Entries Tagged as 'Adventures'

travel adventures: tulum, mexico

Posted on: Monday, April 17, 2017

hi friends! as you may have noticed, a few weeks ago, E and I spent a week in Mexico! we stayed in Tulum, a small, eco-friendly, trendy beach town about an hour and a half south from Cancun. I received a ton of great recommendations and we went to a lot of places, so wanted to share my version of a Tulum travel guide with you!

WHAT TO DO:

We stayed in a gorgeous Airbnb (pictured) closer to town that we loved! It had a private pool surrounded by a photo worthy pink wall and tons of plants, swings on the roof, and an impeccable interior. The bed was so comfortable, there was a clawfoot tub (!!) and our host had everything we needed – beach blankets, snorkel gear, a blender (v beneficial for making our own smoothies!), etc. The Airbnb was about a 10-15 minute drive to the beach and 3-5 minute drive into town (where there’s also lots of shopping, restaurants, etc. – more on that below). We really loved it! Here’s the link.

If you do want to be a little closer to the beach, I’ve heard good things about these hotels: MezzanineCoco, Be Tulum, and Azulik (pictured below – even if you don’t stay at Azulik, go walk around the property or have a drink there! It’s amazing).

WHAT TO DO:

BEACH! – every day, we would pack our beach bags and find a new beach area to hang out at. you can just walk through hotels to get to the beach, but can’t use their facilities unless you’re staying there. I heard good options are: Playa Pescadores, Ziggy Beach, Papaya Playa, Coco. we also liked Playa Maya, which was a little further down the road past Mezzaine Hotel. The water was super clear and beautiful!

mayan clay massage – this is a must! Getting a massage always feel necessary to maximize relaxation on vaca. I heard amazing things about Mayan clay massages in Tulum both at the Mayan Clay Spa and the Maya Tulum Resort. Basically, your entire body gets covered in Mayan clay, sets for awhile, then you get a traditional amazing massage. Our Airbnb host actually arranges for us to get private massages in the Airbnb, which was luxurious and super amazing. We did this on our last night in Tulum and it was a perfect way to end the trip.

swim in cenotes – cenotes are underground, natural sinkholes formed by water coming through the limestone rocks (read more about them here). basically, they are like swimming ponds that you can swim, snorkel and dive in – some even allow you to zip-line or kayak. we visited two very different ones: Gran Cenote (first three photos below), which is about 5 minutes north of downtown Tulum. you walk down steps to get to the water and are swimming in a cave, pretty much. there are turtles and clear water and it’s super cool). The second we went to was Casa Cenote (last photo below), which is 10-15 minutes north of Tulum, it’s off of a back road and the cenote extends back into the jungle! the water is deep and super clear – tons of people dive here, especially). other cenotes recommended to us were: Cenote Dos Ojos, Cenote Escondido, Cenote Azul, Cenote Carwash, Cenote Zazil Ha (last two are super close to Gran Cenote).

snorkeling – you can do this in the ocean in several good spots and in lots of cenotes too! we also drove to Akumal (about 20 minutes north of Tulum) to swim with turtles – super cool experience. We just rented masks from a little shop near the beach and jumped in the water – no need for tours or anything. The water is super calm and the beach is super charming and less rustic/earthy than Tulum beaches, in my opinion.

Tulum Ruins – I’m not typically a fan of touristy things, but checking out the Mayan Ruins in Tulum is definitely something I recommend doing! we walked the entire thing in about 45 minutes (while enjoying fresh fruit popcicles – my fave). it’s beautiful to see the ruins right alongside the water, and you have access to the beach to swim/snorkel from there too.

shopping – the main strip by the beach has tons of super cute shops. I highly recommend just wandering into the shops — I don’t even remember the names! A few recommended to me were Shalom and Le Troupe.

walk or bike around – I would recommend taking time to just wander down the main strip. Most hotels (and Airbnbs) have bikes available, so that makes it super easy! There’s so much to take in – both on the main strip and within the different hotel resorts. The landscape in Tulum is truly amazing – from the beach and crystal clear ocean to the wild and rustic jungle. Since it gets so hot, make sure to apply a lot of sunscreen and stop along the way to get a fresh juice or paleta (popsicle)!

