Folly Beach, Charleston SC

Hey ya’ll!

This is another exciting post for me!! Early Friday morning I hopped on a flight from Philadelphia to Charleston, South Carolina. I’ve been coming to Charleston since Taylor and I first started dating back in 2013, because this is where his university was. While I adore the city of Charleston, I love Folly Beach even more. I mean, I LOVE Folly. Of all the places I’ve traveled (and that’s a lot of destinations) Folly Beach is my favorite place in the whole wide world. I truly don’t think another place will ever compare.

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Since Folly Beach is my favorite place in the world, it only makes sense that my favorite restaurant in the world is there too! The Lost Dog Cafe!

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I’m so glad I squeezed in a weekend at Folly Beach. Given it was the cheapest flight I could find, but TOTALLY worth it. I just love the small beach town feel and the ease of life down there. I would love to live in Charleston or own a vacation home of my own in Folly one day.

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We stayed in Folly for two nights and spent most of the time redecorating Grandmas remodeled condo! We shopped, shopped, and shopped some more! I don’t think I’ve ever carried so much furniture up the stairs before in my life. It was a much needed girls weekend and we got a lot accomplished!

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I also got to see my fur baby!! MAYBELLE! I’ve been missing her so badly for the past two months! I soaked up every moment with her while I was in South Carolina. She loves Charleston too, so she’s obviously an extension of me. 🙂

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I mean, how cute is she?! After our two days in Charleston, we packed up and headed to Spartanburg to see the rest of the family. They took me to my favorite restaurants, threw me a sweet birthday party, and took me on a boat ride. These are a few of my favoriteeee thingsssss! 🙂

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I’m off to Switzerland and Italy now! Make sure your subscribed for more updates!

Short Weekend in Key West

Before Taylor and I moved to Northern Florida over a year ago, we dreamed of visiting the Florida Keys. On a good day, it’s at least an 8 hour drive from Gainesville. We aren’t moving any closer to the Keys, so now was the perfect time for us to go! Since we had a free weekend, we left early Friday morning and stopped at a rest station for a quick breakfast from Dunkin’.

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As soon as we crossed over the water and into Key Largo, we were starving! With Hurricane Irma happening not too long ago, we weren’t sure how bad the destruction would be. As we were driving around looking for a place to stop and eat, everything was closed due to destruction. There were piles and piles of debri along the side of the road and it was heartbreaking.

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The damage was worse in some areas than others, and our hearts went out to the people of the Keys. After driving around and trying to find a place to eat that was open, we finally stumbled upon a small place called Boondocks. It wasn’t anything local or fancy, and the food was alright, but it was a nice break from the road.

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As soon as we stepped out of the restaurant, we noticed a line of traffic. What we didn’t know, was that there was a truck overturned 20 miles ahead, which dumped hundreds of gallons of oil all over the road and it was blocking both lanes. We barely crawled through traffic for FIVE HOURS. What was supposed to be an 8 hour drive to Key West, turned into a miserable THIRTEEN HOUR drive.

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The two of us were super bummed, because we were really counting on that night to explore the city. At one point when we were crawling through traffic, we were stopped next to an ice cream shop. Making the most of the situation, I ran inside and got us some yummy ice cream cones. I had enough time to go inside, purchase two ice cream cones, and make it back to the car before it moved again…

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We didn’t end up making it to our hotel until 10:30 that night. The receptionist at the desk was incredible and offered us free drinks upon arrival. He understood the traffic we’d just went through, and was more than sympathetic for us. Apparently, nobody had checked in that night because they were all stuck in that horrific traffic. After squaring things away at the desk, he personally showed us to our room and made sure we were comfortable.

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Our room was small, but very clean and comfortable. It was perfect for our short stay!

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Although we were tired from the drive, we were eager to get out on our feet and find something to munch on. We decided to get a few drinks and some appetizers at the Waterfront Brewery, which was right on the harbor! Thankfully, it was only a few minutes away.

