2017 is over and I wanted to do a recap blog post! This is my first year recap post but I think it’ll be really fun to look back on! This year was full of travel and amazing experiences and I can’t wait to see what’s in stores for 2018! My hubby and I are going on another trip in a few weeks, followed by house hunting, and then a few more trips! The year was full of great memories, but I only want to share a few because I don’t want this blog post to go on forever!

TOP MEMORIES:

  1. My husband and I hiked the Inca trail in March! Seeing Machu Picchu has always been on the top of my bucket list and it was amazing! I was running on adrenaline the whole time but once we were at the airport my body just gave up! It was a little rainy but the clouds parted and we had perfect weather once we got to Machu Picchu on day 4! The food in Peru is amazing, the people are so friendly, and I love all the llamas! We would love to go back to Peru and see more of the country since we were only there for a quick hike! Watch the vlog of the trip here: Day 1. Day 2. Day 3. Day 4.

2. Speaking of bucket lists.. going to Zermatt was on my husbands bucket list! We went to Switzerland in May and it was sooooo beautiful! We spent about 2 weeks traveling around by car and train and every second was scenic! Definitely one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been to! Watch the vlogs of this trip here.

3. We went paragliding for the first time in Interlaken, Switzerland! It was sooooo much fun! I was so nervous about it and almost chickened out, but I’m so glad I did it! The second my feet left the ground and I looked down and saw a herd of sheep running around I was in awe! Watch this vlog here.

4. Seeing wild elephants in Sri Lanka was definitely a yearly highlight! We spent about 10 days traveling through Sri Lanka! This trip was amazing but super tiring! We basically went town to town every day and did a lot of walking in the hot weather! It wasn’t an easy trip but it was one of those trip thats great to look back on and think about all the memories! Watch the vlog with all the elephants here!

5. After stumbling through Sri Lanka, we relaxed in the MALDIVES! Clearly this list wouldn’t be complete if I didn’t add this to the list! Besides being in the Maldives, at a 5 star resort, and staying in an overwater bungalow, what made this trip even more amazing was the fact that I was here for one of my very first PR work! We spent thanksgiving week in paradise and I had so much to be thankful for! Watch the Maldives vlogs here.

6. Funny to say that this specific work day in Miami was a highlight to the year…but it was! I remember we set our alarms early on a weekend, drove through crazy traffic, all to film a video and take some photos of two different products with two different companies. I just remember we spent ours doing it, sweating, and burning my butt on the hot pavement! This day made me feel like I could actually turn what I love doing into actual work! Watch this days vlog here and here.

7. My husband is being transferred to a new unit in Washington, a unit that requires more time away. The amount of days an active duty person gets to spend at home isn’t always a lot.. but this year we were lucky with that! This is one of my favorite photos taken this year.

 

10 PLACES WE WENT IN 2017:

  1. Crystal River, FL
  2. Seattle, WA
  3. Vancouver, Canada
  4. Peru
  5. Switzerland
  6. Sri Lanka
  7. Maldives
  8. St. Augustine, FL
  9. Bahia Honda, FL
  10. Port Everglades, FL

10 PLANS FOR 2018:

  1. Paris, France
  2. Banff, Canada
  3. Namibia
  4. Cape Canaveral, FL
  5. Key West, FL
  6. Cross Country Road Trip
  7. Iceland
  8. Australia
  9. New Zealand
  10. BUY A HOUSE!

What a year it has been! I am so excited for another year of adventures in 2018! Thank you all so so SO much for following along on my journey of life! It’s so fun and special to share it with all of you. Happy New Year everyone!

Five days in the Maldives at the Sun Aqua Vilu Reef came and went so fast! Somehow the weather was perfect the entire time, despite having bad weather the week before arriving and it being windy and rainy on our departing day. Everywhere you go on this little island was a photo op! It was beautiful everywhere! The water was shockingly blue and I couldn’t get over how crystal clear it was! There’s plenty of fun activities to do like jet skiing, snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking… or you can just lay around and find a comfy hammock! I now understand why people go on vacations like this!

My husband and I checked out of our hotel in Udawalawe and walked 5 minutes to the nearest bus station. Click here if you want $20 off your next hotel stay. It costs 240 rupees to get from Udawalawe to Wellawaya (transfer here) and then another 160 rupees to go the rest of the way to Ella. A total of $2.60 USD for two adults, and it took about 3 hours.

We stayed at The View Ella hotel for 1 night. The location was decent, but it was hard to find if you plan on walking from the bus station. The rooms had A/C, the pool was nice, and the view was amazing at night. Overall the room was ok…not as nice as the $17 hotel in Udawalawe, but it did its job.

After checking into the hotel we walked into town and asked a few tuk tuk drivers for a ride to the Nine Arches Bridge. All three tuk tuk drivers were charging a ridiculous price to go 2.5km away! We ended up finding a spot to rent a scooter. To our surprise it cost 1500 rupees ($9.80 USD) to rent one for the entire day! A way better deal than 500 rupees for a one way trip. As long as you have a valid ID, no other documents needed! Just be sure to refuel when you’re done (add another 200 rupees or $1.30 USD)

Driving in Ella was a new experience, winding through traffic, driving on the left side of the road, going on dirt roads… but it all made the memories better! I recommend it if you’re comfortable on a bike!

