Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic is at the easternmost tip of the island. Known for its stretch of crystal clear water, fine white soft sand and perfect sunny weather year round. Oh, and we can’t forget the all-inclusive resorts! There are dozens of resorts to choose from, which are all similar but have their own unique touch. There are so many activities to do at the hotel that is included but there are even more things to do outside. All the food and drinks are also included with your stay for a very reasonable price. And that’s what keeps me coming back all year!

I have been to Punta Cana four times. The first two were for family vacations. We loved it so much I even chose it for my honeymoon and then we went back again for our fist year anniversary. Living in Florida makes it just a small flight away. We drive to Miami then fly for about two hours and we’re there.

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Miami from above

When you arrive at the airport if you have not prebooked your transportation you want to search for a driver. I will recommend walking to the outside of the airport where you will find cheaper prices and everything is negotiable. If you don’t like the price just walk away and they will come find you. Don’t worry about safety they all need special passes to get into the airport and are verified at the gate and trust me that’s how they make a living, I’m sure they are not willing to risk it. Be friendly and be prepared to tip everyone. Just a couple of dollars will make their day. You then will be taken to the hotel zone where everyone entering also needs passes. The entrances are really grand. Beautiful landscape, trees, and flowers.

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Our second trip was to a resort named Majestic Colonial. Big beautiful open lobby. You’re always greeted with their signature drink. They take your luggage while you check in and if you’re nice you might even get an upgrade. Then they walk you to your room and talk about the hotel. The hallways are very long all in the open air and you see all the nature around you. Usually, we check out the room and then go eat. At the Majestic Colonial, the rooms were a good size and not so modern. It had high ceilings with fans. There was a jacuzzi tub in the middle of the room in the open. And our balcony view was to the pool. This was my favorite pool. It goes alongside the resort in a lazy river style ending near the beach. With the pool bar in the middle with music and live entertainment. They had a foam party one of the days, we had a blast.

Majestic Colonial

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Our third trip was for our honeymoon. For this occasion, we wanted something nicer, more private, and romantic. We chose the resort named The Reserve at Paradisus Palma Real. It was everything we wanted. The room was like an apartment. It had the kitchen, living room, room, and bathroom all spaced out ideally. The balcony led to its own private pool area and even had a jacuzzi. The resort was very quiet and adult like. Something nice was that the resort next door is from the same Paradisus chain but more inexpensive. It was just a private golf cart ride away and it was the party hotel. More of what you would expect, more people and lively, which was perfect being able to choose when to have your own getaway and when to interact with others. The Reserve also had my favorite food and drinks. I would definitely recommend when you arrive to make reservations for dinner. This goes for all of the resorts. They all have many options and you want to make sure you can go to all.

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For our first year anniversary, we chose a resort that was recommended to us. The resort named Barcelo Bavaro Palace. I had very high expectations! The resort was beautiful and huge. Our room was by the chapel on the lake which was super far. You had to walk away from the main building and along a path to make it to ours. Definitely the biggest resort I been to. The rooms were modern and very pretty colors. The pool was very fun and there was entertainment everywhere.

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All of the resorts have amazing food. Most are similar but also have different options. For breakfast, it’s a buffet style with options such as your regulars. Different styles of eggs, meats, bread. Even Dominican style breakfasts. For lunch, it is also buffet style. Different meats, seafood, pasta, rice, beans, and vegetarian options as well. Dinners you can choose buffet or the restaurant you made reservations for. Examples are Dominican, Seafood, Asian, French, Steakhouse and other styles. Make sure you make your reservations the first night as they fill up quickly.

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Spain Omelette, Potatoes, Chorizo, Pastry
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Lobster, Shrimp, Tostones, Rice & Veggies
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Steak & baked potato

The tours! You can choose to spend your days at the resort and you won’t get bored there’s so much to do. But if you go to another country it’s fun to explore outside. There are so many things to do! You can explore the nearby cities, visit the capital, go to the rainforest, the caves or the beaches. We have done all of the above.

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Punta Cana, Dominican Republic has so many things to do and it is always in our top picks. I would love to give you any tips or advice if you’re planning a trip. Also, I would encourage you to try it out for yourself you won’t go wrong!

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Islands we saw on the way back

-Dayana

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Tokyo’s themed cafes

We had planned our trip to Japan/South Korea about a year before going (2015). When you think of a year you might think it’s a long time, but it went by flying and now it’s almost been a year since our trip (we went early April 2016)! It’s crazy! I actually really liked that I had a year to plan our trip because I truly had fun doing it. I’ve never actually had an itinerary for any of my trips, we just kind of picked spots we were interested in visiting and would just go with the flow, but for our Japan trip, I went above and beyond. I wanted it to be perfect and most of all I wanted to make sure we would go to ALL the themed cafes that were available at the time.

