Thursday, February 26, 2015

#PuertoRico2015

I visited San Juan (specifically Isla Verde) in February 2015, for my 27th birthday. It was amazing.
I have recently decided that I must travel. There's no other option. #wanderlust. I have a thirst to see every reach and corner of the Continental United States and the World.
San Juan is essentially destination number one. I went with my younger sister and a very good friend from way back in high school. We had a blast. I am so happy that my international travels have officially kicked off with San Juan. (PLUS! I picked the destination in case my friends didn't have passports! US Citizens do not need a passport to travel to PR!)

Hotel La Playa 
I wanted to stay somewhere right off the beach. As young 20-somethings, we love the beach. :) Hotel La Playa is located in Isla Verde, with 2 beaches to choose from, and literally steps from your hotel. There are only 15 rooms! So, that was a consideration in staying there for the time we were there. You have all of the amenities typical of a hotel: daily room cleaning, toiletries, TV, WIFI, in room refrigerator, safe and continental breakfast. On the one day we rented a car, they allowed us to Valet Park for free. Also, I got a handle of Don Q for my birthday! Really, can you beat free Caribbean rum, in the Caribbean on your birthday? The hotel staff was extremely knowledgeable and friendly! They were eager to help, make your stay the BEST, and always had answers to our questions!






The continental breakfast was pretty basic, but I personally do not need a lot to get myself started in the morning. There was cereal, bagels, fruit, coffee and tea. It was served in their restaurant, which I never got to try. The view was amazing however. You sat overlooking the beautiful water, with the waves rolling in. It was absolutely breathtaking.


The Eats
We ate twice at Alambique just off the beach in San Juan. It was about a 10 minute walk from our hotel. We ate dinner twice there. It was just delicious, laid back, and reasonably priced. On our first day at the beach, a local recommended the place to my Sister and I. Since we had no other plans, we tried it out! I'll definitely be going back and DEFINITELY recommend it! I shamelessly ate the Spicy Ahi Tuna wrap both nights (it was amazing), and drank my Puerto Rican beer, Medalla Light.

              



We also stopped at Lupi's. (NOTE: The link takes you to their restaurant page for their location in Old San Juan, we went to the one in Carolina.) The wait staff was more than accomodating-they let us sit wherever. They brought out chips & queso. In all honesty, we were there for the drinks, and the Puerto Rican Margarita was AMAZING. GET IT! TRY IT!!!



The Beach
Most of our time was spent laying out on the white beaches and swimming in the Caribbean. It's a vacation-what more do you need to do?! The alligator below, we passed on the beach. So much more cool than a sand castle!

                                         








We did go on a banana boat ride. We had never done that before, and had a blast! The name of the place we used has completely left me at the moment. I'll edit this post if/when it comes to me or post a quick blurb with a link back to this specific post. They were located behind ESJ Towers, and had blue flags next to their booth! There were a couple of booths, all owned by the same people with similar set up! GO TO THEM! It was $20/person!



HOWEVER, going on a banana boat ride was not our first choice. Originally, my father had contacted Kenny at Parasail Puerto Rico about reserving kayaks for the 3 of us. It was his gift to me for my birthday. The website listed kayaks as $20/rental for SINGLE kayaks. Kenny responded to my father that reservations were not needed as they had plenty of kayaks. So, on the day of my birthday, we located the booth. It was a GOAT ROPE.
FIRST, they only had double kayaks, and said, "one of you won't be able to go alone, you'll have to find a fourth." um...ok!
SECOND, the price went up to $30/person.
When I asked to speak with Kenny, they of course said he wasn't available. I showed them the emails I had, and their response was, "well our website hasn't been updated, it's $30." Obviously, they did not get my business. Nor, will they ever. I was extremely let down, but thoroughly happy that we went on the banana boat ride.

Casa Bacardi
We also went on a tour of Casa Bacardi . How can you not visit the famous Bacardi distillery??? I thoroughly enjoy visiting breweries, wineries, distilleries, etc. So, this was definitely on the must see list. We opted for the $12 tour. Included in the tour of the grounds is history, a welcome drink (rum punch, right here), and you get a commemorative Bacardi cup to take home! Free souvenir! Well, relatively free. I saw some reviews on tripadvisor.com that stated the tour guides weren't informative, but I found mine to be very informative. There was also a short video on marketing of Bacardi over the years. Tons of historical information, about how the Bacardi had to flee Cuba, and thus, arrived in Puerto Rico. You also learned how Bacardi is actually distilled in KENTUCKY BOURBON BARRELS. I literally gasped. I'm a huge whiskey and bourbon fan, AND live in Kentucky. So, now I'm a big fan of Bacardi as well. ;) The man that discussed mixology, and how Bacardi "invented" the Bacardi & Coke (NOT rum & coke) ;) was also very knowledgeable! The website for Casa Bacardi linked above now gives information on the tours, which was not there prior to February 2015!













