From my most recent blog post, Work Hard, Play Harder (be sure to take a read if you haven’t already) I promised that I would update you all on my two recent vacations. So here’s a briefing on the places I traveled to, things I got to do and most importantly what I got out of it all. This may be one of my longer posts but it definitely won’t seem like it due to all the pictures I’ve included, I hope you enjoy and read through until the very end!
Viva Las Vegas: October 27th-October 31st
This trip was so highly anticipated between my best friend and I. A little background about our friendship is we haven’t lived in the same state since we were about five years old. She moved out of Texas and since then we’ve always been just a flight away from one another. Regardless of the miles growing between us we kept our friendship alive and would go on vacations or fly to see one another regardless of which state or country we were living in. As we grew older our visits and vacations became less frequent, (mainly because our parents were no longer financing them, thanks to adulthood) we would see each other at least once a year, if at all. The time had finally come where we could no longer stand texting, facetime and phone calls being our sole form of communication, one of us needed to catch a flight ASAP!
With my consistent work, minimal play schedule we decided that it was time for a much-needed break and that I would be the chosen one to come see her in Vegas for Halloween weekend. Thursday, October 27th I caught a flight to see my best friend/sister, Erica for an unforgettable reunion weekend. Trying to navigate my way through Vegas’s huge and not to mention confusing airport was worth all the fuss when Erica pulled up swanging and banging with the music blasting, jumped out the car squealing and gave me a long overdue bear hug. Whenever we link up it always feels like we just saw each other the day before.
The Run Down
Since touching down on Thursday things were really laid back. We both had an early wake up that morning so snuggling up on the couch and tuning into Family Guy, The Cleveland Show, movies and taking endless selfies while she napped was the way to go. We spent the evening celebrating one of her friends 24th birthdays, which actually ended up being way more fun than I anticipated. Everyone was so friendly and made me feel like I was already a part of their family.
Friday arrived and I woke up feeling fresh-faced and ready to take on the day! This day along with pretty much every day following involved tons of wine, (if you didn’t know I’m a total wineo) good vibes and us taking on the strip and all of its Halloween festivities. We ended the night getting dressed in last minute, semi-Halloween costumes, (since we had to be in costume to get into one of the places) bar and club hopped all night until we had to make a pit stop at McDonald’s at four in the morning. It was definitely a night for the books, especially in our red-light-special-themed bathroom photo shoot in the last club we went to.
Saturdaywas accompanied by wine, per usual, last minute Halloween costume shopping, another stroll down the strip, jamming to a bomb zombie band, a visit to The Sugar Factory, first time rides on the Vegas High Roller, pregaming, bunnies, cops, pirates, a haunted girl and endless drinks.
After searching for our last minute Halloween costumes we ventured to the strip yet again but this time we took a ride on the Vegas High Roller (a first for us both), which is basically like the London Eye but Vegas style. We even got drink service while taking in the views Vegas had to offer. Side note, the best past about making our way onto the Vegas High Roller was zombies, ghouls and other spooky beings popping out of every nook and cranny and scaring the beetle juice out of us (can you sense my sarcasm?)! This was actually my least favorite part, if you don’t already know I’m a very scary and jumpy individual.
After our ride on the Vegas High Roller and stopping in at The Sugar Factory to quench my alcoholic thirst (kidding about the alcoholic part), we got decked out in our Halloween costumes and headed over to pregame and take photos at Erica’s friends’ house. The night was filled with endless drinks, dancing, friends, and fun. There was only one party foul moment that took place, but let’s just say what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. This was one of the best Halloween celebrations I’ve had in a long time and I’m glad I got to experience it with no one other than my best friend/sister, Erica.
