Day Trip to Ravello in the Amalfi Coast

Ravello, the City of Music, is an enchanting little town overlooking the Amalfi Coast. With its cobblestone streets, lush gardens, and breathtaking views of Italy’s beautiful coastline – Ravello is a charming town one must definitely visit during their stay in the Amalfi Coast!

How to Get to Ravello from Positano

As Ravello is situated above the Amalfi Coast, it is not easily accessible via ferry like the other towns and villages on the Amalfi Coast, making it a little more challenging to visit. Although one can visit the town using the city’s bus, SITA, we opted for the more scenic and touristy approach – the City Sightseeing open deck tour bus. This was extremely easy to do once we had figured out the details! We figured it would be helpful to share how we got to Ravello if you choose not to use the city’s bus for whatever reason (i.e., the bus does not run as frequent during low season, the buses can get very crowded).

Ferry Ride from Positano to Amalfi

As we stayed in Positano, the first part of our journey began with a quick ferry ride to Amalfi. We were able to book our ferry ride to Amalfi the same morning via Direct Ferries’s website. [Tip: If you are visiting during high season (between June and September), we would recommend booking your ferry rides a little bit more in advance]. You are also able to purchase ferry tickets at the ferry port, as well.

We used Positano Jet for the first ferry at 9:05am which docked the Amalfi port at 9:25am (one-way ticket was EUR 10 per person). Our hotel, Hotel Marincanto, was conveniently situated in the center of Positano which made it a short ten minute walk from our room to the ferry port – and not to mention it was extremely easy to figure out with a direct pathway to the boardwalk where the ferry stands were located. Once on the ferry, we were able to sit back and enjoy the beautiful scenic views of the coast – you’ll enjoy the ride and it’ll be over before you know it!

View of Positano from the boarding area

Once on the ferry, we were able to sit back and enjoy the beautiful scenic views of the coast – enjoy the ride as it’ll be over before you know it!

Bus Ride to Ravello

Once docked in Amalfi, the stop for the CitySightseeing bus is a very short walk away. Upon exiting the ferry terminal, all you have to do is make a right and walk towards the round-about – taking you less than five minutes to get there.

You will spot a CitySightseeing attendant who will assist you in purchasing your ticket. Tickets can only be purchased onsite and are EUR 5 per person each way (EUR 10 for round-trip). Also important to note, they only accept cash (euros NOT dollars). If you do not have any euros on hand, don’t worry (we didn’t either), an ATM machine is conveniently located across the street.

Once on board, it takes about thirty minutes to get to Ravello. The bus has wifi and they also pass out headphones if you are interested in listening to any history on the drive up.

Timetable of the bus route from Amalfi to Ravello

First Stop: Villa Rufolo

Our first stop in Ravello was Villa Rufolo. The walk from the bus stop to Villa Rufolo is under ten minutes and extremely easy to find. Once you disembark from the bus, you follow the sidewalk with the coastline to your left-hand side until you reach a tunnel. Shortly after passing through the tunnel, the entrance to Villa Rufolo will be on your left hand side.

Villa Rufolo, located in the historic center of Ravello, is a two-story villa which features beautiful gardens. The gardens at Villa Rufolo are known as the “Garden of the Soul”. The best views are from the second floor of the villa where multiple balconies are accessible to visitors.

Admission into Villa Rufolo is EUR 7 per person. Cash (euros) and credit cards are accepted, with the exception of Amex.

The Gardens at Villa Rufolo

Second Stop: Villa Cimbrone

Once you have taken in all the beauty offered by Villa Rufolo, your next stop in Ravello is Villa Cimbrone – which, in our opinion, is even more breathtaking than Villa Rufolo!

Villa Cimbrone is definitely more hidden and it takes a 10 to 15 minute walk from Villa Rufolo to Villa Cimbrone. Several directional signs are located throughout Ravello so you can be sure you’re going in the right direction.

