Thursday, December 13, 2018

Santa Barbara

You don't need to catch a flight every time you want to take a break from real life to vacation! My family planned this mini vacay to Santa Barbara because with all of our busy schedules we did not have the time to fly anywhere. 
The only experience I had in SB before this was playing a volleyball game at the high school and immediately driving home, so I considered this my first time. We stayed at the Ritz Carlton Bacara and it was one of my favorite resorts I have ever been to! 
Not only are the views amazing, but the amenities at this resort are nothing like I have ever experienced (and of course, I took full advantage).  To prove it I will share my daily routine while there: I woke up and walked to their small coffee shop, then proceeded to my workout class (I loved the TRX one), then I laid out by the pool all day long with frosé in hand!
Oh, and how could I forget my spa day?! One day I took advantage of their spa with an hour massage. Let's just say I would go back just for my few hours in the spa. Pictured here is the adult pool in front of the spa, which I really appreciated because I could continue my R & R. But, their main pool area was where my family and I passed most of our time. 
One night we went into town where the annual Fiesta Festival was taking place! It was such a fun vibe around the downtown area and confetti everywhere!!! It was unplanned timing on our part, but we enjoyed being apart of the locals' fun.
My mom is the queen of concierge lounges because they are so convenient and while it seems like a splurge, it is easy to get your money's worth during your stay! The Bacara's options were delicious and the staff was so so nice! I am already planning to go back because it is just a little piece of paradise that is so close to home! 

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Living in Sydney, Australia

Wow, I am incredibly thankful for this experience. I signed up to spend my summer in Sydney thinking it would be an adventure, but little did I realized how much I would grow. Being on my own in such an unfamiliar place drove me out of my comfort zone and made me learn how independent I could be.
On top of my personal growth, I learned that Australians are the nicest people with hearts of gold. I cannot recall one interaction with someone that treated me with blatant disrespect. Rather they welcomed me into their coffee shops, offices, restaurants, etc. with open arms. Most left me with little anecdotes, whether it be stories, business cards, etc. to remember my experience with them. 
What made Sydney so inspiring to me is the routine of the city. Their public transportation is almost flawlessly implemented and it was the heart of my experience there. I took the bus, train, and ferry on average five times a day. This is where I gained such a brighter knowledge of the locals and I felt like I could blend into their culture (until I talked and did not have their cool accent). 
What kept me falling in love with Sydney throughout my two months there was its effortless beauty. Every day made me reflect on how lucky I was to have the opportunity to live in one of the most beautiful parts of the world. 
Being located in Sydney allowed me to discover so much of what the other side of the world has to offer. In total, I traveled to Melbourne, CairnsGold Coast, Byron BayAucklandand little places in between. I would not trade my experiences for anything! I cannot wait for my next adventure abroad. 

Auckland, New Zealand

I booked a trip to Auckland very last minute and I am so happy that I did. 
After arriving at the Sydney Airport and finding out our flight was canceled, booking a new one right then and finally landing in Auckland, I was starving! We checked into our hotel and walked around to find this super crowded Italian restaurant, Coco's Cantina. It was for sure one of the most popular local spots in Auckland and it was insanely delicious. 
Auckland is made up of a lot of islands that you get to by ferry and so on our first morning we walked around the city a little bit and ate at a locals recommendation, Odettes. 
It was so charming and the food was the perfect way to start the day. I would describe it as your typical Australian brunch. 
Our first ferry ride took us to Waiheke Island, which is known for wine. We took an all-day wine tour that consisted of a bus driving us to different wineries around the island (very stressful). This island itself was gorgeous, but also the wine was not bad especially after the nice buzz of the first few wineries. 
Driving throughout the island, it was breathtaking to see the beauty of somewhere I had never been. New Zealand for sure met my expectations. 

Each winery was unique, but this last one stuck close to my heart because it is one of the most desirable wedding venues in the country. If you know me, you know I'm a sucker for a beautiful wedding, however, this was unique because most brides make the venue down payment before their man puts a ring on it (LOL, priorities).
After the ferry ride back we went to White & Wong for dinner, which was another huge recommendation by locals that was delicious!
 The next day we walked along Wynyard Quarter where there are a wharf and beautiful yachts. We got a delicious pizza and drinks from one of the many restaurants lining the water. 
Our next ferry ride took us to Devonport which is one of the most charming places I have ever, ever seen! It was the definition of a small coastal town with the nicest people. 
 First, we got breakie at this adorable cafe on the main road. I know I overuse this word, but it was so so so CHARMING! It felt like I was at my grandmother's house enjoying a homecooked meal. In fact, I bought their cookbook as a souvenir because I never want to forget Corelli's.  
 We took a minivan tour of the island that took us to the top of Mount Victoria. Unlike LA, Auckland was so green! I am not a huge nature girl so the combination of city and greenery was just up my ally. The views from the top were beautiful, especially of the sky line. 
 We continued walking around the neighborhoods of Devonport and continued to find charming features that made is such a unique town. This included the renown Devonport Chocolate shop that I stocked up on! I may or may not have spent a lot, but I do not regret one calorie. 
I spent that night at a really cool bar called the Glass Goose where the ceiling was transparent, so we had a view of the Sky Tower above us. It was a popular spot that had a great vibe and a more relaxed going out vibe as apposed to what we were used to in Sydney.
To see how I ended my trip in Auckland, click here.

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