Windstar Cruise: The Treasures of Southern Spain and Morocco

Mrs. Traveling Honeymooners grandparents were celebrating a very special anniversary recently and chose to spend it with our family. After pondering what a family of thirteen people could do all together, we came up with the idea to take a Windstar cruise!

Before we get ahead of ourselves here, we are a bit of a picky crowd because we all LOVE to travel, eat good food and cruising. We have been on multiple cruises in our lifetime, on a variety of cruise lines. With that being said, we knew we wanted something really special for this trip. Mrs. Traveling Honeymooner’s Aunt had been on a Windstar Cruise along the Dalmatian Coast the previous year and loved every second of it. Thats really all she talked about for about a year so the rest of us figured we needed to try out a Windstar Cruise.

Benefits of Traveling on a Windstar Cruise:

  • The ships are more like yachts and typically hold between 200-350 people or less
  • The food is fantastic
  • The service is fantastic
  • Every room is an exterior room
  • The stops are well planned and all have a lot to offer

Our Itinerary:

Click here to see our Itinerary

We also used Rosie Goldberger from Vanguard travel to help us plan our day trips and accommodations in Barcelona and Lisbon.

Our family loves history and exploring historical sites so we spent a majority of time exploring at each port.

Barcelona

To learn more about our time in Barcelona click here. We spent three days in Barcelona before setting sail on our cruise and enjoyed every minute of it.

Tarragona

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Ibiza

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Cartagena

We docked in Cartagena on Sunday so many of the restaurants and stores were closed.  However, we were able to tour a few historical sites and wonder the streets before heading back to the boat. The weather in Cartagena was beautiful and made it easy for us to explore. fullsizeoutput_97ee

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Granada

One of the highlights of our trip was visiting the Alhambra. The pictures we took do not even begin to do justice to this beautiful place. We hired a private driver and tour guide and took a day trip from port and it was one of the coolest things any of us had ever experienced. I would highly recommend hiring a driver and a tour guide if you plan on visiting the Alhambra.

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Malaga

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Tangier

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Lisbon

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We had so much fun on our cruise and would take another Windstar Cruise in a heartbeat.

Thanks for stopping by!

XOXO,

Traveling Honeymooners

Girl’s Trip: Bogota & Cartagena, Colombia

When my friend asked if I wanted to go to Colombia my response was “OF COURSE”!! I had never been to South America before and had been wanting to go for some time. We knew we had about ten days to spare and wanted a mixture of fun and relaxation and our trip was exactly that.

Since we only had ten days, we decided that two cities would be ideal. Bogota gave us the city vibe we were looking for and Cartagena gave us the relaxing beach atmosphere that we both crave.  My friend also has family that lives in Bogota, so we were able to meet up with them and see their home.

BOGOTA

The airport in Bogota is located in the city so it was easy to get to our hotel via taxi once we arrived in Bogota.

Accommodations 

We had originally booked a small hotel through Kayak.com but when we arrived at the hotel, it had been closed down…Yep! CLOSED.

We tried to call Kayak.com but they were not helpful at all so we quickly had to come up with plan B. DO NOT USE kayak.com for booking in Bogota. They are not helpful and WOULD NOT transfer our reservation to another hotel.

PLAN B:

We decided to stay at the JW Marriott in Bogota which did not disappoint! The hotel was beautiful. The breakfast buffet was delicious and had a variety of foods and lots of Colombian coffee. The rooms were very nice and spacious and the location was ideal. We were able to walk to shops and restaurants from out hotel which made it a great location for us.

Click here to see where we stayed in Bogota.

 

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Our Breakfast View

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Tea in the City

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Dinner in the Cutest Little Spot!

We had a blast salsa dancing with my friend’s family in Bogota! I wish I could remember the name of the place we went to because it was so much fun!

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Midnight Salsa Dancing

We couldn’t leave Bogota without climbing the famous Monseratte mountain. Monseratte houses a religious retreat and has been a pilgrim destination since the early 1650’s. When you climb the 3000 meter mountain, you can see panoramic views of the city and the sunset. You can walk or take a gondola to the top of the mountain.

