5 Things I Learned On My First Cruise

Phew! My life is becoming increasingly busy these days with dance ramping up for the end of the season, work getting crazier than ever and keeping up with blogging and my personal life. That’s why I am SO glad the hubbs and I were able to get away for a few days last week to recharge, unplug and just have fun!

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Back in February, on a cold, blustery, miserable day, we booked a 4-night cruise to the Bahamas, as a way to escape New England winter and just reset for a few days. It was our beacon of light at the end of a very dark, cold tunnel. In October we took our honeymoon in Hawaii, which you can read about here, so our main goal for this trip was for it to be cheap (cause really who can afford two vacations in one year??). Well if you haven’t heard, cruises are pretty affordable these days. Honestly I have always been very skeptical about cruising and have even been known to swear it off all-together, which probably sounded something like this; “I will never go on a cruise, it’s too claustrophobic! People get sick! TITANIC!!!”. Well, I have to admit that I was wrong. Cruises are kind of awesome and here’s why:

1. The boat is your giant playground.

In other words, I was never claustrophobic at all. The whole boat is yours to explore and take advantage of from the mini golf on the top deck, to the casino in the middle and hidden spots to hang out all over the place. Plus the ship stops on beautiful islands that you can get out on and find your adventure on land. We did have a window in our room, which probably helped, but our living space was fine, in fact I’ve been in smaller hotel rooms in Brooklyn! Cross claustrophobia off your worry list now.

IMG_08652. You will be forced to totally check out…and it’s amazing!

You will have zero service at sea to check Insta, Snapchat your day or do any of the other annoying things society thinks we should do to prove we’re having fun. You CAN purchase a plan to get access to social media, but honestly I think that’s stupid. This is your vacation, enjoy the moment, take photos and show people when you get home.

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3. There’s always something to do…which can be overwhelming at times.

We learned this the hard way. Every night they slip a schedule of events for the next day under your door. We tried to hit all the fun, but eventually sun and exhaustion took us down. Naps are highly encouraged between the hours of 4 and 5pm. Then you rally and continue your day with dinner, drinks, shows, dancing, hot tub….etc.

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4. Exercise is built in!

No need to hit the gym, just take the stairs. I think we both left with extremely toned glutes from the dozens of stairs we climbed every day. It was a great way to burn off the lava cake! I did actually hit the treadmill, which was hilarious because the boat sways you back and forth, which made for quite a challenging run!

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(This is the view from my treadmill. Not bad, right?)

5. The food is what dreams are made of.

Quinoa stuffed tomatoe with croquettes in a cream sauce. Molten lava cake. Oysters Rockefeller. Deconstructed ham sandwich appetizer. 24 hour pizza and ice cream. Need I say more? I had heard mixed reviews about Carnival food, but I have to say I was incredibly impressed every night with the creativity and quality of the food.

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So would I cruise again? Absolutely! I think there’s a time and place for boots on ground, map in hand adventure; exploring waterfalls and finding the hidden taqueria, but there’s always something to be said for sitting back, drink in hand, watching the land and sea pass by and letting someone else bring the entertainment to you.

What’s your favorite way to vacation? Land or sea?

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Yoga, Rice and Everything Nice at Throwback Brewery

When you hear the word “brewery” your mind does not automatically conjure up images of bending yogis or brown rice. That’s why Throwback Brewery is in a league all its own. Situated in an 1860’s farmhouse, Throwback features an eclectic menu using local ingredients, creates unique craft brews and hosts really cool community events. Basically it’s awesome and if you haven’t been yet, you gotta go…ttttoday junior.

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Yesterday I stopped in with some friends for their $5 yoga, which they offer on Sundays at 11am in the loft of their barn, right above the brewery. Me and about 40 other people piled into the open space to breathe, get centered and count down the minutes until we were enjoying a cold one. Check out their event calendar so you can attend the next one! (P.S. they also have live music, cribbage and book club)

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A typical brewery menu would offer pizza, burgers, fries, etc. which is so 2005. Throwback delights with hearty modern dishes and twists on classics, all using fresh, local ingredients. They even make their own bread using the spent grain from their brewing process. So cool! I enjoyed the Fried Rice Bowl which consisted of brown rice with roasted squash, edamame, bean sprouts, radishes and organic chicken in their spicy sesame sauce topped with a fried egg. Holy-yum. Loved every second of it. I also had a side of fried sweet potato wedges and a few bites of a maple donut.

