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Mar 232017
 

Well, I really tried to make this the final recap post of my bachelorette party in Fort Lauderdale, but I couldn’t do it! So, you will have one more post after this one. Sorry! Hopefully you don’t mind too much. 🙂

If you missed the first two recaps, you can read about our first day and night in Fort Lauderdale here, and read about our fun day by the pool here! When we last left off, we had just finished chatting in the hot tub before going inside to get ready for dinner.

We decided to wear our fun bachelorette tanks for this night – mine was white and in gold sparkles said “Drunk in Love” and everyone else’s were black and said “Just Drunk.” Yep! Sounds about right! 🙂

Once we were all just about ready, all my friends secretly got together in the back room. I had no idea what they were doing, but then they all came out with flower crowns and – get this – tattoos with Fabio’s face on them!!

(FYI – they got them from my sorority sister’s Etsy store, Dunkirk Designs!)

How hysterical, right? They had one for me too, obviously. 🙂

How funny! They also had tattoos that said “Make good decisions,” so I decided to wear that one on my lower back. Haha!

I then took the opportunity to take a million pictures with my amazing friends! Here I am with Sam, Hana, and Bianca. I’ve been friends with Hana since first grade, and Sam and Bianca since middle school!

Bianca is also one of my maids of honor, and she did a great job planning some of these fun bachelorette decorations and surprises. 🙂

I also grabbed a picture with Kristen, my pledge sister! We met in the fall of 2008 – the same time that I met Fabio – and have been such good friends ever since. <3

Then there’s Megan, who was basically the bachelorette planning Queen! She’s super organized and helped Bianca with a lot (ok, all) of the planning logistics. We’ve also been friends since college, and she’s now the only one still living in Arlington with me (all of our other gurlays have moved away!). I don’t know what the heck I would do without her.

Then we have Catrinaaaa! My California girl, fitness buddy, fellow foodie, and amazing friend. I don’t get to see her enough!!! Move back to the East Coast, Treen!

A Megan/Catrina sandwich!

And then there’s this. Lol.

That right there is probably one of my favorite pictures from the whole trip. It’s so us!

Once we were done with our photo shoot (this wasn’t even all the girls – just a few of them!) we hopped in a Lyft and headed to a drag show at Lips!

When we got there, we saw that Hana had coordinated another Snapchat filter for us. Seriously, my friends spoiled me rotten during this trip.

Somehow we got SUPER lucky and wound up with a table right up front. Look at my bachelorette crew! Aren’t they beautiful? (People probably hated us, lol. We were definitely “those annoying bachelorette party girls.”)

Yay!

Before the start of the show, we met our waitress for the evening, Chocolata. She had such great energy and right from the get-go I could tell she was going to make the night so much fun.

We ordered our food and a couple of drinks before the show started, and I ate some surprisingly good mushroom raviolis. (I say surprisingly because I’m not sure good food is the main focus of a drag show place, haha!)

Then Chocolata brought over two bottles of champagne and said they were from Claire and Jojo!! I couldn’t believe it – two of my sweet friends who weren’t able to come on the trip had coordinated to have the champagne brought over to us. How many times can I say that my friends are the best?

Once we were done with our food, it was time for the show! Our front and center seats came in handy and we had a great view.

After a couple of entertaining acts, Chocolata came out in a whole new outfit and worked the room with an amazing lip synching and dance performance!

I looove this picture of her putting her boot on the table in front of Megan.

LOL!!

Basically, Chocolata was phenomenal.

Then before I knew it, the main part of the show was over and I was being called up on stage with a bunch of other bachelorettes for a challenge! I screenshotted this picture from Hana’s Snapchat. 🙂

For the challenge, we had to get on our hands and knees and take a “blow job” shot without using our hands. Yep, I had to do that. On stage. In front of a bunch of people.

Ready…

Go!

The challenge was a lot of fun, and at the end I fulfilled my dream of taking a picture with Chocolata (who had changed outfits again).

Right before we left, I talked to Chocolata a bit more (probably too much) and thanked her for empowering women everywhere to be the best version of themselves and to just be confident in their own skins. Yep. I’m not making this up. Luckily my friends pulled me away and we left Lips before I got too annoying. I hope, anyway. Haha!

That’s some love right there.

What a fun night!!

Question of the day: Have you ever been to a drag show? Also, do you get stage fright?

I thought I would be nervous about going on stage for the challenge, but since my friends were all right in front of me I didn’t feel nervous at all. The drinks beforehand probably helped too. 😉

 Posted by on March 23, 2017
Mar 152017
 

Hi friends! Today I’m back with part 2 of my amazing bachelorette weekend! If you missed part 1, read that first here! I was hoping this would be the last post in the recap, but with so many pictures it’s looking like I’m going to need a third one to finish everything up. *Sigh.* Hope you guys aren’t sick of these yet!

When we last left off, we had finished up our Thursday evening with tacos, good music, and girl talk before bed. The next day, Friday, was a pool party day at the house!

Self-timer FTW!

Despite going to bed really late, I was up bright and early on Friday when I saw the sunshine coming through my bedroom window. I instantly threw on a bathing suit and joined my friends by the pool!

The rest of the girls trickled outside as they woke up, and we all enjoyed bagels and coffee by the pool. At 9:00, Hana and Bianca said they had “something to show me,” and took this picture. I didn’t think much of it, but then I looked at my snapchat a few minutes later and saw that I had my very own filter!