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CARTAGENA

In Cartagena, we wanted to stay near the beach, Luckily we found the perfect Air B & B right across from the ocean! It was perfect. We stayed in a nice two bedroom condo that overlooked the beautiful waves. The condo is owned by two people from Denver, CO who we met during our stay. The condo had a nice pool area and was about a 20 minute walk or five minute cab ride to the Walled City. There was also a grocery store down the street so we shopped and ate one or two meals a day in our Air B & B. The arepas in Columbia definitely became a diet staple during our stay.

Accommodations 

Click here to see where we stayed in Cartagena.

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View From Our Air B & B

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The ancient Walled City in Cartagena has a romantic feel to it with cobblestone streets, musicians playing around every corner and horse drawn carriages roaming the streets. It is also a hub for restaurants, nightlife and shopping. We chose not to stay in the Walled City because we wanted a calmer vibe but went to the Walled City almost every night to enjoy cocktails and roam the streets.

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Entrance to the Walled City

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We stumbled across a concert in the old city!

 

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Gelato in the Old City

Cartagena has SO much to offer. We explored for four days and still felt like we could have explored more.

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Giant Sand Castle on the Beach

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Cartagena Art

Cartagena has so much art and history!

Cartagena Beach

Beach Outside Our Air B & B

Cartagena Beach

Weather

We traveled to Columbia in January and the weather was perfect. Bogota was chilly at night and about 80 degrees during the day. Cartagena was HOT! We did not need any jackets during our stay in Cartagena.

Getting Around

Language

I speak very little Spanish ( a skill I am working on improving) but my friend is fluent. To be honest, I think it would have been  difficult to get around without her ability to speak Spanish. If you are thinking of traveling to Columbia and do not speak Spanish, I would make sure to have a translator app and take picture of your destinations to show your cab drivers, I was grateful to be with her so she could help navigate.

Transportation

We either walked or took cabs in both Bogota and Cartagena and it worked well for us. We did take a short flight from Bogota to Cartagena which was very easy.

We both can not wait to go back! Next time we also want to explore other cities in Columbia because this beautiful country has so much to offer!

Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

Barcelona

Barcelona is one of our favorite cities! There is so much to do and see, the people are kind and the weather is beautiful! Mr. Traveling Honeymooner studied abroad in Barcelona many moons ago and fell in love with the city during his stay.

Our first trip to Barcelona together was back in August 2014 and ever since then we have wanted to go back! We were finally able to make it back to this beautiful city this past June. To celebrate Mrs. Traveling Honeymooner’s grandparents anniversary, the entire family decided to take a cruise out of Barcelona, so we chose to go a few days early to spend some time in one of our favorite places.

Accommodations:

Hotel Midmost Barcelona

Address: Carrer de Pelai, 14, 08001 Barcelona, Spain

We enjoyed our stay at Hotel Midmost. The rooms were a fair size, the breakfast buffet had a variety of foods to choose from, and the staff was very kind and helpful. The best part about the hotel was the location. Hotel Midmost is centrally located and is about two blocks from Las Rambles Street and is surrounded by shopping, restaurants and the Metro. It was very easy to get to all of the sites we wanted to see and it was easy to get a taxi at anytime during the day.

Our Sites:

Since Mrs. Traveling Honeymooner’s family had never been to Barcelona, we wanted them to experience the entire city in the short amount of time we had there so we decided to take a bike tour of the city. We had gone on this bike tour back in 2014 and loved it so we decided to take our family along for another tour. We used Fat Tire Bike Tours for our private tour. We saw so many sites and biked over 15 miles. Our group is pretty fit and all of us enjoy being outside and being active so we were OK with biking this much, but the guides would be willing to go at whatever pace works for you. Our family also loves history so our guide spent a significant amount of time telling us all about the history of each site we saw.  I wish I would have taken more pictures of all the beautiful sites we saw. I guess we will have to go back!

Tip: If you are traveling as a duo or small group, we recommend joining a group tour because you get to meet lots of people which is always fun. This is is what we chose to do in 2014. The downside is that you do not move as fast and may not have as much flexibility in the sites you want to see.

Fat Tire Bike Tours

Address: Carrer de Marlet’, 4, 08002 Barcelona, Spain

 

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For the rest of the trip we chose to visit some of the sites that we did not get to go into during the bike tour.

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We also surprised out Grandparents with a photoshoot at Parc Guell to commemorate our trip. I found the photographer on Fly Photography

Fly Photography is a super easy to use website that links travelers to a photographer in the city where they will be traveling. We loved our photographer and the pictures he took and found the service to be fairly reasonable and very reliable. Here are some photos from our photo shoot at Parc Guell! If you go to Barcelona, Parc Guell is a site to see.

