Posts in Travels
Cartagena Travel Guide

For the past four years we’ve been dating (wow, four already?), Austin and I have gone on at least one trip abroad each year.

We love traveling and it’s something I hope to always make a priority. This year, we ventured to Cartagena, Colombia. It’s been on the travel bucket list for a while now and I could not wait to finally plan our baecation to South America.

There’s so much to say about this city but I’ll do my best to put it all in one blog post. We stayed at two different Air Bnbs during our week-long trip. We crammed in as much as we could while still having time to relax, read, nap (for grandpa Austin), etc.

And now, for the spicy recs!

Food/Coffee:

La Taperia - I smile just thinking about how cute and yummy and fun it was. We went about three or four times during our stay. An older couple owns this tiny tapas restaurant and neither of them speak any English. We all know I had to carry us through this trip since Austin’s Spanish is SUBPAR (love you, babe), but we managed to order the necessities each time. OK, we mainly just came back for the sangria but they were the sweetest couple and the food was quality, too.

Cafe de La Mañana - This is such a great spot for breakfast and it’s extremely affordable. We both ordered avo toast, eggs, coffee and orange juice and left paying less than $15 USD. Wild.

Sushi Masaki - Sushi pizza with crispy rice. Enough said.

Pezetarian - Calling all rice bowl lovers! They serve sushi, salad, ceviche and more but we went with their popular rice bowls, which were fresh as hell. They also have a great responsible food policy along with vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options. Fantastico.

Maria - Please note: locals do not eat dinner early in Cartagena. Many restaurants don’t even open until about 7 p.m. so when arrived here as soon as it opened, we had the place to ourselves until normal people started showing up. It’s a bit fancier/pricier but the food was delicious.

La Cevicheria - We had to stop here for Anthony Bourdain (RIP) and because it was right down the street from our Air Bnb. Overall, not bad but not the best ceviche I’ve ever had.  

Juan del Mar - Seafood on the inside, Italian on the outside. Doesn’t get much better than that. We opted for Italian, AKA pizza, so we were seated in the outside portion but the inside of this place looks amazing. Think hanging foliage and open ceilings. It’s a good option for a quick, casual dinner.

Beiyu - We ventured here for breakfast one morning, located in the neighborhood of Getsemani. It’s super quaint but the menu is pages long - you’ll find everything from açaí bowls to wraps.

Bohemia - This is a STUNNING restaurant located inside a restored house dating back centuries. I loved the food, vibe and staff. 10/10 would recommend.

Epoca Espresso Bar - We got this recommendation from a friend and she did us good because this was another place we frequented throughout the trip. So. much. coffee. Any way you could want it. They also have a pretty extensive food menu and everything we ordered was on point.

Abaco Libros y Cafe - This small cafe is surrounded by a library of books. The coffee is OK, but it makes for a cute photo opp.

Other Activities:

Free Walking Tour (Plaza Santa Teresa): There are various tours but we did the “yellow umbrella” tour. We booked it online and our tour guide took us through the old city as he explained some of the most important history.

Movich Hotel: If you’re looking for a rooftop pool, this is your spot. I’m talking AHHH-mazing views. But make sure you ask the front desk if the pool is open for swimming to the public. They only open it for non-hotel guests on certain days.

Shopping: My favorite store was St. Dom; I was drooling over the clothes, shoes and jewelry that I couldn’t afford. But even the smaller gift shops have the cutest bags and trinkets.

Palenqueras: Say hello to one of the biggest Colombian icons. During our walking tour, we learned the true meaning behind these beautiful ladies and how they came to be a national staple. Palenque is a small village outside the city which used to be ruled entirely by runaway African slaves: Palenqueros and Palenqueras. In the 1600’s, the women began walking by foot into the city every day to sell fruit from hand-woven baskets. Now, they make their money from tourists wanting to pose for the Gram. They are much more than women in pretty dresses - they represent resistance, courage and Afro-Caribbean heritage as direct descendants of the world's first free slaves.

Bazurto Market Tour - If you’re looking for a truly local experience, take a tour of Bazurto. We booked this through Insider Tours benefitting FEM, a nonprofit org. We had two guides, one who spoke Spanish and one English. Our translator was the most down-to-earth student who immersed us in the local ways, from experiencing natural herbs to Champeta music and finishing us off with lunch made by chef Cecilia herself (another Bourdain spot). Be sure to try Plátanos en Tentación, a dish of plantains boiled in their local red soda.

Alquimico - Austin and I stopped off at this rooftop bar after dinner one night. We met the COOLEST bartenders (shoutout Arleis!! If you’re reading this ily) and had the best time getting lit off cocktails and chatting about life.