Ahhh! How cute!! I loved this little surprise and continued to use the filter on about a million snapchats for the rest of the day. Thanks, guys!!

We debated walking down to the beach, but the weather was looking like it was going to shower on and off throughout the day, so we decided to wait for the beach until the next day. Instead, we laid out by the pool!

It did drizzle a little, but whenever that happened we would move under the covered portion of the patio.

The house really was perfect for this! Back and forth we went – out under the sun and in under the rain. We probably moved back and forth about 10 times! None of the rain showers were ever very strong and temperatures were in the 80s, so I would still call it a successful pool day! Better than March DC weather, anyway.

What could be better than hanging around poolside all day being silly with your best friends? Here are some photos of our shenanigans. 🙂

In the early afternoon, the doorbell rang. I couldn’t image who it could be, and I was so surprised to see it was delivery with my name on it! Inside the package was a box of chocolate covered strawberries and cherries from Fabio’s sister, Diane! She wasn’t able to join us for the weekend since she’s expecting and her doctor was worried about zika, but I thought it was so sweet of her to send the fruit. Thanks, Diane!

Around this time we also brought out the drinks! Look at this beautiful one that Bianca put together for me. 🙂

Cheers!

Naturally, we decided it was time for some drinking games, so Bianca set up the beer pong table for us. We also involved the flamingo cup holders and made a rule that anyone who shot their ball into one of the flamingo cups had to run around the pool. Haha!

It was so much fun and HILARIOUS!

Then we decided a photo shoot by the pool was necessary. With the bachelorette props, of course!

By this point it was later in the afternoon and we were feeling a little chilly, so we brought our drinks into the hot tub.

With the flamingos, obviously. For some reason they all kept going over to Megan.

Haha!

Once we were done in the hot tub it was time to get ready for the evening! I have about a million pictures from this night as well, so I’ll save those for another post! 🙂

Question of the day: Are you a pool or beach person?

 Posted by on March 15, 2017
Mar 082017
 

On Thursday of last week, I headed out for a surprise bachelorette adventure with 11 of my best friends!

I spent the morning finishing up my packing, and then hopped in an uber at around 10:45 am. From there we picked up my friend Megan, and then rerouted to Regan airport. When we arrived, Megan handed me my boarding pass, which said we were going to Fort Lauderdale!!! Woohooo!!!

We got to the gate by 11:30 or so, and decided we needed to celebrate with some margaritas.

As you do!

After a quick and easy flight where Megan and I spent a ton of time wedding planning on the back of one of the airsick bags (I wish I was kidding!) we had arrived in paradise!

Our friend Catrina arrived from California at the same time as us, so after greeting her with lots of hugs we all hopped in an uber and headed over to the house where we’d be staying for the long weekend. I didn’t know anything about our plans at that time, but I was really happy to hear we had a house instead of a hotel since it meant we could spend more time together.

After driving past lots of palm trees, we arrived a huge house just a few blocks from the beach. When we came inside, my friends Hana, Bianca, Sam, and Britt were all waiting for us with a bottle of champagne!

I spent the next half hour or so wandering around the house in awe. First of all, the place was humungous with enough room for all 12 of us to sleep comfortably (no air mattresses needed!). It also had an awesome back yard area with a big pool, hot tub, patio, and bar area. AND my friends had decorated everything so adorably with lots of bachelorette/bride decorations. They are seriously the best!!

After the house tour, I immediately poured myself a cup of champagne and headed outside!

My friends had strung up a bunch of glittery tank tops for us all – mine said “Drunk in love” and the rest said “Just drunk.” Haha!

These were so adorable and were definitely a big hit with the girls.

We spent the next few hours sitting by the pool, enjoying the warm weather, blowing up floats, munching on chips and salsa, and catching up!

The swan float that the girls bought me was particularly difficult to blow up and required some teamwork.

After what felt like forever, we finally got the whole thing blown up. Can you see my thumbs up below? Haha!

The heart was quite a bit easier. 🙂

During the rest of the late afternoon, the girls finally told me what the plans were for the rest of the weekend which included a beach day, a pool day, and a drag queen show, among other festivities. Woohoo!

Does life get any better?

Eventually it was time for us to head inside and get cleaned up for dinner! My friends bought a bunch of photo props, which I thought was really fun.

We had some trial and error with a selfie stick before eventually getting it right. Lol!

Girls!

My high school besties!

Me and my Maid of Honor, Bianca!

She and Megan did most of the planning for the trip and I am so, so, so thankful to have such amazing friends in my life.

For dinner, we decided to walk down the street toward the beach see what we could find. We wound up stumbling upon a place called Taco Bar, which was really more like a taco club.

We sat on white couches and listened to great music from a DJ like we were in a club, but we got to eat tacos while doing it! It was totally my kind of place!

We had a blast sitting with each other and enjoying our delicious tacos (and drinks!) as well as the music.

Whee!!

We didn’t stay out too late since it was our first night, and after dinner all the girls hung out on the bed chatting for a while. It was the perfect way to end day 1 of my amazing bachelorette party!

A few of the other girls arrived in the middle of the night due to a combination of not being able to take off work on Thursday and delayed planes, so when we woke up the next day the rest of our friends had arrived! Yay!

More to come! 🙂

Question of the day: Have you ever been to Fort Lauderdale?

