Weekend Trip to San Diego

I’ve been to San Diego before, but never done a full post about it! The good thing is that you can either drive or fly. This time we found cheap flights on Frontier for only $39 on way so less than $80 round trip which made it worth my time to fly. We went for my friend’s 30th birthday and we had soooo much fun!

Where We Stayed

We stayed in Mission Beach here, There were 10 girls total so we each paid $153 for 2 nights. It was a great location we could walk to the beach, restaurants and coffee shops.

We walked to Hot Tub Cursin, Boat Rental and rented a pontoon with a boat on it. You have to nominate a friend to be the driver, but it was so cheap! They dump the water and refill it after each use so it wasn’t gross. It was great for our big group and only $42 each for 2 hours. We brought our own towels, but they can provide towels and even ice in a cooler.

Where to Eat

Where To Go Out

There are a few different areas to go out in San Diego. Pacific Beach you could walk or take a scooter from our Airbnb. Downtown was about a 20 minute uber ride, but recommend for a Saturday night.

Pacific Beach:

Downtown:

 

Barcelona

How We Got There

We booked pretty late about 1.5 out from our trip, but I believe we could have found a cheaper flight. We paid $590 per person roundtrip from Chicago directly to Barcelona on Norwegian airlines. This is a low cost airline so don’t expect anything free. The nice thing is you can order food, drinks and snacks directly from your seat. You just swipe your card and the attendant will bring you your food a few minutes later.

Where We Stayed

Because we were in a group of 5 we wanted to all stay together. In Europe, many hotels only allow for two people rooms either a king bed or two twin beds so we chose to stay at Airbnbs.

We stayed here for two nights and then we stayed here for two additional nights.

Sights to See

  • Park Guell

Buy tickets here ahead of time because they sell out! It was under construction a bit when we arrived via taxi. Beautiful views of the city.

  • La Sagrada Familia

The famous church you should also buy tickets ahead of time here, because they sell out too.

  • Arch de Triomf

Places to Eat

  • Catalana

Churros and THE best sangria!!

Last, you can get Tapas anywhere. They were pretty affordable you just pick out the ones you want and they heat them up for you!

 

 

Lebanon

My boyfriend is from Beirut so we took a trip to see his family. I was pleasantly surprised how much there is to do and see. I ate so much amazing mediterranean food including salad, hummus and falafel.

Places to See

  • Beirut
    • Inhabited since 3,000 BC (top 10 oldest cities in the world)
  • Cedars of God
    • The Cedars of God is over a 2 hour drive from Beirut
    • Entrance fee to help keep preserved
    • Shops in the area for souvenirs build out of Cedar wood
    • Wood was exploited by Phoenicians and other empires to build merchant ships due to the strength of the wood
    • UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Rooftop bars
    • Capitole Restaurant and Bar in Downtown Beirut
    • Iris in Biel – Downtown Beirut
    • Spine – Beirut
  • Mount Lebanon
  • Beach & Pool resorts
    • La Siesta is about 10 minutes from the city of Beirut. It costs about $27 per person to get in, but you get access to a private beach and pools.
    • Orchid costs about $29 per person to get in and you also get a private beach, pool and towel service.

  • Lady Mary – Harissa – Our Lady of Lebanon
    • You can do the Lady Mary and the Jeita Grotto in one day for $12 USD. The cableway transports you from the grotto to the top of the mountains for a great view from Harissa.

  • Jeita Grotto
    • The limestone caves were on my bucket list to see. There were two parts of the grotto which you can’t bring your phone (of course I snuck mine): the upper and lower. The upper part you get to walk through and the lower part you take a small boat through.
  • Byblos
    • Byblos is an amazing, beautiful coastal city. It only takes about 30 minutes from Beirut. If you are looking to buy souvenirs, Byblos is the place to do it!
    • Oldest continuity inhabited city in the world from 5,000 BC (second oldest city overall dating back between 8,800 BC – 7,000 BC)

  • Paradise Waterfalls Bakkline
    • Here I go chasing waterfalls again. These are a little over a hour from the city of Beirut. When we got there we were a little confused because there’s two parts. One part is surrounded by a restaurant and the other is a pool that you have to pay to get into. If you have the time and it’s a nice day I would recommend bringing a swim suit and spending the day there.

