In April we went on Carnival Vista to Aruba. One reason I like cruises is because you get the chance to explore a different place for a day. Many times you want to go on vacation and see many pretty places but will you really like it? Not all places are as nice as the images or fun. Sometimes I like to try a place before I actually decide to book a full week there and spend so much money.
Aruba is a small Dutch island off of the coast of Venezuela. Part of the ABC island which also includes Bonaire and Curaçao. Aruba is very unique because some parts are tropical, with white sand and clear blue beaches but also has a dry climate with cactuses.
When we arrived at the cruise port first we decided to walk around near the port. We saw many places to eat and cute little souvenir vendors. The buildings were all different and very pretty, everything was clean and seemed safe. We really liked walking around but we decided to go back to the port to book a tour and come back after. There were people standing around with the little tour booklets so we chose the whole island tour.
It was very nice it was a guided tour. During the car ride the guy explained the island’s history and when we arrived at the locations he would get off with us. He showed us around or helped with anything until we had to go back. First we stopped by an Asian store, they had everything and of course, husband had to try the local beer.
Our first stop was at Ayo and Casibari Rock Formation. This was my favorite! From the bottom, you could see the huge boulders and we were excited to climb to the top not knowing what we would find. There was desert sand and cactuses and other pretty trees. We started the climb which was very steep. My husband is 6’4″ and found some places a bit tight to get through, luckily I’m small and had no problems. It was a fun climb and when we got up there it was just breathtaking! Beyond beautiful you could see everything from there. The colors were amazing. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.
Our second stop was near the coast where there were rocky edges and harsh waves. At this moment I thought all of Aruba was dessert and rocks. To be honest, I was tired of seeing red sand and cactuses, I thought there were no beaches or nice landscapes. Regardless it was still beautiful. We also visited an old gold mine. It was in ruins but you could climb to the top and once again the views did not disappoint. Everywhere you turned there was an amazing view.
The next location was the famous natural bridge. Although the original bridge collapsed in 2005 it’s still a very nice area. There is a baby bridge to see and you can walk over it. There’s also a souvenir shop and on the outside wall, you can see an image of the original bridge.
We learned that nothing is really produced in Aruba. Everything is imported making prices more expensive. We noticed there were all different types of social classes. We saw modest homes and also very expensive big houses with a view.
We were headed to the beach. I wasn’t sure what to expect. Along the way, we stopped for some refreshments next to the lighthouse. Then we drove down and passed by a couple of hotel zones. Our tour guide took us to a beach which was very nice but not the busiest major beach. He dropped us there and asked at what time we wanted him to pick us back up. A couple hours later he arrived on time just as he said. The beach did not disappoint as well. The sand was soft white and the water crystal clear blue.
The word I will use to describe Aruba is unique. Not what I was expecting and full of surprises. Every time I wasn’t too sure about something, it ended up blowing me away. Views for days! Red dessert sand and cactuses to white sand and blue water. I enjoyed Aruba so much I would definitely come back in the future for a whole week to keep exploring everything I missed.
I came across this little gem by accident. Scrolling through Instagram I found a post that caught my eye. I will start off by saying I absolutely love Asian food! I’m even thinking I must have some Asian in my DNA because my love for Asian cuisine is outrageous. I even annoy my husband when deciding where to eat because that’s always my first choice. Anyways, the picture was a delicious bowl of ramen. Yumm! I find it a little difficult to venture out and find authentic Asian restaurants. I want to always make sure I fully understand what I’m eating and that it will taste good. So I was really excited when I read the caption and it was ramen and they said it was so good. I had to try it!
The location was easy to get to from my house. The place was clean and tables were full which is a very good sign. Also, the menu was very well translated and the prices were good. Our server was very friendly and helpful as I always have many questions. We ordered a couple items just to try it out. When our food arrived everything looked good and smelled good. Let’s dig in!
For appetizers, we chose spring roll with shrimp and roast pork. It was two of them for $2.95 it was my first time trying it. They looked very pretty and I love shrimp so I was very excited about this one. It was very fresh and the shrimp tasted good. The only thing is there was a taste to it that was not of my liking. I believe a herb but I couldn’t tell what it was called so I just gave it to my husband which liked it very much. He had the wonton soup $3.50 the flavor was very good but for my liking, it was too fatty tasting. Of course, he loved it too!
My main plate was the same exact thing I came for, Ramen. I have had Pho before but I didn’t like it. Why!? I felt like something was wrong with me. I had done all my research and imagined how great it would taste. I was so disappointed and sad but everyone else liked it, what was I doing wrong? It’s ok, my life was changed when I met real ramen and from that day forward I was on the hunt to find the best ramen spots. This spot did not disappoint. The herbs were so fresh and smelled great. The ramen bowl was beautifully colored. I could not wait to get my hands on it and it was oh so delicious! Egg noodle soup with roast pork and shrimp $7.75 my husband had the caramelized spare ribs with onions $9.95 they were made in fish sauce. A little skeptical at first but it tasted amazing as well. It came with white rice.
