modern shower. The concierge lounge had a nice conference room style table from which my coworker and I could work. Also, the attendant working the concierge lounge was so nice as to provide us with wine even after the technical closing time. I personally think that the lounge should never close and that the US shovel lounges shouldn’t charge you a fee for “honor bar”. There have been many times where my coworkers and I have been kicked out because the lounge closes at 10 or 11 pm. I will definitely choose to stay at this hotel again. During my last night in Zurich we ate with my coworkers friends who live south west of the center of Zurich. They took us to a nice Italian restaurant close to their apartment where we ate with them and their 3 year old son. Although he doesn’t speak much English, he can interchange French and German. I can barely manage English yet this 3 year old is already a linguist!

After work the following day I flew to Lisboa on TAP Portugal air. Even though it was under a three hour flight, I received a sandwich and a glass of wine. It was my first time to Portugal and six months since I had seen my friend and ex-NY, now Houston, coworker. While she globe trots the world for her Houston client, she’s always willing to travel for a meet up. We settled on Lisbon since neither of us had been. The Sheraton Lisboa was nice but a little secluded in the financial district. Also the fishbowl of a bathroom was a little strange. Being our GenX selves we Yelped, Trip Advisored and FourSquared restaurants in the area before finally settling on Sabores com Fusao, along with booking a wine bar downtown for the following evening in Barrio Alto. The following day my friend had booked us on Yellow Cab TT tours first thing in the morning. Thank god she had done all the planning and research because I certainly didn’t have the time to look at anything. After a detour to a random cafe, we met our guide Fabio! (Of course his name was Fabio!) and off we went in our bright yellow range rover. There were two girls from Munich in our group along with an older hip couple from Madrid who didn’t speak English but we communicated just fine with anyway. They even showed us their bachata dance video on their cell phone. We spent the day seeing all their was to see in Sintra, Colares, and Cascais. We went to the Palacio de Pena, bought almond liquor, cheese, port spread, almond pastry, and egg custards. We went to the western most of part of Europe and looked out over the Atlantic toward the US at Cabo da Roca, and we even went to the beach in hell at Mar do inferno. We made it back to our hotel after 12 hours in time to pack our goodies and take the metro to BA Wine bar. After a vino filled evening with a glass of white, a glass of red, and a port, we closed the place down and were about to head back to the hotel when the waitress told us to go to Pensão Amor, a club and lounge down the street. When in Rome…. As we headed to the bar we realized a couple things, 1) we looked like some of the oldest people on the street, 2) everyone had a drink in their hands, 3) we had no idea how to actually get into the bar. Do we enter from the street we were on? Or down below? After a bit of debate and going up to one street and down to another, we were in! Each room and floor had a different theme and motif. The crowd was also less pretentious than in NY. People were dressed up and down. We even made friends with an Irishman who had his phone pinched during a bachelor party. I never would have guessed that Lisbon would be a popular bachelor party destination, but apparently the Prague scene is way over done and Lisbon is a new up and coming locál.

Unfortunately my flight back to the US left at 11:30am via Amsterdam and therefore I really only had one full day in Lisbon and with my friend. I wished I could have stayed longer, but on the first leg of my flight I sat next to a member of the Portuguese parliament! What are the odds? She was very nice and we even exchanged information. So now I must go back! Portugal 2015 anyone?


14 Oct

(This post is way overdue..but here goes)

Konnichiwa! Leaving Manila was pretty upsetting and sad. I made great friends and had a fabulous time exploring the culture and living like an expat. My mom even made the journey, and I had very little time to show her around metro Manila and no time to travel to some of the other Philippine islands. I scheduled us to take the same flights back to the US and therefore we would be flying back to JFK via Narita, Japan. Neither of us had been to Japan before, and the Yen is such that its no longer as outrageously expensive as its been in the past, so we opted for a three day stopover in Tokyo. Fortunately, I have amassed a large number of Marriott points which allowed me to book us into the Ritz Carlton Tokyo. De-planing in Narita was easy, but traveling from Narita to downtown Tokyo was almost a 2 hour bus ride on the “friendly” Airport express. The whole bus experience was extremely efficient. They tagged all of our checked luggage and gave us the ticket stubs. They dropped us off at the hotel entrance and matched the stubs to the bag tags. The Ritz reception is located on the 45th floor and our room was on floor 51. The one luxurious / slightly unsettling thing about hotel check-in in Asia, is they typically show you to your room and explain all the amenities. I say unsettling because the entire time I can’t stop thinking, “there’s a stranger in a my hotel room…if you touch me… I kill you”. Its a brilliant idea, especially if something is broken or is not to your satisfaction, but it still makes me a little nervous. In Tokyo, I Lee, escorted us and she had a degree from the Boston University, go figure! I Lee explained that on Saturday nights in the summer we can see fireworks from the giant picture window in our room. This hotel could seriously not get any better, and we were very excited. After showering and professing our love for the heated Japanese toilet with all its fancy buttons, we went to the lounge on the 53rd floor for a delicious spread and a happy hour cocktail. Attached to our hotel was the midtown tower, with shopping, restaurants and a park. Our first restaurant experience was at a small sushi bar with the freshest sushi I’ve ever tasted. The waitress could barely understand us, but somehow we got everything we ordered, from an electronic pin-pad.