How I Got There

I used my Chase bonus points and only paid about $100 for my ticket PHX>LHR>BEY then back to Phoenix. Review the best credit cards here.

I chose the Chase Sapphire Reserve. Check out my post here for the benefits.

48 Hours in NYC

So this is my third time in NYC and I can’t believe I’ve never posted about it!! My friend Keeley lives there so she did a great job planing our weekend.

First, I flew into JFK and split a taxi which was cheaper than Uber with my friend. It cost around $70 with tip in the the city to my friends apartment in West Village.

Work Out

I’ve been dying to try Barry’s bootcamp. Since we don’t have it in Scottsdale I had to try during my time in NYC. The one con is it’s $30+ a class, but it’s worth it. You can even pre-order shakes so they are ready for you once you are done with the class.

Eats & Drinks

Lil Frankies

Touristy Things

Get your steps in and head to Central Park. New York in the spring is absolutely stunning while all the flowers are blooming!

Cartagena Colombia

We flew from Cusco with two stops in Lima and Bogota before getting to the coastal city of Cartagena. We were lucky and were able to get on earlier flights for no extra cost. Originally we were going to waste almost a whole day of traveling. Cartagena reminded be in a way of Miami. My favorite parts were the amazing food and colored buildings.

Where We Stayed

We stayed at the Hyatt Regency Cartagena which was an amazing location right across from the beach, mall and tons of restaurants. We stayed a total of 3 nights which was a perfect amount of time to explore the city. It only cost 8,000 points a night (24,000 total) which I was able to transfer directly from my Chase credit card points directly to Hyatt points. We loved the amenities here including the gym, pool and restaurant. The breakfast buffet was amazing with fresh juices, omelet bar, and so much more.

Where We Ate

  1. Mangata for dinner!!
  2. Kai Sushi Wok one of the best poke bowls of my life!!
  3. Crepe & Waffles which we found out is a chain in Colombia
  4. Desayunos for breakfast
  5. Cafe Del Mar for drinks. Warning: self seating and hard to get a table during sunset. The service was pretty bad, but it has a great view of the ocean.
  6. Cookie Jaar- $2 ice cream sandwich combos

Old Town

Everything You Need To Know About Machu Picchu

How We Got There

Points. Duh. I found a one way on United for 20k points a person + $48 taxes from CMH to Lima, Peru. That is THE cheapest I’ve found for an international one way using points on United. So total 40k points for my boyfriend and myself. With that said, United is my favorite airline for international travel.

We bought flights from Lima to Cusco on Avianca for less than $100 a person. There are flights just about every hour.

From Cusco, we flew to Lima, to Bogota to Cartagena. We paid $392 total for two people using Kiwi.com. $392/2= $196 a person.

From Cartagena we paid $1535 for two people. $1535/2=$767.50. including 2 checked bags!

Our trip was a hotel of 10 days and that was the perfect amount of time. Two days in Lima, 5 days in Cusco (the Inca trail is a 4 day hike if you want to do that) and 3 days in Colombia.

Where We Stayed

We only stayed in Lima for 2 nights which was plenty of time. We got there late and stayed a Second Home Peru which was a recommendation from the Chase Sapphire Reserve Facebook group that I’m in. Second Home had THE best breakfast included and it was so cute. Located in Barranco we were able to walk to the parks, beach and sites. We paid $330 total for four nights and stayed in a room with our friends. We ended up paying $30 extra each since breakfast was included so make sure to put the exact amount of people staying in the room when you book. So $330/4 people = $82.50 for two nights… not bad. I’ll total everything at the end so you have an idea of how much I spent.

