Travel #4: Punta Cana, Dominican Republic

Hello there everyone 🙂

As I told you on my last post here, we headed to Punta Cana on vacations with the hopes of a paradisiac place to rest. Our main goal was to do nothing at all so we were looking for some resorts with all-inclusive that could suit our needs.

  • How we chose where to stay

Since B. already knew the reputation of Bahia Principe Hotels and Resorts we started by checking the availability of their resorts. Since relaxation was what we most wanted, we were picky enough to see only Adults Only hotels and narrowed it down only to the Luxury Bahia Principe Resorts 18+.

Obviously, we started checking out some other hotels like Catalonia, Riu and Barceló but at the time Bahia Principe had the best quality/price ratio so we booked our vacations.

So we booked our vacations for Luxury Bahia Principe Ambar Don Pablo Collection (which is now called Luxury Bahia Principe Ambar Green) for the fair amount of 1223 euros for 2 people per 7 nights.

 We requested a room near the main pool and closer to Arena Gorda Beach and we also asked for a private shuttle from the hotel which cost us only 66 euros with return included.

  • How it was to get to the resort

As soon as we arrived to the airport, we had a resort’s shuttle waiting to take us to the resort. The driver was very nice and approachable and did gave us some more knowledge about the country. We had a calm 45 minutes journey from the airport to the resort and we arrived there almost at 10 pm.

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Our bedroom

This was my first time in a resort so when we got there I was so amazed with everything. The architecture, the decor, the stafff, everything was so perfect and nice. At the lobby while we were doing the check-in, we had a cocktail and the staff explained all we needed to know about the resort.

Unfortunately, there was a problem with the room we booked so we were moved to a different building far away from the beach but near a second pool. We were happy with this change since it was in a more quiet location and with new buildings and brand new rooms.

The rooms are really big with a king size bed so so comfortable! All rooms are equipped with a flat screen TV, mini-bar, living room with sofa bed, safe and a balcony, among other amenities.

Also included with your fee is the room service which is good and fast. Also, it has a full-equipped bathroom with a hydromassage bathtub, a separate shower, hairdryer and two washbasins.

  • What to do

First thing we did? Put on bathing suits and relax in the jacuzzi right accross our door since it was really hot outside and we needed to relax after the long flight. We asked for room service that night and believe me it tasted like perfection.

With our booking we also got access to 6 different restaurants to dinner during our stay and I highly recommend you to use and abuse it. Although they have a wide variety of different food at their buffet restaurant, it can become tiring to always have the same options every day. During our stay we booked Bella Italia, El Olivo, Maiko, Arrecife, Tex Mex and Los Corales, but we did skip Tex Mex because it was my birthday night and we went for something different. All their restaurants are different and all of them are really good but please don’t miss El Olivo and Maiko, these two are just awesome and were definitely our favourites. While El Olivo is a gourmet restaurant where you truly have a luxurious experience and where you are presented with new flavours, at Maiko you can get either a Tepanyaki dinner show or relax in à la carte regular table.

While we were on the resort we didn’t much more than eat, swim, sun bath and drink. There are tons of available excursions but we didn’t want to lose a day roaming around by bus or boat.

Anyway, when you book a reservation through Bahia Principe website you will be linked to Soltour travel agency and they always book a meeting with you on the first day to present you all the excursions you may do and how much it will cost you to do it. One thing for sure is that the resort is very organized!

The resort also offers you:

  • 1 hour per day free paddle surf, kayaks, tennis, catamarans for hire, snorkeling;
  • Diving lesson in the pool.

Awesome right?

The resort has two pools, each one in a different part of the resort. The pool nearer to the beach is usually where they provide animation and where different music plays.

Besides all of this, you can enjoy the amazing cocktails of your desire or you can try the cocktail of the day, since they always have one different everyday.

  • My birthday surprise
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Room decor for my birthday!

One thing you can definitely expect by staying at this resort is to meet with very nice and hardworking people. Since my birthday was in the middle of our vacations, B. organised an amazing surprise with the help of our butler James. When I arrived to our room, I had a ribbon accross the door and some balloons. Inside, there was a bath ready for me to take and rose petals spread accross the room and bed and also a cake with my name on and champagne for us to celebrate! This definitely did my day and I couldn’t thank them enough for it.

