Well, that was fun, 2013!

I remember when 2012 was coming to an end, I was  bit nervous. Last year was so wonderful, and I was worried that 2013 just wouldn’t be able to match up- no matter how hard I tried.

But on the contrary, 2013 has been one of the most amazing years of my life. It had its ups and downs of course, but I also learned so much about myself in the process. I wrote a post at the beginning of the year and said:

I want to make 2013 matter in the grander scheme of things. I want EVERY year to matter, but now that I’ve experienced Great Big Things, I want to continue to experience them without feeling like a new year means a new me. I want to always improve on myself, yes, but I don’t want the experiences of one year to negatively affect how I view the next, like thinking they can’t match up to one another.”

I completely forgot that I had even written that, and just came across it now. I’m happy to say that I think I found a way to make this true for myself. Because 2013 was VERY different from 2012, and I imagine 2014 will be even more different than the last two years combined, but everything happens like a domino effect. I’ve realized that if I want something, if I want something to happen for myself, it’s not TIME that will matter, it’s the choices that I make and the chances that I take on myself.

Here’s a little look back at the last 365 days:

January 
- I set some New Year’s Goals that I stuck to for a little while, but life just got so hectic that I didn’t keep up very well after the first few months. I think this is the first year I can say that I did not pay much attention to goals. Luckily, some of the ones that I *didn’t* think I would accomplish I actually did, without even realizing I would. So that’s pretty cool!

- I read like 8 books this month, which would end up being almost half of what I read all year. SAD FACE. I only read 23 books all year (I actually read one book, Graceling, twice!) I’d really like to get back into reading more in 2014 again. I’m not too sure why I stopped!

February
- Attended the first annual Entertainment & Management Conference at McGill University in Montreal. It was SUCH an awesome day, and my first conference ever attended. I just registered for this years’ as well… Only one month away!

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- I started my blog feature ‘Five Songs That Changed My Life’ which I kept going for 6 months before deciding to close it down. I had always wanted to invite bloggers to take over once a week for a feature, and opening it to music lovers was the best way to do it!

March
- I found the time to do a lot of writing around the internet, apparently!

- I went on a road trip to New York City with three friends from work. I hadn’t been since 2008 and had been DYING to get back there. We spent three nights, and I fell right back in love with the city that never sleeps.

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- Ending my first year with Casa Cares, we hosted our annual fashion show benefiting the Montreal Children’s Hospital Foundation. We spent MONTHS putting the event together, and raised almost $20,000 for the cause. It was such an amazing night, and it’s also when I started announcing that I would be next year’s President!

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April
- I went on a road trip to Boston for the very first time with a friend, and spent the weekend visiting their concert venues (ha)! On our first night there we went to see Andy Grammer & Parachute, and on our second, we saw Andrew McMahon, one of my absolute favorite musicians. If you’ve read my blog for any amount of time you’ll know that I’ve been a fan of his since 2004, and this was the first (and only) time I met him. What an epic weekend! I also discovered one of my now-favorite bands, Erland, who opened up for Andrew that night!

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May
- On May 1st, I officially signed my papers to start my one-year mandate as Casa Cares President. I’m about 4 months away from my term coming to an end, which is CRAZY. Time flies! I remember how scared and excited I was to get started, and now we’re just a few events away from the end of the year.

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- I interviewed Joe Trohman and Patrick Stump from Fall Out Boy for CONFRONT Magazine towards the end of the month, and I can still say hands down that it’s in my Top 5 interviews of all time working for the magazine. I wrote about it over here. You can read the feature article on the bands’ break-up and reunion here! So glad to have these boys back.

June
- I went on (another) road trip to Toronto with one of my best friends to see Taylor Swift & Ed Sheeran on their North American tour together! We also went to the MMVA’s red carpet which was a pretty cool experience. But really, hanging out in TO for a few days & being away from home? Much needed.

We’d bought our tickets for the Swift/Sheeran show almost 9 months in advance (such Ed Sheeran fans we are!) but it was still bittersweet, knowing I wouldn’t be seeing him for a few years while he records his next album. Three times in two years was pretty great.

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July
- I turned 24!! I celebrated quietly with some friends & family, and it was all kinds of lovely. I also decided to start a second 365 Photo Project on Facebook, which I’m not almost halfway through.

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- My nephew was baptized and I officially became his Godmother, too! It was pretty neat. My best girl friends came to celebrate!

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- I went on a mini one-day road trip to some random town to see another favorite band, Jimmy Eat World! It’s been a while since I had seen them, but this year was extra awesome because THEN WE MET JIM ADKINS. Apparently it was the year to meet favorite musicians, that’s three more down!

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August
-  I always look back fondly on the month of August, because it always seems to be the month that I leave for vacation! This year was no different. I spent one week in Miami with my family, fell in love with yet another city of the world, and then headed out on my first ever cruise with one of my best friends. We went through Mexico, Belize, Honduras, and Grand Cayman, and one final day in Miami when we docked. It was beautiful, a tiny bit more expensive than I had planned, but so great to get away for two weeks.

