Our Not-So-Chilling Blue Lagoon Experience in the Winter

Oh my — what an experience! This is definitely a must if you are visiting Iceland. We were so excited to finally visit The Blue Lagoon, after being captivated by all those travel blogs and breath-taking Instagram photos. Not going to lie, we were also a little scared about visiting during winter since Iceland is COLD (not East Coast Cold, but actually COLD).

Our time slot to enter the lagoon was at 8am, so we were up bright and early. We entered the lobby area and waited in line to check in and receive our wristbands (there will be a line but less if you get premium package). Once we received our items, we went to the locker rooms (boy & girl) and changed, put our things in a locker, and took a quick rinse before going into the lagoon (this is mandatory). Then, we entered the lagoon from an interior entrance (do not enter from outside, WAY too cold) and it led us to our first-ever blue lagoon experience…

A few tips we learned:

  1. Wear earmuffs and a rash guard — You will thank us. Even though the water is warm, your ears will freeze if you do not have earmuffs. Also, there are some areas of the lagoon that are not as warm, your rash guard will keep you warm throughout your trip.
  2. Get a package that fits your desired experience — We decided on the “premium package” since we wanted to eat at LAVA restaurant. The bathrobe, slippers, and towel are always nice to have. Our premium  package also included a facial mask, free drink, among other nice add-ons.
  3. Try to book an early reservation — We had an 8am entry time, which allowed us to stay there for several hours. If you book a later reservation, you can only stay until closing, giving you less time at the lagoon.
  4. Girls, bring a hair tie — We strongly suggest you don’t get your hair wet, since it will make your exit a little colder and the water has sulfur, which can damage your hair. The lagoon offers hair conditioner you can apply before and after your experience to keep it from getting damaged.
  5. Bring a water proof camera — We brought our go pro with us and we were not scared of it getting wet (because it will). We also witnessed a few brave souls bringing their DSLR cameras into the lagoon (we strongly advise against this).
  6. Take breaks between water time — Try going out (interior part only) and resting and then going back into the lagoon, nice breaks give your skin time to rest from the heat.

The Blue Lagoon was a relaxing and fun experience! We don’t think the winter season should deter people from visiting (it was snowing when we went). If you take the necessary precautions, you will have a great time during the winter at the Blue Lagoon. You can learn more about booking your stay here.

Our Itinerary – Turks & Caicos 2017

Turks & Caicos is a great place if you want a relaxing, family-friendly, and calm vacation. It IS an expensive destination overall, but can also be a great destination for visitors trying to have a great time while not emptying their bank account!

You can try to the following tips to make your trip more affordable:

  1. Try going during the off-season (during summer is best, but try to avoid hurricanes!)
  2. Rent a car instead of taking taxis (if you dare driving on the left side of the road), a taxi can cost $40 just to get to your hotel. Renting a car starts at around that price.
  3. Buy groceries instead of eating at restaurants, a meal at a local restaurant starts at around $50-$60 for about two people.
  4. Stay at a local inn instead of a big chain resort, this is a WAY cheaper option, mostly if you want to explore the island instead of just chilling at a resort your whole vacation. We stayed at Grace Bay Suites.

Our Itinerary

Day 1:  We arrived! We were greeted by local music at the airport (tiny airport, BTW) and went to our hotel. We then made our way to Grace Bay Beach (biggest beach) and Little Water Cay (Iguana Island). You can Kayak or take a short boat ride to Little Iguana Cay. The Cay is small and deserted and you get to witness  iguanas in their natural habitat.

Day 2: We snorkeled in the deep blue water and explored other islands – we went with big blue unlimited, depending on the weather you may visit one or several reefs to see fish! The water was clear and you can see the reefs, including plants and fishes. We also explored other local islands (pretty much just sand) where we took photos and swam in the water!

Day 3: We spent the day exploring the island – visiting Chalk Sound National Park, its absolutely beautiful and the water is SO blue, pretty *photo opt location*! We visited “The Hole”, this hole in the land was literally just on the side of the road, there’s a hand-made sign that says “The Hole”, and visited other beaches, such as Taylor Bay Beach and Leeward Beach.

Day 4: We relaxed again at Grace Bay Beach and “adopted” a shelter dog for the day at Potcake Place and took the dog on a walk to the beach. You can learn more about adopting a dog for day here.

