Mountain Pine Ridge, Belize

Mountain Time in Belize {plus Houston Eats}

Jul 9, 2018

I am not kidding when I say my sister and I are taking full advantage of our Southwest Companion Pass for 2018... and Belize was the last place crossed off our bucket list. Why Belize? We wanted a tropical destination that wasn't a beach and fell in love when we stumbled upon the Blancaneaux Lodge website. We take our hotels very, very seriously. Per usual, we are weekend travelers and try to take full advantage of our short time off from work so we only spent a couple of days here. {But we fully intend on returning some day to check out the beaches!} Here is a short recap of our time in Belize plus a half a day eating our way through Houston, TX.

11:00 AM - We touched down in Belize and headed straight to the doors to meet a hot 85 degrees. Not as hot as I expected, but the sun was shining and we were ready to hop on a 2.5 hour ride out to the lodge. You can choose to get there via car or by plane, but both methods will require you to take a 30-45 minute bumpy drive on a dirt road to get to the final destination.

1:45 PM - At last, we made it to Blancaneaux Lodge! Did I mention this was a Francis Ford Coppola resort? We were met with the absolute best hospitality. Not just when we arrived, but all weekend long. All of the staff are extremely friendly and greet you by your actual name everywhere you go! If that's not A+ service, I don't know what is. At check-in, we were provided their "signature" cocktail, Jaguar Juice, which was some sort of concoction made with pineapple juice and rum. Then we were off to the room!

2:30 PM - After extensive traveling, we were exhausted. For the rest of the evening, we decided to stay in and enjoy our little luxury straw hut. After all, that is what we came for. All the decor was well thought out and matched the lodge perfectly. Although I will say my favorite part of it all was the Japanese-inspired bathroom. Many will say it is out of place, but it worked so well with the outdoor theme of the room. Plus that tiling? Perfection.

9:00 AM - We woke up to a nice little continental breakfast brought straight to our room. The fruit selections were fresh and we never had the same choices two days in a row. It was a perfect start to a morning being able to soak in the sound of nature all around. {Minus my sister streaming the soccer game because world cup, right?}

11:00 AM - If we weren't lounging by the pool and working on our tans, then we were walking around the large property. There was a little man-made waterfall behind the property that you could easily walk to for a leisurely morning stroll. On the other side of the property was their large, organic vegetable garden. They grew most of their own vegetables to use in their restaurants. {Totally impressive!} There is also a large stable with a couple of horses which they allow guests to use for the sunset tours to Big Rock waterfall. 

2:00 PM - We took relaxation to another level and treated ourselves to some treatments at the Waterfall spa. Might I say it was one of the best massages I have ever had! This is a must. Let's just leave it at that. 

3:00 PM - Hungry hungry hungry! The Montagne restaurant closes at 3 PM, so we opted to have it ordered to our room so they could close the restaurant. Of the three restaurants on the property, two of them are Italian... and this was one of them. We were awfully surprised at how good Italian could actually taste in the middle of Belize. 

4:00 PM - Back to the pool and more relaxing it is! We really took full advantage of our pool time. Also, this outdoor shower was total house goals!!!

**My absolute favorite picture of my sister!!

7:30 PM - On our last night in this little jungle heaven, we had drinks and dinner at the hotel bar and poolside restaurant. This place was the only one of the three restaurants that didn't serve Italian, but a traditional Guatemalan cuisine. As with the other restaurants, the service was impeccable and the food was so fresh and delicious. You can taste the freshness of the vegetables and every bite was heaven. We left feeling satisfied and ready to pass out!

The Next Day - It was our time to finally leave "Heaven on Earth", but not after some breakfast on our balcony, some swing time on the hammock, and of course, pool time. We left the lodge around 12 PM and were ready for our trip back to the airport.

Overall, we had an amazing experience! This lodge was the perfect place to kick back and relax. We didn't do much activity wise, but we knew this was going to be a chill-out vacation going into it. Above all, we loved the amazing service and attention offered at Blancaneaux Lodge. It truly made for a wonderful experience. Belize, we will be back for your beaches... hopefully before 2018 ends!

As for Houston, Texas? Two words. Barbeque {at The Pit Room} and Whataburger.

