Extra! Extra!

Today, I am ecstatic to report to you that the United States government is good at something these days!
Fiance and I applied for our passports last Thursday, hoping they would arrive in time for our honeymoon– and our passports were in the mailbox today!
And no, they were not on a ‘rush.’
Thumbs up to one. week. passports!
And Punta Cana, here we come!
A Moon for Me and My Honey Part III
A Moon for Me and My Honey Part II
A Moon for Me and my Honey Part I


March 6, 2008. Honeymoon, planning. Leave a comment.

Mini Moon:Miami!

So–the ‘mini-moon‘ was fabulous!
Perfect weather, relaxation, good conversation and great eating!
When my fiance proposed that we take some time to get away, of course he never thought of it being a break from wedding planning. But his thoughtfulness= a perfect mini vacation.
Here’s what we did and some ‘mini’ reviews fit for a mini-moon/recommendations:
1. Lay on Beach and Do… Nothing: We stayed at the Ocean Surf, a no-frills art deco boutique hotel on North Beach so that’s where we did our ‘beaching.’ Recommend it because it’s quiet and not as crowded as SOBE–but also not too far from SOBE action when you feel like heading down to party! We were about a 10 minute drive from the action.
2. Eat at the small, local diners for breakfast and lunch: My fiance and I enjoyed two cuban restaurants and another small Columbian one for midday snacks while in Miami. Not only is the food at these places normally ‘home-style,’ large portions and extra yummy–it’s MUCH cheaper to eat at these places.
My favorite: Puerto Sagua on Collins in SOBE. It’s authentic Cuban–humongous portions–and oh-so cheap and yummy. Two huge spreads for $25. I had a huge steak that was so big it was served on its own plate; french fries; rice and black beans!
3. For Dinner, please eat at Texas de Brazil!!
OK–so Texas de Brazil, a churrascaria/brazilian steak house is not unique to Miami. You can find them in about a dozen locations. But I’ve been to SEVERAL of these steakhouses and Texas de Brazil takes the cake–or rather takes the meat!
Yum. Yum. Yum. And impeccable service! Don’t fill up too much on the 50 item salad bar or sushi bar…but do try the garlic shrimp and lobster bisque if they have it that day. There’s one near SOBE. Pricey but well worth it. If you sign up on their web site they’ll send you a 25% off coupon, too.
4. Have Dinner on Ocean Drive on Sunday between 4 and 8 p.m.
Several of the restaurants were offering HALF-OFF–yes HALF off their menus during this time! We ate at an excellent place called Prime Time at the Waldorf Towers Hotel on the beach front. Superb. Two awesome steaks, great calamari, paella and drinks for like $60!! In the center of SOBE!
5. Have a Wet Willies Daquiri
I know this place is ‘throwback’–BUT these icy drinks are GOOD! I love the Mudslide. If it’s midday though, please avoid the liquor-loaded drink properly named “Call a Cab.” My fiance was very tipsy off of one of these….
6. Go drinking and dancing at Mango’s
Awesome Mojitos…several dancing rooms…hot people dancing everywhere=good times!

7. Bar-hop on Collins at the hotel bars

All of the hotels are so uniquely decorated and the bars and people in them interesting. We enjoyed Hotel Shelley!
8. Do something Non-Touristy
We ventured into ‘Little Haiti’ to TRY to do this…but we couldn’t quite find where we going and were warned by several locals that we should beware of the area…so we left. But at least we tried!
9. Fly into Ft. Lauderdale or West Palm
We came into West Palm Beach and enjoyed the laid back and clean airport and the drive into Miami. It was relaxing and beautiful.
10. Bring some (Serious) Shopping Money
True Religion Store and tons of really hot boutiques! What more can a girl ask for!

January 15, 2008. Honeymoon, reviews. 3 comments.

A Mini-Moon for Me and my Honey!

So, you know that a few months ago we decided on our honeymoon:
A Moon for Me and my Honey Part I
A Moon for Me and My Honey Part II
A Moon for Me and My Honey Part III
But of course, that’s not until AFTER the wedding–the last week in August. So, I introduce to you a new phenomenon: the Mini-Moon!
From the OnceUponYourWedding.com Blog:

Hold on to your engagement rings, because you are going to heart this. Instead of a honeymoon, you take a mini-moon during your planning period. Why? Well just like in all big times in life, you need a break. Planning a wedding, just like the long arduous process or buying a home or the incubating period of a pregnancy, can put quite a strain on a relationship. Don’t get me wrong, these are happy events that we are working towards. But because it’s in our nature to want everything to be perfect, we stress about little details, incorporations, etc.
Now, enter the Mini-Moon.
The mini-moon is a quick getaway for the bride and groom: 48 hours or more to a great place. This great place can be a vacation getaway or even the privacy of your own home. The deal is to not discuss anything wedding related for that 48 hours! That’s right– not one mention of your dress, six thousand bridesmaids, the peonies imported from New Delhi or the 700 buttercream roses which will adorn the cake.

