Friday, June 10, 2016

(Not Quite) Sold on South Beach

For any of you following me on Instagram and Twitter (do it!!), you'll know I spent the last week in South Beach, Miami Florida. And it's been... Well, interesting to say the least. As a friend of mine put it perfectly when I described Miami to her, she said "Being in Miami is like being in a rap video!" Which completely hits the nail on the head with how I feel about Miami. Don't get me wrong, there are some beautiful aspects of Miami...

Enjoying the ocean in South Beach!
Case in point. Located in Southern Florida, Miami is home to many beautiful sand beaches and almost-Carribean style aquamarine blue beaches. On top of that, Miami is working to rebuild the natural dunes that typically line beaches - thus, there is always a gap between your hotel and the beach. This area is specifically dedicated to dune reconstruction, and in my opinion is probably one of the best things Miami has going for it.

Beyond the dune reconstruction, Miami does have the boardwalk. Portions of this (the cemented portions) are bike-friendly, while the physically boarded areas are not bike-friendly. It allows people to get around quite easily by bike or foot. There are conveniently located bikes for rental nearly every 2 or so blocks, and tons of different options for rentals. A bonus of one hotel we stayed at is that as long as hotel bikes were available, we could use those for free!

OK, so I touched on the beaches and biking the boardwalk. Beyond that, I'll be honest, Miami is quite...lackluster. It is overpriced, overcrowded, gratuity is included at almost every restaurant (meaning you receive awful service), and you can't walk more than five steps without the distinct smell of marijuana.

worst restaurant in South Beach
Pizza failure at i Paparazzi
First I want to talk about restaurants. Because real estate is so expensive in South Beach, it isn't a very easy area to navigate, just walk the street and pop into a restaurant you'd like to visit. No, you need a distinct plan and destination in mind or you will never find anything half decent. Trust me, I tried. See that pizza above? That was from the first time Nick and I decided to just stroll and find a place to eat. We went into the heart of South Beach, sat down, and ordered pepperoni pizza (me) and ceviche (him). Well, that is how my pepperoni pizza came out - about 60%ish covered in pepperoni, the other half not touched. Upon inquiring, the manager said "oh yeah, server thought it was only half pepperoni" ....OK, even if it was half pepperoni, you still failed at your job. On top of that, the pizza was only half-cooked and completely uncooked in the middle. Here I thought it wasn't possible to screw up a pizza - yep, I learned my lesson. Doesn't really ease my husband's mind about eating his RAW SEAFOOD from your restaurant, which clearly has a high level of attention to detail. (PS - the name of this restaurant is I Paparazzi if you want to avoid it, I'd recommend that!)

The next failed restaurant experiment was when I strolled solo down the strip, found a cozy little spot with happy hour, and proceeded to order a beer and some food. I drank half my beer, and then notice there are little "flakes" at the bottom of my glass. After confirming they were definitely IN my glass, not on the outside, I asked the bartender if I could get a new glass and explained why. He (kindly) proceeded to grab a supposedly clean glass, pour my beer, and hand it to me. This time, I immediately saw flakes flying around in my beer. Yuck!

enjoying a glass of wine at One Rooftop!
Overall, Miami certainly had some positive aspects. The beach and boardwalk is beautiful. Unfortunately, beyond that, I just did not feel Miami was an easy city to navigate, restaurants had poor service, and the constant feeling of being in a rap video was just not a pleasant feeling. So, with that being said - yes, I will likely be writing about Miami in the future. However, it won't all be sunshine and rainbows, but that is perfectly OK. Sometimes travel isn't about the sunshine and rainbows - it is all about the experience, and not every experience is good!

Another trip in the books with my love!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Currently // A Life Catch Up!

There has definitely been a period of radio silence around here lately. Don't worry, it is well deserved, and I'm back now! This is a quick catch-up of life lately and what I have been up to!

Celebrating completing my MBA in International Marketing with a 4.0! That's right - I am officially all done with school! After moving back up to Minneapolis, I took some time off work and tripled my course load with school in order to speed up the completion of my MBA. I was slightly worried about how I would be able to handle the course load, but I had plenty of motivation and was able to push through the last ten weeks of school, receiving A's in each of my last three courses and graduating with a 4.0 overall!

Getting prepped for a big couple weeks of travel: Now that school is over, I decided to take a few weeks off and enjoy some free time, especially in the summer. Along with free time comes a few trips! I have Las Vegas and Miami coming up in the next couple weeks, and am so excited to visit both again!'

