Last minute getaway….

This past weekend was my husbands birthday and up until Wednesday we had no idea what to do with our three day weekend. Thanks to Travelzoo, I stumbled upon a deal at Base Camp Hotels in South Lake Tahoe. AND they accommodate dogs, score! The hotel has a great welcoming and laid back vibe. The decor is a mix of modern-rustic-industrial-camping-snow-chic that I absolutely loved and made it that much easier to get into a vacation mind set. Even better? They focus on being environmentally friendly and use reclaimed wood and energy efficient heaters. They have family rooms that sleep up to eight with really fun bunk beds too! One more thing, okay two, our deal came with wine and smores each night… I mean come on!

Here’s my thoughts on our last minute escape to Lake Tahoe in early November:

-It’s already cold, so dress for 30 degree nights! Layers are your best friend.

-For a great brew and brunch hit up The Keys Cafe. I had a Carmello latte and the sweet potato sandwich with minestrone soup. Definitely a local hidden gem! Dog friendly too, they had water bowls and treats available for pups outside.

-If you’re up for a quick jaunt and great views, I highly recommend hiking Pyramid Peak. It’s a 15 minute drive from South Lake Tahoe, and a piece of cake for us. Cali loved being off leash and while the trail was a bit hard to find at some spots, we eventually meandered back on it just by following the river towards the waterfall at the end of the hike. Less than 1.5 miles and not too steep. It took us about 2 hours with lots of stops to take in the views, and time for Cali to enjoy playing in the water.

-Okay guys, here is where I have to restrain myself because as my husband will gladly tell you, Base Camp Pizza is the best we’ve EVER had. We split a large half BBQ chicken, half Thai chicken pizza. After fully indulging and stuffing ourselves we only had 2 pieces left. The cheese, the sauce, oh my! Like so good… We meant to grab another pizza on our way out of town and forgot because we left before lunch. I’m counting down until I get my hands on some more this winter.

This weekend was a successful getaway and it felt delightfully long. I hope we can take more trips like this before the year is over.



Travel Diaries… in Bali

I apologize for the delay, but here’s our adventure wrapped up into a quick summary for your reading enjoyment. We were lucky to win this trip from Rock Deodorant through a Valentine’s Day contest. With the chance to go anywhere in the world for up to $5,000 we chose Bali for our dream honeymoon. We have way too many photos to share them all so I picked the select few that represent our trip as a whole.

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For anyone hoping to travel to Bali themselves, here’s my guide to what we did and the to do’s versus the not to do’s. Enjoy!