I was a bit upset when I found out the Sailor Moon cafe was going to open the day I left Japan! My favorite anime since I was a kid was Sailor Moon and I had heard that in the past they would open pop-up cafes with a Sailor Moon theme and it’d be in early April everytime and for a limited time. I also learned that Starbuck’s famous cherry blossom flavored items would come out earlier than expected that year, so I was extremely sad about that as well because I didn’t know if I’d ever visit Japan again. When I went to South Korea though they still had it available so I actually got to enjoy Starbuck’s yummy cherry blossom flavored mocha.

The first cafe I went to was the Alice in Wonderland cafe. There are several Alice in Wonderland cafes in Tokyo, but this one was the one I chose because of the queen of hearts theme. I felt like I was in a dream!

I will be putting the address for the places in English as well as in Japanese. Hubby and I found it much easier to give a taxi driver the address in Japanese. It’s a struggle when it’s in English.

Alice in Magical Land, Nishi-Shinjuku

Address: Shinjuku Nishiguchi Huluku B3, 1-5-1 Nishi Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 160-0023

Address in Japanese: 〒160-0023 東京都新宿区西新宿1-5-1 新宿西口ハルクB3

Access: JR Shinjuku Station Central West Exit a 1-minute walk

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The caterpillar parfait
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Queen of hearts chocolate brownie ❤

 

The 2nd cafe was the Little Twin Stars cafe. We actually didn’t even know that this cafe was going to be opened. It was a collaboration between Little Twin Stars characters Kiki & Lala and Nicolas House and would be opened for a limited time. We were walking around Harajuku and when I saw it I immediately wanted to eat there. We had passed by other cute cafes before finding this one but needed a reservation, so we were surprised when we were able to get a table. It was so cute! There is no address for this one as it was a pop-up cafe that was opened for a limited time.

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We had lots of fun at a Maid Cafe we went to in Akihabara Electric Town (a shopping district for video games, anime, manga and all electronics, hence why they call it “Electric Town”). We felt like it’s something you have to do there. Depending on what you choose to eat they’ll ask you what you want “drawn” on your food and they’ll “draw” it on your plate with ketchup or something. Beware, they will make you chant/sing cute things and after your meal, they might take you to their stage and take cute pictures with bunny ears (I don’t remember, but probably for an extra charge)! I’m warning you just in case you’re not ok with that lol.

Maidreamin Akihabara Electric Town-Exit Store

Address: Takarada Chuo-dori Building 3F, 1-14-1 Sotokanda, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 101-0021

Address in Japanese: 〒101-0021 東京都千代田区外神田1-14-1 宝田中央通りビル3F

Access: 1 minute on foot from JR “Akihabara” station (electric town mouth)

Tokyo Metro Ginza line “Suehiro cho” station 7 minutes on foot

 

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Kuma Chan Curry
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Omelette Rice

 

We also went to the Robot Restaurant (you do need a reservation for this one btw) in Shinjuku and really liked the show. The food wasn’t great, so that’s why I don’t have any pictures of it. I don’t have any pictures of the show either because I mostly took video, so here are 2 pictures that look decent enough (sorry no awesome robot pictures either, just took video *sigh*) lol. We did love the sake my husband ordered here. It turned out to be our favorite, but when we wanted to buy some at the airport they didn’t have the brand :(. It’s called Sho Chiku Bai Mio Sparkling Sake.

Robot Restaurant

Address: 1-7-1 Kabukicho Shinjuku-ku Tokyo, Japan

Address in Japanese:東京都新宿区歌舞伎町1-7-1新宿ロボットビルB2F

Access: JR Yamanote Line Shinjuku Station 5 minutes on foot from east exit

Tokyo Metro Line Shinjuku Sanchome Station 5 minutes on foot from Exit B9IMG_1970

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Sho Chiku Sparkling Sake

Some friends we met along the way recommended the Final Fantasy Eorzea cafe near Akihabara. We didn’t even know there was one and thanks to them we were able to go and check it out! It was awesome and the food not only looked cool but was really good. They also have a few computers where you can play Final Fantasy. The restrooms are really fancy here btw! So many BUTTONS! :O lol

Final Fantasy Eorzea Cafe

Address:1-1-10 Kanjinka Chiyoda-ku , Tokyo Pasera Resorts AKIBA Multi-entertainment 2F

Address in Japanese: 東京都千代田区外神田1-1-10パセラリゾーツAKIBAマルチエンターテインメント 2F

Click here and it will take you to a page with different ways to access the cafe and even shows pictures so you can easily get to the cafe from whatever station you’re at. It is in Japanese so just make sure you translate it to your preferred language.