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This place was fantastic!! Our server was amazing and the food and drinks were exactly what we needed. Taylor ordered the pretzels and I had the calamari! If we would’ve been in Key West longer, the two of us would’ve definitely returned.

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The next morning, we woke up early and hit the ground exploring! The great thing about our hotel was that it was within walking distance of everything. Our hotel also offered complimentary tea and coffee all day long, so that was an added bonus in my book! 🙂 The first thing we did, was walk to the most southern point of the United States.

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Typically, there is writing on the Southern Point marker, but they were in the middle of repainting it while we were there.

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Once we were done looking at the view and taking our touristy pictures, we started walking around and looking at all the unique homes! People in Key West really enjoy celebrating Halloween, because almost all of them were decked out in Halloween decorations. Even our hotel was full of decorations! I believe the city was getting ready for a Fantasy Fest in the near future, which sounded huge!?

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After walking down Duval Street for a little bit, we were beginning to get hungry. We stumbled upon a cute place called, Two Friends. The place looked pretty busy, so we took it as a good sign!

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I’m so glad that we chose to eat here, because it was SO YUMMY! Despite being busy, we were sat right away and the service was great.

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I ordered the bacon, mushroom, and swiss omelet, while Taylor ordered their strawberry, banana, french toast. Both were excellent!

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We didn’t have any set plans for the day, so we continued walking around Key West and exploring. Taylor ended up finding a local Rum distillery! If you enjoy rum, you need to check this place out! You can walk around the see them actually making the rum!

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I’m not a rum drinker, but Taylor had a sample and said it was great!

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It was super hot while we were exploring, so we decided to go back to our hotel and relax by the pool. We booked our stay at the Eden House, which we found on booking.com. On our way back, we stopped at a local bakery for some sweet treats!

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We loved staying at the Eden House because it was so peaceful and relaxing. We were within walking distance of everything, and the people were so friendly. Each room was unique and very well kept.

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If we ever find ourselves in Key West again, we will definitely be staying here again. There are a few larger hotels on the island, but I’d recommend staying at a smaller place like a bed and breakfast.

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Every day from 5-7, the Eden House has a free happy hour! We took advantage of that before getting ready and heading out for a night on Duval Street.

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We started our Saturday night out at Sloppy Joe’s! They had live music and fantastic drinks and appetizers!

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We ordered their mozzarella sticks and loaded fries!

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After about an hour or so, we walked to Irish Kevin’s! Here, we split a World Famous Green Alligator! It had blue carjack, limon run, sour mix and orange juice with a 151 rum floater. Not only was it tasty, but it came with the cup!

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As soon as we left Irish Kevin’s, it started to rain. While waiting for it to stop, we went into a nearby ice cream shop for a late night snack! Once the rain gave up and we walked back to our hotel, we grabbed our swimsuits and headed for the hot tub.

The next morning we had to check out and head back to Gainesville. As soon as we packed our bags and said a sad goodbye to the Eden House, we drove to the harbor for a quick breakfast.

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We ordered food at the Cuban Coffee Queen and ate it on a bench beside the water! The food was amazing and it was my first time trying cuban coffee. Now I know why everyone raves about cuban coffee, because it was soooo good! Even Taylor liked it, and he doesn’t even drink coffee! 🙂

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On our way out of Key West, we passed the Mile 0 sign and had to stop for a mini photo shoot!

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Although our trip to Key West was short, we had an amazing time exploring the small city and we hope to be back soon!

 

 

Our Honeymoon in Abu Dhabi

One of the biggest questions we were asked on the day of our wedding was, “where are you going for your honeymoon!?” When we answered, “Abu Dhabi,” the immediate response we got was, “where is that?” Abu Dhabi is located in the Middle East, and is the capital of the United Arab Emirates. It is situated beside the Persian Gulf, south of Iran and shares a land border with Saudi Arabia and Oman. The popular city of Dubai is located about an hour and a half north of Abu Dhabi.

