Kauai, Hawaii 2013 – Food!

In the third post on our 2013 honeymoon in Kauai, Hawaii, we’ll be talking about one of our favorite things…food! We ate a LOT on this trip. Here are some of the places we tried out!

Local beer: When we go on vacation, we usually stop at a grocery store to pick up some water, local snacks, etc. On this trip we picked up a variety pack of local beer. I’m not a big fan of beer but Mr. L said it was great!

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Spam: One item we noticed on a lot of menus was spam! It was even on display at the Kauai Museum. I don’t like spam but Mr. L ordered a spam omelette for breakfast one morning and really enjoyed it. Kimchi is also found quite a lot on the local menus and I found it really tasty.

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Tidepools: This was one of the fancy “special occasion” places we tried during the trip. If you are looking for a place to enjoy a romantic dinner this is it! It is located at the Grand Hyatt and is a beautiful open air restaurant. We sat right by the water and watched koi fish swimming around while we ate. Everything from start to finish was perfection. If they still offer the Lava Flow drink, get it!

Puka Dog: Everything I read about Kauai said that Puka Dog was a must so of course we had to try it. It’s basically a hot dot with special toppings. Mr. L wasn’t crazy about it but I thought it was really tasty and a good affordable option (on an island of not-so-affordable options!)

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Hukilau Lanai: Another very nice “special occasion” place to eat, this open air restaurant with beautiful views is a must-do! Be sure to make reservations, this place is hopping!

Be sure to get shave ice and a loco moco at least once when visiting as well!

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Yummy shave ice

Have you been to Kauai? What was your favorite place to eat?

Take Away: Food on this island is super expensive. Budget accordingly! We underestimated the cost of food a bit but that didn’t stop us from eating it! This list is really just scratching the surface as far as food; there are a ton of great places to eat and all the food we had was wonderful!

Up Next: Sightseeing!

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Kauai 2013 – Where we stayed!

In our previous post, we provided a few fun facts about the island of Kauai. Today we are going to continue our Kauai series by discussing where we stayed during our 2013 honeymoon!

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Amazing view from our hotel room

We stayed at the Marriott Courtyard at Coconut Beach. This is easily the best view of any Marriott Courtyard I’ve ever seen!

The hotel is located in the Kapaa area, which we thought was the perfect place to stay. We were able to get all around the island from this central location with ease. There are also plenty of places to eat and shop nearby, and you are close to several beaches of course.

Marriott Courtyard Kauai
Wood shutters – huge balcony!

The hotel has a restaurant called Voyager, which we really enjoyed. We ate there our first night after a long exhausting flight and again the night before we left and it was very good both times. There is also a nice lounge to grab a cocktail with views of the ocean.

We had a king oceanfront room which was very roomy with amazing views. I mean, it doesn’t get much better than waking up to this!

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They even had a sunrise hula show, musicians, and other entertainment during our 10 day stay here. All of the staff was so friendly and accommodating; they even gave us a honeymoon treat!

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Honeymoon gifts from the hotel!

Do you prefer to stay at more affordable hotels or splurge for fancy resorts?

Take Away: Don’t be thrown off by the fact that this is a Marriott Courtyard and not a fancy resort. Kauai (and the rest of Hawaii) is not cheap. We found the price to be right and we would not hesitate to stay again!

Up Next: Food!

 

Kauai 2013 – Honeymoon!

This month we are writing a few posts about our 2013 honeymoon in Kauai, Hawaii! Today we are going to start with some basic information about the island of Kauai and why we chose this for our honeymoon!

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Kauai is the fourth largest island in Hawaii as well as the oldest of the main islands.

Kauai (also spelled Kaua’i) is known as the Garden Isle, and as you read our blog posts, you’ll see why!

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Kauai is home to thousands of chickens! If you vacation in Kauai without seeing a chicken, you are probably not in Kauai. We saw them throughout our trip but they never bothered us. They were just…around.

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The island of Kauai has been used to film many TV shows and movies (sometimes pretending to be other locations.) Examples include South Pacific, Lilo & Stitch, Jurassic Park, and A Perfect Getaway.

I am lucky enough to have visited Kauai and Oahu when I was younger with an Aunt and Cousin. I fell in love with the island and had been aching to go back. When my parents very kindly offered to pay for our honeymoon as a wedding gift, Mr. L and I both thought Kauai would be the perfect place! We got a good deal through Apple Vacations. We don’t usually book trips this way but it was very cost effective and we didn’t have any issues so definitely look around and price stuff out – you may get a deal!

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Take Away: Kauai is truly one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. It’s very easy to get around and, being a small island, you really can feel like you are seeing all of the major sites while still keeping a relaxed pace. It’s great for a romantic trip but also very good for families.

Have you been to Hawaii? What is your favorite island?

Up next: Where we stayed!

Days 4 & 5: Portland, Oregon, July 2017

On the fourth day of our visit to Portland, I again had work sessions all morning so I grabbed a quick coffee and breakfast sandwich at the hotel and was on my way! I was out by lunchtime and Mr. L and I went to J Café before heading to the hotel to change. This was really tasty! The paninis come with a side salad that has a really good dressing. Their iced tea tasted homemade as well. Yum!

