Ultimate First Timer’s Guide To Italy

Ultimate First Timer’s Guide To Italy

Hello friends! I am back today to round up mine and Joey’s recent trip to Italy! I am grateful to have traveled to Italy three times with my family, so planning this trip for Joey’s first Italian experience was so fun for me! I knew I wanted the basis of our trip to be around Florence, because I feel like Florence is just quintessential Italy. I booked flights and an Airbnb in Florence for 8 days, and then dived into plans! This trip was the perfect mix of exploring and enjoying the Italian culture, and I wouldn’t change a thing!

Day 1: Arrive in Florence

We arrived in Florence early on in the morning. We dropped our things off at the Airbnb and hit the streets! We decided to stay at an Airbnb right next to the Duomo so we would be central to everything! We spent the day shopping, exploring, and ate dinner at ZaZa (one of our favorites)! We walked all over town stopping at the Ponte Vecchio, Duomo, and toured the Basilica Santissima Annuziata!

Ponte Vecchio – Skirt

Day 2: Explore Florence!

Refreshed after traveling, we spent the whole day exploring Florence! In the morning we walked to the top of Piazzale Michelangelo, grabbed paninis at the famous All’Antico Vinaio, shopped, and grabbed evening coffee at Rivoire while listening to music in our favorite Piazza della Signoria.

Day 3: Venice

Our first full travel day! We hopped on the 8am train straight to Venice! We booked these tickets last minute, and the train ride was only two hours! Instead of taking a water taxi from the train station, we decided to take the 50 minute walk to St.Mark’s Square, and it was worth it! On our way to the square we stopped by the Rialto Bridge and had the most romantic gondola ride! We spent the day wandering around the streets of Venice with no agenda, and it was beautiful. We ate, shopped, and just spent time enjoying the culture! We hopped on the 6:30 train back to Florence. Since I knew we were only going to be in Venice for a day, I did not want to pack our agenda with too many stops, so it was nice to have the time to wander and enjoy the city!

Day 4: Cinque Terre

Back on the road for another day of travel! This morning we woke up even earlier and caught the 6:30am train out of Florence to La Spezia! La Spezia is the train station right outside Cinque Terre. The train took about 2.5 hours, and once arriving in Le Spezia, we hopped on the Cinque Terre train which dropped us at the first town Monterosso al Mare! We spent the day traveling between all five towns. There is a train that runs between all 5 towns, and it is super easy to navigate! We spent the night at the sweetest Airbnb in Corniglia (town number 3). While the quieter of the five towns, we found this was the most perfect place to stay for it’s authenticity and beauty! We ate dinner at Cecio Ristorante Camere (it was right below our room!) and enjoyed their pasta and homemade wine!

Skirt // Sweater

Day 5: Cinque Terre & Pisa

We spent the morning enjoying the town of Corniglia and traveled back to Florence in the afternoon. While in Corniglia we grabbed breakfast, explored the town’s culture and church, and even got pesto lasagna!! On the train ride back to Florence we made a pit stop in Pisa! We only stayed in Pisa for an hour an a half, but it was the perfect amount of time to hop off the train, walk 20 minutes to the tower, and then catch the next train home!

After returning back to Florence, we discovered the most AMAZING wine bar Enoteca Alessi! Joey was like a little kid in a candy shop with all of the incredible wines and amazing charcuterie boards! We had a relaxing and delicious dinner at Ristorante La Grotta Guelfa, the best homemade pasta we ate!

Day 6: Tuscany Wine Tour & San Gimignano

This is the day Joey and I had been looking forward to the entire trip and it did not disappoint! We booked this tour which took us to two incredible wineries and the charming town of San Gimignano! The wineries were SO fun and beautiful, and San Gimignano has become one of my most favorite Italian towns. It is a medeival town and had SO many gorgeous pottery shops! The town itself is situated up on a mountain, so we were just in awe wandering around the town because around every corner was an incredible view!

