The Maine Attraction

Ever since I took that trip with my mom to Punta Cana, I’ve been asking her to travel with me again.  Though I already have a great relationship with my parents, I especially value our time together as we all get older. To my surprise, she finally said yes! (Maybe because this was a domestic trip, for once? Haha.)

We flew into Portland on Thursday evening. She had never seen whales in real life and wanted to see them, so we opted for a cruise that next day. Of course, we had to get our first fresh lobster roll beforehand!

 

We got lucky and saw three fin whale, and a couple harbor seals! And, of course, the famous Portland Head Lighthouse.

 

Walking around Portland/Old Port: Portland Observatory, Eastern Promenade, East End Beach, Fish Point, Fort Allen Park, Lincoln Park, Wadsworth-Longfellow House, Bug Point, etc.

Our favorite spots to eat included: DiMillo’s on the water, Becky’s Diner, Portland Lobster Company, The Holy Donut, Gilbert’s Chowder House, and so many more.

The next day, we rented a car and drove to Acadia National Park.

Such a beautiful day! Highlights included: Eagle Lake, Sand Beach, Cadillac Mountain, Thunder Hole, among others.

We took a ferry to one of the many islands surrounding Portland the next day. We opted for Peaks Island and enjoyed blueberry soda while soaking up some rays. We didn’t know that wild blueberries grow naturally here- 44,000 acres, to be exact.

 

Coastal Maine is surely a sight for sore eyes, and there’s no other person I’d rather soak in that beauty with then my incredible mother. I know we’ll both cherish this time together in years to come.

 

Until next time,

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¡Viva México!

Remember a couple months back, when I was in Belize with some of the best people? You may recognize two of them in the photo below:

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When they asked if I wanted to come to Mexico with them, of course my answer was YES! Who wouldn’t want to ditch the winter weather for some fun in the sun? We stayed in Playa del Carmen.

I thought by the end of the trip, maybe I’d be sick of Mexican food. But to this day, I’m not over how delicious it was. My mouth is still watering!

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Not only was the food delicious, the company amazing, and the beaches beautiful, but our Airbnb was the bomb. Check out the view below of our rooftop pool:

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And some sights wandering around the city center:

Having a group of ten girls together might seem insane, but I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard in my life. Our bond was stronger than the tequila.

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Excuse my tired face- but here I am at the local market, fueling up with tamales before our long day!

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A view of the seven wonders of the world. Oh, and behind us is Chichén Itzá 😉

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After we left, we took a frigid dip in the Choj-Ha cenote outside Valladolid:

(Coolest thing ever. We called it being rebirthed by Mother Earth.) Never seen anything like it in my life.

 

On my last day in Mexico, I took the ferry to Cozumel! Salted margaritas, sunshine, sea water, sunrises, and side boob for the win.

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As you can see, this trip was paradise. I’ll leave you with these favorite words of wisdom from our Airbnb:

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Until next time,

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UnBelizeable

As 2017 drew to a close, I knew I wanted to take advantage of all my time off work for the holiday season.

My parents and I flew to Florida to spend Christmas with my brother, his wife, and their daughter. We visited Destin, Panama City Beach, and Pensacola, ate way too much, and truly enjoyed our time together as a family again.

It was a beautiful change from the snowy weather back north!

Shortly after, I flew solo to Belize City for one last international trip before the craziness of 2018 began.

Although Belize has a bad reputation and certain parts of Belize City are indeed VERY dangerous, (consistently ranking as one of the highest homicide rates in the world) I am so grateful that I did not let this hold me back from going.  I had a safe trip there and back, and made friends with other tourists and many locals. It was hard to not enjoy all the beauty the country had to offer. I stayed in San Pedro, and took the ferry back to Belize City where I met Carlos, who showed me the best parts of his country.  Here was my first full day- packed with lots of adventure:

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Visiting Altun Ha ruins.

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Ziplining through the jungle!

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Cave tubing 🙂

I would highly recommend those who are thrill seekers to check it out! And though I’ve explored caves before, I was pleasantly surprised by how different my perspective was with cave tubing.

That evening, some friends and I went to Wahoo’s Lounge for the world famous “Chicken Drop.” You guessed it- we bought tickets and watched as a chicken strutted around on the board, hoping that it would take a shit on our number. It was easily one of the most ridiculously interesting things I’ve ever experienced.

The next day I traveled to Caye Caulker, one of Belize’s most famous destinations, to relax and have some island fun. I couldn’t imagine being surrounded by these incredible views and calling this place my home. Would I ever get tired of it?

I spent the late afternoon at the Lazy Lizard enjoying a drink and jumping into the crystal water.

There is so much more I could say about this trip, from turtle talk to late night exploration, to the friendships I formed, but some things can’t be put into words. I’ll leave you with these highlights, until next time.

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One Happy Island, One Happy Girl

Bon bini! I took a mini vacation over the fourth of July holiday, because why not? Destination: Aruba. Scroll on to see “one happy island” for yourself!

