A Magical 48 Hours in Islamorada, Florida

After months and months of busy schedules, hard work and barely any down time, my boyfriend and I decided to spoil ourselves a little by going away for a couple of days. We chose to switch up our scenery and drive down about 4 hours to our final destination of Islamorada. It was quite the drive for a few days, but man was it worth it.

We stayed at the Pelican Cove which was superb. It was modern, clean and the staff was extremely friendly. Since it’s not quite season yet, the have a Florida resident special, which gives you about 20% off your stay. I booked a room with a king sized bed and most importantly, a beach view. This is my first beach view hotel room and it was absolutely worth the money. I awoke that morning around 6 AM and was pleasantly greeted by the sunrise. Ugh it was beyond gorgeous. Here are some pictures of the sunrise and the view from our window during the day time.

 

Skipping back to the evening when we arrived, after checking into the hotel we were quite hungry. A four hour drive will do that to you. We ended up choosing an Italian cuisine restaurant called the Ciao Hound. It was in walking distance from out hotel and was TOGO friendly. A winner in  my books. We got a TOGO and ate in bed. Now that’s a vacation. I ordered the Lobster Ravioli and Peter ordered the fish of the day which was Snapper. Of course we also got some Cannolis, because why not? It’s a vacation. The food was great and it did the job quite well for curing hunger. Peter had  a beer while waiting for the food, which I am sure was good, but the Sangria that I ordered was really eh. It was a premixed concoction that tasted like it came out of cardboard box that was bought at the store.

The following morning we woke up and got some breakfast at the hotel (complimentary baby). It was quite simple and really light. An egg, some yogurt and fruit. Of course I had some coffee and juice to help me wake up. After eating we packed our stuff up and checked out and even though we checked out, the hotel let us keep the wrist bands and hotel cards for as long as we wanted to. This allowed us to stay on the hotel property, which gave us a ton of activity options for the day.

We started out with a kayak trip. There was a little too much wind for the paddle boards, but honestly this was all free, so we were not being super picky. The kayaking trip lasted about three hours and we kayaked from the Atlantic ocean to the Gulf of Mexico. This was super neat and the weather was perfect to be honest. A little breezy and chilly but the sun warmed us up just enough to feel really comfortable. I even burnt my legs a little lol. Peter kayaked most of the time so I had the chance to take tons of pictures and a chance to really enjoy the nature. We made a deal to leave our phones in the bags or the car so that we could really get away from everything and live in the moment for once. This is what really made the trip special. Just sitting in silence, within the mangroves or just letting the current drift your kayak while you relax and take in the scenery is really spectacular. We are always in such a rush that we forget to take a minute and enjoy what we are really doing. Here are some pictures from this adventure.

After kayaking back, we were so tired and famished. After a drink at the bar, the hammock was calling our names. We laid out for a little bit, talked, laughed and explored the rocks right by us. It was really calm and relaxed hour.

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After this we got  changed and headed over to Robbie’s. If you have never been to Robbie’s, you have been missing out so badly. It’s a marina where you can feed there massive Tarpon. It’s an experience like quite no other. The Tarpon seemed to be pretty full this time of day but the pelicans did not. I have never seen pelicans so aggressive. Literally just kept snatching the fish up before the tarpon could. All in all, this was Peter’s first time and he really enjoyed just seeing & feeding the massive tarpon.

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Peter has been obsessed with the Netflix show called Blood Line which is filmed in the Keys and we were interested in exploring where this actually takes place. The local bartender kind of gave us some directions on how to get there but we didn’t really feel like trespassing so we just explored where we could. I think we pretty much stumbled upon the beach close to where they film and it was one of the most beautiful beaches in the Keys. It was very calm, very private and very serene.

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This adventure called for a beer. The local bartender recommended that we check out the only local brewery called The Florida Keys Brewing Co (really original lol). The beer was awesome from what Peter told me and the atmosphere was really fun. It was a very open facility, you  could even explore the brewing room. We sat down and played a couple rounds of checkers while he finished his beer. It definitely brought me back to my youth! I haven’t played checkers for years!

The last stop on our vacation before heading home was Chef Michael’s and oh my gawd….this was one of the best meals that I have ever had. I actually, for the first time in my life, tried escargot and I loved it!! It was so delicious. The food here was so fresh. Peter and I both ended up going with two fish dishes. He ordered the hogfish and I ordered the snapper. Seriously such an amazing meal. No wonder this has 4.8 stars on Google. If you love seafood and fresh seafood to be exact, make sure you stop by here. I wish I had pictures to share from the meal but Peter and I had a no phone policy the whole weekend, and it would have been awkward to whip out my DSLR camera and start snapping pictures. Just trust my word of mouth review here lol

 

This trip was so necessary and so rewarding in so many ways. I am beyond grateful what we could get away and really enjoy each other and the beautiful Florida weather.