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Bar area

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Big hamburger of Titan
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Squid ink pasta of Spriggan (sorry it came out blurry :/)

 

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Drink of Materia IV
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Drink of monk
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Honey toast of Demon Wall
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Chocolate parfait of Spriggan

 

 

I really enjoyed all of the cafes I visited and can assure you we will be going back to visit more! Hopefully I’ll get to visit the Sailor Moon one next time! 🙂 Let me know in the comments or by email if you have any questions!

-Daylin

Barcelona, Spain, where it all started!

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May of 2011 I found out I had the opportunity to go to Spain. It had never crossed my mind to want to go and I had never done any research on it. The only thing relating me to Spain was knowing that my great-grandparents had been born there. Nothing of that mattered the only thing I knew was that I wanted to go! Daylin and her parents were going to visit Spain and invited me to go along. I immediately said yes! I was young at the time and working in retail, so I asked for extra hours and with the help of my parents, I was able to save up enough money to go on the trip with them. I was so excited!

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May 21, 2011, all the way from Florida

I remember the flight was very long, there were a couple layovers and stops in places like Atlanta, Michigan, Amsterdam, and Paris. When we finally made it to our destination I came to find out my luggage had not made it and would take a couple days to get to the hotel. It was all worth it though because once we got to the hotel we started exploring. Our hotel was very close to Camp Nou the famous soccer stadium. We could walk to so many places, everything was really close. We arrived late so we walked down the street looking for somewhere to eat and came across a tapas restaurant. Tapas are very famous in Spain. They are small dishes kind of like sampler dishes. Below is what we tried and it turned out to be our favorite kind of tapas. We were obsessed! The tapas dish is called Patatas bravas, which is eggs over potato wedges with chorizo & ham croquettes.

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Camp Nou
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Camp Nou
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Patatas Bravas (fave tapas!)

Everything we tried on our trip tasted so amazing. Maybe the ingredients they use are just better. Everything is so fresh and natural. No chemicals or processed foods. We visited some of my uncle’s friends that were living there at the time and stayed over for dinner. They made regular Cuban food I’m used to eating at home. Pork chops, arroz congri and salad. I was in shock at how different everything tasted! Even the simple things I was used to tasting, tasted so good.

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No need to say we ate a lot and enjoyed every second of it. We also visited a nearby city called Tarragona, which was about an hour away from Barcelona. I had never done so much walking in my life like I did that day in Tarragona. We took the fast train to get there and then walked everywhere imaginable. We visited the Roman theatre of Tarraco or Tarragona Amphitheater which was in the times of Augustus built in the 2nd century AD and seated up to 15,000 people but was unfortunately destroyed with time. Tarragona is a port city, therefore, it has beautiful water scenery. We had lunch at a restaurant near the port with outside seating under perfect weather. We had a fish dish, paella, and that was when my cousin and I tried calamari for the fist time and fell in love. Now, many years later, I consider myself a calamari expert due to how many different ones I have tried. It was love at first taste.

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Tarragona, Spain
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Theatre of Tarraco
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Tarragona, Spain
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Tarragona, Spain

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Paella

We stayed in Barcelona for about two weeks. We separated from my aunt and uncle and would only meet up by coincidence or for a few things we had planned together. It was pretty cool as it was the first time we were alone in another country. We created a game plan so we could tackle as much as possible. We picked up the best travel guide which included pictures of the must see locations and circled the ones of interest and would visit the ones around the same area per day. I could say we literally saw everything there was to see.

We traveled up and down by foot. We took the subway likes pros, it was a very easy system although us being fluent in Spanish certainly helped. We took the local bus and every other way of transportation. Walked through the famous La Rambla, a street in central Barcelona loaded with tourists and many things to see, buy and eat. Visited the beach and many more places like the Sagrada Familia, Park Guell, Casa Mila, Montjuic, and Plaza Barcelona just to name a few.

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Loved this water fountain!
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Park Guell
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Park Guell
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Park Guell
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Park Guell
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Park Guell
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Casa Mila
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Beach
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Barcelona, Spain
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La Sagrada Familia
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La Sagrada Familia

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Market
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Market

This experience was so wonderful and I was so thankful for everything that made it possible for me to go and enjoy myself. We had an amazing time and that was the start of our passion for travel.

