Scotland 6.17

As per usual my friend Chrissy called me back in December advising there is a cheap nonstop flight through Delta going to Scotland, $457.26 to be exact. As per usual tickets were immediately booked, Scotland has always been on my bucket list!

Last month five girlfriends and I left for JFK on a Thursday night, and 6 hours later (mixed with insane turbulence) we awoke in Scotland thank god! We picked up our sweet ride at Enterprise and were off to see the Castles. FYI in Scotland they drive on the other side of the road. There were some close calls but I must say Chrissy did a great job navigating.

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First stop was Stirling Castle:

Second stop Edinburgh Castle:

We then drove to our B&B in the country side in Stirling and literally stayed in a stable. The outside was a dream…inside not so much. It was funny after the fact but note to self, never book an Airbnb that shows only one image of the inside.

The next morning we awoke early and set out for our top secret excursion. Every trip we take, my friend Chrissy always tests our limits and books some kind of adventure never telling us what or where we are going and doing until we get there. Talk about nerves! We always harass Chrissy to give us clues but she never budges.

 On our way to our “Secret Excursion” we stopped a few times over by the Highlands to explore the beautiful scenery. I must say the drive was stunning. The green rolling hills looked like something out of a movie…totally breathtakingly beautiful. I was completely obsessed and in love with all the little lambs.

We finally arrived in Glencoe and came to this little beach town called Oban which was super cute. We were told to strip in our mini van and get in our bikinis. Next thing I know another mini van pulls up and starts unloading all this equipment including helmets and wetsuits…panic sets in. 

I am informed I am going “Coasteering“. Coasteering is basically rock climbing on the side of the cliff with the ocean underneath you. We had an amazing instructor who put all our fears to rest. It was super fun and talk about a work out! It truly was a one of a kind of experience. I never heard of Coasteering before and I am pretty sure you can only do it there. At the end we all faced our fears and jumped off one of the high cliffs. ( I swear it looked higher in person then it appears on my video! ) 

For those looking for something different to do in Scotland you MUST reach out to Hebridean Pursuits to book your perfect adventure!

After a fun filled day in the ocean risking our lives we headed to our second B&B in Lochearnhead. IT. WAS. STUNNING. The charming Victorian cottage was built in the 1800’s. This place was full of history even still having the servant’s bells. The grounds were full of the most beautiful flowers I have ever seen and the cottage over-looked the river. The inside had the cutest bedrooms equipped with vanities and floral decor, bathrooms with clawfoot tubs which I obviously loved, gorgeous dining room overlooking the river, sitting room etc. The hosts were incredibly nice and welcoming. This was literally one of the best places I have ever stayed at. 

That night we went to a local pub overlooking the river.  I tried the Cullen Skink soup, a thick Scottish soup made of smoked haddock, potatoes and onions which was amazing.

The view at 10pm:

Before leaving for the airport to head home we were treated to an amazing breakfast in the formal dining room overlooking the river with all the bells and whistles. Scotland was amazing, the sights were unforgettable and the company couldn’t have been better. To see our full adventure check out my video! Cant wait for out next adventure together ❤

                          

A few tips:

  • Kitchens close usually by 9PM so if your looking to eat out go before then 
  • Driving is on the opposite side of the road
  • Bring an eye mask if your sensitive to falling asleep with light…depending on the time of year it stays light until 10PM and the sun rises at 4AM
  • It’s a constant mix of rain and sunshine so proper footwear is a must 

Airline Ticket $457.26
Airport Parking $20.00 

B&B’s/Car Rental/Coasteering:  $285.00

Food and shopping $100.00

Total: $862.26

XOXO

CC

 

 

 

South Africa 11.16

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It all started one night in July when I got one of the usual “There’s a cheap ticket deal wanna go for a long weekend” text from one of my best friends Chrissy. This time it was for South Africa for only $625.56 round trip nonstop. Not even realizing what I’m committing to I’m like yeaaaah!!! (16 hour plane ride and a 6 hour car ride to stay somewhere for two nights…yes I said TWO). I must say a safari was never on my bucket list. It’s not like I’m some animal hater or anything, I just don’t know that much about them, and have never thought it would be possible to save money for a safari knowing how much the airfare costs alone. Low and behold, it happened. Don’t limit your dreams by saying or thinking “never”,  you never know what life will throw at you. This seems to be one of the many lessons I come across over and over again in this fabulous life I live.

