It’s very cold in Chicago right now so I’m happy to report that I’m gettin’ the heck out of here and going to Cancun!! I recently got an amazing new job, and a company-wide 2014 kick-off in Cancun is just one more perk! After all the hobnobbing and work presentations I’m hoping for at least one day at the beach, but I know it won’t quite be the same as my first trip to Mexico.
In 2010, my sister and I took our second “Sisters Trip” to Riviera Maya, Mexico. It was the first time we had been to Mexico and the first time either one of us had stayed at an all-inclusive resort. We had a blast at the Ocean Maya Royal resort and immediately headed to the activities desk to view all the suggested adventures. Options included an all-day tour of Chichen Itza (Nope, that was already booked on our own prior to arrival), Swimming with the sharks (Hell No!! Are you crazy?) and Snorkeling with Sea Turtles (Duh! Sounds amazing, sign us up!).
We booked the tour and had an incredible time snorkeling for the first time, in clear shallow waters, with a handful of sea turtles. All was going just perfectly until we saw it…a GIANT, SCARY, BARRACUDA!!!! AHHH!
Scary Barracuda wanting to eat us, probably.
Luckily it stayed right under a mid-sized boat the whole time, but I sware if the turtles weren’t there it would have had us for lunch. Seriously.
Alright, now for some less-scary pictures of the beautiful and peaceful sea turtles! I didn’t have my go-to Sony RX100 Camera, but I think the inexpensive underwater camera captured some really great shots! If you ever see this type of activity as an option while vacationing, I strongly suggest you sign up!
There’s three things that December means to most Chicagoans: it’s absolutely freezing outside, there’s already snow on the ground (white or dirty black, both count here) and most of us are getting ready for full hibernation mode! Despite all this, I’d like to think that most of us are also really excited for the upcoming holidays (I know I am!). My multi-colored lights are lit and looped around my balcony, my Christmas scented candles are filling up my cozy condo with delicious scents of “Christmas Cookie” and “Gingerbread” and my little pup, Lilo, may or may not have her holiday sweater on (I promise that she picked it out herself)!
This is also the time that I get super excited about putting up my Christmas tree! It’s definitely nothing grand, standing at only 3ft tall, but it’s pre-lit and fake…so it’s efficient and doesn’t cause an automatic allergic reaction, which I consider a huge plus (Merry Christmas to me!). Another reason I love setting up my tree is I can finally display all my travel ornaments I’ve collected over the years, which leads me to a great piece of travel advice I will offer you…Pick one souvenir and stick with it!
The biggest question I get asked when people hear how often I travel is, “How can you afford all this?” It’s very simple, I don’t overspend. I budget where I can, and that includes all the tempting souvenirs that make your eyes glaze over when you’re walking through narrow streets or waiting in those endless lines at must-see museums. Don’t get me wrong, this was a hard lesson for me to learn too so don’t think I was exempt from falling prey to the beautifully displayed shop windows or the elderly man trying to sell me “locally-made” goods…we’ve all been there! But today is a new day for you! Pick something along your travels that means something to you and stick with it. For me it’s ornaments, but for you it could be collectable spoons, or shoes, or magnets, or a million other things. My sister buys Emily Bronte’s ‘Wuthering Height’s’ book from every country in their native language. She’s a huge book lover and it’s one of her favorites, so it makes sense. She also buys ornaments, but since she’s my sister she gets a pass on two souvenirs!
Below are some of my favorite ornaments that are displayed on this years Christmas tree. Some are cheesy (Princess Sisi, Vienna-Austria), some were a splurge (Golden Pineapple, Oahu-Hawaii) and some were free (Wooden spoon from Budapest – free with purchase of paprika spice). There also seems to be a running theme of alcohol related ones, but no judging! Enjoy all the pics and HAPPY HOLIDAYS!
Evil Eye – Istanbul, Turkey
Wine bottle representing ‘Chardonnay Cottege’ wine trip – Paso Robles, CA
Beautiful blue-topped buildings – Santorini, Greece
Representing the Alaskian pub crawl – Alaskian Cruise 2013
Gladiator – Rome, Italy
Traditional egg ornament – Prague, Czech Republic
Wooden paprika spoon – Budapest, Hungary
Princess Sisi – Vienna, Austria
Golden pineapple – Oahu, Hawaii!
Yellow Taxi Cab – New York, NY
Famous Water Tower – Chicago, IL
Drunk skeleton – Riviera Maya, Mexico