Thursday, March 22, 2018

My Traveling Diaries | 2018 | Labadee, Haiti

Labadee is my Mother-in-law's favorite place to go because there's nothing too stressful or overwhelming about it. It's meant to be a place for kids, family and friends to sit back and relax and enjoy the music while soaking in the sea. Our day was cut a little short in the morning when we woke up to dark clouds and drizzling rain. We grabbed a late breakfast at the American Icon restaurant. We didn't want to waste any more time waiting out the rain, but as soon as our feet hit the sandy trails, the sun finally came out to play!

Royal Caribbean has created it's own private section of the island just for cruisers. Every time we come to Labadee they prepare an island barbecue for lunch where everyone gets to feast on ribs, burgers, salads, pasta and fruit. There were bars stationed at beaches with the drink of the day called the Labadoozie (and yes it was quite delicious)! We grabbed a couple loungers and stretched out beneath the sun.

We took a stroll through the Artisan's Village which was filled with local people selling anything you could think of. Tea sets, statues, cups, bowls, Haitian dolls, rocks, magnets... everything! Eager to strike up a deal, my Mother-In-Law (who is the #1 bargain shopper that I know) was leading the pack from section to section. We brushed through hundreds of paintings that were displayed along walkways. I would find myself lost in thought, analyzing the vivid colors and unique designs of ones I liked the most.

As the day was ending, the storm was headed our way again. We quickly grabbed our towels and clothes and said our goodbyes to the island. Our vacation was coming to an end. We'd have one more day at sea and then we'd be back to the U.S in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. 

Seth and I love cruising. We enjoy ourselves so much being out on the ocean. A ship filled with people that are ready for a carefree, simple and easy trip to maybe make a friend or two. Plus, who would've known that we would run into one of our old friends from the very first cruise we went on! I had been almost two years, but we ended up on the same ship on the same week as our friend Andrew! He was so very kind to us and left us with a parting gift after meeting him 2 years ago. He always says "I never really like to say goodbye to anyone, so I'll see you next time!"

Thanks for Reading
Love, Nick

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

My Traveling Diaries | 2018 | San Juan, Puerto Rico

Our return to San Juan began on the morning of day 5 of the cruise! My favorite part about Puerto Rico is all of the colorful architecture and landscapes. It seems as though every window, archway and roof has it's own touch of artistic personality that brings an inviting and creative feel. This place is the perfect combination of busy city buzz and a tropical island home. 

As soon as we get off the ship, we began our trek down the streets to find rows and rows of souvenir stands and art booths. We looked around at shirts, belts, cups and trinkets printed with large PUERTO RICO writings on the sides. We meandered through the city blocks, stopping to look inside parks and snap pictures of statues. We mostly stayed along the shore line, but we did manage to find an absolutely beautiful catholic church.

It is called the Cathedral of San Juan Bautista and it is the oldest church in America. It was first built in 1521 and was first designed with wood. After a hurricane blew out and destroyed all that hard work, another one was reconstructed out of stone, to ensure a sturdy and strong foundation. Juan Ponce de Leon was a Spanish explorer and also served as governor of Puerto Rico for some time. He became a very crucial piece in the construction of the church, but ended up passing away the same year that it was completed. The cathedral holds Ponce del Leon's tomb and is a favorite tourist spot to visit. It's easy to see why. The ceilings are gorgeous! It is filled with artwork and statues of prominent people of the church, as well as stunning stained glass windows.

We wandered around the shoreline and decided to pay another visit to the San Felipe del Morro Fortress for a history lesson. We looked from room to room, rediscovering the museum together as a family and talked about the history and construction of this massive fortress. A nice breeze came through the open balconies and tunnels making for an easy cool down. We couldn't forget to hit the gifts shops and collect some memorabilia. I collect magnets and pins from traveling adventures and found exactly what I needed to add to my collection back home!

By the time we made it back to the ship, our bellies were grumbling and feet were sore from walking around almost the entire island! We filled our day with a lot of good memories and some pretty great photos. It was a great day back in beautiful San Juan. As we headed back to our cabin, I began to realize that our trip was almost over. I tried ignoring the fact that real life and responsibilities were only a few days away, but we still had one more island to reach...

