2019 was an intriguing year. It had many ups and quite a lot of lows prooving to be super challenging and yet very awakening. Despite quite a few losses and what felt like was being at the bottom of the barrel, I have started some vital inner work. For that, I am super grateful. I had written this super long post month by month reflecting on all that occurred, but honestly, it would have bored you. So instead, I highlighted some happenings based on categories so you can read what appeals most to you.
2019 Travel Highlights
I started 2019 in New Jersey as we attended my little sister’s NYE wedding. It was gorgeous, and her wedding venue was incredible. As a previous wedding photographer for nine years, I wasn’t expecting to have so much fun. After all, the wedding day goes by so quickly, but her wedding was different. We danced the night away and ate so well. She hired this lady to do live painting, and it was such a treat to watch this masterpiece artwork come to life. It was the first time my boys attended a wedding and what a beautiful one to have as their first. They looked so cute in bowties and to my surprise, my eldest danced the night away.
Next up, I got very busy with accommodating my stepdaughter to our home and helping her with schools and all the jazz. Then before we knew it, spring break was here. We headed to Keywest for a family adventure. This was a very last minute trip, and we opted to stay at Havana Cabana, which is dog-friendly. They have Milo such a cute doggie welcome bag, which included a big treat, plastic bag holder with a leash, and a dog mat. They do charge an extra fee for the dog, so check their website for more information. The hotel is so pretty, especially the great pool area. They have a lot of outdoor games you can play with the family as well as some hammocks along the way. They had a food truck and an outside bar. The food choices were limited and pricy, so we ventured out for food. We even found a nearby food truck at another hotel and had breakfast there one day. For a full review of our stay, check out my Key West 3 day Itinerary guide.
Overall we had a great time.
Spain & Italy
October. Oh, October, you were more eventful than any other month in 2019. My husband and I had started discussing going back to Italy in the fall, but he had a crazy schedule. Long and behold, he basically told me that if we wanted to go, we had to leave in 2 days. Well, since I do have a travel blog, after all, I planned a trip to Madrid, Rome, Chianciano, and Florence in less than 47 hours. Well, it wasn’t fully planned as we still had some hotels to book as we flew there. We found the best deal flying into Madrid ( less than $500) Via Vayama. We flew to Rome through Ryan Air and l few out of Italy through Florence.
Madrid was a fantastic surprise. We didn’t enjoy Barcelona much when we visited the year before, so we were unsure of how we would feel about Madrid. Madrid, I love you. The food, sparkling wine, and beer were so cheap. You definitely need to plan a head when it comes to eating out. Food places get super crowded, and you can fall into tourist traps, but I am so glad we went to Madrid. We are working on a full blog post to come.
Another highlight was visiting the natural springs water of Terme in Chianciano. We rented a car in Rome and drove to Chianciano, which was like a movie. We stayed at this great B&B called Hotel Lory where they barely spoke English, found our favorite wine in Italy, and breathed the Tuscan air. We also stopped by Sienna, which is an incredible medieval town. Check out my review of the Theia below. You do have to pay to get in but was a nice relaxing spa day for us.
Piscine Termali Theia
I am a beach gal. I was born on an urban island in Brazil surrounded by beaches so I love sand in my toes and napping with salty hair. I feel right at home, but to my surprise, I feel even more at home when I am in Italy. Italy has swept my husband and me off our feet, and we have gone for three years straight, and we crave it when we get back. We love our lifestyle. We love people watching, we love cheap food, and the Joie de vies, and we can’t wait to take the kids there soon.
I strongly recommend you drive from Rome to Florence and stay a night or two in a smaller town. We had visited the terms at Saturnia last time and stayed at an Eat & Sleep which had incredible pizza and outstanding customer service. Driving through Tuscany is truly magical. We have rented from Hertz and Expedia. The rates are pretty affordable but most cars are Diesel and Diesel ain’t cheap. Nevertheless, I recommend you make this drive once in your life.
Rivera Maya/ Cancun Mexico
At the end of May I attended Baile do Nego Velho by Alexandre Pires. I didn’t think I would last the famous 3-hour concert, but it was a blast! It was a tribute to many Brazilian music hits starting back in the 90’s so the trip down memory lane was super nostalgic. The concert was held the night before we left for our anniversary trip to Rivera Maya in Mexico. We stayed at the Barcelo resort, which had amazing amenities and great pools, but the food wasn’t so great. I recommend that you visit at the Barcelo Palace as they have better drinks and food. I still had a blast and was able to capture some content for the gram.
For the third week of July, I drove up to Orlando to take my son to an animation camp called Elite Academy. He had a blast learning how to do 3D Animation; we also visited Dave School, which is a college right inside Universal Studios lot. I ended up finding a great coffee shop in Orlando, where I worked from for the week, and you can read more about it in my unique coffee shop blog post.