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- When I got home from my cruise, one of my best friends came over and asked me if I’d like to be the maid of honor at her wedding in 2015. She wrote me a nice card and EVERYTHING. I can’t wait! The next day was her engagement celebratory brunch, and that’s when I realized I’m at the age where I have FRIENDS getting MARRIED.

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September
- The semester of crazy began. Casa Cares hosted like, 4 events to kick off the year, which meant lots of long, tiring nights spent at school. I didn’t realize JUST how much work this year would be, so September was a nice little wake up call. I started off pretty stressed, and did my best to enjoy it more & more as we went. I think after our huge 20-team soccer tournament being such a success, I realized that although it was a LOT of work, it wasn’t as scary as it felt in the beginning.

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October
- School, school, school. My social life revolved around it in October with more outings related to University life than ever before. Between events, midterms, doing interviews to hire the second half of my team for Casa Cares, it *kind of* felt like I lived in my office! But I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I discovered multi-tasking, getting work done & still having time to see friends on a WHOLE new level.

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- My nephew turned TWO YEARS OLD, and I got to announce that I was going to be an auntie for a second time. I would (2 months later) find out to a little girl. Yay :)

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- On a whim, I applied for an internship position with this extremely cool adventure travel company called Beach Travellers. I went through 3 rounds of interviews, and then? I got the freaking job. They also invited me out to a retreat in Tofino, British Columbia in mid-November!

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November
- 2013 was the year of opportunities! I was offered the position of Music Editor with MTL Blog, one of the biggest online websites for 20-something Montrealers. I’ve spent the last two months getting more & more used to the position, and can’t wait to see what I get to do with them in 2014!

- I spent 3 days in Tofino, BC with Beach Travellers. I literally got on a plane from Montreal to meet 15 strangers, and by the end of our first night it felt like I’d known them forever. It was, hands down, one of the coolest weekends of the entire year.

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- Casa Cares hosted our last event of the month, a gala for Movember Canada! Actually, we hosted something like 7 events throughout November, but this was our biggest by far. In total for Movember, we ended up raising almost $8,000. It was such a crazy month for my entire team. Between getting our new executives settled in & continuing to plan events AND getting through finals? Man, my team is one hell of a talented bunch.

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December
- We had to put down my dog that we’ve had for about 15 years now. I was really quiet about the whole thing because my mom brought him to the vet on the day of one of my finals and I just wasn’t in any way prepared to deal with it. But it’s been very strange without him around, he was a great dog for a very long time!

- I got to go into an interview with two members from The Wanted. I think they get a lot of bad press (One Direction rivals, just another boy band, blah blah) but they were honestly HILARIOUS and I had a great time. Very cool guys.

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- My month-long hiatus from blogging was definitely due to the fact that there was A LOT GOING ON. Between two weeks of finals, going back to work full-time for the holidays, meeting someone that I started seeing, spending time at the MTL Blog offices, & of course the holidays, it was a crazy crazy time. But of course, I wouldn’t have had it any other way!

cd1There was no one picture that included all those things, so here’s a cute one of my nephew instead :)

2013 was definitely very good to me. I’m going to try not to be too worried going into 2014, and instead just enjoy the good times as they come. I’m turning TWENTY-FIVE in just 6 months. Time to make the rest of my early 20′s count!

Happy New Year! 

Tofino, BC- Part 2

On our final full day in Tofino, we were going surfing! I had never been before, so it was quite a terrifying (but memorable) experience. Our surf coach was a really rad guy who used to teach surf lessons for Beach Travellers in Costa Rica, and he made sure everyone was comfortable going out there & knew all the important safety rules before heading out.

After we all struggled into our wet suits, he got us all settled on the beach and gave us the basics to try and get us up on our boards during our first lesson! Even the seasoned surfers sat in on the lesson and helped to make sure we understood what was going on. We were SO lucky, after two days of chill and rain, it was a bright & beautiful sunshine in Tofino. Such a perfect day!

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The girls, all suited up!

IMG_4041Mandatory (and oh so awesome) group shot with surf boards

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Surf lessons on our fake boards in the sand!

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A few of us walking out into the ocean!

Overall surf experience for me was a bit scary. Luckily one of the guys stayed with me for a little while and managed to help me through my first massive wave which took me under water and completely caught me off guard. This city girl was NOT prepared for the freezing cold waves in the Pacific Ocean, but I’m definitely glad I gave it a shot. I ended up spending about half an hour-45 minutes in the water, and then spent the rest of the afternoon walking along the beach, going into the ocean in my wet suit, and of course taking pictures!

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That night was our most epic, in all kinds of epic proportions. We headed back to the beach house around 3pm where most of us spent a solid hour in the hot tub warming up before showering, and getting into our onesies for our themed party that night. It was a literal evening spent in PJ’s with some beer and awesome people.

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Group onesie shot!

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Loved that shark onesie!

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The game got serious, but ultimately Mike & Robbie deserved that win!

