#IKnewILovedYou, the Trip of a Lifetime

The winners of last year’s #IKnewILovedYou‬ giveaway share about THE trip of a lifetime!

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Ever wonder what it would feel like to win a dream trip to Bangkok and Bali? We recently caught up with Alexis and Willie, the impossibly cute couple who won the I Knew I Loved You‬ giveaway hosted last summer with our amazing partners, Clear Channel. Alexis and Willie were whisked off to paradise and treated to the trip of a lifetime with the luxurious Alexa Private Cruises and Oazia Spa Villas. Alexis shares her top moments with us, from the mouth-watering food they’re dying to recreate at home to their favorite memory of a spontaneous boat ride down the Klongs. Live vicariously through their images and favorite moments below!

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What was your reaction when you first found out that you won the I Knew I Loved You giveaway?!

We were completely floored! We were so excited to be finalists, but we never thought we would win. Who wins contests?! Particularly when the prize is an amazing trip to Bali!

What sorts of activities did you enjoy while staying at Oazia Spa Villas?

Oazia has all kinds of activities. Whether you want to lounge at your own private pool or have day trips, they are there to make sure you get everything out of your experience you hoped for. For us, they took us on a day trip to Ubud where we saw the Monkey Forest, Rice Terraces, and fed elephants! Had we had more time we could have taken an art class, surfing lessons, or had a spa day. We DID get a couples massage our last day and that evening had a romantic candlelit dinner on the beach 🙂

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What towns/cities did you stop at during your Alexa Private Cruises trip?

Given how remote that part of Indonesia is, there aren’t really towns or cities – mostly tiny fishing villages we passed that were pretty private, where we enjoyed the boat and the diving. The one stop we did do was on Rinca Island to see the Komodo Dragons. What an amazing experience!

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What was your favorite part?

Hah – we have to pick a favorite? That is almost impossible! Can I pick two? If so, I would say eating and diving. We ate some of the most incredible food! It was amazing given the tiny kitchen our chef had. You would have thought he had a huge, full-service kitchen and staff with the things he was serving! Even breakfast came with bread he made from scratch! We loved eating that bread in the morning (and dipping it into the hot chocolate 🙂 while the sun was coming up! The dives were also unbelievable – a once in a lifetime experience. The diving instructor was so knowledgeable and showed us all the wildlife to look for! We saw manta rays, sea turtles, and thousands of species of fish!

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Where else did you go?

Bangkok, Thailand! 🙂 We also had a 10 hour layover in Singapore so we spent the day there!

What is the best moment from the entire trip?

Oh golly…again with the hard ones. If you are MAKING us pick…the manta ray dive. It was pure magic. Well, that or the komodos? Or the beach dinner on our own private island? Or…ugh, you get the picture! This question is impossible.

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Did you pick up any travel tips? Care to share? 🙂

Definitely precise exchange rates :). We had done all our research and were feeling pretty proud of ourselves, but we found out in Bali we had forgotten a 0! We were so confused why everything was so expensive! HAHA – good thing the locals were nice and filled us in :). Also, we exchanged cash at our banks at home so we didn’t have to pay any exchange rates while were there which was awesome…well, until the Bali fiasco and we had to hit some ATMs! We only ended up bringing 20 instead of 200! OH! Also, tipping customs – learn those :).

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Do you have any tips for couples who are planning for their honeymoons?

Since we had about 6 months to plan I took my time and was as detail oriented as I could be. We used literally every resource we had: Tripadvisor, Pinterest, travel blogs. etc. For our Thailand portion we planned every day out, making sure that things we wanted to do were open the day we had planned to go. For example, we had to switch a few things around because of a holy holiday. If we hadn’t planned that day, we wouldn’t have known and may have missed out on the experiences. What I will say is that some of the best stuff wasn’t planned. It just fell into our lap – like the boat down the Klongs. That just fell into place and was one of our favorite days in Thailand!

For Bali, I knew we couldn’t really plan for the boat so we had to look into our 2 days on land. I knew I wanted to go to Ubud for the day so I looked into what activities I wanted to do and how far they were from one another so we could pack in as much as we could. One of the biggest pieces of advice I could give is that you need to remember jet-lag! It was great going to Thailand first so we could really truly enjoy Bali without any jet-lag. We also planned less stuff our first few days so we could adjust. Helped so much!