Instead, you focus on what got you engaged in the first place– the two of you. If you take your mini-moon at home be sure to tell people you’re going a way. Nine times out of ten, people will call you, unaware of your wedding planning hiatus, and will want to talk shop. Lock up your wedding magazines, contracts, etc. Really make an effort to put the focus back on the relationship and not the wedding. After all, the wedding is only one day. The two of you are forever.

I first heard of the “Mini-Moon” on TheKnot.com, a place where I get many wedding related ideas…some good, some excessive, some useless. This is one of those ideas that sounded good but that I didn’t think would be in the budget as we’re financing 90% of our wedding ourselves.
But last week, Prince Charming proposed a weekend away in South Beach.
So, off we go!

Here is one great mini moon deal offered by Sandals that I found AFTER we booked our Miami weekend:
$179 One-Day Mini-Moon in Sandals Montego Bay (airfare and all-inclusive)

December 18, 2007. Honeymoon. Leave a comment.

A Moon for me and my Honey: Part III

Part I: Intro to DR
Part II: Europe is Out

So today we reserved our honeymoon trip in Punta Cana, which I discussed fairly extensively before.
I guess I was expecting to write about a bunch of other honeymoon options, and then be torn as to where we should go…
But considering our budget constraints for this part of our wedding, the all-inclusive in DR seemed perfect.
Hawaii was an option, but as lovely as I heard it was, it didn’t seem “exotic” or interesting enough being a part of the United States. I know that’s silly…but I was really adamant about leaving the country…
I also looked at Bali and the Cook Islands, but wayy too expensive for us at this point.
And as I noted last week, Europe was out of the question because of the lagging dollar.
So, DR, here we come!

In a prior post I talked about how TripAdvisor is such a wonderful resource when researching vacations/hotels/etc. I love it because travellers from all over the world can rate, write a description of and even share candid photos of a resort. TripAdvisor then averages out these ratings and provides overall ratings for an entity–even breaking it down in ways like:”Best resorts for honeymooners” “Best resort for singles” “Best for families.” There are also active message boards.

However, another great resource I just found is Frommers, the travel version of Zagat’s. In addition to the yearly travel guidebooks Frommers puts out, the traveler extraordinaire now has a web site that is a wealth of information on everywhere in the world.

You can search by country or destination and find the best places to go for what you want to do, and straightforward info about the country, what it has to offer, what to expect.There are also active message boards.
I think Frommers combined with TripAdvisor is a smart way to research your vacation.

October 21, 2007. Honeymoon. Leave a comment.

A Moon for Me and my Honey: Part II

An op-ed in today’s USA Today was very interesting, especially as we’re considering our honeymoon location. The article talks about all the signs that the U.S. is becoming a “2nd-Rate” world power–and the author supports this claim mainly by comparing the U.S. to experiences OUTSIDE OF the U.S.
Of most interest to me was the fact that the U.S. dollar is worth about HALF what the Euro is worth! In fact, the US dollar is now equal to the Canadian dollar!
Hard to believe, because most Americans innately are ethnocentric and see themselves as living in the most “superior” country…But it’s true. Our money isn’t worth much many places…

This really MATTERS when thinking about travelling, and basically makes vacationing anywhere in Europe totally out of the question!
Check out the article: “From afar, America resembles a 2nd-rate power. Hints of our diminished state can be seen in our paranoia, our swooning U.S. dollar and our untidy airports.”
*Do you agree with the article? Have you travelled overseas to find that your green dollars didn’t get you very far?

October 18, 2007. Honeymoon. Leave a comment.

A Moon for me and my Honey: Part I

Me: “Babe, what exactly do you want for our vacation? I mean..what do you have to have?”
He: (While watching football game) “Water. Activities. Warm. Anywhere in the Caribbean would be fine. Somewhere with reasonable flights. But not Jamaica.”
Well, at least he’s not picky!