The next day we went to the Meiji shrine, dedicated to the Emperor Meiji and his wife, Empress Shoken. Of course in advance of this visit we researched Japanese temple and shrine etiquette. But once we got to the main shrine there was a fellow tourist instructing her husband in exactly what to do. “Now wash your hands, no dip the scoop into the water and pour over your hands, now bow, now clap.” We felt bad for the poor guy and her sons, yet we couldn’t help following them to listen to her explicit directions. We were also able to witness a traditional wedding ceremony, which we hoped might happen. The poor wedding party in their traditional outfits and long suits in almost 32 C / 100 F degree weather! And like crazy people, we walked directly from the shrine in Shibuya to the Shibuya crossing and then to a beer garden, which was closed on Sunday. We were drenched, but getting that first glass of champagne at the Ritz lounge was definitely well earned. Going off the Tokyo blog, we made our way to Ebisu. There were three to four restaurants on the street we thought was mentioned in the blog, but neither of them had a name in English on the sign. We opted for the one mom chose, which turned out be an exclusively chicken restaurant, Momotaro. All of our food came out on skewers and was extremely tasty. I also tried the Shochu ( pronounced show-j-ewe)

On Monday we had booked an afternoon tour. After getting lost a couple times, and arguing over directions, we made it to the Intercontinental hotel for the pick up. Why they made us walk to the Intercontinental, when nobody actually staying at the hotel was taking the tour was annoying. It only got better from there…sarcastic tone included. We had one guy wearing a hat with a fish head coming out the front and an Angel’s baseball t-shirt, two very nice looking Indian families, two American guys (I thought it was a father and son but my mom seems to think otherwise), and another American family of six. The adults in the American family consisted of an older looking, hefty husband and wife, their daughter, and her husband who looked like he was probably in the military. Half way through our walk of the Shinjuku Gyoen National Gardens, I realize the daughter is smothering a roughly 4 week old infant in between her breasts and a toddler. Why on earth you would tote an infant in record heat, I mean people were dying, around Japan is beyond me. I’m not a mother, but I’m pretty sure there is no way in hell I would take a one month old on a 4 hour day tour. And not only did the mother ask if the park in the middle of downtown Tokyo was affected by the tsunami (I mean seriously?!) but then on our river boat ride the daughter changes the infant on the dining tables and then proceeds to breast feed. Not to mention that fish hat guy was late to the bus after the first stop and did not shut up the entire time about how all the Japanese women love it when he tells them they’re beautiful. I really couldn’t make this up if I tried. We really did see some great sites, Sensoji Temple that we wouldn’t have seen unless we were on the tour, but do not see them on the Grey Line tour.

As soon as we broke away from the crazies we began the frustrating adventure of trying to find the Shinjuku Washington Hotel and the restaurant Zauo. After more arguing over directions we finally found it. Why all that trouble for a restaurant? This wasn’t just any old Japanese restaurant where everyone just orders off the menu….boringgg. This restaurant gave us the option to catch our own fish and then select how we wanted it prepared. Half grilled/half sushied, all grilled, the choices were endless. We stood by the water with our poles waiting for any type of fish to bite. My mom thought it would be a good idea to swish the line back and forth in the water so the fish don’t realize the bait on the hook is dead. But nothing seemed to work until our waiter came by and gave us magical bait, which looked like steak. Mom caught a fish and our night was complete.

Going back to the airport was difficult. There was still so much to do and see and eat. The Delta Lounge in the Narita airport made life a little more bearable, Especially the amazing beer dispenser. After stocking up on green tea and cherry blossom kit kats, getting on that plane meant that my red hot south east Asian summer was officially over. All I can hope is that I’ll be back soon.

Ibiza day 1

1 Sep


This morning was a rough one. Fortunately we didn’t dock in Ibiza until 2pm and our excursion met at 230pm. One if the best parts of being on an Italian ship is the food. Brunch consisted of paella, prawns, grilled calamari and seafood salad. I might have gone a bit overboard with the seafood, but it’s certainly healthier than eating the pizza, pasta and hamburgers that are available 24/7.

The snorkeling excursion started with a bus ride to Tarida Playa, which seemed like a vacation resort. The security guard stopped a couple in our group and was asking them for their wrist bands until the snorkel guide stepped in. We were outfitted for our mask and fins and made our way to the beach. I somehow forgot that there are lots of topless women in Europe, (probably because I haven’t been here in the summer for quite some years).

The boat that brought us to the snorkeling spots was a little rubber power boat. For some reason I kept thinking that it would be brining us to a larger boat, but nope. We out to a couple random inlets and slid off the side off the boat. Although there weren’t many fish, the views and the coral were absolutely breathtaking. As was the looks James’ sunburn chest received from the other passengers. Luckily no new damage was done. 🙂

Mediterranean Cruise in April

19 Feb

Get ready one and all! I’ve finally booked my first real vacation of 2012. My close friends Veronica, Monika, Violetta and I, along with my close co-worker Kim, will embark on a Mediterranean cruise on the Norwegian Jade. We’ll be leaving from Barcelona, Spain stopping in, Messina, Sicily; Dubrovnik, Croatia; Split, Croatia; Koper, Slovenia; and ending in Venice, Italy. Stay tuned for more on our impending adventure!