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Travel

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Salem, Massachusetts

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If you're a lover of all things spooky and Halloween is your favorite holiday, then Salem, MA is the spot for you. This whimsical city is located just an hour outside of Boston. Salem is most famous for the Salem Witch Trials that took place in 1692. It is also a very popular spot because the famous Disney Channel movie, Hocus Pocus, was filmed here! 

During our three day trip, my best friend and I stayed at the haunted, Hawthorne Hotel. While charming as it is, rumor has it that guests have frequently reported moving furniture, sightings of ghosts, and unexplained noises.The show Bewitched even filmed an episode here during the 70s, and, in 1990 the hotel held a seance in the Grand Ballroom, trying to contact the famous magician, Harry Houdini. Fortunately for us, nothing too spooky happened, besides them putting us in the room NEXT to the one that's supposed to be the most haunted of them all.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Hawthorne Hotel is set in the perfect location to be able to walk to just about everything. On our first day of the trip, we arrived around 5pm, checked into the hotel, and went out to dinner. We ate at Ledger, an upscale bar and restaurant serving New England cuisine. Ledger is especially unique because it is set in a 19th century bank vault. Once we finished eating, we headed up the block for The Salem Night Tour. This walking ghost tour takes you through the historical and haunted areas of downtown Salem. What really made the experience was our theatrical tour guide, Sebastian,  who painted the perfect vision of Downtown Salem in the late 1600s. I highly recommend putting this on the top of your itinerary. Do you think you're brave enough to walk through the cemetery in the dark? 

Ledger Restaurant

   We started off the second day of our trip by getting breakfast at Gulu Gulu cafe. I had a mocha chocolate coffee and strawberry Nutella crepe, which was delicious. Once we finished eating, we continued down Essex St to start sight seeing. The first place we passed was the Witch house, home of Jonathan Corwin, who was one of the judges during the trials. It is the only standing structure that can still be linked directly back to the Salem Witch Trials. We took a self guided tour through the house to see what life was like living during the 1600s. 

    

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    Next, we stopped at the Ropes mansion. You may recognize it as Allisons house from Hocus Pocus, but it is more than just a mansion in a Disney movie. There have been many tragic deaths in this house, including the most famous, Abigail Ropes. Rumor has it that this young girls dress ignited in flames from the fireplace. Reports have been made of sightings of her apparition throughout the house. 

   After that, we walked around the block to the Salem Witch Museum. Here, you can learn some of the history and view a presentation of the 1692 trials. The other museum we had to make sure to visit was the Witch Dungeon Museum. Here, you can watch a short, live, reenactment and then take a guided tour through the dungeon where you will see the terrible conditions of the cells that the witches lived in upon waiting on their trial.  

   Growing up, Hocus Pocus was one of my FAVORITE childhood Halloween movies, so, of course, we had to see Max and Dani's house. It is now a residential home, but you can quickly pose in front for a photo. Around the corner you can also visit Pioneers Village, a replica of what Salem looked like during the 17th century. The village was used to film the opening scene of the movie as well. Plan accordingly, as it is only open on weekends 12pm-4pm. Unfortunately, we weren't aware of this, so we weren't able to go inside, but we could get a little peak of it over the fence.Pioneers Village is located next to a beautiful river front. We just so happen to get there as the sun was going down and radiating off the colorful autumn tress. If you have time, you have to stop at this park during your trip. New England during the fall is a dream. 

   On the way to dinner, we stopped for a drink and an appetizer at Opus, a trendy spot for small plates, sushi, cocktails, and live events. Let me tell you, the truffle fries are to DIE for! For dinner, we ate at Sea Level Oyster bar. The restaurant offers both indoor and outdoor seating (covered in a heated plastic awning during the winter), so you can have a water view year round. Seafood, especially clam and lobster, are a signature dish to order. The waters of Long Island and the Gulf of Maine offer a large variety of fish and shellfish that are a must when visiting New England. 

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Ropes Mansion
Pioneer Village
Jonathan Corwin House
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Witch Museum
Max and Dani's house

Witch Dungeon

   To start the third day, we got breakfast at the Ugly Mug Diner. If you're a coffee lover, you have to try one of their specials. After eating, we made our way back up Essex St for shopping. The stores on Essex St include nothing short of witchy, spiritual, and spooky shops. One of my favorite shops was Wynott wands, inspired by Ollivanders, the wand shop in the Harry Potter Series. 