 Posted by on March 8, 2017
Mar 062017
 

Well friends, I’m back from the most amazing bachelorette weekend in Fort Lauderdale with my AMAZING best friends.

Seriously, I cannot even begin to tell you how fantastic they are and I am so, so lucky to have such thoughtful, caring, funny, loving, supportive people in my life.

I have about a billion pictures from the trip and it’s going to take me some time to sort through them all, so it might be a couple of days before I get a recap post (or two) up.

I’ll be back with an update for you soon!

 Posted by on March 6, 2017
Jan 242017
 

Hello there! How’s your week going so far? I took a little hiatus from the blog yesterday because I wasn’t feeling quite like myself – I’ve been really exhausted lately! I figured catching up on some sleep on Sunday evening instead of blogging would do me some good, and now I’m feeling much more rested and am back with a recap of my weekend!

Friday

On Friday evening, Fabio, Jack, and I hopped in the car and drove up to New York for Fabio’s 10-year high school reunion which was on Saturday. Yep, another weekend, another road trip. On our way, we stopped by Taylor Gourmet for dinner and I got the archer salad with kale, garlic farro, chicken, dried cranberries, goat cheese, and oranges. It was SO delicious and I wound up eating the whole thing. Yum!

We made really good time and arrived at Fabio’s dad’s house in Queens by 10:30 pm! I think that’s a new record for us. We stayed up talking to Fabio’s dad for a little bit and then it was time to hit the hay!

Saturday

Saturday morning began with a long walk for Jack around Fabio’s dad’s neighborhood! I think Queens is so interesting – every block looks completely different!

It was a really nice, sunny day on Saturday – if a little windy.

Later in the morning, we met up with Fabio’s sister Karen and her daughter/Fabio’s niece, Sofia for lunch! We went to a Colombian restaurant per Fabio’s request. 🙂

We started off our meal with some salad…

…and then we all ordered the traditional Colombian platter of steak, rice and beans, an egg, chicharonnes, half a plantain, a small arepa, and a slice of avocado. I can never get over how much food this is! I only ate half and then took the rest home for Fabio’s dad (who sadly had to work on Saturday).

After lunch, we decided to take advantage of the sunshine at the park! Sofia and I had fun with Snapchat in the back seat. 🙂

Haha!

Before long, we had arrived at the park! (We stopped to pick up Jack along the way.) We had a really nice afternoon walking around and enjoying the sunshine.

Then we took Sofia to a huge playground where spent some time climbing and running around with the other kids.

After Sofia had enough of the playground, we headed out for some fro-yo! We went to Red Mango and I enjoyed a small cup of the original flavor with strawberries, pineapple, chocolate chips, and Oreos. Yum!

Yay for ice cream!

Fabio’s dad wrapped up his work around this time, so when we were done with our fro-yo we headed back to his house where we watched Zootopia. I may have fallen asleep for a few minutes during the movie. 😉

When the movie was over we said goodbye to Karen and Sofia and got ready for Fabio’s 10-year high school reunion! My mom asked me to take a picture of what I wound up wearing, so I snapped this awkward selfie and sent it to her. I figured you guys might want to see too!

The reunion was held in the cafeteria of Fabio’s high school which, if you ask me, was a little strange. We had a fun time though and I enjoyed meeting some new people and seeing some of Fabio’s friends who we hadn’t seen in a while.

After the party we all headed to a bar in Bayside, New York (near his school) and had a great rest of the evening.

Sunday

As soon as we woke up on Sunday it was time to hit the road! We got home at around 3:00 p.m. (while listening to the Hamilton soundtrack in the car – my new favorite road trip tradition!) and immediately started meal planning, grocery shopping, and prepping.

I was absolutely pooped after that, which explains why I took the mini blog break and postponed this post until today.

And now we’re all caught up!

Question of the day: What do you like to do during road trips to pass the time?

 Posted by on January 24, 2017
Jan 172017
 

Hey there! Happy Tuesday to you. Fabio and I both had off from work yesterday for MLK weekend, so we were lucky enough to have an extra long weekend. Woohoo! We wound up spending a fun couple of days up at my Aunt CC and Uncle Steve’s house in Otis, Massachusetts, and it was a blast! (Like usual.)

Here’s my recap!

Friday

Fabio and I drove up to CC and Steve’s place on Friday night, and we wound up making really good time. Otis is in the southernmost part of Massachusetts (in the Berkshire mountains), and the drive usually takes us around 6.5 hours. We made a pit stop in NYC to pick up our friend Jason who came with us for the weekend, and then we were on our way!

We arrived in Otis at around 1:40 a.m. and were instantly greeted with a spread of cheese, crackers, and homemade pumpkin hummus, along with a much-needed adult beverage (wine for me, a whiskey drink for Fabio and Jason).

The late-night snack welcome session has become the norm for our visits, and we usually wind up drinking a few cocktails while we catch up. We didn’t go to bed until around 4:30 in the morning! Yikes!

Saturday

After about four hours of sleep (oy) we were up and at ’em and ready to enjoy our first full day in Otis! We started off with breakfast, which was a delicious egg and spinach bake with bacon on the side. Yes!

After breakfast, we suited ourselves up and headed out for a day of skiing!

Uncle Steve is a really great skiier (CC is good too), but Fabio, Jason, and I were all pretty new at the sport. I’ve gone snowboarding a couple of times and skiing one other time, but it was basically like starting from scratch for me since it had been so long. Steve did a great job of teaching us the technique!

