A look at the family-owned Hofsas House located at Carmel-by-the-Sea.

Peace by the Ocean: Hofsas House

A look at the family-owned Hofsas House located at Carmel-by-the-Sea.

Every year, I head somewhere for my birthday. Or at least try to. It all started in 2009 when I was in Atlanta and working in PR. I took the first trip of my adult life — a two week excursion to Croatia — seven years after my first foray into solo travel, which netted me about one month of backpacking with a far-too-heavy backpack around Europe.

If you’ve been reading this site since its infancy, then you know Croatia was the catalyst for all things d travels ’round.

I digress.

Birthday.

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Wallet-friendly, charming and in a prime location -- a look at Villa Mercedes in Puerto Vallarta, hotel review

Beach Bliss and Villa Mercedes in Puerto Vallarta

Wallet-friendly, charming and in a prime location -- a look at Villa Mercedes in Puerto Vallarta, hotel review
The humid air hits me on the jetway, causing a smile to remain plastered to my face from immigration to crossing the street outside of the airport to get a taxi (hint: it’s cheaper if you grab a cab off airport property).

I hop in the front seat of my taxi and produce the address to my hotel, a boutique property a two-minute walk to the beach.

“Voy aqui,” I tell my driver as I hop in.

“Si,” he responds, and we are off.

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Sea Monkey and Sunsets

Sea Monkey in Puerto Vallarta

The surf pounds the well-packed sand, littered with seaweed. I sit, toes buried deep where the water meets the shore. Behind me, local vendors run a sales rotation at Puerto Vallarta’s Sea Monkey, a beach bar with a handful of tables and umbrellas nestled on the coastline.

They sell everything: Drawings. Jewelry. Marionettes. Clothing. Massages.

As each one passes, my friend, Paula and I, tucked into 17 peso margaritas that could use a little more tequila and a little less sweet, catch up on life and quickly report to each seller, “no, gracias.”

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Getting Dreamy at Rivera del Rio in Puerto Vallarta

A look at the lavish Rivera del Rio boutique hotel in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.
Hailed as the “house of dreams” by New York interior designer Billy Baldwin, the former home of “Silver” Maria Cortez is now open to house guests, thanks to the Alex Killen, who is the third generation owner of the mansion-turned-boutique Rivera del Rio hotel in Puerto Vallarta.

Here, eclectic meets lavish  meets indoor plunge pool complete with fake ducks bobbing under the gentle movement of air from the balcony overlooking the city’s Rio Cuale.

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Seven Years After Solo Travel

An account of what happens seven years after solo travel. The good, the bad and the truth.

“I hope you find what you’re looking for,” the ticket agent said to me before we hung up the phone on that winter night in Atlanta in 2010.

Pure joy shot through my veins after we disconnected. Sitting in my apartment in the 100-year-old house, listening to the cars pass my house on their way home from work in the bustling city, there was more excitement pumping through me than I’ve ever felt before.

I’m going to travel the world. Solo. 

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Quirk and Comfort: Garlands del Rio Boutique Hotel

A review of Puerto Vallarta's Garlands del Rio.
There’s a big, black gate that marks the entrance to Garlands del Rio in the heart of Puerto Vallarta’s Zona Romantica.

That’s it.

To the left of the massive gate is a door bell. Buzz that and within seconds, a latch clicks and then the tiny door can be opened.

On the other side of the door is a quirky paradise that is Garlands del Rio.

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