Day 5:  Unfortunately, we did not get the chance to kayak in the Mangroves, BUT this is something you should definitely do if you get the chance and if the water levels allow it. We’ve been told this is one of the best places to see turtles. We flew back home on this day and left the beautiful island just days before a hurricane hit! Phew. 

We enjoyed our stay at Turks & Caicos and truly recommend it to our fellow travel friends. If you have the time we suggest visiting other local, nearby islands to see flamingos and private beaches!

Until next time!

Alexia & Jeremy

We Adopted a Dog for a Few Hours at Turks & Caicos

When we were researching our trip to Turks & Caicos, we kept on seeing people “walk shelter dogs” on social media and blog posts from a place called Potcake Place. Being natural dog- & cat-lovers, we had to take a little doggy out for a walk!

We arrived right at opening and there was a line of people ready to walk dogs. This place is for puppies so all dogs are about less than 4-6 months. Everybody in front of us, kept on choosing the small, cute puppies to walk. There was one dog , around 6 months old (pictured above), who kept on going up to everyone, wanting to play. He was so energetic and playful that people opted for the smaller, calmer puppies.

At one point, the shelter staff put the 6-month-old puppy in the back, thinking no one was going to want to walk him. When it was our turn, we asked for “the dog that gets walked the least.” Soon after, they brought the 6-month-old puppy out from the back and we took him out for a walk at the beach.

There we played fetch with him and had a quality time. Thanks Potcake Place for making it easy to take a shelter dog on a walk! We definitely recommend this activity for anyone visiting the island. Who knows, you might find a new furry best friend 😉

Best,

Alexia & Jeremy

PS: You must be 25 years or older to adopt a pet at Turks & Caicos.

Finding Paradise in Turks & Caicos…Or the Beach at Least…

We got to Turks & Caicos and we were welcomed by a band at the airport playing local music. It was like island magic. After getting our bags (the airport is tiny only one baggage claim), we were so excited to start our adventures and ready to hit the beach…

We rented a car because well, if you plan to explore the island it is totally worth it. Taxis run $40-$50 for a one-way trip and a rental car is around $35-$50. We rented a car and drove to our hotel, a local boutique we found on Kayak called Grace Bay Suites. This hotel was way cheaper than any of the surrounding resorts and the management and resort was super welcoming. The hotel was walking distance from the beach, restaurants, and shopping centers.

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After we got to the hotel, we were ready to explore the local beach. We were told by the hotel manager that it was across the street. We went across the street and kept on running into big resorts with no beach access. We ran back and forth the main street about 10 times, when finally we gave up (keep in mind it was about 90+ degrees out). We called the hotel manager who picked us up in his car and dropped us off right in front of the beach access (it was right in front of us). The access is a little hidden on the side of a big resort, but the beach is nice and calm (and our hotel even had reserved beach chairs).

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When we visited Turks & Caicos in early September it was off-season, therefore the beaches were empty and a lot of the restaurants were closed. The local islanders mentioned that their peak season was closer to winter (who would’ve thought, right?). There’s ups and downs to visiting in off-season, like places are less crowded and car rentals and hotels are way cheaper. The downside is that many places (and restaurants) are closed and the place looks a little deserted. If you’re looking to just chill at the beach and eat at your hotel (& your budget allows) then staying at a big resort might be the best option. If you’re young, want to adventure and explore the island, staying at a boutique hotel is probably the way to go!

All in all — it’s never a bad time to visit the island (unless it’s hurricane season of course).

Best,

Alexia & Jeremy

DISCLAIMER: We left the island a couple of days before hurricane Irma hit. Very scary. Stay tuned for our full itinerary… 

 

Delaware Water Gap: Yes & No

We woke up one Sunday morning and decided — hey let’s go for a hike — with Toby (our wiener/poodle). We drove 1 hour to the wonderful Delaware Water Gap (arrived around 9:30am) and it was crowded! We befriended a guard who let us park in a parking lot that was “full”. We crossed the street and found Kittatinny Point, where we took the red trail up and the blue trail down.

The YES:

  1. SUPER beautiful hike and the views are to die for.
  2. Great exercise (take the red trail up for a more hardcore experience 😉 ).
  3. It’s dog-friendly (we were able to take our Toby).
  4. Various hiking trails to choose from.
  5. You can also do water activities (kayak, etc.).

