My Surprise Birthday Celebration

I turned 31 two weeks ago and my husband threw me a surprise party! I’ve never had a surprise party before and I couldn’t believe it, he actually got me! This birthday was completely different from my 30th (check out my post Ain’t No Party Like a Disco Party! to read about that wild party). To be honest, this year I wasn’t really in the celebrating mood since I was 20 weeks pregnant and not feeling like myself. Also, our summer has already been so busy and then still everything going on with Covid. Luckily my husband knows me well and knows that typically I am ALLLLL about birthdays, so he went above and beyond (and so did my mom and friends!) to make me feel loved and special.

We started the day being tourists in Seattle walking along the pier. We saw a caricature artist on the side walk doing drawings and decided to go for it. I have always wanted to do this! Welp, in the picture I look like a crazy person while my husband looks like Mr. Incredible. πŸ˜‚

Our first stop along the pier was the The Crab Pot which you should definitely check out if you are ever visiting Seattle. Crab, fish, salmon, muscles, clams..seafood galore. We went with the Crab Louie and Fish and Chips and split everything (One of the best things about having a partner is sharing food at restaurants so you always get to try two meals instead of one, agree?). We also got a side of melted butter to dip some of the crab from the salad in. Mmmmm, I’m getting hungry just thinking about this meal.

Our next stop was going to MoPOP, Museum of Pop and Culture (which I still call the EMP). This is a unique place if you have never been. My husband knows I love everything Disney and they were having a special Heroes & Villains exhibit showing many costumes from Disney movies and TV shows, so he decided to get tickets. The last time we were at the EMP was for a NYE party in 2017. Again, this year was a little different from the last time we were there πŸ™ƒ. It was fun reminiscing on those memories (the photo below of me in the vampire coffin was from the NYE party in 2017!). After walking through all the exhibits at the EMP, we made our way to another classic tourist spot, the International Fountain and lounged around in the sunshine.

At this point I was feeling pretty tired and ready to head home, but what I didn’t know was that my husband was trying to kill time before heading back for the surprise party. He suggested we go to UVillage to get some maternity clothes. Shopping? Sure! Also, the past couple of weeks I had been feeling a little down about my clothes and what was/wasn’t fitting me (was using hair ties to keep my shorts buttoned) so I was excited to find some pieces that actually fit my changing body.

After shopping we made our way back to our house and at this point my husband was acting a little strange but I still didn’t know about the party. (Some strange things: Our Ring Doorbell was covered in tape so I couldn’t see the camera, he told me I should wear one of my new dresses out of the store home, he asked me to look at some marble tile on his phone as we were driving so I wouldn’t see all the cars parked on our street). When we walked inside, I noticed some balloons and decorations on our deck when I looked through the window. I turned the corner into our back room and everyone yelled SURPRISE! I was actually shocked. So excited and so so happy to see my friends, my mom and my favorite pups there to celebrate.

After all my questions of “How did you you guys pull this off? Wait, you made this?! Aww you guys! Tommy how long have you been planning this?” everyone brought out the food and snacks. Watermelon, 7-layer bean dip that one of my friends makes and is always BOMB!, and my absolute favorite – fried chicken and jojos. Mmm also my friend brought a dozen cookies from Crumbl Cookies and they were absolutely incredible. (Get the pink one always and their menu changes each week to mix and match the rest. I’m seriously about to order these right now just to have around the house because they are so delicious).

This birthday was much different than the last but in the best way possible. It was a surprise party that I won’t ever forget and the perfect celebration for this time in my life right now. My husband, my mom and my friends outdid themselves and I felt SO much love. Very memorable and a very special day turning 31!

Palm Desert Vacation

If you’re looking to get away on a relaxing vacation, lounge by the pool, maybe do a little shopping and be in the hot sun, I know just the place….Palm Desert, CA! (Or Palm Springs). My husband and I traveled to Palm Desert in the middle of May with four of our close friends. This was our first trip flying somewhere new since our honeymoon to Thailand back in January 2020, 16 months ago. (Wow that is wild to think about!)

Palm Desert is full of restaurants, colorful shops, swimming pools and many luxury cars! Oh and golf, lots and lots of golf. My husband said the courses here were some of the nicest golf courses he has ever played on.

The six of us stayed at Embarc Palm Desert which was right in the center of everything and close to the main strip, El Paseo Shopping District. The community was right next to a couple of golf courses and had multiple pools to lounge by. This was great for the guys to head to golf in the morning and the girls to go for a swim.

We went out to eat almost every night which was new for us since we hadn’t dined at a restaurant in so long with covid restrictions. My three favorite restaurants from the trip were:

  • Guillermo’s Restaurante – Delicious Mexican food! The chips, salsa, guac, margs…all amazing. I had the chicken fajitas and would recommend.
  • Ristorante Mamma Gina – Incredible homemade pasta and Italian food. They even gave us a complimentary slice of cheesecake for desert!
  • Wilma & Frieda’s Cafe – Everything you can imagine for amazing brunch food and drinks. Short rib eggs benny, churro waffles, home-made buttery flakey giant biscuits with raspberry jam. Yum!