   We decided we needed a snack so we headed back to the hotel and sat down at The Tavern. TheTavern offers comfort food, a bar, and fireside dining. Nathaniel's is the other restaurant offered at the Hawthorne Hotel. Here is the perfect spot to start your morning. Enjoy breakfast while sitting by the Grand Piano. In the evening, the restaurant transforms into a lounge. 

  Since we had some extra time before dinner, we decided to go back to Forrest River Park. We had some much fun walking the trail and shooting some content here! I loved out outfits these days because we matched in our oversized sweatshirts and pleated skirts. We tried going for a Hogwarts house inspired look since we visited the wand sop earlier in the day.

    

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   As you may have seen on the top of my travel page, I posted a book called "People We Meet on Vacation" by Emily Henry. During the novel, the main character, Poppy, mentions how important it is to stay "on theme" when traveling. This means things like ordering fish and chips in England, gelato in Italy, ect...soooo we had to our fortunes read! We went to Crow Haven corner, and I'd have to say they are pretty on point. I don't think I really take any of it too seriously, but, like I said, when in Rome (or Salem). 💁🏼‍♀️ It was a really fun experience and definitely one we will always be able to look back on!

   On our way to dinner, we stopped by the Flying Saucer Pizza Company. Another blogger I follow, @Heyydrayy, had posted a Hocus Pocus themed flight from here and I HAD to try! It did not disappoint! Next time I go back to Salem id love to stay and eat at this quirky style pizza place. After out drinks, we headed to Turners Seafood. This is my favorite restaurant we ate at on out trip. Turners offers a fresh fish market and oyster bar. While Turners offers a a historic charm, it is actually one of the most haunted sites in the city. It's said that if you stand at the bottom of the staircase and look up, the apparition of Bridget Bishops can be spotted.The land Turners sits on was once an apple orchard, owned by Bridget Jones herself. She was the first women executed during the Salem Witch Trials. 

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   Overall, Salem was SUCH a great trip. We really enjoyed site seeing and learning the history of the city. I think my favorite activity was the Salem night tour, as it just fit the "theme" of the trip. Salem offers beautiful scenery, cool shops, restaurants, wineries, brewery's, museums, tours, and so much more! 

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MICKEYS NOT SO SCARY HALLOWEEN PARTY OUTFIT
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My favorite high waisted bikinis
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Lake Sunapee, New Hampshire

I had so much fun visiting New Hampshire over 4th of July weekend! I went to go visit some friends that originally grew up there and got to explore their home town. The first day we rented a boat and cruised around the lake. The lake offers swimming, picnicking, fishing, kayaking, jet skiing, and more. After boating we went to pick up some fireworks and got dinner on the water. The second day we spent cooking and prepping for a a BBQ that night. We had such a good time just blasting music, visiting with each other, and setting off the fireworks. On the last day we got a HUGE breakfast at a local pancake house. My whole breakfast platter costs me under $10 which made me laugh considering small stack of pancakes with a piece of cotton candy on top costs $40 at  brunch in New York City. After absolutely stuffing our faces from breakfast...we of course had to stop and get homemade ice cream from Sanctuary dairy farm, a local dairy farm in the area. While they had just about every flavor you could imagine, I highly recommend Cappuccino crunch or mocha chip! Even though where I visited in New Hampshire is definitely a small town, you never know if you might run into Steven Tyler of Aerosmith! Thats right! Some of him and his band members grew up on the lake and still spend their summers there! 

 
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My top 10 favorite photo spots in Disney World

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Ithaca, New York

Ithaca, you're gorges

 

Ithaca is a city in New York's Finger Lakes region. It is hometown to Ithaca College and Cornell University. If you're looking for things to do, be sure to check out the botanical gardens, art museum, hiking, waterfalls, famous gorges, farmers market, festivals, and more. 

Ithaca, New York is such a gorgeous spot to visit, and I could not have picked a better time of year to go! I went up during peak fall season, and it was like living in a dream. First of all, you could not beat the beautiful scenery. The colors of the trees were SO vibrant, but it gets even better when I tell you my friends live on a horse farm! I highly recommend this spot for a weekend getaway!