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Thanks for reading!

XOXO

The Traveling Honeymoners

South Beach, Miami

We have had so much going on we have not had time to post in quite a while.  My hope is to post about what we have been up to for the last few months. Until then… one of the things that has kept us preoccupied, besides traveling is that we have a baby on the way!

Baby Girl Traveler is due in February!  With our due date quickly approaching and the weather in Houston being ultra crummy as of late, we knew we needed to get away. What better place to take a baby moon than South Beach?!

We were looking for a beach, good food, and fun activities to do and Miami fit the bill perfectly. We had the BEST baby moon!

Accommodations

Metropolitan By Como

We had a difficult time choosing which hotel to stay at because there are so many options in South Beach! We ended up choosing the Como because we liked that it was located a little bit further North, which provided us with a little bit more of a chill vibe. We were not looking to party and stay up all night. The location was just far enough North that we were able to get to everything we wanted to get to in a reasonable amount of time but not be in the thick of the crowds.

The hotel itself was very nice. The hotel staff was wonderful and very accommodating. We requested a room with a balcony and partial ocean view, which is exactly what we got. The full ocean view rooms at the Como do not have balconies and were much more expensive which wasn’t worth it to us because we knew we would be spending most of our time outdoors. The rooms were comfortable and updated. The beach and pool at the Metropolitan were both great too.

 

Ours Eats

We had some of the best food during our stay in South Beach. Every single meal was delicious and every restaurant was very accommodating to Mrs. Traveling Honeymooners gluten free needs. Some of our meals were quick snacks while others were elegant and fancy.

Breakfast, Brunch & Snacks

Pura Vida
110 Washington Ave #2, Miami Beach, FL 33139

Dirt
232 5th St, Miami Beach, FL 33139

Lillikoi Organic
500 South Pointe Dr #180, Miami Beach, FL 33139

Joe The Juice

1600 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139Traymore
2445 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33140

Lunch

Orange Blossom
2000 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139

Dinner

Upland
49 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139

Spriga
1228 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139

Joe Stone Crab
11 Washington Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139

Rosa Mexicano
1111 Lincoln Rd, Miami Beach, FL 33139

Dessert

Gelato-Go
458 Ocean Dr, Miami Beach, FL 33139

 

Our Activities

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Boardwalk

The boardwalk is a path that runs along the beach from the southern point of South Beach, all the way to North Beach. The path is beautiful and is perfect for walking or biking. We chose to walk and bike the boardwalk multiple times during our stay.

To learn more about the boardwalk click here. 

Lincoln Road Mall

Lincoln Mall is an outdoor mall which has clothing shops, art galleries, restaurants and bars.

To learn more about Lincoln Road Mall click here.

Art Festival

Miami is full of festivals and culture. There always seems to be something fun going on. The weekend we were there, the Art Deco Street Festival was in full swing. Ocean Drive was packed with vendors and s

Ocean Drive

Ocean Drive runs along the beach and is lined with restaurants, bars and shops. We had so much fun walking up and down Ocean Drive.  In the evenings, the road is blocked off so people can walk the streets and enjoy all that South Beach has to offer.

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Overall, we had a blast in Miami and were very sad to leave! Thanks for stopping by!

XOXO

Traveling Honeymooners

 

 

London, England

After wanting to go to London for years, we finally made it there!  We had a family trip planned for early June in Spain so we thought, “Why not stop in London for a few days on our way to Spain”! June in London is suppose to be beautiful so we thought it would be a perfect time to go, and it was.

Accommodations:

We chose to stay at the Marylebone Hotel in the Marylebone area. We chose the Marylebone area because it is centrally located, close to the underground train and very close to shops, restaurants and sites we wanted to see. The hotel had a modern chic feel to it and the bed was super comfortable which can be a rarity in Europe, in our experience. Apparently the hotel has a gym and a pool but we didn’t feel the need to workout and it was too cold to swim so we didn’t experience those spaces. It did have a wonderful restaurant and bar, which we visited quite a bit . They also offer gluten free afternoon tea service which we tried and enjoyed thoroughly.