It will be a pleasant walk to your next stop – the path is lined with plenty of shops and a few restaurants in case you’d want to pick up any souvenirs or a quick bite to eat.

After a few minutes of climbing uphill and taking steps downhill you will finally arrive at Villa Cimbrone.

Villa Cimbrone, which sits atop of a promontory, offers spectacular views of the coastline and Mediterranean sea. Villa Cimbrone is actually a private hotel in Ravello but allows guests to visit its beautiful gardens.

Admission into Villa Cimbrone is also EUR 7 per person which is astonishing because we definitely felt that admission should be higher for this garden! Credit cards and cash (euros) are both accepted, as well.

After wandering through the gardens, prepare yourself to have your breath taken away as you approach the Terrace Infinity and become immersed with the views of the Mediterranean sea. It is easily one of the most memorable sights in Amalfi Coast.

Once you have visited both gardens, you can walk towards the city center (near Villa Rufolo) to rest your legs if you wish! Make sure to check the bus return times and coincide it with the ferry schedule so you don’t end up waiting around for a long time for a ferry once you’re back in Amalfi.

Also, if you only have time to visit one garden, we definitely recommend Villa Cimbrone over Villa Rufolo. However, if you have time to visit both gardens we would not dissuade you from doing so – both of these villas offer immense amounts of beauty in their own respect!

Hope you enjoyed this blog post and find it helpful! If you have visited Ravello before or plan to do so, let us know in the comments section! Until next time. Happy and safe travels!

Iridium Spa at the St. Regis Maldives Vommuli Resort – Updated Review

When visiting the St. Regis Maldives resort, a trip to the Iridium spa is a MUST! On our first time visiting the resort, we opted to visit the spa at nighttime which was a wonderful experience but it was completely different than visiting the spa during daylight hours. During our second visit to the Iridium Spa we opted for two services – the ‘Private Blue Hole Experience’ (during the day) and the ‘Iridium Signature Massage’.

Iridium Spa’s Waiting Lounge

Upon arrival to the Iridium Spa, guests are directed towards the waiting lounge where they are greeted with cold towels and flavored ice cold water as they await for their treatment.

Within the lounge, light relaxing music is played throughout and several glass floor openings are located in the area allowing guests to take a glimpse of the vibrant marine life located under the spa.

Restrooms and Amenities

The restrooms in the Iridium Spa offer showers, toilets, lockers, a sauna, and steam room for guests to use before or after their treatment. The restrooms were extremely clean and welcoming.

Blue Hole Experience

The last time we visited the St. Regis Maldives we booked the private Blue Hole Experience during the nighttime. This time around, we wanted to book this experience again but during the day! And we are so glad we did!!!

First of all, the water this time was just the right temperature! And then the beautiful blue hole’s water combined with the ocean’s blue made for the most picturesque moment!

We definitely preferred our daytime experience and would highly recommend all our readers to book during the day versus at nighttime!

Iridium Signature Massage

Treatments Are Held Inside These Little Huts!

WOW! WOW! WOW! That’s the only word that comes to mind when describing our couples massage experience at the Iridium Spa.

Couple’s Massage Suite

We booked the 90-minute ‘Iridium Signature Massage’ and it was the most heavenly massage we have ever received! From the second you enter the gorgeous couple’s massage suite, you are taken aback by the combination of the perfect blend of whites and blues.

The suite hosts a private bathroom in which you can utilize to change into a robe and a pair of slippers. The suite has a bathroom, a small changing room, two vanities, and two mini closets to place personal belongings. In addition to the robe and slippers, we were also given disposable underwear to change into as we both arrived in our swimsuits – never seen that before!

Before the commencement of our massages on the massage table, we first received a wonderful foot massage accompanied with a foot scrub. During our foot massage, we were given the opportunity to select which oil we would like to utilize during our respective massages. As we were pretty sunburnt already, we opted for the coconut oil to help ease with our sunburns.