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The maple donut brings me to the next awesome thing that happened at Throwback yesterday – their Maple Madness festival! Described by my friend Corinne as “the most New Hampshire thing I’ve done all year”, this event was apparently the hottest thing happening on the Seacoast yesterday as we watched hoards of people pile in to get a taste of some maple beer and hear the band. Clearly the cold, dreary weather will not keep us New Englanders away from some good maple syrup.

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Did I mention that Throwback was founded by two women? How awesome is that?! Nothing like a little girl power to create a place that not only feeds your belly, but also feeds your soul.

This photo makes me cold just looking at it…luckily I’m heading to the Bahamas this week to defrost! Further posts make be delayed, but you can follow my trip on Instagram 🙂

What did you do this weekend?

What To Do & Eat In Maui

Aloha! Are you dreaming of palm trees and warm breezes too?! If you’re in a northern climate like me, now is the time to plan your escape from the cold. So while everyone else is busy watching the Super Bowl (don’t worry it’s on in the background), I thought I would share with you some highlights from my trip to Hawaii!

WARNING: May induce extreme vacation envy and/or sudden-trip-booking syndrome.

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In October Shawn and I made the very (very) long journey to a place I had dreamed of visiting since I was a kid. My Dad used to live in Hawaii, so I made it my goal at a very young age to honeymoon there. And that we did! We visited Maui and Kauai, but today I’ll focus just on Maui. More to come on the amazingly beautiful island of Kauai.

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First I have to start by saying that Maui is one of the most beautiful, welcoming and vibrant places I have ever been. Once you step off the plane, breathe in the sweet air and talk to just one person, you’ll know that you’re in a magical place. Not only are you surrounded by natural beauty that you didn’t even know could exist, but all the people are so incredibly happy and kind. I think I would be too if I lived in Hawaii!

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Second I want to say that there are a lot of things to do in Maui so you definitely need to do research before embarking, just to make sure you know what you’re going to do and what you’ll have to pass on, because you cannot do everything. I used the internet, Maui Revealed travel books and friends as references.

Road To Hana

This was definitely a can’t-miss activity for us. Yes you have to wake up at like 6 am, so I recommend doing it on your first or second day to take advantage of jet leg. And yes the road is winding and slightly dangerous. BUT, it. was. incredible. Waterfalls, hidden caves, lava rocks and road-side food stands are just some of the highlights you will find. Here are my top 4 tips for Road To Hana:

  1. Download the Shaka Road To Hana app. It’s inexpensive and will guide you to all the stops even when you don’t have cell reception. The book is good to read beforehand, but can be really confusing to follow to a specific spot on the road.
  2. Bring a rain jacket and water/hiking shoes with grip. It rains about every 10 minutes on RTH so you will need the jacket if you want to get out of the car at all (which you will, every 10 minutes). Everything is muddy and wet so the water shoes are a must-do because they will dry quickly in between hikes. I got these Ryka Hydro Sport shoes and they were a life-saver.
  3. Stop at the food stands! Best banana bread and fruit I’ve ever had. There’s a lot of good food options along the RTH, so you don’t need to pack a lunch. We got fooled on that one and bought sandwiches before we left, paid for a cooler bag, which didn’t actually keep anything cold, and then found awesome taco huts and authentic eats along the way. On your way back you should stop at Mai Thai. Insanely good Thai food cooked by a little old lady in a hut by herself. “Best meal of my LIFE!” is what I exclaimed as I was shoving shrimp and noodles into my face as I spoon-fed Shawn his meal while he navigated the dark winding road home. Not an ideal situation because we didn’t head back before dark, but an ideal meal for sure.
  4. Go all the way to the Pipewai Trail. You will need to decide before you set out what you want to stop at. This is very important. You cannot stop at everything in one day and if you try you will be heading home at 2am and it will be very scary. The road is SUPER dark and winding and not good to travel at night. Just pick and choose what you want to see. I suggest NOT missing the Black Sand Beach and Pipewai Trail, which is located at the end of the road. At the end of the Pipewai Trail was a 500 foot waterfall…so friggin cool. See Waimoki Falls below.