We were very happy with this restaurant we came back two days later for the ramen again. We will try different things from the menu but sometimes those ramen cravings just take over. Thanks for the great food and friendly service. Make sure you give this place a try!
The Airbnb we stayed at in Puerto Vallarta was amazing and we would book it again in a heartbeat if we ever decide to visit again, which will most likely be the case since we didn’t get to do everything we wanted. We really recommend staying at Eric and Nicki’s place, as it has a really authentic Mexican feel to it with really vibrant colors and an amazing tiled kitchen, which we honestly didn’t use, but if our stay would’ve been longer I would’ve been delighted to use.
The moment we walked into the place I knew we were going to love it. They had just cleaned, so it smelled great. The windows were all opened, so the billowing curtains announced a nice cool breeze and I could hear birds singing, which made it all the better. The fans were also on, so the air circulated around the whole place really well. We did end up turning on the AC at night and closing all the windows so we could sleep (we like it to be cooler at night, so the breeze from outside wasn’t enough). Every time we’d head out to explore, if we would see Nicki around she would give us really good tips on where to go and where to eat. She was really sweet and we were really impressed with her Spanish! She’s from the states, but has lived there I think she said for about 7 years, so she speaks it very well. We didn’t meet Eric, which I think is the actual owner of the place, but Nicki made sure our stay was a great one. She lives in the bottom part, so what you would get would be the second (kitchen & living room area), third (bedroom & bathroom) and fourth floor (washer/dryer & terrace w/ tiny pool). Keep in mind that the part of the house you would be staying at is on the SECOND floor lol. That means you’ll have to go up quite a few stairs to get to it, so we advise not to take too much luggage because it’ll be a hassle since to get to the bedroom (the 3rd floor) you’d have to go up MORE stairs and if you are not the active type it can get tiring. They do have pets (2 dogs I believe and a lovely cat) that mostly stay downstairs at her place. Their cat did wait for us outside our door the last two days waiting for us to come out and pet her, which we thought was adorable.
Click here to check out the video we made about our trip to Puerto Vallarta!
We just got back from our trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and it was amazing (PLEASE GO CHECK OUT OUR AWESOME PUERTO VALLARTA VIDEO)! Words can’t describe how awesome it was. We were looking to go somewhere different yet close enough to Florida that we wouldn’t have to spend so much time on our way there since we were only able to go for 5 days. We decided on Puerto Vallarta after having two pages opened, one with Expedia for prices and the other with a map to look up places. On our quest, we actually found really cool places to visit, but it was just not the right time to go. Until we finally found Puerto Vallarta and at a great price!
We didn’t expect to need more days than we booked our trip for, but man were we wrong! Five days was just not enough. We did so much, yet we missed out on doing so many things we wanted to do. We are thin, but definitely not in the greatest shape to be doing so many outdoorsy things so we would do an excursion one day and would want to take it easy the next just because we were so sore the next day from all we did. I do barre classes which really prepared me more than I thought, but my husband hasn’t had the time to work out as much as he’d like so he struggled more in certain activities.
When we got there we were tired and really hungry. While walking to the Malecon we saw a restaurant/pub that looked pretty cool and saw they were airing a soccer game, so we went in and grabbed some drinks and relaxed while watching the game. Our vacation had started!
Our Airbnb host recommended we walk around a close by area to the house and find some local eats and that’s exactly what we did! We just found a whole bunch of locals sitting down at this long table in a hidden street and a whole bunch of vendors to the side selling food. This dish had meat, rice, beans and a salad. Super good!
At night we walked around a nearby neighborhood and found a restaurant called El Mole de Jovita and decided to give it a try. I’m usually really picky and don’t like to risk trying things when I’m really hungry but I always make an effort when we’re traveling to try things, especially when I’ve never heard of or seen it before. I’ve heard of “mole” (pronounced Mo-Leh. Like the MO of the word “MOtion” and the LE like the word “siLEnt” is the best I could explain the pronunciation in English as.) before but didn’t know what it looked like or what exactly it was. It looked interesting though because the lady was actually making it outside and giving samples as people walked by, so we decided to stay and eat there after tasting it. After talking with our waiter for a while we found out he actually lived in the Tampa Bay Area a few years ago but had decided to move back to Mexico and live in Puerto Vallarta. What a small world!