I could go on and on but chances are, only a select few actually made it this far. If you’re one of them, you is kind, you is smart, you is important. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions. ¡Viva Cartagena!

Birthday in NYC

If you know me, you know that my favorite city on earth is London. Not much can top it. But a close second would have to be New York. So, when Austin told me we were going for my birthday (OK I kinda begged) I was SO PUMPED!!

Luckily, my birthday falls around MDW so it’s a perfect excuse to take a long weekend trip. New York’s weather has been all over the place lately so I had to pack strategically. Sure enough, we had a combo of scorching hot sun and chilly, rainy weather over a span of four days. I must admit I don’t alllllways pack accordingly but here’s a breakdown of what I brought, and it all worked out.

new york.jpg

From rooftop chillin’ to twerking at work out class, I had the best trip. We arrived late Thursday night and started the trip with brunch Friday in Harlem. This year, we participated in Fleet Week festivities and toured one of the military ships on Pier 90, Intrepid. Neither of us had ever experienced Fleet Week and we got to chat with marines, learning about different weapons, bomb suits and touring the massive ships that protect our peeps.

That evening, we had dinner at Ruby’s - I ordered the pesto pasta and ate every last noodle. Friday night was LIT. We danced the night away at Hotel Chantelle and ended up in bed at a casual 4:30 a.m.

I’ve never seen Austin more hungover than he was on Saturday. Poor guy showed out for my bday party. :)  We recovered, or attempted to, at Gilligan’s at Soho Grand. The atmosphere is euphoric and filled with all the greenery and string lights. BUT the food isn’t anything to write home about. From there, the boys wanted to watch some soccer game (what’s new) so Dana and I started our own party #2 at Azul rooftop. This place was so much fun and the views of the Hudson spectacular. Gah, and that sunset. So good. I had an early night after eating an entire Margherita pizza on my own, slept for a solid 12 hours and woke up ready to shop on Sunday.

Soho is our favorite area to shop in New York and once I stepped foot in the Zara on Broadway, it was over for my bank account. RIP baby. They have some amazing stuff right now so get it while you can. We were all partied out by this point so decided to go see Solo at the AMC in Times Square. I’m not a Star Wars gal but thought it was pretty good!

Monday was our last day and I ended it at 305 Fitness with my girl Dana. She’d done the cardio dance class before and I could not wait to go. It’s a combo of hip hop and dance cardio, conditioning exercises and high intensity interval training (HIIT). YAS. Our instructor Jimmy was FAB and he definitely brought the sauce. I wish they’d open one in CLT.

My 27th was one for the books and even though I’m sad about how close to 30 I’m getting, I have a feeling this is going to be one of the best years yet!

 
 
Grand Canyon in One Day

I flew out to Las Vegas for a four-day getaway and visiting the Grand Canyon was on our list of activities.

The Grand Canyon has always been on my bucket list so naturally, I was pumped. However, none of my family has ever been so we had to do a lot of our own research as far as what to do, where to go, etc. So I wanted to dedicate this post to my Grand Canyon first-timers. 

We arrived in Vegas and spent the first day on the strip, rode the High Roller (open bar option of course) and went to a Cirque de Soleil show. The performers are nothing short of amazing. If you've seen Knocked Up, we went to the same show Ben and Pete see when they're on shrooms LOL (added a link for reference).

The next day, we started our trek to the canyon. Lesson #1: You won't have time to see both the West Rim and the South Rim in one day. The West Rim seems to be more of a tourist trap with the Skywalk, so we headed for the South Rim and stopped at the Hoover Dam on our way. WARNING: the winds can get bad in the spring and that day, they were close to 50 mph. It was terrifying. But the dam is insane and I can't believe humans built that thing. Definitely a site worth seeing. 

From there, it's about a four-hour drive to the South rim. Be prepared with food BEFORE you get too far because the options are veryyyy limited. We finally arrived at our hotel and prepared for our big day ahead. My mom (who is deathly afraid of heights) told me she wanted to do a helicopter ride at the canyon and I was in shock. But also excited. But also nervous af. Every time I thought about it, my feet would get hot. 

If you ever have the chance to ride in a helicopter over the Grand Canyon, you should absolutely do it. There are multiple companies that offer helicopter tours, but we went through Maverick. Our pilot was so kind and talked to us the whole time about the various parts of the canyon and made sure we were all very comfortable. And the views. I mean, I'll let the pictures speak for themselves. It was definitely one of the coolest things I've ever done. 