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The day after our wedding we caught an early flight from Charlotte to New York City. From there, we flew 12 hours to the country of Qatar with Qatar Airways. This was the nicest, most comfortable international flight we’ve ever been on in our entire lives. We didn’t even fly first class! When we were booking our flights with Qatar several months ago, we threw around the idea of flying business class since it was our honeymoon. Looking back, we’re super glad we didn’t cave and spend the extra money! Honestly, we didn’t need to upgrade because economy seating was so nice! When we were checking into our flight at JFK, we mentioned that it was our honeymoon and they changed our seats! They gave us the option of choosing exit row seats or having a row with an empty seat between us. We chose the later option because it gave us more space without worrying about another person next to us.

With all the new movies and TV shows available at our seats, our flight passed by quickly. As soon as we arrived in Qatar, we took a short one hour flight across the Persian Gulf to Abu Dhabi. From there, we took a 30 minute taxi ride to the Emirates Palace.

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This resort was exactly like it sounds, a palace. It was enormous and luxurious, making it the perfect place for us to honeymoon. Upon arrival, we were greeted and personally shown to our suite. One of the sweet receptionists showed us where everything was, and pointed out all the different amenities within our room.

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One end of the Emirates Palace is dedicated to families and larger groups. The other end is for couples and those who want more privacy. To accommodate both ends, there are two swimming pools. The family friendly swimming pool has several waterfalls, a lazy river, a small park, and a large kiddie pool. We stuck to the pool on our side, which was very quiet and relaxing. They had large hammocks in and out of the pool, plus a swim up bar.

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DCIM100GOPROGOPR2814.There was also a private beach along the Persian Gulf with stunning turquoise water!

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When Taylor found out that you could ride camels on the beach, he was sold on the idea of traveling to Abu Dhabi. He was SO EXCITED!

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When telling people that we were traveling to the Middle East, we got a lot of concern regarding safety. We stayed at the resort most days, but when we visited the Grand Mosque and walked around the city, we felt completely safe. The local people were so nice and welcoming, so it’s a place we would highly recomend traveling to!

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When visiting the Grand Mosque, you’re required to dress conservatively. This means wearing something that covers your arms and legs. If you’re a women, you’ll need to wear a head covering as well. If you don’t have any of these items with you, you’ll be required to rent something when passing through security.

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fullsizeoutput_35ae.jpegThese are our, “why did we decide to tour during the hottest part of the day in Abu Dhabi” faces! :)

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There are multiple 45 minute tours of the Grand Mosque available for free! If you don’t feel like participating in a tour group you can show yourself around, but you’re limited to what you can see and learn. Our tour guide gave us a detailed history of the Mosque and we really learned a lot! We’d highly recommend completing the tour rather than showing yourself around! The Grand Mosque was STUNNING!

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Our time in Abu Dhabi was unforgettable. I’m really glad that Taylor encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone and travel to a place that I’d never considered before. We were able to see a part of the world that some people will sadly, never get to see. Abu Dhabi was breathtaking and offered us culture and experiences that we’ll carry with us for the rest of our lives.

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If you ever find yourself desiring an adventure or an experience that will challenge you and force you to step outside of what you know, we’d highly recommend traveling to the Middle East. You won’t regret it! Or, if you’re looking for the perfect honeymoon destination, please consider the Emirates Palace!

Airport Anxiety

With spring break right around the corner, most people are flocking to warmer places! After anxiously waiting for the trip you’ve planned, the last thing you want to do is stress yourself to the max while at the airport. If you fail to plan ahead, your time at the airport could quickly become a nightmare. Here are some ways we make flying a smooth and simple process.

Whether you’re a frequent flyer or not, chances are you will find yourself at an airport you’ve never been to before. Since each airport is uniquely different, this may stress you out, so don’t be scared to look up a map online. By looking at the map you can get a feel for where all the terminals are and where the best food is. This will save you time and confusion.