Panic attacks, Malaria Pills and many late night secret phone calls to Chrissy trying to back out, me and 4 of my crazy girlfriends boarded a flight to South Africa.  The airline itself was nice and the staff was super friendly, thank God, but once you’re on a plane for more than 10 hours, you just start to go a little nutty thinking it’s never ending. We landed early in the morning and met our driver Mr. Big, who was going to drive us to the camp. I think I literally slept the whole way because when I awoke, we were in the park with a flat tire.

We were staying at the Baobab Hill Bush House, an old rangers’ quarter, situated in the middle of Pafuri Camp equipped with our own chef and house-keeper. The house was stunning. We even had a swimming pool in our backyard in which the elephants would visit for late night refreshments.

  It sounded great in theory when we booked the house…super luxurious and relaxing. Don’t get me wrong I loved the house but when night falls, and the cook and house-keeper left, that’s where my imagination and anxiety got the best of me. Being in the middle of a park where there are deadly animals, no cell reception, just a “walkie-talkie”, which was located at the entrance of the house, bugs the size of house pets that could be poisonous, the threat of malaria, dinky screen doors for protection (sorry but an elephant could have totally barged through it if it wanted to), 5 girls staying alone, in a foreign country…yeah, I basically came up with worst case scenarios. What if someone tried to capture us? Who would make it to the walkie-talkie on time? Where would we hide? In the house or with the WILD animals outside that can eat us. I know I sound ridiculous but for someone who does not have a clue about animals and was fearful from the beginning, yes these were thoughts that ran through my head. The last night we were there the electricity blew. Well…The frantic calls coming through the walkie-talkie to the rangers must have been hysterical! I can totally laugh about it now but then it was pure utter panic.

During this trip below are just a few things that gave me anxiety:

  • Bugs
  • Animals that can eat me
  • Our screens
  • Being alone at the house
  • Our truck not having sides, a cheetah could easily climb in if they wanted to
  • Malaria
  • Being taken or held hostage for a ransom
  • Dying from Deet overload

 We had an amazing tour guide named Sarah. She was super shocked that we flew all the way to South Africa for two nights. Sarah knew everything about the animals, and their behavior. She stressed how lucky we were because we got to see the “Big Five” in just two days, something that is not common. It was so nice to see someone so passionate about what they do and I learned so much from her. She had her hands full with us for sure. We took two safaris a day, one starting at 5AM and one starting late in the afternoon coming home past sunset. We would relax at beautiful view points, enjoying BBQ snacks and wine.  All our meals were cooked for us and the food was AMAZING! During the day we had down time since it was a billion degrees and relaxed by the pool. We would be in bed by 8PM every night and would stay up to see our animal friends explore in our backyard.






Most used phrases:

  • Where is the DEET?
  • BRI THERE’S A SPIDER COME GET IT!
  • OMG
  • I’m scared
  • Can we go back in the Jeep? (me)
  • Do you have white wine?
  • Should we open wine?
  • Is there gonna be wine?
  • Is there more white wine?
  • Guys calm down
  • Can I sleep with you? (no one wanted to sleep alone except Les, LOL)
  • This heat is brutal
  • WTF was that?
  • Is this safe?
  • I thought we were going to be in the Jeep

Despite all my fears it was one of the best decisions of my life to go on this trip. I learned so much about animals and myself and what I’m really capable of. I met amazing people and saw amazing things that most people never get to see in real life. I am so grateful for this adventure. Looking back on this trip I can see that my fears were silly, as most are. If your looking to go on a Safari trip I highly suggest visiting this park and ask for Sarah to be your guide! https://www.returnafrica.com
Total cost of the trip: $1725.56  which included food, drinks, accommodations, hotel transfer, flight, tipping and souvenirs.