After changing clothes, we decided to try our hand at the Rose Test Garden one more time. We took the MAX to Washington Park and this time (maybe due to lack of exhaustion) noticed that they offered a free shuttle to the garden! We were feeling very refreshed this day, though, and decided to walk through the forest to the garden instead. I think it was just under 2 miles or so.

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A lovely walk through Washington Park

The walk was beautiful and not too difficult, either.

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International Rose Test Garden

Eventually we made our way to the International Rose Test Garden. Wow, just wow. I’m so glad we made the effort to visit. It’s so beautiful it really blew my mind. I’ve never seen so many roses in one place all in bloom. There are over 7,000 rose plants here and this may be one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen in a long time.

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Just a few of the thousands of roses in bloom

We then walked the short distance to the Japanese Garden, which is also very beautiful.

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Japanese Garden

This was really fun to walk around, although the hill to get to the main area is quite steep so heads up! We even stopped for an afternoon tea in their café, featuring tea imported from Japan. Very fun and something different!

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Afternoon tea at the Japanese Garden

After the lovely gardens, we made our way back downtown for our second stop at Powell’s Bookstore. (If I haven’t mentioned it, I love books, bookstores, and all things of that nature.) We picked up the cutest little Sasquatch dolls here for our niece and nephew. They were a big hit!

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Are these not the cutest?!

 

We like to do at least one nice meal whenever we travel and this time we went with Jake’s Famous Crawfish. This was delicious food, a nice atmosphere (nice but not stuffy) and we had a lovely seat right next to a window for people watching. After dinner we went back to the hotel to pack and rest for our flight the next day.

On our last morning on Portland we attempted to eat at the famous Voodoo Donut. Unfortunately, it was a Saturday and the line was bonkers. So instead we walked to a place called Mother’s Bistro. This also had a line. We were tired and hungry at this point so we just decided to wait it out instead of wandering any more. I knew I would like this place as soon as I walked in – chandeliers everywhere! It’s a really cute restaurant with yummy biscuits and gravy. Oh, and a mug my mother would have loved!

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Good advice, mug.

After breakfast we flew back home full, happy, and exhausted!

Take Away: Overall, we really enjoyed our time in Portland. It’s not a place I could see myself living but I really liked exploring the city and seeing a different part of the country.

Up Next: Come back in September as we discuss our 2013 honeymoon in Kauai, Hawaii!

Day 3: Portland, Oregon, July 2017

On the third day of our Portland trip, we woke up early and spent some time on our balcony where we discovered a lovely view of both Mount Hood and Mount St. Helen’s. Amazing!

I spent the entire morning in work sessions. Mr. L worked on his laptop while I was gone and then met up with me at the conference center.

We popped into Little Big Burger for lunch.  This is a small burger chain and the place was packed! We both got cheeseburgers and truffle fries and took them back to the hotel to eat (there was no place to sit and we were within walking distance.) The food was okay but it didn’t blow us away. It was nice to have a burger that wasn’t the size of a steering wheel for a change, though.

As we walked, we noticed this tag quite a bit. I have no idea who Lord Pound is but he certainly has left his mark!

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We saw this around our hotel many times. Who are you, Lord Pound?

After lunch we hopped on the MAX with the intention of doing the rose test garden. We got off the stop at Washington Park but the map made it look really super far away and we were just too tired to figure it out so we got back on the MAX and randomly decided to visit the library. It’s a beautiful building with a large homeless population (common among downtown public libraries). It really is worth visiting just to see the pretty architecture.

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Portland Public Library
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I really enjoyed the library’s rose-themed carpet

After that we went to a shop called Crafty Wonderland and picked up a print of Portland for the house. If you are like me and are running out of places for your travel mugs and magnets, a print is a nice reminder of your trip and it makes your house look nicer, too!  This is a really cute little store with some fun stuff.

Finally we made our way to the Oregon Brewers Festival. This was a lot of fun and we were able to try a wide variety of beer. I’m not a really big beer fan (do sangria festivals exist? I would definitely go to that!) but Mr. L really loves beer and enjoyed trying the various options.

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The festival’s 2017 mug

We were super exhausted by this point and we ended up taking a nap at the hotel until about 9 p.m.! Oops. We ordered a late dinner via room service and then went back to bed.

Take Away: Be flexible with your plans. If something doesn’t work out, there is always something else to see/eat/do!

Up Next: Our last full day in Portland!

Days 1 & 2: Portland, Oregon, July 2017

Hi there! This month I will be writing about my recent trip to Portland, Oregon! I visited in late July for a work conference but Mr. L tagged along and we managed to see quite a bit in between my daily sessions!

We flew in on a Tuesday evening so we didn’t do much of anything this night (aside from run like mad to make our connecting flight!) We did, however, manage to get a few nice shots from the plane. We stayed at the Double Tree, which ended up being a huge room with a balcony and easy access to the MAX Light Rail.