I am happy to present to you honeymoon option #1:
The Grand Palladium Bavaro Resort and Spa
Playa Bavaro, Higuey, Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

This sea-side, all inclusive resort is constructed on a 320,000 square metre site and is next to two other resorts which we’d have full access to. It’s surrounded by a coconut palm plantation and tropical vegetation. Also, there’s a coral reef.
There are 11 restaurants, 3 buffets in the beach area, 12 bars, 4 pools with swim-up bars and sunbeds, 2 theatres, clubs, casino, golf, scuba diving, watersports (motor, too), shopping, tours…you get it!
To put the icing on the cake, it has a Tripadvisor rating of 4 stars and is one the most popular resorts in the area.

So, why are we thinking DR for vacation?
A few reasons.
1. It’s a wonderful value for what you get.
2. We can afford 6 nights in the very best of their accomodations.
3. The history of DR. (Well, maybe that’s my personal reason)

As you may know, DR is an island-nation on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola which it shares with neighbor Haiti.

Both Haiti and DR are historically conflicted/tumultuous regions, colonized, marred by national government corruption, foreign economic interference in the country, and a rift between rich and poor.
90 % of the contemporary Dominican population has African ancestry, and the country is a part of the African Diaspora.
The African diaspora is the diaspora created by the movements and cultures of Africans and their descendants throughout the world, to places such as the Americas, (including the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, Central America, and South America) Europe and Asia. Much of the African diaspora is descended from people who were enslaved and shipped to the Americas during the Atlantic slave trade, with the largest population living in Brazil.
For more on the African Diaspora go here
Or here
So this is why the trip would be important to me…besides the beauty/fun/relaxation potential. (Anyone who knows me knows I love being black and I love being able to “touch” my history, and make it, too… (Maybe I’ll be able to afford a trip to Africa someday?)
That said, I don’t like being a “tourist” when travelling. And though that may seem like a joke staying at an all-inclusive “mega-resort,” it means a lot to me to be able to take something more away from our journey than pretty photos.
I really would like to spend some time away from the resort (the feasibility which I still need to research).

Apparently, it’s a bit too far out from our honeymoon dates to search for travel with most airlines, but I did find a very reasonable rate with Expedia and expect to do more research into airfare using a comparison site like Farecast. I always use Sidestep for flights within the US–basically it lets you see flight prices side-by-side from all the big search engines and airlines (except Southwest for some reason.

Do you have any tips on searching for honeymoon locales or airfare? What did you, or others you know do for their honeymoons?

September 30, 2007. Honeymoon. Leave a comment.

Honeymoon Registry??

Ummm…ok…I had never heard of this before until today.
Apparently, in lieu of a traditional wedding registry a la Crate&Barrel, Target, you now can set up registrys with the likes of Sandals and Starwood Resorts. Sorry if this is old news, but it’s new to me!
This from weddingchannel.com:
A Honeymoon Registry isn’t just one of the hottest trends for today’s couples — it’s an incredible opportunity for newlyweds to take the trip of a lifetime AND have their friends and family help pay for it as their wedding gift!
Why Are Honeymoon Registries So Popular?
· They’re a great option for couples that already have most of the traditional household items, but still need wedding-gift ideas for friends.
· Couples paying for their own wedding and honeymoon are able to take a more luxurious trip.
· Honeymoon Registry programs come with FREE honeymoon planners to help plan the perfect trip and make arrangements for local activities and romantic dinner.
· Friends can now give a gift they’re sure the couple will love AND use.

How Does It Work?
It’s super simple. After you make your honeymoon reservation at any of the participating Sandals or Starwood hotels or resorts, go to WeddingChannel.com to tell us how much you want to register for. We then create a honeymoon registry so your friends can see where you are going and buy gift certificates in any amount they want. That’s it!

What Do The Gift Certificates Cover?
Depending on the hotel, Gift Certificates or Gift Checks can be used on just about anything that can be applied to your hotel bill, including: · Room charges · Hotel dining and bar tabs · Hotel spa treatments, golf fees, and more!

How Do I Tell My Friends?
After creating a Honeymoon Registry on WeddingChannel.com, your registry automatically appears in our famous registry search. All you have to do is tell your friends to go to WeddingChannel.com, or send our “tell a friend email” with links directly to your honeymoon registry (and any other registries you may have on our site).

So, I have two questions:
1. Has anyone ever heard of or had experience with this before?
2. Is this totally TACKY?

August 21, 2007. Honeymoon. 2 comments.