In Cusco, we stayed at the Esplendor which is a boutique Wydham hotel for 5 nights. It was a pretty central location and we walked to restaurants and shops. We paid a little over $100 per night. The room service we ordered was probably one of my favorite meals. The hotel staff was very helpful and sets you up with tours and gives you coco tea which helps with attitude sickness. Last, breakfast was included and you can set up transportation to and from the airport ahead of time through the hotel.

Pro tip: book on your Capital One Venture Credit Card at hotels.com/venture for 10x the points.

Where We Ate

One of our best meals of the trip was at Isolina in Lima. Literally a 2 minute walk from our hotel this place was very trendy and packed!! We made a reservation the night before. It was definitely one of our pricier meals, but totally worth it.

In Cusco, to be 100% transparent. We didn’t have the best food. There are chicken and pizza places EVERYWHERE. Plus, the food was pretty bland. Don’t expect a lot, but there is a McDonald’s and KFC if all else fails lol. Get drinks at Paddy’s Irish pub which is the highest own pub.

For a healthier option for to Las Frescas for salads and smoothies and avocados are so cheap and beautifully displayed below.

Machu Picchu

We did a day trip to Machu Picchu. We took an early train out at 6:40am. The recommend getting there 30 mins early so 6:10am. There is a cafe where you can buy breakfast, snacks, coffee and tea. Buy tickets in advance here. They only sell a specific amount per day. You don’t get a confirmation email, so make sure you print everything at the time you book. You can also buy your tickets on Peru Rail ahead of time here. The scenery is so beautiful and you can relax. We bought the cheaper tickets, but you can buy VIP with an open bar. The Peruvians don’t recommend drinking that much at such a high altitude.

Buy bus tickets when you get to Cusco ahead of time. We made the mistake of not and waited 2 hours.. in the rain. We could have bought them at the hotel for $25/person. You can’t buy these online or at Peru Rail. We only had about 2 hours inside Machu Picchu before we

Here are the steps:

  1. Taxi to Poroy train station from Cusco (less than 30 mins)
  2. Peru rail (3 hours each way from Poroy aka Cusco)
  3. Bus from Aguas Calientes up to Machu Picchu (30 mins)
  4. Bus down (30 mins)
  5. Peru rail back to Cusco (3 hours)
  6. Taxi back to hotel (less than 30 mins)

Once you get into the park it’s pretty crowded. Be sure to bring ponchos and portable chargers because it could be a long rainy day like ours. It was pretty clear during our 2 hours spent in the park.

We even found llamas❤️

On the way out of the park, make sure you bring your passport so you can get the Machu Picchu stamp!

Other Day Trips from Cusco

  1. Salinas aka the salt flats
  2. Rainbow Mountain

I highlyyy recommend private tours. We didn’t want to spend 18 hours in a car. Split between 4 people both tours were around $30/person. Salinas was about 2.5 hours to get there. Rainbow Mountain was about 3 hours each way. The hike took about 1.5 hours. It is HARD because of the altitude, but so rewarding. I recommend bringing snacks and water. I wore a ton of layers because you do get warm, but at the top it’s pretty cold in late December. I would look at weather ahead of time because during wet season can be hit or miss. I read a ton of blogs how people had horrible weather and it was foggy so you couldn’t even see anything, but we lucked out.

I’ll be posting soon on where we went from Cusco! I hope this was helpful. If you have any questions email me at jetsetbrunette247@gmail.com.

 

 

48 Hours in Dubai

Ohhh how I loved Dubai, but really….I would move there. Dubai is a desert so yes it’s hot. When we arrived there was a dust storm and it wasn’t good visibility of the skyline. I recommend going during later months (not August like us), but whenever you can go go. It’s a once in a lifetime trip.

Aquarium in the Mall
Burj Khalifa
Burj Al Arab

Where We Stayed

The Conrad. The Conrad is a Hilton brand. I am obsessed because I used to work for Hilton. I used 34,000 Hilton points for one night. The best part is our flight wasn’t until late so they let us check out at 7pm (the latest late check out I’ve ever had). Which was much needed because it’s so hot you need at least 2 showers a day there.