After the chopper ride, we went to the GC Village to grab lunch. Overall, the food options aren't the greatest so it's a good idea to have some of your own snacks. We then hopped on the free shuttle bus and stopped at multiple viewing spots to walk around. 

I wish we had more time to explore - it's impossible to see everything in a day. Next time, I want to go more north to see places like Horseshoe Bend and Antelope Canyon. Let me know if you have a favorite canyon spot!

 
 
Nashville Travel Guide

Last weekend, I took a road trip over to Nashville. The first time I visited was spent mostly on Broadway so this time around, I was excited to check out more of the fine dining, coffee shops and surrounding neighborhood hot spots.

We had *mostly* great weather and crammed in as much as we could in two and a half days. Luckily, I had a long list of recommendations so we were never short of ideas. If you're gonna go, you gotta do it right. Be sure to add the following to your Nash list:

FOOD

  1. Edley's: Famous BBQ that has a casual vibe. Be prepared for a long line waiting to place your order at the counter. I opted for the brisket tacos and the combination of flavors was just, wow.

  2. Biscuit Love: Again, more lines. We went on a Saturday morning and waited about an hour and 30. I went with the popular East Nasty biscuit (no gravy and added an egg on top). The fried goodness slid off my chicken piece pretty easily but the biscuit itself was divine.

  3. Adele's: You can find this cutsie restaurant in the Gulch, and it features seasonal food sourced from local farms. We went for dinner but it’s open for lunch Friday and Saturdays and now offers a Sunday brunch buffet. I ordered the Mahi Mahi, kale salad and cauliflower. All very good but be prepared for a pricey tab.

COFFEE/JUICE

  1. Franklin Juice Co.: You know I love my raw juice so when we stumbled upon this after dinner, I had to stop in and snag a juice for the next morning. I got the Sweet Beet and it was the perfect start to my day.

  2. Steadfast Coffee: Get the coffee soda and call it a day. A friend recommended I try this and good thing, because I probably wouldn't have ordered it on my own. It's an unlikely combination but it somehow works. Really well.

  3. Frothy Monkey: We had our Easter brunch here and it was the best Easter brunch I could've asked for. This edgy coffee shop is located in the 12th South neighborhood and the menu offers breakfast and brunch + lunch and dinner. They have all the coffee you need as well as craft beer, wine and cocktails. I ordered the California sandwich with a Golden Monkey (added expresso). Everything was DELISH.

DRANKS

  1. LA Jackson: MY NEW FAVORITE SPOT IN NASH. It's a rooftop bar and they have frosé - need I say more? The weather was on point when we went and the music was a freakin' vibe. After two drinks, I was definitely feeling it (and myself). We even went back again with friends the same night.

  2. The Patterson House: You've never seen a cocktail been made to perfection until you go here. This speakeasy plays throwback music, with dim lighting for a moody feel and the bartenders treat every drink like it's their child. We were both mesmerized watching our drinks being made. Definitely put it on your list.

  3. Acme Feed and Seed: If you want a taste of Broadway and drunk peeps, this is your spot. It's great to experience once.

SHOPPING

  1. Uncommon James: This is Kristin Cavallari's new flagship jewelry store. It's super cute, and I highly recommend. And because I'll support anything she does after Laguna Beach/The Hills.

  2. Imogene + Willie: Expensive jeans that I really want but can't afford. Worth to go and try them on while scoping out the amazing décor.

There were still lots of places we wanted to visit but didn't have the time, so I guess this means another trip is in order!

 
 
Chicago Travel Guide

This month, Austin had a change of scenery from ATL, as his latest work adventures took him to training in Chicago. I've never been so it was the perfect excuse to go explore Chi-Town.

Before the trip, I consulted a few trusted sources for recommendations, so I definitely had a bit of help with this travel guide. Things started off rocky (I almost missed my flight) but I finally made it in Friday evening. PSA: American Airlines requires you to check your bags 45 minutes before takeoff. Needless to say, I cut it too close and they almost didn't let me on the plane. Good thing they did because Austin had dinner reservations at one of the best spots my first night.

I had a three-day weekend to spend and we packed in as much as we could (including food). If you're heading to the Windy City anytime soon, the following spots need to be on your list.

