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Caribbean Cruise: Fort Lauderdale

It was a VERY long winter, both weather and work wise. I desperately needed a vacation to look forward to, and who better to escape to the tropics with than my blogger-in-crime Steph? After months of planning and counting down, we jetted off late on a Friday night for a 7-day Royal Caribbean cruise! 

After enduring tons of traffic on the way to Midway and a pretty uneventful Southwest flight, Steph and I made it to Fort Lauderdale and picked up a car for the weekend. We got lost a bit on the way to the hotel (there is some cray construction going on in that city!) but eventually were able to check in and promptly pass out after the long day. 

On Saturday we were up and at it, grabbing a quick breakfast at the hotel before heading out for a fun day! Steph and I decided to forgo an exclusive beach day and instead start things off at Flamingo Gardens-Botanical Collection and Everglades Wildlife Sanctuary.

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I loved spending the morning here. Everything is very natural and minimally tended to, meaning all of the foliage is lush. The peacocks definitely have free reign of the place; they pop up on signs, laying in the grass, and up in the trees! 

We quickly discovered you could get a handful of bird food for 25 cents and feed the birds. Steph volunteered to be the exclusive photographer, while I couldn't wait to try it out!

There are tons of animal exhibits here, most of which allow the animals plenty of space akin to their natural habitat. 

The Wildlife Sanctuary is also a photographer's dream. We saw tons of shutterbugs, and got in our fair share of snaps!

The highlight was definitely all of those peacocks meandering around the grounds! 

Next we drove to the Hollywood Beach Boardwalk to wet our appetite for the week of sand and sun ahead of us! We eagerly kicked off our shoes and took a walk in the sand.

We then took a walk on the boardwalk and stumbled upon a gem of a food truck: Mama's Juice Truck. They serve up juices, smoothies, and delicious vegan food. I ordered a 'Cucumber Coolada': fresh cucumber, mint, himalayan pink salt, coconut water and raw agave. Steph went all tropical with coconut water (enjoyed fresh out of the actual coconut!) and we shared a few plates: the quinoa bowl with cranberries and mango salsa with organic tortilla chips. 

Creepin' on a beach wedding! 

We headed over to the John U. Lloyd State Park and sat for a few hours on the dock to people watch and see various freight boats and cruise ships head out to sea. We watched two Royal Caribbean cruise ships sail out; the Vision of the Seas and the Oasis of the Seas.

I loved this pink boat!

Steph and I made a quick stop at a Publix to stock up on snacks and booze for our trip, laughing that the cashier seriously thought we were in high school. We swung by the hotel to freshen up for dinner then made our way to Coconuts in downtown Fort Lauderdale. 

Coconuts has outstanding views of the water, not to mention a delicious seafood menu. We started off with drinks and oysters at the G&B Oyster Bar next door while we waited for our table.

Oysters and chardonnay. 

There is a huge deck that lets guests (including some with their dogs!) mingle and drink. The whole place has a wonderful laid back vibe, not to mention beautiful weather. Steph and I both decided at that moment we never wanted to come back to Chicago! 

Once our table was ready, we took a seat and got down to business for ordering. First up-drinks. Steph channeled her inner beach girl with a lovely fruity cocktail, while I kept things old school and classy with a dirty martini with blue cheese stuffed olives. 

And on to a fantastic meal! We started off with coconut shrimp, followed by the lobster roll and swordfish topped with crab to share along with sides of macaroni and cheese and deviled eggs. Dessert was key lime pie and chocolate pie. It was an epic meal, to say the least.

The martini really kicked in and I stopped caring about having my bright camera flash go off! Ha. 

Steph and I headed back to the hotel and went to bed with full tummies, anxious and excited to set sail the next day!