Wednesday, August 29, 2012

WYNDHAM RIO MAR | PUERTO RICO

We stayed at the Wyndham Rio Mar hotel in Puerto Rico.

The hotel was gorgeous and we had a great time there, but I would not recommend staying there.

Most of the staff were just okay. They were nice, but they just weren't accommodating at all. They didn't know answers to any questions. And the answers they gave always conflicted with another staffs' answers.

Minus a few of the staff. Probably three that we met were very nice and very accommodating. But that's for a later blog post. :)

Also, they had really weird rules. The pools closed at 10 pm every night. And (get this) SO DID THE BARS! What?!? Doesn't make sense at all. Also, they had maybe 5-6 restaurants on property and at any given time, only about 2 were ever open. There was one night that only one was open. And that happened to be the only night that we all decided to eat at the hotel. Hah.

Lastly, Wyndham Rio Mar is not an all-inclusive hotel. Which isn't really a problem in and of itself. But they were as opposite from all-inclusive as could be. They charged an arm and a leg for everything. Parking was (at the cheapest) $15 a day. My dad didn't even play golf because of how much it cost. And that's weird. Something like $60 for 9 holes per person, and more money to rent clubs. Want a fridge in your room? Extra $$.

There were other things, too. But that would just be a big random list.

The good thing is, my family is very laid back. A bad hotel isn't going to make us have a bad experience. We had SO much fun and we have no regrets. But if we ever did it again, we would choose a different hotel.

Nevertheless, it was beautiful there despite all of that!

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Pretty palm trees on the first day there.

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This was my parents view from their suite. The ocean is in the background, but you can't really see it.

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And THIS was our hotel room view. SO much better than a beach view to me. How often do you get a RAINFOREST view?! :)

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This was our view when you looked down. A little oasis for the hundreds of iguanas walking around. If you look close, you can see some of them.

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A very pretty hotel. The landscaping was gorgeous. And there were coconuts everywhere. :)

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Fun part - we got to feed the iguanas!! They were so cool. They looked like little dinosaurs. There were SOO many.

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Hehe. Aren't they so cute? They LURVE lettuce. They were both of my nieces' favorite part of being at the hotel (a 4 year old AND a 15 year old).

We loved being there. All of the downsides weren't even that big of a deal when you look at the bigger picture. Nothing can ruin a vacay for us. We just wouldn't stay there again, that's all. :)

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Monday, August 27, 2012

the places you'll go travel party #6

Loved all the link-ups from last week! Sorry I'm getting the party up kinda late. It's been a slow weekend. But that's okay, because it's here now!

Check out the awesome places people visit:

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1. I realllly want to take random hiking trips in Oregon now to see all those waterfalls featured on I Heart...And Then Some.
2. This is just an "of course" thing for me. Do I want to visit Cinque Terre?? OF COURSE! Check out the photos at We Took the Road Less Traveled.
3. I'd love to see the Vatican City, especially after Hannah Margaret's photos.
4. Camping in the Uinta Mountains beneath all of those aspens would be ideal. Check out photos at A Flower of the Sky.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

EL YUNQUE RAINFOREST | PUERTO RICO

Yay! Another Puerto Rico post!

After going to breakfast in a little local joint, we headed to the beach to spend a couple of hours there. I didn't even take my camera, which I don't regret at all. I got to dive into the ocean, ride waves, float around, build sand castles, find seashells, and bury my niece in the sand.

Sometimes you just need to forget about taking photos and just have fun.

After the beach, we took a little trip to El Yunque National Rainforest, which was basically a hop and a jump from our hotel. We decided to hike up one of the trails to find some waterfalls.

Turns out the Mt. Britton Trail was a pretty popular trail, for both locals and tourists alike. I loved seeing all the people there having fun.

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My sister! Carley decided to jog the whole way up the trail. Weirdo. :) There were 11 of us, and by the time I took a few photos, I was the last one in the pack. Yes, I am the slow hiker. Not out of necessity, but because I take a photo every 3 steps.

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Needless to say, I took a few photos at the beginning of the trail, then looked up, and these were the only ones in my pack that I could see anymore. Yup. I was slower than a 4-year-old.

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I hope you were ready for GREEN when you opened this post! Obviously, since it's a rainforest, it was sooo lush and sooo green. I loved it.

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Once again, I couldn't decide if I liked the color or the black and white better. What do you think?

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The trail was pretty easy. There were a few steep parts, but it was up and down the whole way there, so you could easily catch your breath on the downhills without having to stop for a break.

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We had no idea how many people would be at La Mina Falls. There were so many people! Both tourists and locals. I loved it, though. Everyone was playing in the falls, jumping off rocks, and swimming in the cold water. It was great.

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Don't worry, I handed my camera off so I could have fun in the falls as well. No way was I taking my camera where everyone was jumping, though. Totally would've broken my camera AND my neck trying to keep it safe.

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There was another side trail that I decided to take while everyone was still playing. I didn't know what it led to, but I was pretty sure it went to the higher part of the falls, so I took it.