Before you pack your bags, make sure you know all the bag requirements for your airline. Each airline has a different procedure and sometimes they can change their policy with little to no announcement. For example, American Airlines allows you to take one carry-on bag and one personal item. Your personal item could be a purse, pillow, backpack, etc.

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However, if you fly with Frontier they make you pay $35 for a carry-on bag if you purchase it through their website up to 24 hours before your scheduled flight. If you wait to check in your bag until you arrive at the airport, they will charge you $45…just for your carry on bag. Their prices vary for checked luggage as well. It’s better to do your research and make sure your bags fit the requirement. If you are boarding the plane and they notice your bag is too big, they will literally pull you out of line and make you pay for your bag and charge you $60! We’ve seen this happen and it’s all because they didn’t do their research and just assumed every airline had the same policies.

Click the links below to view the baggage policies for common American airlines:

Frontier Airlines , American Airlines , Spirit Airlines , Southwest Airlines , JetBlue , Allegiant Airlines , Delta Airlines , Hawaiian Airlines , Virgin America

Any bags that you are carrying onto the plane will need to go through security. (Keep in mind that security will not tell you if your bag is too big.) You also cannot have any liquid products over 4 oz. This means if you have a full bottle of sunscreen, perfume, toothpaste, shampoo etc. they will tell you to check in your bag or throw away the product. This happens so often that airport security have trash bins at each station ready to throw away products. We’ve seen this happen and it looks like a traumatizing event! Nothing worse than buying full-size supplies and having them thrown away before using them. Not to mention, you’ll have to buy the products at your final destination, which will probably be more expensive. You can find travel-friendly bottles and products at stores like Walmart or Target. There is usually a wall filled with tiny sized items specifically for traveling!

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Click here for a list of items you can and cannot bring with you on the plane.

If you are taking a larger suitcase that cannot be a carry-on due to size and weight, checking the bag in is your only option. Again, make sure you research how much your airline charges so you’re not caught off guard when you arrive at the ticketing desk! Typically, they cost around $15-$30 for your first bag. Most times, when you buy your flight online, the airline will give you an opportunity to check-in a bag at a reduced cost if you purchase it with your ticket. If you know you will be checking in your bag prior to the flight, take advantage of the discount!

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p.s. if you’re wondering why Taylor’s smile looks so forced, it’s because it was. He was battling an ulcer.

The great thing about technology is that you can now use your phone as your boarding pass! No more printing out pieces of paper and trying to keep track of them all! When you receive your boarding pass electronically, always, always, ALWAYS take a screenshot of it, because while technology seems great, it has its glitches and we all know how pesky the Airport WiFi can be. Even if you don’t end up using the screenshot, it’s important to have the backup.

 

 

Next, give yourself enough time to park your car, check your bag, get through security, and find your gate. What time are you flying? Is it at 5am when there is no traffic or 5pm during rush hour? Are you flying the day after a holiday when all of America is flying? And don’t forget about that long security line! If you are tense getting to the airport you will be tense until you get on the plane. Typically, domestic flights suggest arriving 2 hours before your flight and 3 hours for an international flight. It never hurts to be there too early.

You can make your life and the lives around you 5x less stressful if you pay attention and know what’s expected while going through security. Before they let you take your belongings through security, they will ask you for your ID and boarding pass. Too many people spend 20 minutes in line watching people go through the process and then when it’s their turn, they are fumbling around searching for their documents because they weren’t paying attention.

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When it’s time to have your belongings checked, make sure you take off anything that could possibly set the alarm off such as jewelry, electronics, belts, watches, etc. If you’re traveling with smaller children, keep in mind that they are expected to walk through security as well. Oh, and don’t forget to wear matching socks! 😉

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After you make it through security and find your gate, you’ll be tempted to shop around. Everyone loves a good book and snack on the plane, but these leisurely items can add up quickly when purchased within the airport because they always jack up the prices. Pack snack sized items in your carry-on and purchase your reading material beforehand. Don’t forget those headphones either!

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Hope this post helped! Happy Traveling!

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