Category Archives: Travel
Also known as the day I realized that I couldn’t find my favorite comb. I had just used it the day before to get ready for the wedding, but it was nowhere to be found! I checked the bathroom, my toiletry bag, the bedroom area, the desk area, in the closets, and under the beds. Nope, it vanished in 12 hours! [AA note: See, things just DISAPPEAR! It’s been happening to me since we checked in. Are we in/near the Bermuda Triangle?!?!]
It was our first full day at the resort without having to be anywhere at any time. Since we both woke up a little crispy from too much sun and not enough sunscreen the day before, we agreed that we’d stay out of the sun for the majority of the day and spend the day touring the resort property. There were five resorts within our Barcelo “campus” and you could go anywhere on the property to enjoy the pools and buffets at each resort. We needed fuel for that so we headed off to breakfast where we came across a buffet that had a full sized cow statue within it! Unfortunately, that buffet was closed so we ended up at the Mirador buffet right next door. That doesn’t mean that AA didn’t return to get a photo! And again, we are seated as faaaaaaaaar from the food as possible.
AA was delighted to return to the table with her four glasses of beverages (2 OJ, 2 white moo) and an assortment of breakfast foods. What sat at the top of her plate? Why two alphabet letters! AA in fried potatoes that she discovered at the kids buffet!
During breakfast, a small child was seated on the same side of the restaurant as us. A kind adult at that table thought it was a good idea to provide the small child with a piece of silverware. The darling child continued to bang that silverware on a plate throughout our entire breakfast. Why do parents take small children to an all-inclusive resort?
Following breakfast, we made our way to the gift shop because I wanted to see if I could purchase spray on sunscreen to cover the areas of my back that I could not reach. All prices in the gift shop were noted in pesos (but of course, because we’re in Mexico!). At that point, I didn’t care how much I was paying for it. I didn’t want to get any more burnt than I already was!
We headed back to our room to drop off my purchase and change into comfy shoes before heading out on our AA Adventure. As we were making our way along the walkway, I noticed something in the grass area. “Hey AA, is that another bingo item?” Yes, it was a large iguana!
We headed to the main lobby to catch the shuttle bus to tour the properties but weren’t sure where to wait. There was a man sitting outside on the bench and AA asked him if he was waiting for the shuttle. He replied “I speak French.” So AA replies “Oh, OK……………Bon Jour!…………..Croissant!” and we sat down to wait for the shuttle and chuckle at our impressive language skills. The resort shuttle is a double-decker bus, so we head to the top level for a birds-eye view and to be able to take photos.
First stop is Plaza Mexicana. It’s a strip of outdoor kiosks with souvenirs. I immediately see and purchase something that would be a good birthday gift for a friend at the first fiosk.
As we walk around, we come upon an outdoor church area : Capilla Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe. AA immediately ventures into the church area to take a few (hundred) pictures while I continue to wander around more of the souvenir stands. One gentleman invited me “to come in, don’t be shy.” (Come in? In where? This is turning into a bad Lifetime movie!) Also located in the shopping area was a full size horse statue in front of a store selling cowboy boots and related gear.
We popped into another souvenir store and one of us (not me) came out with a few magnet souvenirs. One of those souvenirs may have been a cat sized sombrero for a cat named Bingo. Our next stop was a convenience store to grab something to drink. AA was excited to finally see a can of Pepsi after being told there was no Mountain Dew available (there are NO Pepsi products at the resort) but was told that the cans were warm. Um, you can buy them now and refrigerate when we get back to the room! [AA note: I was going thru Mountain Dew withdrawal, clearly I was not thinking logically!] We rested on a bench before wandering across the street to Maya Mall. AA noticed a tattoo shop near our bench and asked jokingly if we should get tattoos while we were there. I (in my typical #BitchDesk fashion) responded “Yes, let’s get them on top of our painful sunburned backs!” <laugh>
The first thing you notice as you enter Maya Mall is a carousel. AA was interested in riding the carousel but the sign stated NO ADULTS. Boooooo! Age Discrimination! The mall contained a bunch of higher end stores that we didn’t visit. We did pop into Strikers Sports Bar and Bowling Center. While I visited the ladies room, AA made her way over to check out the mini golf (and Swarm check in, of course!). After soaking up the indoor AC, we continued our exploration. We meander through what turns out to be the entry to another hotel/resort on the property – Maya Caribe. AA: What’s over this way? Ooooooh! More cool Mayan statues (pic pic pic)…and another fountain pool with metal sculptures (pic pic pic)….and hey, over there’s another outdoor seating area (pic pic pic).
