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Mykonos * Greece

Of course after the hustle and bustle of walking everywhere and seeing the sites of Athens we needed (we deserved) some down time to relax on a gorgeous Greek island – or two!

Since we were Greek virgins (how’s that going to pan out in Google search) we decided the top two islands we were going to check out on this trip would be Mykonos and Santorini. Mykonos is the party island, and Santorini was supposed to be absolutely gorgeous. And they both lived up to their name and more.

Our ferry from Athens to Mykonos was somewhat early and we were supposed to arrive at least an hour before it departed. I had researched the ferries on different sites and found a lot of people complaining that the ferry services were a bit of a shit show. So I was a bit concerned. But I can confirm that both ferries were just fine. I freaked out over nothing. Athens to Mykonos I believe it was BlueStar Ferry and Mykonos to Santorini it was SeaJets, or vice versa. They were both perfect. Easy boarding, comfy seats, food, tv, clean. NO PROBLEMS. Thank goodness.

Mykonos is VERY wiiiiiiiiiiiinnnndddyyyyyy. I didn’t know! Getting off the ferry we were almost swept away. I thought it was just the day but our driver said it was always quite windy in Mykonos. And speaking of having a driver – all of the hotels I booked in Greece offered a service to pick us up whether it was the airport or the port. But our Mykonos hotel is the only one that offered this service for free – including taking us back to the port on our departure day. That, for me, is great service. The hotel was lovely – The Mykonos Dove hotel. It’s directly on beach Platis Gialos and beach chairs are included (not the first three front rows), breakfast buffet is included and very yummy and lots of restaurants are close by.

Mykonos town is a quick 15 minute bus ride. For the most part I was very satisfied with Mykonos Dove. My only complaint would be when we checked in they gave us a welcome drink and we sat outside for over an hour before anyone would show us to our room or even tell us a timeline for when we could check in. We knew we were early but we would have happily just walked around a bit if we had known we would just be sitting there for an hour or more.

But finally we were shown are room. Cute, a little small but not too bad, it had a small balcony over looking the street. The hotel does offer rooms with a private small pool but we were good without one. We freshened up a bit and then needed some grub. That sea air was making us hungry. We wandered past some places – a small shop with a little bit of everything (we actually bought snorkels and face masks there later), some restaurants, some bars pumping out hip retro beats – and then we decided on Thea Restaurant. I’m not sure if you read my Athens blog post (see link in the first paragraph!) but our Greek eating theme was tzatziki. And this place did not disappoint. The stuffed mushrooms and calamari was so very excellent.

We had two entire days in Mykonos so this first day was a lounge by the beach and be a little lazy. It was exactly what the doctor ordered. The beach umbrellas had a outlet to charge your gadgets with solar power. I LOVED this. Nothing better than using natural resources to charge things. The sun was warm, the day was perfect and the water was … COLD. So very cold. But in the end, refreshing.

Next up, dinner at the hotel and then a night out in Mykonos Town. Since we were at the very end of the tourist season it wasn’t too bad. Crowds yes, but manageable. We wandered around. I loved the white and grey cobblestone looking streets. We stopped for a drink at Alley bar and then headed over to Caprice for a little dancing and then caught the bus back to the hotel. Easy peasy. Mykonos Town –

Jess’ New Year’s resolution was to snorkel. She had never snorkeled before so the next day was all about checking that off her list of things to do. We bought masks with snorkels and walked over to the next beach where we heard was good for snorkeling. It was about a 15 minute walk. We found a little place off towards the east side, caught some vitamin D and then waded in the water with snorkel and mask in tow. The water was clear, the fish were abundant and the sea floor dropped off about 15 feet to really get the experience.

That night was perfect with getting our fill of one last evening in Mykonos. A bit of people watching at the ritzy Scorpios restaurant and bar to see the magical sunset. There were some crazy people there! And it was super packed and SUPER expensive. It was by the beach we snorkeled at so we walked over again and then on the way back we stopped at Nikolas Tavern for some more delicious Greek grub. Check out more of the fabulousness of Mykonos in my pics and then we are off to Santorini!!!

favorite things · food · friends · greece · hotels · love love love · restaurant · touristy · travel

Athens, Greece

Bring out the stuffed grape leaves, the tzatziki, greek salads with huge chunks of feta cheese then throw in a lot of old buildings and monuments and there you have it – my first trip to Athens, Greece. It is now a proven fact that I can indeed eat those things every single day. Because that’s pretty much all I had during my week in Greece. Lather, Rinse, Repeat. And it was the best food I’ve had in months – I must have been a Greek Goddess in my earlier years because I can’t get enough of everything Greek.