The drive was just about 3 1/2 hours outside of New York City, but it wasn't too bad of a ride when you have a good Crime Junkie podcast to listen to. When we arrived, it was pitch black outside, and all you could see were millions and millions of stars in the crystal clear sky. Once we got all settled in, we were just hanging out when my friend asked if we wanted to go visit the horses. I thought he was just kidding, but when he opened the barn door, about 15 horses were standing there waiting for us. 

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On our first full day in Ithaca, we woke up early and went to a hike at the gorges. Once we were done with that, we hit up a local sandwich place and brought our lunch down to the docks. Next up on our agenda was apple picking. Ithaca has quite a few orchards you can choose from. The one we went to was unique because you could drive from spot to spot for different types of apples. The best part was the last stop, though, because they were serving apple cider and hot donuts (which are obviously the best)! When we finally had our bags filled to the brim with apples, we went back the house and started making apple pie! Here is a super simple and easy recipe from Pinterest we followed. 

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After baking out yummy apple pie, we changed our clothes and went out onto the farm. Our friends showed us the daily routine and all of the chores that must be done. We took out the quad and riled all of the horses up to bring them back into the stable for the night. Then we checked each of their charts and prepared their dinner (depending on their special dietary needs). I know these seem like such simple tasks, but it actually takes a pretty decent amount of time and a lot of blood, sweat, and tears. My friends and I were joking that we felt a little bit like Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie on The Simple Life. After all our hard work, we went back to house for the night and just enjoyed our time catching up eating our delicious apple pie!

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On our second day, we woke up early, got bagels & coffee, and hopped in the car for a little scenic ride around the area. We drove past Cornell and took a tour of Ithaca College (well, what we could see from the outside--sadly there were not students on campus due to Covid). On our way back, we stopped at the farmers market for some shopping. There's something for everyone as they sell a lot of custom artwork, local grown flowers + veggies, wine, honey, and food ( I got Nutella crepes 😋)! 

Finally, for our last activity on the trip, we headed back to the farm to take a private horse riding lesson. The horses are huge so it is a bit intimidating at first but once you get the hang of it, its such a cool experience! This trip was such so much fun! I'd highly recommend checking this spot out ASAP!

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Royal Caribbean: Independence of the Seas

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I don't know about you, but cruises are one of my FAVORITE ways to travel! Sailing from Fort Lauderdale, my best friend and I enjoyed every single minute of this 5-day western Caribbean cruise. On day 1, we climbed aboard and explored the ship! There's so much to do: the Perfect Storm waterslide (that goes over the edge of the ship 😱), the trampoline Sky Pad, the Playmakers arcade & sports bar, sushi classes with the chef, broadway at sea, unlimited pizza and ice cream, and my personal favorite - the nightly game shows!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On day 2, we got up and grabbed breakfast at the buffet! There's just about anything you can imagine being served for breakfast. When we finished eating, we hit the pool and made sure to grab good seats for The Sexiest Man competition. We could not have gone on this cruise at a better time. It was college spring break, so there was A LOT of cheering and excitement for the competition. I think the best part, though, was that everyone started cheering for the young men, but by the end, everyone wanted the men with "dad bods" to win. 😂 

After chilling in the hot tub for a bit, we went back to the room, got ready for dinner, and headed to the dining room! When we finished, we strolled through the Promenade and checked out the nightlife. While the silent disco went on, we checked out karaoke at the bar and  boyband trivia in the lounge. On our way back to the room, we made sure to pick up some pizza and get ready for out day in Haiti to follow! 

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Day 3: Labadee Haiti -  We woke up bright and early for our first adventure of the day, the Dragon Coaster! The coaster takes you to the top of the island, where you then twist and turn down the slide, catching glimpses of the BEAUTIFUL sights of Haiti. Wasting no time, we then headed over to our next excursion. My favorite part was the thrilling speed boat ride, where we saw breathtaking views of the mountains and Tortuga Islands. The locals told us that Johnny Depp would often stay there while filming Pirate of the Caribbean. 