After our foot massages, it was time for the massages! These were the best 90 minutes ever! Our masseuses literally massaged every area of our bodies – from head to toe – using just the right amount of pressure. Throughout our massages, they would also stretch us out. It was honestly such a phenomenal experience!

In conclusion, the Iridium Spa at the St. Regis Maldives is one to not miss! Whether you are enjoying the Blue Hole or getting one of their several treatments – you will not be disappointed. We HIGHLY recommend it.

Hope you enjoyed the first part of our updated review about the St. Regis Maldives! Stay tuned for part two – coming real soon. Until then, happy travels!

Getting the Most Out of Your 48-Hour Visit to Banff National Park

Lake Louise

Day 1

Moraine Lake

First stop: Moraine Lake

Moraine Lake is located near Lake Louise (your second stop) – and in our opinion, is even more scenic than the latter. Surrounded by mountains, the turquoise waters on a sunny day really really stand out and let you appreciate the beauty of this lake. In order to take it all in and enjoy the magic of Moraine Lake, we strongly suggest setting your alarm clocks early to beat the crowd. On our first trip to Moraine Lake, we arrived a little before 9 AM and were able to easily find parking AND take pictures with very fewer crowds in the background. On our second trip, we arrived closer to 10 AM and the lake-area parking was at full capacity so we could not enter (what a difference an hour makes here!). We had to return later in the day and even then it was still crowded – making it almost impossible to take a picture without having a bunch of people in the background.

Visitors who want to get even closer to Moraine Lake have the opportunity to canoe. The dock is open daily from 9 AM to 5 PM from mid-June to mid-September and costs approximately $78 for an hour rental (a bit steep, I know). Each canoe accommodates two to three people and reservations are not accepted (canoes are available on a first come, first basis). Although just a few, we did see people bring their own kayaks – which is good to know as some Airbnb rentals included kayaks.

In addition to canoeing the lake, hiking trails is also accessible at Moraine Lake. The lake offers several beautiful hikes – including Rock Pile, Consolation Lakes, and the Larch Valley trail. As we decided to do our hiking at the trails near Lake Louise we have not done any of these hikes so we can’t speak to how strenuous they may or may not be. A cafe is also onsite – The Snowshoe Cafe – which offers tea, coffee, cold beverages, and sandwiches.

Lake Louise

Second Stop: Lake Louise

The famous Lake Louise definitely lives up to its hype and then some! Surrounded by soaring mountain peaks, Lake Louise is the perfect shade of turquoise. During the summer and winter months, visitors can canoe and skate on Lake Louise, respectively. Canoes can be rented at the Fairmont Chateau dock for $115 per hour or $105 per half an hour.

In addition to canoeing and skating, several trails are available for visitors to explore. During our most recent visit, we decided to hike to Mirror Lake which is the halfway point to the famous Lake Agnes Tea House. I have to stress how important it is: the hike to Mirror Lake is strenuous. Our group had to stop several times to catch our breath as the majority of the hike is at an incline. I will say that once we got to Mirror Lake we were pretty disappointed. I do not know if it was the time of the year (early September) that resulted in the lake being so lack luster but we were not impressed and were a little upset we hiked to see this! The view was much better on the ground!

Mirror Lake – definitely NOT impressed!

Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise

When planning your time at Lake Louise, make sure to visit the world-famous Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise(not to be confused with the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel). The first time we visited Lake Louise, we chose not to hike and instead opted to enjoy a bottle of wine on the rocking chairs of the property facing Lake Louise. The weather was just perfect and we definitely will be doing this again next time we visit versus hiking any of the nearby trails!

Additionally, if time-permitting, grab a bite to eat at Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. We had lunch there on our last visit – the food was outstanding and service was impeccable! Highly recommended!

Peyto Lake

Third stop: Peyto Lake – Bow Summit

The bluest water in all of Banff National Park is found at Peyto Lake. The lake gets its color from the large amounts of glacier rock flour that flow into the lake during the summer months. The best place to view Peyto Lake is from the Bow Summit – approximately 36 minutes from Lake Louise. Once you arrive at Bow Summit, it is a quick 10 to 15 minute hike to the Peyto Lake lookout area. As this will be your third stop of the day, the crowds should be gone by that time – allowing you to get the best pictures possible!