 

WHERE TO EAT/DRINK:

If we had a chance to visit a spot, the name is in BOLD. If not, it’s a highly recommended spot from our local host or good friends.

BREAKFAST
Tacos Honorio – in town, traditional Mexican breakfast

The Real Tabano – jungle side, yummy breakfast and delicious, fresh smoothies (literally the fruit was cut and blended right in front of us)

The Real Coconut – beach side, healthy breakfast spot inside Sanará hotel

Tunich – simple and tasty breakfast spot. They have super inexpensive cabanas as well, so that’s another affordable lodging option too!

Azafran – in town, fresh juices!

Raw Love – beach side, healthy breakfast (acai bowls!) inside Ahau Hotel)

DINNER
Hartwood – arguably the most coveted spot to get a table for dinner in tulum. everything is cooked on the wood burning oven and open grill. sadly, we weren’t able to get in the night we tried but apparently they now (recent thing!) take reservations – you just need to email them a few times. 😏

Mezzaine – beach side, up the road from the “main” area. Great happy hour (2 for 1 margs and beautiful view)

El Manglar – in town and was actually two blocks from our airbnb but sadly closed the day we wanted to try it! it’s the best pizza in tulum.

Mateos – jungle side, sports bar-esque bar and restaurant. we were given the fish taco recommendation from a friend and they didn’t disappoint! 🙏🏻
Restaurare – jungle side, amazing fresh vegan food.

El Camello – in town…this is where all the locals (including founder/chef of the v popular hartwood) eat to get best seafood! super simple, fresh, inexpensive.

Taqueria La Eufemia – beach side, didn’t get a chance to go but supposed to have very cheap food and fun vibe for drinks and hanging out.

Posada Margherita – beach side, and seriously my new favorite place in the world. it’s italian food, which sounds weird for mexico/the beach, but trust me – YOU GOTTA GO! they make incredible handmade pasta and all meals come with this incredible tapas board with pickled veggies, cheese and super tasty focaccia bread. the decor is also beautiful – see first two photos below for proof!

DRINKS
Gitano – jungle side, super trendy mezcal bar and restaurant with plants and greenery EVERYWHERE, twinkly lights and hanging disco balls. the food and drinks were super yummy and the vibe was 🔥.

Casa Jaguar – beach side and inside Ahau Hotel

Batey Mojito Bar – in town, SUPER incredible mojitos, which are not my typical drink of choice! they are made with freshly crushed sugar cane juice out of a VW beetle. the vibe is super fun too.

La Zebra – beach side, apparently “the best salsa party in town” and they have free salsa on sundays from 6-7pm and live music most nights.

TIPS AND MORE THINGS TO KNOW:

grocery & last minute items – e went to the Chedruai (kind of like a Mexican Walmart) literally more times than we wanted to, but they have everything – sunscreen, food (incl. large fresh produce section) + wine/beer, beach supplies, everything. It’s located on the road from downtown Tulum on the way to the beach.

SUNSCREEN! lots of it. you’ll go through it quickly.

packing recommendations  – unless you are fashion blogger (and LOTS of them go!), don’t bring heels or even wedges. I wore flip flop sandals exclusively the entire time. Most roads aren’t paved, so you’ll be walking on dirt or sand. I packed some denim shorts, but didn’t even wear them because they felt too sticky. I opted for flowy dresses and swimsuit cover-ups instead. I would also recommend chapstick with SPF (my lips got so burnt – v sad and painful) and bug spray, especially if you’re eating dinner at a restaurant on the “jungle side” (like Gitano).

carry pesos, as most places don’t accept credit cards and when they do, the exchange rate isn’t typically best in your favor vs. paying with pesos. don’t forget to tip – at restaurants, gas stations, the baggers at the grocery store (that was the big surprise to me – they don’t typically make any money EXCEPT tips), bellman at hotels, etc. I recently heard an idea that a couple brings 100 one dollar bills on trips to Mexico to tip everyone…really easy way to not forget to tip.