One memorable night was when we out to eat at the The Nest in Palm Springs. We sat out on the patio in 70 degree weather (my favorite temperature) and watched live music while eating dinner. As we were getting ready to leave, one of our friends recognized a woman at the bar from the show: The Real Housewife of Orange Country, ElizabethΒ Lyn Vargas. My sister-in-law and I went up to her and got a photo. Even though neither of us watch the show, we pretended like we did and pretended like we knew who she was πŸ˜€ (She was very friendly and we can now say we had a celebrity spotting).

On our second to last day my husband and I took an early morning drive to Joshua Tree National Park which is about an hour away from Palm Springs. The park is full of beautiful scenery, places to camp, rock climbing and lots of trails to explore. In mid May it was 100+ degrees outside so we didn’t do much hiking but enjoyed driving through the park and taking in all the sites.

About a 20 minute drive from Joshua Tree is a place called Pioneertown which was such a unique town to visit. This historic landmark is an Old Western Town built as a 1940s movie set that has all the Westworld feels. Surround by frontier stables, saloons, a jail, and a church along a dirt road; it truly felt like a step back in time into the wild wild west.  

We were there for 6 nights and like any vacation the time always flies by! Most of our days were spent relaxing in the sunshine, eating out at a bunch of different restaurants and spending time with each other at the resort.

The best part about any vacation is who you spent it with and I had a great time vacationing with my favorite people!

Weekend Road Trip to…Montana!

A 10+ hour road trip from Washington to Montana and back in 3 1/2 days? That’s over 20 hours of driving. Normally I would try to extend a trip like this but since my husband and I only had a couple of days and had the urge to travel, we decided to go for it! Oh, and there was a special reason why we chose to road trip to Montana…our friends who live there were getting engaged!

We left Thursday and started the 10+ hour journey. Tommy made a little bed in the back of the car with an air mattress, pillow and blankets to trade off napping. Our first stop was Ellensburg for some lunch. We discover THE BEST little sandwich place. If you ever find yourself passing through Ellensburg, definitely stop at Daily Bread and Mercantile. We had the Very Veggie and the Mean Green Panini. So, so good.

We continued to drive until we reached St. Regis Travel Center where apparently they have the best huckleberry milkshakes. **One thing to note, Tommy started filling up the gas tank and then we went inside to grab a bite to eat. We were so excited to get back to the car and eat our tater tots that we forgot to put the gas nozzle back. So Tommy drove off and the entire gas thing flew off dangling from the car!! πŸ˜‚ Luckily it was able to go back on and reattach but this was definitely a first for us.

The next day, we explored Helena where our friends Kevin and Mary live before setting off to Livingston, Montana where Kevin was going to propose! (Livingston is a former railroad town in southwestern Montana along the banks of the Yellowstone River. It has this old western charm and a small town vibe. They stayed at Livingston’s famous historical hotel called The Murry, which is the place to stay if you are visiting the area).

The day of the proposal we went to this little restaurant called Faye’s Cafe in an old school building called The Shane Center. I cannot recommend this gem of a place enough! Customers pick out 2-3 words from the menu to describe the meal you would like. Then the waitress takes the words back to Faye (the cook) and she will whip something up just for you! The words I chose were potato, veggie and cheesy and this is what I had. Poached eggs, cheesy hash browns, green beans with balsamic, pesto and hummus on naan bread and citrus orange corn bread. Incredible. So rich and so flavorful. I’m still dreaming of this breakfast.

Next we set off for our hike to Pine Creek Falls where our friend Kevin was planning on proposing! Around 2.5 miles, this hike was short and sweet with beautiful views all around us. (But be careful if you go in late October. We were slipping all over the place since it was very icy. A couple of close calls on my end but no major falls).

We got to the falls and it couldn’t have been more perfect. There was this little bridge where Tommy and I stood to take photos. Kevin proposed and Mary said YES (She also had no idea and was so surprised)! Then we popped some champagne and enjoyed the moment before making our way back. The most special and memorable hike with great friends.

Next was the second part of Kevin’s proposal plan, to go to Chico Hot Springs! This resort was established over 120 years ago in 1900 and is located in the heart of Paradise Valley. It definitely didn’t feel like our typical cold Halloween day in Seattle. We felt like we were on a mini tropical vacation with the warm hot spring water and pool side drinks. So much fun!

We ended the day by going out to dinner in Livingston to celebrate the newly engaged couple! (I really enjoyed taking photos of all the neon signs that lit up the streets).

Then on Sunday Tommy and I started our long journey home back to Washington. I was so grateful for that extra hour we got with daylight savings. And the bed in the back of our car really came in handy for naps. Not to mention the scenic drive was absolutely beautiful.

This was one epic Halloween weekend to celebrate our friends’ engagement and an amazing quick little road trip to Montana!