We arrived late in the evening, there was only one flight out of Barcelona to Athens leaving at 6:30 p.m. so we arrived at the airport around 10:30 (3 hour direct flight plus one time difference). The hotel, Grecotel Pallas Athena, had reserved a driver for us at the airport and he whisked us to our boutique hotel, smack dab in the middle of Athens. The location is superb, the eclectic design is super fashionable and I never turn down a free breakfast, which was delicious as well. But as I said, we arrived late, thankfully there were still plenty of options for dinner for us to choose from. We wandered through the streets to the restaurant the front desk dude told us about and enjoyed our first views of Athens. Here are a few sights from that first night:

We found where we needed to get some food in our bellies and guess what we had? Tzatziki!! And a few other things. And there were two singers to help us get into the Greek feeling and welcome us to Athens. After dinner we walked back to the hotel and crashed. A full day was upon us in the morning!

First things first. Breakfast! Yes, tzatziki was involved. 🙂 Along with fresh fruit, a pastry with spinach, a very hot tea and lots of water. Only then were we ready to venture out to the glorious Acropolis in the sky. And I do mean in the sky! It’s high up on a hill. AND we walked! Very proud of ourselves. It wasn’t too difficult but the day was super hot and I only brought a small bottle of water. From the hotel it was about a 30 minute walk to the entrance. You need to buy tickets (I think they were 20 euro each) and there is a place before you enter to buy drinks – lemonade slushes, coffee, beer but NO water! And I can’t even tell you how many times I heard people ask for water and every single one was incredulous that water wasn’t sold. Even one lady said to the man, “You don’t have water!?”. “No, no water,” he answered. “No water?!”, she asked again. He replied, “Maybe if you ask me twenty times more there will miraculously be water.” Needless to say she left without ordering anything. I smirked and ordered a lemonade and strawberry slushy. But then the joke was on me – nobody can enter the Acropolis grounds with any food or drinks. Ha! But water is allowed …….

So Jess and I tried to down my slurpie as quickly as possible, resulting in about 28 brain freezes.

And we were in! There were TONS of people there. But it’s quite an expansive place so you can move around pretty easily, minus those first steps to get up to the top of the hill but once you’re there people spread out. But don’t think about getting any pictures with only you – well, it’s probably doable but difficult.

I was already impressed. First stop was the Theatre of Dionysus – which funny story. We looked out over the Theatre and Jess said that she thought it looked different. I shrugged my shoulders and said wouldn’t it be cool to see an opera here. I think they must do things there still because there were lights set up and speakers, etc.

We continued on … but it was still bothering Jess. She said again, I remember it differently. How, I asked. Well, it seems very open to fight lions and animals. OMG, I laughed so loud that I think I scared people around us. I said, I think you’re thinking of the Colosseum in Rome. 🙂 Ahhhh, good times. Let it be said Jess is a very smart woman! She’s a lawyer in Los Angeles but we all have our blonde moment from time to time.

It was amazing how old this place was, pottery sherds of the Neolithic period (4000/3500-3000 BC) and of the Early and Middle Bronze Age, show that the hill was inhabited from a very early period. Seriously, walking around where people lived in 4000 BC really blows my mind.

The Acropolis was dedicated primarily to its patron, the goddess Athena. It was Pericles in the fifth century BC who coordinated the construction of the site’s most important present remains including the Parthenon, the Erechtheion and the Temple of Athena Nike. There is a restoration project that has been going on for years so we saw scaffolding, cranes, etc. But with things that old they all need a little help from time to time (don’t we all?).

We spent about two hours touring the grounds and taking lots of pictures, just like everyone else. Here are my favorites.

Alright, enough with the old stuff. We needed a cold brewski to take a break in the day. From the Acropolis we could see a very well preserved temple that looked interesting to check out. So after our beer, stuffed grape leaves and ….tzatziki!!! Sorry, I’ll stop. Maybe. We searched around for the temple. Turns out it’s located in Agora with lots of other ruins, a church and a museum. So, when in Athens, go see the temples.

It was the Temple of Hephaestus that we were seeing. The Doric order temple was dedicated to Hephaestus (naturally), who was the son of Zeus and Hera, and a god of blacksmiths, metallurgy, and craftsmen. This temple has been incredibly well preserved so one can easily see the Doric trademarks. The columns are fluted, or grooved. Above the columns is a thick, horizontal element called the frieze. Doric friezes are decorated with alternating patterns of triglyphs and metopes.

The metopes are blank panels in between the triglyphs. Very often, Doric metopes were carved with reliefs of scenes from Greek mythology, and the Temple of Hephaestus is no exception. The friezes of this temple depict scenes of the twelve labors of Hercules, the battle and fall of Troy, and an unidentified battle scene. It’s possible that the metopes that were not carved were, at one point in time, painted. We do know that some art has been lost from this site; records indicate that bronze statues of Hephaestus and Athena Ergani once stood inside as well.