Check some more of the pics I took righ below!

XOXO,

S.

Travel #4: Punta Cana, Domincan Republic

Hello there 🙂

Today I bring you one my favourite trips so far. Although I like to travel to discover the world and to learn more about it, I believe that everyone should enjoy some lazy holidays from time to time.

After spending some holidays traveling within Europe on the previous years, we thought it was finally time to get some rest and where is better to rest than in the Caribbeans? I did lose some time searching exactly where to go, but after some talk with a cousin I was told that Punta Cana was perfect to go for laziness.

  • How did we got there?

Upon deciding Punta Cana was a go-go, we started looking at some flight prices and we tried to get a direct flight to Punta Cana. Well, but when you decide to plan a trip one month before going, it is not easy to get cheap and direct flights, so we went with AirEuropa.

Be prepared, if you go from Europe you can expect an 8 or 9 hour-long flight, which can be pretty boring/annoying so just pack books with you and feel your Smartphone/Tablet/Laptop with movies to see while flying. AirEuropa served us some meals, dinner included, and although it was not the best meal ever, it did suit our needs until we landed. Obviously, depending on where you are traveling from you have many more different airlines to travel with.

Punta Cana airport is amazingly simple. The airport is built in a traditional Dominican style with open-air terminals with their roofs covered in palm fronds, which means that when you are departing you can just stay seated watching the planes arrive and leave.

To get to the resort we opted to take a private shuttle from the resort, which was the fastest and most secure way to arrive to our destination. Usually all resorts give you the option of a shuttle to get there either a private or a shared one, just asked them and they won’t mind helping you with that.

About where I stayed, I’ll share it with you tomorrow, but meanwhile I’ll leave you a list here of which companies travel to Punta Cana Airport and from where the planes depart.

XOXO,

S.

A traveller’s dream #1: Greek Islands

Hello everyone 🙂

Let’s talk about something I guess all of us do at least once in our lives or maybe once/twice a year if you are like me: dreaming awake about the trip you would like to do next.

For those who really are into getting a great tan and also explore amazing views, I believe this is a destination that already went through your mind. The Greek Islands have everything: good vibes, sun, beach and beautiful views.

So Greece has more than 6,000 islands and islets scattered in the Aegean and Ionian Sea, which makes almost impossible to visit them all. At least, you should try to visit some of them and why not the most famous ones like Santorini, Mykonos, Corfu, Crete or Skyros?

I have been dreaming about spending a few days on one of these islands just facing the sun and relaxing, but also to explore a little. Did you know that some of the oldest civilizations like Cycladic have developed on these islands? This makes this destination also very rich in culture, archaeology and architecture.

So, on my search I found that the easiest way to get to any of the islands would be by taking a plane to Athenas and from there they have ferries everyday to the most important islands. I searched here what ferry I could take to Santorini, Mykonos or Naxos and the price range is from 90€ per person (with return included) to 150€ more or less, that is influenced by the duration of the trip and the type of seat you choose.

About where to stay there I only searched on Booking for 4 and 5 stars hotels or resorts and with pool included because I am crazy about swimming pools. Apart from that, I went to look on Airbnb where I found some good offers for a reasonable price. I really trust in Airbnb housing and usually I choose it when I want to have a whole house for me to be able to cook and save some money, but when I’m on a lazy mood I just go for a hotel where I don’t have to care about anything unless enjoying my vacations.

Now, the most important is coming… Photos! Enjoy some images I gathered to make you dream about your next vacations..

 

XOXO,

S.

 

Recipe #1: Elephant Birthday Cake

Hello again 🙂

Another post, another topic! So, you may not know but I love cooking and baking and most of my friends and family tell me that they love my cakes.

Due to my sister’s birthday and her love for elephants, I had the idea to give her an elephant shaped cake for her birthday. I thought that it would be rather simple to do it, just bake it, cut it and finish with sugar paste on top.

Although this was not the first cake where I used sugar paste, this was my first solo experience.. and what an experience!