 

We put on our snorkeling gear and jumped off the side of the speedboat for a guided tour around the reef. Not gonna lie, it was QUITE scary jumping into the middle of the ocean! However, once I got over that, it was sooo cool seeing all the colorful marine life. 

Day 4 : Jamaica - Another early one, as we were off to Ochos Rios, Jamaica! We took a two-hour bus ride from Falmouth to Dunns River Falls. Here, visitors walk hand in hand through the waterfalls. Once you climb to the top, you can stop for a refreshing break to swim in the lagoons or opt to slide down the natural stone water slide! Once the waterfall tour ends, we headed over to a private beach, where relaxed a little and jumped the waves in the crystal clear water. Entertainers performed reggae and then brought over rum punch and Jamaican dishes including jerk chicken, rice, and more. Dinner on the ship that night was also Jamaican themed, and it was my favorite dinner of all the nights. 

After dinner, we went to the Love and Marriage game show. Make sure to grab a seat early, as this is one of the most popular shows on the cruise! Whether you're single, newlywed, or have been married for a while, this game show will have you laughing all night long!

Our last day of the cruise we spent reading and and just watching the ship glide through the waves. After a little rain shower in the morning, the most vibrant rainbow appeared! It was so cool because the top deck of the ship is so high that it looks like you are eye to eye with the rainbow. This trip was the perfect mix of relaxing and adventure. We truly had such an amazing time and just knew we couldn't wait to plan our next one!

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Cruise outfit

Royal Caribbean: Oasis of the Seas

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Royal Caribbeans Oasis of the Seas is first in its class and one of the largest cruise ships in the world. The ship launched in 2009 but was refurbished in 2019 for a vibrant, tropical aesthetic  Besides the colorful decor, they also added new water slides, the Ultimate Abyss slide, Splashaway aqua waterpark, Portside BBQ, a Mexican restaurant named El loco, Playmakers sports bar and arcade, Sugar Beach Candy shop, Spotlight Karaoke, a music hall venue, a bionic bar, and an Apollo 18 themed escape room. The ship typically departs out of Miami, but will now be sailing out of Cape Liberty, NJ. Oasis of the Seas offers trips to a few different destinations including Haiti, The Bahamas, Mexico, Puerto Rico, St. Maarten, St. Thomas, Dominican Republic, and now even Nova Scotia and New Brunswick!   

On March 1st, 2020, my bestie (Sarah) and I set sail on Oasis of the Seas, a 7 - day eastern Caribbean cruise! We took advantage of every second of this vacation and had SUCH a blast!

On the first day of our trip, we arrived in Miami and boarded the ship. Because we are part of their Crown and Anchor society, we were luckily able to get on pretty early. While the crew overturned the rooms, we headed straight to the solarium to get a Pina Colada and relax. Funny story: we were only on about 4 hours of sleep, so I wasn't paying too close attention to what my drink looked like. Well, I definitely should have taken a look, because I went to take a sip and chocked and spit it every where! I was NOT expecting there to be shots of rum sitting right on top! 😂That definitely woke me up! Anyways, we took our drinks over to the pool deck for the sail away party and watched Miami fade into the sunset! 🌅

The party does not stop there, though! After getting dinner in the dining hall, Sarah and I picked from a long list of nightly entertainment! We decided the Aqua 80s show would be a fun way to start off the cruise, and boy, were we right! The Aqua 80s show  is one of the coolest things I have ever seen! Acrobatics perform top-deck high dives and synchronized swimming to hits of the 80s!

Next up was one my favorite cruise activities... gameshows! We played Majority Rules and then headed to the Promenade for midnight music, dancing, and a balloon drop! Everyone was having such a good time! We joined a bachelorette party on the dance floor and started a conga line, met our friend Maria from New Mexico who had on the cutest cowboy boots, and met our friends from Canada while learning the Cupid Shuffle! A cute little grandma then started leading us and showing us all her made up dance moves! We grabbed one last drink for the night with our friends and partied with the band while discussing all the differences between America and Canada. While Canada may not really be that different than the US, one  of the reasons I love cruising so much is because you meet so many cool people from all around the world! 🌎

Day 2 and 3 were pretty chill, since we just wanted to kick back and relax. We hung out in the hot tub, lounged by the pool, and, of course, made sure we had good seats for the Worlds Sexiest Man competition. Anytime I've watched the competition, it usually starts out with a bunch of young guys who think they're really hot and ends with a bunch of girls screming for the dad bod! We also couldn't miss the Love & Marriage game show that afternoon! Let's just say if you participate in that show, the whole cruise is going to recognize you the rest of the vacation! The questions and answers are hilarious. You have to go!