As I mentioned, this temple is located in the Agora which was a place for the citizens of ancient Athens to meet, bond and deliberate on the issues of the day. The Ancient Agora was a dynamic place, where the great thinkers Sophocles, Socrates, Protagoras, among others, would meet and where ordinary citizens could come and interact with their peers, voice their concerns, agree on solutions and courses of action.

Nowadays, it a peaceful place with shady trees, paths and cats among the ruins. We checked out the Byzantine Church of the Holy Apostles and the Stoa of Attalos. The stoa was another place to meet but also an ancient version of a mall, it had 42 shop spaces on the two levels. It was destroyed in 267 AD by invading Herulians. Its restoration took place between 1953 – 1956 by the American School of Classical Studies with the financial support of John D. Rockefeller, Jr.

I really enjoyed the Agro and check out the restaurant Heliaia close by the ticket entrance to the Agros. Yummy food! (see I didn’t say it) and a great view of the Acropolis while you enjoy your food and drink.

Some of my favorite pics from the Agros area.

After the Acropolis and Agros we were a bit pooped. We walked back to the hotel to shower and relax before dinner. I did a little research for dinner – I like to eat at nice restaurants and stay in nice hotels so I always do a bit of delving into the internet for the best places. And this time it also still had to be within walking distance. On our way to the restaurant we turned down this street and there was one cute restaurant or bar after another. And then there was the place I had chosen – Bandiera at Taki 19, Athens. They don’t have a website but the food and house wine was one of the best places we ate in Greece. We had the hot pepper and cheese dip, tzatziki 🙂 and a greek salad. YUM YUM YUM.

Now I’m googling good greek restaurants in Mallorca. Must have more greek food! After the fabulous dinner we stopped by A is for Athens and had a glass of wine at their rooftop bar. Nice place!

And there you have it folks – Athens, Greece. We had an early wake up call to catch our ferry to MYKONOS! Check the blog soon for my time in Mykonos and Santorini.

And our word for the week in Greek was thank you – Efcharistó!!!! xo -k

beach · beauty · birds · celebrity sighting · country · familia · friends · happy happy joy joy · hotels · love love love · paaaarty · travel

Love, Mexico

Long live the land of tequila, tacos and sombreros!

Mexico will always have a special place in my heart because of my grandparents. They had two trailer homes. One in Wisconsin and one in Texas and they would spend the summers in Wisconsin and the winters in Texas. Not a bad idea I always thought. Their home in Texas was in Brownsville, which is smack dab on the Mexico – US border. Many times we visited them we would go to Mexico. We would park and walk over a bridge to Matamoros, Mexico, the bridge was of course over the Rio Grande which separates the countries. There were always adorable, laughing and VERY tan children below on the bank yelling at us to throw money. I believe sometimes my grandpa would give me some coins to throw down to them. My grandpa knew where to go and we’d usually stop for lunch at one of his favorite haunts, where huevos rancheros, enchiladas and tacos were always part of our orders. And this was TRUE mexican food. No Taco Bell here, no siree. Much better than Chi-Chi’s, Taco Bueno, “insert mexican restaurant here”. I do miss my BoBo’s Cantina though – do you hear me Stillwater folks?! And then we’d wander around the marketplace. I bought too many maracas to count but my parents scored a fancy marble chessboard with marble chess pieces that has been well loved.

So I was really looking forward to the beautiful and sweet Amy marrying the talented chef Kary in ….. MEXICO! Flying into Cancun from Miami was a breeze (no pun intended). I ordered a Dos Equis from the steward and settled in my window seat glued to the scene below.

I booked Cancun Cheap Transfers to pick me up from the airport to take me to the hotel. They had already sent me a message they would be waiting for me by the Margaritaville stand just exiting the airport. And they were! I booked a private van so there were no other stops to get to the hotel as quickly as possible. It was $55 for a one-way private trip. And they were great! I used them on the way back too and the driver even carried my bags into the airport and helped me check in. I can highly recommend!

Hotel Occidental Xcaret Riviera Maya was where we all stayed. Upon arrival I was offered an ice cold beer while waiting to check in. It’s a very big resort and after check in someone walked me to my room where I had chocolate covered strawberries and a stocked mini bar waiting for me. The luggage guy arrived quickly so I could get settled in. I gulped down all of those strawberries in a matter of minutes and popped open a cold beer while unpacking and sending “where are you” messages to all my friends that were already there. One thing, you must pay for Wi-Fi. The price was about $45 for four days if I remember correctly, it is not included with the room.

Soon I met the fabulous Bess in the lobby and we grabbed a margarita before finding the others. The resort is all-inclusive so grabbing a drink or two or three is easy and you don’t need to worry about keeping track of how much you’ve spent! Or even how much you drink! 😉 We met most of the gang at the seafood restaurant – there are eleven restaurants to choose from and I enjoyed the Paco’s Tacos the best (pizza AND tacos), because you really can’t go wrong with either of those. But there is also a huge buffet restaurant with so many options of salads, fruit, breads, pasta, main courses, desserts …. more more more. And there you can wear what you want because some restaurants have a dress code. And breakfast every morning for me was the buffet by the lagoon. My morning view was this. Gorgeous, right?!