Fabio and Jason both got the hang of skiing in no time, but it took me a lot longer to feel comfortable. Poor Steve went down the bunny hill with me a bunch of times before I felt ready to tackle the next level, and I really appreciated his patience. Thanks, Steve!

(Here we are on the bunny hill…poor Steve.)

By the end of the day, I had gone down the green-level hill a few times comfortably (though still with a few falls) and went down the blue-level hill once (though not really on purpose – lol – and with a lot of help from Steve). I decided that when it comes to skiing, I like to go really slow so I can be in control. The really steep areas aren’t fun for me right now, but my hope is that I’ll enjoy those areas more as I get better.

After skiing we popped into the little ski lodge restaurant for some lunch (I had a grilled chicken sandwich) and a much-needed beer. Skiing stressed me out!

After lunch we headed back to the house, showered up, and rested a bit. Ah, so cozy!

Before long it was time for dinner!

CC made use a delicious lasagna, and I put together a side salad with carrots, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes and blueberries. CC also made us a homemade viniagrette!

Time to eat!

By the way, CC and Steve have these awesome red light bulbs in their house that make everything look extra cozy at night, but they cast a weird color in the photos. Sorry for all the redness!

Over dinner, we had some really fun debates/conversations about politics, the electoral college, and more. It’s always fun sitting down to chat with this group, and I always feel like I come away from the conversations with a new way of looking at things.

After dinner, we all moved to the couch to watch the Patriot’s game since CC is a big Pats fan. We enjoyed slices of her homemade peanut butter pie while we watched! It was SO delicious.

What a cozy way to wind down the night! The boys wound up falling asleep on the couch within minutes – I guess all that skiing really wore them out – and the rest of us wound up heading to bed around 11. Finally, some sleep!

Sunday

Sunday morning began with breakfast again – this time we had egg scrambles with chicken sausage and veggies, plus a couple bites of various delicious muffins – before setting out for a hike!

Can you see Jack off in the distance in the picture above? He had an absolute BLAST on this hike!

Parts of the trail (which starts in CC and Steve’s backyard, BTW, which is so awesome) were pretty icy, but other parts were ok.

We walked about two miles down to Upper Spectacle Pond, which was frozen over!

It looks a little different from last time we visited, right?

Steve and Jack even walked out onto the ice (after testing how frozen it was to be safe) but the rest of us stayed safely on the shore.

Fabio and I even grabbed our furry little buddy for a family picture!

You can barely see him in this picture but his tongue is out! Haha!

I also had to take a picture of Fabio and CC in their respective Yankee/Red Sox hats. See, world peace is possible! 😉

By the time we walked back to the house, we had covered about four miles. Not too shabby!

After our hike, we enjoyed a delicious lunch (grilled chicken, broccolini and roasted sweet potato wedges) before packing everything up to hit the road. Steve, CC, and Jason all had work on Monday and we had such a long ride ahead of us that we didn’t mind leaving a little early. We said our goodbyes to everyone and hit the road at about 4:45, and we finally made it home by 11:45 due to some traffic in DC. Ugh.

Once we got home, it was lights out.

Monday

Fabio and I both slept in nice and late on Monday – we were tired!

The rest of the day was spent grocery shopping and prepping for the week ahead.

We even made some fresh juice, which is something we hadn’t done in ages. Yum!

All in all, I’d say it was a perfect weekend! Thanks so much for having us, CC and Steve!

Question of the day: Do you like skiing? Are you good at it?

 Posted by on January 17, 2017
Dec 272016
 

Hi friends! How’s everyone doing on this Tuesday? Did you have a nice Christmas? Mine was absolutely wonderful, even if it was a bit crazy driving around from place to place. I’m planning to recap everything, but there’s too much to cover in just one post! Let’s start off with part 1 of my recap: a day at the New York Botanical Garden!

As I think you all know, Fabio’s dad, sister, and niece all live in Queens, New York. Since they came down to Maryland for Thanksgiving, it was our turn to go up there for Christmas. Initially we weren’t sure how we were going to manage splitting up the holiday with Fabio’s family and my family, but luckily we found a solution that involved us driving up to New York on Thursday evening, spending Friday with Fabio’s family, and then driving back down to see my family on Saturday morning. Phew! I told you it was a lot of driving around.

Thursday

After work on Thursday, Fabio and I packed up all our gear and drove over to my mom’s house since she and my stepdad kindly offered to watch Jack for us. We were planning to pick up Fabio’s sister, Diane, and brother-in-law, Alex, on our way, but they had an office holiday party to attend until 9 p.m. That meant we had some extra time to kill at my mom’s house, so we enjoyed a lovely dinner there!

Our family friends Lee and Dan were over, and Lee made a delicious pasta carbonara dish with homemade pasta. My mom’s pasta machine is amazing – it’s a Phillip’s pasta maker – and you better believe we added this thing to our wedding registry. You just dump the ingredients in, put on the pasta attachments you want, and press a button. Boom! Now you have fresh pasta.

Lee’s carbonara sauce was absolutely amazing as well. We enjoyed the pasta alongside a warm spinach salad. Yum! I’m so glad we were able to stop by for dinner!

After dinner, it was driving time! After a short trip, we met up with Diane and Alex and then continued making our way up north to New York.