Will I go back to Puerto Rico? Abso-freakin-lutely. I'll visit San Juan again-besides Casa Bacardi, I was unable to visit OLD San Juan, which is very historical. I didn't get to the mountains or rain forest. Still so much to see!

I hope this post is useful to fellow travelers! I hope it highlights some of the tourist-y place AND local dives! I hope someone get some use out of this, and visits some of these places in Puerto Rico. You'll have a blast!!!

xo,
*Dee*





Monday, February 16, 2015

Snappy Tomato Pizza

My first post for "Explore Your Town Series," or #ExYTS.

I'll make this snappy! ;) Too corny?

So Snappy originated in the Northern Kentucky area. Fort Mitchell to be exact!! They are known for their DAILY made from scratch dough, and their REAL tomato sauce, not paste! DEELISH!!! Also, I don't think their pizza is overly greasy! (sidenote!)

Being a former vegetarian, I still looove my veggie pizza. So, I got a medium (6 square slices), half veggie, half cheese. The veggie came with: sliced black olives, diced onions & green bell peppers, and mushrooms. I loved it. I am a huge fan of diced veggies on pizza, if they're not diced, I find my mouth pulling off too much and cheese, leaving a naked slice. So, kudos for the slicing & dicing! It makes a difference!! And the cheese was just as good! ALSO, VERY IMPORTANT!!! The first pizza I've reheated that didn't lose its flavor & get soggy! SCORE!

FIVE STARS! Especially for Kentucky based pizza. ;)

Their full menu is online; they offer much more than pizza including hoagies, pasta, and salad!

Support local, eat local! (I specifically ordered from the Cold Spring location!!)

Web: www.snappytomato.com
Twitter: @Snappy_Tomato

XO,
*Dee*

#ExYTS1 #Explore #YourTown #NorthernKentucky #Kentucky #ExYTS #local #pizza

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Harry & Izzy's

Well, this post is a little late coming. It's been hectic around here since the holiday's. I moved to a different state, and then I had my birthday in Puerto Rico (that post is coming soon!).

For Christmas with my father (sister and step mother as well) this year, we all went to dinner in Downtown Indianapolis at Harry and Izzy's. THIS PLACE GETS *****FIVE STARS*****

It was amazing. 




History
Harry and Izzy's is the sister restaurant to the iconic St. Elmo's Steakhouse. It also resides in the historic Ross Jewelers store on Meridian Street in Downtown Indianapolis. The old clock is still outside of Harry and Izzy's. The Restaurant offers casual dining compared to that of St. Elmo's. I have never been to St. Elmo's, but I hope to give it a try when I go back to Indy sometime, especially after my amazing experience at Harry and Izzy's. They also have a Harry and Izzy's at the Indianapolis International Airport, fellow travelers!!!

Our VisitThere was something for everyone on their menu.  All meals came with salad. My sister ordered a pizza, that was the size of something you'd have delivered, my step mom got fish, and my father and I both ordered the BBQ chicken-we could have split the plate! The food was delicious, and I literally had 2 days worth of leftovers. I think I had a whole chicken on my plate (not really, but it felt that way). We also "sampled" their margaritas. I was still on my margarita bender from the Bahamas. They were delicioso!! I had a traditional margarita on the rocks, and my sister opted for strawberry. The bartenders and cooks can definitely rival each other in their skills. 
                               BBQ Chicken                                                    Margaritas

 
                     Salad                                                                

Again, this place gets five stars. I have heard great things about it from others, and I will DEFINITELY be going back. They've got history and amazing food & drinks, what's not to love? Thanks SO much to my dad for taking my tastebuds there, and I definitely can not wait to give St. Elmo's a try a try as well! It's on this foodie's bucket list of restaurants!!

Close it out with a selfie from that night:

xo, 

*Dee*



Surviving a Long Distance Relationship

Let's get this out of the way: we met online. I've always worked mostly alone, and picking up guys from bars didn't seem like the smartest thing in the world. Coyote Ugly anyone? So, my prospects post college were slim. I had a college sweetheart, if you will, and once you're out of those big social settings, it's slim pickins. hahahahaaa. So, we met online. We dated on and off for about a year, going back and forth (Northern KY to Indy). One day on my way back to Indianapolis, he called me and asked to make it official.,..I panicked. I knew deep down that if we made it official, I would be the one to move. He had a better paying job, and I was simply doing what I loved, making a measly paycheck. So, things kind of ended. He would text me occasionally. Sometimes I would text back, other times I wouldn't, but I was always short with him. I was a biiiitch LOL.

