Meeting Winnie the Pooh in Mexico

Growing up I had so many fun memories visiting Tijuana and Rosorito with friends. My hometown was just 30 miles from the U.S. / Mexico border. Pretty damn close! Close enough that we used to park at the border checkpoint and walk across the border for a night out drinking. Later we would walk back to the U.S. side to pick up our cars. Years later – my friends and I decided to meet up for a 5-day Mexico trip!

But where should we travel to in Mexico?

Well the thing is our close neighbor, Mexico does not have the best reputation or perception from Americans. When you hear about Mexico on the news it’s typically around Trump, drugs, kidnapping, or worse. Whatever it might be it’s guaranteed that my mom has heard about it. What you don’t typically hear is how beautiful the country is with its vibrant culture and relaxed atmosphere. And I’m assuming you’ve heard of their delicious food (enchiladas anyone?).

Answer: Puerto Vallarta! Ayyyy

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There’s no shortage of great places to travel to in Mexico, but since its was still hurricane season we had to choose our destination wisely. Puerto Vallarta was our safest bet based on where its located. Although we were SUPER LUCKY that we dodged a tropical storm days before we arrived. Just sunshine and paradise for our trip.

I did some research on Mexico destinations and found that Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco Mexico is SAFER than Miami (just 3 hours from where we live). Along with good safety reviews, Puerto Vallarta has beautiful views of mountain ranges, a great party scene and of course… TACOS!!

Arriving in Mexico is an instant fiesta. As soon as you get past immigration (only took us 25 minutes) there were trays of margaritas waiting for us! Although I had some knowledge on transportation from the airport to our accommodation… we got distracted with a few free tequila shots. We got scammed and took a shuttle, which was about a 15 minute ride – $10 per person. Tequila shots were nice and everything, but don’t get fooled like we did. You can get a $3 Uber for your whole party to the hotel.

If you ever stay at an all-inclusive resort be prepared for LONG. LONG. LONGGGG check-ins. Maybe it was just ours… but it was so unnecessarily long. At least we got more welcome margaritas… but we were ready to vacation!!

Zip-lines, tequila tastings, and monkeys!

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We loved relaxing by the resort pool and ordering apps for days, but we were ready to get out to explore. We took an awesome zip-lining & tequila tasting tour! There were a total of 17 zip-lines and 5 tequilas to try. The tour definitely over-sold us with water-sports and swimming – but take that with a grain of salt… That swimming water had STRONG currents from the heavy rain from the previous week – good chance of losing an amigo in that water. LOL. At the tequila tasting spot there was these caged areas where you can feed the monkeys! These tiny marmoset and spider monkeys jumped on us and nibbled on us a lil bit too. Apparently spider monkeys do NOT like the smell of marmosets… so if you want to hang around both types of monkeys check out the spider monkeys FIRST… THEN marmoset monkeys. They told us after the fact. It was still a really fun activity for a large group of people – we highly recommend it (even for those afraid of heights, animals, and tequila)!

How we met Winnie the Pooh

Do you know that cartoon yellow bear with the red T-shirt from that children’s TV show? If not your childhood has been deprived… but anyway… How would you feel if I told you that you can now enjoy it as an adult now?! Oh yes… in FROZEN DAQUARI FORM! This drink is half mango on the top and the bottom half is strawberry – looks just like Winnie the Pooh!! It tastes AMAZING, but safe to say we were all starting to get that Pooh bear body by the end of the trip.

Hundreds of Winnie the Poohs later… no joke… We wanted to work it off and explore what else Puerto Vallarta has to offer. Being right on the ocean we took out a few kayaks (more resorts should have some) and paddled around while taking in the coastal mountain views. We usually don’t get the chance to relax while traveling so this was refreshing. Nothing like ditching the phone at home while enjoying a day with bocce ball, kayaks, swimming, and more .

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1… 2… 3… TEQUILA!

Party party party! Puerto Vallarta loves to party and drink lots of tequila! There are about 4 clubs along the boardwalk that were a BLAST! They were all next to each other so its easy to club-hop! We went on a Sunday night and there weren’t that many people out. Apparently we visited in “low-season” – so the clubs are more poppin’ on the weekends. Still a blast! These clubs were affordable (mostly for ladies) and over-the-top. One club had a giant swing that reached over the boardwalk and another called Zoo was animal themed with dance cages *no animals were harmed, but we were the next morning! All-in-all, it was a fun time with our friends to let loose and relax! Ayy TEQUILA! (unpopular opinion: America has better margaritas)

Checking out the old city

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After checking out the night life and eating (more like drinking) our way through the resort it was time to check out the old town. We started on the boardwalk, which is SO CLEAN with beautiful views along the water. There were a bunch or restaurants, dollar beers / margaritas, and free tequila tastings offered on the boardwalk. All the locals along the boardwalk were friendly and helpful! I feel like I have trust issues going to touristy locations where everyone is trying to sell you something. Well you still get that here LOL, but not too much in comparison to other cities. You’ll get more of the hassle in the city’s flea market – be prepared to bargain! The flea market is located on a small island in the middle of town with local merchants selling anything from shirts to spices. The walk was worth to see all the vibrant items from local merchants selling anything from clothes to spices!