Our jet lag and early start to the party meant we were all peacefully asleep before 1am (although it definitely felt like 4!) but it was better for us, because the 8am wake-up for breakfast the next day would have been even tougher on us all. Our last morning in Tofino was just as amazing as every other day, just much more sad. I didn’t think it would be so tough to say goodbye, but spending four straight days completely stress free was ultimately the best thing ever.

IMG_3991The waitress was kind enough to get a panorama shot of everyone together! Such a great way to end the weekend.

IMG_3993Breakfast at The Spotted Bear was SO yummy. I ate like a champion all weekend!

tofino9Kaz and I at breakfast, looking tired, but so happy :)

We had a bit of time to spare before we had to load up the cars and head out, so we wandered around the little part of town we were in. It was all surf shops- very quiet and quaint- so I headed up the street where you had the most beautiful view of the mountains and the docks.

tof11I was so sad to leave, I felt like I was just settling into this beautiful new place!

tof12One last picture in Tofino <3

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We finally had to say goodbye to the BT guys who would be staying in Tofino for a few more days, packed up our BT vans, and started making the drive back to the Victoria airport. I would be traveling for the longest that day- we left around 11am and I wouldn’t get home until 8am the next day! I was very sad indeed. Luckily, I got to sit in the front & we jammed to some great tunes for five hours, enjoying the gorgeous view.

tof14The clouds were falling from the sky into the mountains on our drive home

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Despite having a 3 hour layover in Vancouver, surrounded with everyone’s stuff and all of us sitting in a circle on the floor, I just had this moment of clarity, reminded me that I feel most like myself when I’m traveling somewhere new. Sometimes (like the two days leading up to my trip) I start to get really nervous or anxious about doing something so far out of my comfort zone (like meeting 15 new people across the country) but then I remember that it’s GOOD to do something that scares you once in a while. It makes life so much more interesting.

I came home exhausted, but so ready to start this job. I want to travel with Beach Travellers this summer. They won me over. I’m crazy about this company that I work for, and I want everyone to experience this kind of weekend but on bigger levels, in Thailand, Bali, and Costa Rica. I can’t wait to see where this SBM position takes me. If I’ve learned anything in the last few years, it’s that my life can be so uncertain, but in the best way possible.

Tofino, British Columbia- Part 1

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In my last post, I briefly mentioned that I got this amazing job as a student brand manager for a travel company called Beach Travellers. I had kind of applied on a whim, thinking that I loved travel and they seemed like a really cool company, so why not? I went through 3 rounds of interviews before being accepted and making it into the Top 10 SBM’s chosen. When I found out, I was in complete shock- all I knew is that I felt like I was getting a dream job AND they were flying me out to the West Coast of Canada for 4 days for a retreat.

Well, last weekend was that retreat. And it was so amazing to discover another part of my country. I absolutely adore traveling and flying, but this was the first time I would be getting on a plane by myself- nevermind the fact that I was flying three time zones away to meet 15 people I had literally never seen before in my life.

The weekend was kiiiiinda life changing. I’ve been home for about a week now and I’m still in that phase of being depressed and feeling like my brain hasn’t quite come home with me. Here’s what the first half of my weekend looked like:

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My alarm went off at 3am on Friday November 8th, and it was off to the airport in Montreal for a 5:30am flight to Toronto! From there, I met up with the four student brand managers who call TO home, and we all boarded a 7:30am flight direct to Vancouver, BC.

IMG_3807Montreal at 5:30am… I love my city!

When we arrived in Vancouver, we met up with another SBM as well as the Beach Travellers tour guide for Thailand, both who flew in from Edmonton. The 7 of us hopped a late morning flight from Vancouver to Victoria, where we would be meeting the rest of the SBM’s (who are from BC) and the gang from Beach Travellers for our 6 hour road trip to Tofino!

IMG_3819Victoria, BC from a tiny plane window. So gorgeous!

IMG_3825In total, we were 14 people in two vans heading out to beach city. We split up in the two cars & started making the afternoon drive up.

IMG_4044We stopped in Cathedral Park to stretch our legs and wander around a little bit. Of course, photo ops with the massive trees were a must!

IMG_4043We made another stop near this gorgeous waterfall overlooking all the mountains around us. It was breathtaking!

IMG_3885We made one final stop at Long Beach, Tofino, before heading to the beach house for the evening. It was misty and the sun was setting, but it all added to the charm of the place. We had all been in the car for close to 6 hours, and spent 5-10 minutes throwing around a freesbie and just running across the sand, soaking in Tofino for the first time.

tofino1Such a beautiful place!

When we got to the beach house where we would be spending the weekend, we were introduced to the two guys who founded the company & given our itinerary for the weekend (in true Beach Travellers form!) The rest of our night was free to do whatever we wanted, and we all ended up lounging in the cozy living room, playing a hilarious game called ‘Cards Against Humanity’ and basically getting to know each other better.

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It was crazy to think that I had met these people all within 12 hours, and I felt like I knew them all for so, so much longer. We all immediately got along super well, which made it so much easier to kick back and relax.

