A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: dtoussi

Last day, beach day

Day 5

Today is my last full day in Fort Lauderdale. This vacation, although it was alone, was incredibly relaxing and fun! I think I've become a stronger person from this experience alone, and being able to make a few new friends and reuniting with some old ones was certainly a plus. That reflection being touched upon, I will continue my solo adventures! It's a relatively nice day out today - completely clear skies, sun shining bright, almost no wind, and in the 70s. This feels like Boston in the spring/early summer time...if only it were this sunny all the time. But because it isn't and I'm so close to the beach, why not spend my day there trying to get my tan on.

The beach was less crowded compared to this weekend which was a relief! But it was still filled with nothing but old people and their umbrella chairs. Nonetheless, I still laid out my towel and napped for 3-4 hours, with a Subway break somewhere in there. I also decided to finally check out the water and see if it was as cold as I thought. Normally up north even in the summertime the ocean can be in the 60s on a typical day. So I crept towards the ocean with all my muscles tense, ready to react to ice cold water. I saw some people swimming out there in it but I thought they must be crazy. When the first wave hit my feet, I was relieved that it was actually warm! Well I won't go as far as saying warm, but it was incredibly bearable, and that's saying a lot from me - the person whose extremities get immensely cold upon immediate exposure to anything cold. The sand quickly transitioned into tiny seashells for a ground supporting the water. After about 5 feet of walking in, there was a huge drop and the water level goes from being at my knees to at my waist instantly! It was still comfortable, and I watched the jet skiers and para sailers nearby which looked so fun! I've always wanted to go para sailing.


one of the many ocean front hotels

That was the highlight of my day though - left with some burn marks but it'll turn into a tan soon enough ;) Later in the evening, just ran a few errands to get things ready for when Krystin and Nick come back tomorrow night. And of course, it's Bachelor Monday so I couldn't miss that! It was a very relaxing night, getting some house chores done and hanging out with Dobby.

Off to the airport tomorrow! So sad to leave..

Goodnight Moon

Posted by dtoussi 19:28 Comments (0)

Superbowl Sunday

Being an American

sunny 73 °F

Day 4

This will be a short post since it wasn't terribly eventful, and unfortunately lacking pictures. Today is Superbowl Sunday and as a big football fan, I almost forgot about it being on vacation and not really caring since the Patriots got beat out. But my cousins' friend Ozzy whom was a groomsman in their wedding in 2011, was gonna visit from Fort Pierce for the game. So to save us some money and drunk driving, I decided to buy some stuff to make food for the game. The day started with a trip to Publix - chips and salsa, ingredients to make turkey chili with corn muffins, and more jello of course.

I got home and spent the rest of the day in, cooking chili for hours and making homemade guacamole - my first time! Later in the afternoon, Ozzy arrived and we went to pick up some (lots) of beer. It's kind of necessary when watching football. I found the beer I tried with Tiffany the other night that I've never seen back home - Imperial, a Costa Rican import and Kalik Gold, from the Bahamas. I ended up really liking Imperial which had a different taste that I can't even remember right now. Anyways we got neither because we found other options beforehand, oh well. When we got back, the chili was smelling so good, after simmering for at least 5 hours. I decided to get started on making my jalapeno cornbread muffins, my new favorite side to chili, and such a hit with my friends! I just follow the instructions on the cornbread box mix and chop up some fresh jalapeno and throw it into the batter. These were ready in time for kickoff, perfect.

The game was rough to watch since I was rooting against the Ravens for destroying the Pats in the AFC Championship game, and I felt like the Niners deserved this shot after Kapernick picked their team back up mid-season. The first half was horrible to watch, the half-time show with Beyonce was actually pretty good and they brought back Destiny's Child!! I felt like a teenager again. The second half of the game was better, the Niners with their head in the game finally, but it was a struggle coming back. The game actually came down to the last punt return in the last minute of the game - the Niners had the chance to take one last possession for a kick, but once the ball was caught, he somehow lost it and fumbled. Ravens win Superbowl 47. Hoorah......

Long day finally over, we finished it by watching an episode of Duck Dynasty - a reality show of rednecks in Louisiana who are a part of the duck-calling business. Quite bizarre.