Enjoying life in Minneapolis with weekly visits to the farmers market. One of my favorite parts about Minneapolis is the farmers market, located just a few blocks from our condo. This past weekend, Nick and I ventured down there, strolled around for a few hours, and even decided to take our chances and test out our green thumbs. Thats right, we bought a real live plant. This may not seem like a big deal to many, but in the summer months our patio literally becomes the desert - at any point in time, it is a solid 15-20 degrees warmer than anywhere else in the city, and receives constant hot heat from the afternoon and evening sun. We'll see how long this plant lasts!

Working on some new blog posts! I feel like it has been forever - and truthfully, it has been about six weeks - since I've blogged! I constantly have new ideas for posts, and have still not fully caught up on the last few trips to Mexico and Thailand. Between that, and several upcoming trips, I have tons of content that I can't wait to get out there!

Modist brewing Minneapolis
Enjoying a cold one at Modist Brewing Co!
Exploring all of the awesome new breweries in Minneapolis. One of my favorite parts about Minneapolis is how it seems like every week, there is a new brewery opening. Within a five minute walk from my house are at least three (that I know of!) breweries, and within a five minute drive or bike ride are countless more. I haven't been to that many yet, but I'm working on expanding my knowledge of them!

A cool pic from a cloudy run!
Running. Every winter, I go through a phase where due to the weather, I quit running. Every spring, I start running again and declare that next winter I won't do the same thing. Who knows, perhaps I just need a break - but in any case, I've gotten back into running and loving it! I've got a great little route that I do right in downtown Minneapolis which takes me across the Stone Arch Bridge and through Saint Anthony Main (two of the best neighborhoods of Minneapolis!). The only problem with running this route is that often it is too pretty to keep running - I just want to start snapping pictures!

Working on finding my dream job. I have a ton of varied interests - marketing, social media, travel/tourism, restaurants, hospitality, branding, customer service, relationship building - so I'm really trying to find the perfect opportunity! I have taken a little time to enjoy the completion of my MBA, and now I'm ready to really go out and hit the job market. Can't wait to see what I find and put my education & previous experience to use!

Planning a (potential!) trip to Iceland for New Years Eve! A few weeks (months?) ago, Nick mentioned that he thought heading to Iceland for this next NYE would be a blast. Since then, we have talked to a few other couples who might be in for joining us - now that I am done with school, I will finally have time to put together some information and see if it is feasible! I feel like it might be fate, especially as about a year and a half ago I featured Iceland for a NYE celebration!

is this not the best shirt ever?!
Drinking lots of champagne! With the completion of my MBA and subsequent purchase of the above shirt, how could I not be? But seriously.

In any case, this was a great catch up post of the last six weeks of my life! I really don't have much else to tell beyond school work - but luckily, that is done now. I can't wait to catch up on some blog posts, write some new content, continue running, get a job, and then take a couple of amazing trips! What have you been up to lately? And if anybody has Iceland tips, you know I'd love to hear them!!

Friday, April 15, 2016

Five Must Do Activities in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico

best things to do in playa del carmen
stunning sunrises in Playa Del Carmen
Oh, the sunrises in Playa Del Carmen. Watching the sun rise is one of my new favorite activities, and likely even beats watching it set. After all, when the sun rises, you are typically one of few people out and about and are able to have those quiet moments to reflect on your upcoming day. Watching the sun rise across the Caribbean is simply a stunning experience and an absolute must-do activity for anyone visiting Playa Del Carmen.

best playa del carmen day tours
When we visited Playa, we spent the day with Local Quickies and our day ended with a three hour catamaran ride on the largest catamaran in the Caribbean. The ride was everything I could have asked for and truly had something for everyone. Relax on the ropes on the front of the boat. Check out the Mayan Ruins in Tulum, and see them exactly as the Spaniards saw them hundreds of years ago. Listen to music. Eat fresh guacamole. Mingle with new friends. And of course, have a few cocktails with the open bar. Catamaran rides are certainly one of my new favorite activities for any vacation!

playa del carmen restaurants
Delicious, fresh baked bread at Chez Celine
Fifth Avenue is the main drag in Playa, and there are endless restaurants and shops. Chez Celine is an cozy cafe & bakery located on the far east end of the main street. Oh, was everything amazing! I ate there twice and I was able to sit both indoors and outdoors and had two vastly different experiences. Outdoors, I watched the people walk by and enjoyed the warm weather. Indoors, I was able to watch the bakers and the dedication that they put into each individual baked good. It was so impressive to watch, and there is no wonder Chez Celine is as popular as it is!