Sunday being my last day and all, arrived way too quickly. But as the saying goes, we saved the best for last. From morning until literally a few hours before I had to catch my flight back home, we made the most out of our last day/night together. We started off the day with good drinks, good food and good vibes smacking some balls around at Top Golf (I learned how much I suck at playing golf). After falling into 4th place at Top Golf we headed to Hofbräuhaus Las Vegas for a couple rounds of beer, (I had a glass of wine of course) fireball shots, paddle spankings and a great deal of good ole German vibes. While finishing up our drinks we had a spur of the moment idea to stay up all night (because sleep is overrated and a good time was more important) since my flight was at 6:45 in the morning and we didn’t want to risk oversleeping like we did during our last spring break and miss my flight. Which then led us to an unexpected hookah turn up. What started out as drinks and hookah soon turned into dancing (the DJ was bomb) and everyone wanting to turn up with us in our section. By far it was one of the absolute best times I’ve ever had at a hookah spot and one of the best ways to end a weekend getaway with my best friend/sister, Erica. If I could do it all over again, without a shadow of a doubt, I would. The time I had and the memories made were priceless and unforgettable
Takeaways from Vegas:
- Taking a break from my daily routine was not only much needed but extremely vital to my mental, emotional, spiritual and physical state of being
- Not having to wake up at 3 AM every morning not only gave me the desired beauty sleep my body needed, but warranted time for peace and stillness. This was such a great way to start the day, I had time to relax, reflect and gain peace of mind
- I woke up every day with a greater sense of self love and appreciation. Having the time to truly get ready for my day from showering to putting on my face and getting dressed allowed me to notice the little things about myself and “clap for parts of me that others didn’t applaud“
- I realized that all the hours I was putting in at work may have provided me with the money I needed to finance this getaway but most importantly it showed me how much more I can truly appreciate play vs working all the time when I create a proper balanace between the two. And how much of a pay off I receive playing just as hard as I work
- I was able to reemphasize the importance of not solely giving in to my introverted ways and putting myself out there and trying new things
- I realized how important it is to appreciate and be greatful for the people that are currently in your life. I’m one of the few and lucky individuals that can actually say they have a best friend. Erica is someone that has always been there for me with her heart and arms wide open whether it be in person or not. I could sit here and make a mile-long list of all the attributes that make her a down to mars individual, sister and best friend, but that would take up way too much space and time. I don’t call everyone my ‘best friend’ and it’s not everyday that you find someone that’s worthy of being given that title. So when you do find one worthy enough, be sure to consistently show them how much they are appreciated and loved in as many ways as possible. And never take them for granted because you don’t know how long they’ll be a part of your journey.
- Overall I learned that I have to give myself credit for how far I’ve come in every aspect of life and reward myself every now and then for it. Going on this getaway truly gave me a new perspective on myself and my life
Royal Caribbean, Liberty of the Seas Family Vacation: November 6th-November 13th
It’s been a long time coming since my family, the John’s have been on a family vacation. I believe the last time we were able to get together and go somewhere was during the Summer of 2014 when we flew to the Dominican Republic for one of my cousins weddings. Finally we were able to find time in our individual busy schedules and get on board for a cruise sailing to Cozumel, Mexico, George Town, Cayman Islands and Falmouth, Jamaica.
Sunday November 6th we drove to Galvestonand boarded the Royal Caribbean Liberty of the Seas cruise ship. While boarding the ship we stopped and took several pictures along the way (if you’ve never been on a cruise before pictures are a big deal). My mom and dad’s room was located on the ninth deck towards the front of ship with a breathtaking view of the vast ocean. My brother and my room was located not too far below on the 7th deck, also with the same breathtaking view.
Since it was the first day of sailing we didn’t do too much except for get settled into our rooms and browse the ship to get comfortable with the layout. I personally loved the layout of this ship in comparison to the other two cruise ships that I’ve been on prior (my parents not so much). It had a huge galley called the Royal Promenade lined with restaurants, bars and shops on both sides. Multiple restaurants were throughout the ship including Johnny Rockets, there’s a theatre, arcade, ice skating rink, gym, sauna, steam room, spa and so much more. On the outside of the ship there were 2 huge green and orange water slides, two water rides, rock wall, basketball court, huge splash pad for kids, two adult swimming areas all with jacuzzis and other recreational facilities and amenities.
