My Aruba Travel Guide

Recently, I traveled to Aruba with my family to get away from the cold, dreary weather and to decompress for a bit. It had been a while since I traveled on an airplane for a trip, so I couldn’t have been more excited to pack my summer clothes and spend a few days on the beach.

Flight

We took a connecting flight to Aruba, stopping in Miami for a layover. If you ever choose to go, I definitely recommend taking a direct flight. It is around 4/5 hours direct and many airlines, such as JetBlue, travel direct. We spent around 6ish hours traveling in total, and it ended up being a lot, especially since we had to get up at 3am. We arrived in the late afternoon, and by that time, I wanted to just relax for the evening and start fresh the next day.

Where to Stay

In Aruba, there are two main tourist locations: Eagle Beach and Palm Beach. Eagle Beach, which according to one of our cab drivers is practically Palm Beach divided up, is the condo area. Palm Beach, on the other hand, is the ‘sky rise’ area with all the major hotels. We stayed at The Ritz-Carlton, which is located at the far end of Palm Beach and is the last hotel on the strip. Even though The Ritz tends to be on the pricier side, I definitely recommend looking into staying there. Not only did it have fabulous amenities and great customer service, it was quiet because it was situated on the far end of the beach. The rest of the strip felt congested with hotels on top of each other.

Excursions

This trip, we decided to balance both relaxation and sight-seeing. We did two excursions, which in my honest opinion were just okay. The one excursion that I do recommend (with a warning) is the jeep or UTV tour of the island and Arikok National Park. Aruba is a desert island, which at times was hard to believe since it had incredible ocean views. The tour takes you around to see both the caves, rock formations, natural pool and coastal cliffs. We ventured up to one of the highest points of the island and were able to see the northern coast of Venezuela. According to our tour guide, Venezuela is about a 15 minute flight from Aruba. However, do not expect to visit the country while you are on the island. Aruba has strict immigration and travel rules when it comes to Venezuela. Anyway, this excursion sounds great, right? Yes, but WARNING, it was VERY bumpy. We were pretty much off-roading, which was extremely rough on the body. If that does not sound appealing to you, I would skip it. We were in the open-air jeep, and it was a hard ride to get through. For the second excursion, we took a catamaran to a few areas to snorkel. I would personally skip the boat tour altogether. Since Aruba is outside of the hurricane belt, the weather is nearly perfect, however, they do get a lot of wind. Because of the wind, the waters were rough and made snorkeling uncomfortable and dangerous. Take the extra day and relax on the beach instead!

Food

Now to the best part.. FOOD! I am a big foodie, especially on vacations. While I wasn’t going crazy over Aruba’s food, there were some spots where we enjoyed delicious meals:

  • Flying Fishbone – If you can, try to get a table in the water and preferably at sunset.
  • Madame Janette – If you’re looking to enjoy your meal without being surrounded by large families or kids, try making a reservation later into the evening at around 8pm. You also need to leave room for dessert (their Snickers cake was amazing.)
  • Yemanja – This was by far one of my favorites. Not only did they have an expansive menu filled with vegetarian and vegan options, but their drinks were great. I recommend the Sweet Passion.

Shopping

In regards to shopping, there wasn’t a whole lot. We stopped at one store for t-shirts in the downtown Oranjestad area. You’ll notice that many people will choose to buy their luxury or designer items while on vacation in Aruba. That is because there isn’t a luxury tax on the island, so designer items are cheaper than they would be in the states.

Overall this was one of the most relaxing trips I have had in a long time. It was nice to get away and soak up the sun! Now back to winter…

Travel Guide: Savannah, Georgia

A few weeks ago, I traveled down to beautiful Savannah, Georgia! It was my first time visiting, and after just one weekend, I fell in love.

My mom, sister and I decided to venture down for 3 days (Friday-Monday), which was the perfect amount of time to explore. We stayed at the Mansion on Forsyth Park, which was a beautiful hotel and in a great location. It was away from the bustle of the downtown area, yet close enough to walk everywhere. On our first day, we actually decided to make the walk from our hotel all the way down to the river. We passed so many quaint shops and eateries, getting a feel for how the city is designed. Overall, navigating the area was simple, since most blocks are separated by different squares!