After dinner ,we walked through the beautifully lit up Central Park deck and then checked out the Boardwalk for pictures! The game show of the night was "Guess that lyric," and I won a keychain for being the first to grab a chair for Bon Jovi's "Livin' on a Prayer."I guess it was the proud jersey girl in me, but apparently people from other parts of the country just don't get as excited when that songs come on...😕 

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Day 4 was my absolute favorite day! This was the day we docked in St. Maarten! We started the day off by being paired with our new friend Mike & Eric and taking an off-road scenic jeep ride touring both the French and dutch sides of the island. We stopped for lunch at a small restaurant on the water. Being the picky eater that I am, I ordered the sniper and some French fries. I thought I was playing it safe, but when the waiter brought out my food ,he literally brought me the ENTIRE fish. I gave it a try, because I figured "when in St. Maarten." It was actually one of the best pieces of fish that I've ever had, and also the most adventurous thing Iv ever eaten in my life.  At least I wasn't as bad as Eric - he's such a picky eater all he ate was ice cream. 😂 After lunch, we walked out onto the docks where a speedboat was waiting for us! We took a thrilling ride along the coast, stopping along the way to pass the famous "airport beach," and jump off the side where we could do a bit of snorkeling. 

This night on the ship was also my favorite. Don't even ask me how, because I HATE dancing in front of people, but I was somehow nominated as co captain of the dance competition. I immediately told Sarah that she better go get me a shot before we even started! Thank God other people had to come up and join us on the dance floor.  Flash forward....my team freakin won!!💃🏻🎉🙌🏼 To celebrate, our bartender friend Indy (from Indonesia) kept pouring us shots! Well, I guess that's what lead us to decide it was a good time for some karaoke. I was definitely feeling the drinks ,because Sarah somehow convinced me to sing "Shaggy it wasn't me" to a room full of people! It was mortifying yet such a great time.😂 We ran into out friends again and decided there definitely needs to be a round 2. We got up again and sang "I want it that way" by the Backstreet Boys. I think you could say that crowd was entertained that night.🎤

Fun fact: I got my name, Julianna, after the Dutch princess. My grandpa is from Holland, and my parents went through the famous airport, Princess Juliana Airport, when on their honeymoon and decided they loved that name! 

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On day 5, we docked in San Juan,Puerto Rico! After only getting about 5 hours of sleep, we somehow managed to rally and wakeup at 5am for our hike through the El Yunque rainforest.  The first stop of the day was Yokahu Tower, where we climbed all the way to the top for a breathtaking view of La Coca waterfalls.

We had a really cool tour guide who made the walk so interesting. He told us about some of the history, taught us about the bioluminescent foliage, and shared his grandmothers
Puerto Rican hot chocolate recipe that was made from the cocoa beans we passed along the trail. The recipe calls for a secret ingredient, which is cheese! I know, I know, sounds weird… but don’t knock it till you try it! Its supposed to be one of the most delicious and decedent hot chocolate recipes. After about an hour of walking, the jungle opened up to a beautiful swimming hole, where we cooled off and took a quick dip. 

On our way back, our tour guide handed us fresh picked Papaya from the side of the road. Kinda questionable to me, but again I figured, when in “Puerto Rico.” 🤷🏻‍♀️

 

Once we got back on the ship, we were starving, so we hit the buffet for lunch, then lounged by the pool and got ready for dinner. Dinner this night was my favorite. The chef served buttered lobster and a baked potatoes. Im not even a huge lobster person, but this one was SO good! My bestie and I are also HUGE dessert people, so we of course, had to sample just about everything on the menu. I think every night we ordered two desserts each just to make sure we didn’t miss out on anything. 😂