Day 2

Johnston Canyon

First stop: Johnston Canyon

Johnston Canyon is one of the easiest hikes in Banff National Park, making it the perfect place for families (including pets) to explore together. Johnston Canyon offers two trails – trail to Lower Johnston Falls and a trail to Upper Johnston Falls (which we haven’t had the chance to do yet).

The trail to Lower Johnston Canyon is just a little over one mile and runs parallel to Johnston creek – making almost every step along the trail the perfect picture opportunity. At the end of the Lower Johnston trail, visitors are able to walk through a tunnel and get a closer look of the waterfall.

Since the trail is great for beginners and it offers such scenic views, it is easily one of the most popular trails to do while visiting Banff National Park. As such, it is highly recommended that you arrive early in order to beat the crowds. The path has some bridges you will pass that are quite narrow – so you’d want to avoid having to constantly move aside as other hikers are passing through. Additionally, if you do arrive later to Johnston Canyon, be prepared to make a line to get a closer look of the waterfall and also having to park further away from the entrance. Just a few things to keep in mind when planning your arrival time to Johnston Canyon (hence why we suggest it to be the first stop of the day).

Banff Gondola

Second stop: Banff Gondola

Visitors who want to experience Banff National Park from a higher elevation point have the option of taking a gondola ride up Sulphur Mountain. The glass enclosed gondola holds up to four individuals and offers each guest a 360 degree view. Just recently, the summit visitor center was remodeled enhancing the overall experience provided to visitors. Visitors can experience mountaintop dining, take a stroll on the rooftop observation deck, and so much more! Tickets can be purchased in advance for $58 per person.

48 Hours & Beyond

Unfortunately our schedules limited our time to two days to visit Banff National Park so we weren’t able to see more of this Canadian beauty. Needless to say, we have started making a list of different spots we definitely want to check out next time we are visiting Banff National Park and wanted to share it with all our readers in case you are planning to spend more time there than what we had:

  • Jasper National Park
  • Lake Minnewanka
  • Icefields Parkway

Important Tip

Make sure to stay as close as possible to the main attractions during your visit. The first time we visited Banff National Park, we Airbnb’d a condo near Calgary which was about an hour drive from Lake Louise and Lake Moraine. On our second trip, we stayed a little further away as we were a much larger group and wanted a house to accommodate all of us. Although we were able to all stay in the same place, this made our drives extremely long – almost three hours each way! We definitely won’t be doing that again as we ended up spending more time in the car than sight seeing!

Hope you enjoyed our two-day itinerary for Banff National Park! Make sure to let us know what your favorite things to do while visiting Banff! Happy travels!

Destination Engagement Photos at Zion National Park

Congratulations, you’re engaged!! When’s the big day? How did he pop the question? How soon will you have kids? And can your long lost uncle come to the wedding? All these questions are some just of the many million questions that quickly following the announcement of your engagement. But the only question that should cross your mind if you’re a fellow travel junkie like us is, “Where can we go to take our engagement pictures?!”

Given that we have grown up in Florida our entire lives, we knew we wanted a change of scenery for our engagement pictures. We had been wanting to visit Bryce Canyon for quite some time and decided this would be the perfect opportunity! We found THE most perfect photographer who was based out of Utah (Kandice Breinholt) and arranged our session to take place January 2017.

So you’re probably wondering how did we end up in Zion National Park instead of Bryce Canyon. Well Mother Nature actually made that decision for us! The day we were scheduled to take our pictures, a snow storm hit Bryce Canyon which resulted in the park actually closing. Not willing to come back another weekend (as we already taken time off from work, paid for hotels, booked makeup and hair for Jackie, etc.) we decided to just take our pictures at Zion National Park instead! Sometimes you just have to roll with the punches when travel plans change unexpectedly.