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-Dayana

Kyoto

We thought we were going to love Kyoto from the moment we stepped off the train, but it took us a bit to get used to how different it was from Tokyo. The first thing we noticed was that since it’s an older city the trains weren’t as quick to get to the train station as they were in Tokyo. Since we got used to everything being quick in Tokyo it was hard to get used to waiting. Another thing was that at night (around 8ish I’d say) we had nothing else to do but go back to our Airbnb. We are night owls and love going out at night, so that was really disappointing. We do, however, want to give Kyoto another try because we just felt like we didn’t really explore much, especially since it was our first ever trip to Japan so we wanted to stick to what we had researched and didn’t venture out.

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Before I go on, when arriving at the station in Kyoto I decided to use the bathroom and it was surely an experience! I knew I was in the women’s bathroom for sure because when I arrived there was a long line of women waiting. When I finally got to the beginning of the line I saw what looked like a urinal and thought it looked weird just there at the end of the bathroom hall. If anyone knows what it’s for please share because I’d love to know! When I made it into a stall I noticed there was no “toilet” and I had to squat to pee (thank goodness I didn’t have to go for something else :O).

When we got to our Airbnb we saw many foreigners coming in and out of the building and it looked like it was going through renovations. When we got to our apartment the guy was just finishing up with cleaning and let us in to leave our bags. We really liked how clean he’d left it and we were also impressed by how big it was because we had heard about many apartments being pretty small.

Click here to go to this Airbnb’s page!

 

Our first day we decided to walk around our neighborhood and find a good place to eat. We found a really hippy/cool/chill cafe a few blocks from our Airbnb and decided to check it out. It turned out to be our favorite breakfast/brunch place we ate at on our whole trip. The owner was such a cool guy and our waiter was so sweet and attentive. We later found them on Instagram by the name globe_mountain_coffee (go follow now!).

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Best pancakes ever!

 

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After breakfast, the first day, we decided to visit the Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine. I was so excited to see it in person. When we got there it was packed with people, something that didn’t even cross my mind. I don’t know why I expected it to be less crowded, but I was really bummed to see that many people at the entrance. Later, as we got closer to the top, the crowd of people was less and less. I noticed why that was rather quickly. We had to walk up so many steps to get to the top, but it was completely worth it because not only was the view amazing but there were not that many people and we were able to get some really cool shots.

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This place was truly magical
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Good luck fox charms

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The second day in Kyoto we went to the Bamboo Forest. This time there was no escaping the crowds though. The road through the forest was really not that long, so there was a lot of people and not as many spots to take nice shots without people’s head in the way. On the bright side, we got to see two geishas/maikos (not sure which one, but probably maikos) walking into the forest right before people started walking their way. We were able to take one awesome shot with no one in the background and that was the best part for me. We had seen girls dressed up like a geisha/maiko, but never with their face painted, so this was so nice to see some with the white on their face. I can’t be certain that they were “real” because although they looked like they were in a hurry and not really willing to stop for pictures, like most tourists that dress up as them do, they did have a few things that made me question their realness. One of them being the fact that “real” geisha/maiko tend to stay away from the crowds, which would slow them down to get to work and the bamboo forest is definitely a crowded place. Either way, I was delighted to see 2 and in such a pretty area.

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Bamboo forest

 

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Geishas/Maikos in the Bamboo forest

 

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Ablutions fountain
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Messenger Fox
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Foo dog/Guardian dog

 

At night, the first night we went to a really nice Japanese style restaurant (a sit down on the floor type). I have been used to sitting “Indian style” or “W-sitting” on the floor since I was a kid, so it was hard for me to understand why my husband was having such a hard time with it. I couldn’t stop laughing at him constantly trying to get into a comfy position. I felt really bad when I saw it impossible for him to do. He definitely wanted the experience but said this would be the last time because he could just not enjoy his food being so uncomfortable. Anyways, this first restaurant was a hole in the wall little place we found just walking around our neighborhood. We actually didn’t even notice it was a restaurant until we looked a second time and they had like an outdoor menu. Everything was in Japanese, but nothing a little basic Japanese from my husband and of course google couldn’t fix. We had a little bit of a struggle giving our order, but the Japanese are willing to help as long as you try too. We struggled with our Japanese and they struggled with their English, but we did get what we want in the end and they were so happy to see us trying our best to communicate in Japanese.

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The second night was a blast because my husband had already planned from before our trip to go to this restaurant. The restaurant’s name is Menbakaichidai and they serve “fire” ramen. They set you up in their bar area and tell you to put your hair back if it’s long & to lean back once he comes around to your plate to set it on “fire”. They also take your phone and set it up in front of you on video to catch your reaction to the explosion. We really had a great time and the owner was so funny. Definitely recommend coming here!

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Menbakaichidai
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Fire ramen! “No Ra-men no life”

Hope you enjoyed!

-Daylin