Jet lag settled in really quickly on all of us, so we had an early 11pm bedtime, which was all sorts of fine with me!

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The next morning, we all got decked out in our brand new Beach Travellers swag, took some pictures, and settled into the living room once again to get our SBM training. It was awesome. We got to listen to the entire history of the company, the breakdown of each trip & how they came to exist, all right from the two guys who make them happen. Basically, the end result was that I was pretty much ready to book my Thailand and Bali trips ASAP, like, get me a computer and let me put down that deposit right away.

tofino3BT gang signs, if you’re wondering what on earth we’re doing here.

IMG_3924After a very productive morning, we had some lunch & then headed out to Cox Bay for a little trek around the beach and up to the view points. It was so charming, despite the rain, I could have stayed there all day.

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We headed back to the beach house after about an hour or so, had a quick afternoon brainstorming session, and then got our things together for an evening out in Tofino! The guys of BT took the whole gang out to dinner at a place called The Shelter, and it was absolutely amazing. Lots of drinks, delicious food, and then a small trip to the Tofino Brewery ended off our second evening in town.

tofino8Beer in Tofino is so darn good!

Overall, our first day and a half on the West Coast were tons of fun. Even the “work” part didn’t feel quite like work.

The next day would be our free day in Tofino, and the guys were taking us surfing! It was quite an experience….

Miami Livin’- Part 2

My last travel re-cap! It’s taken me almost two weeks to get them all out- practically the length of my vacation- and in the meantime, I’ve already began looking at other cruises leaving next year *cough cough*.

ANYWAYS.

I left off in Grand Cayman! Full day in the city, stingray sandbar, too much food at the steakhouse and then we were BACK IN MIAMI!

I’ll admit, by the time I woke up on that final day that we had docked in Miami, I was pretty ready to get off that ship. In fact, my alarm that morning was called “someone throw me overboard PLZ”. In all honesty, my week on the boat felt quite long. It was very restful and nice and I had an amazing time, but I was feeling stressed about a million things at home, and I’d kind of run out of things to do on the ship. I love the sunshine and reading, but I was in need of feeling some real ground under my feet.

We woke up around 8:30am with plans to disembark, according to our zone number, around 9:45am. Unfortunately, as things go, this did not happen according to plan. At 9:45am, they were only at zone 7 of disembarkation. We were zone 31. And so began the next two hours of my life sitting in the dining room with VERY little to distract me other than the view of Miami 9 decks below.

IMG_2880Panorama of Miami down below!

When we were finally released from the confines of the ship around 11:30, we spent another hour going through customs to get out of the port, and finally we hopped in a cab and made our way to our hostel!

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Our hostel was VERY cute. Arriving in our room and just lying on a bunk bed for a few minutes was pure bliss. We visited the outside area which was also super cute, and I know I just breathed a huge sigh of relief. It was good to be back in the hostel life, if only for a day. We didn’t check in until much later in the afternoon, though. When we got there around 1-1:30, we dropped off our bags and headed straight into the sweltering Florida sun for an afternoon of exploring. We walked all the way down Indian Creek Drive (which is where our hostel was located, it’s beautiful) and we did some much needed shopping on Lincoln Road (I think?) before making our way back to the hostel around 5:30.

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It was so good to be back in the city and see it through my travel BFF’s eyes as she was visiting for the first time! I had a lot of fun with my family, so it was nice to be back. I know I’ll be back again very soon anyway (well, in my mind I will be) and the fact that I was so thrilled about another day there just cemented in my mind how much I loved the city. I ended up buying a watch while I was there, which I’m still in love with. I wanted a sports watch (my brother talked me into that a couple weeks earlier) but I shopped around for a while before finding the perfect colored one for me!

After making our way back to the hostel, we collapsed on our bunks and made some new friends with the other girls in our room! After chatting for a while with them, we decided it was time to make plans for the evening. One of our new friends joined us for dinner at the Hard Rock Cafe in downtown Miami in the Bayside Market, which all on it’s own ended up being a huge adventure! We got stuck in the strangest public transit situation ever. People in Miami are terrifying, and the traffic might just be worse.

Luckily, it made for a really great story when we got home. We survived Miami! It was fun!

IMG_6605I’ve been to the Hard Rock in almost every city that I’ve been to that has one, and I’m very happy that my travel BFF thought of this so we could knock another one off the list!

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And after all that? We got to sit next to a piece of Elvis Presley. My favorite part of the Hard Rock is the amazing music stuff I’ve seen around the world :)

Unfortunately, that’s all we had time for while we were in Miami. When we woke up the next morning we packed our bags and hopped our plane home in time for dinner!

I was very happy to be home, but I have to say my vacation lasted the perfect amount of time. Now that I’ve been home for two weeks, I’m ready to leave again! Ideally I would travel again next year, but we’ll have to see how my debt goes and my money saving too, of course.

Another summer gone, another vacation over, another neat experience ticked off the list of things to do! I definitely enjoyed cruising, and now that I have a better knowledge of how cruises work, I can’t wait to plan another one!