The NO:

  1. The red trail is extremely steep, I would suggest the blue trail for an easier alternative.
  2. If your dog is not athletic, they will get tired easy (Jeremy had to carry Toby for half the hike).
  3. The parking lot gets crowded fast — get there early!
  4. It get crowded while hiking if you go later.
  5. Renting a kayak there can be pricey and you have to take the whole tour from the shop.

Other tips:

  1. We suggest you take the red trail up (steeper) and the blue trail down (flatter). The blue trail does take a little bit longer but it is significantly easier.
  2. When you think you reached the top, you didn’t. Keep on going until you reach the real top.
  3. Bring lots of water — this is a hard hike.
  4. Great for photo opportunities — we would bring camera/gopro.
  5. You don’t have to race up the mountain — take your time and enjoy the view!

We hope you enjoy your hike and remember to hydrate! Do you have any other tips? Comment below and share them with us!

Best,

Alexia & Jeremy

A hotel that was not a hotel and a cliff that was actually a mountain…

Wrapping up our Puerto Rico blogs with a quick (but eternal night) little story:

Day 4 of our trip, we were finishing up snorkeling and went to eat at a seafood restaurant in La Parguera. Since there were hotels nearby, we asked about availability but unfortunately everything was booked. After searching and calling multiple hotels, we found an Expedia listing for a hotel about 20 minutes away, without hesitation we booked it. It was around 11pm and we drove to this hotel (“My hut by 3 beaches” — in Spanish). We thought oh cool, this hotel is by the a company called “3 beaches” (No, we did not get it, as we were also very tired after a day of snorkeling). We show up to this hotel, which is not a hotel, it’s literally a house with 13 men drinking and chilling outside. After assessing the situation we decided its probably not in our best interest to stay there.  We find the closest hotel which is about 20 minutes away and start driving. Suddenly, the GPS tells us to turn right into a road into the mountains. We say, “okay only a couple of miles in this mountain.” It is extremely dark, the roads are steep, and Jeremy and I are driving to this hotel in the middle of the rainforest. All of the sudden, we reach a very steep hill. We start driving up the hill and in the middle of the hill, the car starts rolling backwards….DOWN THE MOUNTAIN. We’re able to gain control of the car but have to drive backwards for a good chunk of the mountain until we hit the main road. We then decide to drive to San Jose (at this point its 1:00am) which is about 2 hours away from this mountain. I call every single hotel in the city and one calls me back saying there’s been a last-minute cancellation. We are relieved. We get there at around 4am and pass out.

MORAL OF THIS STORY: Make sure to rent a 4-wheel drive or at least check that the tires in the car are good (the tires in our car, a Nissan Sentra, were wore down and therefore could not make it up the mountain). Also — book everything in advance, it will save you a headache!

Our Itinerary – Puerto Rico 2017

Our trip to Puerto Rico was adventurous. When we first booked the trip (3 days before departing), we had a vision that Puerto Rico was going to be like Costa Rica, which we had visited previously in the year. Although it was very different from Costa Rica, it was filled with its own special charm. Jeremy and I are extremely adventurous individuals so we had to try practically all the island has to offer:

  1. Day 1 — Yunque National Forest, this rainforest was beautiful and calm. There were moments were we were hiking (without the interruption of big groups) for 20 minutes at a time. The hike is considerably long (a couple of miles) so bring lots of water. There may be a small (no, thats a lie, GREAT) chance its going to start raining (or pouring) while on the hike (hence, rainforest), so bring shoes that do not slip and maybe a poncho (if you don’t mind looking like a tourist (jk, not really). Although there are a lot of interesting bugs and plants, I would not come into this adventure thinking you’re going to find snakes, monkeys, or sloths, Puerto Rico does not have as rich of a wildlife as Costa Rica. Also — make sure to get there early as parking does fill up rather quickly.
  2. Day 2 — Beach Luqillo & BioBay in Fajardo, we spent the first part of the day in Beach Luquillo, a very quant and quiet beach, were we walked around and went inside the water. At this beach, a stray dog kept on following us around (we wanted to adopt his so bad but we already have 2 pets at home). Eventually, the dog found another person to call its new “master.” Anyway, the second part of the day we went to Fajardo to kayak in the BioBay. This was fun and adventurous. If you want to kayak in BioBay you need to have good condition (a group of 4 girls had to tie their kayaks to the leaders because they kept on going in 360 degree circles — literally). Also, make sure you bring lots of mosquito spray as you will get eaten alive if you don’t. It’s best to see the lights in the water when its dark out — and no, it does not look like the photoshopped images online. The lights, at least in where we were, are faint, but still cool! Another thing to remember, DRIVE YOUR CAR AND PARK, do not trust Uber or Taxis in this area. Read about our misfortunate adventure.
  3. Day 3 — Cavernas de Camuy, if you like caves and adventure, visiting the caverns is a most! They are huge — literally huge! You will find small critters like bats and spiders in the caves and DO NOT touch the railing as it is covered in bat feces (no, the white stuff is not snow). There’s also a zip line in the same park you can choose to do. Overall, great experience!
  4. Day 4 —  La Parguera Snorkeling, this is probably our favorite part of the trip: snorkeling with the fishies, lobsters, and crabs. I totally recommend finding a snorkeling place and having this experience! This part of the island has no beaches, just cliffs and harbors, but one can find boat rides and it has nice hotels — they do fill up fast so book in advance. Also — driving in and out of Parguera, AVOID THE CLIFF ROAD if you can. Our GPS took us into a mountain with very steep edges which was scary to drive for a non-local.
  5. Day 5 — Old San Juan, you can’t visit Puerto Rico (or how locals call it PR– I work in marketing so this is so confusing as I think Public Relations). Old PR is filled with history, shops, and the famous fortress. It’s a great way to wrap up a trip to Puerto Rico!