After returning to Florence we ate at a steakhouse we had been eyeing – Trattoria dall’Oste Chianineria (can you say truffle steak?!) and grabbed drinks at the Rinascente Rooftop! This rooftop is a hidden gem, but go into the Rinascente department store and head up to the top floor! The rooftop has an incredible view of the Duomo and Piazza Della Repubblica!

Day 7: Florence

Our final day in Florence! We spent the morning bargaining in the leather market and eating our way through the San Lorenzo Market. This market is INCREDIBLE! There are two stories and tables and tables of cheese, meats, produce, and absolutely everything imaginable! We grabbed pizza at the famous Gusta Pizza and planned to spend the rest of the day walking around town, but the weather did not cooperate, so we headed back to Enoteca Alessi for more wine and charcuterie boards! For our last dinner we ate at La Buchetta Food & Wine Restaurant, and it was without a doubt the BEST meal we had while we were there. The food and pasta were absolutely incredible!!

We spent the evening enjoying limoncello spritz on the Rinascente Rooftop, and flew back home the following morning! Already missing Italy and planning the next European adventure!

Honeymooner’s Guide To Maui

Honeymooner’s Guide To Maui

Oh Hawaii, you have my heart forever. Joey and I traveled to Maui last year for our honeymoon, and let me just tell you, it has to be one of the most romantic places in the world. There is something about Maui I can’t quite put my finger on, but between the weather, landscape, food, and culture, I cannot think of a better place to honeymoon!

When planning our honeymoon we worked backwards. We first decided on the hotel we wanted to stay at which was the Wailea Beach Resort (can you say amazing infinity pool?!), and then opened up a credit card to gain points! This resort is under Marriott, so we were able to get three free nights with the points we accumulated during wedding planning (score!)

Hat // Hat (similar)

Upon arrival, we were greeted with the most stunning lobby I’ve ever laid eyes on! Basically everything on the resort is outside, including the lobby! We found ourselves spending most of our time hanging around our resort. Between the pools, beaches, grounds, and walking path, there was plenty to do! Every morning we walked along the walking path that passes behind all of the hotels on the strip including Andaz, Grand Wailea, and Four Seasons. The infinity pool at our resort was a daily stop, along with the beach! We saw sea turtles at the beach every single day we were there, they literally swim right past you! While we did enjoy hanging by the pool, beach, and grounds of our resort, we still managed to travel around the island and adventure!

White Swimsuit (similar) // (similar) // (similar)

Adventure 1: Waihe’e Ridge Trail

Wow. It is all I have to say! Now this hiking trail is not for the faint of heart, but if you are feeling adventurous, DO IT! We definitely are not the most experienced hikers, but found this trail to be moderate. I am petrified of helicopters, so we opted not to do a helicopter tour, and on this trail we were eye-level with helicopters conducting tours! How crazy is that?! The views are simply indescribable, and I vividly remember just saying “wow” the entire time hiking because I was speechless! The road getting to the hike was worse than the road to Hana (see screenshot at the bottom of the page), but so incredibly worth it! P.S. If you do go, wear old shoes! The trail is super muddy we had to ditch our sneakers because they got ruined!

Adventure 2: Sunrise at Haleakala

The 2:30AM wake up call is worth it for this! Once again, driving up to Haleakala is quite intimidating (see screenshot at the bottom of the page), but is a MUST! We wanted to make sure we got there far before the sunrise because it is the best place to stargaze. We saw so many shooting stars! I remember looking off into the distance before the sun came up at the “mountains”, when Joey explained the outline in the distance was actually the clouds, not mountains. Are you kidding?! I could not believe we were truly that far above the clouds! If you are picking one thing to do in Maui, this has to be it!

Sherpa // Wifey hat (similar)

Adventure 3: Road to Hana

Now I’m not going to lie, after Waihe’e Ridge and Haleakala, we were slightly underwhelmed with the road to Hana. While it was still incredibly beautiful, it made for a very VERY long day, lots of stops, and not too much time to soak in the beautiful locations. The drive was stunning and we probably made 10 – 12 stops along the way! My favorites include the Garden of Eden, Twin Falls, Keanae Peninsula (the Banana bread here is a MUST!), and Wai’anapanapa State Park!