This was in a great location right across from the metro. It has a pool and a spa. The do deals throughout the summer so I got a 30 minute massage and 30 minute facial for $88. Not. Too. Bad. Right?

Conrad Spa

Where We Ate

There’s tons of places to eat at the mall. Not gonna lie…we weren’t local the whole time. We had Cheesecake Factory and Paul Bakery. I even heard they are getting a Chick-Fil-A soon.

For dinner, I highly recommend Zuma. If you like sushi there’s a ton of different options.

Zuma salmon

Also for breakfast or coffee I highly recommend Paul Baker. You’ll see the latte and crepes above 😋.

There are also a ton of restaurants by the Burj Khalifa. Which is a perfect spot to watch the fountains, much like the ones in Las Vegas Bellagio, but better!!

Just know Dubai is pretty pricey. You only need a few days there. I wish we would have had more time to see the Sheikh Zayed Mosque, but maybe next time.

Overall, we didn’t get a rental car. It was easy to around the metro station was right in front of our hotel, but we aware there is a women’s section!! Rayan and I were standing in the all pink section and didn’t notice why everyone was looking at us. It’s for women and children LOL.

Road Trip From Denver to Seattle

My college best friend, Ashley told me she was going to drive herself from Denver to Seattle by herself for her new adventure doing travel nursing. My first thoughts? How long is that drive? Are you breaking it up? Where are you stopping? She goes into telling me everyone doesn’t have the time off and she was just going to do it…alone. She proceeds to tell me its 21 hours in total, but she plans to stop in Yellowstone National Park to camp during the first night. Then, stop in Boise, Idaho the second night to finish in Seattle on the third day. Okay…I’m in.

I won’t dive into what to do in Denver since I barely spent time there on this trip, but if you are looking for things to do or places to eat find my Denver post here!

Day 1

Tip: my friend got the “America the Beautiful” annual park pass here. This pass paid for itself on this trip. For $80 a year you can get into a ton of National Parks and your guests too! We could use it at Yellowstone, Grand Tetons and the Lava River tube in Bend, Oregon (from our road trip).

Things to know about the pass:

  • Covers entrance fees at national parks and national wildlife refuges as well as standard amenity fees at national forests and grasslands, and at lands and waters managed by the Bureau of Land Management, and Bureau of Reclamation and the Army Corps of Engineers.
  • Passes are punched at the time of sale and valid one full year from month of purchase (through the last day of the month).
  • Allows a pass owner and all passengers in a private vehicle, or the pass owner and 3 adults at sites where per-person fees are charged.
  • When using your pass, photo identification will be required to verify ownership.

We started driving from Denver to Yellowstone National Park. This took about 9 hours from Denver. We drove the whole park which took quite some time. We left around 6am and didn’t top exploring until 10pm. The good thing is there is so much daylight in the summer. The sun didn’t set until 9pm! We came from the south entrance and started west towards our first stop at Old Faithful. Then drove counter clock wise up to Mammoth Hot Springs, Tower Fall, then following the Yellowstone River to Yellowstone Lake.

Day 2

We woke up in Yellowstone then drove a short distance to the Grand Tetons National Park to Jackson hole. Jackson Town is known for the old western theme. We went to Persephone Bakery for a turmeric latte for some caffeine so finish the drive. Once we got to Idaho, I found the Shoshone Falls near Twin Falls, Idaho on Pinterest. It was $3 per car (cash) to get in. Apparently Shoshone is taller than Niagara Falls! It was super hot the day we went so we just snapped a couple pictures from the lookout points then headed on to Boise.

Places to Eat: The STIL (Sweetest Things In Life) was the cutest ice cream shop in downtown Boise. They also offered beer, wine and alcohol infused ice cream and floats. You must show your ID to try the infused flavors. STIL had a great modern atmosphere… I would highly recommend!