We didn’t wind up arriving in New York until nearly 2 a.m. since we had such a late departure time, and we were all pooped when we arrived. Bed time!

Friday

Friday was such a fun day! We lazed around the house a bit in the morning and enjoyed some whole wheat croissant sandwiches with cheese, spinach, and smoked salmon (yum!) before getting ourselves ready for the day’s adventure: a trip to the New York Botanical Garden! This amazing garden in the heart of the Bronx has 250 acres of beautiful woodlands, gardens, plants, and trees. The conservatory also has a special display at Christmastime where model trains run on different tracks around miniature plant versions of popular New York landmarks. Cool!

I had been to this garden once before with my family in about 2003, and I remember it being really pretty. We thought it was the perfect place for a family outing, and something that Fabio’s niece, Sofia, would really enjoy.

Although you can definitely buy tickets for the garden on-site, we decided to buy them online ahead of time since we heard it can be really crowded during the holidays. This made getting inside really easy!

Once we had our tickets in hand, we walked a short ways down to get to the conservatory building where the train show was taking place. It was a beautiful day out and surprisingly warm!

The conservatory itself was a huge greenhouse-like building with literally thousands of plant species inside.

When we entered, we saw our first model NYC building, the Macy’s store! All of these “buildings” are made with twigs, sticks, leaves, and anything else you might find in nature.

All of the creations had such amazing detail, and we were all in awe of the patience that the artist must have.

Here we are, ready to start exploring!

When we entered the first room of the exhibit, we saw a miniature version of the very conservatory we were standing in! I can’t even begin to imagine how they made this out of twigs and leaves and got all the proportions just right.

There were also trains running in every direction around the buildings! It was really cool to watch them all.

This front room also had some beautiful Christmas trees set up for the holidays. Of course we had to stop for a photo opp!

Then we entered the main conservatory area where trains and miniature buildings were intertwined with all the beautiful plants. There were even replicas of all the famous New York bridges that the trains were running over! It was so impressive and these pictures don’t come close to doing it justice.

One of my favorite displays was midtown Manhattan! Here they had copies of the Chrysler building, Empire State building, and even Rockefeller Center.

See the Rockefeller tree and skating rink at the bottom of the picture below?

It was very cool. Around the corner was lady Liberty!

Then came Fabio’s favorite replica of the day: Yankee stadium!

Fabio and his dad had season tickets to the Yankees for 14 years, so of course they had to take a picture together in front of the replica. 🙂

Then we found the Frick museum, which is really close to where Fabio’s dad works. We got a picture with this one too. 🙂

My favorite display was the random assortment of brownstones and townhouses. I thought these had so much character!

Overall we had a fantastic time at the exhibit and I would definitely recommend this to anyone looking for a family-friendly holiday activity in New York.

Once we were done looking at the trains, we took a tram ride around the garden to get a sense of what the rest of the 250 acres looked like. The tram stop was right next to a set of gorgeous Christmas trees! Everything at the botanical garden was so festive for the holidays.

The tram ride was very informative, and we all agreed that we need to come back and visit in May or June when all the plants are at their peak. Everything was kind of sad looking in December, but I’m sure it’s breathtaking in the spring!

Before we left, we stopped for a group photo in front of the lovely trees. 🙂

What a fun day!

After our garden adventure, we stopped at a fun Italian restaurant called Dominick’s for dinner, and then headed over to Fabio’s sister’s house to open up some Christmas gifts. We decided to throw on some festive holiday vests, sweaters, and Santa hats to make it more fun for Sofia. 🙂

Santa’s helpers!

It was the perfect end to a fun day!

Saturday

On Saturday, Christmas Eve, we were back in the car on our way out of town. Sigh.

What a fun (quick) trip!

Question of the day: Would you like exploring the Botanical Gardens?

I honestly thought it might be a little boring, but everyone in our group seemed to have a great time!

 Posted by on December 27, 2016
Jul 222016
 

Hey there! I’m back today with the very last recap of our trip to Colombia. These posts have been so fun to write and I’m sad they’re coming to an end. If you missed any of the first recaps you can find those here.

When we last left off, we had just wrapped up an awesome boat ride to see the Rosario Islands. When we got back we rested for a bit and then headed up to our rooftop to enjoy the beautiful view.

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I could get used to this!

For dinner we made the walk down the street to La Perla, a seafood spot that had great reviews online.

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We ordered a delicious tuna tartare dish to start and had no problem gobbling up every bite.

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We also got an order of the ceviche, of course! Cartagena is famous for its ceviche, and this one did not disappoint. With the steamy temperatures outside, I can understand why the locals love eating this dish so much. It was so refreshing!

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For my entree I ordered one of the fish specials, which was incredibly fresh and likely caught that day. It was perfectly cooked and served on a bed of mushroom and spinach risotto. Delicious!

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After dinner we decided we wanted some dessert, so we strolled over to Mila, a cute dessert spot I had read about online. Mila is decorated with funky chicken decor and has a substantial dessert menu with tons of delicious options.

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There is also a huge display case where you can take a look at the desserts they have, and I was practically drooling over all of them.

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They even had a cake iced in gold frosting! How fun.

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We wound up getting an amazing chocolate cake that our waitress recommended, and it reminded me of a cross between a fudgy brownie and cake. Holy cow, was it delicious.