Getting the second shot on a barracuda!
Between my husband and I, we have had tons of different travel experiences. One thing we had never tried until visiting Playa Del Carmen is spearfishing, and I know that Nick is absolutely hooked by now. Spearfishing is a great way to experience fishing in a completely new way, and the best part is that you are also immersed in the water. Whether you actually get anything or not (which, trust me, you or somebody in your group will!) you will be able to see so much amazing wildlife underneath the ocean. My best advice is to just go!

to do in Playa Del Carmen
Colorful streets in Cozumel!
Despite having been to Mexico several times and having heard great things about Cozumel, I had never made it over to this quaint island. On one of our last days, we hopped onto the 30-minute ferry ride to go visit Cozumel. I'll be honest, as much as I loved it - I truthfully have enjoyed other places in Mexico much more! However, it is certainly worth a day trip to go explore somewhere new. 

Monday, April 4, 2016

Custom Tailoring in Thailand: Tailor on Ten

where to get custom suits in Bangkok
Nick all suited up!
Two years ago while on our honeymoon, Nick and I were introduced to the world of custom tailoring in Thailand. While strolling the streets, it seemed that at least once every block, if not more often, there was a well-dressed man in a suit asking you to come inside for a custom tailored suit - or shirt, or jacket, or really, anything you could dream up. We decided to take a chance on it, and had some OK things made. However, we KNEW that things could be much better, so before this most recent trip to Thailand Nick performed extensive research to find out who the best tailor in Thailand is. If you have ever wondered where to get custom suits in Bangkok, you've found it right here. After researching tailors over a several month long period, once he received his new job offer, we booked our flights to Bangkok and off we went!

Tailor on Ten Bangkok
Outside of Tailor on Ten - hard to believe you are in the heart of Bangkok!
Now, just a quick discussion on why Nick wanted custom suits made in Thailand, and specifically selected Tailor on Ten. First, you get to pick every detail of them and the fit will be amazing. Second, designing custom suits in the U.S. can take at least two months (if not more), and range in price from $2000-$3000, or even higher. We were able to order six suits, thirteen shirts, and one sport coat - and the entire process was completed in one week for a fraction of the price (and time!) it would have taken in the U.S. Now, these are just a couple of the quick highlights - on to the rest of the review and reasons you should be ordering custom items from Tailor on Ten!

Fast forward past the 24 hour flight and a quick catnap at our hotel, and we arrived at Tailor on Ten for our first appointment. As soon as we walked in the door, we were greeted and asked if we would like a water or a beer to refresh ourselves from the heat of the day. The shop was cool, tidy, and lined wall-to-wall with more bolts of fabric and options for suits and shirts than I could ever picture!

As we were a few minutes late for our appointment (oops - taxis in Bangkok can take forever to get from place to place!), Danny, the guy who would be helping us was just wrapping another task up. We took a few moments to relax and cool off from the heat, and then I started looking at some of the fabric for suits. As somebody who initially had little to no knowledge of suits and fabrics - besides the fact that there is a wide range as far as quality and price goes - I really did not know what to expect. Anyways, on to the good stuff!

Nick working on selecting all of his options
Once Danny was able to assist us, we sat down and explained exactly what we were looking for, and what we had been thinking price-wise. One of the great things about Tailor on Ten compared to other tailors in Bangkok and throughout Thailand is that Tailor on Ten uses fixed prices, and there is no negotiation. Thus, you always know you will get what you are paying for and are not getting ripped off, like you may worry about at other places! We explained that Nick was looking for high quality suits and shirts that he could wear every day, and not only that they would look nice but also last him for a long time. After understanding what we were looking for, Danny gave us brief information and the highs and lows of each of the different suit fabrics that we could select from. He steered us away from some of the fabrics that would not be ideal for daily use, and towards exactly what we were looking for. For example, we had naively assumed we would be purchasing the most expensive fabric, as we thought that meant the highest overall quality and would last the longest. However, Danny informed us that based off the desire to have suits that would last a long time and be worn every day, we may want a more durable fabric and actually steered us to a cheaper fabric. Yes, you read that right - a salesperson listened to what we wanted, and instead of having us spend more money on something we ultimately wouldn't be happy with, told us the best option, even though it was cheaper in price! After determining the fabric type that we wanted, it was off to select colors!

where to get suits in Bangkok
the shirt fabrics we selected
Getting measurements. These two guys alone have over 40 years of experience!
Draping fabric to help envision how it would look as a suit
As a non-creative person, I had a very difficult time envisioning many of the bolts of fabric as suits or shirts. However, this is where Danny was great and was able to assist us in envisioning the final product. When we weren't sure about something, we were able to hold it up to Nick and get a better picture in our minds. After a deliberation process and selecting the final fabrics, it was time to get to the fun stuff- the details.