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Haleakala Crater

The next must-do in Maui is the Haleakala Crater. I read a lot about this before deciding to go because they say the best way to see it is at sunrise, but we are decidedly NOT sunrise people. Also, the winding road up the side of a mountain did not thrill me. So we went around 10am and it was still ammmmaaaaazing. The drive up the mountain is scenic itself and when you get there it’s like you’ve landed on the moon. That’s actually how you will feel too. The elevation sickness definitely got to us, but you just have to take it slow, like turtle slow. 10,ooo feet is very high. I have to say that the drive was pretty scary. At times I had to close my eyes, but the view from the top was well worth it.

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After seeing the crater we stopped at Mama’s Fish House in the North for lunch where we ate one of the best meals of our lives. Seriously this place is NOT overrated. You must go here and you must not be deterred by the high prices. It’s well worth it and you can enjoy a walk on their beach after for freeeeee.

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Lahaina 

This is an adorable little town located on the West side of the island. Definitely take a drive through to see the endless coastline of beaches with surfers and campers hanging out and living the good life. A walk downtown is nice for some souvenir shopping and to see the largest tree in the United States, an enormous Banyan Tree. But the BEST part of Lahaina is Island Cream Co. Oh my god. I still dream about this ice cream experience. Island Cream Co. has actually been called the Best Ice Cream In America and I whole-heartedly agree! They claim that it’s not ice cream, not gelato, but rather a cross between the two – island cream. Whatever it is, it works for me. I had Maui Loco, which had coconut, macadamia nuts and chocolate chips, served in a homemade cone with a pirouline for dipping.

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Kanapali Beach

This is the beach our hotel was located on, which made for some easy snorkeling whenever we wanted! I recommend staying on or near this beach if possible, because it is apparently some of the best snorkeling and best swimming conditions on the island. We saw multiple turtles, an eel and colorful fish every time we swam. The water was warm, clear blue and very calm.

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The other good thing about staying near Kanapali beach is the close proximity to one of the best breakfasts I’ve ever had. Mostly because it was so much fun! Slappy Cakes is an all-day breakfast joint where you can make your own pancakes at your table! Each booth has a hot griddle in the middle and you can pick your own batter like pumpkin, mix-ins like bananas and granola, and toppings like macadamia nut sauce, whipped cream and maple syrup!

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Holy yum.

Honestly I could go on and on about Maui and all the magical things that we did, but this post would get exceedingly long. And All this talk about good food has me ready for a snack. Must find chocolate covered macadamia nuts stash…

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If you’re not currently planning a vacation I hope this post inspired you, because there are studies that show that traveling literally makes you a better person. I think that’s a pretty good argument for getting on a plane. And if you’re planning a trip to Hawaii sometime soon, feel free to hit me up with questions! I’m more than happy to relive my experience by helping someone else plan theirs.

Aloha my friends!

Fezziwig’s Food and Fountain

Portsmouth is one of my favorite places. It’s like this ever-changing mini city that is constantly evolving for the people that live and play there. When I was growing up there were about 3 restaurants and 2 stores worth visiting in downtown Portsmouth.

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Now it’s buzzing with culture, unique eats and thriving businesses. But still, one of the greatest things about it is that in many ways, it remains the same. The streets are brick and crooked, the buildings are quintessentially old, the stores are exceptionally quirky and the restaurants are continuously surprising and delightful.

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Fezziwig’s Food and Fountain was no exception to that. Probably one of the most unique cafes I have ever been in, Fezziwig’s is a must-stop for anyone visiting Portsmouth for lunch (or breakfast or dinner). This restaurant is a sister to its parent shop Pickwick’s Mercantile, a historically inspired shoppe that flawlessly depicts the merriment, peculiarity and charm of days gone by.

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The festive atmosphere of Pickwick’s seamlessly spills over into the cafe with costumed baristas and exquisite decorum. The elaborately decorated space transcends time and brings you to a fairy-tale place where everything has a little bit more wonder to it.

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And who doesn’t need a little wonder in their Sunday afternoon?! We certainly did, and girl talk and tomato soup was on the menu today.

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The tomato bisque I ordered was creamy and thick, with toasted croutons floating on top, just waiting for us to dig in. The turkey BLT was hearty and wholesome, with a salad and a crisp pickle on the side.

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This is not one of those cafes where you leave and you’re hungry 20 minutes later because your sandwich was made on tiny bread and had two lettuce leaves on it. This food is genuine good eats, and kept me warm and satisfied for hours.

I mean did we leave and go straight to Stonewall Kitchen for free brownie samples? Maybe.

But at least we had our salad first.