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Berries and Bicycles

3rd May 2015

This month I’ll celebrate five years since graduating college, I was reminded of that distant past as my baby sister crams for finals and texts asking if we have ramen noodles she can “borrow.” While finals week may be a thing of the past, I’m glad the trusty procrastination events my college roommate and I put together years ago are still going strong: strawberry picking and Twilight weekend.

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Athens Twilight weekend has long been one of my favorite weekend of the year in the Classic City. While there’s no experience quite like a game day Saturday in Athens, Twilight brings an entirely different crowd, vibe and call for celebration to the city that can’t be missed.

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Alongside the bike race, we’ve made it somewhat of a spring tradition to make our way out to Washington Farms for rows and rows of fresh strawberries. Strawberry season is in full swing here in Georgia and I’m 100% on board for Spring’s cheesy cousin to fall apple picking.

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Thanks to Pick Your Own, you can consult this handy dandy calendar to determine harvest dates in your state for any number of fruits and vegetables. We’ve frozen the majority of our berries (smoothies for days), but I did manage to bake a little Strawberry Cobbler and may even try my hand at a jam thanks to this book, a gift from friends a few years ago.

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Here are a few other recipes I have an eye on:

As for the bike race, those guys never cease to amaze me. With a shorter course this year due to construction, we saw a bit more lapping from the riders, making the outcome that much more exciting. Thankfully the rain held off meaning fewer disastrous crashes, which was fine by me.

IMG_5065In the spirit of inspiration, Patrick and I took off on Sunday for my second ride out on my very own mountain bike. If you sped the GoPro footage up about 10X, maybe I’d look like I was going the speed of the Twilight road racers. I have quite a bit more to learn on that end, but hopefully I’ll be back soon with more to share than really muddy tires.

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Un-Belizeable: Honeymoon Adventures Part Three

22nd April 2015

If you’ve been following along, you’ve read a little bit of our Belize honeymoon adventures with caves, bugs and really cheap cocktails. You can read about the Belize Jungle here and Caye Caulker here. Next up is our last stop: Ambergris Caye.

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Ambergris Caye is known as one the popular, if not most popular, beach destinations within Belize. Slightly north of Caye Caulker, this island is considerably larger and technically makes its way up to connect to Mexico. To get there, we turned again to the handy-dandy water taxi, a short thirty minute boat ride away.

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When planning this leg of the trip, we found the number of resorts and options a bit more overwhelming. While there are some beautiful spots (checking this one out is a must) we once again opted for something with our own space and in a manageable price range. After some digging we came across Cocotal Cabanas. While the property was a bit further north, we were drawn to the adorable little cabanas and nice stretch of beach.

Little yellow home for the week

Little yellow home for the week

Similar to Caye Caulker, most resorts in Ambergris Caye offer bikes and kayaks. While we were about three miles north of town, we figured a thirty minute bike ride a few times a day would be great. If you prefer, smaller water taxis will take you from dock to dock in a matter of minutes.

More beach biking

More beach biking

While we had grand plans of bike rides daily, mother nature didn’t quite agree. Nearly as soon as we arrived to the island, rainy season decided to rear its ugly head. Living in Georgia, we’re no strangers to a good thunderstorm.

Sunrise calm before the storms

Sunrise calm before the storms

However, take a “good storm” multiple it by six and then increase the duration by infinity and that’s what we encountered in Ambergris Caye. There were some tears shed, but as I was reminded by P, this is OUR honeymoon and if we want to stay in bed all day and watch HBO and House Hunters (a real treat when you’re cableless), that’s perfectly OK. Crisis averted.

Thrilled for photos during breakfast at a yoga retreat center

Thrilled for photos during breakfast at a yoga retreat center

 

A very small friend at breakfast

A very small friend at breakfast

Between marathons of how many times one can see Maleficent, we did take shorter trips into town to explore. San Pedro is quite a bit bigger than Caye Caulker, though cars are still very limited. The road heading into town was still under construction when we visited (though we hear it should be done in 2015), meaning our bike rides were often more mountain bike style than beach cruiser. It made for great stories and fun maneuvering in-between rain storms.

I swore this said Elvis, though the food was delicious still

I swore this said Elvis, though the food was delicious

We found quite a few great little places to eat, hang out and just relax, but by far hearing of the day’s dive expeditions or stories of home from global travelers and locals alike was the best part.

The streets of San Pedro

The streets of San Pedro 

belize8By day three, the storms had subsided (for the most part) and we were more than thankful for some time outdoors. We quickly soaked up sun and more dock time.

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IMG_4314We were also finally able to check out Palapa Bar, and while we weren’t able to enjoy their famous inner tube and pulley system for ordering, we did catch a great sunset and see some spotted eagle rays from the deck.

Palapa Bar

Palapa Bar

This portion of our trip most certainly didn’t turn out as I had planned, but as God always reminds us, our plans aren’t always first. A little rain and a lot of time with just the two of us was just what we needed to recover and set our sights ahead towards married life awaiting us at home.