Now, beyond picking the fabric for custom suits, the cool part is that you pick every single detail. All in all, I would say that for each suit you select about 25-30 different details: the cut, how many buttons, the color of the stitching, the buttons, the monogram, the lining of the suit, the list goes on. For example, just in regards to the lapel you have three styles, two widths, and three button hole options to select from. It is a lot of different options to select, but at any point in the process whomever you are working with is able to guide you towards what will fit your style and the more traditional selections.

On the left, you can see all of the suits - right hand side is the inside of one jacket!
After we had made all of our selections for each suit jacket, pant, and shirt, we reviewed each of the selections made. Many other tailors in Bangkok would just take your selections and move on with the process- however, when custom designing suits, this is a mistake! When going through and double-checking, we found 2-3 things that we wanted to change. Whether we had made the wrong selection initially, or the wrong button had gotten pushed, you want to make sure that the custom suits you are designing are exactly what you want. After all, isn't it better to spend a few minutes double-checking and ensure you get what you want?

The attention to detail was like none other!
After all the selections were complete, we were finished for the day! The next step was to return late the following day. At that point in time, one shirt had been completed, and one suit (both jacket and pants) were ready for Nick to try on and see any adjustments that needed to be made. Again, many other tailors would not have you come back for this step in the process. However, by spending a few extra minutes trying things on, Tailor on Ten is able to ensure that every single item you order is exactly what you want and fits perfectly.

best tailors in Bangkok
Making sure everything fits perfectly
Even the slightest imperfection was corrected 
Besides the initial selection process and initial fitting, Nick returned once more to make fitting adjustments before the final day of our trip. At this point in time, every single item in our order was complete, so Nick was able to try every single item on. Any small detail that didn't seem quite right was noted and sent back for quick adjustments to ensure that the final suits and shirts fit perfectly. Some items simply fit differently due to different fabrics and materials being used, which is precisely why Tailor on Ten wants to see you try everything on to ensure you personally are happy.

best tailor in Bangkok 2016
Somebody's looking pretty happy with his results!
After the very final adjustments had been made, we returned to Tailor on Ten to pick up our entire order! The entire order was nicely packaged for us - shirts carefully folded, suits hung up - and the entire order presented in nice bags to take home. This step of the process, while potentially unnecessary - after all, we were just going to pack everything into a suitcase to sit for 36 hours - just goes to show how Tailor on Ten truly cares about every aspect of the process and wants to make a complete experience for every customer.

This is truly an experience that any businessperson should experience, and is something that is completely unique from every other tailor in Bangkok. When you go to Tailor on Ten, you know that you will be receiving friendly customer service, from people who actually care about your results. Finally, one last kicker about why Tailor on Ten is so fabulous - for any customer that they work with, they will log your measurements into their system, so that at any point in the future you can place an order with them! Their website is 100% user-friendly, and you are able to go through the entire customization process online. On top of this, you don't even have to have physically visited Tailor on Ten to order custom items - you can order online through their website! As a special perk, anyone that places an order (minimum amount $200) with Tailor on Ten between now and April 30, 2016 using the code "ANGELL" will receive free shipping on their first order!

All in all, we were incredibly happy with the entire process at Tailor on Ten. I'll be 100% honest - yes, you can find cheaper suits. However, you will absolutely not find the same quality, customer service, and level of care throughout every step of the process. If you've ever wanted a truly custom experience, look no further than Tailor on Ten. So - what about you? Have you ever purchased anything custom, let alone custom suits and shirts in Thailand? What was your experience like?

Having some fun before his first day at work!

Monday, March 28, 2016

A Last-Minute Trip to Thailand!

Another day, another gorgeous destination! 
First off, Wow! Talk about a whirlwind last four weeks. Four weeks and three days ago, I officially moved back up to Minneapolis. Then, exactly four weeks ago, I woke up sick as a dog, and spent the next two weeks in and out of the doctors office and hospital. In the midst of that, I found out some very exciting news...

Nick and I!
My amazing husband received and accepted a new job offer! Starting today, he is the new Regional Vice President for New York Life / Mainstay Funds. The best part about this? He will be based right here in Minneapolis, covering Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa, and Wisconsin (with the exception of a few cities)!