Hot Tub Boat Adventure – Seattle, WA

My husband Tommy and I celebrated 1 year of marriage last weekend! It’s so crazy to think a year has already passed by. I feel like we got married just yesterday and can’t believe how quickly time is going. I wanted to surprise Tommy with something fun and unique for our anniversary and stumbled upon Hot Tub Boats which is exactly as it sounds, a hot tub in a boat!

We rented our private Hot Tub Boat and cruised around Lake Union. It was SO MUCH FUN! Also so very easy to drive. There is a small joystick which you maneuver around to determine where you want to go. It felt like a video game. The boat goes about as fast as kayakers and felt very safe. It’s large enough to hold 6 people. There was also plenty of room around if we got too hot and wanted to sit outside the tub (I jumped into the lake to cool off).

We brought some boxed wine (super classy but ya know it’s a hot tub), put some music on the speaker and soaked in the views. Our rental was for 2 hours and this allowed us to make a loop by Gas Works Park and back.

We had an absolute blast! This was such a unique experience and definitely an adventure I won’t forget, especially to celebrate our 1 year of marriage. If you are in the Seattle area, I highly recommend renting a Hot Tub Boat, no matter what month it is. We are already looking forward to doing this again with a group of friends!

Beautiful Weekend Getaway to Lopez Island

If you live in Washington, chances are you’ve heard of the San Juan Islands. The islands are between Washington State and Vancouver Island, Canada. Surrounded by scenic shorelines, mountain vistas, endless Evergreen Trees and beautiful views. This is definitely a place to visit for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.

The three most popular islands are Orcas, (where my husband and I went for our mini honeymoon – read about that trip here), San Juan and Lopez Island. About a 2 hour drive north from Seattle, you’ll head to Anacortes to catch a ferry and will then experience one of the most beautiful ferry rides in the state (seriously, the views are incredible!). I highly recommend making a ferry reservation so you are guaranteed a spot to board. Depending on which island you choose to visit, the ferry lasts about 45 minutes to an hour and a half.

My husband and I initially planned our trip to Lopez Island for our friends wedding. Being the planner that I am, I booked us a place to stay last year when we received the save the date in the mail. Unfortunately due to COVID-19, the wedding was rescheduled. We still had our reservation booked. So we decided…why not? Let’s keep our reservation and go there anyway since we’d never been. We also decided to bring our pup Edgar to make this trip a little family weekend getaway.

We stayed at a quaint Garden Cottage next to Lopez Center. If we ever go back to Lopez Island, I will definitely be booking this spot again! The charming cottage was within walking distance to the beach, the farmers market (which we quickly realized is the place to be Saturday morning) and close to the main restaurants. We spent our time at the cottage sunbathing in the garden and listening to the sounds of nature while drinking mimosas.

When we got off the ferry, the first thing we noticed about Lopez Island is how flat it is. This makes it a great place for bike riders who want to explore the island without a car. You could even do this as a day trip – bring your bike on the ferry no reservation needed, bike around and then catch the ferry back that night. We brought our bikes on this trip but didn’t bike around as much as we wanted since we had Edgar. The one time we brought him with us on a short bike ride, he saw a bunny and zoomed away racing as fast as he could trying to catch it (luckily he didn’t but I did end up chasing after him in a panic).

Lopez Island aka Bunny Island is full of so many bunnies! Tommy and I saw over 100 hopping in the fields, crossing the roads and burring themselves in burrows. Edgar especially enjoyed watching (and chasing) them.

Not only are the roads perfect for bikers and the endless bunnies surrounding the fields great for nature lovers, but Lopez Island also offers many trails with family friendly hikes. Tommy and I went to IceBerg Point in the morning which is a short trail that takes you out to a gorgeous cliff surrounded by water. We even saw a couple of sea lions. In the evening we went to Shark Reef to catch the colorful sunset that lite up the evening sky.

Overall if I had to pick between Orcas and Lopez, I prefer Orcas Island. It felt like there was more energy compared to the Lopez Island vibe, which is definitely more laid back and slow paced. The restaurants and stores close very early. The main grocery store closed at 7:30pm and the ice cream shop closed at 5pm. I don’t know if this is their COVID-19 hours or if this is the norm. There isn’t as much to do on Lopez Island but that is typically the reason people travel there in the first place. To relax and unwind, which we definitely did.

Sunshine, the smell of salt water, sand in our toes, garden flowers, beautiful views and our pup running around in absolute heaven made Lopez Island a great little weekend getaway.

Bachelorette Party – Austin, TX

Today my sister-in-law texted me a video of us from a year ago. It was nighttime, 78 degrees outside, all dressed up, sitting in a cycle rickshaw (where the person pedals on the bike and you are in the back), smiling, laughing, celebrating my bachelorette in Austin, Texas! It’s crazy to think one whole year has already passed since we were there. I can’t wait until we can take another girls trip. In the meantime though I thought I would write a quick blog post from that weekend reminiscing on my time in Austin with some of my besties. Also, because who says you can’t write a blog about a fun trip that happened in the past. 😊

My friends surprised me and organized everything. From planning, communicating with each other, getting the house, tickets, food, goody-bags..just everything. They are amazing! We stayed in a big house with a pool (quirky place with an elevator to get to the main living space) in between Lake Travis and downtown Austin.

