Monday, November 10, 2014

3 Day Getaway: NYC & Brooklyn

For 4th of July we drove 10 hours to New York City, so that we could spend the long weekend with our BFFs. We spent most of our Friday, July 4,  walking around Ellis Island and visiting Lady Liberty for the first time. 



We had a delicious lunch at Liberty House Restaurant after exploring Ellis island. Every single thing there was amazing and the beautiful view of the city made it taste even better. We went back to the apartment in the afternoon for a nap and to catch up on some World Cup Games.That night we ventured to the Jersey City boardwalk to view the 4th of July fireworks from a distance, all the beauty without the chaos.

On Saturday morning we walked around Lower Manhattan before jumping on a ferry to Brooklyn. We walked a couple of blocks until we happened among Smorgasburg, at which we dutifully stuffed our faces. My favorite was Palenques Arepas de Toro. The meat was soft and savory and a perfect complement to the fluffy arepa. We walked around Wiliamsburg for a couple of hours walking off the calories we had just consumed, even stepped into a bar for a little while to watch another World Cup game.

I then had the brilliant idea to make our way back to Manhattan by bike using Citi Bike from the Williamsburg to Manhattan. None of us had been on a bike in more than 6 years and it took a little convincing to get everybody on a bike. What was supposed to be a 30 minute bike ride ended up taking more than 2 hours, particularly because Tomas was scared for his life so he would stop the bike every time a car was passing him. In the end I think everybody had fun and the highlight was definitively riding across the Brooklyn Bridge just as the sun was setting over the city.

The day was closed out with Pizza, beer and an intense Foosball tournament between friends. It was a great but short trip since we started the drive back to Cincinnati at around 10 am on Sunday morning. It sucks that the people that we love so much live so far away but we try to make the best of every visit.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Putting Up Some More Frames

Two years ago we visited Italy on our honeymoon during which in Piazza Navona, I fell in love with the work of this one artist. These six paintings are my favorite souvenir from the trip but I totally forgot I had them them so they sat collecting dust in the back of my closet.

Having breakfast one day, inspiration struck! The wall by the laundry door in the breakfast nook would be the perfect place to exhibit these pretty paintings. 6 paintings 4 to be placed horizontally, 2 vertically, now I had to figure out the best placement.

I decided on using a grid pattern for placing the frames in two neat rows. I cut out tissue paper in the shapes of the frames and used two strips of blue painters tape as a way of separating the frames. I used Command Picture Hanging Strips, instead of making tons of holes in the wall.

I placed the first frame and then freaked out! The wall looked like this for
more than four months until I ,mustered up the courage to finish.

Four months later and I had finally put all the frames up!

Finished product

Monday, November 3, 2014

3 Day Getaway: Riviera Maya

On May 26, Tomas and  celebrated our 2nd year anniversary with a short trip to Mexico!

A lot of research went into selecting what part of Mexico we would like to visit as well as selecting a resort once I narrowed down the city. Airfare ended up making the decision for me since flights to Cancun were about half the cost of flying to Cabo. In terms of the resort, I knew I wanted an adults only, all inclusive outside of the "party zone" which eliminated anything near Cancun. Our plan was to relax and refresh on this trip not party it up.

I expanded my search towards the Riviera Maya and ended up selecting Luxury Bahia Principe Sian Kian in Akumal, Mexico. Although the hotel was 90 minutes away from the airport, it had every single thing I wanted in a resort. Adults only, all inclusive with various themed restaurants and a hot tub in the room. We were free to visit all the other Grand Bahia Principe resorts by taking a free trolley between them, Since Sian Kian was a fairly quiet resort we ventures to some of the others to scope out the scene and can report that they are much livelier
We were greeted at the hotel lobby with a drink 

A week before leaving for Mexico, I contacted Guest Services to ask if it were possible to get a free room upgrade since we would be celebrating our anniversary and boy did they deliver!

We were upgraded to a ground level garden suite which they filled with balloons and chocolate. We even got a free bottle of tequila! The Garden suite had a big patio with a private hot tub as well as a small living room inside, which was one of our favorite things about the resort. Upgrading to a room with a hot tub is definitively worth it.


Our private Jacuzzi and patio

As soon as we arrived we booked both of the resorts specialty restaurants, Maiko and Alux through their new app. Dining at Alux was one of the highlights of the trip, the food was delicious and the service was incredible. We were greeted with some champagne in celebration of our anniversary and they even had a special cake for us at the end of our meal. They really took the time to make us feel special during our stay.

We spent most of the trip lounging around the pool, rather than at the beach. It was just easier to walk out of the hotel suite and into the pool than have to ride the trolley to the beach. When we did visit the beach, it was beautiful and by staying at Sian Kian we had beach side bar service so we could lounge on our beach chair and have an unlimited amount of alcohol delivered to us.


On the last day of our trip we booked a day long tour with Mayan Explorers. We selected The Mayan Experience tour which visits Chichen Itza, Ik Kil Cenote, Ek Balam and Valladolid. The tour included transportation between the sites, from our hotel and back, lunch and a guide.

It was a three hour drive from the hotel to Chichen Itza, the first stop of the day.


The second stop was Il Kil, a cenote right outside Chichen Itza. Swimming in a cenote was a must do for me and the experience did not disappoint. the water was cool and refreshing, which was awesome after walking around Chichen Itza in the hot sun  and we were lucky enough that we didn't have to share it with a zillion other tourists.

The third stop of the day was Ek Balam, one of the few Mayan archaeological site you can still climb.

It was long was up!
Stucco Jaguar Altar halfway up the ruin
View from the top of the Acropolis of  Ek Balam. Undiscovered ruins still live underneath the trees

The last part of the day was a quick stop at Valladolid where we bought some refreshments before starting the three hour ride back to the hotel.


Although we only spent 4 days in Mexico, I know we will defenitively be back and after the incredible service we received at GBP Sian Kian, I'm pretty sure we'll go back to the same incredible resort.