Link to Video: https://youtu.be/otHysraXRBM

Packing Tips: With our frequent long weekend getaways I’m use to cramming all my stuff in a carry-on. I overpacked on this trip because I didn’t know what I would need and didn’t want to feel like I needed something. Its not like I could run down the street to the store if I did! All my medicine took up most of my bag, lol. Below are a few things I would say are necessary for this trip, and things you can leave at home.

  • Workout leggings and tops, the kind that absorb sweat because thats all you will be doing is sweating. (may vary depending on time of year you go, I went in November)
  • A scarf you can wrap around your mouth and nose…it can get quite dusty at times
  • Cough drops, throat can get scratchy from the dust
  • SPF!!!! I can’t express that enough…like the highest number you can get your hands on
  • Hat if needed and sunglasses
  • Sneakers
  • DEET
  • Don’t bother with makeup none of us touched it…you sweat it off in two seconds
  • Don’t bother with doing your hair totally not worth it and the animals could care less
  • Light long sleeve top for sunset because when the sun goes down it can get cool
  • Adapter for charging all of your cameras
  • Mini notebook to carry so you can take notes on all the amazing animals you will see

 Some random info I took away from this trip:

  • SA has some of the best sunsets I have ever witnessed
  • Elephants are the most amazing creatures
  • My spirit animal is the “Heart Attack Bird”
  • Just because you see a lion or cheetah it does not mean it is going to come maul you
  • Buffalo have a crazy stare down tactic used to intimidate…and it works
  • Zebra are hard to spot because they blend in with everything
  • The Lion King is real…I swear the camp looks just like the movie
  • Your risk at this specific camp of getting malaria is quite low, calm down
  • Elephants sense fear like dogs so try and stay calm
  • At 5 AM it is already super bright
  • Deet melts your nail polish off
  • Animals are amazing creatures
  • I have the best adventure buddies in the world ❤ (well I already knew that)





XOXO

CC

 

 

 

 

My Best Kept Secret…

One of the most common questions I am asked is “How do I get to travel so much”?  Well, that my friends is where the Chase United Card comes in. My travel partner-in-crime Chrissy introduced me to the card after my very first Italian adventure.  Currently I have 90,000 points from strategically using the system which is a round trip flight to Europe and than some! Below is a little bit about the card and my tips on how to use it to get the most points.

Perks: 

  • Get 30,000 bonus miles after you spend $1,000 dollars the first three months your account is open- Perfect for Christmas season arriving
  • Earn 5,000 bonus miles when you add the first authorized user to your account and make a purchase with your Card during the first 3 months your account is open. – I put my mom on my account and had her purchase a coffee…
  • $0 dollars for the first year then a annual fee of $95.00
  • Earn 1 mile for every dollar spent
  • 10,000 bonus miles each year after $25,000 in purchases on your card
  • MILES DO NOT EXPIRE
  • Earn 2 miles for each $1 spent on tickets purchased from United.
  • No foreign transaction fee
  • 2 FREE United Club passes each year
  • FREE first checked bag
  • Priority boarding
  • Room upgrades, complimentary daily breakfast for two, early check-in, late checkout and other amenities at more than 900 luxury hotels and resorts worldwide.
  • Earn 10,000 Bonus Miles for up to 5 friends that you refer to the card ( refer me – wink wink)

It is worth it for me to pay the annual $95.00 a year because I usually go out of network with my bank more then a few times a year and save a ton in foreign transaction fees. I also get some of my airline tickets…cough cough…for free.

I put EVERYTHING on my card even if its just a coffee! I hustle my parents to see if they have to make any big purchases so I can put it on my card… Thanks Mom and Dad! 😉 Every dollar adds up. Some bills will allow you to pay with your credit card…so I’m all about that!