 

Have you ever been to the Keys? What is your favorite vacation get away spot?

XOXO, Rutele!

Two weeks…three countries…one backpack…Wales, Scotland & Iceland | Rutele

Hello errrbody! I’ve been MIA for months, but I’m back!! Just recently I went away to Europe for two weeks and squeezed in three countries..Let’s just say it was exhausting!! This has to be one of the coolest trips that I have ever taken. All of the places were so different and unique. Oh and I managed to travel with just one backpacks guys….one backpack. Can I get a high five for this? I’m a girl…that is basically impossible to do.

Cardiff, Wales

This is such a cute little town. So quaint and quiet. Full of beautiful architecture and nature. My boyfriend and I actually attended a wedding an hour outside of town and got to experience the Welsh countryside and even better, the Welsh customs. They sure know how to have fun. The weather ended up being absolutely amazing! A slight drizzle during the first few days and then all sunshine. Our friends there said this was quiet unheard of, so lucky for them, we must have brought the sunshine from Florida. Here we did not go to any specific monuments or famous destinations, just ventured around and took in the city. What you can expect around town is tons of beer/cider and bangers with mash. Oh and meat pies! Those are actually exquisite. The food here is amazing! Also if you love lamb…this is the place for you!!

 

Edinburg, Scotland

I don’t even know how to start this one…the first words that come to my mind are YES, YES, YES!! Goodness gracious this town is absolutely stunning. The dark architecture, the old pubs, the amazing food and Harry Potter was written here.

Arthur’s Seat

Yes we did climb a mountain to see the seat that he actually never sat in. I basically fell off the mountain and nearly blew away because of how windy it was but the view from here was superb. Just let your inner mountain goat take over and climb the mountain.

Downtown

Walk around all over the actual downtown area. This time of the year it’s so green, yet still has the dark and gothic feel to it. You can find such cool and authentic pubs here that have been around for decades. Eat some more bangers and mash and voila, you’re basically Scottish. I really suggest paying close attention to the architecture. The old town consists mostly of gothic architecture, while the new town consists of mainly neo-classicism architecture. Really quite interesting how it all flows together and what kind of feel it exudes.

Edinburg Castle

This is actually still an active military base. How cool is that? While in Edinburg, you can’t miss this. This is one of the most beautiful castles that I have seen. Its extremely intricate in architecture and you can explore quite a lot of it. You can get a good look at where James VI and I (King of Scotland and England) was born and the oldest Crown Jewels in the British Isles.

The Elephant House

This is also another place you cannot miss (if you’re a Harry Potter fan). Ah the books were such a huge influence in my childhood that it would have been a crime to miss this spot. This little cafe is where J.K. Rowling wrote Harry Potter. Or at least started it. It was cheaper for her to buy a cup of coffee here and write than heat her own home. From the back room you have a wonderful view of the castle, which is probably what inspired her (I am just speculating here). The bathrooms in here are so neat. The walls are completely covered in messages from the fans of the author and the characters.

Whiskey Tour

Now I am not a whiskey fan but this place was superb! I figured since we love immersing ourselves in the different cultures when we travel, we might as well get to know the main drink here in Scotland. We actually learned a ton about how this liquor is made and where it’s made. During the tour you get to pick out which whiskey you would like to try (different regions focus on different ingredients and different aging processes) and explore the biggest whiskey collection in the world. This room was so fabulous. It is so huge and just filled top to bottom with whiskey’s from all over the world.

Reykjavik, Iceland

I really had no idea what to expect from Iceland. I knew that it would include tons of hiking and putting myself out of my comfort zone so I was slightly worried. It surpassed my expectations on every level and I can wholeheartedly say, put this place on your bucket list. It’s seriously so different than anything else that I have ever experienced. I have never been so one with nature and everything that it has to offer.

Gullfoss Waterfall

Where is the Hobbit?? This was my thought the whole time here. Being from Florida and not so outdoorsy, this waterfall blew my mind! If you’re in Iceland for less than 7 days, I would suggest doing the Golden Circle instead of the ring road. The Gullfoss waterfall is one of the destinations on this route. I mean the pictures speak for themselves, there isn’t really anything else to say.