Just like when we boarded we took plenty more pictures and dined in our main dining room, the Botticelli for dinner. To me, the best part about taking all of the pictures is it made me feel like I had a personal photoshoot everyday and minute of the week, the photographers truly did an amazing job.
Monday was an early wake up day (just like the following days) it consisted of breakfast, participating in a few of the activities and stepping in on some of the shows on the days itinerary, meeting up with characters from Madagascar, eating and lounging around the ship. It was also the first formal night in our main dining area, which is always great because it gave us a chance to get dressed to the nines and dine as a family, something that we rarely get to do back at home. The only awkward part about taking pictures is that when it comes to my brother and I taking pictures together, we failed to realize we set ourselves up since the day we boarded the ship. By that I mean, because we don’t look alike people tend to think we’re dating. As a result of this assumption some of the poses the photographers were asking us to do were couple related and no help at all. But we learned all too quickly to mention to the photographers before they even took a picture of us that we were brother and sister.
Tuesday we docked in Cozumel, Mexico and got the joy of heading off the ship for our first excursion. We met up with our guide at the designated meeting spot and headed out to get situated in our dune buggies. We got to drive in a pink buggy and due to the fact that it was a stick shift my dad was the driver. I could tell he thoroughly enjoyed it by the way he was speeding through the streets of Cozumel with the wind blowing through his scalp as we followed the train of buggies to the beach. The drive gave him a sense of his youth back, it was cute watching my dad enjoy the drive.
After a very scenic drive we arrived at the beach, my parents immediately lounged in the beach chairs while my brother and I geared up for snorkeling. I’ve been snorkeling before in Antigua with my best friend, Erica but this time it just seemed so much more strenuous. Mainly because my mask kept sliding off my small head which then allowed me to swallow a few good gulps of salt water and I ran out breath multiple times and fell behind the group. Eventually with my brothers help and trading masks I got adjusted and was able to enjoy the deep blue sea views.
With a soggy bottom due to my lack of a change of clothes we left the beach, cruised to a bungalow near another beach where we could get a bite to eat, a drink and walk along the beach. Of course I had one of my famous go-to drinks a margarita (it had bubbles at the top which was kind of strange and concerning to us all) while my mom enjoyed a Corona. Soon enough we headed back to return the buggies and get back on the ship so we could get a snack, shower and freshen up for some of the activities onboard, take more pictures (I wasn’t a fan of these so you most likely won’t seem them) and have dinner.
] ] ] ]
Wednesday we docked in George Town, Cayman Islandsand embarked on our second excursion. For this excursion we got aboard a glass bottom boat to view Nemo and friends at the bottom of the ocean. The only complaint I have about the boat tour is that it wasn’t the greatest. I’ve been on a glass bottom boat in Trinidad and Tobago before with my mom and it was much better and we saw way more fish in comparison to what we saw on this glass boat. The best part about it was seeing the captain scuba dive below the boat and feed the fish so we could see him through the glass.
Once the tour commenced we went up to the top of the boat to breathe in the ocean air and get a good view as we approached the shore of the island. When we made it to shore we spent the remainder of our time walking throughout the small town. Boarding back onto the ship led to a very relaxed and quiet evening for us all. We had lunch together then went about our individual interests.
] ] ]
Thursday marked the last stop of our seven day cruise as well as our last excursion in Falmouth, Jamaica In my personal opinion this was the best excursion of all. We loaded up on what most Caribbean islands call a maxi and began our tour of the island as we approached our first stop, an underground cave. I’m not going to lie, at first I was a little apprehensive at the thought of going into a cave filled with bats and who know what else, but the history that our guide introduced us to made up for that instantly. I don’t think I’ve ever been so interested or enlightened by any history lesson.