So, the departure point was to bake the cake. I decided to go for an simple cake without any specific flavor. I used this recipe, but since it’s in Portuguese here is the translation:

  • Ingredients:
    • 10 eggs
    • 300 gr of sugar
    • 200 gr of potato starch
  1. Pre-heat oven at 180ºC. Oil a cake pan with butter and line it with parchment paper.
  2. Beat the yolks with the sugar for about 15 minutes, or until they have tripled in volume and are whitish.
  3. Beat the egg whites.
  4. Mix a 1/3 of the whites in the egg yolks, beating until homogeneous. Mix the remaining whites, carefully, using a spatula.
  5. Sift the starch over the dough, gradually, mixing gently and gently so as not to break the whites.
  6. Pu the dough in the cake pan and bake for about 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out dry.
  7. Remove from the oven and let it cool completely on a pastry rack before deforming.

This is the simplest cake ever and I did use it without any filling but if you want you can cut it in half and fill it with Nutella or custard cream, just to sweeten it up a little bit more.

Now, here comes the hard part. I had to draw the elephant on a sheet of parchment paper first to make sure it would fit on the rectangular cake I had, but if you are a design expert you may just go free without the drawing first.

So if you use the drawing first technique, you have to fix the sheet on top of the cake with toothpicks to be sure it doesn’t move at all. Then, just use a knife and start cutting around the drawing but always make sure that you are also cutting the top half of the cake and that the drawing is being marked on it. After you are completely sure about the shape of the cake, cut everything out and perfect all corners until it is ready to get the sugar paste.

About the sugar paste you can either buy it on party stores or make it yourself at home, but I went for the first one. I got grey, white and black for this cake and sure it was enough. First, you start to stretch out the paste as much as you want but I did make it very thin since when it’s more thick it is just too sweet for me.

After stretching as you want, just carefully place the sugar paste on top of the cake and start shaping it around the cake (check on YouTube some videos with detail on how to cover a cake with fondant). Cut the ear of the elephant on what’s left of the sugar paste/fondant and design the eye, mouth and tail.

To keep everything together you can use a sugar syrup or small amounts of condensed milk and I assure you that nothing will fall apart! Here is the final result!

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XOXO,

S.

Celebrity looks #1: Selena Gomez

Hello everyone,

As I told you before, I do also appreciate fashion a lot. Despite I’m not a fashionista or always use the latest trends, but I guess all of us like to keep an eye on what our favorite celebrities have been wearing these days.

With this, we may not be able to fully copy the looks they have (no money nor body), but we can get a lot of inspiration and great ideas.

Selena Gomez, a former Disney actress/singer, has evolved a lot in her style and slowly she is establishing herself in fashion. She has the ability to go from mega casual looks to a stylish woman with lots of grace. This last week she has been roaming around New York City between press conferences, interviews and other events and obviously gave us the opportunity to gather some of her best looks so far this week. Check them all here:

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Small thoughts #1

Did you know that according to a Plato dialogue in The Symposium, Aristophanes stated that humans were originally created with four arms, four legs and one head with two faces. As a punishment for humanity’s pride, Zeus decided to split all humans in half and condemned them to a life of looking for their other half. It is said that once you find your other half you will reach a state of happiness and peace.

XOXO,

S.

Brand new #1: Primor

Hello 🙂

Every month I do some online shopping and some mall shopping, so I decided that it would be a good idea to start sharing my small shopping sprees in here.

Don’t expect some amazing top brand products because I am a little cheap and don’t like to spend too much money on something that I don’t believe it’s worth that value.

With this said, let me talk you about a website called Primor, where I shop almost every month since it has cosmetic, makeup and perfumes at a smaller price than what I could get here in Portugal. This is a Spanish website and usually if I order something on Monday by Thursday I already have it with me. So far not only they never let me down, but they keep surprising the customers by sending a small gift with the order you do.

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As you can see, this week purchase was mainly about shampoo. I have a thin hair and it’s also oily so I really have to be careful with the products I use. Until last year I only used supermarket brands and I was constantly changing brands because there was not one that would clean my hair and make it feel fresh.

On the search for a new shampoo, I decided to try Wella Balance Purifying shampoo and it has made wonders for my hair. I can now wait one more day to wash it, I feel it fresh, cleaned and with life.

Since I also have a thin hair, I went also on a journey for a shampoo to help with that and I found L’oreal Professional Density Advanced. After some couple uses, I found that this shampoo helps me controlling hair loss and thin hair and also brings some volume to my hair.