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I think it might have been one of the best chocolate cakes I’ve ever had (sorry mom!). The fact that it came with a chocolatey gold truffle on the top didn’t hurt either. 🙂

Diane, Alex and Karen also ordered a couple of chocolate cakes which we sampled, but I thought ours was the best.

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We were all pretty full by this point so we packed the rest of our cake to go. It was so nice to snack on during the remainder of our stay!

Definitely check out La Perla and Mila if you’re ever planning a trip to Cartagena; I can’t recommend them enough! (Don’t get the coffee at Mila though, as it wasn’t very good.)

After dessert we headed back to our Air BnB and debated between going to bed or going out. We were all exhausted and were tempted to stay in, but we knew we only had a couple of nights in Cartagena and really wanted to make the most of them. We turned on some music, drank some of the famous Colombian aguardiente, and then we were ready to go!

We decided to check out Bazurto Social Club, a salsa dancing spot that was both recommended to us by Fabio’s sister Karen who had been to Cartagena once before and one of you! Thank you for the recommendation!

We obviously needed to stop to take pictures with the cutout in front of the club. Fabio makes a good Colombian lady, don’t you think?

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We spent the rest of the night drinking more aguardiente and dancing! I definitely improved my salsa dancing skills during this trip, and Diane even said I moved from beginner to intermediate. Woohoo!

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So much fun. 🙂

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The next day we slept in a bit, had a delicious home-cooked breakfast courtesy of the housekeeper who came with the Air BnB (she made the most delicious fresh juices every morning), and then headed out!

On our walk we passed by lots of cool street vendors selling everything you could think of. I thought this fruit stand was especially beautiful!

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Our plans for the day included a trip to the old military fort in Cartagena, San Felipe de Barajas Castle.

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Originally built in 1536, this fort was used to protect the old city of Cartagena from international pirates. At the time Cartagena was colonized by the Spanish, who used the port city to export all the goods out of South America. You can imagine how prosperous this area was back then, since everything that was grown and mined in South America had to travel out of a port city like Cartagena to go back to Europe.

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The Spanish had to have a good hold on the city to keep “pirates” (aka English, Portuguese, French, etc.) from trying to take over the city. We obviously know they were successful since people in Cartagena speak Spanish instead of one of the other languages!

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Once we arrived at the fort, we climbed to the top to meet up with a tour guide who did an amazing job of explaining different details of the fort to us. I would highly recommend this tour for anyone who is interested in hearing a bit of history about the city!

The views from the top were also pretty great.

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Our tour guide then took us around the fort to show us all sorts of booby traps and tricks that were set up to protect it from any enemies.

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It was a lot of fun!

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Overall we had a great time on the tour and the hours flew by.

We also made sure to take a picture in the big bronze shoes outside the fort, which is a more modern art piece that’s dedicated to the hard working lower-class people in Cartagena.

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After all that walking we were hungry! We hopped in a cab to take us over to La Mulata, another fun seafood spot that had rave reviews online.

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First off, we enjoyed some complimentary fish soup and then I ordered a delicious coconut lemonade drink that was out of this world (Fabio got mango). The drinks cooled us right off after walking around in the super hot and humid weather. 🙂

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Then it was time to eat! I ordered a seafood stew that came with huge hunks of lobster. It was really good, but the coconut rice stole the show.

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La Multa was also a great pitstop for tourists since they had free wifi and iPhone chargers that you could borrow to recharge while you ate. Awesome!

Then we spent the rest of the day walking around the Walled City!

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Cartagena is so cute and we all loved the charming old architecture.

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And the bougainvillea everywhere!

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After our walk we grabbed a quick bite to eat and then got ready for another fun night out.

While I was getting ready I got a text from our friends Jadd and Jojo saying that they thought they could see our rooftop from their own Air BnB’s rooftop across town. It turns out they were right, and we wound up waving to each other from across the city. Can you see the two little blips on top of a square beige building on the left side of this photo – near a random tall vertical line (tower?) thing? That’s them. Haha!

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Then they came over along with some of their friends to join us for drinks before the Colombia soccer game!

Soccer is a huge deal in Colombia and they happened to be playing the USA, so we made a fun night out of it.

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That means, of course, more aguardiente!

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Before long the game was starting so we headed over to a nearby bar to watch it. Every single bar was playing the game, so we had no trouble finding a spot.

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Go Colombia! (And USA…)

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Truthfully I can’t remember who won (we ladies were way less interested in the game) but I do remember when the game was over it was salsa time!

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After the game we kept the fun going – it was our last night of vacation after all – and we wound up on a rooftop bar right near Plaza de los Coches (I forget the name!). It was a lot of fun and we had a blast with our little group.

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🙂

We ended the evening back at Bazurto Social Club, and then finally we headed home. Phew!

The next day was travel day, and were all sad to be ending our trip.

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It sure was fun!

Question of the day: Have you ever tried salsa dancing?

 Posted by on July 22, 2016
Jul 132016
 

Hello there! Today I’m back with the second to last recap of our trip to Colombia. If you missed the first few posts, you can find them here!

I actually thought this was going to be the last recap, but when I dumped all my pictures into this post I realized it was way too long, and we had so much fun in Cartagena that I didn’t want to rush through it.

When we left off, we had just climbed to the top of Guatape and spent our last night in Medellin. The very next morning, Fabio’s dad, two sisters, brother-in-law, and our friends Jojo and Jadd all joined us on a quick flight to Cartagena, Colombia!