One day we rented a huge boat (and I do mean HUGE, I think the boat holds around 20-30 people). The driver took us all around Lake Travis which was a blast. Another day was spent at the pool, floating around, drinking mojitos and playing games.

At night we went out to Sixth Street and it reminded me a little like Mardi Gras; craziness. Highlights from the nights include: Delicious dinner, Champagne Bottles, Bull Riding, Table Dancing, Photo Booths, Unlimited Free Drinks, Strip Club Stories and Cracking up with my best friends.

It’s hard to capture everything when you are having so much fun but below is a video of a glimpse of our weekend (with some of the footage that was appropriate enough to share 😜).

I would love to travel back here again someday (and listen to live music since we never got around to this!). Definitely recommend traveling to Austin, Texas because there is something there for everyone. But really, anywhere you go as long as you are surrounded by the people you love will be amazing.

Girls Trip – Punta Cana

Looking for a fun, all-inclusive, affordable, beautiful beach vacation for a girls trip? Head to Punta Cana! My girlfriends and I traveled to the Dominican Republic in August 2018 for our annual girls trip and we had a blast.

We chose to travel to the Dominican Republic for a couple of different reasons.

  1. Distance. The plane ride from Seattle to the Dominican Republic is very reasonable. We took a red eye flight from Seattle to Charlotte, North Carolina. Then had a 2 hour layover and flew another 3 1/2 hours from Charlotte before arriving in Punta Cana that morning.
  2. Weather. We wanted to plan a tropical girls trip with beautiful beaches and scenery and that is exactly what we got. We went to Punta Cana during the last week in August and the weather couldn’t have been better.
  3. Price. This trip was very affordable, especially since we chose to stay at an all-inclusive resort. The best decision with unlimited food/drinks (and unlimited bottles of our favorite drink – champagne). The total amount paid with round trip flights, transportation, accommodation, food, drinks and excursions was around $1,200 for 5 days.
The Boss. The Mom. The Hot Mess. The Bride. The Wild One.

We stayed at Majestic Colonial Resort and booked our all-inclusive trip through Expedia. We arrived at the resort and were immediately greeted with drinks and some small bites while we waited for our butler (yes we had a butler during our stay) to check us in and show us to our room.

While waiting for our room, we took the short walk to the beach, went swimming and got some pineapple drinks from our favorite bartender. That night we went to dinner at one of the six restaurants there and explored the resort. My favorite restaurant from the trip was Ma + Suri which was delicious hibachi style food with the best atmosphere.

We spent our next day at the beach, relaxing and enjoying the sunshine. Punta Cana is similar to Mexico where vendors will walk for miles in the hot sun and relentlessly attempt to sell you things. It really wasn’t hard for them to sell us souvenirs because we were eager to buy them. We all got henna tattoos and purchased jewelry with the famous Larimar stone. This stone is typically only found in the Dominican Republic, in the Caribbean so we stocked up.

The next day we had a pool day and lounged around the main pool areas. Our butler got us our own personal golf cart and drove us around the resort to whatever places we wanted to go. Swim up bars, pool snacks, inflatable floaties, music, sunshine and endless tropical drinks makes for a fun day in paradise. Mid-afternoon they also have a foam party, so the lazy river pool is filled with foam to swim in.

The following day we decided to do an excursion. The resort makes it very easy to plan since they have an excursion booth on sight and everything is within walking distance. We chose to do the Shark and Sting Ray Tour. We took a speed boat about 30 minutes out to this area in the middle of the ocean where they had the sea animals. It felt like a sand bar that was full of people and other tours (there was even a pirate ship excursion with pirates walking around). We put our fins and snorkel gear on and jumped in. The sting rays have their stingers removed and are held and passed around to tourists each day. You are able to swim around with the nurse sharks in this huge under water cage. It was a very memorable experience swimming above the sharks and being able to touch the string rays. But honestly it made me feel sad thinking about the sea animals living in this way and I wouldn’t do this excursion again.

We spent the rest of our days enjoy the sunshine and exploring the resort. They have a show every night and one night we went to see their number one hit, Michael Jackson. An impersonator with lots of singing and dancing. Later we went to the resort sports bar and watched/sang Karaoke with the locals and other tourists. One night we put on our bath robes, got on the golf cart and got some late night eats because why not, it’s vacation!

We had 4 nights at Majestic Colonial Resort and that was the perfect amount of time. Any more nights would have been too many in my opinion since we saw and did everything at the resort during our time there. The one thing we did not do was venture out and explore Punta Cana. If you are looking for an adventurous vacation where you are out and about exploring the city, Punta Cana may not be the best place to do this. Where it lacks in local bars and cultural sights, it makes up for in the all-inclusive food/drinks and beautiful beaches. Going to Punta Cana is an easy way to experience an exotic destination while feeling safe, comfortable and pampered the entire time you are there. If this sounds like your type of vacation, I recommend planning a trip! Plus, girls trips are the best.

