From Here To There {Chicago}

Over the summer I traveled to Chicago twice. While it isn’t one of my favorite cities, it offered up a nice variety of things to fill my time. What I loved most about this city is the beach area to the left of Navy Pier, I believe it is called North Beach. I took a nice walk around this part and it was so pretty! There were groups of people lounging on the beach, biking, playing volleyball and practicing cheerleading. There was also an area to play chess or checkers, I love when cities have an open of built in games for friends, or others enjoying their lunch.

The view flying into Midway is amazing, it was a nice welcome to the new (for me) city.

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The first hotel is stayed in was the Millennium Knickerbocker. There seems to be a lot of history from this hotel, and it had really nice rooms but on my last night someone was working in the utility closet right next to my room. This kept me up for half of the night, which annoyed me a bit since I had an early flight the next morning.  The best thing about the hotel was the bar though, the drinks were awesome and I love when there are nuts to snack on while chitchatting. I also really loved the vintage style elevator. I would give it a 3.5 out of 5.

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After checking into my hotel, I walked 2 blocks away to rent a bike and explore a bit. I went towards Navy Pier, and then it started to pour down rain. I got pretty soaked but eventually found another bike station and ran into the pier building. This was a nice time to explore the shops inside and buy some souvenirs for my siblings.

Once the rain stopped I rented another bike and went around the water to get a few blocks from Millennium Park. It was tucked away in a really cool spot with a large garden, field and around the corner from structures that sprayed water for children to play in. I loved the atmosphere of this part of the city, it made it feel like you were in the suburbs.

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IMG_9099I decided to walk a little more before getting another bike and was in awe at the beautiful structures and buildings. I made my way to the Chicago River, past the Chicago theatre and then to Magnificent Mile. Maybe one day I will be around to see the river turned green for St. Patricks day, although it still looked pretty green. It was a really great first day exploring the city. I highly recommend getting a daily pass for a bike. Each time you rent one you have 30 minutes to dock it at another bike station. Within 24 hours I used 6 bikes and it only cost $7, so worth it and you get great exercise!

 

The next day we went to an amazing restaurant for dinner, I believe it has been on Man Vs. Foods but I can’t remember the name of the place. Such a bummer because I would love to eat there again. Notice everyone else in the photo taking a picture of their meal. After my huge dinner, I needed a walk around the beach. It was a great end to a conference week in Chicago.

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The next time I visited Chicago, I stayed in the Hyatt Regency. Let me tell you, it was a huge hotel! I also had a great view from my room. There was basically no reason to leave, except I wanted to go shopping, so I left for a little while. I had also never enjoyed deep dish pizza, so I did that for the first time. I loved it. I could only have 1 slice because it was so large, but so very worth the extra calories. There was also an underground mall area right next to the hotel with great restaurants.

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I will be back again in the spring, so I am open to suggestions about what I should do!

Change For The Good

I have moved my blog from totravelandbeyond.wordpress.com to totravelandbeyond.com! If you have not received a reply from me for the last 2 weeks, it is because I was basically locked out of this account. Thankfully I had several posts scheduled!

Over the next few days everything should change over and this page will redirect to the new page.

To read todays post, click here.

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Christmas List 2014

I have debated making a Christmas list this year, but everyone in my family keeps asking for one. So instead of just sharing it with them, I thought it would be fun to share it with all of you as well!

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Clear Eyes Full Hearts Can’t Lose shirt from Helene In Between

I am obsessed with Friday Night Lights and when Helene announced that she would be starting an Etsy shop with all these Texas, I couldn’t have been more excited.

Kate Spade Knot Bracelet 

If it’s nautical, I want it. Kate Spade has really been nailing it in the jewelry department.

Longchamp Large Shoulder Tote- Le Pilage

I have wanted one of these for so long, it would be a huge help to have on travel. I always bring more than I should onto airplanes, but this would help me keep it all organized and in one bag.

Name Plate Necklace 

These necklaces are becoming so popular and I would love to have one that represents the start of a new year when I will be marrying my best friend! I can’t decide if I want one that says 6.20.15 or D & M.

Claddagh Ring from The Tree of Jewels

I have had a Claddagh ring for years and it recently broke. It would be nice to get a new one with my birthstone.

Nautical Charm Bangle from Alex and Ani

I am ready to jump on this trend! I want several Alex and Ani bracelets, but this is my favorite one.

I would also love a smaller camera. I have a larger SLR but a small one to put into my bag while I travel would be super helpful. Maybe I could stop with the iPhone pictures on here for a while.

What do you want for Christmas?

 

 

My Favorites {2014 Entertainment}

2014 has been a great year in the entertainment category. From new movies and TV shows to great music, I want to share some of my favorites from this past year. Some are older, but had a special place in this year or I just found out about them.

Favorite Movies

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Begin Again- I left the theatre feeling inspired and full of happiness. This movie had a wonderful story line and I loved each twist and turn along the way. It doesn’t hurt that Adam Levine is in it and looks pretty great.

Divergent- Girl power! This movie is everything I love in a story, and actually compared to the book, which never happens. My favorite part of the story was left out, but all in all this was a great movie. I am so excited for Insurgent in March!