Thanks for Reading
Love, Nick

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

My Traveling Diaries | 2018 | St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands

Welcome to the island of St. Thomas! A sliver of paradise filled with creativity and relaxation. A few things we had on our to do list we were unable to accomplish, due to the fact the island was still recovering from back-to-back hurricanes. Tourism is one of the biggest generators of revenue for the people and the locals were helpful, friendly and kind to all of us

 After 4 days of cruising the sea, we finally landed it was nice to be on steady land! We were greeted outside the dock with colorful dancers and lively music welcoming us to their home. We took a ride into town to take a look inside the town. Custom made jewelry shops were on every single block. Art work was for sale in alley ways and galleries. We spoke to locals about the effects of the hurricanes a few months ago. They explained the devastation they experienced that has taken them a long time to get back on track. They still struggle to make ends meet, but they work hard every single day to get there.

If there was one place we knew we needed to visit, it was Magen's Bay. Arguably one of the most beautiful beaches in the world and a great hot spot for snorkeling. We walked along the shore and wadded out about waist deep. Tiny little schools of fish would come swimming around our knees and feet yet never getting too close. We decided to grab a quick lunch at their snack shack and bar with the family. Summer jams playing on the loud speakers made for a the perfect island atmosphere.

I really enjoyed our day trip to St. Thomas. It really is a gorgeous place. The weather was perfect and the water was cool, I could've easily spent all of my time on that island day after day after day. But alas, we boarded back onto the ship by sunset and began the journey to our next destination.

Thanks For Reading
Love, Nick

Monday, March 19, 2018

Cruising Diaries | Chapter 2 - Harmony of the Seas

Cruising is the kind of vacation designed for you to indulge a little, relax a little and enjoy being unplugged from the world of responsibilities. Seth and I are notorious workaholics, so an adventure like this came at the perfect time. We were so excited to take a much needed break with our family to eat together, laugh together and explore a few beautiful Caribbean islands!

Aboard a ship that is longer than the three football fields combined, the Harmony of the Seas is one of the largest cruise ships in the world to date. Not only does it house 6,000 people, but there are many upgrades that we enjoyed on the Harmony compared to our Honeymoon Cruise on the Allure of the Seas a few years back. The greatest thing about cruising is that every day is packed with activities, competitions and entertainment that you can fit the needs of all kinds of travelers! 

Cruise ships design each deck with different themes and features. Our cabin had a balcony overlooking Central Park, encased with the most colorful plants and fresh greenery. You could open our balcony door at night and listen to soft jazz playing down at the bar. Our spacious room had 2 separate closets, plenty of USB ports and electrical outlets and an air conditioning unit that could turn our room into a chilly refrigerator. 

We spent most of our time being over 200 feet above the ocean on the top deck of the ship overlooking the ocean. Swimming pools, water slides and splash parks for the little ones make this the perfect spot to cool down from the tropical heat. Seth spent a lot of his time on the Flow Rider, meeting new people and surfing the waves. I spent most of my time laying out by the pool, taking pictures around the ship or finding the nearest buffet line.

Another great thing about cruising is that you can find a lot of new things that you may have never done before, like zip lining or rock climbing! There are basketball courts, volleyball tournaments, table tennis and a mini golf course that everyone could enjoy! There was also a never ending faucet of frozen yogurt stand that was open all day long leaving kids buzzing and grinning ear to ear.

Nighttime is where the adults come out to play. Dressing up in fancy formal wear for the evening is a favorite part of cruising for most people. Every night, all sorts of entertainment was available like comedy shows, musicals and night clubs. The bionic bar was probably the coolest thing I've ever seen. A robotic bar that could generate almost any drink you could dream of, but nothing can beat endless supply of food and desserts inspired from around the world. The chefs on cruise ships continue to amaze me. Cooking non-stop all day long to feed the guests and the crew must is in my opinion very admirable and very delicious!

The cruise ship is only the beginning! It would be a shame to not shed let o the beautiful places we went to! We traveled to the island of St. Thomas, Puerto Rico and Haiti, so stay tuned for more... I'll be reliving and writing about the adventures for this entire week! 