We headed back outside to check out Pirate’s Island Water Park and discovered the surf ride. We sat for a bit watching one child, one adult parent (Speedo Dad!), and one surf employee have a blast riding the waves, as we watched the dark storm clouds roll in.
Though the storm was rolling in, AA climbed the steps of the pirate ship to get pictures from above. In addition to the surf ride, there were a lot of water slides and things for kids to climb. Since the sky was threatening a storm, we hopped on the shuttle to return to our resort. We immediately changed our minds when we saw that we were near Dolphinaris (the on-campus dolphin aquarium) and hopped off at the next stop. It wasn’t around the time of their daily show, but one of the trainers was out in the pool area with about five dolphin. We were treated to a few dolphin tricks while we were there. Since we were at that end of the resort property, we headed toward the beach to check out the pier from a distance. By this time, the storm had rolled in, so we grabbed a few chairs to sit out the storm under cover.We grabbed the next shuttle back “home” then had a late lunch in the Coral Grill in our resort. AA was hungry for some chocolate ice cream and returns to the table with a sad bowl of mostly-melted ice cream. “Your ice cream needs some immodium!”
It was Day 3 of being at the resort and we figured we had done a TON of walking. Since I had my phone with me for all of that time, I did a quick check of my Samsung S Health app and discovered that we had walked over 10,000 steps for the prior two days. We knew a lot of those steps were back and forth between room/pool/buffets so we opened the app to track how many steps it was from lobby area to our room. It was over 1,000 steps!
By now the sun was beginning to set so we thought it was safe to suit up and head down to the beach. AA was kind enough to NOT record my moaning in the bathroom while I changed into my suit and aggravated my sunburn with every move. [AA note: Seriously, if you only heard the sounds, it would have been hard to tell WHAT was going on in there!] We headed down to the beach. I grabbed a lounge chair to rest my knee while AA headed down to the water to take a few (hundred) pictures.
After sitting there for a while, I noticed that there was no breeze that evening, which then had me notice a few bugs flying around. Holy shit, is that a mosquito? Where’s my effing bug spray? Spritz, spritz, spritz, smack! By now, AA has stocked up her camera with more pictures and begins to head back to my lounge chair. She stops and aims her camera up
and I ask if she was taking pictures of the bats flying around. Yes, you read that correctly – BATS FLYING AROUND. Just as I say this to her, a bat flies down right in front of her face. I also mention the lack of wind and mosquitos, and next thing you know, we’re high-tailing it back to the room.
As we walk back to our room, we discover that we have been walking the LONG way from the beach/pool to our room! Of course we find a shorter route near the end of our vacation!
Oh, and I STILL haven’t found my comb!
Note: AA co-authored and contributed pictures for this post.
Woooo, it’s wedding day! But not until later in the evening.
We start our morning sitting out on our balcony enjoying a smoke (AA) and coffee (me). The birds are singing so loudly I mention that our balcony is like living INSIDE the Aviary. No complaints, for sure! While we were sitting outside, AA notices a rodent-looking animal – “Is that a rat?!” I assure her that it is not because it does not have a long tail. A quick photo upload with the caption “What is this animal?” brings us an answer that it
is probably an agouti, a rodent species that is related to guinea pigs except they are larger and have longer, bunny-like legs. At one point, we had sighted two agouti, and then one was surrounded by five large birds forming a circle. It was hard to tell who was the hunter was who was the prey. Way to start our morning with a nature show!