There are so many different and fun things to do at the resort and around the resort. At the resort itself are many swimming pools, a beach lagoon, a private adults only area with ocean access, many ruins around the grounds that you can even go into and I can’t believe it’s taken me so long to mention this but ANIMALS!!!! Iguanas are EVERYWHERE but there are monkeys (!!!!) which most people saw every morning on their balconies but my area didn’t have monkeys – because I was told there are snakes (!) there and monkeys don’t like snakes (well, me neither). I also saw this weird small pig animal, a deer(!), a huge ass scorpion, birds and of course fish fish fish. I apologize for all the exclamation marks but animals y’all!

And part of the resort is their Eco-archeological Xcaret Park. I didn’t do this because it was a bit expensive but everyone who had kids did go and enjoyed it. There is a lazy river (which I heard is not that lazy), swim with the dolphins, cultural attractions and more. Besides the park, people went to Cozumel, went snorkeling with whale sharks (they are huge!) and a day trip to visit Tulum. Of course, you can always just be really lazy and relax with a rum runner on the beach.

Then it was wedding day!!! Yippee!!! It was pretty chill to start with and we hung out around the lagoon. Some of us got up early to save the big beach lounge beds and some lounge chairs down by the water. We soaked up the sun and worked on the song list and had a Rum Runner or two and then it was time for the nuptials. It was perfect, between the ocean and one of the bigger ruins on the grounds. The ceremony was simple and beautiful – that must make it simply beautiful. Then off for an hour reception to have a snack, a cocktail, take some photos, sign the wedding book and watch the bride seriously think about shoving a handful of cake in her husband’s mouth. A very lovely evening with many people I have known for most of my life and getting to see and meet their children. A time never to be forgotten with many lovely and funny memories made. Let the tears commence!

There was even a full moon that night.

Congratulations you love birds! So happy for you. xxoo -k

WUV. Twue wuv.

country · drinkin' · earth · familia · friends · hotels · oooooooklahoma where the wind.... · osu · paaaarty · restaurant · Road Trip · touristy · travel · usa · weird · wine · wisconsin

Midwest USA Trippin

Hello? Is this thing on?

I’ve been doing some major road trippin’ in the USA – visiting friends in Oklahoma, meeting up with my parents for a road trip to Wisconsin where I hung out in Madison, attended a wedding in upstate Wisconsin and then another wedding where my Mom grew up, small town Manawa, WI, then hit Grand Rapids, MI. And naturally, hung out with LOTS of relatives. Ahhhh, it was all good. It’s actually amazing how things can change so much in so little time – in both good and bad ways.

Let’s start with Oklahoma, shall we? Flew into green (!!!) and blazing hot Oklahoma via Will Rogers Airport in OKC.

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The lovely Amy W picked me up and we were off to Stillwater – home of Pistol Pete, Oklahoma State University and where I have a zillion fantastical memories of growing up. We were getting the gang together. These are my OK girls that I’ve known since I moved to Stillwater at the age of 10. We’ve been through a lot – roomies, yelling at strangers, proms, drinking, smoking, car accidents, marriages, divorces, singing at the top of our lungs, dancing, deaths, sickness, skylab fallouts, the tumbleweed, the strip, babies, time capsules, cars, coloring hair red black grey blonde pretty much any color and I could go on and on but I think you get the idea. These girls and I understand each other so well that it only takes a look to get a meaning across and we have so many stories that nobody will ever know about but us. It’s true love, y’all. And I got tears in my eyes posting this picture below. XXOOOOOO

Loos and moms

The weekend was filled with HEAT, drinks, laughter, QUESO!, lots of tears and just a bonding again that we really needed. It was emotionally exhausting but this time together was so important for us all. We celebrated a life, we celebrated an engagement, we celebrated us. It was another Loo meet-up for the books.

Where to hit in Stillwater? Well, it had been a good while since I was last there and Stillwater has grown a lot. Of course, there is always Eskimo Joe’s for burgers and beer, Mexico Joe’s for well, mexican. Don’t forget to hit the strip for Coney Island (now I’m craving about 10 of their hotdogs) and the strip has fun bars and shops to check out too. Walk around the beautiful campus of Oklahoma State (wave at my awesome Zeta Tau Alpha sorority house across from Theta Pond) and if you’re there during school time try to catch a football or basketball game.

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Next up, road trip with Mom and Dad. I do a lot of these with my parents and I cherish each one immensely, no matter how minute. They drove into OKC from Phoenix and I stayed one more night with Amy, I needed my Amy time!!