Once we received this news, things began moving even more quickly. I planned a last-minute trip to Thailand, and things worked out where Nick was able to accompany me! So, off to Thailand we went! I only have time for a quick post today (time to get caught up on homework, unpacking from the move, and cleaning house!), but here is a wrap up of our trip to Thailand!

tailored suits in Bangkok
Making sure every detail is perfect!
We departed on a Monday around noon local time, and did not arrive in Thailand until almost midnight on Tuesday - so yet again, it was almost 36 straight hours of travel to arrive in Thailand! Once arriving, as soon as we settled down for the evening we caught a few hours of shut eye. After all, one of the primary reasons for this trip was to get Nick outfitted with several new custom suits and shirts. So the first full day of our trip was spent visiting Tailor on Ten!

best tailor in Bangkok
On the left, you can see several of the colors of suit jackets we selected. Right hand shows the inner details we were able to customize!
Tailor on Ten Review
Nick all decked out in one of his stunning new suits!
While at Tailor on Ten, we spent almost 5 hours selecting every single detail of 6 suits, 1 sport coat, and 13 shirts. Trust me when I say that despite this being a long time, it was worth every minute of it!  I'll be posting more about how to find the best custom tailor in Thailand (look no further- this is it) - at a later date, so please stay tuned!

private river cruise in bangkok
This was definitely the best way to see ALL of Bangkok!
Besides spending time getting Nick outfitted, we had several other things we wanted to do on this trip. I had loved our previous river cruise on the Chao Phraya, so we elected to do a day cruise instead of a night cruise. I'm not going to lie - 20 minutes into the cruise, I thought we had gotten ripped off - but not long after, I realized that this was a great way to see Bangkok that many people may not. We were able to see many of the beautiful sights, as well as some of the not-so-beautiful back alleyways and canals that are not typically seen. A full recap of this experience will be coming later!

Amari Watergate review
Rooftop Garden at Amari Watergate - beautiful, and so secluded!
Previously in Bangkok, Nick and I have stayed at two different hotels. On this trip, we decided to hop around a little bit and explore some new locations, so we stayed at our third, fourth, and fifth Bangkok hotel. Two of these hotels were in a familiar area of town for us off Sukhumvit near Nana Plaza, one of the popular areas of town. Then, we decided to venture out a bit and experience amazing service from Amari Watergate! While in Thailand, I've never stayed at a traditional 5-star hotel - rather, I have opted to try and save a bit of money to indulge in more street food and massages.  Staying at Amari really gave Bangkok a different feel, and made both Nick and I feel much more ready to embark on a 36 hour travel journey home at the end of our trip!

best place to see sunset in Bangkok
This view of Bangkok just can't be beat!
Overall, the biggest activities we took part in were hopping between rooftop bars and both day and night markets. I discovered that Chatuchak Market is definitely my favorite market in town. The sunset (if you can call it a sunset in Bangkok!) really can't be beat from Above Eleven. Above Eleven is a rooftop restaurant that may take you a moment to find, as the entrance is a speak-easy type entrance with a private elevator at the back of a hotel. Definitely an awesome place!

In addition to all of this, Nick and I had our first REAL experience at Bangkok's Red Light districts. There are three main red light districts, and we had (somewhat) unknowingly visited two of them on our previous trip to Bangkok. This time around, we purposefully visited, spent a few minutes, and then pretty much ran away from them. Lets jus say I will never look at ping pong balls or darts the same way... No worries, I'll be giving you a full detail on what you need to know about Bangkok's red light districts in the future!

Had to get a shot of our new tickets, passport cover, and Delta flight credit!
Finally, our trip concluded on a VERY high note. We woke up at 3 AM to get to the airport in time for our 7 AM flight. Upon arrival, we were informed that our flight was overbooked, and if we were willing to give up our seats in exchange for a $1000 flight voucher per person ($2000 total!) we would be rebooked onto a flight departing two hours later. With zero hesitation, we said yes, hoping that everything would fall in place - and it did!

After several long flights home, we made it back safe and sound. Since then, I've been busy catching up on MBA homework, and Nick has been prepping for his first few weeks on the job. It will definitely be a busy few weeks around here, as I still have posts to catch up on from our time in Mexico, and now a whole slew of Thailand posts to write! What do you most want to hear about from our time in Thailand? I'm so looking forward to catching up with all of you!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment on my blog! I truly appreciate and will take the time to respond to each of your comments. Please, do not post links unassociated with my content as they will be deleted.