Skátaskálinn Fluga

My life dream came true on this day. I adore horses and these ponies are just beyond adorable. They turned out to be so friendly and playful. Although keep in mind that they like sugar cubes a lot more than apples. It took them a couple minutes to warm up to me but from that point on they out of my hands and let me pet them. So in loveee! Iceland is not necessarily abundant when it comes to forests but we happen to run into one while driving around. Which really excited me! Forests are absolutely my favorite part of nature. I come from Lithuania where that is a huge part of our landscape so I really miss them when I go back to Florida. It was really refreshing to hike through a dense and green forest. Something about the way the air smells just gets me.

Reykjadalur

Best day of my life! That may even be an understatement honestly. Let’s just say this day was full of soccer, hot springs and wild sheep. I think everyone would be the happiest camper on a day like this. You know this started off just like any regular day. Woke up and decided to drive around. We had a nearby town in mind to watch the Iceland vs France game so everything really revolved around getting there. We had no expectation of discover hot springs here, but we did! At the bottom of this mountain we discovered really neat mud pots but as we climbed higher and higher, we kept running into beautiful waterfalls and hot springs. Well turns out these hot springs run into little rivers that you can bathe in…and if you’re curious on what that felt like…well it was like a naturally occurring hot tub (without the harsh smells and chemicals). This seriously was heaven. On our way back down a cute sheep approached us and basically demanded to be scratched. This was really the tipping point for me on the definition of the best day ever.

Blue Lagoon

After all of the hiking and running around, the Blue Lagoon was the best way to unwind and relax. The lagoon is full of silica and sulfur which is what gives it the light blue hue. Although this is a super touristy destination, it was fabulous. We did a silica and an algae mask, had a couple of drinks and just lounged about. Perfect day!

 

I cannot even begin to explain how much I really needed this trip. It’s been a stressful couple of months, hence my disappearance but this vacation really helped me get out of this rut and get my life back together. Keep an eye out for more blogs to come. Makeup related of course 😀

 

Have you been to any of these countries?? Share with me in the comments below!

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The place to soothe your soul…CRETE, GREECE

Have you ever visited a place where you just feel at ease? The harmony of the beach, the ocean and the mountains surrounding you and blessing you with serenity? If you haven’t, you should absolutely find that happy place for yourself.

I found this in Crete, Greece which is a large island located in Southern part of the Aegean Sea.

I have noticed a pattern in my favorite traveling destinations. Where the locals are extremely welcoming and there are few tourists, I tend to fall in love. Greek people are seriously some of the most welcoming people in the world, and some of the happiest. As you drive around this island, you see how little they have, but how happy they are, and it really warms your heart.

If you love beaches and mountains, this will be the perfect place for you. If you do happen to visit Crete, here are some of the locations you cannot miss!

Plakia Beach

Doesn’t this just look relaxing? The beach has very grainy but soft sand with tons of different pebbles. The day that I visited, it was quite windy (all of the tourists ran away, yay!), but the air smelled so good and the sun felt so glorious on my skin. When the weather allows it, you can play volleyball or enjoy water sports. There is a small strip full of cafes and bars right along the beach and a grocery store is also located near by, so if you want to grab some snacks and just enjoy the beach, you have an opportunity to do that too. Also, there is a cemented sidewalk right by the beach which is ideal for taking a walk or riding bikes.

Samariá Gorge National Park

This is actually a park that Peter and I discovered unexpectedly. We were looking for a cool beach to hang out at, and we saw an entrance to here. So happy that we ran into this gem! This happens to be one of the worlds Biosphere reserves. You can check out what that means here. As the name implies, it is a gorge. It measures about 16km long, so it is quite the hike. Instead of doing an actual hike, we ended up exploring some of the huge caves and walking down to the beach. I can’t even describe how superb this beach was.  The sand wasn’t really sand, it was full of beautiful pebbles of all different shapes and sizes. It was extremely relaxing to just sit on the pebbles and stare out to the water. Also, if you are into camping, you are allowed to set up tents and fires here, which is perfect!

Seitan Limania Beach

This was for sure my favorite destination of the whole trip. I mean, look at the beauty of this place!!! Ah, I miss it so much! The water was so crystal blue and the beach was so soft and white! The cliffs surrounding this were safe enough to jump off of. I mean, what else can you ask for? Even the drive to this place was to die for, literally. Thank goodness we were driving a small compact car, because those mountain roads are no joke. If you make one wrong turn, bye…you’re off of the mountain. This is also quite a far hike down to the beach and back up, therefore if you are traveling with little children, I would probably not recommend this. I personally tripped and did some damage to my legs. If you are not traveling with children, this is a must see and do. Really have not seen anything quite like this and I travel a lot. Bring some beer, some snacks and spend the whole day in the majestic environment.