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Landing in Portland, Oregon

We were able to use the MAX Light Rail to get everywhere we needed to go. You simply purchase a ticket at any of the kiosks (you can buy a 1-day or multi-day pass) and hop on. I am told that people occasionally walk through the MAX to check if you have a ticket though no one ever checked ours. I did overhear someone say that if they do check your ticket and you don’t have one you’ll get charged $80! So better safe than sorry! Either way it was a very easy and convenient way to get around; I wish my city had a system like that!

On Wednesday, I didn’t have any work sessions until the evening so we got up and had breakfast at the hotel – not great, unfortunately – and walked a few blocks to the Oregon Convention Center, where my conference would be held. It’s a really pretty – and huge – building. It was very easy to walk to from the hotel.

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Oregon Conference Center

Then we made our way to the Lan Su Chinese Garden.  We got a bit turned around but eventually found it. This place is gorgeous! It’s hard to believe that it’s in the downtown area of the city. It cost about $10/each, I think but it’s 100% worth a visit.  There was also a tea house here but we had just had breakfast and were also quite warm so we passed.

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Lan Su Chinese Garden

After that we made our way to the place I’d been looking forward to the most…Powell’s! They claim to be the largest independent new & used bookstore in the world and I believe it. This place is huge. It literally takes up a city block. We found lots of goodies for ourselves and for our family. I recommend checking out the rare book section, it was great. This is a must-see in my opinion! In fact, we ended up going twice during our short stay!

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Powell’s, my new favorite book store.

For lunch we stopped at a place called Bambuza. It’s a quick casual Vietnamese place; if you stop here try the Thai Iced Tea, yum! After lunch we walked around the Pearl District a bit. Our favorite store was the Made Here PDX, which had a ton of great local products. This is a nice stop if you want to take home something other than the typical souvenirs. While walking back to the MAX we popped in a small store and I bought the t-shirt version of the image below because it was just too great not to.

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Sasquatch riding a tiny bicycle holding flowers. Because, why not?

After our short shopping adventure, we made it back to the hotel in time for me to change for my evening work sessions. For dinner we went to Standford’s. We chose this because it was walking distance from the hotel and we were tired! We weren’t sure about it as it’s within the mall but we were pleasantly surprised.

Overall, a fun day!

Take Away: Take advantage of the MAX. This is an amazing and easy way to get around Portland.

Up Next: Portland Day 3!

Cruising Tips – Carnival Sensation Cruise, 2017

In the final post on my Carnival Sensation Cruise, I’m going to provide my top 5 tips on cruising!

Carnival Sensation
Half Moon Cay – beautiful!
  1. Arrive Early

Most cruises leave in the afternoon so it’s technically possible (in most cases) to fly to your destination and board the ship the same day but I wouldn’t recommend it; airlines can be unpredictable and if your flight is delayed, the ship isn’t waiting for you! For this particular cruise, we flew in 1 day in advance. This gave us time to adjust to the time change and not feel rushed.  In the future, I would fly in 2 days ahead of time to extend the vacation and sight see around the city before leaving!

2. Arrange transportation

If you are flying in the same day as your cruise, see if your cruise line has transportation from the airport to your ship! If you fly in a day or so in advance, check with your hotel about transportation – we were able to get a shuttle from our Miami hotel straight to the cruise ship for about $10 – much cheaper than a taxi! You can also get a shuttle from the cruise ship back to the airport when heading home (I think this cost about $20). We found this to be a stress-free and easy way of getting around!

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Half Moon Cay

3. Plan excursions…or not…

You can book excursions in advance or you can wait and book them on the ship. Do research ahead of time on the ports you are visiting and see what they are known for. Some places are fine without an excursion but others, not so much. I have a feeling that I would have enjoyed Nassau much more if we’d done an excursion. Instead, it ended up being a “meh” stop for us. On the other hand, we didn’t do an excursion in Grand Turk and had a blast. So…research, research, and research!

4. Be prepared!

Each ship is a bit different so hop on the cruise line’s website in advance to see what is included in your cruise. With my Carnival Sensation cruise, I was able to get bottled water as part of my unlimited drink package. With my upcoming NCL cruise, it’s an extra fee.  On Carnival we had to ask for a hair dryer and leave the room to get coffee, these are not issues on the NCL trip I’ll be taking. Depending on the length of the cruise, and the cruise line, you may or may not have formal evenings where you are expected to dress up a bit. Some cruise lines have “theme” nights – NCL, for example, has a White Party. Cruising is nice because everything is taken care of but a little advanced planning certainly doesn’t hurt!

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Handy dandy towel clips

5. Towel Clips are your friend!

Aren’t these cute?! Everyone on your ship has the same beach towel. And everyone is looking to snag a chair. These little clips help you find your way back to your seat, should you leave for a bit to grab some food. They also make people less apt to move your towel/steal your seat since a personal item is there. Oh, and they keep your towel in place

What tips do you have for cruising?

Come back in August for a recap of our trip to Portland, Oregon!