Goodnight Moon

Posted by dtoussi 15:52 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Paddle boarding

sunny 75 °F

Day 3

Another beautifully sunny morning, although it's much chillier first thing in the morning when I'm walking Dobby. Today, I have reserved to go paddle boarding at Fort Lauderdale beach with a Groupon I purchased. While I'm here, I want to experience things typical to Florida that I may not be able to see or do back home in Boston. I've seen multiple Groupons to go paddle boarding, so this seems like one of those things to do. Carpe diem! I got ready to head back to the beach, now understanding my way around a little bit. The beach was much busier today since it was the weekend, but not terrible.

But it's time to conquer this fear of trying paddle boarding! It always looked difficult- having great balance seemed scary enough to me that I may end up falling into the water. The guys running the shop and tour were very nice and reassuring that I shouldn't fall. phew! So we take off to the intercoastal waterway dock, about 11 of us in the group. We knee onto the boards one-by-one from the dock and get strapped in. Starting off on our knees to learn stability and finding our "sweet spot", we paddle around the small canal into the larger opening towards the channel. Here our instructor is teaching us to slowly stand up on the board - your feet should be shoulder length apart surrounding the little knotch in the middle of the board. Knees can be bent and should be if you're riding over waves to keep your center of gravity low. *Nerd moment over* The only intimidating part for a newbie was getting past the channel of boats flowing by as the initial challenge of this whole experience. Slowly, but surely (emphasis on the slow part) I got through no problem. We then trailed into a canal beginning our "Venice of America" tour. I didn't understand what this meant until we starting paddling ourselves down a canal with views of gorgeous million dollar homes with private docks for each house on either side of the riverway. It was then that I felt like I was a Gondola operator touring down this scenic route of Fort Lauderdale, similar to that of Venice. The weather could not be more perfect, roughy 75 degrees, low wind, and sunny skies with some clouds breaking in. The only thing that could've ruined the sights were the group in our tour of 6 Russian guys who came out fully dressed in shirts, shorts, hats, and sunglasses. They were clowning around on the boards and not taking the instructions seriously, which resulted in them constantly falling into the water. I wouldn't have cared but I stayed far behind the group for a reason - because I knew I might uncontrollably crash into someone else that could cause them to fall, and I didn't want anyone crashing into me. But these guys still managed to.

Moving along this tour- we learned to duck under numerous small bridges by having to get on our stomach and paddle through each one. The bridges were consecutive so it made me nervous having to re-stand up each time, but I got better as it went along. About 2/3 into the trip, we came up to an interesting transition from glamorous homes gleaming in the sun to the "mango groves" which consisted of a huge tree hanging over the water, enough that we were able to reach the branches standing up. Our instructor was able to snatch some pictures with me and a new friend I made on the tour, Jalana who has been paddling for quite some time now, so she was able to help me out also. Two and a half hours later, we finally make it back to the dock we started at after trudging through more waves from the boats in the channel. It was a great workout nonetheless and we'll see how sore I'll be feeling tomorrow.

After getting our things gathered and heading off, I grabbed a drink and bite to eat right within that same little mall at Lulu's Bait Shack. I did the most touristy thing possible and ordered a drink within a souvenir glass. Go me. Though I was able to get a nice little table for myself overlooking the beach from 2 stories up! I ended up going back to the paddle board shop after Lulu's to buy a Shark Pack, which is what held my iPhone to take pictures during the tour. It's a sturdy clear plastic bag with little inflatables surrounding it to float if it ends up in the water that holds a phone or camera within it nicely and seals it up. It is then attached to a lanyard for you to keep around your neck. For a touch screen phone, it functioned easily inside this bag so I had to get it since I've never seen anything like it before. Whenever I want to bring my camera out onto the water, I would makeshift double ziplock bags to keep the water out. I won't have to do that anymore with the Shark pack!

Overall, it was a very exciting and mentally draining day. I'm glad I tried something new and got over the fear I had of it all on my own! *pats on the back* I ended the night with some lime jello and updating this blog from the past 2 days. Now you can enjoy some of the pictures from today.