During our session, it was about 20 degrees Fahrenheit, snow flurries were falling on us, and of course all the dresses I was wearing were all sleeveless! I am not sure if it was the rush we were feeling during our engagement shoot or the sips of moonshine we would have during our outfit changes (all done in the car) but we did not feel cold at all!

& That’s A Wrap!

The following day, before we headed to Las Vegas to catch our evening flight, we were able to explore Zion for a couple of hours. During our photo session we mainly stayed in the area closer to the visitor center so we decided to drive further into Zion to see a different side of the national park. During one point in our drive, we remember going through a tunnel and the scenery completely changing! It took our breath away. Even though we tried our best to capture the beautiful scenery, pictures really don’t do this place any justice.

While we were exploring the top of the mountain it was actually pretty scary because we couldn’t tell where the edge of the mountain was with all the snow!

Information

  • Hotel Near Zion National Park: Desert Pearl Inn
    • Great location – approximately three minutes from the entrance of the park
    • Room came with a kitchen area and was very clean
    • Great views of Zion National Park from our room!
  • The drive from Salt Lake City, Utah to Zion National Park is approximately 4.5 hours.
  • The drive from Zion National Park to Las Vegas airport is approximately 2.5 hours.
  • Hair and makeup by Marisa Rose
    • She did an amazing job and was so sweet!
    • Based in Salt Lake City, Utah

As seasoned wedding planners (that may be a stretch…), there are two pieces of advices we would love to share with any newly engaged couple! Number one – do whatever makes you both happy! People will always complain but at the end of the day always remember the main reason behind the wedding – to celebrate YOUR love. Number two – before all the stress that comes with wedding planning begins, take a trip together and capture the love that you share for each other on film! You will have these pictures to cherish forever and it’s the perfect way to capture the start of this new chapter in your life. Hope you enjoyed this blog post and happy travels!

About Us

Hey There! We’re Andres and Jackie, two travelers who are addicted to traveling and always looking for our next adventure! We began our own little adventure – that is our love story – in 2011 and ever since then we have had the privilege of traveling to so many amazing destinations together. We decided to create this travel blog to be a time capsule of all the wonders of the world we have explored together and also to help others plan their own escapades using some tips we have learned along the way. We hope you enjoy following us along on our journey!

Long Layover in Hamad International Airport – Doha

The Famous Doha “Teddy Bear”

We are officially embarking on our epic three-week long trip to the Maldives, Positano, Capri, and Madrid. For the next three weeks we will definitely be living our best lives and we couldn’t be more excited to catch a break for our daily normal routine, disconnect and recharge.

Oryx Airport Hotel

Our first (mini) stop – Hamad International Airport in Doha.

We arrived in Doha around 4 PM after completing the first leg of our trip, which was approximately 14 hours long! The first thing we were dying to do was brush our teeth and take a nice warm shower. As our flight to Male would not depart till 2 AM we had pre-booked a room at Doha’s airport – Oryx Airport Hotel which is a total game changer for us. As a note, we definitely recommend making a reservation ahead of time as you run the risk the hotel may be at full capacity – we witnessed other travelers without reservations being turned down as we were checking out.

The Oryx Airport Hotel is your usual hotel – nothing fancy but offers all the standard amenities one may need. The hotel offers a spa, temperature-controlled swimming pool, gymnasium, racquet ball court, and a golf stimulator (okay, this one probably isn’t a standard amenity).   

Now for the room. We will admit that the rate (USD 322) per night (or nine hours) is pretty steep – given that there are no other options without having to leave the airport, we were left with no choice. The room in itself was extremely clean and the bed was relatively comfortable – we fell asleep right away. The toilet is a little oddly shaped so it’s not the most comfortable and the toilet paper was definitely more on the rough side. We apologize if the latter was too much personal information – just trying to be honest and thorough. We also weren’t able to get our air conditioner to properly work but we weren’t drenched in sweat either. Lastly, and probably the most important thing to note for foreign travelers, is that the WIFI offered by the hotel is subpar. The connection was very spotty, the speed was extremely slow, and we were continuously having to reconnect as it would kick us out.