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Cartagena is on the northern coast of Colombia and is located on the Caribbean sea. As soon as we landed, we were smacked in the face with the heat and humidity. Cartagena is the hottest place I’ve ever been, and I’ve been to lots of Caribbean countries!

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Cartagena is divided into two distinct sections: one with huge white skyscrapers that look like Miami and the other with adorable colonial-style buildings in the walled city. All the research I had done ahead of time recommended spending the most time in the walled city, so that’s what we did!

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The other area with the skyscrapers is frequented more by celebrities and there’s a lot of fancy hotels and condos there, but we wanted to stay in the quainter old town instead. I’m so glad we did because it was absolutely beautiful!

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The architecture reminded me a lot of New Orleans, and I loved all the balconies with wrought-iron details and flowers spilling over the side.

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What a beautiful place!

After a quick cab ride from the airport, we arrived at our Air BnB which was right in the heart of the old city and walkable to everything.

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It was a huge apartment on the top floor of a building, and even included a cute balcony where we could watch people pass by on the street below. Plus, it had air conditioning which was very helpful in this hot climate!

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After dropping off our bags and taking a quick shower (we all showered multiple times a day in Cartagena because it was so hot!) we set out to explore the town.

First up: lunch! We walked down the street to El Bistro, a fun spot with a dry-erase menu featuring the latest fresh fish options of the day. Since all the food was so fresh (I’m sure it was caught that morning), there were limited quantities of each item available. Once something ran out for the day, it was erased from the board. So fresh!

I wound up getting a lobster dish, which was incredible and got me really excited for all the seafood I was going to eat in Cartagena.

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After lunch, we spent a few hours walking around!

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All of the streets were so cute and I was so impressed with how well Cartagena preserved its history and culture through the architecture. I’m sure it would have been easy to knock down these buildings and build more high-rises, but I’m so glad they didn’t.

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At one point, we stopped to take pictures in front of a giant elaborate door. There were unique doors all over the walled city, but this one was especially imposing.

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After I took this picture, the owner of the building said we could come in to explore the house!

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Apparently this house was once owned by Sir Francis Drake, an English sea captain (or pirate, as he was known in Colombia) who tried to take over Cartagena. Obviously he didn’t succeed, since the people in Cartagena speak Spanish and not English. 😉

His house was absolutely beautiful, and had a small pool inside the courtyard.

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The house has 11 bedrooms and can sleep approximately 25 people, and we were lucky enough to get a private tour of the whole house, including its two rooftops. Apparently the house is very popular with bachelor and bachelorette parties, so Diane (Fabio’s sister and one of my bridesmaids) and Alex (Fabio’s brother-in-law and one of his groomsmen) went into planning mode to get us any details we would need in case we want to have our parties there (separately, of course). Haha!

The house also comes with a resident toucan named Francois, so there’s that.

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He was so cute!

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Soon enough it was time to leave the beautiful house and continue wandering through the streets.

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We found ourselves at an amazing coffee shop with an extensive selection of books to buy!

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Diane was telling me how her favorite author is Gabriel Garcia Marquez, a nobel-prize winning author who lived in Cartagena and used the city as the setting for some of his books. I actually had one of his books – Love in the Time of Cholera – on my reading list, so when we saw it in the store Diane bought it for me as a souvenir!

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I actually finished reading it last week, and I loved reading such a beautiful story that took place in the city we visited. It was an amazing book! Thank you, Diane!

We wound up spending the rest of the evening relaxing in our Air BnB and enjoying the beautiful rooftop view.

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Day 2

The next morning we were up early to get ready for a fun boat day! Clearly we were excited and broke out some musical instruments that Fabio’s dad got us.

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Then it was boat time! We met up with Jojo and Jadd and a few of their friends who were planning to come on the boats with us. Then we walked over to the docks!

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Booking the boat was a bit of a pain, and I am so thankful we had Fabio’s dad with us for this part! I had read online that the best way to reserve a boat is to head down to the docks in the morning, but I was warned that there was a lot of haggling involved and that you have to work hard to make sure you’re getting a fair deal. Well this wound up being a huge understatement because Fabio’s dad wound up having to haggle a LOT between two boat companies to make sure we didn’t get ripped off. Phew! Definitely have someone with you who can speak Spanish if you ever try this, since this would have been way over my head if I was traveling alone.

Finally we found our way onto a private boat and set off! Our plan was to stop by the Rosario Islands and Playa Blanca Beach, and get some snorkeling in as well.

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Byyyye, Cartagena!

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After half an hour of boating, we stopped off at a fun little island that the boat company owned that had flamingos, parrots, a water slide, and bathrooms (ok, that’s the main reason we stopped there).

Obviously Fabio and I had to check out the water slide.

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Whee!

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Then we boated out a little further and it was snorkel time!

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We hopped off the boat in a shallow area to arrange our snorkel gear, and then swam out with one of the guides to the area where the coral reef and fish were.

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Cheese!

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While it wasn’t the best snorkeling I’ve ever done (that happened in Bermuda!) it was still a lot of fun and we saw some cool fish!

Plus I got to hold hands with this guy while we swam. 🙂

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After snorkeling, our boat took us over to Playa Blanca Beach! This beach has lots of little huts where you can buy lunch or a drink, plus some fun little stands selling jewelry and other souvenirs.