They have 3 different type of moles. Mole Jovita, which is the original mole (chocolate base), Mole Pipian (squash base) and Mole Verde (tomato base). I liked the Mole Jovita and Mole Verde and my husband liked the Mole Pipian and Mole Verde, so we both ordered chicken with the two mole sauces we liked. It tasted like something I’ve never tried before, but very good and we’d definitely come back here again if we ever get the chance to visit again.
The next morning we had breakfast at around the same place where all the locals were eating at the day before. Again there is no name for the place, so you’d just have to pick whichever of the stands or spots you like the food from what you see and order.
After, we went to like a 7-eleven type store called Oxxo and bought a Mexican energy drink to try something other than the regular red bull we always get. I’m not really into green tea (it was green tea flavored), but it was really good. Tasted much better than red bull in my opinion.
We then headed out to Conchas Chinas beach. Throughout our trip, we noticed that asking taxi drivers for recommendations was a good idea and this beach was a great beach to take our drone and our cameras to since it wasn’t a beach where there’d be many people at. Actually, when we went there were just a few people and no one really stayed long since the current was strong.
After we flew our drone (the DJI Mavic Pro, which we totally recommend) for a while and enjoyed the view of Conchas Chinas beach we wanted to head to the other beach the taxi driver suggested we visit, Mismaloya Beach (a popular beach in Puerto Vallarta with a view of Los Arcos which I will show below). When we got there we actually ended up horseback riding up to “El Eden” where one of the scenes in the movie Predator (1987) with Arnold Schwarzenegger was filmed at. They take a picture of you in the entrance and then you can enter the park. We didn’t do anything in the park but just have lunch at the restaurant there. You can, however, do many things there like zip lining, swimming in the river and hiking. The restaurant honestly was a bit over priced (we guessed it was due to how touristy the place is) and the food was ok. I personally didn’t really like my food, which was just chicken with rice. My husbands fish tasted great though, so I guess it’s a hit or miss. The view of the river where we sat was nice because it was a little farther from all the kids at the other side playing in the water. If you have kids though there is a closer area by the water where you can eat while your kid plays in the river. The river isn’t deep and the zip lining is right across from the restaurant.
As for the horseback riding tour, there really isn’t much to say other than it was EXTREMELY HOT and it takes an hour to get to El Eden from where the tour starts. It was just my husband and me so that was nice, but I wouldn’t take that tour again if they offered it to me. Beautiful horses, but I didn’t like the fact that they gave me a horse that had just had her baby about 3 months ago and was really impatient and honestly I wouldn’t have ridden on her if the guy didn’t offer to hold her while I was on the whole trip to El Eden because I was so scared. I felt sorry for the guy cause he had to walk holding my horse the whole 2 hours to and from the Park, but they shouldn’t have done that. The horse was wanting to go back to her baby the whole time and I felt horrible about her being away from her newborn after I found out. I don’t think it was a specific tour agency because it was just some random guy that was by the tour agency stands at the Mismaloya bus stop, so I can’t tell you the tour agency name since I think it was just a local with a ranch full of horses trying to make some money. Of course, leave it to us and follow the guy *sigh*.
At night we went to an event (maybe like a fair) they were having with a show and a whole bunch of food game stands. We had crepes and got a little too addicted to the shooting game lol (no pictures of that though).
The same guy that we bought the horseback riding tour from sold us the Marietas Island tour the next day with a legit tour agency called Vallarta by Boat. I will be talking about that tour on a separate blog post because I have quite a lot to say about it, so stay tuned for that!
In that specific tour, we met a group of people and decided to meet up at night for dinner. They were from Puebla, Mexico and it was their first time in Puerto Vallarta as well. We waited for them at the Malecon (an oceanfront promenade that borders the shoreline along the downtown area’s main street, Paseo Diaz Ordaz) while we took pictures around the area. They said that they also got suggestions about where to eat from their taxi drivers and so far all the restaurants were great, so we decided to try another restaurant they had on their list called Cuates y Cuetes. It was right by the water and you could choose to eat inside or outside on the sand. It was by far our favorite restaurant on our whole trip! Definitely, give it a try if you are in the area!
After we had brunch we went to Los Arcos to fly our drone and get some cool shots for our video and after, Mismaloya Beach to relax on our last day. We don’t know what the big hype was about Mismaloya beach because you could barely swim with all the small boats anchored so close to shore and more kept coming in. I also had the impression it’d be a long beach, but it was extremely small and full of people. I would’ve gone back to Conchas Chinas Beach in a heartbeat if it hadn’t been so far away from Mismaloya. The only thing it has that makes it special in my opinion is a view of Los Arcos.
