🌴 Take Me Down to Kokomo 🌴

Greetings! I’m back for a blog about my recent trip to the Florida Keys and Miami Beach. For our 5 year marriage anniversary, Aditya and I wanted to do something different. We created full itineraries and plans for Andalusian Spain, the Algarve region of Portugal, Ireland, and the Florida Keys. We looked at the pros and cons of each of these trips. We have always wanted to go to the Keys, and decided to go with it this time over an international trip for a few reasons. I wanted to have a relaxing beachy vacation, but not a cruise this time, surprisingly! I wanted to grab a short flight, be on land, and be able to get around easily in an English speaking place. After reviewing our pros and cons lists a few times, the #1 seller for both of us was the fresh fish. We looooove locally caught, sustainable, fresh fish. I must mention that Hawaii has the best fish, and is our favorite place on earth, but the flight is just so long (11+ hours from Boston). The fish species found in the keys are mostly the same as the ones found in Hawaii, like grouper, mahi-mahi, snapper, and wahoo to name a few. All these factors considered helped us narrow down to the Florida Keys. I read a lot about the keys online and found that they are not exactly known for their beaches. Also, I was unsure about what to expect after getting mixed reviews from people who have been to Key West. So, in order to get a beachy vibe squeezed in, we added a few nights at our favorite east coast beach, Miami Beach. We are familiar with that area and have regular spots that we love there, so it only made sense to add in a few nights in SoFlo.

Planning this vacation took a bit of time, because I wanted to narrow down which keys were worth staying at overnight. We ended up choosing Key Largo and Key West. We figured we would be able to get a feel of the other keys on our drive down and back up. Initially I had selected simple hotels/motels, but Aditya insisted that we should splurge a bit and get resorts to have a super relaxed and easy feel. That ended up being a great choice, because we found a beautiful resort in Key Largo, with a gorgeous beach, perfectly manicured grounds and palm trees, free roaming iguanas, lazy hammocks, and picturesque sunsets. The other key we stayed at was Key West and it was exciting and quirky, and is chock full of rich history. I was expecting the Overseas Highway (highway that links the keys to Miami) to be much scarier than it actually was. It was a breeze and was a beautiful drive. I think I’ve been on much scarier drives, like up the Santorini hills with no guard rails, eek!

This vacation was a perfectly blended mix of relaxation, tropical vibes, beach, culture, art, socializing, sunsets, ocean views, and culinary experiences. Here was our general itinerary:

  • Fly BOS to FLL, Uber to Miami hotel
  • 1 night in Miami Marriott Biscayne (Hertz rental onsite)
  • Grab car at hotel, drive to Key Largo
  • Stay at Playa Largo, Autograph Resort, Key Largo – 3 nights
    • Highlights: Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen, private beach on resort, sunsets
  • Drive Overseas Highway through the keys to Key West
    • Highlights: sweeping ocean views, a taste of the different keys
  • Stay at Southernmost Resort, Key West
    • Highlights: resort is easy walk to Duval St, Hemingway House & Rum Factory, Custom House (history), Duval Street (bar hopping and shops), sunsets at Mallory Square, Southernmost Point of the continental US
  • Drive back up through the keys to Miami Beach
  • Stay at Marriott Stanton, South Beach – 3 nights
    • Highlights: beach, Mangos, Hakkasan, Akash, Jaya at the Setai (dinner and a performance), NaiYaRa, Wynwood Walls
  • Uber to FLL
  • Delta SkyLounge – free drinks & food
  • Fly FLL to BOS
  • Home!

Here are some pics from my trip. By the way, all photos are by me! My phone takes great pics, lol.

Key Largo

I was pleasantly surprised with how beautiful the Playa Largo resort was! We are gold members at Marriott so were able to get a complimentary room upgrade and free breakfast as well. The resort had a private beach, with soft white sands. The water was warm and calm. It was so relaxing to just laze around here.

Key West

I wasn’t aware of all the history here. When you think of Key West you think tropical, but the island is surrounded by the largest coral reef in the continental US and fifth largest in the world, so beaches aren’t exactly great here, and the smell of seaweed can get strong. There is so much history here, from the unfortunate incidents of slaves being “transferred” and dying mid-travel, the haunted Robert the Doll who is locked away in the Fort at the East Martello Tower, and the famous artists/writers/poets Robert Frost, Ernest Hemingway, and Tennessee Williams residing here for a period in their lifetimes. Hemingway was a super big deal here, and we were able to check out his family’s rum distillery and hit up a few of his favorite bars like Sloppy Joe’s. We had plenty of delicious key lime pies, and each restaurant/cafe had a different take on the original.