Overall, this is our second time staying at Oryx and we would definitely stay there once again if we are ever lucky enough to find ourselves on this side of the world in the future.

Al Mourjan Business Lounge

As we had redeemed miles for business class seats from Miami to the Maldives, we had access to Qatar’s business class lounge – the Al Mourjan. The lounge itself is beautifully decorated and offers many wonderful amenities including – two dining areas, showers, a family room, a game room, and plenty of seating with an abundance of electricity ports to charge all your gadgets!

While we were there, the restaurant a very generous spread including pasta, soup, lamb, curry chicken, humus, etc. Andres sampled a little bit of everything and was satisfied the food is better than the airports’ food court options. If you have access to the lounge, we’d definitely recommend spending some time there!                    

Hamad International Airport

Hamad International Airport is a very impressive airport. One of the first things you’ll notice is how clean it is kept. The airport offers several shopping locations – including multiple Duty-Free stores, high-end retail store fronts such as Tiffany & Co, Rolex, Gucci, etc. Before you depart the airport, make sure you snag a picture with the famous teddy bear – trust us, you won’t be able to miss him! Complimentary WIFI is located throughout the airport but once again not the best connection. One thing we did note is that the airport comes to life late at night. During the day not many travelers are seen but at night the airport is packed! Never seen that before!

A New ‘Duty Free’ is Coming Soon!

Next stop – the St. Regis Maldives!

Hope you enjoy following us along on (at least virtually) during our three week vacation! Stay tuned for our updated blog post about the St. Regis Maldives! In the meantime, make sure to check out our first blog post about our first stay in the St. Regis Maldives! As always, wishing you all happy and safe travels!

Our Weekend Escape to Ginnie Springs in North Florida

This weekend Andres and I decided to take a road trip to Gainesville, FL to explore a different part of our home state. On the agenda – floating through Ginnie Springs. Ginnie Springs is a privately-owned park offering one of the clearest spring waters in Florida. The outdoor nature park is the perfect spot for all ages given the variety of activities that are offered – such as diving and snorkeling, camping, canoeing and kayaking, paddle boarding, swimming, and river tubing. The park is open year-round and no matter the weather conditions, the spring remains a cool 72 degrees at all times.

Upon arrival to Ginnie Springs, visitors are instructed to enter on the right-hand side of the entrance in which you receive a small piece of paper that you are then required to take to the ‘Dive/Country Store’. At the store, guests pay the entrance fee ($15 per person for adults) and rent any equipment needed (snorkel gear, tubes, kayaks, etc.).

Although the website states that a waiver must be signed before entrance to the park, we were never asked to confirm we submitted this waiver. We decided to bring our own double float (which had a built-in cooler) and snorkel gear so we didn’t need to rent any equipment. After paying the admission fee, we needed to exit the park and re-enter but this time on the left-hand side. We handed the attendant at the entrance our receipt (proof that we had paid the entrance fee) and proceeded towards the spring.

Tube Air Stations

As we decided to bring our own float, we had come prepared with a small pump to inflate our tube once we parked. However, to our pleasant surprise, the park actually has two tube air stations where we were able to inflate our tube in under five minutes! It was definitely useful as we would have easily taken MUCH longer with the small pump we had brought from home.

Now that we had our float all ready to go, we headed straight to the ‘Ginnie Springs’ parking lot entrance in search for a parking spot. We got pretty lucky and were able to snag a spot just a few steps away from the entrance to the springs in matter of minutes!

Our Float Was Too Big To Fit In The Car!

Now the Adventure Begins!

One of the best ways to cope with the temperature of the springs is to pack a cooler with your favorite adult beverages (anything is allowed as long as it is not a glass container)! On our way to Ginnie Springs, we stopped at a nearby grocery store and bought a mini cooler and filled it with ice, beers, and some champagne. The size of the cooler made it super convenient to easily carry to the entrance of the springs. There are several stairways allowing for multiple locations to enter the springs. We were able to easily throw our tube into the springs and use the ledge of the steps to hop right in!