When we got back to our Airbnb to watch the video we had taken it turned out it was out of focus the whole time, so we made the decision to go back to Los Arcos (a 20-minute drive) to take the video again. We just couldn’t leave Puerto Vallarta until we got the shot of Los Arcos. I mean that’s one of Puerto Vallarta’s main sites. We couldn’t miss it! We made it at sunset and actually got some really cool shots!
The same taxi driver who took us to Los Arcos a second time was the one who recommended the last restaurant we went to and that’s when we found out they are not all going to recommend the best places to eat. Many taxi drivers get a commission for taking people to certain restaurants/places, so you have to be keen in observing who is who, something I lack completely. My husband could tell he was trying to get us to go to this restaurant and found it fishy (he’s pretty street smart) he said it had a nice view though so we just let him take us. The restaurant truly did have an amazing view and great food, the only thing was that it was really expensive and full of foreigners, something we usually avoid because it’s a sign of something being expensive and also we like to try what locals eat. Be careful about being fooled to go somewhere expensive when you could eat good and cheap somewhere else. Either way, we enjoyed it! The view really was incredible and we got to meet a really sweet 10-year-old boy who was in charge of preparing guacamole for anyone who asked for some. He said that after school he would go straight to the restaurant to work and that when he grows up he wants to be an architect. We thought he was adorable and commended him for staying in school and not dropping out.
Our waiter recommended everything we ate and we just went with it. We don’t regret it even though some things I would’ve never ordered had I been back home lol. Everything was delicious, but I completely forgot to get the name of the dishes, so I’ll come back to update it if I find it.
PHEWW!! That was a longgg post! Hopefully I didn’t bore you too much. Since it was way too much information I decided to split it into parts, so look out for our post on the Airbnb we stayed at and for the review of the Playa del Amor tour!
Our anniversary falls on July 25th and we got married in 2015. Our wedding was beautiful and everything went as perfect as possible. I enjoyed every moment of it surrounded by our loved ones. We made sure to take a moment to sit back and observe everything as everyone always says that day goes by so fast, well it did. For our first year anniversary, we wanted to recreate something similar with our friends and family and also something romantic for just us two. We also had a vacation planned. The 25th fell on a Monday so the Saturday before we were having a party my mom was preparing. The Sunday before we were doing a dinner cruise and the Saturday after we were traveling to the Caribbean for a weeks vacation.
I was so excited for the party. I’m very hands on and crafty so I definitely wanted to be involved in the planning and decorating. I had to think about a theme or color scheme. Pinterest always helps! After searching I decided on gold, white and black. The first thing we did was order a cake matching the colors, and buy party decoration. Then we ordered food and of course being Cuban you need a whole pig roasting in your backyard on a stick. The rest we had family members bring in. We started decorating the day before and then setting the table. We did as much as possible.
Finally, the day came and Mother Nature was just not on my side. In the early morning, the day was perfect. The pig was roasting outside everything was going as planned. 12 pm came and there was a huge downpour that lasted hours. The whole back yard where the event was taking place was flooded, the fire for the pig was completely gone and it wasn’t done cooking. I was freaking out! What were we supposed to do!? Everything was ruined. Long story short the meat finished cooking in 3 different homes ovens. It finally stopped raining late afternoon and the party was going strong.
While all the chaos was going on I managed to finish decorating. I put the balloons up and the backdrop with my mom’s help. The pictures I chose were black and white and I hung them up on a string with little cute wooden clothe pins. The hanging circles I also did myself days before with string and craft paper from Michaels. That definitely took some time and patience. That day I did the cupcakes and put the donuts together. I also made the hearts from craft paper and glued it onto the kabob sticks. I got the idea from Pinterest, it was so adorable. The party went great after all. We all had a good time and the food turned out great.
On Sunday we took the dinner cruise out of Tampa. I think it was at 5 pm and it was our first time ever so we had no idea what was going on. We parked there and hopped on. The table was assigned and everyone eats in the same space, you just get up and serve yourself. We had a very nice lady take our drink order and get us anything we’d like. I had a drink I didn’t like much so husband finished it for me. Dinner was a buffet of various options. I had stuffed chicken breast, mashed potatoes, pasta, salad and green beans. I had to try everything I liked. I saw people getting up for seconds, it was a very laid back atmosphere. After we ate we walked upstairs to walk around the boat and we watched the sunset. It was beautiful. We finished up the night upstairs where they had fun music. There was a party going on. We loved it all and definitely recommend to try it.
Monday was our actual anniversary date. Husband sent beautiful flowers to work that day with yummy chocolate covered strawberries. It was such a nice gesture, I had never gotten flowers sent to work before. The flowers came with a funny card on them I couldn’t show anyone. Silly husband! That night we went to a nice dinner. It was everything I could have ever asked for. In my eyes it was perfect!