It took us two days to get to Madison, WI. (You can check out my post about Madison, WI HERE) Where I enjoyed the peculiar items at the road side gas stations (pickled bologna anyone?) plus the sites along the way. I got to see the St. Louis Arch! And yes, my parents are one of those rare souls who still own a road atlas. I love looking through it. 🙂

 

We stopped one night in the hometown of Abraham Lincoln –  Springfield, Illinois. And had a delicious dinner at the Chesapeake Seafood House. They serve yummy seafood, steaks and a raw bar in a mansion from the 1800s.

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Off to the small town of Manawa, WI, where some of my aunts, uncles and cousins live. My Uncle David lives on the farm where my mom grew up, it hasn’t changed too much but more wildlife have returned lately. YAY!! I love to hear that. We saw these two bald eagles fighting over a catch of something (hopefully not a cat which my aunt said an eagle caught last year). And I was gonna go for a run but heard there was a bear prowling around so I decided to nix that. Wisconsin is such a pretty state, with lakes, sprawling farms and dark forests as far as the eye can see. I feel back at home whenever I’m there. Oh, and of course I needed to try out the tractor. Yep, lil me drove that.

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Now we go to North Wisconsin to Eagle River. I’d never been to Eagle River before, it was niiiiice. It’s a chain of 28 lakes, the largest freshwater chain in the world! Yo. ANOTHER aunt and uncle of mine (my mom has 5 siblings) just bought a lake house on Cranberry Lake and it was lovely to just chill there and be one with nature. Plus my gorgeous cousin got married there and the wedding and reception was beautiful and so much fun. Whenever I get together with my cousins we revert back to age five and just find each other hilarious. Beautiful spot for a wedding, no?

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After the wedding I tried to relax and enjoy the peacefulness. Okay, so you do have boaters driving by but their house was set a bit back so it was quite calm. Of course we had to ride in their pontoon boat around the Lakes and one of the near neighbors owns the house that was used for the horror movie Damien II: The Omen. I was taking pictures of the boat ride and my picture of that house was UPSIDE DOWN. Freaky. Check it out. So. Weird.

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Isn’t that FREAKY?!?! I swear I didn’t flip it. And all my other pics that I took within minutes even seconds of that one are normal.

And somehow the stars aligned because I got to meet up with Jeannie in Grand Rapids, MI. – another American city that I’d never been to before. We stayed in the downtown area in two different hotels because one we needed to expense (the cheaper one) and one for fun. The JW Marriot was the one for fun. It’s on the river, has beautiful views, the room was clean and spacious and the steam rooms are free and lovely. The other was CityFlatsHotel and it was smack dab in the center. We could walk around to many bars, restaurants and shops. It’s a bit funkier with a big room but not as many nice amenities as the JW Marriot. I enjoyed them both.

My restaurant recommendations for Grand Rapids – Sunday night it was late and the only place near the hotel and open was the SpeakEZ Lounge. We walked there (bravely, I would say), the outside was a bit sketchy but we opened the doors to lots of people, a jazz band and a place in the back for us to sit. The food was good and I love a live band. HopCat is your typical American bar. They have TONS of beers and ciders on tap – Squishy cider was my fav (Squishy is a semi-sweet Fruit Cider fermented with Michigan apples, tart cherries, and English Cider yeast). For a breakfast/brunch place I can highly recommend Anna’s House. With an already extensive menu they have many gluten free, dairy free, vegetarian and vegan options. The waffles with strawberries and the breakfast sandwich were soooo delicious and we got to-go cups for our coffees when we left. Two huge thumbs up. Jeannie even went back the next day before she flew back to NYC!

 

And for a bit more classy experience, try Reserve Wine & Bar. We ordered a brand old fashioned to start (it was the cocktail theme for my time in the states if you hadn’t noticed and they are the BEST in Wisconsin) and then we each ordered a flight of wine. Later we decided to share a charcuterie board of cheese and meat – really yummy. A bit on the pricey side but I feel it was worth the money. Also there is a fun bathroom downstairs with a big mirror for fun selfies. If you ask really nicely I can send a video of a head growing out of my shoulder. Ahhh, yes, my time with Jeannie is always a blast and always too short, 36 hours was not enough with her. But I will take any amount I can get. I love that girl to the ends of the earth.

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And that was it. Trip was over (insert major sad face). A lot of brandy old-fashioned sweets consumed, time with relatives, friends were had and enjoyed and I flew back home to Mallorca. I hope you enjoyed the post with lots of good recommendations. Maybe they aren’t always in the fanciest of locations but sometimes one must venture away from the busy lights and hustle bustle of those.

Until next time, y’all. Cheers!