Besides the beaches, be sure to eat everything in sight! Greeks have some of the best cuisine I have ever tried. GYROS GYROS GYROS, meat and fish! This is an island therefore I do suggest taking advantage of the fresh fish while it is available. Also, throw away your phones and just drive around. Getting lost on this island is what made this vacation one of my favorites. Peter and I met some of the coolest and nicest people and ran into the most exquisite places while frantically trying to get back to a familiar place. Some trips just don’t need to be planned out, and this is one of them, which is a great way to spice things up in your life.

I can honestly say that this was the most refreshing vacation I have ever been on. Where was your most relaxing  vacation?

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Spring in Barcelona, España!

About a week ago I took a trip with my family to Barcelona in order to celebrate my sister’s 30th birthday! What a beautiful reason to travel out of the country and explore!

I was there for three full days, which speaking from experience, is plenty of time to explore a city the size of Barcelona. I did a lot of planning beforehand and narrowed down my list to what I wanted to see and do. As always, you can’t see everything in one go, which trust me, I am not complaining about. I will take any reason to go back to Barcelona! It is such a charming city that combines old and new so exquisitely.

Without any further ado, here are the must see’s and do’s in Barcelona.

Montserrat Mountains & Monastery:

This may have been my favorite part of the trip. I have never seen mountains that were so unique in shape and color. The Montserrat Mountains are made out of a sedimentary rock called pink conglomerate, which is what creates this uncommon appearance. Now let me tell you that this mountain is no joke. The highest point of it is 1,236 meters above sea level and we took a little train all the way to the top. I was literally walking in the clouds. Two other sights to explore up there are the Santa Maria de Montserrat Abbey church and the “Steps to Heaven”.

Las Ramblas:

This is the most famous strip in Barcelona. It is hustlin’ and bustlin’ from morning to night time. The street is full of shops, restaurants, bars and of course, tourists. It is great for shopping and just taking in the culture of Barcelona. Walk around, buy some souvenirs and have a couple of drinks. If you’ve had some drinks, don’t be afraid of the street performers! They are awesome!! Drop some money in their bins and see what they do!

**I would not suggest eating here because it does lack authenticity and you are sure to get a very mediocre meal. Try venturing out of the way to find mom and pop restaurants to try real Spanish paellas and sangria.

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El Molino:

Oh my lanta is this Burlesque Bar a blast!! I seriously had the time of my life! You can buy one ticket, which is 33 euros or two tickets for 50 euros. If you buy the two people deal, you also get a bottle of champagne, plus the show. You really can’t beat that. The show is passionate/ funny/ engaging and just over all so special! This was my first time seeing a show like this so I was excited to begin with, but the greatest thing of all is that I ended up getting pulled on stage, by two hunky lumberjack men. It was HILARIOUS! It was basically a scene out of Magic Mike… I will leave it at that. It is for-sure great entertainment for a night out in Barcelona.

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Montjuïc:

Ah, this place is so surreal. The overall location is technically a hill but everything on it is to die for. The main place here is Palau Nacional which hosts the National Art Museum of Catalonia. Even if you do not want to go inside of the museum, the outside of this palace is magnificent. When you climb all the way up to the top of the stairs, you can see the whole city of Barcelona and the mountains behind it. Breathtaking….that is the only way to describe that. Also, if you’re feeling adventurous, do approach the man with the spray painted pigeons, you will not regret it! He has trained them to not be afraid of humans so you can take pictures with them! Quite the experience. 

Olympic Stadium:

If you’re a history buff and love sports, this is the location for you and even if you’re not, it’s wonderful to visit a site with so much history and character! This stadium was used for the 1992 summer Olympics and is used for sports/music events to this day. There is a beautiful area where you can walk around and some tables where you can enjoy lunch. You are welcome to bring your pets here to play as well, plenty of grass for them.

Windsor Restaurant:

We really did not go out to eat much but from the places we visited, this was the best. There was a mix up with the reservations but the staff was so professional and accommodating that they set up a private room for us. Everything we orders was superb! The lamb, the chicken, the fish, the calamari…everything! All of the ingredients were extremely fresh and cooked perfectly. And the deserts? Don’t even get me started!! I had chocolate ravioli with chocolate on top…soo delicious.