PS: I realize that I didn't take nearly enough pictures to fully capture this trip for you all, but what's the point of "unplugging" if you had your phone the whole time? You'll just have to make your way out there to experience it for yourself, I guess... ;)
Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico

Two Days in Tulum

May 21, 2018

If you haven't heard of Tulum, then you have been hiding under a rock and need to come out ASAP. The first time I stumbled upon this place was via I have been to Cancun before when I was a child, but this place takes Mexico to a new level for me. Tulum is Playa del Carmen's more sophisticated and grown-up cousin crawling with rustic and bohemian vibes. There is one street that takes you everywhere you need to be in this town and you can easily bike or walk it all. The food options are endless and the accommodation options are beyond basic standards. With summer just around the corner, I thought I would share some of my favorite Tulum recommendations. For us Californians, Mexico is always an easy go-to for a summer getaway. Make sure to add this destination to your bucket list {if it's not on there already}.


Be Tulum / We were beyond pleased with our stay at this perfect and not-so-little boutique hotel. The options were tirelessly endless when we were deciding where to stay, but this place was heavenly and we could not have been happier. The staff was beyond helpful with everything! {Especially helping us find our room, because it was like finding our way through a jungle to get there.} The restaurant options were also all delicious. We felt that we really didn't need to leave the hotel at all during this trip! We also had our own private plunge pool on the roof, so there was really no competition there.


I am not joking when I tell you we ate way more than we expected to. The food scene in Tulum is off the charts! From Michelin-starred chefs to the best acai bowls, I doubt you'll end up eating something that will leave you unsatisfied. Here are some recommendations for must-try spots:

Ocumare (at our hotel) / I love a good restaurant and this place did not disappoint. This was conveniently in the lobby of our hotel and we decided to give it a try. It is very, very new to Tulum and I have no doubts that it will be a big hit soon. I slurped everything down so fast I am pretty sure the wait staff was worried for my health. Definitely make this a priority for dinner plans!

Beach Bar (at our hotel) / This was where we ate breakfast in the mornings, as well as when we needed an easy lunch or drink during the day. It was convenient, easy, and surprisingly good. Not to mention, the staff was so good to us! We were able to order by the cabanas, restaurant, or even take it up to our rooms! Tip: Get the Aguachile Ceviche... your life will never be the same.

4 Fuegos (at our hotel) / On our second night, we decided to order in since honestly, we were kind of lazy. But don't get me wrong, we were eyeing this place since our first night. What made us have to try this place was that they had an open fire with a pig roasting over it. This spitfire pig dish was absolutely delicious! It was so tender and smoky all in the right places. {I'm drooling all over my keyboard at the moment.} You'll know when you see it.

Matcha Mama / Don't judge me, but we came here twice in one day. I am a sucker for a good acai bowl and Matcha Mama lives up to the hype. Not to mention, the decor and swings are worth just stopping for a picture!

Posada Margherita / We read a million posts recommending a visit to this place and if you go, you'll know why. The pasta is cooked to perfection and sauces are just right! Also the views of the beach are breathtaking.

*I know this looks biased since most of this was at our hotel but to be honest, it was all so satisfying that we really didn't need to go anywhere else. But if you're looking for other recommendations, here are some places that were on our list that we didn't get to try: HartwoodArca {will need reservation}, Casa Banana, and Gitano.


Eat, tan, swim, eat again, bike, drink, repeat. {All in that order.} But whatever you decide to do, make sure you take that bike out for a spin on the "hotel strip". You will come across all of the cutest shops and find things you didn't see while driving in. Most hotels will offer bicycles for hotel guests to use. If not, there are many bicycle rentals along the street. Another couple of things you could do: visit Casa Malca {a newly renovated hotel that was one of Pablo Escobar's previous residences}, swim in a cenote {swimming hole}, or visit the Tulum ruins on an early morning.

Whatever you decide to do, whether it's lounging by the beach or partying at Papaya Playa Project, just remember to let your hair down and relax. I mean, that's probably what you came for...

Portland, OR, USA

Portland Weekender's Guide

May 1, 2018

I don't think I expected to fall in love with Portland before this, but my god, it was an amazing city. Maybe because it reminded me so much of Ireland or because the food was so ah-ma-zing. Not to mention the greenery all over the city. While I was here, people were interested in what we did and ate, so here's my mini-Portland guide:


The Duniway Hotel / This boutique hotel is located in the heart of downtown and was everything I expected and more. To be frank, I am a bit of a hotel snob and will pay a little extra for a nice place to sleep. The minute after I showered and laid onto the bed, I knew I wasn't getting up anytime soon. My body sunk into the mattress and I felt like I was floating on air. Literally, one the best hotels. Not to mention the stellar customer service and hotel restaurant {more on that later}. If you're visiting PDX, give this place a shot. You won't regret it.


Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm / I am a fool if I don't tell you this place was all the Instagram goals! I went to Keukenhof a couple springs ago {which was supposed to be the best of all tulip festivals} but sadly, we were too early and didn't get to see it in full bloom. So visiting this farm was a total delight! It had rows and rows of tulips in many different colors and so many other attractions/things to do. Admission per person was $5 and worth every penny. There were amazing food carts and even places you can buy tulip bulbs. Not to mention, there were all the cutest dogs everywhere!
These dark purple bulbs were my absolute favorite. So unique and gorgeous!

Cannon Beach {and Haystack Rock} / I think this one was sort of a given. We have a version of this {Morro Bay} but this one knocked it out of the park. The beach range is long and filled with people and dogs having a good time. If you hit sunset, you'll get some of the nicest pictures. Aside from the rock, the town itself was so quaint and cute. I love the occasional beer, so we ended up stopping at Public Coast Brewing Co. for some beer and fries. Since it was only an hour and a half drive from downtown, we only did a day trip. It's a great option if you're looking to get out of the city.
Also ran into this tree on our way down to the beach. Naturally, had to stop aside and take some photos!


I'm not joking when I tell you that we spent the second half of our trip eating our way through Portland. There was just so much to eat in so little time. Here are some of my favorite Portland eats:

Pip's Original Doughnuts & Chai / I know the typical place to eat donuts in Portland is usually Voodoo or Blue Star, but I skipped out on that and went straight to Pip's. I prefer my donuts mini-sized anyway. They offered many donut flavors, but my favorite was the cinammon sugar {which is their original}. They also offered a banana creme seasonal flavor which was my sister's favorite. We also each got a different chai latte flavor: Campfire and King & I {which is their rendition of a thai tea}. Both were equally delicious. We ended up paying ~ $15 for all of the things seen here {except the glasses, ha!}. The line can be a bit long, but I highly recommend visiting this place.

Ramen Ryoma / On route from the tulip farm towards Cannon Beach, we passed the city of Beaverton and decided to find a place to eat. Since it was gloomy and cold, we decided to eat something soupy and warm. Coming from SoCal where we have great ramen, I was surprised to have liked this place so much! The ramen noodles are "hand-massaged" and just the right amount of chewy. It is attached to the local Japanese market and luckily, we beat the crowd. Worth the wait!

OYATSUPAN Bakers / Also in Beaverton, we couldn't pass up on these cute little pastries. I won't lie, this looks a lot better than it tastes. We got the vanilla custard guy and it was only average, but the other things we got were good! Definitely a good stop-by place if you're driving through Beaverton. Did I mention the Nike campus was in Beaverton? Now maybe you'll make a stop.

Pine State Biscuits / Anyone who has been to Portland will tell you to get biscuits & brunch here. For some reason, I never remembered whether it was Pine State or Pine Street. Weird. The line here can seem a little intimidating--it did for us. But we decided to wait it out and it surprisingly moved pretty quickly. I recommend getting the Reggie which is their biscuit with friend chicken, bacon, cheese, and that signature gravy {pictured below}. We also ended up getting the hash-ups. Everything was as delicious as the hype said. Next time I'm coming back to try the hot chocolate and fried green tomatoes!

Nong's Khao Man Gai / This was the highlight of the trip for me. I am usually not one to eat this type of food on a vacation since it hits close to home and nothing is better than my parent's food, but OH. MY. GOODNESS. This knocked me out of the park. The simplicity of the plate plus the unexpected taste makes the whole dish. I highly, highly recommend getting the chicken and rice. She started out as a food cart and became so popular that she opened a restaurant. Everything is super affordable and quick. I am coming back next time for the sauce {to bring home} and hopefully make it early enough to try the fried chicken skin!

Jackrabbit / This was the restaurant in our hotel downstairs by Chef Chris Cosentino and I was surprised to discover how amazing it was. Not to mention, it is a sister restaurant of Cockscomb in San Francisco {to which I had no freaking idea}. We were lazy that night and didn't want to go out, so we opted to try this place and it was perfect. The pasta with pine nuts was made with just the right amount of cheese, the fried pig ears were friend to perfection, and the oyster plate... no words. A little on the pricey end, but every vacation needs a good meal!

Have you been to Portland? What were some of your favorite things?

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