When dinner was finished, we went to Studio B to make sure we got good seats for the gameshow of the night: Battle of the Sexes. We ran into our friends, and they convinced us to compete instead of watch. The first round was pretty easy. About 10 men and 10 women had to pass an orange down the line without dropping it, no hands. The women one!  For round 2, we had to sing any song lyrics we could think of. No repeats. Sounds pretty easy, but its kinda like when someone asks you what your favorite song is, and you suddenly forgot every song you’ve ever herd in your life. I somehow managed to get to the final round but totally blanked when it became my turn. 🤯 Sorry ladies, I let the boys win that one. Round 3, you have to have one designated person from each team wait across the room while the rest of your team runs up one by one, with a ballon, and has to pop it! The girls did NOT do so well with this one. 😅 We picked the tiniest girl to be the designated person so pop the balloon and I felt so badly for her. When we ran into her later, she had bruises all over from! The rounds went on and on, but eventually.......the GIRLS WON.

 

Alexa, play “Who run the World,” by Beyonce

 

We, of course, had to celebrate with a round of green tea shots and dancing. All of us knew the cotton eyed Joe, so we requested that, which I thought was quite funny! The only reason I actually know the dance is because when I was younger, I went to the catholic school, and they forced us to learn and compete it. My friends and I always questioned when on earth we would ever need to know the Cotton eyed Joe, but, hey, I guess this was it! 🤠

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Day 6: Labadee, Haiti 🌴 Labadee, Haiti is the prettiest place I have ever seen in my life. I was so excited to come back here again this time around! Labadee is Royal Caribbean's private island and filled with adventure. The most famous activity on the island, is the Dragons breath zip line that flies over the island. There's also the dragon coaster, waterpark, volleyball, and floating tiki dock. Since Sarah and I have both been here before, we decided this time we wanted to stick to the island and relax. We spent the day laying in the hammocks, have lunch while watching Haitian women perform traditional dances, and hanging at the floating dock. I really wish I knew Luke Bryans song “ One Margarita” while we were there! That would have been so fun to play! 🍹😩 Guess we’ll just have to go back! 😄💁🏼‍♀️

Though we stayed back this time, there are some really fun excursions the island offers. Last time we were here, we did the Speedboat and Snorkel, which you can check out in my previous blog post if you’d like. I highly recommend doing one of the  boat tours that takes you around to see the magnificent views of of the mountains and Tortuga islands! We spent the whole day on Labadee so once we got back, we ate, and then headed to the auditorium for the Quest game show!

Sarah and I were pretty excited, because we had also seen this the last time. We expected it to just be a chill night watching, but somehow, once again, I got chosen to be team 2 co- captain with Jason from Chicago. The Quest is soooo much fun! It's the craziest gameshow on the ship, and the entire audience gets to be involved. The co captains have to do all kinds of crazy things like collect bra and belts, dress men like women in under 30 seconds, and much more! We had an absolute blast and somehow ....WE WON AGAIN!! 

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Day 7 was our last day!  While Sarah slept in and caught up on her beauty rest, I got up early and planned to head to the pool deck. I didn’t quite work out; as I stepped on to the deck, I was almost knocked over by a huge gust of wind! The weather was pretty stormy, but I luckily just so happen to have run into our friends, so I grabbed breakfast with them! Once we finished eating, we chilled in the hot tub for a little and then decided to check out the Ultimate Abyss, the largest slide on the ship. Sarah finally woke and joined us to ride the Flowrider. It is sooo cool to watch people do flips and tricks on that thing! I however, lasted for about 5 seconds before wiping out.  🤪 Sarah and I decided we needed to take full advantage of everything on the ship, so we went on over to the zip line. The zip line is from one end of of the ship to the other, overlooking the Central Park deck. Let's just say I think the entire ship herd me screaming. The last thing we had to make sure to check out was the bionic bar. It literally looks like something straight out of an episode of the Jetsons. 

For our last night, we absolutely had to attend the silent disco. Everyone puts on a pair of headphones, and you can choose between two channels. It’s quite funny to see others dancing to the song you’re not listening to. When the silent disco ended, everyone went to Sorrentino's for pizza. It was really nice just talking to everyone about where they’re from. We got to meet people from Argentina, Peru, different parts of Canada, Scotland, New Mexico, Texas, Chicago, and even Finland! We made soooo many amazing memories on this trip that I will never forget! I can’t wait for the next one!

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