Depending on your budget you can do everything for less than $1000, or just pick and choose the things that stick out to you. We spent about $500 for 3 full day tours and booked with Diane Embree from Bali Barong Tours. You can google her for the website and all the different things they offer. She was super helpful and answered any and all questions we had. I highly recommend using her services!
Our first 4 days were spent in Ubud, which was our favorite place on the island besides some of the beaches where Ryan could surf and watch the waves. You will love Ubud. It’s known for the art and culture and for us it was definitely the best shopping for unique hand crafted items. Once you go out of Ubud all the shopping seemed to be duplicated items that were made in China and silly tourist things that no one really wants to waste their money on. You can easily survive here on $20 US dollars a day by eating at the local restaurants tucked in the alley ways and off the beaten path. Nicer places averaged $15-20 US dollars per meal.
The last 3 days we stays in Kuta, which to us was…. a huge disappointment. First of all there’s more Australians there than locals, who knew it was only a 2 hour flight from AUS?! So pretty much the entire town was focused on getting visitors tipsy on Bitang Beer and pushing their made in china “Bali souvenirs” down your throat. Being here was a big turn off to the vibe we were expecting and our first chance we got we had our driver from our other tours take us to explore the nicer beaches. Kuta is known for the surf and beach, but compared to what we are used to (Hawaii, Southern California, Guam)…. not so great. It could be fun for the afternoon to explore and look around, but I don’t recommend staying here.
A little about Bali:
-the currency there is in Rupiahs: $1.00 US is about $10,000 Rupiahs. Best place to exchange your money is at an ATM in any Circle K. Money exchangers with real people have been known to somehow cheat tourists and have fixed calculators… just get enough at the airport at one of the exchangers to get you through the day and get more later. ($50 US or $500,000 in Rupiahs)
-Religion is mainly Hindu, so Karma is a big deal which means hardly any crime! We’ve never felt safer and the people were so kind. We even were invited into many of the locals homes on our tours so we could see the way they live. I wish Americans could learn some of their ways!
-Driving here is CRAZY! Most people can’t afford cars so scooters take over the roads here. People pass like crazy and forget traffic laws, it’s sort of a free for all. Some areas around the airport have nicer roads, but the more rural you get the bumpier and more narrow the roads get. Speed limit seemed to be about 30 mph from what we could tell due to traffic and lots of tight turns.
-The weather is perfect, all the time. It was 83-75 degrees the whole week and overcast a few days since it’s their rainy season. I dressed for summer and brought a scarf with me where ever we went in case it got a little chilly.
-Yes, they have mosquitoes, and yes Malaria is a risk. We just visited our docs a month prior and were prescribed pills to take one week before, during our visit and one week after. Easy, just bring bug spray and cover up at night. I mostly got bit on my feet when walking through the grass. Shoes would be an easy solution, whoops!
-Flight… its a long day of travel so be ready to sit on a plane for 12 hours, and then another 5… one way! We left on a red eye from SFO to Taipei and then from Taipei to Denpasar. There’s a day and time change so gets a little confusing. We weren’t jet lagged once we got there but suffered the most after we got back home.
-Dining: If you’re not afraid to try new things, eat the local food! There’s almost always a local option at every restaurant. Our favorite was the Nasi Goreng (fried rice with an egg on top) or a vegetable dish with shredded coconut, green beans, sprouts, and spinach. If you make it to Kuta, you HAVE to spend a sunset at Ku De Ta. I read about it online and made it my mission to try it and was it worth it! While it was expensive, we made that our one meal to splurge on. It’s right on the beach, super trendy with a DJ and pillows and couches spread out to watch the sun go down in style. And talk about romantic! I could go on forever about this place. Jay Z and Beyonce have probably chilled out here, it’s that cool.
-Electricity: 220 volts I think? We had to buy a converter kit to fit the two round holes.While it worked fine for our iphones, not so great with a curling iron. It started smoking on me! Thankfully it still works but I just ended up going all naturel with my curls and gave up on fighting the frizz from humidity.
Must do activities:
     -Monkey forest sanctuary in Ubud. It’s actually a Hindu temple (there was a cremation ceremony going on when we went) but the surrounding jungle is FULL of monkeys! They are friendly and stay just close enough to get some great pictures. It was less than $5 US dollars for each of us to enter the temple.
     -Spend one day exploring the countryside, so many gorgeous rice paddy fields, farms, and jungle to raid your instagram for a month. We took a cooking class taught by two young girls and it was a great way to get our hands dirty, eat way too much, and soak up the culture.
     -There’s also a coffee farm near Ubud that was a great detour one day. They make Lowak coffee and you can sample all the things they sell and buy direct there.. averaged $5 US for a box of tea or regular coffee.
     -Visit a handful of temples, they are everywhere you look so you don’t need to see them all. Tamapaksiring Holy Spring Temple was our favorite. People go here to cleanse themselves and take the water home with them to bless things. So neat to simply sit back and watch them go through the rituals. Be respectful whenever visiting temples, men should wear long pants and women long pants and no strappy shirts. When you pay the entrance fee $5 US or less each they will usually have sarongs to pass out for you if you are not dressed appropriately.
     -Spend one night to see some sort of dance or theater performance. Also on the less expensive side. Not sure exactly how much but most likely around $30 per person. We saw the Kecak (pronounced Kay-check) dance, lots of beautiful costumes and a good hindu story being told sung by a mens chorus.
     -If we had the time, we wish we could have gone white water rafting, It sounded like a blast! The river was right down a valley behind our first hotel in Ubud.
     -The Elephant Safari Park was on Ryans bucket list so we did that. I think it’s about $100 per person which included a 45 min ride, buffet lunch, and freedom to roam the park and watch the show they put on for us at noon. It wasn’t as huge of a deal to me so I’ll leave that one up to you. The park is really famous however, they have an entire wall there dedicated to all the celebrities that have visited.
    -For the surfers, Padang Padang beach is a must. Such nice water and waves! Hiring a driver is your best bet to get there. However, most charge an additional $10 US dollars for those with surfboards.
For more pictures be sure to check out my Instagram @marinakacheena