Thanks For Reading
Love, Nick

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Daily Dosage | A Pep Talk From The Past...

I received my first journal when I was 8 years old and I've kept one with me ever since. I love cracking open a new notebook, breaking the seam and filling the pages with all of my nonsense that only I understand. It wasn't until a few days ago, where I finally decided to tackle the task cleaning our basement, where I found the box containing every single one of my journals. I sat down on a stool and began thumbing through old pages reminiscing about growing pains, boy problems and of course girl drama. I reached the end of my sophomore year of high school when I came across this entry... 

May 29, 2009 - Friday
Today was great. It's around 9:00pm and I am outside. I hear crickets chirping, kids playing and the still calmness that overcomes the neighborhood at night. I'm actually outside my bedroom window on some pavers. It forms a kind of bench structure with a bed of beautiful lilies and bleeding hearts.

It's weird to feel myself growing up. It very strange to know that each day I get older I am always learning something new. It's still nerve racking to think of who I'll date? Will they respect me? How can I talk to them? How do I kiss them? Who will I marry? How will I know that it's the right person? Would I ever regret it? So many of life's questions are flooding into my mind and honestly I'm scared! 

All that I know is that I am safe.

I hope future me is reading this and if so.... Hi!!! You have learned a lot in your childhood, both good and bad. You learned so much about yourself and that's what made you the amazing woman that you are today. You will have an incredible husband. 
You ARE capable. You ARE ready

It's funny to read a message that I wrote myself... about myself.  Whatever the reason my be, at that moment in time I had to make sure to remind myself that being safe was my number one priority. I had dealt with a huge amount of anxiety all throughout my childhood. I never felt safe... at school or with myself. It took me awhile to grow out of being afraid of what I looked like, how others perceived me or if I said the wrong thing. I may not have been that beautiful blonde bombshell shining with confidence, but I was that awkward redheaded girl that performed with the marching band.
Plus, you want to know the truth?
 I wouldn't want to change a damn thing.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Journal Prompt | If Money Meant Nothing...

What would life be like with without money? It sounds like everything would be pretty blissful right? If money weren't an object to me, I would wake up in the morning and start every day with goals. I would immediatley plan out my big dream voyage to every single country. I would find beautiful places to stay, eat everything I could, I would buy clothes, rugs, pottery, paintings and pretty much anything legal I could ship back home.  I could spend weeks taste testing the culture and dance every night. I would want to meet new people, talk to them for the night over glasses of champagne with cheese and fruit plates. I would want to hold photo shoots and video shoots galore over seas while participating in every activity I can every where I go.

If I were back in the states, I would stay home all day long and read books, watch movies, write down my thoughts and alternate between eating out and making food at home. I would go swimming, paddle boarding and surfing every day at the lake during the summers with no recollection of time. I would make sure that my parents have everything they need as well as my sisters. Give help to them with whatever was needed like food, clothing, classes or bills. I would most definitely buy some new clothes, jewelry and probably hire a hair and make up artist to do my hair because most days it seems like a chore to me! If I never had to worry about money again, but others did, I would first make sure that my family was taken care of, including the paying off the mortgage and all debts were gone. I would want to give as much as I could to all organizations I believed in. Get behind charities I believe do good and maybe even start one of my own. 

It's fun to think about what your life would be like with out having to worry about money ever again, but I almost think it would make life really boring. I actually enjoy working and earning money. The biggest difference between getting everything you want and earning everything you want, is that you feel a great deal of confidence and satisfaction when you put effort into earning your rewards. You're not just handed things because they can be handed to you, you deserve them because you actually worked hard for them.  My husband has told me over and over that he can tell when I've had a productive and successful day at work, because I come home to him in a great mood. I've never really needed the nicest or most expensive things this world has to offer, all it comes down to is the friends and family we have, and making sure we are healthy and happy. There is nothing wrong with having goals though and working hard towards things you want. Always remember that there is so much more to life than money. I mean, in the end, money really is just paper anyway right?

Thanks For Reading
Love, Nick