Disclaimer: BOOK EVERYTHING IN ADVANCE! Jeremy and I did not do this, we played it by ear and almost slept in our car a couple of times because everything was booked. Hotels especially, they are extremely scarce to find the day of booking.

A little run in with the cops in Puerto Rico…

Like any tourist traveling to Puerto Rico for the first time, Jeremy and I were eager to witness the famous bioluminescent waters we have all dreamed of exploring since the first time we crossed an Instagram photo on our newsfeed.

Since our trip was very last-minute (we decided to travel 2 days before we hopped on the plane!), we were desperately calling every kayak bioluminescent tour in the country (yes, country). We finally found a tour in Fajardo Bay. We were told by locals that parking would be extremely tough at the bay so we decided to Uber (apparently not a preferred choice by locals).

When the tour ended (very beautiful experience but we’ll talk about it in a later blog), we called an Uber. The Uber driver then texted us and asked where we was going, I told them back to our hotel, which was about 20 minutes away. He then told me that his car had just broken down (apparently right after he had asked where we were going). Anyway, we tried calling another Uber. By this point, it was very, very late like 11pm, since the bioluminescent tours need to be pitch black to really have a point. There were no Ubers in the area available for pick up.

We looked around and the bay/park had started to empty. Shoot. We were completely stuck in the middle of the deserted bay area with no ride and no way to walk back to the hotel. Should we find a taxi? “No taxis in this area and at this time” said a very blunt local. Okay then what do we do? “You’re pretty stuck, no way to get back there, you should have driven..” Well… yes, we know that now.

So we’re contemplating calling the hotel when we see a group of police officers standing. We walk towards the officers and ask them exactly how we get back to the hotel. They tell us the same thing, no rides at this time, you really should have driven…After they chat with each other back and forth for about 5 minutes they finally turn to us and say we’re off in an hour, we will give you a ride back then. In the meantime, we try to call the hotel a couple of times but no luck.

A very young and friendly police officer comes up to us 10 minutes later and says that they will give us a ride now. As we walk towards the police car, the older policeman says to the young one, she (as in me) rides in the front with you and he (Jeremy) rides in the back.

We awkwardly get into the car, as Jeremy is trying to practice his Spanish (high school Spanish level and freshmen year of college?) with his new police friends. The older policeman, who doesn’t seem to understand, says to the younger policeman in Spanish, ” I can’t understand a word he’s  saying.” I then began translating to the police office (which they were shocked I spoke Spanish) and then we had a quiet (&awkward) ride home. Oh, did I mention their sirens and lights were on the whole time home?

We finally got to the hotel and the hotel manager comes outside and says:

“Oh, more drunk ones?” 

Thank you to the Puerto Rico policemen who drove us home! We truly appreciate it!

Tips we learned if you’re visiting Fajardo Bay:

  1. Drive! Taxis & Ubers are very unreliable
  2. If you’re not driving, make sure you book a shuttle with your tour beforehand.
  3. You should book your tour WAY before, we got very lucky but most tours were booked, mostly in summer.
  4. Bring bug repellent or else you will get eaten.
  5. Feel free to ask questions or for help to the local police, they are extremely polite and friendly.