 

We first checked out the riverfront, which tends to be very touristy. Lined with cobblestones, the riverfront is filled with plenty of souvenir shops and bars. While it wasn’t my favorite, it was nice to see on our first day.

On the second day, we opted to take the Old Savannah Trolley Tour. This is a must! The tour guides were fantastic, and the trolley made it so you could hop on and off at several stops. The tour gave us a taste of the city’s history, while also allowing us to map out what we wanted to see and visit. A must to see while in Savannah is Chippewa Square. If this doesn’t ring a bell, then please go and watch Forrest Gump. The movie’s famous line “life is like a box of chocolates” was said in that very park. While the actual bench is no longer there, you can still grab some chocolate from the local store and enjoy it. You never know who you’re going to see while you’re there!

In terms of history, all three of us decided to visit the Sorrel Weed House. I am a BIG fan of historical homes. I absolutely love being able to see everything as it once was and learning about the families that once lived there. This particular tour was very interesting, but also very sad. For years, Savannah didn’t have laws against destroying historical landmarks, so the Sorrel Weed House went through decades of transformation, from a department store to apartments and now finally back to its original state. They are continuing to restore the home, so don’t expect to see it in its original condition.

Savannah is also considered one of the most haunted cities in America, so what better than to check out a ghost tour! We were sadly disappointed. For Savannah having such a rich and haunted history, the ghost tour just wasn’t impressive. Not only were we stuck in a large group, but our tour guide continued to laugh while telling the haunted history of Savannah. We ended up leaving mid-way through because it was not worth finishing.

In addition to seeing the historic sites, we also shopped… a lot! Broughton Street was our next stop on the trip. Titled the ‘Newbury Street of the south,’  the area offered several local and chain stores. One of my favorites was The Paris Market Cafe. Not only could you sip on a coffee and enjoy some macarons, but the shop also offered gifts and home decor for every style. If you are looking for even more shopping, City Market has several stores and eateries to enjoy.

Another thing I really appreciated about Savannah was how much the city values art. Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) plays a central part in the city’s culture and vibe. Everywhere you’d go there’d be galleries or art shops, and I really took a liking to the role art plays in the city’s personality.

And now for my favorite part… food!! Below are a few of the top places we ate at, while in Savannah

  1. The Collins Quarter – This restaurant had the BEST brunch! The wait time wasn’t that long. I think we waited ten minutes max. I definitely recommend the avocado toast! So good! 
  2. Circa 1875 – The dinner here was incredible! I love French food, and this restaurant impressed. Not only did they have my favorite Aperol Spritz, but the cuisine was delicious! The muscles and charcuterie board are a must if you order anything!
  3. Goose Feathers Cafe – For a quick and super yummy breakfast, this is your spot! Don’t be scared by the line outside. The cafe has you order first then sit, so you are guaranteed a table!
  4. 45 Bistro – All I can say is wow! Not only was our waiter fantastic, but the food was amazing! The seafood pasta is the way to go at this restaurant! 
  5. Leopold’s – The line was down the street, but the ice cream was worth the wait! I ordered their vegan vanilla (since I unfortunately cannot eat regular ice cream), but it was delicious. If you don’t want to wait in the line, at least take a picture of the sign. The shop still has an old school ice cream parlor look. 
  6. Gryphon Tea Room – For the most delicious brunch or afternoon tea, Gryphon is your stop! The restaurant is a part of SCAD and has some of the most delicious bites! I forgot how good tea sandwiches are. And it also looks like an old school library inside.

Savannah’s open container law is non-existent, so don’t be surprised if you are asked to enjoy your cocktail on the go. Not going to lie, this is definitely a highlight of the city, especially if you are with friends or on a girls trip like I was. For a unique drink spot, check out Jen’s and Friends. The tiny bar offers every martini imaginable. From rice crispy treats to straight up chocolate, it doesn’t disappoint. Plus the inside smells of sugar!

Savannah was a blast, and I was so sad to leave. I hope this guide helps you plan your trip to the beautiful city! Until next time!

-XOXO Courtney

 

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