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We were just happy to be on a beach!

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Yay!!

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As soon as we were all off the boat, we sat down to lunch which was included in our fare for the boat ride/snorkeling adventure. It was so fresh!

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Ahh, lunch with a view!

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After lunch our group decided to grab some fun drinks! I had a coco loco (or something) and it definitely hit the spot!

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Then we took our drinks for a walk along the beach, which was lovely!

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While we walked we stumbled across a guy from Medellin who was selling really nice jewelry (we all bought some bracelets) and…he had a bunch of puppies!

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He told us how there are a lot of puppies/dogs on Playa Blanca, but the people take really good care of them and get them all their shots for flees and ticks.

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They were so adorable and I could have sat in the sand all afternoon playing with them.

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I especially loved the little black one who reminded me of Jack!

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Eventually it was time for us to head back to the boat, where we passed around a bunch of beers.

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Clearly the sun wore us all out because a bunch of us took a nap on the way back. 😉

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Before long we had made it back to Cartagena! Woohoo!

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Overall we had a great time on the boat, and I would definitely recommend this day trip to anyone visiting Cartagena. It was one of the highlights from our trip!

More adventures to come…

Question of the day: Have you ever been snorkeling?

 Posted by on July 13, 2016
Jun 242016
 

Hi friends! Today I’m back with another recap of our adventures in Colombia! If you missed the first few posts you can find them here.

This time we’re talking about a day trip we took to Peñol and Guatapé! This was a bit of a drive outside of Medellin, but still in the state of Atioquia. This area of rolling hills and little streams was absolutely beautiful!

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The water is green this time of year due to a certain type of algae that grows here. It was SO green!

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We actually joked that it looked like the “dip” from the movie Roger Rabbit. Anyone know what I’m talking about?

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It was sort of spooky looking!

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Weirdly enough, I had spotted this same area from the plane when we arrived in Colombia, and took a picture because I thought the green water was really interesting. Who knew I’d actually be getting up close and personal with it a week later?

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Once we arrived in Peñol, we met our tour guide who explained some of the history of this area. Apparently it used to be a thriving town, but in the 1970s the government flooded almost nine square miles of it to make room for a hydroelectric plant. The people of Peñol were against this idea and protested, but the government flooded the town anyway. The citizens of the area packed up all their stuff and moved to a neighboring town, and now they call themselves people of the Phoenix because they survived a hard time and made it out to the other side. They also built a replica of what the town used to look like so that people wouldn’t forget.

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Side note: while exploring the town replica we found a Jack lookalike and couldn’t resist giving him some love. 🙂

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After checking out the town and buying a couple souvenirs, we headed down to a boat that would take us on a tour of the area.

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Fabio’s uncle, Juan Pablo, joked that he was Captain Morgan and asked for some rum (lol).

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Then we set off into the green water. Eek!

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Our tour guide explained that this cross was constructed to mark the spot where the old church from the town used to stand. It’s crazy to think that the whole town we had just seen was right here under the water!

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Then our tour took quite a turn, as our tour guide pointed out this little hut where Pablo Escobar used to make international business deals. Yes, as in, cocaine drug lord Pablo Escobar.

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I knew Pablo Escobar’s house was close to this area (I had read about it when researching which day trips to do) but I didn’t expect to start hearing about Pablo Escobar in the midst of this tour about the lost city of Peñol.

But before we knew it, we were boating past Pablo Escobar’s house!

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It was pretty cool to see, even if it was just a bunch of ruins (I think our tour guide said it got bombed by the Cali cartel, but I don’t want to ruin season 2 of Narcos for myself by looking it up! Haha!)

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Very cool!

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Apparently this area is also very popular with celebrities because a short distance away we saw the house of the famous soccer player, James Rodriguez.

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I wasn’t too interested in that fact, but the boys thought it was cool!

Overall we had a great boat ride and learned a lot!

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After our boat tour was finished, we stopped for a quick lunch (more traditional Colombian platters) before it was time to in get our real exercise in for the day…

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…climbing the giant rock of Guatapé!

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This rock is a natural formation, and it has 740 very steep steps to the top.

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At first I honestly didn’t think this sounded too challenging, but I didn’t realize how steep the steps were going to be! They sort of reminded me of staircases in Europe that have very steep and high steps. Phew – this was a workout for sure!

As we started climbing, the views started getting better and better.

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Guatapé is just a short distance from Peñol, so it was cool to see the flooded areas from an aerial view.

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Up and up and up we went! We had to take a few breaks to rest, and take pictures of course.

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After much climbing, we made it to what we thought was the top.

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At this point there were a few little shops and restaurants where you could buy souvenirs or a cold beer. We thought we were done climbing, but then we noticed a small spiral staircase – sort of like a lighthouse – that would take us up to the very top. Alright then, up we go!

Finally, we made it to step 740! Woohoo!

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The 360 degree views from that high up were pretty amazing, and made the climb so worth it.

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Yay!

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After spending some time soaking up the scenery, it was time to climb back down, down, down.

Finally we made it to the bottom. So glad we conquered this giant rock!

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Overall, I thought our day trip to Peñol and Guatapé was a lot of fun, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is booking a trip to Medellin and looking for some fun activities outside the city!

Question of the day: How do you feel about heights?

It was a little scary looking down from the top!

 Posted by on June 24, 2016