The Dominican Diaries

The Dominican Diaries

Week before last, I visited the Dominican Republic–and the Caribbean–for the first time! I went with my tried and true travel partner, Ilse, for five days of R&R. We both had a lot going on in our lives this summer and, contrary to my personal travel style, opted for a lazy, beach vacation. This trip ended up being a lot more than we bargained for; while we had plenty of relaxation, we also had some trials and tribulations.

We stayed in Cabarete, a small coastal town known for its kite surfing; Ilse’s grandfather built a small home here on the beach which is where we stayed.

We were assaulted by mosquitoes almost constantly through this trip, lathering on layers and layers of repellent to the point that there was really no point in showering. Speaking of showering, we were also given a mid-week shock when the unfortunate drought in the city prompted a citywide water shutdown for about 24 hours without warning or update of when it would be turned back on. Even with these inconveniences, however, the location was definitely prime for everything going on nearby.

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Aloha, Hawaii!

Aloha, Hawaii!

Last weekend, we took our first family vacation to one of the Hawaiian islands: Maui! Yes, you read that correctly–it was our first family vacation (and yes, it was in Hawaii, haha). The four of us embarked on a 10-hour journey toward this beautiful island that left me in awe. None of us have been to Hawaii and I genuinely cannot put into words how breath-taking it was. So, let’s get into it, shall we?

Day One: Getting a Full Day Back
◊ Checking in
Though we left Dallas at 7:00 a.m., we arrived in Maui at 12:00 p.m. local time. We were exhausted, but our spirits quickly picked back up when we saw the beauty in front of us. Our condo rental was a 40-minute drive from the airport, but it was easily the most scenic 40 minutes I have experienced. With the Pacific Ocean on one side and mountains straight from Jurassic Park on the other, I didn’t know what to pay attention to. Something absolutely amazing about the island that we noticed off the bat too was the lack of traffic. Talk about a great start to a vacation.

We actually got to our condo too early, so we grabbed lunch at Down the Hatch. Frankly, the place was a bit overhyped. There are tons of reviews on this place and recommendations from other bloggers, but I found it to be overpriced and underwhelming. It definitely stands out in the main little shopping area on that side of town, so I understand why traffic flows through. Oh, and they have a koi pond. They do have a great happy hour deal though, so if you are going to go, go for the drinks!

Normally, I rarely talk about accommodation, but I could not believe the place we were staying in once we were able to check in. From the outside, it doesn’t look like much and when they handed us a key instead of a key card, we were all worried that it would be outdated in terms of decor, but boy, were we wrong. We rented a beachside condo with Lahaina Shores Beach Resort and it. was. insane. If you take no other recommendations from this blog post, take this one. When they say ocean view or ‘along the beach’, it was essentially on the beach. When my vlog is posted in the future, I will be able to put a visual to what I am saying, but the beach was quite literally in our backyard (see last picture).

Me in front of one of our large closets
View from the patio looking into the condo
The main bedroom with a king size bed (complete with its own a/c unit)
The opposite direction of the view from the patio of the breakfast nook and the queen sleeper sofa (with my dad, lol)
The unbeatable view from our patio NOT zoomed in

What you don’t see in the photos above is that it came with two bathrooms–both with showers. Where those bushes are in that last photo is the only barrier between the property and the beach–to the right is the gate with direct access. I would also like to add that maid service and parking (daily and covered) are free for guests and they provide beach towels in the rooms. A fun addition that I personally enjoyed is almost every room had dimmers with their lights which I find to be a personal luxury, especially when you do not want to be blinded when you first wake up.

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Better Late Than Never

I have said time and time again that creating this blog started out as a simple way to be connected with friends and family when I was abroad, but it quickly turned into so much more for me. It has become an outlet for me and a place where I can really be expressive. I embarked on a creative journey this year which leads me to the point of this post. I made a decision with the new year that I wanted to bring this blog back to life, so I have been cataloging my travels throughout the year in the form of vlogs (read: video logs); tonight, I launched my YouTube channel!

I figured that since people have enjoyed my photos on my blog, what could be better than actually taking everyone with me on my trips? Admittedly, the first few vlogs are a bit ‘cringy’ as I am getting used to speaking to a camera in public, and I struggled in some places due to weather conditions, but I have to say that the whole process has been a lot of fun for me so far! People have a lot of ideas and feelings about YouTube, but I am excited to share these videos with you and, I guess, the rest of the world.

As of right now, the vlogs will be uploaded every other Thursday, and they will be posted in chronological order with my first trip of the year to L.A. What I plan to showcase through this channel is not only the travel footage, but other discussions about experiences while traveling, tips for more seamless travel, and featured guests to provide a more well-rounded view rather than just hearing everything from me. My brother, Cameron, will also graciously be producing all of the music for my vlogs.

I will continue updating this blog exactly as I do now because this is the drawing board for me. It is the place where I fully tapped into my writing and what made me realize that it could be part of a larger career. Long story short, no matter what ideas come to fruition, this blog will not go away, but I am so happy to be finally sharing this with everyone just in time for the new year. I cannot wait to start creating more videos and improving on this new skill set.

I would really appreciate any feedback that people have–the only way for me to improve the content that I provide for you all is to know exactly what brings you to my blog (and now my YouTube Channel) and what keeps you here. I hope that these videos will bring you as much joy as I had filming them. For the people who knew about this or were actually a part of this, thank you so much for your support! I would not have felt comfortable continuing this if it hadn’t been for the encouragement I received in the last year.

Again, new videos will be up every other Thursday, but there are already two uploaded for you all to check out. Can’t wait to hear your thoughts! ❤

xx, AE

Break in Barcelona

Break in Barcelona

Since my last post, I have been in a desperate need of a break from my mind. I have had this trip to Barcelona planned for almost three months so when the day arrived, I could not wait. Needless to say, it ended up being the best travel experience of my life so far. I was in the heart of the city for five full days with some of my friends and it was equally crazy-packed and relaxing at the same time–the best kind of vacation.

Day One: Hitting the Ground Running
◊ Exploring La Rambla
I arrived in Barcelona after a combined 11 hours of flying and hit the ground running. We mostly walked around and explored the area where our Airbnb was located. By the way, our Airbnb was absolutely fantastic. We were in the El Poble-Sec area near the Para∙lel metro station. It was so centrally-located. We were just killing time before our friend Ksenia arrived later that evening.
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After Ksenia arrived and we caught up on life, we headed out to a late Spanish dinner and a flamenco show at Casa Lola! I did not have as much to do with planning this trip as I normally like to do, but I knew I had to at least see a flamenco show. It was a Thursday night so it was not crowded at all. We got front row seating, ordered sangria, and watched the magic happen.

 

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Spanish dish of potatoes, spicy tomato-based sauce, and garlic aioli 🙂

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We actually stumbled upon Casa Lola when we were exploring earlier in the day. Normally, they require reservations (likely for the weekend), but when we called, they said it was fine without one. We received a flyer for €5 off for two options of either dinner and a show or drink and a show. We chose drink and a show and opted to get our own dinner (which ended up being at Casa Lola anyway because we left the apartment a little late), but it was a wonderful experience!!
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