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Yep, I was right! So pretty and NO ONE was up there. Gorg.

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And there's my awesome fam. Almost all of them, discussing what to do next. Love them!!!

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We decided to head back in the direction we came and check out other parts of the rainforest. Don't you love these trees? So pretty.

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In another part of the rainforest, we found the Mt. Britton Tower. This was an easy find. We just drove up to it. I really don't know what this tower is all about. There was nothing to read. I figure it was just a lookout, since it was on the top of one of the peaks in the rainforest.

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Worth checking out.

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Hey, look! It's a random photo of the hubs! :)

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This was another waterfall that you could basically just drive up to, called La Coca Falls.

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During parts of the year, the falls are quite larger. We just got a dainty little trickle, which I still love. So pretty.

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The stream that La Coca made.

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These were the only people that actually got out of the car to see the falls. (And Mark, but he's behind the camera.) Me, my mom, and Carley.

I totally recommend going to El Yunque if you ever visit Puerto Rico. Lots to see and do. We spent about half the day here, but we could've easily spent the whole day.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

featured sponsor - just bri

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blog  //  twitter  //  instagram

Hi there, I'm Bri! After graduating college I realized that I was kind of "lost", and that there's not "how-to" book for life. I started this blog to connect with other girls about life in the real world. I've always been really career driven which has led me to make two moves since graduation, and has put me in a long distance relationship. I blog about all these "adventures" as well as my love for traveling, my family, and those "special little moments" in life. 

What's something different about you? I grew up with three brothers so I'm a sports fanatic. I can't wait for college football season to start in a few weeks, and this love for sports led me to my first job out of college, working for NASCAR.

What can you not go a day without? My morning coffee, I love it. It's the best way to start the day!

Where is your favorite place to travel? I lived in Mexico City when I was younger (my dad is from there) so I have a great affinity for the Latin American culture. Because of this, I love traveling to Central and South America, my favorite place I've visited so far is Buenos Aires, Argentina.

What is at the top of your bucket list? I've had this crazy urge lately to take a year off and backpack around the world, I would LOVE to do it, I guess I would just need to find someone to travel with me!

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Um...Bri, I'd be happy to accompany you while backpacking around the world. Just tell me when!

Don't you wanna visit Just Bri now? I love her blog and am so excited that I got to partner with her during the month of August. My favorite thing she's had on her blog lately is a series called Long Distance Lovin'. It's about maintaining relationships while apart, and I was lucky enough to guest post during the series.

Bri is gorgeous inside and out, and her amazing qualities definitely convey through her blog. Don't miss out!

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Monday, August 20, 2012

the places you'll go travel party #5

Thank you to those who linked up to last week's travel party! And thanks to all who checked out their links!

I'm so glad I just got back from vacation. Otherwise, I'd be jealous like usual of all of the places you guys have been. My trip to Puerto Rico has tamed my wanderlust for this month. ;)

Here are some of the amazing posts that were linked up last week:

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1. I never even knew this place existed! Thanks to Rachel from Huckleberries and Rain, I am now adding Snoqualmie Falls to my list of places to see.
2. I haven't been to The Big Apple in 8 years and Mia from Little Woman Little Home is making me want to go back!
3. I live an hour from this place and take it for granted all the time, obviously. Kim from Picking Poppies shows how amazing Galveston Bay can be by taking several photos during sunrise.
4. I've always wanted to visit Garden of the Gods, and Niki from Hello Paper Moon is making me want to even more.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

A PUERTO RICAN CAFE | PUERTO RICO

The morning of our first full day in Puero Rico, we decided to go somewhere to eat a cheap breakfast. We had seen a place just down the road from our hotel, so we decided to check it out.

This post is not about the food. (The breakfast was good...can't beat a huge $5 omelet. But nothing to gawk over.) No. This post is about how pretty this place was.

Almost all of Puerto Rico is rainforest. And we were just outside a protected national rainforest. So this place was GREEEEN. I loved it!

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So cute!!

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I love this stairway. My favorite colors! But I couldn't pick which one I liked best on the above two. Those colors are to die for. But that black and white is like a dream! So I kept both!

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Remember, I'm still new to the tilt-shift lens, as I told you in my last Puerto Rico post. But I fell in love with the lens so much while shooting this place!

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Here's the entrance to the restaurant we ate at. Breakfast under an ivy-laden canopy?! Yes, please!

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The drive into the parking lot for several bunched-together restaurants and cafes. So cute!

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This tree served as our own covered parking! :)

So I would love to tell you the name of this restaurant, but none of us remember seeing a sign or even a name on the menu. I also know pretty much exactly where it is on the map, but there is nothing on google that says it exists. Haha! I love exploring unfamiliar territory! :)

My advice to you, if you ever get a chance to visit Puerto Rico, would be to go local! Try the local restaurants, even if they look a bit sketchy. We went to several local restaurants instead of eating at our hotel. They ALL looked sketchy. But they were great! And now we love the culture, not to mention Puerto Rican food.

Don't be scared to immerse yourself in other cultures!

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