Our Eats:

Marylebone Hotel Restaurant & Bar

Our travel agent, Rosie Goldberger with Vanguard Travel in Houston, Texas booked our hotel for us and was able to add in complimentary breakfast and tea service so of course we had to try the high tea and breakfast. We arrived in London around noon and were hungry so we made a reservation at the Marylebone Hotel Restaurant and Bar for afternoon tea service. Tea is served from 2:30 to 5:30pm every day so we made a reservation for 2:30 and walked around the neighborhood while we waited for our reservation. The dining room was comfortable and cozy. The food was very good and Mr. Traveling Honeymooner said “I can’t even tell that this is gluten free bread!”. We enjoyed our gluten free afternoon tea service at the Marylebone Hotel very much.

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For breakfast, they have a juice bar, offer al la carte options and a full continental breakfast. Mrs. Traveling Honeymooner ordered a green juice and Mr. Traveling Honeymooner tried the continental breakfast. One afternoon, before shopping we stopped by the hotel bar and ordered coffee. Best part was that they had almond milk for Mrs. Traveling Honeymooner’s cappuccino. Everything we had was very good.

Fortnum & Mason

We couldn’t go to London and miss tea at Fortnum & Mason! Fortnum & Maison is a department store that opened in 1707 and has a beautiful tea room on the fourth floor.

 

Joe’s Juice

Joe’s Juice was located about three or four blocks from our hotel and they had the best juices and smoothies! Mr. Traveling Honeymooner loves chocolate and he got a banana chocolate chip shake and Mrs. Traveling Honeymooner got the kale juice; both were so good! We went back twice during our stay.

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Our Sites:

We are fairly comfortable using public transportation when we are traveling because it is usually the fastest and cheapest way to get around. London has a variety of modes of transportation including taxis, the underground train, the above ground train and hop on, hop off buses. During our stay we used taxis, the underground train and the hop on hop off buses.

 

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Westminster Abbey

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Big Ben Clock Tower

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Buckingham Palace

We were so glad we got to see the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. If you are in the area, it is worth seeing. They preform the ceremony more often in the summertime than in the winter due to weather. The ceremony starts at 11 but will not happen if it is raining or the weather is bad because the outfits they wear are made from bear hide and can not get wet. We recommend checking with your hotel concierge to see if the changing of the guard ceremony will take place. If you want a good spot, we would recommend getting there around 10am.

The Crown Jewels were spectacular. We arrived around 11am and were lucky enough to be able to join a free walking tour of the grounds which took about an hour. We are so glad we got there earlier in the day because by around 2pm, the line to see the crown jewels was over two hours long.

Tips: Buy your tickets beforehand and go early in the morning before it gets overly crowded.

Entertainment

We couldn’t go to London without seeing a show! We had both been wanting to see Wicked for years and had heard that the best place to see it was in London. The show was FABULOUS!! The show was held at the Apollo Theater, which did not disappoint. We sat in the first middle section, near the back and could see everything perfectly.  If you have not seen Wicked, go see it! Especially if you loved the Wizard of Oz.

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We were only in London for a few days but the last day the temperature dropped and it started to pour! We were ready to get the heck out of there by the end of the last day and head for sunnier weather.

Overall, we had a great trip and can’t wait to go back! Except maybe next time we will go in July or August when it is less likely to sideways rain.

Thanks for stopping by!

The Traveling Honeymooners

Tips for Surviving a Long Flight

Long flights are inevitable when you have a passion for traveling, but they do not have to be uncomfortable and boring. Since we have been on many flights for various lengths of time, we have found a few things that help make the long journey a bit more enjoyable. We have compiled a list of things you can do to make the time fly by and keep your body and mind occupied during your long flight.

Walk Around 

Sitting for long periods of time is not good for our bodies in general and it is especially not good to sit for an extended length of time on an airplane. Making it a point to walk the aisles of the airplane during your long flight can help pass the time and avoid stiffness.

Exercise Before the Flight

Exercising before a flight can make a world of difference when traveling. When flying long distances, stiffness can set in which can be frustrating and lead to a lot of other health issues. Mrs. Traveling Honeymooner likes to do a high intensity workout before leaving for a new city because she has a difficult time sitting still for long periods of time.

Bring a Pilates Band

A pilates band is small, flexible and a great tool to do a simple workout on the plane! If you are going to sit on a plane for an excruciatingly long time, you might as well get an arm workout in, right?!