Guardians of the Galaxy- This movie turned out to be nothing like I expected. I was laughing, crying, sitting on the edge of my seat and more throughout it all and I couldn’t have been more surprised. I normally love general Super Hero movies, but this one was more than that.

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The Fault In Our Stars- Another book that somewhat compared to the movie. I cried my eyes out, but it was a great movie with a wonderful storyline. Having experienced a lot of the medical situations with my Uncle, it was very relatable yet heartbreaking.

The movie I wanted to love but didn’t- Mockingjay Part 1. I am obsessed with The Hunger Games series, but I really didn’t love it. It seemed like the movie was about 1/3 of the book instead of half of it. It easily could have been cut shorter and made into one movie.

Favorite (new and new to me) TV Shows

Gossip Girl- I don’t know what I did with my life before I started watching GG in the spring. Dave even got into it! I compare something to Blair, Chuck, or Serena daily and I still can’t believe the ending.

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Gotham- This might be my favorite new show of the fall. The twists in Gotham keep me excited week after week to see what is next. I love the way the characters of Batman are subtle, and there is a whole new story line involved.

Parenthood- Another Netflix binge watch for me. We normally watch a 2-3 episodes a night. I don’t know what took me so long to start watching this show, but I love it. I can relate to a little piece of almost all of the characters, and the story lines are so real.

The Flash- I will admit, it took me several episodes to get into this one. Dave’s favorite show is Arrow, and I can’t stick with that one for the life of me, but I wanted to give The Flash a try. They reminded me of each other a lot at first, but now that I realize The Flash is supposed to be such a corny character, I really dig the story line.

Favorite Music

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1989- Taylor nailed this one. 95% of the songs are amazing and I haven’t stopped listening to all of them at least twice a day. I am also even more excited because I will be attending the 1989 World Tour in June!

Bastille- I am obsessed with this band. I saw them live in May and I may or may not have cried a little. They were amazing, and I love the mashups they have been putting out lately. It’s my dream to see them in Europe one day! This is further proven by the email I receivedScreen Shot 2014-12-10 at 11.47.33 AM from Spotify

 

What have you loved this year?

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Wedding Wednesday {Our Honeymoon}

Before I jump into it I have two things to mention.

1. I am SO excited to announce that I am now a Bride Blogger on Budget Savvy Bride! You can read my introductory post here, and check back every Tuesday to read my latest post! Those that have followed along for a while know how exciting this is for me as I begin my Wedding Planner adventure, and can tell how obsessed I am with all things wedding!

2. We mailed our Save The Dates yesterday! They are all sealed and delivered and I can’t wait to start hearing that people have received them. I got butterflies putting them into the mailbox!

Now onto the real post! I just realized I never mentioned that we officially have our honeymoon planned. About 2 months ago we put the down payment on our honeymoon and finalized the dates. It was pretty easy for us to decide exactly what we wanted to do, but deciding which itinerary was the hard part. I have mentioned before that we are going to Europe, we were in love when we went to Paris, Amsterdam and Brussels last summer which made it really easy for us to decide we wanted to go back.

But where should we go? I wanted Greece and Croatia, Dave wanted Italy. How were we going to be able to afford to make the both of us happy? I hoped a cruise would solve this problem. I started searching for any itinerary starting after July 4th so we would be able to celebrate my favorite holiday in the states, and have at least a week after the wedding to prepare for it. But then I decided it would be easier for someone else to step in and handle this portion.

I called my travel agent and told her the places we both wanted to go just to see if we could both get what we were looking for in one trip, I had a feeling it wouldn’t happen. She was able to find us about 10 options and it was up to us to decide what we wanted. We sat down with all of the itineraries, prices, and time frames and picked a top 3. Then we looked on Trip Advisor for each of the areas and made our final decision.

We will be leaving on July 8th for Rome and coming home from Paris on July 26th. I could not be more excited! We have one amazing itinerary, and I can’t even imagine the sights we will see. We decided to arrive in Rome 2 days before our cruise which gives us the chance to explore the city and relax before our days are filled with soaking in a new country everyday.

On July 11th we will board our cruise to start our sail around the Strait of Messina. During our cruise we will visit other ports in Italy, Malta, Greece, Croatia and Montenegro. After 11 amazing days, our cruise will end in Venice where we will spend another two nights touring the city. After all of this we left off on a Thursday, we had the option to go ahead and fly home (which would have still been amazing!) or travel more of Europe for the weekend.

We decided to fly from Venice to Paris and visit my BFF and her husband for the weekend! We are also going to try and go to Disneyland Paris since we didn’t make it last time we were there. We will be flying home early Sunday morning and I am so happy about having all direct flights!

Only 209 more days until this amazing trip, but I am even more excited for what is in 192 days!

Today is bittersweet because I am linking-up with Kristyn for the very last time. This is also very exciting because I will be co-hosting the link-up with Meg from Borrowed Heaven starting next week. Thank you, Kristyn for passing the link-up on to us, we will treat it well!

Be sure to come back next week and join your new hosts, there may even be a giveaway in store!

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Grab the new button for next week!