This morning, we planned to check out a different breakfast buffet. We were told to walk out a separate entrance of our building (heading towards the beach) then take a right at the jaguar statue, and a breakfast buffet was supposed to be close. Once we get to said breakfast buffet area, we discover that it’s lunch only and not yet serving food for the day. We make our way through the pool area and head back into another resort area. The search for the breakfast buffet is almost like my experience walking from one end of Las Vegas Boulevard to the Statue of Liberty. She looks close, but she’s really 12 large blocks away! We pick up our pace because we think the buffet ends soon. As we’re walking, we see a palm tree disguised as ET.
We must be getting delirious from the hunger! At last, we find the buffet restaurant and are ready to swim the moat to get inside since we can’t find the entrance! Food! We finally found food! Once inside, we learn that we have a little more time to grab breakfast, so we fill our plates quickly with what buffet food is still available while schlepping back and forth from our table which was literally as far from the food as possible.
After breakfast, we decide to walk along the beach to head back to our room to change into our pool attire. Again, it is just UNBELIEVABLE how beautiful this place is. Once sunscreened and suited up, with pool bags packed, we head back to the main resort so we can check in with Apple Vacations to confirm our transportation back to the airport. While at the main building, we explore the carts selling brightly colored souvenirs. Since we were headed directly to the pool, we didn’t stop to buy anything.
We make it to the pool area and find our group. AA wants to do a photo tour/explore of the enormous pool area, so I volunteer to go along. We head into Bubble Oasis (large Jacuzzi section of the pool) and grab seats along the side. AA takes a few (hundred) pictures
and suggests moving on to the next area. I agree, because any longer in Bubble Oasis and I will be FB official with the water jet. We float under a bridge to the rock wall area of the pool. AA would have liked to get a photo under the rocky waterfall, but some people were parked there and not moving. (Waterfall hogs!) We continue to make our way around the pool area and stop at each of the water features/fountains to take pictures. As we head back to where we started, we stop at the swim up Coco Bar in the pool for a drink. We meet up with some of our group who are still hanging around drinking in the pool. Oh, and we also spotted Santa Claus on his vacation!!
By now, it’s time to grab a late lunch to hold us over until the evening reception. We head to the lunch buffet near our building “just past the Jaguar”. As we start our trek, we pass a braid-your-hair stand located on the beach. AA asks me if I’d like to get my hair “Bo Derek’d.” I pause at her question and she quickly answers her own question “Nevermind, we’re only here three more days!” (We’d need at LEAST a week for some poor soul to Bo Derek my entire head of super-thick long hair.) Earlier while in the pool, someone mentions that resort staff walk through the open air buffets with a hawk/eagle/falcon on their wrist to keep the other birds away. AA adds this sighting to her bingo card….which now includes hawks, iguanas, and sea turtles! Soon after we’re shown to our table, AA spots a man with a bird walking thru the seating area. She immediately takes off with her camera.
After our late lunch, we head back to our room to get showered and dressed for the wedding. It’s around 530p and is still 90* with 125% humidity. There’s no way I’m doing anything with my hair but putting it in a French braid! We both discover that we might be a little crispy from being in the sun and in the pool all day….there are a lot of OW and OUCH while we are getting ready. AA keeps trying to check her face for sunburn in the flat screen tv mounted on the wall. It is NOT a mirror! [AA comment: That TV was totally where a mirror should be over the desk/table!] We give ourselves enough time to get up to the main building SLOWLY, without sweating through our wedding-wear, to meet all the wedding guests. As we step on to the elevator, I see the front of a man coming up the stairs in a banana hammock. As AA looks out the elevator, she has the pleasure of seeing the back of said man. Turns out his banana hammock was a THONG! This was NOT on AA’s bingo card of items to see in Mexico or anywhere else for that matter! We walk slowly without any exertion (it’s so freaking humid!) towards the Lobby Bar. Thank goodness the bar was air conditioned! As we’re waiting for the shuttle to arrive, AA is taking pictures
(shocking!) from the balcony and notices an older, larger woman is topless on the beach. Another bonus item on the bingo card? Finally, our shuttle arrives, and we are off to the wedding site at the other end of the resort property!
The beach is set up beautifully for the ceremony and the weather was perfect as the sun was setting. The Mayans are dressed in their customary headdresses and make-up.
As we await the ceremony to begin, a number of wedding guests notice a man wearing a speedo taking photos of the wedding setting. He sticks around for almost the entire ceremony. How’s that for a bonus guest in all your wedding pics? LOL!