Big Lake, WA – Quick Cabin Weekend Getaway

When thinking about a weekend getaway in Washington, Big Lake is often missed or forgotten, but it’s one of my favorite places to go! Only about an hour north of Seattle, it’s the perfect place to travel to if you are looking for a quick vacation where you want to get away from it all without the long drive.

I have been there several times over the years (my friend has an enormous family cabin on the lake where a bunch of us always stay). You can find many affordable houses/cabins to rent on Vrbo or AirBnB and I suggest finding one right on the lake.

We typically spend a weekend at Big Lake in the summer, but just went there for President’s day weekend and had the best time (this was a last minute trip but it’s alway so quick and so easy to get to). We started our weekend by stopping in Mt. Vernon at a cocktail bar called Valley Shine Distillery for some drinks before heading to the house (definitely recommend checking this place out if you like delicious cocktails). There really aren’t any restaurants or shops close or within walking distance to the lake, but you can find shops downtown Mt. Vernon which is only about a 10 min drive from Big Lake.

We spent our weekend with 15 friends and 7 dogs….(yes, 7 pups!). We had a blast playing games all night, making delicious food (yummy taco bar), playing hide n go seek in the dark (the best house for this with so many sneaky spots to hide), playing with the pups and spending time with each other. We also had a bomb brunch at C-Square (great food but skip the bloody marrys – too spicy) before making the short drive back home.

Big Lake is a fun, affordable place to travel to for a quick weekend getaway with a big group of friends or family. And it is even better in the summer! There are hiking trails nearby and places to explore. On July 3rd there is a beautiful firework show right over the lake. It feels like the fireworks are going off right above you and you can’t beat the views. People bring out the grills to BBQ, boats, paddle boards, kayaks and jet skis for some summer fun. If you have never heard of Big Lake or have yet to go, definitely check it out this summer!

Thailand Honeymoon

My husband and I decided to go to Thailand for our honeymoon (15 days) and we had the most incredible trip! Here is an itinerary of our time there (also props to anyone who reads this whole thing because it is looonnnggg).

We caught a red eye at 11:30pm on a Friday night and left for Thailand. We flew EvaAir (highly recommend) where they provide you with a blanket, slippers, a pillow, head phones, and two meals- breakfast and dinner. The meals were hot and actually pretty tasty. They gave us real silverware and unlimited free drinks (which is what I think all plane rides should do). It was a 9 1/2 hour flight to Taiwan but we slept most of the plane ride. From Taiwan we had a short layover and then another 4 hour flight to Chiang Mai. We arrived in Chiang Mai around 10:30am Sunday.

Day 1: Chiang Mai We got a taxi from the airport to our hotel (about 25 minutes/$5), checked into our room and began to explore the city. We stayed at the Amora Tapae Hotel in Old Town because of the location and nice rooms. Everything was in walking distance and very easy to get to. We explored a couple of temples and walked through Old Town. Later we went to the Sunday Night market which was insane! Cheap eats, shopping, massages…they basically had everything. The streets were packed with vendors and tourists looking to spend their money. We had a late dinner at a local restaurant (the kitchen is outdoors so you can watch them cook). Had amazing pad Thai, fried rice, and green curry. We ordered a lot of food and tried a little bit of everything because it was all so cheap (around 400 baht/$12 for three large entrees + drinks).

Day 2: Chiang Mai – Elephant Nature Park Our second day in Thailand we checked off one of my bucket list items and went to Elephant Nature Park, Pamper a Pachyderm. It was beyond INCREDIBLE! We started the day by meeting two 70 year old elephants named Happy and Harlow. We prepared their food, fed them, hiked through the jungle, ate lunch, bathed them, went river rafting and then explore the nature park (will do a full post on this later). Seriously the best day ever!

Day 3: Chiang Mai (New Year’s Eve) We spent the day exploring and got lost in the city! Later we met up with some friends from back home, got our lanterns and went to Tae Pae Gate to light and let them drift off at midnight. It was mesmerizing. People from all around the world, working together to light the lanterns, watching them float up and fill the sky. Another bucket list moment and bucket list night.

Day 4: Chiang Mai We spent New Years Day at Akah Cooking Class! We started at the local market to get our ingredients and try some new foods. We made spring rolls, papaya salad, red and green curry, three different soups, pad Thai, chicken + hot basil, Akha salad and mango sticky rice (the best dessert!). It was a long morning especially the day after New Years Eve, but lots of fun!