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What were your travel essentials?

Sunscreen and a camera

Are there any memorable dishes you want to try and recreate at home?

BREAD! I know it sounds silly, but now we are dying to make bread from scratch now! We loved it every day on the boat. Also, we took a cooking class in Bangkok and made some pretty great curry and Pad Thai!

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Did you discover any interesting things about the culture that you didn’t know before?

Oh goodness. Lots. We had no idea about the traditional food of Bali or much about their religion. Bali has GORGEOUS active temples which still are very much alive and worshipped. On our drive back from Ubud we saw all the women of a village walking to a temple ceremony with so much fruit and incense balanced on their heads for the ceremony. To them, it was just a normal routine to carry a shopping cart worth of stuff on their heads, but I can’t even balance a book! It was amazing!

Did you and Will learn anything about yourselves as a couple?

We learn something about each other every day :). I would say we were reminded how well we work together. We worked through any crisis we may have had and we compliment each other pretty nicely 🙂 – if we don’t say so ourselves. This isn’t particularly new info, but we learned that Willie just can’t eat squid. No matter how well it’s prepared.

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Where else is on your travel bucket list? 

Oh this list is QUITE long :). I think our next trip will be South America (thinking the Salt Flats in Bolivia, hiking in Peru, and either Chile or Argentina). Then I am hoping for Greece (Santorini and Mykonos), then Southern Italy and the Italian Islands. Also have our eyes on Vietnam and Cambodia.

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Didn’t their trip sound amazing?! We are so happy that Alexis and Willie experienced so many incredible adventures on their I Knew I Loved You‬ giveaway. Congrats again, Alexis and Willie! And a big shout-out to all their friends and family, as well as Alexa Private Cruises, Oazia Spa Villas and Clear Channel, who helped make their dream trip a possibility.

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The Drinks You Should Be Ordering At San Francisco’s Best Coffee Shops

Put down your coffee. Here are the top drinks you should be ordering at San Francisco’s best coffee shops. 

Here at Wanderable, our team is lucky enough to live in San Francisco. This home of ours is a foodie mecca, and in recent years, its coffee game has been strong. New coffee roasters seem to pop up as swiftly as your daily 2-pm coffee cravings hit. In our quest to stave off our own coffee cravings, we’ve done the leg work and sampled all the best drinks there were to find from SoMa to the Mission. Here, we present to you the truly great drinks you should be ordering at San Francisco’s best coffee shops.

Philz

Philz is a beloved local brand here in the Bay Area. The beauty of Philz is that you can find one in nearly any neighborhood in San Francisco and across the Bay Area. As soon as you walk into a Philz, your spirits are instantly lifted – these coffee shops are just plain fun. You can even jam out to good music as you wait for your perfectly-dripped cup of coffee.

Our rec: The Mint Mojito, hands down. This iced drink is sweet, frothy, creamy, and best of all, it comes with with a fresh bunch of peppermint leaves that elevates the iced coffee game. Plus, you can enjoy one on a hot summer day (we don’t get many of these in San Francisco, but bear with us here) along with a Philz Coffee Pepples Donut on the side. Why not chase the best Philz drink down with the best Philz-flavored organic donut?!

Sightglass

Sightglass is quickly rising in ranks as one of the coolest coffee brands in San Francisco. Their stores are simply beautiful, with warehouse-like spaces filled with plenty of light and high ceilings. And their coffee? Need you ask? Coffee purists are happy enough to find that Sightglass coffee is good enough to stand alone, and those who like a little more cream and sugar in their cup of joe can try one of the beloved lattes or cold brews here.

Our rec: Sightglass just opened up San Francisco’s first affogato bar in their SoMa location. They’ve teamed up with an equally delicious Portland brand – Salt & Straw Ice Cream – to offer up refreshing espresso-soaked icecream. Try the affogato-soaked Sea Salt with Caramel Ribbons. Perfect for a hot day in the city. Or a cold day in the city. Really, we’d consume that affogato every day if we could.