Cruise Shenanigans- Part 4

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend! Just a few more cruise re-caps to go, and then it’s back to real life, for REAL. Sad face.

When I last ended my re-caps on Friday, we had just finished our day in Honduras. Next Stop: Grand Cayman!

I’m going to preface the rest of this post and say that Grand Cayman was probably my favorite stop. I loved Mexico, I loved Central America, but I was MOST excited about our excursion here (stingray city!) and it just felt so flippin’ great to be back in civilization. For a girl who’s used to being connected to the world 24/7 I was doing really darn well without any internet or way to contact home for a week, but being in a real little town just felt very nice.

Not to mention one of my all time favorite things in the world is being on a small boat, sailing through the bright blue seas:

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When we arrived in Grand Cayman, things didn’t actually start off so great. We got off the boat and had a lot of difficulty figuring out where our excursion was, where we were meeting, and where we had to go. It was very delayed too and we received no explanation until much later. We made friends by joking around about how this really wasn’t going well. My travel BFF and I thought we were having terrible cruise luck. Things would turn around very quickly when we were lead to a little boat with a handful of people, a captain, and his assistant David.

David cranked up the tunes and we sped through the beautiful Caribbean waters for at least half an hour before arriving to the Stingray Sandbar. I really had no idea what to expect, but basically you just stop in the middle of the ocean and all of a sudden you can stand on your two feet and the water reaches your chest. The stingrays swim all around you, and it’s awesome.

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Our captain and David got out of the boat with us and gave us all our snorkeling gear. I was SO DUMB and forgot to bring an underwater camera, so I have no photos with the stingrays! But I snorkeled with them for about an hour or so, held them, played with them underwater, and even got a massage from one! I didn’t have the guts to kiss one (they have the same texture as raw, wet mushrooms!) but I’d probably give it a try if I ever did this again. It’s so strange because they are just the most affectionate little creatures, and they look so WEIRD up close. They’re like mushy dogs!

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After snorkeling with stingrays, we got back on our boat & went a little further to the Rum Point Beach, which, despite being too small, was beautiful. There was nothing for miles around, and yet we were greeted with unlimited wifi, delicious food, and crystal clear water to swim along in. I took advantage to call my family back home and eat a much needed meal before heading into the water for half an hour.

IMG_6543The kind of beach we’d been waiting for our whole cruise!

IMG_2861Before long, our boat came back to pick us up & we headed back to the mainland, and then eventually back on the ship. This day definitely flew by and I didn’t have the opportunity to take many photos, but it was SUCH a great time!

IMG_6565After some relaxing in our state room, we got ready for another fancy dinner in the dining room! We got all dressed up…

IMG_6563… We took a couple pretty photos…

IMG_6568And of course, some silly ones too :D

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The ‘anytime dining’ takes place in the Golden Dining Hall, which is very chic and had great service, for the most part. I definitely recommend doing ‘anytime dining’, if you’re debating it, which we had been. You’re always seated according to the number in your party, and often times you make friends with the people around you. But I loved having the opportunity to dine anytime between 5:30 and 9:45. It definitely gave us more leeway each evening as we never really got to dinner before 8-8:30pm!

Our last day on the ship was another ‘fun day at sea’, which I didn’t actually take any photos of. I ended up reading and finishing another great book, but after two straight weeks in the sun? I was pretty sick of being in it!I called it a day pretty early in the afternoon, around 3, and feeling rather sizzled to a crisp, relaxed until dinner that evening in the state room. We had made reservations at the Diamond Steakhouse for our last evening at 6pm, so I made sure to eat moderately all day in preparation.

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We put on some cute dresses and tried to prepare ourselves for the meal. WE WERE JUST NOT PREPARED. There was SO. MUCH. FOOD. It was amazing. Probably one of the best meals I’ve ever had in my LIFE, not to mention the best service I’ve definitely ever had in my life. It was rather expensive, but so so so worth it. I was so full by the time I was done my meal, I literally thought I was going to pass out.

I had an appetizer of Ahi Tuna Tartare (the portion was too big, but I finished it, it was so good!) followed by a play on caprese salad. Again, the portion was far too big, so I only ate half. My meal was a piece of perfectly cooked filet mignon, a side of two small lobster tails with mashed potatoes. Dessert? Travel BFF and I shared a dessert plate that included 4 mini chocolate cakes, and they were just oh-so-good.

IMG_6579Travel BFF and chocolate!

It was definitely the perfect way to end off a great 7 day cruise. We did some shopping after dinner before calling it a night. After all, we thought we had a relatively early morning disembarkation back in Miami…

Cruise Shenanigans- Part 3

Our second port of call was in Belize City, Belize. Welcome to Central America! How exciting!

Except not really.

We may have gotten really lucky with our excursion in Cozumel, but our “private island beach getaway” in Belize meant that we were directed away from the mainland, towards a private, man-made island for about 4 hours. It also rained on and off for most of the morning.

Ok, ok, I’m painting a bit of a terrible picture here. I was in Belize, after all!