Day 5: Travel to Krabi We spent our last morning in Chiang Mai exploring the streets and more temples, they are so beautiful! We also had the most amazing dish that Chiang Mai is known for called Khao Soi (for 100 baht/about $3), which is similar to coconut curry noddle soup and so tasty. We used an app called Grab to get to the airport (Grab is similar to Uber/Lyft and was very helpful getting around quickly). Caught our flight to Krabi through AirAsia, which took about 2 hours. We check into our hotel that night at Red Ginger Chic Resort, got settle and found some amazing homemade pasta for dinner. Our hotel room in Krabi was huge, clean and perfect location. But the beds and pillows were hard. Tommy actually created a trip advisor account our first night there, and wrote a review about how terrible the beds were which just cracks me up (click the link if you want to read).

Exploring Wat Suan Dok

Day 6: Krabi Long Tail Boat Tour The best day! I know I keep saying this but this day was another bucket list day, it was absolutely amazing. We woke up early, walked down to Ao Nang Beach and rented a private long tail boat (about 2500 baht/$70 for the entire day). The earlier you get there the better to avoid the crowds. Our driver took us to five different islands to explore. We started at Tub Island which has three islands connected by a sandbank at low tide. This was a nice place to lay out on the beach, relax and enjoy the views. From there we went to Chicken Island and went snorkeling. It was so beautiful and so much fun searching for colorful fish. Next we went to Poda Island which had a couple of vendors selling food and lots of shade to beat the heat. We found a spot on the beach under a tree, swam with the waves and took a nap. Then went to our favorite spot, Railay Beach. We started at Railay West which is a great spot to swim, snorkel and explore the caves. There were also some rock climbers and long tail boat vendors selling food. Then we went to Railay East which is full of hotels, bars and restaurants and feels like a little beach town. Everyone there was so happy and so friendly, we wished we would have stayed a night on Railay. Definitely recommend this to anyone visiting Thailand-a must do! And splurge a little to get your own private boat, it is well worth it.

We loved Krabi but it felt similar to Mexico where the vendors are trying to get you to buy something, eat at their restaurant, etc. as you walk down the street, which we didn’t really like. It was definitely more of a tourist vibe with people from all over the world, compared to Chiang Mai which had more of a local feel. The food in Krabi was definitely catered toward tourists since they had everything you could image. We were told that some of the best Indian food is found in Krabi so that’s where we went to dinner. We ordered homemade garlic naan, chicken tikka masala, and mixed veggie rice. It was amazing. We had fresh rolled ice cream for dessert to top off the night.

Day 7: Travel day to Phi Phi Island We relaxed by the pool at our hotel before catching the speed boat to Phi Phi Island. The speed boat was more expensive than the ferry but about an hour faster. They also packed us in there (elbow to elbow, knee to knee) so it wasn’t the most comfortable ride. Once we got to Phi Phi we checked into our hotel at JJ Bungalow and went exploring! We found a restaurant on the water, got some margaritas, found a swing and wondered around. Later we had a seafood dinner on the beach, tried to catch the sunset and found a fire show.

Phi Phi was our favorite island! There was still a sense of culture like in Chiang Mai but it felt newer without being as touristy as Krabi. There was something to do there for everyone. We also loved how there were no cars on the island, which made it feel more relaxed. Everything was in walking distance (unlike Koh Lanta where you had to take a scooter or Tuk Tuk to get around). The food was delicious. The drinks were bomb. The people were friendly. Views were amazing. We will definitely be returning to Phi Phi one day!

Day 8: Beach Day Picnic Our favorite night from our trip. We got McDonalds and had a picnic on the beach during the day. The tide was so far out and the water was shallow enough that you could float in the sand. Later we stumbled upon this amazing beach bar playing Jack Johnson and reggae music. We met a group of people from London and shared a hookah with them and had the best time dancing and people watching.

Day 9: Travel to Koh Lanta We caught the 9am ferry from Phi Phi to Koh Lanta (would recommend buying ferry tickets from one of the little booths the day before since it gets crowded at the terminal). The ferry ride was a little under 3 hours but very comfortable (we both fell asleep on the ride). We checked into our hotel at Twin Lotus Resort and Spa, went to the beach and drank some cocktails while watching the sunset and caught another fire show (we splurged a little for this hotel but it was worth it!). Our hotel room smelled amazing because they put lotus everywhere and we were even greeted with a little honeymoon cake.

Day 10: Scooter in Koh Lanta My favorite day in Koh Lanta! We rented a scooter from our hotel (300 baht/$10 for the day) and explored the island. Koh Lanta is one of the longest islands in Thailand. Unlike Phi Phi, it is much harder to get around since everything is so spread out. We spent most of our time in Koh Lanta at our resort except for today. We drove about 4-5 hours total going from one end of the island to the other and making stops along the way (it’s about a 45 min drive to the southern most point). We discovered a hidden gem of a restaurant (I wish I remembered the name) on the south east side of the island, had some drinks and our favorite Thailand dish-mango sticky rice. The gas situation was very unique. There were little mini whiskey sized bottles filled with gas all along the roads. Whenever we needed gas we would stop and someone would come out with a funnel cup and pour the gas into the bike (only 40 baht/$1.25 per bottle). Then we did some shopping in Old Town and continued to explore. This was the hottest point during our trip..mid day sun attack. Luckily we kept driving and found a little path to a beach and cooled off in the ocean-an amazing swim spot. By the time we got back to our hotel we were pretty exhausted from the heat and from diving all day (my butt was so sore from sitting on the back of the scooter and almost felt like I just finished a Barre class). For dinner that night we ate at our hotel. Unlimited all you can eat buffet for 450 baht/$15 a person on Tuesdays.