Day One- I arrived in Aruba in the late evening of June 30th, so I saved my explorations for the next morning. I woke early, grabbed breakfast, and walked along Palm Beach and Eagle Beach, breathing in the fresh air.

With a cool breeze, white sand, and blue waters, it was hard to believe I was in such a beautiful place!

Later that afternoon, I climbed Hooiberg Lookout for a view of the entire island:

(Definitely want to bring lots of water with you for this one! Speaking of which, Aruba has the cleanest/most pure drinking water.)

Since I was only staying on the island for a short period of time, I was determined to see and do as much as possible. After the hike and exploring downtown, however, I was beat! I headed back to my hotel to relax with my newly arrived book, and watched boats come in to shore.

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Boat coming in at sunset.

Day Two- To see most of the island as possible, I booked a jeep tour. This covered most of the eastern side of the island, from the northernmost point all the way to Baby Beach. We also explored:

  • Bushiribana Gold Mills Ruins
  • Ayo Rock Formation
  • Hidden caves
  • Arikok National Park

My all-time favorite spots were the natural bridges and pools that we stopped at.

Natural bridge, above, and natural pools, below.

More sights: Alto Vista Chapel, a donkey befriending us, and the California Lighthouse.

After a long day, I needed to refuel. I love being close to the ocean, so I chose to have a delicious seafood dinner on the pier.

Day Three- Beach day! Soaked up the sun, chased lizards (which are everywhere!), and drank fresh fruit smoothies. And no, I can’t take credit for that sand sculpture.

On my last night, I was dazzled yet again at sunset:

The island of Aruba is small, but I was only just beginning to uncover the heart of it. I talked to as many locals as I could, learning about the language (Papiamento, but most Arubans can speak four or five languages), their lifestyle, and how tourism makes up the majority of their economy. The country may be a popular destination for couples and families, but I still enjoyed myself and was grateful to be able to relax and take in the beautiful sights.

Even before I got on my flight home, I knew I wanted to come visit again.

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The only good thing about leaving is this incredible view!

Catch ya on the flip side,

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Peru: Part I of II

First part of my South America journey! Enjoy ♥
DAY 1. Thursday July 14- *Travel Day*
Woke up at 4:45 am, caught the 6:15 am Greyhound bus to the Latrobe  airport, was the only one there for two hours before the counters even opened up.
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About to get on the Greyhound bus!

 From there, I flew to Fort Lauderdale, then to Lima, getting in around 9:45 pm. Saw the most amazing view above the clouds. It wasn’t very clear, you couldn’t see much, but all I knew is that it looked like the sun was slipping right over the end of the horizon, like we’d reached the edge of the earth. Beautiful. Shared an airport taxi to my hostel and fell fast asleep.


DAY 2. Friday July 15 *Miraflores & Lima*
 In the morning, I explored Miraflores. It was overcast and sprinkling a little, yet many were out running along the coast and the parks. I loved Parque del Amor (Love Park). It was adorable, and reminded me of Park Güell in Barcelona.
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Morning mist off the coast.

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Too bad there wasn’t any sun in Lima!

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Panoramic view of Parque del Amor. See the kissing statue in the back?

Later, I walked to Miraflores center, near Kennedy Park (a park with a ton of stray cats- over 100!).  Met a guy named Ben who was also doing a walking tour of Lima.  Our group took the bus into Lima and walked to Plaza de Armas, where we saw the changing of the guards.  During the tour, I also met Sydney, Samantha, and Justine, who were all from Canada and doing a trek. We began all walking together to the markets. We tried pisco sour (4 different cocktails- straight, with lime, with orange, and one coffee one).  After, we said goodbye to Ben and the four of us girls got ceviche and shared a pork dish and paella which was really delicious. Never thought I’d be saying this about fish, but ceviche is so refreshing!
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Tastes so much better than it looks, I promise.

We met two guys, Austin and Tommy, who are going sandboarding tomorrow also.
Ended up parting ways for the evening, and I walked to Larcomar (megacomplex shopping center) to get my PeruRail tickets, then returned to the hostel. I had to wake up very early for the bus for my full day of adventure!
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Larcomar.

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Ben & I.

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Every single shop had the same colorful patterns.

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Plaza de Armas.


DAY 3. Saturday July 16 *Paracas, Huacachina*
6 am, got on the PeruHop bus. Drove along the coast- where you could really see the poverty of the country. About four hours later, we arrived in Paracas (Ica) and boarded the boat to the Ballestas Islands. Saw sea lions, penguins, crabs, starfish, and a ton of birds.
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Just a bit windy on the boat!

 

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Can you spot the sea lions?

 From there, a short drive to Huacachina. Sandboarding was up next! It was SO COOL to be on the sand dunes. Words can’t express. We loaded up 9 people plus the driver in the buggy. Drove uphill, got out and got some pictures, then sprinted across the dunes. I was breathless! The boys were running and jumping off the edges.  Went up to the top of the dunes to board down- such an exhilarating experience! But it leaves you with sand on (and in) almost every part of your body.
 After a couple hills, we piled back into the buggy and went to watch the sunset.
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Never will I forget this.