Tips!

  • Get PESOS! (maybe like a $100USD). It definitely came in handy for tips, street vendors and taxi rides (Uber is somewhat not liked with the community).
  • Sunscreen (duh)
  • Pedialyte! We brought travel-size Pedialyte packets and it SAVED us. The HOT sun and tequila can really dehydrate you.
  • Find out events your resort has and plan accordingly! Ours had a Mexican buffet one night with authentic dancers and was giving away free prizes! (it was tequila lol)
  • HUGE TIP – DO NOT… I repeat DO NOT throw out the airport customs paper that they give you arriving to Mexico. You NEED that when you leave Mexico. Couple of our amigos missed their flight and had to pay fees for that tiny slip of paper.

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Spending a conference in HOLLYWOOD!! …Florida

We watched storms roll over the coast from our hotel room balcony. Not too shabby Hollywood!

The hills is all we know HOLLYWOOD, *Florida !

Hollywood, Florida is a small beach town just 20 minutes outside of Fort Lauderdale. Before attending a conference in Hollywood – we drove out a day early to enjoy a night out in Fort Lauderdale. It started off with Jenelle trying the electric scooters for the first time. Let’s just say, it would have been faster to walk…

Miami definitely rubs off on Fort Lauderdale – between the Ferraris, swanky brunch attire and high priced drinks … we were a bit out of a place but we had a BLAST. We started with the best 4-7PM happy hour in Ft. Lauderdale at El Camino with $2 tacos and $5 margaritas. Afterwards we hit up American Social for a classic bar experience and then headed to Rhythm and Vine for an outdoor chill vibe. Miles got yelled at by a drunk guy for ALLEGEDLY cutting him in the bar line then he bought Miles a drink… so first they’re sour then sweet? Then we headed to America’s Backyard for a pool party themed bar, where Miles got ANOTHER free beer… and guys say chicks get all the free drinks!

There was a Polynesian dance act along with FOUR bachelorette parties… definitely a popular fun spot!!

We finally ended the night with tacos and bacon guacamole. The next day we were ready to hit the beach!! The traffic on the Ft. Lauderdale beach strip was horrible (in the middle of summer!), so we decided to go down to Hollywood beach where our hotel was. The two locations seem to be polar opposites to each other. Ft. Lauderdale is overpopulated, with a road almost on the beach, and Hollywood is tranquil but almost seems abandoned. What Hollywood gains in peaceful beaches it loses in empty buildings. With the same beautiful view we gladly took the unpopular choice over the masses. The weather wasn’t the best day for the beach but it just made for better pictures!

The beaches were beautiful, clean and well kept – it made us wonder why there was so many deserted motels…

In between rain storms, we walked down the boardwalk to find a place to eat (its also bike-friendly with bike lanes!). We stopped at a hole in the wall restaurant on the beach and you could tell they didn’t get much business. The server wouldn’t even let us order the crab dip which had been sitting out for ‘too long to serve’. At least the drinks were good!

After this picture was taken we had to quickly move inside due to the typical Florida little monsoons!

We got to see quite a few interesting things while spending some time in Hollywood. We noticed a jet ski rental attendee working with a bird, yes an actual bird, chilling on his shoulder… only in Florida! But nothing could beat the view of the sunrise over the ocean.

I wasn’t expecting a family to be on the adjacent balcony when I went snapped this wearing a towel

Jenelle was able to work from the balcony and hotel pool with incredible views… when it wasn’t raining. I guess that’s just one of the differences between a tropical and desert Hollywood. Overall we had a great time seeing the night life in Ft. Lauderdale and enjoying drinks on the beach of Hollywood.

Tips:

  • Fort Lauderdale is EXPENSIVE but not as bad as Miami… Check out happy hour deals otherwise expect to pay $13 for average cocktails
  • The hotspots in Ft. Lauderdale and Hollywood are either a long walk or short Uber from each other so you can hit them all in a day
  • Check out what your accommodation has to offer for working spaces – I worked in multiple spots around our hotel resort, but charging up the laptop is KEY!