I ate so, so much. I think I tried a little bit of everything, chicken skewers, tom yum soup, all the curries, muscles, shrimp cocktail, clams, seafood jambalaya, all the tradition Thai dishes, more pasta, more dessert. The best part of the night though was watching this band play while having dinner on the beach. Tommy said it was the best live music he has ever heard. They played a bunch of classic cover songs but what was so special was when they played the song, Can’t Help Falling in Love which is what I walked down the aisle to on our wedding day.

Day 11: Koh Lanta Pool Day Today we stayed at our hotel and had a pool day. We read our books and just lounged around (under an umbrella of course with 100 spf on because we both burn so easily). We also got a couples massage at our hotel spa. Getting a massage at the spa was a little more expensive (about 1100 baht/$35 compared to some other places we saw 300 baht/$10) but we didn’t want to be out on the streets with people walking by. I think it’s worth it to spend a little bit more for a nicer massage. Also $35 is still so cheap compared to Seattle prices but you can find places all over Thailand for massages as cheap as $5 – $10. For dinner we staying in, ordered room service and rented some movies from the lobby.

Day 12: Beach Day Koh Lanta Went to the beach, finished our books, long walks along the water, caught the sunset. Complete relaxation. Much slower pace in Koh Lanta. We also ran into a German couple who we met at our cooking class in Chiang Mai. Kind of crazy to see them about a week later in a totally different place, staying at the same resort as us!

Day 13: Travel to Bangkok Bangkok felt like a different world, especially coming from Koh Lanta…so chill and relaxing to chaos and so much traffic. This was our longest travel day. We left at 9am and caught a shuttle from our resort to the airport (about 2 hour drive + ferry ride) and flew AirAsia again. This airline is so affordable in Thailand. Tickets are typically around $50 – $100 to get from place to place (unfortunately since we traveled during the peak season our were closer to $150-$200 but it just depends on the time of year you go). AirAsia is similar to Frontier but still much better than Spirit (honestly every airline is better than Spirit in my opinion, another story on that later). Once we landed it took us about 1 1/2 hours to get to our hotel due to all the traffic! When I booked our stay at Rembrandt Hotel and Suites and Towers, I didn’t do as much research in determining where to stay because Bangkok was the place I was least excited about visiting. Our hotel was beautiful with huge comfy rooms, surrounded by great restaurants but it was a little farther out from some of the main places we wanted to go. It took anywhere from 20 – 60 minutes to get around either because of traffic going in or going out of the city. If we were to go to Bangkok again I would want to stay near the Riverside and a little closer in.

Day 14: Chatuchak Market in Bangkok This is a must do in Bangkok! Chatuchak Weekend Market is huge! The market has over 15,000 stalls, packed together with vendors selling everything you can think of. Clothes, shoes, jewelry, cook ware, dishes, art, furniture, toys, beauty items…literally everything. The market feels like a maze and once you think you have seen enough and you’re finished shopping, you wonder down another stall and discover even more items you didn’t know you needed to buy. We brought a huge backpack and just went to town on souvenirs. The best find was this pottery stall filled with beautiful handmade dishes. Everything looked and felt like it was from Pottery Barn or Crate and Barrel, minus the price tag.

Tommy will tell you his favorite find was his “authentic” LeBron James jersey. We actually stumbled upon this stall, purchased the jersey, continued walking for about 15 minutes and then decided we should go back and get some more jerseys for friends. Tracing your steps back and trying to find a specific stall in the Chatuchak Market is crazy talk! Like I said, it’s basically a maze in there and the only landmark is the main road in the middle of the street. Well after about 20 minute or so of searching up and down various stalls and retracing our steps, we somehow found it! We were so excited and felt so accomplished. Definitely a memorable experience.

To get to the market was pretty hilarious. We had this whole plan to take the train and walk a bit when we ran into a Tuk Tuk guy. (A Tuk Tuk is basically a three-wheeled motorcycle taxi that is a cheap way to get around Thailand). He offered to take up to the market for 100 baht/$3 and we decided to go for it so we could get there faster. He asked if it was okay to make a stop so he could get free gas (we needed to go in a shop and look around). We agreed thinking he would take us to a souvenir place or some small shop….But nope. He took us to a full on suit shop and the second we got there they were all over Tommy trying to get him to purchase a “one of kind, best material, custom made suit.” Thailand is actually known for having well quality, affordable suits and many people go there to purchase them; it was just hilarious how we came about being in that shop. Tommy pretended to curiously browse through the book and then we politely declined. (Later we got to the market and our first stop was for Coconut Ice Cream which was so refreshing). So if you take a Tuk Tuk in Bangkok make sure the driver is taking you straight to your destination otherwise you may find yourself in a similar situation we were in.