Adventure 4:

The final adventure we took outside of out resort included exploring various areas and around the island! We spent an evening in Lahaina shopping around and eating, an afternoon at the Lava fields and Makena Beach (Big Beach), and of course spent time traveling restaurants! We opted to stay in Wailea over Ka’anapali or Lahaina because we wanted a more relaxed and laid back environment, but spending an evening walking around Lahaina was a great change of pace! We really enjoyed our time at the Lava fields and the drive to get there was magnificent! Two nights we ate dinner at the resorts on our strip, but our other favorite restaurants were Monkey Pod, Maui Brewing Company, Aloha Wow Wow Lemonade (best acai bowls ever!), and the Pint & Cork!

And for the bonus adventure…I attached screenshots of the roads we took to our hike and Haleakala! Both of these roads were up windy hills with no guard rails, and I was terrified! Like I said before, if you can do these roads you can DEFINITELY do the road to Hana!

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Girls Trip To Greece – Top Things To Do

Girls Trip To Greece – Top Things To Do

I recently took a girls trip to Greece with my two best friends, and let me just say we had the TIME of our lives! We had been wanting to go to Greece for as long as I can remember, and every part of our trip exceeded all expectations! We traveled to Mykonos, Santorini, and Athens. Today I am sharing our favorite parts about each place!

Mykonos
We touched down in Mykonos and instantly fell in love! We stayed at the Aeolos Mykonos Hotel and it was incredible! Not only did we have an adorable quintessential greek villa, but also the staff was amazing! During our time in Mykonos we shopped, explored, and ate all of the feta!

Aeolos Mykonos Hotel

We started off every morning with the greek frappe! These coffee drinks were very strong, but helped fight the jet lag to adventure all day!

One of our favorite parts about Mykonos was just exploring the town. Around every corner is a new adorable street with shops and little restaurants. I will say, the town of Mykonos is a MAZE! If you find a store you love do not try to come back to it later, many times we found ourselves lost trying to retrace our steps!

And let me just take a moment to talk about how sweet the shops are! If you know me you know I love anything and everything white lace, so these shops had me in heaven!

In the evenings, there are so many beautiful restaurants! From local seafood spots right on the water, to romantic cozy spots in town, the food was to die for. Some of our favorites were Avra, Mamalouka, Kounelas Fish Tavern, and Niko’s Tavern! Avra and Mamalouka were absolutely adorable. Between the incredible food and the decor, they both made for the perfect girls’ date spot! Lotus Wine Bar

Aside from eating, shopping, and strolling, there are so many adventures to embark on in Mykonos! We loved walking over to see the classic windmills, Little Venice, and even rented ATVs one day! From Agios Beach to Platas Gialos, we explored so many points on the island on ATVs. While at Agios Beach, we scooped up lunch at the famous Kikis! We rode through all of the party areas (Paradise and Super Paradise), and particularly loved our stop in Paraga.

Santorini
I could write a novel on our travel to Santorini…but in summary DO NOT take the ferry SeaJets, it was easily one of the scariest experiences of our lives. Once arriving in Santorini, we needed time to decompress from our ferry ride, so we spent the afternoon walking around Fira, sipping on coffee, and eating gyros! There are so many magnificent cliffside bars and coffee shops in Fira, be sure to grab a seat at one and take in the view!

We stayed at Hotel Oia Sunset (adorable Airbnb) and watched the sunset in Oia from the Kastro wall! After sunset, we grabbed dinner at Lotza. The restaurant itself was more casual, but the view and food were to die for!

Before leaving Oia, we walked the steps down to Ammoudi Bay and popped in all of the adorable Pottery and artisan shops in Oia town!