IMG_2832Belize is known for its immense barrier reef, protected by its government. Our ship had to dock in the middle of the ocean and we were assigned numbers to embark a smaller boat that would bring us to wherever we needed to go (in our case, private island). It was another really awesome view of our ship! In retrospect, I kind of wish we’d chosen to snorkel the barrier reef, but I was nervous about not being able to enjoy it because of my terrible eyesight.

IMG_6495My day, for the most part, looked like this. The beer was very cheap on the island so we took full advantage (alcohol on the ship? More expensive than I realized!) and I definitely got some excellent reading done with the peace and quiet.

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The island itself didn’t have anything super exciting to it. It was a lot of trees and some huts along the coast that we didn’t go to. There was a lunch resto/bar where we had lunch included in our afternoon, although somehow the extra 10$ I paid on my excursion ticket wasn’t even covered by the prices on the menu (my meal was so-so, and cost something like 7$). There was a complimentary punch rum that came with it, but I could barley take two sips of it. One of my favorite drinks, but it tasted a lot like Pine Sol.

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When we got back to our boat, we quickly changed out of our bathing suits and made it on another boat heading towards the mainland. We had close to two hours or so left, but unfortunately the port of Belize was more underwhelming than a morning on the beach. Luckily we uncovered the chocolate cafe where we had some AMAZING chocolate, bought some Belizean chocolate bars, as well as a chocolate milkshake. Definitely the highlight of our stop! Again, the shopping was very expensive and souvenirs not all that exciting. We didn’t buy anything except the edible kind!

We had another very quiet evening on the boat- nothing very exciting was going on so we decided to catch a comedy show before calling it a day and heading to our room. I’m so lucky to have a ridiculous best friend that’s as crazy as I am. We ended up relaxing in our state room and we got caught with the worst case of the giggles EVER.

Next up: Mahogany Bay, Honduras!

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The minute we pulled up into the port of Mahogany Bay, I knew I was going to love this infinitely more than yesterday. There were shipwrecks in the water which we later found out were very real, but had been around for so long they had become a part of their coral reef which was again, protected by their government. Our tour in Honduras was a two-parter: we would be touring Gumbalimba Park, a national park and home to many of their native animals, and then we’d spend a few hours on the beautiful Tabyana Beach.

IMG_5743We wandered around the park a bit before ending up at this rickety bridge that crossed above a big swamp. I have an almost paralyzing fear of heights, and apparently we had to cross to get to the best part. We’d be hanging out with monkeys! Apparently there was a “chicken’s crossing” but I sucked it up and followed all the big kids across this one ;)

IMG_5748We crossed through the parrot’s home and nesting area. They were all super friendly and didn’t dig their claws into your skin the way I remember from past experiences. I love birds so this was a lot of fun for me. although poor travel BFF hates them with a passion. Luckily she stuck around to take photos, since I’d left my camera behind. It was raining on and off!

IMG_5754We finally arrived to the monkey’s home, at which point I had to spend most of the time without glasses on because there was the risk that the monkeys might come and steal them, ha! There was a complete downpour as we arrived so we were all completely drenched, but I must admit it made the experience that much more amazing. We were in the middle of a jungle, a rainstorm, playing with monkeys. Crazy!

IMG_5770I was nervous at first, but quickly got used to them jumping around. I figured out how to call them up to my shoulder, although I got quite the surprise when one of them fell in love with my curly hair and messed it up, ha :P

IMG_6516Afterwards, we continued driving to Tabyana beach, where we spent about 2 hours or so. The water was crystal clear, and it was so warm out! It was barely 10am for them (just after lunch for us) and already so, so hot outside.

The island is quite small so our drive also meant we got to tour most of the island. I was amazed by life on the island of Roatan; there is no speed limit on their one, single road on the island. The smallness of the island also means they have very little to no crime, because there is just about nowhere to hide! The people there are SO nice and humble, and the scenery is to die for. I could easily imagine myself visiting this part of Central America again. They had some really beautiful hotels and access to the mainland to visit more of Honduras if we wanted.

IMG_6522Back on the boat that evening, I watched the sun set from the window of our state room as we got ready for dinner and the hypnotist’s show!

IMG_6524The view from the slightly dirty window :)

IMG_6526We ended up watching BOTH showings of the hypnotist, Asad Mecci. He was AMAZING and we literally laughed ourselves into tears both times. The great part about having “your own time” dining was that we got to choose our schedules each night. We didn’t eat until pretty late that night, but it was sooooo worth it. I would totally check out another one of his shows in the future if I could!

Overall, Honduras made up for Belize ten times over. It was SUCH a wicked experience and a beautiful day. Even the rain couldn’t get our spirits down. We were back on a cruising-high, and very excited to see what Grand Cayman had in store for us in the morning!

Cruise Shenanigans- Part 2

When I woke up the next morning, we were preparing to dock in Cozumel, Mexico. First stop!