rent a car – I would highly recommend this! it cost $75 to rent a car for 5 days and it was fairly easy to pick up from the Cancun airport after we landed. having the car was necessary since we weren’t staying on the main strip, but even so, I would recommend a car to have easy access to get to different beaches, cenotes, in town, etc. it’s super affordable and the convenience was very appreciated.

more photos from our trip below – thank you for reading! if you have any questions or are planning to visit, please feel free to reach out to me! 💙

an afternoon at arrowood winery

Posted on: Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Hope you all had a lovely long weekend! Last weekend, I was invited up to wine country (which I never say no to, obviously) with a rad group of fellow bloggers for a food and wine pairing at Arrowood Winery up in Sonoma!

We started the afternoon in the tasting room with some Sav Blanc, enjoying the misty foggy views outside and being v jealous of the amazing fireplace inside. I want one! 😫 We moved upstairs to do a guided food and wine pairing, with all food from  The Girl & the Fig. E and I went to The Girl & the Fig for my birthday a few weeks ago too, so I feel extra spoiled that I’ve had their food 2x in January already. Their chef is INCREDIBLE! Anyway, back to the wine. 🍷

Here’s the rundown of what we ate + drank!

Course 1: 2015 Arrowood Saralee’s Vineyard Viognier, served with roasted baby heirloom carrots, saffron crema & honeyed almonds // I have NO idea how to make vegetables this good, but this was absolutely divine.

Course 2: 2012 Arrowood Monte Rosso Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, served with house ground polenta, braised oxtail, cocoa nibs, winter squash & sage pesto // I didn’t eat the oxtail since I’m pescatarian, BUT ate around it and it and the polenta & squash combo was still soooo delicious.

Course 3: 2013 Arrowood Proprietary Red Wine, served with black pepper ravioli, triple cream mornay & black truffles // Omg this dish was a dream 😍 give me all the cheese, all the time.

Throughout the meal, we learned about the different wines we were drinking, why the food was chosen to accompany each wine, the difference between different wine regions and so much more. Arrowood’s winemaker (#girlboss) Kristina Werner was incredibly awesome and insightful, answering all of our questions and giving us the Arrowood wine lowdown. She also grew up in the Midwest (yay!) and started her wine career there, which I think is super cool.

After the food and wine pairing, we did a tasting of three different Arrowood Cabernet Sauvignons, all from different regions in Sonoma. It was really cool to try all three side-by-side, learn about the different regions, and compare how each had their own unique taste and feel.

I already can’t wait to go back (especially on a sunny day!) to wine taste at Arrowood again. If you’re interested in ordering wine, here’s a discount code for 15% off your order: ARROWOOD15. 🍷Cheers!

 

 

 

 

 

travel adventures: PARIS!!!

Posted on: Thursday, December 29, 2016

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Hi! The last stop on our trip to Europe a few months ago was to Paris. I have the most magical memories of being in Paris from my first visit with friends in 2012. It was my first international trip and I was totally entranced by the city (as most people tend to be). I was SO excited to be there with E and celebrate our anniversary there!

We stayed at a small but exquisite Airbnb right in the center of Le Marais neighborhood. We could easily walk to tons of cafes, shops and river Seine, which was perfect. We received tons of recommendations from friends on where to go and eat (thanks, all!) and most days, we woke up and got ready, picked a neighborhood to explore. We wandered all over, ate a ton of good food (cheese! bread!) and wine, and soaked up all the romantic, cute vibes everywhere.

A breakdown of some of our favorite spots are below and here’s a few highlights: reading and drinking rosé in the park (Le Jardin du Luxembourg in the 6th, Parc des Buttes-Chaumont and Parc de la Villette in the 19th), biking alllll over almost every day (thank you, Velib passes), afternoon picnics almost every day, watching the sunset every night at river Seine.

