last year, Matt and i went on a cruise with my family through the mexican riviera. WE. LOVED. IT. we booked through Carnival (which I have heard both good and bad about) and we really ended up loving our experience. not only was it a super affordable option, we enjoyed all of the amenities, including winning an excursion!
our first day was stressful but exciting. we boarded our ship (the Carnival Miracle) at around noon and explored the decks until we set sail at about 4pm. we hung out for a while on the lido deck checking out all of the food options (including 24/7 pizza!) and watched as we set sail. Matt and i went to the back of the ship to the 21+ pool and sat in a cabana watching as the city floated away.
the next day was a full day at sea. we went to some of the many events including bingo where i won the grand prize of a gold and diamond necklace and a few hundred dollars to spend on board! then, right after winning bingo, i won a raffle for a free excursion snorkeling in cabo. it was a successful day to say the least.
we arrived in cabo san lucas and were able to spend two days there. the first day we were able to do our excursion and spent the rest of the day exploring the shops and swimming in the warm sea of cortez. it is possibly the clearest water i've ever seen! the next day we did the same thing, including taking a boat tour around the bay - we even touched the final stone that poked out of the sea on the end of the yuccatan penninsula (which the nerd in me loved!). we also bought some lovely jewelry from a local artisan. i still dream of that water in the sea of cortez.
our next port was at puerto vallarta which i didn't love... until we got to the jungle! we did an extensive ropes course through the jungle and it was so much fun! we hiked and climbed, repelled and flew through the air. our final zip line was into the river, which was so surprisingly warm! we then tubed down the river to meet our mules which trekked us up the mountain. this was a full day excursion which we actually paid for at the place, not through our ship. we loved this and got some amazing photos. our board time back on our ship was earlier this evening, so we headed back to eat dinner in the dining room.
our next couple of days were at sea on our way back to california. we had two formal nights (both not pictured) but we really just relaxed these last couple of days. we got a family picture (minus one!) with our One Team One Fight shirts (my dad was doing chemo during this trip, isn't he a trooper? read more about his cancer here). The food was divine, and we could have as much as we wanted. i ended up trying many different things, including escargot! all and all, i loved this vacation. this was a brief description, but we did a lot of other activities not mentioned. if you have the chance to go on a cruise, do it!
I've always wanted to drive through the redwoods. I've wanted to marvel at a creation so massive, whole cars could go through them! So, after flying in to San Jose at around 10 am, we rented a car (a Dodge Challenger!!) and took the scenic route to the seaside town of Santa Cruz. We drove on tiny roads and rough roads and had a blast doing it.
After checking in to our hotel (which we loved, and I did a little Instagram tour here) we took a minute to clean up and then went out for food at Betty's Burgers. Betty's has good sized burgers and a secret sauce that they call "lube" which I thought was hilarious. Their fries are also extra-crispy and delicious! I highly recommend going there.
After our late lunch, we drove along the coast next to the wharf and the boardwalk. A little further down from there, we parked and watched the surfers catch some waves. It was a chilly 65ish degrees (which I loved) but Matt and I both agreed that the water must have been FREEZING. Still, the salty air was so welcoming!
Saturday morning we slept in, and just relaxed. On our way to breakfast, we noticed there was a VW car show a few buildings down with live music and some of the coolest classic cars we've ever seen. One that stood out was this old VW van that a couple has driven from Argentina to Alaska! They've driven over 40,000 miles in 40 months, living in this tiny van together. It was awesome because Matt and Ariel (the man from Argentina who drove the van) were able to talk to each other about Argentina and stuff. It was great! After the car show, we walked a couple of blocks downtown to where there was some shopping. Obviously Matt and I's first stop was at the candy store, where we found this onesie and these gummy creations:
For a late lunch, we went to the very popular and highly recommended Pizza My Heart, which was, of course, delicious! After lunch/dinner, we went to the wharf to explore. There were a TON of sea lions hanging out underneath the wharf, including a chunky one that had a hard time jumping up to a little landing! We also dipped our toes in the sand next to the wharf for a minute. It was a lovely day.
On Sunday we went to the adorable Cannery Row, and the world famous, Monterey Bay Aquarium! I have been wanting to go to this place since my parents went more than 10 years ago. Finally, I got my chance and it was awesome! Words can't do the place justice, so I'll just show you some photos:
Monday was our last day in the area, so after sleeping in late and packing up, we checked out of our hotel and drove back up to San Jose. We decided to check out the Santana Row area, which was unreal. It was seriously the cutest! BUT... they had WILDLY expensive shops there - including a Tesla showroom. Naturally, Matt and I had to check it out! The people there were so nice and one of the men working there insisted we "get in and push all of the buttons". Umm, yeah! It was so great, it felt like a big toy. Playing with it, combined with the specs, pretty much convinced Matt and I that we need one. The mall next to Santana Row was equally as amazing. Not only do they have all the normal stores, they literally had all of the upscale stores too. It. Was. Legit.
After refilling our rental with gas, we headed to the airport for the flight home! It was a great trip, very affordable, and so nice to reconnect with each other without any distractions.