Well, in the summer of 2013, I went to Jason Aldean with my best friend, and Nathan came up for the weekend. He got a hotel, I told him I had plans. The concert venue was a good hour and half to two hours away from where he was staying. I kept saying I was on my way. He began thinking I wasn't going to show. My phone started to die, and ultimately died when I got to his hotel. So, as I sat in the lobby, drunk, charging my phone, praying the Front Desk Clerk didn't call the cops on me, (lol), he came down. We did not have sex that night. I'm not one to have drunk sloppy sex (TMI?). When he left the next day, we were officially together, officially boyfriend and girlfriend, and I haven't looked back.

LONG DISTANCE IS HARD.

We went back to seeing each other as often as we could on the weekends, one traveling to see the other. When he had vacation at work, I always went down for the entire week. We'd do all sorts of things: Newport Aquarium, going to the River, country drives on Sundays, Reds games. We both love baseball. He's taken me to tons of local spots. We went to MainStrausse one day, which is a little German area in Newport. He's your A-typical "man's man," though. Our first Valentine's Day in 2014, he didn't even realize it was Valentine's Day (we'd both been single for several years). I think that was our first big blow out. I was being your A-typical girl about the situation. I've always sent him cards to just let him know I'm thinking about him. When I'd leave his place in Kentucky, I'd always leave a letter behind. Once, I left about 25 little heart shaped notes around his place for him to find periodically until I saw him again. I was out of the country once for his birthday, and had a whole care package sent to him. When he opened the box, a banner fell down "Happy Birthday!" and I also included cake, which I baked inside mason jars to retain their freshness. We talked and texted every single day. If you want to make it work, it will work. We celebrated our first anniversary in October of 2014, and I moved in January 2015. So far, we're both still alive. So, I'd say it's going well.

There were weekends that I had planned to visit him and I got called into work at the last minute. I was furious. He works 6 days a week. So, he was unable to come up and see me for a whole weekend. He could only make day trips on his one day off. Most of our fights centered around not seeing each other. When you can recognize this, and that's your main issue, it's easy to deal with as time goes on. It never gets easy to be apart from someone that you love, but you do learn to deal with it. Jealousy has never been issue. If it is, I recommend ending the relationship. Jealousy doesn't look good on anybody. Jealousy to me is just your own insecurities. If you're insecure, you're not ready for a relationship. If you're jealous in a long distance relationship, that shit is going to go down in flames.

Moving In
We had been together for over 2 years (dating on and off for one, and officially over a year) before we moved in. I had gotten laid off from my job in late 2014, and everyone kept saying, go to KY, you'll find a job there, and you can be with him. If you get a job here, you're just going to push back the date that you can be together. So, I bit the bullet. I have never been happier. We went on our first road trip to Denver together, and we're planning a mountain getaway in 2016. Yeeee!!!

It Works If You Work It
Every relationship is hard. It's work. If your relationship is easy, lucky you, but most of them take work and dedication. Shit happens, bad shit happens, and you have to support each other through the good times and the bad. I find it ironic (and I've only recently noticed this) but Nathan is always "keep your head up, things will get better," when I feel like my world is crashing, and I have to say the SAME THING to him when he's stressed out. Guess we should just take our own advice and life would be easier? I definitely wouldn't have moved over 100 miles (not much compared to other LDR's), if I didn't see a future with this man. Compromise is KEY. And what you might not compromise on at that very moment, I bet you will later on down the line. Don't walk out on the other one. Maybe this is a pet peeve/hatred of my own, but I absolutely can not stand when a guy gets pissed off and leaves. That solves nothing, and it makes me (maybe just me) feel completely abandoned.

I recently read an article that it's ok to go to bed angry. I still let Nathan hold me when we do this (maybe twice?), and eventually I fake sleep and snuggle him back. The article talked about how being exhausted at 3am, and trying to argue only makes things worse, and it's somewhat right. I've been there with Nathan. When I can't even think straight and we're trying to argue/come to a conclusion. I'm just getting more angry  because I'm grumpy and tired hahaha. When you wake up, was the fight even worth it? Usually not.

Conclusion
1. LDR's are tough & A LOT OF WORK
2. Send cute little things to each other in the mail. Surprises are nice for everyone.
3. Leave notes behind when you leave!!!
4. Go to bed angry if you have too
5. Realize that ultimately one will have to sacrifice and move.

xo,
*Dee*