Bring Snacks

Traveling any length of time as someone with Celiac Disease can be tricky. Airlines typically serve snacks that are loaded with gluten! Pretzels, crackers… no thank you! We like to plan ahead and pack snacks that are easy to open, that are not messy and are gluten free. Just in case we get stuck somewhere, like that time we got stuck on the runway for twelve hours straight on the way home from Arizona..more on that later…Bottom line: it is always better to be prepared.

Bring DVD Copies of your Favorite Show or Movies

If you have a computer with a DVD drive (I know this is so last year now that the cool thing for Apple to do is make computers without these crazy things) then bring DVD’s of a TV series! We have found that it is impossible to stream Netflix or any other show we like to watch on an airplane so we like to kick it oldschool and watch DVD’s while traveling. During our flight to Asia, we watched almost the entire season of Gilmore Girls in preparation for the new release of “A Year in a Life”.

Sleep

Is there a better way to pass the time than sleeping? I think not. If you want a more in depth article on when to sleep on a plane and how to beat jet lag, then click here. The point is, pack your pajamas and eye mask so you can feel comfortable enough to sleep.

Pack the Essentials in your Carryon Bag

We have not checked a bag in over four years and have traveled around the world in a carry on bag each. Yes, you read that correctly, one carry on bag each. And we normally travel for extended periods of time. So we always have our essentials with us on board but if you like packing in large suitcases, make sure to out the things you need in your carry on.

Read or Listen to a Book

We have an app called Audible, and before each flight we download a book or two so we can listen to that during the flight.

We hope these tips and tricks help you prepare for your next flight!

XOXO,

The Traveling Honeymooners

Amarante, Portugal

Mr. Traveling Honeymooner was unable to join us on this leg of the trip, unfortunately, because he had to return home to go back to work. Boring eh?! We forgive him though because by the time we made it to Portugal, we had already been traveling Europe for about three weeks, with my family. Anyhow, I stayed behind with a few family members and we toured part of the Douro Valley and Amarante during our stay. Everywhere we visited was absolutely gorgeous and boy did we have a blast! I think we ate and drank more in the last four days of our trip than the rest of the trip combined! By the way, eating paleo ad gluten free in Portugal is as easy as can be, so I got to eat my little heart out.  If you are interested in our time in Porto and the Douro Valley, stay tuned…more post to come!

We had the pleasure of visiting this little town on our way back to Porto from the Douro Valley and loved every minute of it. Amarante is a small village with a population of about 12,000 people and is located in the northern Portuguese district of Porto, right on the Tamega River. It is a quint town that has a cozy and creative feel to it. When we arrived, we immediately felt a sense of calmness. We had to stop for a few minutes and just take in the views. There were not many people wandering the streets but we felt welcome and at ease. Even though the town center is small, they had a city center with restaurants, shops and a market. My favorite shop was an art supply store that was located along the main road. The store was small but had everything one would need to paint a beautiful piece of art or draw a pretty picture. The thought that kept running through my head as I walked the street was, ” I want to stay here for a week and just paint what I am experiencing.”

 

We visited the Sao Goncalo convent and church that is right across from the center of town. The first thing we noticed was that the doors of the empty church were open and it was free to enter. This was a bit shocking to us because we had been in Europe for about three weeks at that point and have never been able to enter a national monument for free. Once we walked in, we immediately noticed the gold leaf that lined the walls, which was stunning. We learned that Napoleon tried to demolish Amarate during his time and was successful in destroying almost half of the city, including one of the bridges that was located in the center of town.  The original pictures still hung on the walls but had large pieces of frame missing because Napoleon’s army removed parts of the gold leaf coated frames to see if more gold was hiding inside.

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A luxury hotel sits in the heart of Amarante called Casa da Calcada, where the Michelin Star restaurant Largo do Paco can be found. We did not get the chance to eat here because we were full from our fantastic lunch in the Douro Valley, but we have made a note to come back one day.

IMG_1103This small town has so much history that you can feel, just by looking around. Above is a picture of the floods they have had over the years. To give you perspective, the lowest waterline that was recorded was almost six inches over my head and I am 5’6”.

This little town has so much to offer. The people are kind, the sites are exquisite and the history dates back to the 4th century. My wish is to return here some day soon with Mr. Traveling Honeymooners and stay a night or two in Casa da Calcada.

Thank you for stopping by!

XOXO

Mrs. Traveling Honeymooner