Tip: We brought along our waterproof Bluetooth speaker and connected our phones (also waterproof) to be able to enjoy some tunes as we floated along. We bought this speaker back in December and have actually used it quite a bit – best of all, it’s waterproof so it can tag along for water activities like this one. The battery life on the speaker is amazing – we played music for over four hours and it still has the majority of its battery-life left. If you’ve been thinking of getting yourself one, we’d definitely recommend this one here. Just make sure to download music ahead of time as reception is spotty once you get out to the river so don’t count on being able to stream your tunes.

We had a great time floating through the river but will admit it wasn’t as relaxing as we thought it would be. The river was very busy so we were frequently pushed away towards the river edges by other (bigger) floaters and found ourselves having to constantly paddle back to the current. The few areas where the crowd would dwindle down were the best – but these were not very frequent. However, the scenery was spectacular. The water was one of the clearest waters we had ever seen and with the contrast of the greenery around us, it made it such a picturesque spot.

The End of Our Adventure: In The Back Of A Cop Car!

Unfortunately (and I guess fortunately because it has given us a story to tell) our time at Ginnie Springs turned into a complete disaster. As mentioned above, we were constantly getting pushed to the outskirts of the current and one of these times happened to be as we approached the “Tube Exit” signs. A huge multi-person party float pushed us to the opposite side of the tube exit and by the time we paddled our way from the edge we had missed our shot at making it out. Naively thinking the current would eventually loop us back around, we figured this was no big deal and could just go around one more time and catch the exit on our second trip. In the beginning it was actually pretty peaceful since it was much less crowded. However, when we stopped to look around (probably 30 minutes after we had passed the tube exit) we realized we were the only people out there on a tube – all the others were either on a motorized boat or a kayak/canoe. It wasn’t until about 45 minutes after passing the tube exit that two kayakers with a map asked us if we had been there on a float before – leading them to inform us that this river would NOT loop around and we should have gotten off at the tube exit. At this point, panic mode started to creep in.

All We Saw For Over 2 Hours!

Looking at their map, the kayakers informed us that if we kept floating with the current, we would eventually run into a bridge where a boat ramp was located and we would be able to safely get off and possibly have better cell phone reception to call for help. We floated for about another 30 to 45 minutes without any sign of people or the bridge until desperation kicked in at full-speed – we realized our time with daylight was only decreasing and we would not want to find ourselves at the mercy of the river’s current without any sun. At one point, we managed to park the float on the side of the river and considered walking the river’s edge back towards the direction of the tube exit. However, we quickly learned that we were pretty much surrounded by a swamp and since we did not have any footwear, the unknown animals in this swampy area were a risk we weren’t ready to take. Scared that we would encounter snakes or possibly alligators we hopped right back on the float.

At this point, as we were slowly approaching sunset time, I started to think we were going to end up spending the entire night out here on this float and began having a full-on panic attack – tears and all. It was then that we were able to get only single bar of cell service and called 9-1-1 for help! We spent over 40 minutes on the call with the dispatcher (praying the call wouldn’t drop). He pinged our phone location and was able to see that we were on our way towards the bridge. This whole time we saw no one else out in the river and the only noises besides our call and paddling were birds from a distance. It felt like we were paddling for hours and hours before we got to the bridge and were able to make our way to the boat ramp where it looked safe to exit from the river. It was exhausting, terrifying, and so stressful!

We left our float in the middle of the woods once we got to land and waited at Santa Fe River Park for about 30 minutes until the cops came to escort us back to the entrance of Ginnie Springs park. We had floated so far that the car ride was almost 5 miles back to the park! During the ride back, the deputies actually told us that on a weekly basis they have to rescue people in our same situation – that it is actually a frequent occurrence – which made us feel less like idiots! And even worse, they told us that if we would have kept floating we would have eventually ended up in the ocean. WHAT?!

