Aruba

So if you follow me on Instagram, you know I recently went to ARUBA. Originally, we were supposed to go to Mexico but four days before our flight was to take off - the forecast looked awful! I panicked a little because who wants to pay good money to sit in a hotel room? UGH.

I started calling around. The hotel in Mexico is owned by a company which has other resorts all over the world. We had a matter of hours to choose where to go. We couldn't decide between Punta Cana and Aruba....but we settled on #OneHappyIsland.

PS - thankfully Southwest Airlines doesn't charge a fee to switch your flight (you only have to pay the difference) so that was a HUGE help. 

Yes - we had to cough up more money (had to pay difference in fare for hotel + flight) but I'm so happy we decided to go to Aruba.

We landed on the island and immediately rented a car. All the cars there are so small and cute (and don't go very fast lol). We drove the 20 minutes or so to our hotel - Barcelo Aruba.

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Our hotel was super cute - huge - and offered a lot to do. It was right on the beach and on the main strip. My one complaint was that the food was not that good, unfortunately! And I LOVE to eat so that was a bummer.

Gary is a wild man explorer who can't sit still for very long so after our first day at the resort, we decided to explore the island. 

Our second day there, on Thursday, we went to two AMAZING beaches. The first - MANGEL HALTO

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What I loved about all of the beaches (besides the crystal blue/green water) was that they weren't ever crowded! It was so peaceful.

 Mangel Halto

Mangel Halto

The second beach we visited was BABY BEACH. It's called this because the water is fairly shallow - appropriate for kids or "babies."

 baby beach

baby beach

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We were so worn out after visiting both beaches - we went back to the hotel, had dinner, a few drinks and went to bed.

We started our 3rd day on the island by visiting a donkey farm! aw. It was so cute. The Donkey Sanctuary is a nonprofit where volunteers take care of the island's donkeys. For $3 you can feed them apples, which they LOVED.

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Then - it was time to go to the beach (of course). On Thursday, we checked out Eagle Beach. I didn't take many pics of this beach but if I were to go BACK to Aruba with a group, I would take them here. It was the picture-perfect beach. White sands, clear waters, beach bars, water sports, etc. 

 Eagle Beach

Eagle Beach

We went back to the hotel to relax before our catamaran sunset sail! This was one of my favorite parts of the trip. It was open bar and Aruba has some of the most gorgeous sunsets I have EVER seen. 

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Was so sick of the hotel food by this time - so what do you do? Eat out. I didn't take any pics but I have to say Barefoot Restaurant is a 10/10. I'm honestly craving the dinner I had there. SO. GOOD.

On Saturday we wanted to both explore and revisit some favorites. Gary looked up ARISHI BEACH, which is an explorer's fantasy. It has rocks, stones, reef, etc. Apparently Arishi Beach is popular among the locals and among experienced snorkelers (not us, sorry Gary). 

Gary took such good pictures of this beach so I'll share a few below. 

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After Arishi, we went back to Baby Beach, which I just love, then do an amazing dinner at an awesome restaurant called the Flying Fishbone. At the restaurant, you have the option to sit in the sand or in in the water! 

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 Obviously we chose the water, which was warm. 

 Flying Fishbone restaurant

Flying Fishbone restaurant

We went back to the hotel and slept and flew out early Sunday afternoon. Such a fun trip

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Quebec City

Quebec City is listed as a "must-see" during the winter on several travel blogs.

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I actually saw a picture of the snowy winter-wonderland on Instagram and six weeks later, we were there. 

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We stayed at the beautiful Hotel Clarendon right in the middle of Old Quebec City. I didn't take any pictures of the hotel but it was beautiful. Very clean, very friendly staff...

 stock photo from the hotel's website

stock photo from the hotel's website

The WEATHER. To say it was cold would be an understatement. There were times when I couldn't feel my face. Every time we left the hotel we NEEDED a hat, a scarf, gloves, and a coat. That weather was playin no games. One day, the HIGH was 7 degrees. 

 street right outside our hotel

street right outside our hotel

Quebec City is beautiful, especially at night when it's all lit up. 

THE ICE HOTEL

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It's a must-see in QC - Hotel de Glace.

We took a quick 30 minute charter bus to the hotel. It sits right next to a huge resort.

 one of the bars

one of the bars

So obviously it's freezing inside the hotel. There was a fire pit that we huddled around from time to time. I didn't believe that people actually sleep inside the hotel so I had to ask. Yep, I'm told it's true!

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 There were lots of cool sculptures made of snow and ice inside the hotel. It was stunning.

There were lots of cool sculptures made of snow and ice inside the hotel. It was stunning.

 A bed!

A bed!

 My cocktail inside a glass made completely of ICE. (But how do they wash these?…)

My cocktail inside a glass made completely of ICE. (But how do they wash these?…)

 Another shot of outside

Another shot of outside

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THE FOOD

 fish & chips

fish & chips

Because it's so cold - all you want to do is EAT. That is both a good and bad thing. Quebec City is known for poutine, fish and chips, maple syrup, crepes, etc..

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 The bacon here was the best thing I've ever eaten EVER

The bacon here was the best thing I've ever eaten EVER

 crepes!

crepes!

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 Another amazing dish. All veggies and quinoa and tasted like dessert! 

Another amazing dish. All veggies and quinoa and tasted like dessert! 

 Some type of maple syrup thing. It was poured on snow and you take a stick and twist until you get it all. Very sweet - had to throw half away.

Some type of maple syrup thing. It was poured on snow and you take a stick and twist until you get it all. Very sweet - had to throw half away.

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 best french onion soup

best french onion soup

 Good ole' Timmy Hortons

Good ole' Timmy Hortons

THE CITY

 Although it's cold, everyone in Old Quebec City walks everywhere! We never took an Uber the five days we were there. 

Although it's cold, everyone in Old Quebec City walks everywhere! We never took an Uber the five days we were there. 

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Hope you enjoyed :)

California

Our trip to California was so, so fun. We had to fit everything we wanted to do into 4 and a half days. We started in Los Angeles, then visited Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, Laguna Beach and Venice before taking off to San Francisco.

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San Francisco was not the beau's fav. It was a cute city but you can't help but feel for all of homeless people you see. I had no idea San Francisco had such a big homeless population. It had us talking about what could/should be done to help them. 

The weekend we were there, it was unseasonably hot with record-breaking heat. Our boutique San Fran hotel didn't have a/c!! So there was that.

We did some shopping and walked around a bit. People said to me before I went, 'You either love San Francisco or you hate it.' Well, I didn't LOVE it or HATE it. I'm glad I was able to experience it but I probably won't be back.

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 San Fran in the morning. Crazy morning colors! Very cool.

San Fran in the morning. Crazy morning colors! Very cool.

Sonoma is where I'd like to go every weekend for a glass of vino. Too bad it's on the other side of the country. It was so beautiful. It exceeded both of our expectations. We went to three wineries and had so much fun tasting, taking pics and learning about wine! The scenery was out of a movie. 

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