The spa girls at the Playa Largo suggested some cool spots in Key West so we checked them out, including a placed called Kino sandals where Cuban women make comfy and great quality handmade leather sandals. There is a heavy Cuban influence since Cuba is just about 330 miles by boat, and the island is known as the Conch Republic. Each morning we would grab some fresh Cuban smoothies and sandwiches at Ana’s Cuban Cafe across from our hotel, so delish! We did a few tours – the trolley and the haunted night tour. Everything was fun and insightful, despite the heat! Sunsets at Mallory Square were surreal! Another adorable fact is that Key West is a bird sanctuary, so the chickens roam freely and cannot be touched or harmed. We caught a family of chickens and their chicks crossing their road near the Southernmost point and waited about 20 minutes for them to pass. It was just so cute!

Miami Beach 

Although we are fish lovers, by the time we got back to Miami we were dying for some curry, because, well, we are brown. We went to Akash for dinner our first night at Miami beach, and I would definitely recommend it. It’s a newer Indian spot here, and the owner was so generous; he chatted with us and gave us some free kulfi!

If you know us, you know we adore Miami Beach. This is our fav spot on the East Coast other than NYC and Boston of course. During our time in Miami, we hit up our usual spots – Mango’s for live entertainment, Hakkassan for some modern Chinese food (and my first time trying dim sum), and NaiYaRa for excellent Thai food.

For our anniversary night, we went to the Jaya at the Setai and had dinner in an outside garden that had live acrobatics and entertainment. I’ve always wanted to check out the Jaya and this was the perfect opportunity. Dinner was good, but not very authentic Indian. The dinner included a live show in the pool which was really awesome. We also hit up a small speakeasy called Repour where I got a gin cocktail and beat Aditya at a game of Mario Cart (although I’m pretty sure he just let me win, lol). In downtown Miami, we had a chance to check out the Wynwood Walls for some cool art.

It was an incredibly relaxing vacation, and was much needed! Now we are back to the grind of things with freshly re-centered and refocused minds. This is why I think some R&R is so essential in life, especially with the busy hustle and bustle of everyday life and our careers.

I’ve been planning on doing some random posts about social and cultural issues, so I will just have to make time to come around to those. I also wanted to do a post on hobbies and how we spend date nights locally when we don’t feel like travelling.

Hope y’all have a great summer and enjoyed this read! 😘

XoXo,

-S

Pink beaches, conch, and southern hospitality!

Hola and happy Friday! Looking back at my blog posts I realized I haven’t posted about the cruises I took last year. In June 2018 Aditya and I took a cruise from NYC to Bermuda. We took the NCL Escape which is a mega ship with awesome features such as broadway shows and even a brewery. It was a really cool ship! It sailed smoothly to Bermuda where it was docked overnight for 3 nights. That was so great so we could go out and explore, stay out late, and come back on the ship to eat, drink (free drinks!), and sleep in our stateroom. Bermuda was beautiful! We went to horseshoe beach which has pink sands due to the red algae, checked out the crystal caves, and took a mini cruise around the triangle and saw some cool shipwrecks. We loved the rum swizzle which was the popular Bermuda drink and we appreciated the British influence on the island because we were able to find chicken tikka masala at bars!

Here are some pics from the Bermuda cruise:

 

In December, Aditya and I took a cruise from NYC (we love NYC!!!) and it went to Florida beaches and the Bahamas. It was my ninth time at Nassau so by now we know where to go – Cable beach!

Here are some pics from the Florida & Bahamas cruise:

 

In February I planned a trip to at Atlanta to bring Aditya on a birthday vacation. We had authentic southern food and checked out the aquarium. We don’t usually travel within the states that much other than going to NYC and Miami repeatedly, so it was a nice change! We explored in the daytime and got to visit our sister Lisa and bro Neil down there as well as puppy Pepper! Nights we low keyed hung out at a bar near our hotel, so we didn’t do anything too crazy. We went to a comedy club that hubbz really enjoyed called the Laughing Skull, which I went to at my good friend Becca’s bachelorette, too! We stayed at the Ritz because I spoil my husband. Also, I must mention that the southern hospitality everywhere was truly outstanding!

Here are some pics from ATL:

 

Alrighty now I caught up on my trips! Lately I’ve been spending a lot of time working, and hanging out locally in my hood or in Boston, which is only 30mins from me so we usually have a nice date night in Boston on weekends. Right now we are planning our 5 year wedding anniversary trip, so more to come soon! Until then…

Xoxo,

-S

The BIG 3-0 in the Big Apple!!!

So far my bday has been great, and I’m definitely milking it as my bday month! This past weekend Aditya and I went to NYC and spent a few nights exploring the city’s endless sights. We got the Millennium Hilton downtown, to get some Hilton Gold perks. We traveled by foot, Uber, lyft, and train throughout the trip. We hopped from bars, hookah lounges, Indian bars/restaurants/clubs, to speakesies. We usually try to hit up something cultured but since we just came in June and saw the Chitra Ganesh exhibit at the Rubin before boarding our anniversary cruise to Bermuda, we decided to just take it easy and be merry for the long weekend.