Our first stop in Ella was the Nine Arches Bridge. We followed directions from Google Maps and had no trouble finding it! At first you might second guess yourself, asking if you’re going the right way because of the narrowness of the road and the conditions of it…but trust me– trust google!

To be honest, I forgot to take photos after the bridge! My hubby and I decided to just drive around and see Ella how a local would. We went down random roads and came across a buddhist monastery on top of a mountain! It was still under construction, but we met a buddhist monk and ended up having a thirty minute conversation with the guy just chatting about Buddhism! It was a very “live in the moment” moment. 

The train station is just a short walk away from the hotel we were staying at. We took the 7am, 6.5 hour train ride from Ella to Kandy and it costs 480 rupees ($3.13 USD) for two people 2nd class seats. This was supposedly the “worlds most scenic train ride”, and it was scenic…for the first 2 hours! After that it just got hotter, louder, and bumpier! It was a rough ride to be honest! Both my husband and I got cranky and a headache that lasted a while!

Click here to see the ELLA video on youtube!

SUN AQUA VILU REEF

You better add the Sun Aqua Resort to your bucket list! This spot in the Maldives is perfection! I love how small the island was, even when the resort was fully booked, there was still plenty of room on the island to make it feel like you’re alone on a private island, but with all the luxury features! My husband and I stayed in the Reef Villa for 4 nights and 5 days! The weather was perfect, the food was delicious, and the villa…well just keep reading!

Seeing this view for the first time was a moment to remember! I’ve always seen photos of overwater bungalows on Pinterest and instagram, but I never thought that I would be in a place as beautiful as this! The water is amazing blue and clear! It was almost unreal!

There are a few of these platforms located across the villas, making a great photo spot, break spot while snorkeling, or to just take in the view at sunset!

Having water access from the villa was my favorite part! I love how easy it was to go from the super salty water to the shower! haha. It also gives you the perfect excuse to go snorkeling at any time of day! I definitely took advantage of this feature!

Waking up to this view was out of this WORLD! My husband and I got the room facing east which made sunrises an excuse to wake up early and start your day off right. With the time change, sunrise came easy for us, and you can get a beautiful view of the sunset at dinner or the beach… or really anywhere on the island!

Our own little escape! Love the privacy and relaxation of the view! I’m not the one to plan a lazy/relaxing vacation…so this trip was a HUGE change for me. I love being forced to relax and enjoy the moment! It made me realize that maybe I should take more stress free trips! The outdoor Jacuzzi tub truly spoiled me!

I’m a sucker for a good pillow and heavy comforters! It’s so cozy! Also, if you notice those black buttons underneath the drawers on the side tables– those are the light switches! Simple things but so crucial when you’re laying in bed and don’t want to get out of bed to turn the lights off! 

Some serious bathroom inspiration right here! A tub overlooking the water, rainfall shower head, and stone tiles everywhere! YASSSSS. I’m currently house hunting–and I just want to take this bathroom and put it in whatever house we pick!

MALDIVES VLOGS COMING SOON TO YOUTUBE!

Thank you so much Sun Aqua Vilu Reef for hosting me! It was a dream and I can’t wait to return!

My husband and I checked out of our hotel in Tangalle at 6am and took a private van (arranged by the hotel) to Udawalawe. We stayed at Hotel Athgira, right across the street from an elephant orphanage and a 10 minute drive to Udawalawe National Park.

GET $20 OFF ANY HOTEL STAY FROM BOOKING.COM

The private van ride cost $5000 rupees, equivalent to $30 USD, and took about 2 hours. In my opinion it was well worth the money and was a nice break from the hectic bus stations.

We arrived at our hotel rather early and wasn’t able to check into our room, but the staff was incredibly helpful and kind (we were also given fresh mango juice on arrival!). They allowed us to leave our bags in the lobby and then called a safari tour to come pick us up. Since we were traveling in Sri Lanka during the off season, it was a super simple process to arrange a half day tour, we also got the jeep tour to ourselves!

On the drive towards the park we passed a huge field full of elephants out by a lake and we even got up close and personal with one elephant that was hanging out by the fence eating grass. I want to mention that these elephant are in fact behind a fence and with the magic of editing I was able to get rid of the fence in a few photos. I do not recommend approaching a wild animal–especially one of this size!

COST FOR TWO ADULTS: **There’s no ATM in the town of Udwalawe, so make sure you have cash prior to your visit!**

A three hour tour within the National Park (pay with cash): 3500 rupees (22 USD)

Entrance fee for the park (pay with card): 7000 rupees (45 USD)

Tip for driver: Any price, but we gave 1200 rupees (8 USD)

TOTAL: 75 USD

 

Udawalawe National Park is HUGE! We saw elephants, crocodiles, birds, monkeys, buffalo and more! The best time to go is in the morning. Towards the end of our 3 hour tour most of the animals where underneath trees hanging out in the shade to escape the heat.

 

After the Udawalawe National Park safari we were dropped off at our hotel and decided to go see the elephant orphanage. They do baby elephant feedings at certain times of the day so that was great to see! It costs 1000 rupees for two people ($6.50 USD) Besides the park and the elephant orphanage there’s not a lot to do in the town itself, but you can hop on a bus and head to Pelmadulla where theres places to grab something to eat or cash from an ATM!

CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE YOUTUBE VIDEO FROM THIS DAY!