 It was seriously the most perfect thing I’ve ever witnessed. You could see the oasis and the town of Huacachina and these huge mountains all around and just nothing but these beautiful massive sand dunes. We sat on top of the buggy listening to music and watching the sun sink below the horizon. After the sun went down, then came the wild ride. I can’t even tell you how fast we were going. The speed (and crazy driving) wasn’t the issue- the problem was my seat belt flew off! And when you’re going that fast  over these massive dunes and steep hills it’s basically like a roller coaster.  I was coming up off the seat and really close to either hitting my head off the top of the buggy or being ejected out from the side where I was sitting. Luckily the new friends I’d made grabbed on to me quickly, and we got the driver to stop so I could buckle back up. BUT THEN IT HAPPENED AGAIN. And yet again, they helped hold on to me and luckily when we stopped Tommy offered to switch seats with me which I gladly accepted. Despite that, with the adrenaline rush and views alone, I’d rate it 100/10. Got some more photos of this incredible oasis, and then headed back to Lima for the night.
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Huacachina from above.


DAY 4. Sunday July 17- *Cusco*
Today is where I feel like my journey truly begins. It’s the part of the trip I’m most worried about, doing Machu Picchu  and making sure I’ve coordinated things correctly, and also the altitude sickness especially.  I was up until 2 am getting my pack ready. My plan was to catch a flight from Lima to Cusco, then a collectivo (mini-bus) to Ollantaytambo, a smaller town outside of Cusco. I did this since Cusco is over 11,000 feet above sea level. Since I was on a shorter trip, I didn’t have time to give my body the chance to acclimate, so I wanted to get to shorter elevation ASAP to make it easier. Luckily, the altitude never ended up making me sick at all.
Unfortunately by the time I got off the plane and got my bag,  everyone was already gone. There was nobody to split a cab ride with. I knew to be smart enough to take taxis from inside the airport, because even though they were more expensive, they were safer. So I finally gave in. The man didn’t speak a lot of English, so we spoke in Spanish for the ride to Pavitos Street, where I’d get the collectivo to Ollantaytambo. At first we were having a fine conversation about food and drinks and sights to see in Cusco. Then he said I was beautiful. I said thanks and changed the subject. Started to feel weird.  He asked me if I wanted to go for a beer but I said no, I’ve got to go. Then he said again how beautiful I was and how much he liked me, right as he reached his hand back and slid it all the way up into my thighs and between my legs. Thankfully, we had just pulled up to Pavitos Street.  I quickly got out of the car and ran to the collectivo. I was in shock, but thankful that I removed myself from the situation and that it wasn’t much worse.
The ride to Ollantaytambo was beautiful from what I could stay awake for. We passed Urubamba and finally arrived at my hostel (Hostal Los Andenes).
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Coca tea on the patio to help with altitude.

The first thing you notice in Ollantaytambo is the massive ruin I’m sitting on in the picture below. I bought a tourist ticket for the ruins, and climbed up past the terraces of Pumatallis.
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Left a piece of my heart in this town.

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Which one of us is terrified?

From there, I set out to explore more of the Sacred Valley. With a group, we drove down miles and miles of a wandering dirty and dusty road. I was having a lot of trouble breathing because it filled the car. The road was very dangerous and narrow. At the top, we got out and looked below at the salt flats- the size alone was overwhelming. Here they are up close:
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Peru’s Salinas de Maras.

We walked down into them, it’s such an intricate system! They all flow into one another and are owned by families that live in Maras. I got to touch the water (it was warm!) and taste the salt. Next, we went to the Moray ruins. It is believed that all these different terraces, which vary in design and orientation to the sun, were used to measure the effects of climate conditions on crops.
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Rays of light over Moray.

After a long drive, we arrived back to Ollantaytambo, where I was ecstatic to find that the hot water worked! It was so heavenly because it was freezing out at this point. Wrapped in thick wool blankets, I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow.

DAY 5. Monday July 18- *Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes*
The next part of my journey was to take the train (PeruRail) to Aguas Calientes.This is the town that sits at the bottom of the valley of Machu Picchu. There are no roads into Aguas Calientes, you must either take the train or arrive on foot.
As my train wasn’t for another couple hours, I hiked the mountain on the other side of town and enjoyed fresh banana pancakes with maple syrup at Hearts Cafe. I don’t know if I’ve ever had anything better. It was the perfect morning dish. So good!
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About to board the PeruRail train. Next stop, Machu Picchu!

After about an hour and 45 minutes, I arrived!
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The town of Aguas Calientes.

 After a full day of hiking and that train ride, I was almost too exhausted to even eat dinner. I repacked my bag and checked to make sure I had everything I needed. I planned to get up early to hike Machu Picchu, and didn’t know what to expect. Just that it’d feel surreal to finally be there…
 Stay tuned for Machu Picchu, Copacabana, and Isla del Sol!
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