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Blue Bottle

Blue Bottle. What more can be said about this coffee brand that hasn’t already been stated? Local residents can wax poetic about Blue Bottle’s venerable place in San Francisco’s coffee community. Blue Bottle was one of the first on the scene when coffee started getting really good again (we will overlook the bleak period that is otherwise known as S***bucks). Blue Bottle’s artisan beans are especially good in cold brews.

Our rec: You can probably guess what our favorite drink is here – the New Orleans Iced Coffee. This has sweetness, creaminess, and notes of chicory that make this cold brew the first thing we crave when we need a jolt of caffeine. The famous Blue Bottle logo that is printed on your cup of New Orleans Iced Coffee will also be an iconic reminder of just how amazing coffee has gotten in the Bay Area.

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Four Barrel Coffee

Four Barrel Coffee is the sort of coffee joint you can sit in for hours. Not only are their stores beautiful (would you call their Mission store “rustic-chic”?), but their coffee is, to put it simply, quite tasty. The really cool thing about Four Barrel is that you can get a sense of their entire roasting process with the knowledgeable tastings they do. The way they describe their coffee here is similar to the way that a sommelier would describe wine. Honestly, we’d happily choose a cup of Four Barrel Coffee over a glass of red any day.

Our rec: All the drinks at Four Barrel are executed perfectly by their well-trained staff, but our go-to would be their latte with almond milk. We’re not even vegan or vegetarian, but there’s something about the sweetness of the almond milk that pairs perfectly with their strong coffee flavors. A spoon is definitely necessary to scoop up all the creamy foam on top.

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Our Favorite Lustworthy Thailand Adventures

Wanderable’s well-traveled globetrotters pick their favorite lustworthy Thailand adventures. 

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Here at Wanderable, we’ve already discovered the best Experience Providers in the world for you. Today, we spoke to some of our team’s wanderers to ask, “Which Thailand activity tops your travel bucket list?”

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Jenny, Engineering Expert

“The Floating Market Full Day Private Tour! Usually, when I travel someplace, I really like to get to know the local culture and interact with the locals. With this tour, you’re taken along the Mae Klong River before you explore the colorful floating markets! I’d pick up fresh fruit to snack on as we drive through the local villages and canals around the area.”

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Sara, BD Hotshot

“Hands down, the Koh Tao Discover Scuba. It’s completely private. You get your own boat to cruise around Koh Tao with a specialized instructor. My boyfriend and I have been wanting to learn SCUBA forever, and what better place than in one of the world’s top-rated scuba diving locations? You experience a gorgeous, secluded bay filled with corals all to yourself.”

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Ilana – Marketing Extraordinaire

“I’m such an animal person, so I instantly honed in on the Phuket Wildlife and Romance Tour. It’s really cool – you first travel to Phuket’s largest Buddha sculpture, then take an elephant trek before lunch and more sightseeing. But, I’m most excited for the last stop at Tiger Kingdom! It’s one of my wildest dreams to be able to cuddle with baby tiger cubs.”

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Marcela, Product Whiz

“Oh, definitely the Bangkok Day Dream Package. Being able to relax in an herbal floral bath before enjoying a body scrub, an aromatherapy oil massage, and a facial relaxation treatment sounds amazing. I feel like I would unwind on years and years of stress in one luxurious afternoon. It sounds like it’ll be so hard to leave afterward!”

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Jacqui, Content Guru

“It would have to be the Full-Day Phi Phi Island (By Speed Boat), naturally. I love the idea of waking up early to beat the crowds and island-hopping in the Phi Phi Islands on this incredible, sleek speed boat. You’ll visit everywhere from the Phi Phi Don to the Maya Bay. And as if that weren’t enough, you also get to go snorkeling. Literally the perfect day.”

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Vicki, BD Mastermind

“I really love the Ayutthaya Relics Tour. It allows you to get in a bit of ancient history. You’re submerged in the the history of Thailand’s past royalty while you explore these gorgeous ruins in the former capital of Siam. And you end the day tasting local sweets – what better way to wrap up a fascinating look into Thailand’s past?”

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Esther, Customer Advocate

“If I were you, I would check out this amazing activity, Discovering Rural Thai Life Over Authentic Northern Thai Cuisine. I’m a huge foodie, so spending the day cooking with a culinary mother-daughter team is right up my alley. Plus, I’m secretly looking forward to impressing all my future dinner guests with authentic Thai recipes!”