Jalana and our instructor, Jon

The group as we are venturing out into open waters

Jalana and I

At the mango grove


Goodnight Moon

Posted by dtoussi 21:05 Archived in USA Tagged florida paddle_board Comments (0)

Reuniting with my little munchkin!

sunny 72 °F

Day 2

The sun is finally out, hooray! So many things to do, my mind is so scattered but mostly excited to see my best friend from college and go to the beach. Before all that though, I did spend the morning catching up on Glee and cuddling with Dobby - mostly him plopping all 70 lbs of himself onto my lap, no problem. It was adorable though, I think he's getting used to the idea of me taking care of him now instead of me just being some weirdo living in his home. Afterwards, I took to one of the pools within this community which was a very short walk away. Through the gate was a small pool surrounded by lounge chairs and a tent with some tables and chairs underneath it. Further through the back was another gate leading onto the edge of an intercoastal waterway where there were more lounge chairs. I decided to go there since there was more sun, and the view was incredible sitting on the edge of a nicely manicured landscape lined with tall palm trees. It was a little bit cooler at around 70 degrees but that didn't stop me from sun bathing a bit while reading my book, and boat-watching as varieties from little fishing and recreational boats to 100 ft yachts drove by!

Afterwards, my friend Tiffany drove down from Tequesta to see me. I have not seen this girl in almost 3 years! When we finally reunited, we immediately wanted to catch up on everything. Without further ado, we finally headed to the Fort Lauderdale Beach. After some difficulties finding parking, we made it and noticed lots of gay couples around. Who knew Fort Lauderdale was a big gay town? Anyways, the temperature didn't get much warmer since the earlier lounge but the sun was still happily shining, but being on the water brought on tons of wind! We could barely keep our beach towels down. After being there for a couple of hours, the clouds began to roll in and made us cold. We left to go down the road to an outdoor bar recommended by Krystin, called 101 Ocean. Walking by the entrance we felt extremely underdressed in our casual beach-wear. But we still sat at the bar and had a cocktail, no weird looks coming our way thankfully. After chatting with the bartender about the Boston area and learning the bar right across from it is the designated "Patriots Bar" Tiff and I could not be left alone by weird old men. In her words "It's tough being young and beautiful!"

Fort Lauderdale Beach

Tiff and I grabbing a drink at 101 Ocean

After having a bite to eat and getting ready for the night, we drove north to Jupiter area. First stop was an outdoor rum bar. I must say, this was probably the coolest environment that I've been to: walking on nothing but sand, 2 bars under tiki huts, fire pits spread out everywhere with Adirondack chairs surrounding each one, the palm trees sprinkled around of course, and a live band. Staying for one drink, we then headed through Jupiter to Tiffany's place nearby to pick up her brother and boyfriend. (Sidenote: the lineup of gated condominiums down US-1 is insanely gorgeous, and numerous. I lost count of how many we passed) It was good to meet her bf, and see her brother again too! We then all picked up and headed down to another environmentally intriguing outdoor bar called Guanabanas, which made you feel like you're indoors by being covered by trees as if you're enveloped within a Costa Rican forest. The large central tree had a tiki hut build around it. Again, lots of woodwork and I even took a walk down to explore that this restaurant is right on the edge of the Intercoastal Waterway and it leads to docks that you can just park your boat, pop up for a drink or a meal, and then be on your way via boat action. So cool. Bar hopping some more and we walked about a block away to another infamous bar on a different part of the water called Square Grouper. Apparently that was code back in the 80s for "fishing for cocaine". Who knows what went on back in the day. Long day/night concluded, longer drive back to Fort Lauderdale.

Snapshot of one of the fire pits

Me, Nicole, and Tiffany

Goodnight Moon

Posted by dtoussi 17:26 Archived in USA Tagged intercoastal_waterway jupiter rum_bar square_grouper Comments (0)

The flights down, and Day 1


Hello world! It's been a while since I've blogged, since the Xanga days circa 2003? 2004? Thereabouts. Glad I got that off my chest, don't expect too much from this, at least right now because I'm a bit rusty.

Anyways, I wanted to start up a traveling blog for my trip to Italy and Greece in a little over a month and thought this would be a good way for friends and family, whom I may not be able to contact, to know what I've been up to along the trip. I've decided to test out this site by talking about my little solo vacation to Florida.