When our cave tour commenced they treated us with some freshly made Jamaican fruit punch. We piled into the maxi and headed to our next destination, the Dunn’s River Falls. This was literally one of the best hikes and water adventures combined that I’ve ever been on. Led by KC, our falls guide and followed by our videographer, everyone in the group got in line, held hands and began our ascent up the falls. The first dip into the water was extremely cold but as we kept climbing the falls our bodies adjusted to the temperature. I even felt so comfortable climbing the rocks that I eventually let go of my dad and brother’s hands ever so often to climb on my own. It was a rocky, steep, wet and super fun adventure that I was so glad to be able to experience with my family and friendly group members. My least favorite part about this excursion was probably leaving, I had so much fun, it even inspired me to go on more hikes and outdoor adventures in the near future.
En route back to the maxi we stopped to order some beef patties, jerk chicken, red stripe beers and water. I even did a wee bit of souvenir shopping. All dried and changed for the drive back to the port where our ship was docked we were accompanied by some sweet Bob Marley tunes and peace and quiet when it wasn’t interrupted by my dad’s constant yammering. When we reached the ship we were so beat from our excursion that we grabbed a bite to eat, showered, napped and got ready for more pictures, evening festivities and dinner.
Friday, Saturday and Sunday were straight sailing days. We stopped at all three destinations within three days time and now it was time to began the journey back to Galveston, Texas. These days were much more laxed compared to the three prior, no more early wake ups and excursions. We had more time to spend the day doing what vacations are made for, pure relaxation. I spent these days eating lunch and dinner’s with my family, going to karaoke nights and even an ice show they had entitled ‘Encore: The Ice Spectacular’ (which really was a spectacular ice show) and going to the club almost every night to be a dance critic and get a good laugh out of all the drunken dancers. I utilized my alone time lounging in the sauna, steam room or just roaming around the ship listening to music and enjoying the view of the expansive sea. The overall activities itinerary on this cruise wasn’t the greatest so I didnt do too much participating, just occasionally popped in on things that seemed interesting or worthwhile. Saturday was our last formal dinner night so per usual we got dressed to the nines and took tons of pictures before dinner in the dining room.
By far going on this cruise with my family was such a blessing. Regardless of whether everything went as planned, it’s still something not many can afford to do but luckily we were all able to come together for a week and enjoy one anothers company in not one, not two, but three Caribbean destinations. For that reason alone, I will be forever appreciative and grateful for the time spent and memories made.
- One of the most important things I got out of this family cruise is the importance of family and how vital time spent together is. As I’ve mentioned in recent posts, time is something that we can’t get back so we have to be sure we’re using our time wisely and spending it on those who are truly deserving
- Putting our egos aside and allowing things to roll off of our shoulders rather than letting things stick and get the best of us is always best when trying to enjoy eachothers company to the utmost
- Things that may seem minor to me are actually the complete opposite in regards to others. My parents as well as myself met many people on the cruise who openly said that this was their first cruise and they’ve been saving up their entire lives for this occasion. Whereas for me, I’ve been privileged enough for this to have been my third cruise. We even met people who said how blessed they were to even be on this cruise with their family. It truly is a blessing because going on a cruise isn’t a luxury that everyone can afford to do whenever they please, so it shouldn’t be taken lightly but instead appreciated to its fullest
- I also learned to make the most out of everything whether big or small. Take in every moment, accept it for what it is and make the absolute best of it. By doing this it makes life worth living
Overall my two vacations were more than just that alone. They served their sole purpose of rest and relaxation but I was also given time to think and reflect, gain peace of mind, a change in perspective, friend and family time and so much more than I could have possibly wished for. I sometimes regret taking two vacations back to back the way I did because I was missing out on making money, but I would trade being at work and making money any day for taking a vacation and making memories with my friends and family. I hope you all enjoyed reading about my two vacations and learned a thing or two from my vaca takeaways.
Continue to experience the Life of Tai in my next post…
Comment • Like • Subscribe • Share