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Which Thailand activities would you love to experience? See our other amazing Thailand activities to add to your own travel bucket list, today!

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Top 5 Things to Do in New York City

A true New Yorker at heart, Maddy Douglass of Ginger & The Fizz shares her top 5 favorite things to do in New York City. 

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 Maddy enjoying a coffee in the city that never sleeps.

I know, I know – not another list, right? But this one is a legitimate, friend-curated, New Yorker-approved list of things to do and eat if you have a quick two or three days in the Big Apple coming up! You probably already know by now that you can’t see everything in New York on a shorter (or even sometimes lengthier) excursion, so you’ve got to prioritize – and, if we’re being honest, the Statue of Liberty probably isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Make the most of the exhibits and restaurants that are around now and you won’t regret a single subway swipe (or cab ride) across the island.

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 A close-up of the Guggenheim Museum’s iconic building.

1. The Guggenheim Museum

If the Met is the prom queen, the Guggenheim is her slightly hipster younger sister. Wander in and out of the galleries on each floor (when I was there I saw Indian tapestries and Kandinskys in addition to the main exhibit: On Kawara – Silence ) while making your way up the spiraling center concourse to the very top. This Frank Lloyd Wright-designed building is a must see for the architecture alone, although they always have great exhibits going on too. After you’ve had your fill, head down the street to the Neue Galerie’s Café Sabarsky for a sumptuous hot chocolate (or an iced coffee depending on the time of year), or go to Luke’s nearby for a hunger-quelling lobster roll.

And if you still want to see what The Metropolitan Museum of Art has to offer, it’s right down the street as well!

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 Bagels and lox at Russ & Daughters, the perfect breakfast.

2. Russ & Daughters Café

Russ and Daughters has long been known as the go to place for fresh bagels, lox, and any other “appetizing” needs you might have (appetizing: most commonly known as “the food one eats with bagels,” like smoked and cured salmon, salads, etc.)

Luckily for, well, everyone on the planet, they’ve recently opened a café a few short blocks from their original location that serves up an incredible variety of traditional Jewish dishes – some of my favorites where the chopped liver and the latkes – all for the small proverbial price of a sometimes lengthy line. If you go around 10am, there should be no problem getting in under twenty minutes.

If you’re still interested in exploring the East Village after your brunch, try grabbing a cup of broth at Brodo on 12th and meandering through the little side streets.

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Reynard will redefine how you do brunch.

3. Reynard restaurant in the Wythe Hotel (also: Mast Brothers Chocolate)

If you’re looking for a lunch or dinner that is a bit more upscale, Reynard in the Wythe Hotel in Williamsburg can’t be beat. Their brunch menu (which included French toast with duck confit on my visit) is pleasantly original, and their dinner hour can be easily followed up by a trip to the rooftop bar to see the Manhattan skyline across the water. Built in what was originally an old warehouse, the dining areas perfectly demonstrate this blend of refined style and traditional architecture, making a meal here an event for the eyes as well as the, well, stomach.

If you go midday, be sure to check out the Mast Brothers Chocolate factory a few short blocks away. You can walk in to their show room to get a small peak of their factory process and buy some brightly colored bars for the trip home, or you can buy tickets in advance (they sell out at least a week ahead) to their actual factory tour.

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 The chocolate display at Mast Brothers Chocolate: heaven!

4. Golden Unicorn/Chinatown dumplings

Ready to go back to Manhattan? Head to Chinatown to get Shanghai dumplings (also known as soup dumplings, those delectable little bits that have savory broth inside the dumpling and deliver it straight to your senses with every bite) at Golden Unicorn, one of the best known dim sum places in the city.

If you don’t have time for a full sit down meal, head to Chinatown and wander down Canal street for a gander at the sights and sounds of authentic Asian fare. Pick up a few (or a whole bag of) steamed dumplings in any one of the shops and take them back to your hotel or hostel or friend’s apartment for a comforting, easy dinner. My favorites are the steamed pork buns, pan fried chicken buns, and sesame balls with marzipan inside for dessert!

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 A classy cocktail at Refinery Rooftop bar.