Truth be told, we were very unprepared for this first day. We knew we wanted to explore once we got off the ship, but we didn’t know what to expect at each port of call, we didn’t know how we’d get around… We were kind of hoping that people would be waving signs around offering cheap excursion options.

No such luck.

We wandered around the port of call for almost half an hour, trying to figure out the best course of action. What we understood rather quickly is that Carnival owns the ports where their ships dock, so all the shops and tours were theirs, too. That meant we wouldn’t be getting prices like we’d hoped in the least. We found a tour desk and started looking at our options. We would have loved to do the full day trip to the Mayan Ruins of Tulum, but it was full. We were just so overwhelmed with all the excursion options before leaving for our cruise we couldn’t make up our mind and actually book anything! We were both in pain from some sunburns so anything with long beach stays was out of the question, too.

We settled on a tour leaving half an hour later for the Mayan ruins of San Gervasio, followed by a short tour of the island of Cozumel. I’m so happy with our choice, it turned out to be a ton of fun. We were VERY lucky with our excursion though, and vowed to choose the rest of them that evening once we got back on the ship.

IMG_5681Disembarking and seeing our ship up close for the very first time? Mesmerizing! It did in fact rain for a little bit that morning, but it held out for the entire rest of the day. Luck was on our side!

IMG_6456Our tour of the ruins was EXTREMELY interesting, thanks to our guide, Barb, who is from Mayan descent. She was the sweetest lady and was filled with tons of interesting bits of information about the island of Cozumel, as well as of her ancestors. She said she loved all the “end of the world/Mayan end of the world” movies because it meant she got to do lots of tours ;)

IMG_5692After the ruins, our tour took us to this gorgeous beach on the other side of the island, as well as a traditional Mexican ocean-side restaurant. A shopkeeper somehow convinced me to hold his pet iguana. It was weird (as noted on my face!)

IMG_6459The beach looked like paradise. It’s a shame we were sunburned/could only stay for half an hour.

IMG_6470We walked down the beach for a while, enjoying the sand between our toes and drawing things before the ocean swept it away. Our Mexican friend Pablo came along and kindly took some photos of us!

IMG_6466I could have stayed here all day it was so darn beautiful!

IMG_6474We were starving at this point and shared a plate of homemade nachos, homemade guacamole/salsa, all the good stuff. It was amaaaaaazing.

Before we knew it, we were back at the port of Cozumel. It was our longest stop and we weren’t due back on the ship until 5:30pm, so we browsed around some shops for souvenirs, but with no success. We did find some WiFi at a small coffee shop and managed to let our parents know we were alive and in Mexico. Life was good!

Unfortunately, I didn’t journal my trip whatsoever. It kind of feels like I needed a total and complete writing detox. I’ve never NOT journaled a vacation before, and as I expect, a lot of details are kind of fuzzy. I didn’t take any photos that evening so I don’t really remember what we did that night other than book the rest of our excursions for the week. We were really excited though, because tomorrow? We’d be in Belize City!

It’s too bad we were setting ourselves up for our least favorite day of the entire trip… Luckily the rest of it would make up plenty.

Cruise Shenanigans- Part 1

After a week in Miami with family, my mom and brother drove my travel BFF and I to the port of Miami where we would be boarding the Carnival Liberty. Like most ships, we had to be there around 1pm. Neither of us have ever cruised before so everything from here on out was a completely new experience to us! We went through security and made it on the ship within 45 minutes. By 1:40pm, we had navigated our way from the lobby down to the main deck where our state room was located!

IMG_6397We were beyond surprised when we unlocked the door to our state room. We were greeted by a cozy, spacious area with TONS of space for us each to un-pack!

IMG_6399Our comfortable-sized state room was wonderful after long days in the sun: we were able to relax, read, look at the view, watch some cruise-TV and order room service without feeling cramped.

IMG_6408After grabbing some food at the buffet, we managed to walk the entire ship, all the way to the highest deck, and enjoy the faraway view of Miami before the ship left! It was quite the gorgeous view.

IMG_6415And before we knew it? We were off! The ship left around 4pm, at which point our antsy-ness died down a little bit and we enjoyed some time lounging by the pool on the Lido Deck before dinner!

IMG_5671Our first dinner was technically “cruise casual” but we felt like dressing up a tiny bit! We enjoyed a beautiful sunset, some good food, and our first drinks of the cruise: the most amazing chocolate martinis basically ever. I took a picture of the ingredients to try and re-make the drink at home!

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Our first full day on the ship was what they call a “fun day at sea”. We spent the entire day cruising the caribbean, enjoying the gloriously hot day, and laughing at the ridiculous games that took place on the Lido Deck. Although we’d investigated other areas that were much more quiet, we both quickly realized that the jam-packed action of the Lido Deck was where all the fun was at! There were contests, competitions, and flat out hilarious-ness all day. The main downside of this ship was that this was the ONLY pool onboard. Throughout the week, it was never more empty than this, unless we were docked at a port of call. We tried to get good lounge chairs nearby because every day was scorching hot and frequent dips were necessary!