So, besides shampoo I decided to try on a new compact powder since mine has finished and I went for SuperStay 24h from Maybelline.

Now you should be thinking that all of this may have been quite expensive (for my eyes), but the Wella Shampoo was only 4,95€ for a 250ml bottle, the L’Oreal Professional was only 10,95€ a 500ml bottle and the Maybelline Superstay 24h Compact Powder was just 6,99€. Plus, they still offered me MUA Intense Colour Eyeline Pencil which I really appreciate.

XOXO,

S.

One night “stand” #1: Hotel Inglaterra Estoril

Hello everyone,

As me and B. still leave at our parent’s house privacy is not something that we have a lot, so sometimes we like to go on a one night getaway to a near hotel or guesthouse. It helps a lot breaking our daily routines and just be by ourselves sometimes.

Yesterday, while at work I got a text from B. saying that we shouldn’t sleep at home and we should head somewhere to be together. What could I say besides let’s go? After some indecision we decided to book a night at Hotel Inglaterra in Estoril.

For those that do not know, Estoril is a town on the well known Portuguese Riviera in the municipality of Cascais, where you can find Casino Estoril and Tamariz Beach.

First we head out to dinner and then we rushed home so we could get what we needed to spend the night away from home.

When we arrived, we were amazed on how well decorated the hotel is and with the hospitality at the reception. We got a room on the 3rd floor of the hotel and we quickly went upstairs to check the room and to leave our stuff.

Regarding the room, it was not a big room but it was enough for us. Everything was very cleaned and the room had a large bed and a window through which we could see the ocean. Again, the room was very well decorated with neutral colors and had a big Samsung TV, a safe and a full mini bar. You can see some photos of the hotel at the end.

We woke up this morning to a beautiful sunshine (Lisbon in May, what else?), after a well rested night, to take breakfast at the Bar/Restaurant of the hotel. Regarding it, there was not much variety but truly everything we needed was there from butter croissants, bread, homemade cake, jam, butter, scrambled and boiled eggs, bacon, fruit, yogurts, cereals and obviously coffee, and some more things.

After breakfast, we went to see the pool but unfortunately I forgot our bathing suits so yes we only did manage to see it but not enjoy it. Despite a small lounge space, the pool area is really good and we look forward to spend there an afternoon taking some sunbaths.

I really enjoyed spending the night at Hotel Inglaterra and despite it was a short stay we really enjoyed almost everything and I would definitely recommend other couples to visit it. Thank you for a great getaway 🙂

 

XOXO,

S.

Travel #3: Porto (Part 3)

Hello there!

I am back today with the best part of the trip which is…. What to drink!

Regarding what to drink when in Porto there is an easy answer that is mandatory to follow, that is Port Wine. This type of wine began to be produced back on the 17th century and it is a fortified wine produced only in the Douro Valley. Despite being typically a red wine, you can also have white port wine which is also marvelous. It has a sweet taste and is excellent to try as a dessert drink.

Port Wine is produced from grapes collected from Douro Valley to which is added aguardente (other portuguese drink) to stop the fermentation process. The wine is stored in barrels inside wine cellars for as long as the producer wants to, but usually the older wine is better.

When in Porto I would definitely recommend you to visit some wine cellars (I will talk about it later) where you can learn more about the production and history of this wine and also try some Port Wine styles.

Although trying a single Port Wine is amazing, when I was in Porto I had to try something called “Porto Tónico” which is something like a gin only with tonic water but instead of gin they use Port Wine. It’s a refreshing and easy going drink where you can taste white Port Wine the best way.

I could tell you some bars you should go to but I won’t do so, instead I tell you to go to a place called Paris Gallery which is really close to Clérigos Tower and University of Porto. In here you will find some of Porto nightlife with excellent bares where you can start by trying a cocktail, taking a beer and end with a great wine bottle in front of you.

Obviously, besides trying Port Wine you should try some of the regular wines produced in the Douro Valley such as Quinta de La Rosa, Barca Velha and Porca de Murça. I guarantee you that you’re going to be amazed with the quality of Portuguese wines.

See you soon,

XOXO,

S.