 

 

england · familia · flying · food · friends · hotels · i loooooove advertising! · london · love love love · restaurant · touristy · travel

A hotel, a restaurant and an airline

I have three, no wait, FOUR, fantastic recommendations for you. I went to London the other weekend (no, not for the wedding, my invite must have been lost by the Spanish Post) and thoroughly enjoyed my hotel, found a great restaurant and a free product from the hotel which I recently ordered a larger bottle of their fabulous pillow spray.

Let’s start with the airline since I needed one of those to get to London in the first place. This was my first experience with Easy Jet and I was happily surprised at how smooth the transaction was with everything. I thought I had paid for my small suitcase to be carry-on but when I got to the gate she put a tag on it for me to check it when I boarded. In the end the plane wasn’t that busy so I was able to just keep it with me. With the return I did check it in London Gatwick and it was a super easy, do-it-yourself process. Plus the flight was pretty inexpensive and the flight attendants were some of the nicest I’ve experienced in quite awhile. Thanks Easy Jet! I will be a return customer.

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Okay, what do you want to hear about next? How about the hotel. I met Jeannie at the Andaz London Liverpool Street hotel. There wasn’t a single thing I can complain about. The staff was delightful, the hotel was modern and hip, the room was spacious and clean. It’s a 5 star boutique hotel located in the heart of bustling East London, just next to the Liverpool Tube Station. We used the Central and Circle Line for getting around and getting back but it also connects with the Hammersmith and the Metropolitan. Perfect for traveling cheap!

The rooms have free Wi-Fi, a free (non-alcoholic) daily stocked minibar and we were welcomed with a lovely bottle of Prosecco in the room when we checked in. And in the room they also had a free sample of REN & Now To Sleep Pillow Spray. It’s a soothing natural perfume, blending floral notes of lavender with deeply restful Frankincense, to relax both the body and mind. I loved it so much I just bought two larger bottles for my bedtime routine. I’ve been sleeping like a baby.

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You also have free access to the Health Club, where we really enjoyed the steam room. And the free apples for after you have sweated everything out. The last night we were a bit tired and decided to try their sushi restaurant. Try the saki sampler!

But the best thing and maybe it’s just me but the hotel serves complimentary (that means FREE to me) wine and canapes (one night it was small sushi rolls and the other some bread with paté) from 6 – 9 pm. It was lovely to come back from a long day of sightseeing and relax in the lounge area with a snack and a glass of wine. Or two. 🙂 FOR FREE Y’ALL.

And now what I know you’ve been waiting for – FOOD. The restaurant. It was fabulous. If you love Indian food you must go. Dishoom in Shoreditch (they also have a few more locations around London) was where I had the best Indian food of my life. It’s a big restaurant and they only take reservations for parties more than 6. So arrive a little early, put your name on the list and head over to the bar for a tipple or two while you wait for your table. I highly recommend the whiskey sour.

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Jeannie doesn’t eat foods with gluten and they had a large variety of items that she could eat. So feel free to eat your heart out. We shared the Crunchy Pomelo salad (with fresh kale, pink pomelo, pistachios, mint and coriander) and the okra fries (not gluten-free but Jeannie had a few). I haven’t had okra since my Oklahoma days! For the main dish I had the lamb Sheekh Kabab and Jeannie had the Chicken Tikki. It did not disappoint. They are also open for breakfast and the menu and teas look totes amazeballs. Just go already.

And I actually have one more rec for you. The good stuff just keeps on coming! If you do go to the Dishoom Shoreditch locatation and you feel like going out and dancing a bit, stop by Momento Lounge bar for some drinks and good tunes from the live DJ.

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And there you have it. Great times are made even greater with a good hotel, good food and good experiences.

But nothing compares to GREAT FRIENDS. And when you have this kind of happiness and fun together, it doesn’t really matter where you stay or what you eat.

Happy weekend y’all!!

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arizona · art · hotels · she's crafty · shopping · travel · usa

Ghost Town in Jerome ~AZ

I ain’t scared of no ghosts.

Jerome, AZ is touted as the “Largest Ghost Town in America”, as well as “America’s Most Vertical City”, sitting at more than 5,000 ft above sea level. It started as a copper mining camp and by the 1920s it was home to more than 10,000 people. Jerome’s personality has changed a lot from once a thriving mining camp between the late-1880s and early 1950s, the town is now a bustling tourist magnet and artistic community with a population of about 450. But its external appearances have remained much the same for the last 100 years.

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My parents and I decided to make a day of it. Jerome is about 100 miles north of Phoenix on state route 89A between Sedona and Prescott. Mom gave me the job of finding a cute place to stop on the way up for brunch. And I think I succeeded supremely. If you are looking for a super good place for breakfast or lunch food then try out Nora Jean’s coffee kitchen in Black Canyon City, AZ. I was extremely jealous of Mom’s patty melt with grilled veggies, Dad had a Reuben with homemade potato salad and I had a breakfast sandwich of egg and bacon on an English muffin. They had fresh, iced, green and peach tea, my newest favorite discovery of cold brew coffee and the lemon bars looked amazeballs.