Camp Nou:

My dad has been a soccer coach his whole life so this trip destination was for him and he loved it!! Soccer has been in my life ever since I was born. Although I never played it, I do enjoy watching the big games. This was a fun excursion for me too! To be in that massive field and walk around where truly talented men play the sport was really cool. They also have a museum part with tons and tons of trophies, old/new gear and memorabilia. It was very interesting to walk around and see how the sport has evolved and changed and especially how well the Barca team has done over the years. A must see for sure!

La Sagrada Familia:

Now I am into more traditional and Renaissance churches but this one is quite out of the ordinary. So this is the church that many of you have heard about, its almost like an ongoing joke on how relaxed the Spanish are. This church was designed by Antoni Gaudí and the construction began in 1882. If you aren’t aware, its now 2016 and the church is still not finished. It’s been 132 years. The church itself is extraordinary, just like everything else that Gaudí designed. It looks like a sand castle with extremely intricate colors and designs on the tops of the towers. It is really an interesting interpretation of Gothic architecture.

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Platja de la Mar Bella:

Even though it was cold, we did decide to stay on the beach. Our apartment overlooked the water and it was so breathtaking to wake up and watch the sunset every morning. We did venture to the actual beach to stroll around and it was great. The actual beach sand is clean and soft. There is a skate park nearby which was very interesting to observe. I am sure that during the hot months this beach is full of all different types of people, activities and cafes.

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Overall, I really did enjoy Barcelona and everything that it has to offer. It has a great nightlife scene, superb food and beautiful scenery. What else could you want? I did enjoy visiting during the spring, even though it was chilly, there weren’t a crazy amount of tourists and I finally was reminded of how gorgeous Spring is. There were blossoming flowers and little leaves sprouting on trees. Really quite the sight!

 

Have you ever been to Barcelona/ do you live there? Did I miss out on anything that is special? Let me know in the comments below!

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The Up and Coming Travel Destination: CROATIA | Rutele

Ready for a cheap and outdoorsy vacation? Croatia might be the destination for you!

Croatia is one of the top up and coming traveling destinations! I visited this beautiful country a couple of years ago and it has left a huge imprint in my heart. The food is delicious and the nature is indescribable. The best part? It is not overflowing with tourists! It is alluring and peaceful…what else could you ask for? Oh and the transportation system in the cities is flawless. It is so easy to get from point A to point B which tends to be the most difficult part about traveling. They have a very impressive railway system in the cities, plenty of buses and 68 airports to fly into.

While in Croatia I visited Plitvicka Lakes (ahhhhh I can’t even find the words for this amazing park), Zagreb and Split. Check out the pictures in the gallery if you haven’t already!

I will keep it short on Zagreb and Split. They are both unique cities. Take advantage of the nature and go on as many hikes as possible. You will run into some astonishing views of the cities and the landscape, which you wouldn’t normally stumble upon. Split is right on the water so do visit the beaches. I never visited the islands nearby but I would recommend it since I have heard that they are superb! Zagreb is the capital so of course it is full of awesome restaurants and churches. Make sure to eat some octopus and fish (mom and pop restaurants are the best) while you’re here and visit the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It’s quite a marvel.

And now to the destination that stole my heart…Plitvicka Lakes. Wow, just wow. I really don’t think I have been anywhere quite as breathtaking as this. The park is surrounded by a small town consisting of  a couple of hotels and mostly personal property. I would suggest renting from the locals instead of the hotels. My host was beyond anything I could have imaged. He made  breakfast and dinner every day, he drove us to the park and picked us up! The atmosphere that the locals created was very friendly and inviting.

Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia
Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

Now the park…it is a wonderland for all nature lovers. In the park you will be surrounded by the woods, the lakes,the streams and the waterfalls.It is quite a lot to take in. The foliage is deep green and the water is crystal clear. I was so tempted to jump in and take a swim with the fish. The trip I took was in the summer so it was very much alive and flowing, whereas in the winter some of the water freezes and some of the trees shed their leaves. I do suggest that you break away from the beaten path and go hike the different trails. These take you up to higher levels from where you can see the whole park and really take in the magic of it all (plus you will by yourself). It’s really hard to describe how this place can make you feel. It is so pure and so untouched by the human hand that it almost cleanses your soul.

You may just have to save up and take a trip to experience this for yourself.

Here is a link in case you want to explore the park virtually.
http://www.np-plitvicka-jezera.hr/en/

Over all, Croatia is a beautiful destination with gracious people, hearty food, and magical views. Did I forget to mention that it’s cheap??

Have you visited Croatia or know of a place that’s similar? Let me know!

 

XOXO, Ruta.

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