Athens
Our final stop in Athens we grabbed lunch in the Plaka, took the Acropolic tour, and headed to the Olympic stadium! I am most definitely not a history buff, but I was blown away by the acropolis! Walking on all of the history was remarkable!


All in all, Greece was the PERFECT destination for a girls trip! I cannot wait for the next one!

Banff Travel Guide – Complete 5 Day Itinerary

Banff Travel Guide – Complete 5 Day Itinerary

Oh Banff, Canada, the most beautiful place I have EVER been! Joey and I traveled to Banff for 5 days in August, and we are already itching to go back. It truly is the most naturally beautiful place, filled with crisp air, delicious food, cozy vibes, and all of the adventures! I outlined our 5-day itinerary, and I think it was the perfect amount of time!

Day 1: Travel up the Icefields Parkway
We flew into Calgary pretty late so we decided to stay at the airport our first night, and start fresh in the morning! The drive into Banff was a little over an hour. We made a pit stop in town at our hotel Elk + Avenue, and then headed up the Parkway! You could spend the ENTIRE day driving up and down the Icefields Parkway as it seems there is a new beautiful sight around every corner!

We started our journey with Peyto Lake, about an hour north of town. After a short hike to the summit, we were met the most picturesque view!

We continued driving and made some smaller stops along the way, pulling off to take in some fresh air and beautiful sights. We got hit pretty bad with altitude sickness, so these pit stops were much needed!

We reached the tip of our journey at the Columbia Icefield Skywalk in Jasper! It was slightly scary walking out on the glass over the mountains, but such an amazing view!

We made our way back down the parkway, stopped at Bow Lake (one of my favorites), spent the rest of the evening walking around downtown Banff, and ate dinner at Block Kitchen + Bar, highly recommend!

Bow Lake

Day 2: Johnston Canyon, Bow Valley, and Banff town
Bright and early wake-up call to hike Johnston Canyon! We grabbed coffee and breakfast at Evelyn’s Coffee Bar and drove over to Johnston’s Canyon for 8AM (30 minute drive). Getting here early was crucial, by the time we left around 11AM the trails were so crowded and bogged down!

Make sure you go slightly off of the beaten path to find this beautiful secret spot! Located about half-way up the upper falls trail.

On our way back into town, we took some time and explored Bow Valley, including the picturesque Bow Valley Railway!

We spent the later afternoon and evening shopping around Banff town, and had the BEST burgers ever at Eddie Burger Bar!



Day 3: Moraine Lake

While everyday in Banff was magical, Moraine Lake took the top spot. There is something about this place that I cannot put into words. It truly felt like another land, and I am already dying to go back!

We arrived right before 8AM (about an hour drive from Banff town), and got the absolute last spot in the parking lot! We did not do too much hiking, just soaked in the crisp air, gazed at the views, and kayaked!

When we returned to town we took the Banff gondola up to the Sky Bistro and ate dinner above the mountains!

Day 4: Lake Louise and Vermilion Lakes

Another early morning, we headed up to Lake Louise for 8AM (45 minute drive from Banff town), in order to get a parking spot. We started on our journey to hike up to the Big Beehive! Our hike took about 4 hours round trip and man was it worth it! We stopped half way up to enjoy some tea and apple crisp at the famous Agnes Tea House.

Later that evening we headed over to the Vermilion Lakes (5 minute drive from Banff town) to watch the beautiful sunset.

Day 5: Tunnel Mountain and Banff Town

Our final day! Taking some advice from the locals, we decided to hike up Tunnel Mountain in town. We thought we were hiking pros after the Big Beehive the day prior but man was this hike difficult! It took us just about an hour to get to the summit and the view of downtown Banff was breathtaking (literally because I was so winded from the uphill climb).

After lunch at Park Distillery, we enjoyed a walk along Bow River to end our time in Banff. We entered across the Banff Pedestrian Bridge and walked all the way down to Bow Falls.

All in all, Banff is a place we plan to travel back to frequently! I cannot wait to place our next adventure to this magical destination!