Alright, bellies are full, we are decently caffeinated and ready for our adventure in Jerome. Did I mention it was a ghost town? I have a bit of an obsession with ghosts. I am believer, and a belieber. Hahaha. Ok, seriously. Let’s find some ghosts.

First stop was the Jerome State Historic Park. The Historic Park is located in the Douglas Mansion and boasts tons of artifacts and history of the town. Don’t miss the 20 minute video, which takes you through the history and development of Jerome – funny ghost narrator dude too.

Speaking of ghosts, when I checked my phone later I had 144 blast photos while I was in the Mansion. This blast photo thing happened on a ghost tour in New Orleans too. Kinda weird, right?

The outside of the mansion is gorgeous with lots of mining parts scattered around the area.

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I thought this model of the town with the mining shafts, faults, etc was pretty cool.

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Next to the Historic Park is the Audrey Mine Shaft. It is inoperable now but you can go check it out and even stand over the void of the 1,900 ft shaft!! No worries guys, there is a thick plate of glass and a metal crate to keep you from falling in. Thank goodness!

The Audrey was the center unit of the main United Verde Extension mine shaft. It was concrete-lined for fire prevention and was state-of-art for its day. The Audrey (I love how they call their mines THE Audrey, THE Edith … can there be THE Kim?) was the main ore hauling shaft. During the prime of its time, it would haul one up to the 1,100 ft level, the ore would then be dumped into a chute cut into the rock where the ore was loaded at the 1,300 ft level into carts which were pulled through a tunnel by an electronically driven engine for transport to the Clemenceau smelter in Cottonwood, AZ.

It’s truly fascinating what they did back in the day. Here is the Audrey.

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And just to give you an idea just how deep 1900 ft is!

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Isn’t she a beaut??

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After the Historic Park where a ghost took over my phone for a bit, and I stood over a 1,900 ft shaft, we moved onto the main drag of Jerome. It isn’t too hard to find, just keep heading up and when you hit all the art galleries, a few restaurants and a few hotels; you are there. Now it’s REALLY time to find some ghosts.

First stop is the Jerome Grand Hotel. This hotel on Cleopatra Hill used to be the United Verde Hospital opened in 1927 where sick and injured miners were treated. The hospital closed in 1950 and sat vacant for 46 years. The building had a reputation for being haunted with ghostly sounds of moaning and coughing. Plus a man named Claude Harvey was killed when he was caught under the elevator in 1935. Super scary.

At the Jerome Grand Hotel keep a lookout for a bearded man who wanders the halls, a young boy who likes to run around on the third floor, sounds and lights around the elevator thanks to Harvey and supposedly the hotel lobby is a place the spirits like to hang around and play tricks. Alas, we had a drink in the upstairs bar but did not see any strange people or occurrences. Great views from up there though!

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Next, we parked by all the shops and wandered around. It was Saturday evening and it was Art Night! Sweet, they had free drinks and snacks at every art gallery. And there are plenty of them: lots of great paintings, jewelry and a few oddities.

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You can stop by Mile High Inn which became home of one of the most famous ladies of the night during the 1900s. She was Madam Jennie Banters (reportedly one of the richest women in northern Arizona) and the inn became her popular bordello; Jennie and her ladies entertained many men during the mining boom in Jerome. She can be seen upstairs usually in the “Lariat and Lace” room. But there is also the phantom cat where guests stoop to pet the cat but then it suddenly vanishes. We stopped by the Mile High Grill (the restaurant below the inn) where I inquired about the cat. I was looked at like I had three heads and then I explained, “you know, the ghost cat”. “Ahhh, haven’t seen it in awhile but if you did it would be upstairs and not here,” she answered. Boo hoo and one isn’t allowed at the inn unless you have a hotel reservation.

We moved on.

In between more art galleries – more glasses of champagne and crackers with slices of cheese and pretzels and sometimes a little sandwich and one time shrimp with cocktail sauce; we walked around the tiny downtown and then ran into another of Jerome’s haunted places, the Connor Hotel. Rumor has it, the spirits come and go here.

But the rooms are haunted. Room 1 is said to be haunted by a lady in red and her friends. You may hear women whispering and laughing or she possibly comes to see you in your dreams. Scary! In room 5 people say they feel cold spots and the appliances like to go off by themselves. Reminds me of my freshmen year dorm room, my clock could “talk” and one time just went off and told us the time without us pushing the button. THAT dorm was defo haunted!