Dinner and drinks at Palapa

Dinner and drinks at Palapa

 

IMG_4321After 12 days away, we were quite ready to get back to our house and our sweet little animals. We’ll be forever grateful for our time in Belize and hope to make a trip back someday. Until then, we’re taking notes on world maps and charting our next #greatwhiteadventure. IMG_4356

In case you missed the recaps from the remainder of our trip,

Part One: Belize Jungle: Caves Branch

Part Two: Caye Caulker

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Un-Belizeable: Honeymoon Adventures Part Two

22nd April 2015

If you’re following along, we’re on to part two of P and I’s November honeymoon in Belize. To recap, part one included the jungle, quite a bit of caving and poolside nachos. We were pretty big fans of this little country the size of Massachusetts at this point, but had to keep going. Next up: Caye Caulker.

One last caving shot

One last caving shot

For parts two and three of our adventure, we headed to the beach, islands to be exact. While we went back and forth about staying on the southern mainland, which is also well traveled and known for its Belizian vibes, we couldn’t turn down the idea of island life. So back to Belize City we went.

While it’s an easy flight from mainland Belize over to any number of the islands off of the coast (including this one), we opted to take the more authentic cheaper route of going by water taxi. The water taxi will run you between $15-$20 USD, a steal which runs several times per day. They take care of loading your luggage and off you go.

The view from aboard the water taxi

The view from aboard the water taxi

Our first stop was Caye Caulker. We had heard Caye Caulker to be known for its backpacker tourists, amazingly cheap street food and laid back style of well, everything. On all of those fronts, Caye Caulker didn’t disappoint.

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Thanks to Trip Advisor stalking (which became our go-to for nearly every stop on this trip) we settled on four nights at Colina Cabanas. Owners Colin and Linda, originally from Canada, have made Belize home and built a little set of cabanas right along the coast of the southern end of the island. They couldn’t have been more gracious hosts, living on-site and available for anything from bike repair to restaurant recommendations.

The view from our deck at Colinda

The view from our deck at Colinda

When we took to booking both of our island stays we had a few simple requirements: transportation and water front access. Transportation on Caye Caulker is one of its most laid back elements, read there is little to none. The island is made up of three streets: front, middle and back street and cars, well you’ll be lucky to count them on one hand. Taxis do come in the form of golf carts, but the main mode of transportation here is biking. With a length of about a mile, biking from end to end is a fairly quick ride.

Mangrove tree tunnels and The Split

Mangrove tree tunnels and The Split

Once you reach the end of the island, you’ll find what’s known as The Split. This is basically a little swim, drink and sun spot at a break in the island caused by Hurricane Hattie in 1961. While the island technically continues past this point, there is no electricity – other than those producing it on their own as solar power.

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As far as coastline is concerned, Belize is beautiful, but not known for wide beaches in this part of the country, making a good dock, palapa, or The Split crucial. You’re more likely to dive off of the dock end and sleep in a hammock than lay on a sandy beach here. We did our fair share of both.

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We were more than surprised to find restaurants on the island to be numerous, delicious, quirky and CHEAP. We were both a little (read a tiny) disappointed to not be fans of lobster, as a freshly caught lobster grilled right on the street in front of you ran you about $5 USD.

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We didn’t indulge in any fresh crustaceans, but did find something even better in our eyes, a Georgia bar. Having a wedding during football season came with its difficulties, so we were thrilled when we found a little SEC bar to catch the majority of game day, including Georgia – Auburn. The 2/$5 BZD cocktails (equating to $1.25 USD each) were icing on the cake. Win-Win.

A terrible depiction of the Dawgs dominating behind our $1.25 cocktails.

A terrible depiction of the Dawgs dominating behind our $1.25 cocktails

Other than a lot of docking, beaching and eating, we also took a day of snorkeling from Caye Caulker. Too bad we weren’t the smartest and failed to pack the GoPro, resulting in no digital proof of that one. Belize is home to the world’s second largest barrier reef, meaning fish in the thousands less than a mile off shore. We ended up doing a half-day trip, which was really close enough for our tastes to a full day, including fruit, more rum and a tour guide for $40 USD each.

Lunch at the bar (pre-gametime) and the house rules

Lunch at the bar (pre-gametime) and the house rules

Once we finished swimming with the fishes, our guide took us on a tour around the island, going so far as to point out the underwater caves which are just starting to gain popularity with divers. We looked it up getting back to our hotel. No thanks.

While we loved the vibes and the many eating stops in Caye Caulker, there was one little demise: the no see ums. Ugh. Those dirty little jerks. I’ve had my fair share of no see um attacks in the Carolinas, however, this took it to an entirely new level. If you’ve never been bit by these little buggers (or you’re one of those miracle humans like P who aren’t bothered by their bites), they are basically little mosquitos that are nearly impossible to see and even harder to prevent.

Fun swings at dinner, though no bug escaping here

Fun swings at dinner, though no bug escaping here

Since no see ums are worst at night and sunrise and Caye Caulker didn’t really have in-door establishments (beyond hotels and maybe the grocery) there was no avoiding them. I left the island with around 100 painful bites and a lot of cortisone cream – which luckily I packed just in case. Add that with the leg gashes from part one of our trip and I was one ATTRACTIVE bride by this point. For better or for worse, right?

Departing the island

Departing the island

After four nights in Caye Caulker, we hit the water taxi and headed out towards our next and final stop, Ambergris Caye. Stay tuned for part three for that one. This is getting long.

Part One: The Belize Jungle; Caves Branch

Updated! Part Three: Ambergris Caye