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Dominican Republic Travel Blog and Fashion | Saona Island

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Dominican Republic Travel Blog and Fashion | Saona IslandDominican Republic Travel Blog and Fashion | Saona IslandDominican Republic Travel Blog and Fashion | Saona IslandDominican Republic Travel Blog and FashionDominican Republic Travel Blog and FashionDominican Republic Travel Blog and FashionDominican Republic Travel Blog and FashionDominican Republic Travel Blog and FashionDominican Republic Travel Blog and FashionDominican Republic Travel Blog and FashionDominican Republic Travel Blog and FashionLos Haitises National Park Travel BlogDominican Republic Travel Blog and FashionLos Haitises National Park Travel Blog

If you are thinking about a trip to the Dominican Republic, I thought I would share with you this:

1. It’s safe! Despite what other people might tell you. You don’t have to be afraid that you will only get stuck in a hotel or resort. Just make sure you are using a reliable tour company to explore areas nearby. And don’t be obnoxiously flashy and try to attract too much attention as in any other popular travel destination if you want to keep trouble at bay.

2. Go Explore! The Dominican Republic it’s so much more than just big resorts at Punta Cana.

3. Combine relaxation with adventure! At least two places I would recommend to visit: 1. Saona Island 2. Los Haitises National Park. Both places are breathtaking and leave you feeling like you’ve seen something entirely new and exhilarating.

4. Check out all activities that your hotel or resort has to offer as you might find activities you have never experienced before. A first for us was a Foam Pool Party, and it was one of the most hilarious parts of the trip I can remember. Adventure and exploring is all fun, but sometimes it’s the oddball activities that bring a smile to your face even after.

5. Try to relax and realize that you are on vacation! Yes, there will be little hiccups or things that you didn’t expect to happen, but just remember… its better than being at work or dealing with winter weather. Enjoy yourself and realize that you are luckier than any of the locals who are working at your resort or many of your friends that you left behind.

We chose the Dominican Republic after seeing the endless, gorgeous picturesque palm trees lined along the beaches that lean towards the shallow waters of the ocean. We found both these and the wild ones that pop up in the midst of the country side far away from the waters. You can literally feel like you walking in the jungle with nothing but the tall palm trees and knowing that you can hit the sand and ocean pretty much within minutes! Just watch for those coconuts – Alka was almost hit with one!

Happy Travels!

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Dominican Republic Travel Blog and Fashion

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Never before have I felt like I’m in a constant hope for spring weather to finally come! That draw of shedding layers of clothing after winter drag combined with endless sunshine and cool breezes makes me acutely pine for spring. And yet, this year we’re nearing the end of April and there is barely any sign of it. We still have the heat full on along with the fireplace occasionally! We think Mother Nature decided to snooze this year into summer.

Thank goodness for Instagram – always delving enticing locations to visit from fellow bloggers. While some are not within reach at the time (Helloooo Santorini?!?) but we luckily chanced across an image from the famous Botanic Garden in Brooklyn, New York. Talk about luck! The park is located in a busy, busy! part of Brooklyn so bank on a 2+ hour drive if you’re venturing from Connecticut alone. A tricky parking situation (the adjacent lot fills up quickly) and a small admission fee later you will find yourself in a transformed world. Any cravings you have for spring blooms combined with proper spring will yield you right into stuff your dreams are made of. Or cravings.

On our visit it was just a bit cool, but nothing to overshadow the glorious colors of the blooms surrounding us at every corner. Many beautiful trees were in full bloom, the spring flowers were notable throughout the park. Tulips are my wife’s favorite flowers and she couldn’t get enough of it. Even our little star had a blast being able to run amock the blooms without a care in the world. Couldn’t have been a better place for families, lovers, or sole flora fanatics!

What do you do to speed up your spring cravings?

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Just as Paris speaks of croissants and fashion, Provence spoke of endless fields of lavender to me. Any time you can have the opportunity to see these mesmerizing fields of purple within the short window looming around end of July and beginning of August, you might think you’ve struck some gold. It’s a tight frame when they are in full bloom and you have to get there in time before the harvesting happens and before they get sent off to little shops and boutiques eventually to find sachets of the dried stuff sold in shops or soap. We made plans to go around that time, we flew to Poland first to see our family and immediately a week later we took a flight to Nice, France.

Spending only a day in Nice we drove to Valensole city to see the lavenders. Our goal was to see them at sunrise. In our minds, we imagined the sun lazily coming up over the rolling hills of Valensole and breaking that gorgeous light over the fields. So passionate were we to make this a reality that we were up and out at 3am. Some major highway work forced us to take little detours and we were forced to take some scenic side roads. Still, we didn’t sweat it knowing we had ample time.

Eventually, we reached the town of Valensole with a bit to spare before sunrise would ‘officially’ happen. The only problem was that we couldn’t find any lavenders! The fields were bare and it appeared that they had already been harvested. As devastating of a blow this was to us, we still kept at it driving up and down the hills and any random road with the slightest hope we’d find these fields. I was getting a little stressed, and starting to wonder how did I miss the season completely. After a couple of hours, we spoke to some locals and they did inform us that most of the lavenders had been cut early this year due to a dry season. As you can only imagine, we were very disappointed. So, we did what any disappointed traveler is to do. Go find food! Luckily, there wasn’t a shortage of French bakeries at Valensole town and we came across the best croissants of any of our travels yet! They were so good I had to go back and get some more!