  1. Girl & the Goat: This restaurant has been on the hot spot list for years and it can take booking months in advance to secure a reservation. Luckily, we had the hookup on this occasion and were able to get a table the first night I arrived. The menu is incredible, filled with family-style plates to feast on. I ordered the scallops, Austin got the branzino, and we shared the chickpea fritter, roasted cauliflower and sautéed green beans. Everything was mouth-watering good.
  2. Little Goat: So many goats. This is the sister restaurant to #1 (shock) and we went for brunch the next morning. It's more of a diner vibe but they absolutely killed the brunch menu. Austin ordered one of their most popular items, the Bull’s Eye French Toast, complete with eggs cooked inside sweet onion brioche and crispy chicken topped with BBQ maple syrup. I die.
  3. Giordano's: Chicago-style pizza. That is all you need to know.
  4. Au Cheval: Be prepared to wait in line for the best burger you'll ever have. We knew there would be a wait but we weren't expecting a THREE AND A HALF HOUR wait. But we did it anyway. Luckily, Green Street Meats is right across the street so we had a round of drinks (or five) while building our appetite. I will recommend what I was told to get: the cheeseburger with added bacon and a fried egg. Your stomach will thank you.
  5. Brightwok Kitchen: This veggie-focused, Asian-inspired restaurant was a quick and cheaper stop for fresh bowls. I ordered a delicious brown rice, Thai Basil bowl. Pair things with an iced Masala Chai and you’re set.

In summary, Chicago has some damn good food/drinks and Charlotte needs to step up its game.

As far as the touristy sites, the Bean and Magnificent Mile should definitely be on your list. Be prepared to wait in looooong lines for Skydeck. Unfortunately, we didn’t make it to the top because of a three hour wait. It was the only sunny day that weekend and everyone came out to play. Guess I’ll just have to go back.

What are your recs for Chicago? Drop a comment if you’ve been and have other spots I should add to the list! xx

 
 
48 Hours in Vegas

This year has been nonstop!! And this month, I'm gone every single weekend. I'm not complaining though, because I'm going on some amazing trips and to places i've never been before.

My most recent trip was to a quaint little town in Nevada. Las Vegas, they call it. I was headed out for a girls weekend with my mom (who is the most bubbly, excitable person you'll ever meet) to see the queen herself, J.Lo. My mom has been talking about this trip for months and I was so excited to spend a weekend in Sin City with her. Since we only had a couple days, we had to make sure we crammed in as much as possible. And that we did.

If you're ever in need a Vegas checklist and cramped for time, I've put together a list of must-do's!

  1. Brunch it up. Apparently, Vegas is home to MANY hot brunch spots but we went full on fancy and booked a reservation at the Eiffel Tower Restaurant. It's a little on the pricey side but the views by the window are well worth it. 
  2. The Bellagio. If you haven't already watched the fountain show from the view at brunch, head to the Bellagio where the giant fountains turn on and do their routine to music every hour. Sometimes, they came on every half hour but it depended on the time of day. It's the most touristy place you can go, but so fun. Luxe shopping and giant gardens included. 
  3. High Roller. Next, make your way to the world's tallest observation tower (I was shocked by this fact). You'll get a 360-degree view of the Las Vegas Valley and The Strip.  The wheel takes thirty minutes to go around once and if you're feelin' rowdy, you can get on one with an open bar. Yes, we did.
  4. The Cosmopolitan. Because, obviously. If you're looking for a good place to eat for dinner, there are lots of options and the famous Marquee nightclub is also located here. No, I did not take my mother there. 
  5. The Chandelier. This is inside the Cosmo, and it's the most gorgeous setup. It's exactly what it sounds like; a giant chandelier surrounding a two-story bar. Makes for nice, boujee pics. 
  6. Eggslut. Again, also inside the Cosmo. I've been wanting to go to here for a while since I'm an egg aficionado. I ordered the standard egg and cheese sandy -- it comes with cage-free over medium egg, cheddar cheese and chipotle ketchup on a brioche bun. It. was. so. good. 
  7. Go see J.Lo. Or any show, really. It's Vegas so naturally, everything is extra. The performances include insane production, way too many sequins and all the outfit changes you could imagine. She was ahhhhmazing. 

We definitely killed it in the short amount of time we had, but I definitely want to go back for more. Viva Las Vegas, my friends. 

 
 
Travel Guide: South Beach

Ohhhh, Miami. I took a trip down south (all the way to South Beach) and it was the craziest place I've ever been. 

We were able to take a girls' trip right before hurricane Irma hit (prayers out to everyone affected). My once piece of advice for Miami - be prepared. For partying, nightlife, people and the PRICE. The lifestyle in Miami is fast and crazy. But it's an awesome place to visit. 

When in South Beach:

Eats

  1. Pizza Bar
  2. Orange Blossom
  3. Michael's Genuine Food & Drink

Bars/Clubbing

  1. Clevlander
  2. Mangos
  3. Bodega

Other Fun Stuff

  1. KITH 
  2. SLS
  3. Casa Casuarina (Versace House)
Travel Diary: Nassau

I have a new favorite place and it's called Paradise Island. 