Day 3

On the third day, we started our morning in Boise to Bend, Oregon. This stop was a bit out of the way to Seattle, but I highly recommend. It reminded me of a mountain town in Colorado. About 20 minutes from bend is the Lava River Tube which is over a mile long underground.

Places to Eat: Spork in Bend, Oregon. We went to Spork around 5:30pm for dinner and the line was already superrrr long. The service is great and offer drinks while you are in line. We asked the server what was good and the story of Spork since they had a ton of reviews on Yelp for such a small town. It started as a food truck then expanded into an Asian and Mexican fusion. We ordered 4 small plates which was about perfect. They are known for their spicy fried chicken which I recommend.

We ended up being in Bend on the first Friday of July which had a ton of live music and art open until about 8pm. It seemed like everyone was out enjoying the food, breweries and shopping Bend has to offer.

Day 4

The final day was about a 5.5 hour drive from Bend to Seattle. There’s not much to stop at along the way other than Portland.

Below is a picture from our friends rooftop. Seattle is such a beautiful city with so much to offer. To see what I did on a previous trip check out my Seattle post here.

And that wraps up our PNW road trip. If you have 5 days to take this road trip is totally doable. You can book two one ways and rent a car to make it pretty affordable.

Vancouver

Where We Stayed

Hilton Vancouver Metrotown which costs $189 CAD/night or $146 USD per night. It was a really central location. We rented a car one day from Enterprise.

Things To Do

  1. Suspension Bridge- the famous bridge cost $46 per person. Buy tickets online to by-pass the line! Be sure to take advantage of the free shuttle that runs from a few major hotels. We took it from the Hyatt Regency downtown and was about a 25 minute shuttle to and from the hotel.
  2. Rent a car and drive north to the mountains! We rented from this Enterprise which was only less than a 30 minute walk from our hotel for $45 CAD for a day rental
  3. Stanley Park-you can rent bikes or walk around the huge park filled with flowers.
  4. Olympic Park
  5. Whistler-we walked around the village and took the gondola between the peaks. It cost about $45 a person, but the views were worth it! There are even restaurants at the top of the mountains. The had free tub rentals and trails to hike. I couldn’t believe how much snow there was still in May!

Eat

Check out the Gas town and Yale town for dinner. Yale town seemed like the trendy place to be. We went to The Banter Room for dinner. They had a fun ambiance and deals on alcohol. Overall, Vancouver and Whistler were so easy to get around. We went for a total of 3 days and took the Translink almost everywhere for $10 CAD a day for unlimited rides. It was super clean and easy to use.

Rocky Point 2.0

This was my second trip to Rocky Point in Puerto Penasco, Mexico. Just a 4 hour drive to “Arizona’s beach” from Phoenix. This time we decided to stay at Las Palomas resort.

Things to do: our favorite bar which was a short taxi ride away is Wrecked at the Reef from our resort. This trip we didn’t do much exploring out of the resort, but you can rent jet skis or ATV.

All the food and drinks were between $5-$10… so cheap.

Shout out to my friends who all split this amazing Airbnb with me for my birthday weekend. We stayed here which was $192 a person for 2 nights. This place holds 10 people but let us know at check in we could have 11 people for $20 extra per night. The Airbnb host was very responsive. I would highly recommend staying here! Although, it isn’t a penthouse (top floor), the balcony has amazing beach views and amazing sunsets.

Pro: Las Paloma’s is very safe. It has all the amenities you would want for a vacation including multiple pools, hot tubs, beach access, swim up bar and restaurants on site. They even had a cleaning service every day. Last, the pool hosts fun events like cooking classes and daily deals with drinks. For example, you get 2 for 1 drinks between 2-3pm.

Cons: no visitors in Las Palomas. Our friends were staying at another hotel and because they didn’t have wristbands they couldn’t access to our pool. Security was every whereeeee. We asked the front desk and they wouldn’t even let us buy them day passes. Also, they wouldn’t let us check out pool towels on the day of check out. Be sure to bring towels from your room if you plan to use the amenities on the day of check out.