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Breakfast/Pastries/Coffee: Boot Cafe and Ob-La-Di (3rd), Du Pain et des Idées (10th) for incredible pastries,

Drinks: Hoppy Corner (2nd) for craft beers, Barapapa (a beer garden right on the river in the 12th), Vingt Vins d’Art (4th)

Cafes/Restaurants/Places to eat:  Hôtel Amour (near Montmarte) for delicious food and most incredible patio, L’As du Fallafel (right next to our Airbnb in Le Marais; we went twice) for THE yummiest falafel wraps ever, L’Improbable in Le Marais for snacks, Season (3rd) for healthy food, Les Pinces (4th) for seafood, Jaja (4th) for a romantic dinner, Café de Flore (6th) for amazing people watching, Les Deux Magots (6th) for people watching and delicious cheese plates, Le Fumoir (near the Louvre).

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Cute streets: Rue Cler is a great street with cafes and shops – perfect for picnic supply shopping to bring to the park near Eiffel. We also had rosé at Le Petit Cler one day. Rue Crémieux – an amazing small street lined with candy-colored rainbow houses. I was OBSESSED!

Tourist-y iconic places: Notre Dame, Palace du Palais Royal, Eiffel Tower, Montmarte, The Louvre, Arc de Triomphe, Tuileries Gardens. We actually went *all out touristy* and paid for tickets to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower. As expected, it was busy and a little overwhelming, but it was SO cool to see that view of Paris and beyond and check that off the list. ✔️

Other: shopping on a rainy day at Galeries Lafayette, wandering around Shakespeare & Company book store (5th), random shopping spots in Le Marais.

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If you are heading to Paris anytime soon, let me know! I would love to share more details and give recommendations — I have a HUGE list compiled from knowledgeable friends. xo

Previous Europe blog posts: Provence region, South of France, London.

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travel adventures: provence

Posted on: Monday, November 14, 2016

This blog post is very delayed, but wanted to continue sharing photos from our September trip to Europe. I previously shared photos from the South of France and London, and today want to share photos from stop #3 – the Provence region!

It took a little under two hours to drive from our stop #2 in Antibes in the South of France to Provence. After some recommendations from friends, we decided to stay in the centrally located town of Aix-en-Provence. We loved it! The town is filled with art schools and universities, so felt a little more bustling compared to some of the smaller towns around. We stayed at this amazing Airbnb, which I couldn’t recommend enough. It was on bustling, brick street surrounded by cafes, shops and restaurants.

While in Provence, we made the most out of having our car and drove to small towns nearby almost every day. Some of the places we visited were Bonnieux (that’s where the adorable home with the purple shutters below is), St. Remy De Provence, Gordes (which was the city below built on a cliff – looks like it’s made of rocks!) and Loumarin (which had an insane outdoor market that literally took over the entire town, plus there’s a nearby castle, pictured below). In each town, we ended up wandering around slowly and exploring, enjoying a glass of rosé (or two) and checking out the local shops and markets.

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My absolute FAVORITE thing about Aix, and the Provence region in general, was ALL OF THE MARKETS! Typically in SF, there are certain days for the flea market, farmers market, etc., but in Provence, there are outdoor markets everywhere, every day. We purchased gifts here for family – local spices and jewelry and soaps and bags of lavender. It’s a complete dream! The local produce was outstanding and we ended up going to markets almost every day for picnic supplies (cheese! fruit! crunchy bread!).

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I don’t really have specific restaurant or cafe recommendations, we kind of just winged it everywhere we went. In some of the smaller towns, there were only one or two cafes anyway! In Aix, there were a lot of options, so we used a mix of Foursquare and just walking around and looking at menus until we made a decision.

One thing I was surprised by was the wine tasting experience in Provence. It’s an amazing wine region, so we were so excited to try the wine! We love to go to Sonoma and other places nearby SF to go wine tasting, but it was totally different here. It seemed like people typically just went to pick up wine from the wineries, rather than do a full on tasting and make a day of it. We didn’t know that before just showing up to some wineries (ha) but still ended up being able to taste and enjoy. One favorite spot was one called Barbarella in a cool cave – more wine pics are below.

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More photos below; thanks for reading! If you have any Provence region recommendations, I’d love to hear them and add to the list for our next visit. xo // Previous travel blog posts here: South of France & London

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