My old roommate, Krystin asked if I would be interested to dog sit so that she and her boyfriend could go back home to visit friends and family during their annual Superbowl party. I couldn't pass up the opportunity to escape the frigid Boston winter weather for some sunshine, so I said yes! My trip started yesterday the 30th by leaving Boston, which was expecting a huge downpour within a couple hours of my flight departure. The ride was a bit bumpy and nauseating, like when you're just descending the highest point of a rollercoaster and your stomach feels like it's in your throat. I didn't know how planes could make me fly outta my seat like that, but it did...more than once. Thankfully the ride was quick to Washington DC - I've never been before and getting the coolest view approaching the White House and Lincoln Memorial right through my window was incredible!! I think I choked up a little bit. Seeing the pictures in books and on tv doesn't justify seeing it 10,000 feet in the air. And in DC I had a scheduled 1 hour layover. Unfortunately, that one hour turned into four. But Jetblue was very accommodating by providing constant updates on why we're waiting (1 plane's late arrival actually caused 2 simultaneous delays), snacks and water, and as of today- a credit for a future flight! Aww what other airline cares about you that much? After finally boarding, we left and endured an even longer, bumpier ride through a legitimate rain storm. I think we made it out of the storm half-way through, not sure my sanity did though, sitting next to two drunk girls celebrating a birthday, and then a family in front of me also getting drunk celebrating another birthday. My luck.

Finally landed in Fort Lauderdale, FL at 12:30am and I'm greeted by my old roommate/s! So sweet of them to still show up at that hour, but I did have to bring them back to the airport in 5 hours....ha! Driving down the many boulevards lined with consecutive plazas looked all too familiar to other major southern cities I've visited before, so it almost felt like I knew where I was even though I've never been to Fort Lauderdale before. So upon getting a little tour of their gated community, their apartment and the list of things to do, we all took a 2-hour power nap before heading back to the airport.

View of Ft. Lauderdale by night, just before landing

Day 1

After sending them off to Boston, I had to catch up on a little sleep but not too much to make the first day unproductive. So I decided to hit the local supermarket to save myself money and some weight-gain by buying my own groceries and immediately made some lime jello (hint hint Brianna!). I really wanted to take advantage of this spring-like weather (70s, little wind, but cloudy) by being outdoors as much as possible since the AC in the south is equivalent to the Northeast's heat, but all year-round apparently. I went for a run, and took Dobby with me since he has calmed down much more since moving to Florida and is able to run with me and not actually run me. I stayed only within this gated community which according to Krystin's directions seemed like one giant block that I can loop around. Sadly I realized I was lost when I kept reaching the same landmark 3 different times. I tracked my run on a map and it looks like someone gave a 2-year-old a crayon to attempt coloring in a face but just made lines everywhere. Don't care though, the run and the mini-workout afterwards felt good.

This little rascal and I are hanging out for the next 5 days

I still had the rest of the afternoon ahead of me, and I was looking forward to checking out the Sawgrass Mills outlet mall in Sunrise. After a 45 minute drive mostly down one boulevard and a Justin Timberlake Pandora playlist, I arrived to an immediate pitstop first - Walmart for a car charger since my iPhone doesn't seem to hold a full day's charge anymore. I almost risked having to find my own way home via my (awful) memory. Luckily the phone was back up and running, and I could head next door into a land of palm tree-lined shopping extravaganza. This place was huge and I didn't know where to start so I just parked in the first spot I could find and explore from there. I ended up making it through maybe 1/4 of the indoor mall and purchasing a few new items which any girl is always excited about. The time did fly in that mall though, because I ended up leaving later than I thought.

I decided to end the night with take-out sushi and a movie I picked out from Walmart's $5 bin. Those are usually terrible ideas but I suppose they can be hit-or-miss depending on the movie. But "How Do You Know?" was....awful. Reese Witherspoon, you can do better. I'm not sure if it was the lack of sleep or the stupidity of this movie but it was indeed putting me to sleep. But not before I had the chance to finally write this!

I'm excited to see my best friend from college Tiffany tomorrow, and head to the beach! I can't believe it's been 2 and a half years since I've seen her, but I'm beyond thrilled :)

Goodnight Moon

Posted by dtoussi 03:16 Archived in USA Tagged night florida white_house fort_lauderdale Comments (0)

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