I visited Sarasota area for a soccer tournament so I didn’t do as much exploring as I had hoped, but I do recommend this hotel we stayed at. It is actually located in an Amish community, who knew FL had any Amish community? But the hotel was lovely, it is called Carlisle Inn and Conference Center. I also loved this greek restaurant called Demetrios’ Restaurant & Pizza
Porto Seguro, Bahia
Then in December, the count down for our trip to Brazil began. We had to celebrate Christmas early so we wouldn’t hall the presents over to Brazil and had fun finding some cool new ornaments thanks to these finds at the Sunny Side Market.
For Christmas, we had a quaint dinner at our beach home in Coroa Vermelha, which is a neighborhood near Porto Seguro, Brazil. This place is super magical. It is where Brazil was founded, so it is full of history and beach life. The craziest thing happened on my way there. I forgot to get my laptop once I went through TSA Security. I didn’t realize it until I had to go through another security check for a connecting flight in Brazil. I panicked, cried a little, but then thought to myself, maybe this is God’s way of telling me to work less and enjoy.
I added Miami to the list here because one of my 2019 goals was to visit Miami more. I live about 24 miles from Miami but I always feel lost when I go there so pushing myself to get to know this beautiful city a bit more.
I had the pleasure of having a photoshoot for Stephanie who asked for a Miami inspired photoshoot. We ventured out to South Beach and boy I am so glad we did. This place screams color and although the day seemed it would be cold for Miami, the weather was perfect for some beach shots.
Here are some of my favorites from her brand photoshoot.
I also finally visited the following:
- Wynwood Walls – I saw Cobra’s masterpieces
- Ate a hazelnut donut from Salty donut – They are truly divine
- Visited Sagrado cafe ( yummy Brazilian coffee shop). Loved the Cappucino
- Visited Bar da Vila a few times ( my favorite South Florida Brazilian music spot)
- Ventured out to Art Basel by attending Pulse fair which was kind of a fiasco
- Participated in Coopers Craft bourbon release over at Wynwood Deck
- Attended Miami Blogger events included: Boss Blogger Mia and Foodie Chat over at Caoba
- Visited Brickell City on a rainy day and had a great cocktail at the Capri inspired pop up restaurant at their Food deck
- Attended Hungry Post-event during Luminosa Festival at Jungle Island alongside Talita Santos and Eveline Riner
- Visited Bayside again and did the Mansion Boat Tour
- Attended my first game at Hardrock Cafe
Overall I plan to spend more time in Miami for 2020. Now onto some personal highlights shall we.
- In March my step-daughter came to live with us. This has been a huge adjustment for this mama of boys, but it has been nice to have another girl around.
- I celebrated 15 years of Marriage in June
- I turned 41 on Black Friday which was super odd
- My husband became a U.S Citizen in December and I couldn’t be more proud of him
May’s FTL Blogger meet up had a special guest who came to talk about how to get found online as an Influencer. ME! I confess I was a little nervous about this presentation as I am not a typical influencer, but I was able to infuse SEO and social media marketing tactics to help fellow influencers get found online. It was my favorite presentation to date. It occurred at General Provision, a new coworking space in downtown Fort Lauderdale.
2019 was the year I really stepped out behind the screen and saught to meet new people. I started assisting the Brazilian influencer group called Trending Influencers with some PR. I also was able to make some great new blogger friends. I especially love learning from Ixamar from the theWandertog. Eveline and I had a great private consultation with her back in August and we hope to have some more sessions with her. If you are needing social media and local marketing advice, you should definitely contact her for a private 1 on 1.
Micro influencer Group
Another highlight in August was the first meet up of the Nano Chat. I realized there are so many significant events for bloggers in South Florida, but most groups really cater to big influencers. What about us, little guys? So I had this idea of doing a mastermind style group for local influencers with less than 5k followers. I had a fantastic group of ladies who joined me at Capital One Cafe. This was also my first time at Capital one Cafe, which is a great place to work or meet clients in the Las Olas area in downtown Fort Lauderdale.
The ladies and I discussed goals for our Instagram accounts and some tips on how to grow. If you are in South Florida and would like to join one of our meetups for 2020, sign up here.
in 2019 I reached a milestone with my Get Found With Fuse Brand. If you didn’t know, I teach creative entrepreneurs how to get found online. I have been teaching DIY SEO for the last 7 years and my focus is on Local SEO. My SEO FB group reached 1000 members I couldn’t be happier. I also launched my brand new course called Local SEO Academy.
I also launched this blog finally! After many challenges, I was able to launch this local blog for you guys. For 2020 I plan to expand it to more travel tips and marketing advice on how you can too create your own local niche blog.
If you read all this way, thank you so much! It was sure a year of growth and challenges! So how was your year? Where did you go? What were your new finds?