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Getting In The Christmas Spirit

Between getting our house ready and redecorating we have been exhausted. This past weekend was supposed to be about cleaning and finishing up our house, but that didn’t happen when we were invited to a Christmas party Saturday evening. Dave was smiling from ear to ear at the thought of a Christmas activity before he surgery, we went home, changed into some red and green, and then were off to drink Christmas sangria with some friends. It was a really nice break from all of the madness.

While we have had some major setbacks in our redecorating time before Dave’s parents arrive next Sunday, we found time to decorate for Christmas! I am so thankful for my family who made things much easier for us and have helped with painting, sanding, organizing, etc. There is still some more to be done, but isn’t there always? We will be working hard the rest of this week to finish everything before Friday night, when we are hosting a going away party for two of our great friends. I am probably crazy for doing this in the midst of everything, but I couldn’t help but offer. Parties, Christmas and friends, what is there to say no about?

I am excited to share some updates on our house later this week, but for now enjoy some pictures of our almost finished Christmas Tree! I say almost because I can not find the tree skirt we had last year, I may have to make a new one in my spare time.

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From Here to There {Jamaica pt. 2}

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I am excited to finally be sharing the rest of our trip to Jamaica! I can’t believe it was already 2 months ago. I miss that amazing water, awesome drinks and quality time with Dave like anything. At least I get to relive it all over again as I share our fun times with all of you!

Our third day was the first day with actual plans. We had so many options everyday for games, activities, drinks, meals, etc and we had to start planning some of them if we wanted to do everything we had in mind. We also had to keep in mind which things were happening on certain days to keep everything in check.

jam 2 jamWe made sure to start getting up kind of early so we could experience the most amount of time around the resort. It was really nice waking up early one morning and walking around everywhere with Dave. Their was a slight run in with the largest spiders I have ever seen, but I quickly ran away (with tears in my eyes) and tried to avoid them at. all. cost.

After our morning touring the resort, we spent some more time at our favorite place- the pool bar. After getting a few drinks we were off to Dunns River Falls. We had heard from everyone to make sure we made the trip to the falls, and while I am really happy we did it wasn’t the best or what I imagined, more on that in another post though. I recommend bringing some drinks onto the bus, it’s about a half-hour away and why wait that long for some more rum punch? In the end we did have a good time.

We made it back just in time for the Newlywed game at the pool bar, and spent the rest of the afternoon soaking in the sun. We had reservations that night at Eight Rivers, which I highly recommend. If you are able to eat there more than once, do it! We started to order one of everything just to try it, and still ended up eating it all. After our great dinner we spent some more time walking around the resort, and realized the Buda pool was still open. Another perfect ending to an awesome day.

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We started the next day with Scuba Diving! So much fun! I have never been to water this beautiful, and the fish were all different colors. I really felt like I was transported to another world. I wish we would have went diving everyday, but afterwards we were exhausted. Which only meant laying down by the pool bar…are you seeing a trend here? After catching up on a little rest we were off to the catamaran trip!

This trip was the best thing we did the whole vacation! The waters were rough so we weren’t able to go swimming in a cove, but I didn’t care on bit. The rum punch was constantly flowing, the boat was rocking, and everyone was having a blast. I can’t even describe the color of the water out in this part of the ocean, it was like a royal, no teal, no more blue…like I said, I can’t even put it into words! We made some more friends on this trip, and I couldn’t have imagined the trip being any better. I also was called up on “stage” to learn all of the dances, I have no fear when it comes to dancing that is for sure.

That evening was the beach party, another really fun resort activity. There were tables, chairs, and twinkling lights put all over the beach and festive music was playing while everyone ate. The food was also spectacular! One of the resort staff we became good friends with told us to make sure I volunteered Dave when they asked for guys to take part in a game…so of course, I did.

We didn’t know it until he was on stage with 13 other guys that he was now a part of a dance competition! I was instantly nervous for him, Dave doesn’t mind dancing with me, but alone he isn’t the best (sorry, Dave! I hope you don’t read this). The winner was determined by the audience, so I was hopeful a few people would clap along with me. When it was his turn to rock out he blew me away! Barbie Girl was the song he had to move to and he did amazing! He pulled out all kinds of moves from Magic Mike to Dirty Dancing it was incredible. The crowd was digging it! He moved on the the final round, when I had to join him. Let me just say, they instantly handed us the grand prize ;)

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After such an eventful night we were prepared for another drink filled day the next morning and didn’t plan on doing too much, but that didn’t last long. A few of the people we met were going to another water fall and asked if we wanted to join. We were promised this would be what we were hoping to get from Dunn’s River, so we obliged. Blue Hole was the 2nd best thing we did the entire trip! We were able to freely climb the falls, swing on ropes, jump off cliffs and swim through waterfalls. It was completely perfect, and the best thing is it only cost $10 to do it! Soooo worth it!

Unfortunately this was our last day in paradise so we soaked in a few more hours around the resort and already started to miss our wonderful vacation. We had such a perfect time and I can’t wait to go back to Jamaica! We have a few more places to go in-between though!

Dave also made a great video to summarize our wonderful vacation! I’ll be posting more about the resort and things to do soon.