NYC has so much diversity in every way. Miami and NYC are my fav cities outside of Boston, but we decided on NYC this time so that we could hit up the Bhangra night at Stage48. The energy was amazing!! Another highlight was the variety of craft cocktails with Indian spices. So yummy. We went to the comedy cellar, a skyline cruise, and a cool boozy ice cream shop. Here are some pics from the weekend.

I’m looking forward to tonight and this weekend as celebrations continue!

 

Xoxo,

-S

American

Happy birthday, America! You are the land of the free, and I am so grateful to have the opportunity to have been born and raised in such a brave country. As a Pakistani-American, Punjabi-American, American, I’m always questioning what it means to be truly American, while holding on to my home-base culture and allowing myself to feel the benefits and freeness of America. It’s important to me to have a cultural blending, so I don’t entirely miss out on the culture my family came here with, but still having the choice to decide what serves me.

What does it mean to be an American? The beauty of it is that it’s totally up to you. And that power of choice and thought in itself is ultimate freedom.

#americathough #happyfourth #free #culturalblending

Beachy Breezin in the Bahamas

Hello and good evening! Spring is finally here and the sun is shining in full force. Lately I’ve been busy with work, still putting together the house slowly…very slowy…and reconnecting with my cousins on my mom’s side, which has been really fun!

Last weekend hubbz and I took a mini cruise to the Bahamas. We’ve been on the NCL Sky several times, and return due to the great value and convenience. We only have to take Fri and Mon off from work, fly out late Thur night to Miami, and board the cruise Fri morning. On this trip we chose to spend a day at Miami Beach upon disembarking at our favorite hotel there, the Confidante.

Anyways, the cruise took us to the Bahamas – Great Stirrup Cay (cruiseline’s private island) and Nassau. We’ve been to Nassau many times, but this was our first time at Cable Beach and it was a beautiful experience! We also took a glass bottom boat cruise to explore sea life in a coral reef. The cruise was beautiful as usual, just sippin on unlimited drinks on our balcony and watching the horizon.

Some pics from Miami:

Here are some pics whilst cruising:

Hubbz and I love cruising all these years for the simple enjoyment of sitting on the balcony and discussing existential ideals of our origins on this planet. It also helps that it’s a floating hotel that enables you to island hop the world! We love gazing at the stars in the sky and looking down at the whispering waves of the ocean. It’s in those moments that we truly understand the purpose of our existence.

Well that’s about it for this post, until next time.

-XoXo, S

the last one

Hello! I’m digging up some of my old work and some include whimsical spoofs, coinciding with my love for laughter and sarcasm 😂. Here’s my poem to Aditya (my husband) this past winter:

the last one

🍶🍯

i wanted to tell
u something
but couldn’t
bring myself
to tell u

i took the
last mango
yogurt
for myself

i thought about
giving it to u

🌾🍋

but I was
selfish

i kept it
for
myself.

🍂

-sophi ‘kar

The Crescent Moon with Red Stripes

For a more serious blog post and in honor of International Women’s day, it felt about right to catharsis this poem about my life as a women with multiple international cultures. It’s probably not the most popular opinion of cultures in general, but it’s my real talk session tonight. And don’t get me wrong, I love certain elements of my international cultures!

I also want to shout out to all the women who are going through a lot lately. Stay strong! ❤

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – — – – – – – – – – –
The Crescent Moon with Red Stripes

Sweet, tender memories I hold in my youth
With grandpa and grandma, mom, dad, and sis
Gatherings of togetherness and bliss
Learning our love for the red stripes
and our origins with the mysterious crescent moon
We grew to embrace this but perhaps too soon
For years of laughter and joy faded
And those sweet memories became jaded
When mom changed my world that day
Giving others new life’s way
New faces I met, new lives with new stories
New brothers and sisters for me to hold dear
Little did I know my worst tale was near

He said it was love, that it could be real
But I felt deep within that it could not be true
For our blood ran the same, it flows deep and dark
Still he persisted, forever leaving a gashing mark
That only washed away when I met my true love
Yet it will linger on as a memory to rise above

What still remains makes my stance bewildered
Why do they still reach out to him
Knowing once what had transpired and choosing to filter
It wasn’t a game or a willful ordeal
But a tear to my being, wrapped up in zeal
Perhaps days have passed and that is the reason
That I must stay quiet even though it is piercing

This tale runs the same
In different ways and different flames
You must face alone the pain
While the perpetrators still gain

*******************************************************

Oh dear blood of our own
our brothers and sisters
You bring these twisted ideals
And expect us to kneel
As if man stands above all
Yet still the scum deserve to fall
How can you turn a blind eye
To my mother so strong
How can you choose these men
Over us women done wrong

The green and white flag
Swaying with the crescent moon and star
Should stay where you left it
It’s caused enough scars
For here in this land
Us women take what’s ours
For here in this land
The wicked must cower
For here in this land
our voice is heard.

 

xoxo,

-S