I went to the Bahamas with Austin's family over the Fourth of July and it's the prettiest place I've ever been. The water is just like the pictures; clear, blue, and magical. The gorgeous sand is warm and golden and runs between your toes with each step!

He and his family are regulars in Nassau and know many of the ins and outs of what to do/where to eat/how to shop. Atlantis in itself is the definition of extra. Anything you might want, it's there. Casino, night club, designer shops, aquarium and my personal fav, NOBU. We hung by the pool, floated on the lazy river, and yes, rode every single slide. I've been watching those Atlantis commercials on TV since I was in middle school and was so excited that I finally got to live out that dream.

A major key moment: meeting DJ Khaled! If you keep up with his snaps (bless him), you know he's been in Nassau for what seems like eternity. He happened to be jet skiing on the same beach we were at, so naturally we had to get on the snap. I tried my best not to fan girl but I was fan girling. He was super nice and wanted us on his snaps just as much as we wanted him to hop on ours. He took pics with all of us before leaving the beach (check it below)! #grateful 

If you've never been to the Bahamas, it's definitely something to check off the to-do list. And while there, be sure to try an *authentic* conch salad from just over the bridge. You won't regret it.

Travel Diary: Costa Brava

It has been a crazy fun few weeks! Right after Spain, we headed down to the Bahamas (blog post coming soon) and I just got around to finessing part two of our Spain escapade. 

Part one was all about Barcelona. Refresher on that wild time, here. After a couple days in Barcelona, we drove about an hour and 45 minutes north of the city to a region called Costa Brava, near Cruïlles. We pulled up to the biggest, most insane, feast-for-your-eyes villa. I can't even put it into words. The 12 of us spent 8 days together; it was the main crew from Italy last year, plus a few more awesome people. 

The owners of this villa must live a lavish life. The house was filled with original wall art, furniture and old family photos hanging from the walls. Every room had a different décor. And the pool. I've never seen a pool so big in my life. We spent the majority of our days laying poolside and playing as many drinking games as you can imagine. 

We took a midweek day trip to the coastal town of Tamariu (in the province of Girona). I was a bit "unwell" from last night's activities when we decided to take a two-hour kayak trip to see caves in the area. I've never been kayaking before, so you can imagine the burning in my arms as we began paddling in rocky ocean waves. For two. hours. It was rough, no pun intended. I can't complain all that much (even though I was full of complaints during the trek) because once we finally reached the caves, it was worth it. We paddled all the way into one of the caves until I got too scared and made us turn back around. :) Even though I was sea sick as hell, I'm glad we did it. 

The group trip was another major success, and we're extremely #blessed to have such amazing friends.

Alright, enough talk, I'll let the pictures speak for themselves (click on image links for what I wore)!

Travel Diary: Barcelona

Oh, where to begin? I'm currently writing from the couch, jet lagged and cross-eyed, but I can't get over our 10-day trip to Spain. 

Last week, we started the trip in Barcelona and as a first-timer, I was blown away. The people, the architecture and the lifestyle are unlike anything I've ever experienced. It's extremely diverse, the food is to die for and the nightlife is unbelievable. I wish I could've stayed longer (just means I'll have to plan another trip back). 

As soon as we arrived at our Airbnb, we hit the ground running in an attempt to make the most of our precious couple of days. We met up with friends for food, took a baby nap and got ready for the club. Our pregame began at 11pm, and we were planning to ARRIVE by 2am. It didn't even open until 1. Apparently that's the Barca way, so I'd never survive if I lived there. We partied until the crack of dawn at Razzmatazz, a five-story club equipped with two DJs in the bathroom. Insane. Amazing, but insane.  

The next day, we checked off some touristy activities, starting with La Sagrada Família. The architecture of this church is incredible (pics below). The view from the top wasn't all I expected, as it was quite a small area, but I wouldn't pass it up if you get the chance to go. After a quick break for coffee, we headed to Park Güell. By headed, I mean we practically crawled uphill to this thing. Be prepared with walking shoes. However, once we got to the top, the views were breathtaking and the details of Gaudí's work were everywhere. By that time, I was ready for a nap and shower. We ended the day with dinner at Bestial, a Mediterranean restaurant with a cute outdoor tarrace facing the sea. Highly recommended, and go for the rigatoni with mozzarella, tomato and basil.

To sum it up: the people never sleep, "second dinners" are a thing, the market is king of all markets and be prepared to fall in love.