Mileage Plus X app: Get paid to shop…literally. Below are the ones I use the most.  I am accustomed to shopping only where I get reward points…now if Target and Wawa would jump aboard the Mileage Plus X program I would be set for life…but sadly they are not part of it…yet!

Kohl’s 3 miles for every dollar

Marshalls 3 miles for every dollar

HomeGoods 3 miles for every dollar

Barnes and Noble 4 miles for every dollar

Harmon Face Values 4 miles for every dollar

Christmas Tree Shops 4 miles for every dollar

AMC Theaters 5 miles for every dollar

Old Navy/ Gap 5 miles for every dollar

So if you are looking to travel abroad in the near future, I highly suggest getting this card and setting yourself up with some points for your plane ticket. Travel with ease not carrying a ton of cash because you can use your card anytime, anywhere with no fees. After your free year is up, You can always close the card if you feel like you will not be traveling out of the United States after your adventure abroad….but for some reason I feel like that won’t be happening because you will be hooked as I am.

XO

C.

 

 

 

 

 

A Magical Island Called Ischia…

Traditionally, every year my friend Chrissy and I go on a short weekend getaway to the southern part of Italy. This year she surprised me by taking me to a tiny little island off the  Amalfi Coast called Ischia. We flew into Naples via Meridiana. Meridiana usually has great deals for direct flights. One bus ride later and a scenic ferry ride brought us to paradise.

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First on the list… Castello Aragonese, a medieval castle that connects to Ischia, which was built in 474BC.  The views from the top were just stunning. Chrissy knows my obsession with castles so of course she picked a B&B that was directly across from it so we could have endless views of the castle, and see all its beauty it had to offer morning, noon and night. Villa Lieta was the name of the B&B which was super cozy and the staff was amazing.

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After seeing the castle, and getting settled in, we walked around the charming town, shopped, and even saw the cutest wedding ceremony set up. We relaxed on the beach before indulging in coconut gelato (the best ever), and the first of many before getting ready for our romantic dinner date.

picmonkey-collagepicmonkey-collage3We took a tiny fishing boat from the dock across the street from our B&B at dusk that takes you over to this restaurant Gardenia Mare, which is attached to the most beautiful hotel. It was breathtakingly beautiful.  Everything we ate was delicious … even the shrimp staring me in the eye (LOL).  I would come back to the island just to eat here. It was one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen.

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The next day we took advantage of free breakfast with our stunning view from the roof top of the B&B. We then took the bus over to Sant’ Angelo, walked around the town and relaxed on Banana Beach. We finished the day off with the perfect lunch consisting of my favorite thing on the Amalfi Coast…mussels!! They are super fresh and only seasoned with pepper. Even if you do not like mussels you have to try them. You will not regret it, I promise. We then moseyed on back to our B&B stopping for gelato, of course, and got ready for a relaxing dinner with a view of the stunning castle.

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Travel Tip: When you book B&B’s in Italy, most places include free breakfast consisting of coffee, water, juice, and pastries. I am not one to eat a lot in the morning but to keep traveling expenses down so I definitely take advantage of this – plus the Cornettos (breakfast pastry usually filled with jam, nutella or chocolate) are TO DIE FOR! 

The next day we were up at dawn, traveling back to Naples to catch our flight home and got to see the city at the most beautiful time.  The local fisherman just came back with their catch, and locals were starting to line up to purchase their fish for the day. This tiny island truly was paradise and full of charm.  It reminded me of the setting from “The Little Mermaid”.  I am sure this is where Arielle is from 😉

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I totally recommend visiting this Ischia. Food was fantastic, people were friendly, and the views were just stunning. Thank you Chrissy for planning another fabulous Italian adventure. Cheers to the best days of our lives! To see my full photo album and video you can visit my Facebook page. Don’t forget to follow my travel adventures on my Instagram as well! – ChrissyKimmy.

Airline Ticket $663.09

B&B, Ferry, Bus Tickets $250.00

Food and shopping $140.00

Total: $1,053.09 (Best thousand dollars I ever spent)

 

xoxo

C.