IMG_6424Even after a week in the Miami heat, I’m pretty sure I ended up extremely sunburned by the end of our fun day at sea!

IMG_6431Despite the insanity, I still grew rather attached to the Lido Deck! From the rum bar, to Guy Fieri’s burger joint, the taco/burrito stand, and of course, the water slide, there was ALWAYS something interesting to watch (or eat!)

IMG_6436Dinner that night was “cruise elegant” so cute black dresses were in order :)

By the end of our first day and a half, I think it’s safe to say that we had settled in rather nicely to cruise life. Because I had already spent a week relaxing on the beach I was getting very excited to disembark at our first location, but I loved getting to know the cruise ship and eating whenever I wanted. It definitely felt like I was back at an all inclusive resort. Between the entertainment staff, the food, and always being close to whatever you may need, it was easy to see right off the bat why people love the cruise lifestyle so much.

I was happy to feel NO motion sickness whatsoever. I often forgot I was even on a ship! We definitely felt the rocking of the boat more as we went down to the lower levels for dinner, but otherwise? Nada. It was such a relief!

First stop in the morning? Cozumel, Mexico!

Miami Livin’

I’ve been home from vacation for just over one week, but it’s taken me all this time to settle back into my life. Between work, meetings at school, and getting re-acquainted with my inbox, it’s been very bittersweet to find myself back in my own, wonderful city.

I’m already at the point of missing vacation. I’ll admit that in my last day or two on vacay, I was ready to find my bed and my habits again. There was so much about my trip as a whole that I loved, and other things that I loved less, but now I’m back to missing it. I miss the easy life I had for 16 days, I miss the sunshine, the beach, and the complete lack of serious problems.

The first 7 days on my trip were spent in Miami with my family. We rented an apartment in Pompona, and our backyard was the beach. Here’s a bit of what my week with family looked like:

IMG_2706Everything is an adventure with a toddler, especially at a busy airport! Leaving Montreal on Saturday morning, I watched the planes leave as we waited for our own. He was very, very excited.

IMG_2733After a very long and exhausting first day, I went to bed and somehow woke up at 7am. Still extremely tired, I watched the sunrise from my balcony over the beach. I never got tired of this view.

IMG_6323On a particularly gorgeous day in Miami, we spent the afternoon walking around South Beach, and I got to see Versace’s House. What a gorgeous neighborhood. Despite the insanity and chaos of all the people, I could totally live in a city like this.

IMG_2749We spent our second evening stuck in a parking garage because of a ton of issues with our rental cars. It was not the most fun, but luckily I got to catch one hell of a sunset (not the best view, but what a sky!)

IMG_2754Although we were late (due to rental car issues) we still managed to make our night infinitely better with a family reunion and dinner! We hadn’t seen each other since last July in Brazil.

IMG_6330There were some more cloudy days, but that didn’t prevent us from enjoying the beach! Our third day included lots of soccer ball playing, ocean swimming, seashell discovering, and enjoying this little paradise behind our condo.

IMG_6348Our “resort” was called Lighthouse Cove, I’m guessing based on the lighthouse in the distance. Definitely made from some great scenery. I must admit the dark water threw me off at first, but the Atlantic definitely isn’t known for the bright blue color that I’m used to!

IMG_2764A lot of my mornings started with my favorite little boy, and often an iPad and some YouTube videos :)

IMG_6369It was so sunny that afternoon that we spent the day at the beach again. My brother had a good time trying to catch fish with his bare hands. He’s actually part ninja.

IMG_6375That night, we got all dressed up and went out for dinner at a seafood resto in the downtown area of Miami!

IMG_6379My mom and brother were left alone a little too long with the lobster utensils, so this kind of thing was bound to happen :)

IMG_2808The following day, my brother and I were feeling particularly sunburned, so the whole family went to the 7 mile Sawgrass Mall for the afternoon. My nephew was sporting his Ronaldo jersey and, I kid you not, played with a ball the ENTIRE day we were shopping. He’s holding up that namesake of his!

IMG_2818On my last day in Miami with family, my travel BFF flew in from Montreal to meet up with us! We would be leaving for our 7 day cruise the next day, but that particularly rainy afternoon we spent far too long at Wal-Mart. Also? Too many family members meant leaving my brother to ride in the trunk ;)

Overall, this was a very relaxing family trip! I spent tons of time with my nephew (we were practically inseparable) and I also got to catch up on reading, beach time, and of course discovering new parts of a city. I was really excited for my cruise though. I was ready to liven things up a bit with some ports of call, excursions, and new cities almost every day!

Ah, vacation.

Well, today is the day! I can’t believe how fast this summer is going, to be honest. But I’m flying to Miami with my family this afternoon where I’ll be spending a week in the sunshine (and hopefully by the beach!) My second week I’ll be on a cruise with one of my best friends, and although I’m still nervous, I’m super excited.

So this is basically my *goodbye* for the next two weeks or so. I don’t think I’ll be popping in here while I’m on vacay, but I’m sure I’ll have lots to talk about once I’m back.

Have a wonderful month of August! worldyours