At this point, you must wonder, where did all those lavender photos come from!? WELL… On the way back to Nice as we were eating our croissants and drinking coffee, all of the sudden we just smelled the lavender flowers. It was a smell wave of sorts and it just hit us full face. We thought to ourselves, where is the smell coming from? A few seconds later, right in front of our car we see the fields. Lavender fields everywhere!

All was not lost – we were so excited! We jumped right into them. The smell, the buzzing bees, and our happiness of finding them were truly an amazing experience. When we finally started taking photos it was more around noon and the lighting was harsh as it can be. Yet, far away from sunrise or sunset glow we were one happy croissant-lavender-sun drenched couple. What a story we walked away with!

On a side note, some photos are from Notre-Dame de Sénanque Abbey which we had visited the day before. The beauty of the architecture and of the valley where the Abbey lies is stunning and worth the visit!

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So many glorious destinations on this planet! So many mini ‘heavens on earth’ localities. The French Riviera is one that aptly fits this thread as the most dreamy Mediterranean bit perched on the coast of Southeastern France. Vast enough that you can explore for days on end taking in the famous cities of Saint-Tropez, Cannes, and Nice. And if you are able to muster the energy after all of that, take a drive and step into the micro state of Monaco.

No matter how tired we may be on our first day of arrival, we’re bound to snap a ton of photos. Maybe it’s because we’re ready to get up and out or maybe it’s the draw of a foreign land, language and culture that just pumps the adrenaline in our system ten times stronger. It’s a bizarre sort of energy! Our first day began at the Rothschild Villa and it’s mind-blowing gardens. It’s not your typical mansion perched on top of a hill overlooking the ocean. It’s a culmination of perfectly manicured gardens, architectural details that enrapt and hold your eye, and breezes from the coastline that bring you back to that perfect day you once had at the spa. Once we exhausted all photo taking efforts, we decided to have a late lunch and tea in the Rothschild’s dining room overlooking the bay. The wine, the experience, the view!

For the next couple of days, we explored all the things that the French Rivera is known for: the sun-drenched beaches, the sweetshops, and the honey-colored stone streets. We ate lots of ice cream, drank some fancy coffee and shared some ah-amazing sunsets lounging before dinner at the outdoor restaurants. For most travelers it’s easy to get lost in every corner of a street that’s more beautiful than the previous one, but for us the magnet here was to get lost in a city with more magnificent cafes at every turn we took.

The last and unexpected stop was Monaco. Partly because we missed a turn to head back while driving and partly because the lure of a new place we on the spot decided that “…well, if fate wants us to see Monaco, why not?!” I recall growing up my Dad always mentioning how Fancy Monaco is. At that moment, the two dots connected somewhere in my mind and I figured…what could be more perfect for my blog?

His comment was spot on – Monaco is very fancy. It’s luxury overload with the overflowing high street fashion boutiques, ridiculously expensive cars parked casually on the street, casinos, snazzy restaurants and of course the beautiful coastline speckled evenly with imposing yachts. An afternoon was all we had, but if we could go back – we very well would. Who knows what turn of magic would come out of our hands at one of the casinos?!

Here’s to another heaven on earth! Cheers!

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I’m always on the hunt for finding places that are so different they can’t be found anywhere else in the world. Which invites 3/4 of the world on my bucket list! However, even within those options something has to strike me about the location so that I want to drop everything and get there. I came across Cuba more than a year ago. It seemed untouched, culture infused, relaxed and I was dying to go. However, somewhere between logistics and planning out our trips for 2017 Cuba did not make it to the list.

That was until one random day my cousin Justyna called out of the blue and said she’s thinking of Cuba around her birthday and wanted to see if we could come. I couldn’t say fast enough LET’S GO! I believe that it is awesome for you to have an opportunity to travel with other people. If helps builds relationships and opens your eyes to different ways of looking at things. Plus, if you have a cousin like mine who literally did all the planning for the trip, all you have to do is show up! Thank you, Justyna!

Now let’s talk about Havana. I hope you loved the pictures because to describe Havana would take a book to write. And if I had to describe it in one phrase I would say it’s a movie set on every street! The classic cars, Spanish and Moorish art and architecture, friendly people and the music all draw you in. There is so much energy reverberating throughout! The beaches are beyond amazing and getting to them in one of those 1950 convertibles makes it half the fun.

My advice on Cuba is simple: Go now! Havana is changing rapidly. With easier access from America and the need for tourist demands, things are ready for big change. Big hotels are on the horizon with shopping malls in mind. Currently, Cuba is still very underdeveloped, and that’s what makes it so unique and one of a kind. If you wait too long I think it will lose its character and charm.

If you’re planning a trip to Cuba I’m listing our favorite restaurants, bars, beach, and our beyond amazing Airbnb. So here it goes!

1. Airbnb – Villa Clasica 1930

2. La Guarida – Great food with a nice rooftop outdoor seating. This place is also a beautiful building to take photos indoor.

3. Iván Chef Justo – Best food we had during our trip. Must go!

4. Restaurant Van Van – Best drinks in town!

5. Beach – Varadero. About 3 hours drive from Havana.

Note that in Cuba things don’t happen quickly. Reservations are a must for any good restaurant. Also, Cuba is not inexpensive. Good dinner will set you with NYC pricing, and it continues for the taxi rides in the classic cars and nice accommodations as well. If you’re US citizen you will need to get a $50 visa. Most likely you will be able to get one right at your gateway airport in the United States.

Don’t forget to enjoy the ride and the music my friends!

– Hubert –

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