In the end, we were able to get back to our car safe and sound, ten minutes before sunset, and we had a great story to tell and write about. And although it is such a great story to tell, the most IMPORTANT thing we wanted to share in this post is – GET OFF AT THE TUBE EXIT!!! Park employees do not inform you of how important this piece of information is but it is actually VERY CRUCIAL!

We wanted to give a big thank you to the cops and the 9-1-1 dispatcher that pretty much saved our lives and also to our wonderful float, abandoned in the middle of the forest, that stuck it out with us throughout our 4-hour long journey! Best $34 we have ever spent!!

Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park Near Gainesville, FL

Hope you guys enjoyed our story about the first time we visited Ginnie Springs and rode in the back of a cop car all in the same day! And like always, happy and SAFE travels!  

How We Are Using Credit Card Points for Our Flight to Saint Lucia

For quite some time, we have been captivated by Saint Lucia’s beautiful landscape and it’s iconic landmarks – the Pitons. Saint Lucia offers such breathtaking views that it makes it almost impossible to not fall in love with the island and even more impossible to not quickly add it to your never ending list of ‘must visit destinations’. So that’s exactly what we did and now we are looking forward to finally crossing it off our bucket list!

Flights to Saint Lucia – Initial Research

The first thing we always research when planning our next trip is obviously the cost of flights. As we already have a big trip planned during the first half of the year, keeping the cost of the entire trip as reasonable as possible was a big determinant in deciding if it was possible for us to visit Saint Lucia now or put it off for a later time. To figure out how much a flight to Saint Lucia would cost, the first step is to determine when is the best time to visit Saint Lucia. To do this, we performed a quick and simple Google search!

Now that we know our travel dates, our next step was to search Google Flights to evaluate how much flights were. Even though it is a short flight from Miami, about 3.5 hours, a roundtrip flight was still set us back about $1,000 for the both of us.

Evaluating Other Options

Before we decide whether we should book a flight with cash, we always like to evaluate whether we would be better off utilizing any airline miles or credit card points we have saved up. The first step in our evaluation process is determining how many miles we would need in order to book the flights we had in mind. In searching American Airlines, we noted that for the travel date selected we would need approximately 15,000 miles each way per person.

After figuring out how many airline miles the trip will cost, we consider how many credit card points we could use – we like to save our airline miles for booking international travel (as these have historically been our best redemptions). One travel tip we have learned over the years, is that credit card points are more valuable when transferred to airline and/or hotel partners instead of redeeming them for gift cards or statement credits. Jackie recently took advantage of a promotion being offered for the American Express Gold card (mainly Jackie just wanted to get the limited edition rose gold American Express card) which earned her 25,000 American Express membership reward points after meeting a minimum spend of $3,000 in the first three months of the account opening. American Express has great travel transfer partners and one of them happens to be British Airways (which is part of Oneworld Alliance along with American Airlines)!

British Airways Redemption for American Airlines Flight

Per the American Express Rewards portal, 1,000 American Express Reward points translates to 1,000 British Airways Airline Avios. As such, I transferred 20,000 American Express Reward points to British Airways. The transfer immediately occurred and my British Airways account was updated to credited 20,000 Avios.

Our Transfer from American Express to British Airways

Shortly after we logged into our British Airways account and proceeded to book our flights!

Total Savings

Success! We were able to book our flights to Saint Lucia, roundtrip, for a total of $241.02 for both of us ($120.51 plus 20,000 Avios per person)! This resulted in a total savings of $763.44. Definitely cant’t beat this deal and now it allows us to splurge a little bit on our lodging!

Cost of Roundtrip Flight for Both of Us Without Using Airline Miles

We hope you find these travel tips useful and hopefully it will help you check off another bucket list destination while saving money at the same time! We can’t wait to blog about our trip to Saint Lucia in the near future so stay tuned for that. Happy Travels!