Later that night we had some questionable drinks at our hotel roof top bar and a bomb meal at a restaurant nearby called Indulge. I recommend going to a roof top bar if you are in Bangkok! The views are incredible. Honestly the drinks are a little overpriced though as you are paying for the atmosphere (around 500 baht per drink/$15).

Day 15: Mahanakorn Skywalk in Bangkok We woke up early with all these plans and ideas on what to do on our last day in Thailand. We decided instead to opt for late check out at 4pm and ordered breakfast in bed. The receptionist was shocked when we agreed to pay 800 baht/$25 to extend our checkout; we thought it was a great deal. We got a couple drinks at the hotel bar and decided we had enough time before our flight to check out Mahanakorn Skywalk. I am so glad we did! Somehow we timed this perfectly with sunset and found ourselves overlooking Bangkok city skyline from 314 meters above ground (about 1,000 feet). It was absolutely BEAUTIFUL…360 degree views! The colors in the sky went from only seeing gray fog/smoke (because the pollution is so terrible in Bangkok there is always a haze covering the sky), to orange, to pink, to blueish purple and finally dark with illuminating city lights. It was mesmerizing.

There was an area with glass floors that allowed you to walk on them (with booties) and look down 78 floors below!

Day 16: 12 hour layover in Osaka, Japan Technically yesterday was our last day in Thailand so you can stop reading here πŸ™‚ (if you made it this far) but we also had one extra day of adventure before heading home! We took another red eye from Bangkok, flew Japan Airlines (would also recommend this airline) and arrived in Japan around 7am. On a whim, we decided to go to Universal Studies and check out Harry Potter World. We caught the train and were on our way. It was very easy to navigate and get around the city from the airport. Also everyone we talked to was so helpful. Well, what we didn’t know was the day we were on our way to Universal Studios was the same day Japan was celebrating the holiday, Coming of Age Day where all the kids are out and about; also heading to Universal Studios.

We changed our plans since we didn’t want to risk waiting in long lines for rides and miss our flight. Also, it was freezing! We traveled from 80 degree weather in Thailand to 45 degree weather in Osaka and couldn’t imagine going on roller coasters with no jackets. Instead, we had a Leslie Knope style breakfast (if you haven’t watched Parks and Recreation you should just turn it on right now), explored the free parts of Universal Studies, found a Gap, got matching jackets and took the train downtown. Went to the mall, to the arcade, to the ferris wheel overlooking the city and ate some delicious ramen. We loved Japan! It was very clean, friendly people, easy to get from place to place, oh and all the toilets had heated seats-loved that with the cold weather. Our short layover there made us want to go back again!

So if you are looking for an unforgettable honeymoon that is full of culture, delicious food, friendly people, beautiful beaches and lots of adventure, Thailand is your place. I cannot recommend traveling to Thailand enough! A trip of a lifetime with my hubby, cant wait to start planning our next. πŸ™‚

Leavenworth Weekend Getaway

If you are looking for a quick and cozy weekend getaway that’s not too far from the city, Leavenworth might just be the perfect place. About a 2 hour drive from Seattle, Leavenworth is a Bavarian-styled village in the Cascade Mountains. The village is of full of incredible buildings, great restaurants-featuring many German style foods and beer, local wineries and shopping boutiques, making this stop not only unique but also beautiful. We’ve traveled to Leavenworth a handful of times and always have had the best experience. This time we went to celebrate our friends 30th birthday, and it did not disappoint.

Tommy and I hit the road around 2pm. On the way to Leavenworth, we stopped at Sultan Bakery to pick up some sweets for the car ride. They have the BEST cookies (we got three) and amazing desserts. Highly recommend if you have never been.

We arrived in Leavenworth around 4pm and went to our first stop, Icicle Ridge Winery to start our weekend. From there we went to Icicle Brewing Company (definitely an icicle theme here) and had some German beer and a hot pretzel with cheese sauce…so good! They recently remodeled the brewery to make it more comfortable to sit inside (Tommy sat in a ski lift/converted to chair swing-loved it). They also have live music every Friday and Saturday night!

Even though we came to Leavenworth in February, all the Christmas decorations and lights were still up throughout the town. It felt like a little winter wonderland.

We rented a beautiful, secluded cabin that was about 10 minutes from town and stayed there with 10 of our friends to celebrate. We ate a lot of food, played a bunch of games, went hot tubbing, went on a little hike, played with our friends pup-Knox, watched movies in the theater room and enjoyed hanging out at the cabin with each other.

On Sunday we packed up, checked out and ventured back to town for breakfast. We went to Louie’s Cafe (amazing bloody marry) and took a short scenic walk along the Wenatchee River. Overall, a great place to celebrate a 30th birthday and a great place to travel to for a quick weekend getaway!