That’s it y’all. Jerome was so much fun even if I never experienced a ghost encounter. I’ll leave you with my pic of the Connor Hotel. Do you see anything strange in the windows??  OOOoooooooooOOOOOO

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hotels · menorca · spain · travel

Torralbenc Hotel ~ Menorca

You guys, you must go to this hotel in Menorca. In case you don’t know, Menorca is Mallorca’s little sister. A smaller island just northeast of Mallorca.

Torralbenc Hotel. SO NICE. Enjoy the chic whitewashed farmhouse buildings surrounded by grass plains and rosemary. It’s so peaceful and was the perfect place for Felix and me to celebrate our 14th (!) anniversary. We took the ferry from Mallorca to Menorca with our car. It was so simple and fun.

The 19th-century homestead has been reinvented by Antonio Esteva, who’s usually found designing luxurious private villas. And this one has it all. Modern minimalist rooms and suites have all white everything, parquet floors, balconies, some have private pools, and all the modern conveniences. And get this – breakfast is included, but not just that, you can have it delivered to your room and they set it up on your terrace for you. Seriously, stop. You had me at breakfast delivered to your terrace. And check it out.

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Yeah, all that can be yours.

We ate the two nights at the hotel restaurant – great food! Next time we might venture out to a restaurant nearby. During the days we hung out at the long, rectangular, seawater pool, got a massage at their spa and drank some Menorcan beer. You have sea view but the beach is about 3 km away. Torralbenc has bikes to borrow so you could bike to Cala en Porter if you feel like beaching it up. How about this view:

img_4596Pretty hot, right? And the view to the sea ain’t bad either. 😉

If you want more info about Menorca, you can look at Menorca Part UNO and Menorca Part DOS.

A few more pictures of the place. Go and enjoy it as soon as you can. I know I will be back soon too. See you there!

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beauty · hotels · love love love · marrakesh · morocco · travel

Riad Dar Darma ~ Marrakech

For some reason time has really, REALLY gotten away from me. I went to Marrakech, Morocco last year and I have been wanting to write about my experiences but … time. You know. So, here we are! Let’s talk about Marrakech/Marrakesh. However you are wanting to write it or pronounce it for that matter. My next few posts will be dedicated to my travels there.

I would like my first post to be about the fantastic and gorgeous riad that Perla 🙂 and I stayed at during our trip. A riad is a traditional Moroccan house or palace with an interior garden or courtyard. The word riad comes from the Arabian term for garden, “ryad”. The ancient Roman city of Volubilis provides a reference for the beginnings of riad architecture during the rule of the Idrisid Dynasty.

Our riad was Riad Dar Darma and it was so lovely. From the staff, to our room, the hospitality, the exquisiteness of the place – it became our home away from home. This was my first time in Morocco and I chose Marrakech because I had heard so many wonderful things about it. While I enjoyed it, it could often be a bit overwhelming in many situations. These I will speak to in my next blog. But Dar Darma was always a place we could come back to and relax. There were no worries here, everything was beautiful and calm. If we had questions, they would help us with the answer. If we wanted a book a reservation, they did it – and beyond!

We stayed in the Black Patio suite. It was three rooms – a sitting area with two chaise lounge chairs, a large mirror and a TV (which I don’t think we turned on even once), a bedroom was two poster beds that could be separated, a large armoire and two nightstands and a bathroom with a large marble tub and two sinks. This room overlooked a shady patio. For me, it was perfect. Here are a few pics from the room.

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I’m not sure my pictures do it justice but the room was just what I was wanting. And the staff was over-the-top helpful. Pretty much, whatever you want or need help with, they will do it. Perls and I weren’t too demanding, pretty much a bottle of wine and that was it. And you know at most hotels you have set breakfast hours, which I understand but how nice was it to hear “When you get up, come upstairs to the terrace for breakfast.” And I said, what if we get up at 11? Then come upstairs then. And at 12, I asked. Then come upstairs then! I could have kissed them. I get to sleep until I want and still get my breakfast! And breakfast was delicious. Fresh fruit, fresh orange juice, a hot pot of coffee and fresh breads, crepes with jam and butter. Heaven!

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We never had dinner at the riad but next time I will make sure I do. Their meals are all made using fresh ingredients and traditional Moroccan and international recipes.The classic dishes include: harira soup, meat or vegetable tajines, couscous, lemon chicken, freshly baked cakes, and fruit desserts.

They also have cooking classes with their cook Maria who can let you into the secrets of Moroccan recipes.

The terraces are so relaxing with lots of pillows and breathtaking views of the Koutoubia Mosque and the Atlas Mountains. They also have a hammam for you to use at your leisure.

The Dar Darma was a place that I truly needed for this first time experience in Marrakech. With a new and different and sometimes frustrating world that was the streets of Marrakech, Dar Darma was a comforting place to come back to. I so appreciated the happy faces and the courtesy and helpfulness I received there. I will definitely be back one day. Thank you Dar Darma! MWUAH.

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