Canoeing with Gators at Kings Landing

Our first post comes from a trip not far from home. Everyone thinks you need to travel out of the country for an ‘out of this world’ experience but it’s surprising the hidden gems you can find just a few hours from your house.

Would you swim with alligators?

The Adventure

We found a hidden (or so we thought) gem called King’s Landing just 30 minutes north of Disney World. As Game of Thrones fans, we had to go. Our first attempt was a FAIL. We arrived at 10:30am on a Sunday and there were no rentals available. This time around, we arrived at 8:45am and were surprised they were already out of double kayaks, but still had canoes.

The trip started out calm. Slowly we pull away from the inlet into what must be the slowest moving river in Florida. Once we met the river, we were welcomed with a palm tree that had grown so far across the river it could barely support itself anymore.

We paddled down the river enjoying the views of riverfront houses and families fishing. With no cell service, you have no choice but to relax. All you can do is sit back and crack open a drink (bring a tumbler)!

Just after this house we came across our first alligator! The story goes that every body of water in Florida has had a gator in it at some point… this river was INFESTED. I’ve always watched gators from afar, so I figured we’d run into a few. I don’t think Jenelle expected to see any, based on her subtle panic attack.

I recommend the FULL 9 mile trip to enjoy all the lilies and desolate forest. There is an option to turn back after the first mile marker, but not nearly as a fulfilling experience as the 9 mile trip.

We separated from other travelers on the river for some privacy to talk and enjoy a hard seltzer. A bit ahead in the river, I saw something… it was an alligator!! No more than 30 feet ahead of us, in a 20 foot wide river is a gator cruising our direction. We quickly stop our canoe and had the most eerie showdown. Somehow we understood each-other the same way two cars trying to pass on a narrow street understood each-other. We pulled to the side while we watched him use his tail to safely slither past us.

We end our trip at what must be one of the strangest ‘island getaways’ I’ve ever seen. Wekiva Island seems like your average pools bar with cabanas, lounge chains and people swimming with inflatable rafts. Would you swim with alligators?! If I hadn’t just seen SEVEN gators on our trip it would have seemed like a perfectly relaxing way to spend my weekend. We were fine to just have a beer and be on our way.

Food

I died and went to sushi heaven.

It wouldn’t be a true Florida adventure without being offered a little bit of a gator food. We just opted for a drink but they had gator tacos and even a fried gator tail! As tempted as we were Jenelle was HARD set on a sushi place in a cute small town not far from us – Wave restaurant in Mount Dora. It was probably 20 minutes out of our way, but worth it! This place posts the most ridiculous sushi PORN on instagram. The price was reasonable considering the amount of fish they load onto everything. The sushi hotdog, yes hotdog – was freaking amazing. We also ordered sushi nachos and signature rolls. I died and went to sushi heaven.

How to find the time (and money)

King’s Landing was quite the adventure, but it wasn’t quick to get to. Knowing we needed to get there early we got a cheap hotel outside of Disney (about $120/night) and made a trip out of it by visiting the boardwalk in Disney Springs the night before. We avoided the outrageous food prices at Disney by grabbing quick food on our drive over, but still got to enjoy the scenery and entertainment. All said and done, we made it home with our entire Saturday evening still open, though we took it to catch up on sleep.

Essentials

  • Water-proof backpack
  • Yeti tumblers
  • Water shoes
  • Beers & cooler
  • Towels (for cushions)
  • Camera
  • CASH!! (Kings Landing is CASH ONLY)

About Us

Traveling brings people together and it certainly did that for us. We’re Jenelle and Miles and we’re just about as opposite as you could get. Never thought a Jersey girl at heart coming from the northeast would end up with a southern California boy. We started dating while living halfway across the county but we always found a way to travel together.

We hiked through the rockies in Banff (Jenelle’s favorite place)

In our first year together we visited 6 countries and more cities than we can count on our hands. We both work full time but continue to travel the world seeking beautiful views and enjoying cold drinks along the way.

We’ve done quick trips to Costa Rica – staying in beautiful resorts overlooking coves and mountains on all sides. Which sounds perfect, but the trip started with Jenelle puking over the side of the rental car while I nervously drove a stick down windy roads. Sometimes traveling is a lot a work and a little uncomfortable but it’s always worth it.

We never cleaned the puke off the car… but this is us being super touristy in Jaco, Costa Rica!

We’re not embarrassed by the good, bad and especially the ugly, because it’s all part of the fun. And who knows… maybe getting travelers diarrhea together while traveling in morocco makes you a stronger couple? I guess we’ll just have to find out!

A selfie of us riding dromedaries in the Sahara Desert (this was pre – food poisoning)