5. Refinery Rooftop for drinks in Midtown

If you’re looking for somewhere nice but comfortable for evening or after dinner drinks, there’s no better place than Refinery Rooftop bar atop the Refinery Hotel in Midtown. The covered rooftop ensures that the panoramic views of the city (including an up close and personal look at the Empire State Building) are available to you year-round, and the rustic décor and exposed brick ensures that you feel cozy and comfortable regardless of how snow-covered the patio is just outside the bar. Oversized outdoor light bulbs are strung up across the ceiling, adding a romantic and celestial feel to bar’s atmosphere – and their drinks are just the icing on the cake. I personally loved the hot Chef’s cider (similar to a hot toddy), while my drink dates both enjoyed stronger martini cocktails.

If you’re looking to stay in Manhattan, check out Refinery Hotel just below – that’s one way to ensure you’ll make it to the rooftop bar during your visit!

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 The view from the top of Refinery Hotel is surreal.

Regardless of where you go or stay, New York City always casts a spell over its visitors, ensuring that you never feel like you’ve gotten your fill of this city. Hopefully these places will offer enough of a taste that you’ll want to keep going back!

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Maddy navigating the streets like a pro.

With these tried-and-true suggestions from Maddy, we can’t wait for our next trip to New York City! All the iconic art, amazing food, and beautiful views are calling. 

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Spotlight: Chic Retreats, Off the Beaten Path

Here are some of our favorite places that you never thought you’d travel on this week’s Spotlight: 

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Okeanos Luxury Villas 

Have you ever wanted to stay at a hotel that was a bit more under the radar, somewhere luxurious, where you could also truly escape? Well, stop all of your researching and look no further! We are very proud to announce the best kept secret in all of travel history — Chic Retreats, a collection of boutique hotels around the world that puts the excitement back into travel. These hidden gems are all about the little luxuries; Whether you want to stay in a small hotel, a luxury villa, or a B&B, Chic Retreats has got you covered.

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Riad AnaYela

Riad AnaYela: This 300-year old palace is the epitome of Moroccan culture, with a story so incredible, it just had to be carved onto the walls of the actual riad. There is also a magical rooftop terrace where you can take a trip on a flying carpet or eat traditional Moroccan food in an authentic nomad tent. #Culture

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Borgo San Marco 

Borgo San Marco: Discover Italy’s unbeaten paths in Puglia, Italy’s deep south. This hidden boutique hotel is a true oasis, surrounded by thousands of olive trees. Feel free to #Wander around the olive groves, purchase some olive oil or eat in the hotel’s restaurant, where only the best ingredients are used. This charming hotel will keep you coming back again and again.

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Okeanos Luxury Villas

Okeanos Luxury Villas: This fantastic boutique hotel is located in Lefkada, right on the famous white sandy beach of Egremni, which was voted one of the top ten beaches in ALL OF EUROPE! Seriously, you don’t want to miss out on this. These 6 spacious and contemporary self-catering villas have romance written all over them. With mesmerizing views that will lull you into complete relaxation, Okeanos Luxury Villas are a MUST when traveling through Lefkada. Also, major plus: we’re actually giving away 7 nights at this villa, with How He Asked!

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 Riad Jaaneman

Riad Jaaneman: An upbeat and stylish luxury riad that is located in the bohemian heart of Marrakech medina. This hidden oasis of Italian sophistication and design is just a stone’s throw away from the hustle and bustle of the souks and the markets. So come on Wanderers, what are you waiting for?! Morocco is calling your name.

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Theva Residency 

Theva Residency: A cutting-edge boutique hotel that marries tradition with contemporary, the Theva Residency will literally take your breath away with its incredible mountain views. Just 10 minutes from Kandy Town, Sri Lanka, this hotel will give you a chance to relax and revive yourselves while enjoying the mouth-watering menu and the beautiful nature.

beckford-arms-07 Beckford Arms

Beckford Arms: This unbeatable, sophisticated, country pub is located in the Wiltshire countryside, a short two hours away from London. With 8 en-suite bedrooms, this is the perfect getaway for you and your love, combining stylish interiors and delicious food in a traditional pub setting.

So this is definitely making us want to wander anywhere and everywhere with Chic Retreats. What about you? They are the perfect combination of luxury, culture, and a home away from home. Keep them in mind when planning a trip with the one you love– and for exclusive offers and promotions, make sure you “like” Chic Retreats on Facebook!

 

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