The ceremony is a reasonably quick one with the groom in a linen shirt, khaki pants and bare feet while the bride is wearing flip-flops under her semi-traditional gown. Guest attire was casual with shorts and button down shirts on the men and casual sundresses on the women – and a lot of bare feet!
As the ceremony begins, those of us in the front row are trying to figure out if the Mayans performing the ceremony are wearing anything under their Mayan attire.
As we giggle at the male and female bare asses, AA also wonders if they are resort workers by day….and if you get to be a Mayan Wedding Performer if you’ve done your day job really well or really, really poorly. While we didn’t understand a lot of the ceremony, it was still moving. I think AA’s eyes may have leaked jusssssst a bit and BB and the soon to be Mrs. BB looked soooooo happy. While the bride and groom took care of photos following the ceremony, wedding guests enjoyed a cocktail hour on the beach with a fun Mariachi band.
The reception continues on the beach. Mr. and Mrs. Big Baldy enter to Let’s Go Crazy by Prince! The father of the bride gives a lovely toast before dinner. Guests are served Surf and Turf, except AA who is supposed to be served a cheese pizza. By the time dinner arrives, it is dark and we all notice that her cheese pizza is awfully lumpy! Cell phone flashlights to the rescue! She has been served a Hawaiian – ham and pineapple – pizza.
Oops, don’t tell the groom! That doesn’t work as the groom ends up making the rounds to each table to chat with guests. He takes one looks at AA’s pizza in the dark and says “what is THAT?” AA responds with “It’s all good!” but we can see the look on the groom’s face. Groom: But they brought you your French fries, right? AA: It’s all good BB! (there were never any fries). Seriously, the last thing the groom needs to worry about are any inconsequential snafus, that really were NOT a problem. IT’S ALL GOOD.
Following dinner is dancing. The groom tries many times to get AA and me up on the dance floor, but unfortunately, I didn’t feel comfortable dancing with my swollen cankles and grannie knee. We were enjoying our front row seats to everyone else dancing! The bride and groom looked like they had a wonderful evening dancing and mingling with all the guests. Finally, the last song is played and the groom announces that the shuttle is here to take everyone back to the resort. He expects all of us, including me and AA, to meet in the Lobby Bar for the after party. By now, we’re sun tired and sunburnt. Everyone crams into the shuttle to head back. AA and I really don’t want to go to the bar, but don’t want to let BB down, so we hatch our escape plan on the shuttle. We’re going to break away from the group so AA “can have a cigarette” then stealth our way thru the main lobby, past the Lobby Bar’s glass walls and into an elevator to make our getaway unnoticed. Fortunately, no one sees us slinking thru the lobby like the worst ninjas ever and we are able to take our tired, sunburnt bodies back to our room to go to bed.
Big Baldy was on cloud nine all through the day’s festivities and truly happy to be married to the love of his life. It was a beautiful wedding and we were both touched to be included in the celebration of their special day. We are both SO happy for Big Baldy! Our BB is all growed-up!
Note: AA co-authored and contributed pictures for this post.
We started our “Thelma and Louise” titles when we carpooled to our OBX vacation in September 2014. We’re not sure who of us is Thelma and who is Louise, and unfortunately, we haven’t run into our own Brad Pitt yet.
We were invited to Big Baldy’s destination wedding in Riveria Maya, Mexico. There was no way we could miss BB’s wedding to the love of his life! So Thelma and Louise figured they could share costs and room together. AA wasn’t a fan of the 7 AM charter flight (4 AM to airport, what?!?!), so I volunteered to use my stockpiled Southwest points to fly us to Cancun at a more reasonable hour. A flight to Cancun at a reasonable hour and only $75 each; Bonus!
Day 1 – Monday 5/2
Vampire Boy didn’t mind waking at 7 to drive AA and me to airport. That’s only because he then had use of the car for the week we were gone….and my house….thank gawd his girlfriend lives in another state! #boomchickawowwow
We get to the airport in plenty of time (curbside drop off is da’ bomb!) and get our bags checked and scanned through security.
Since it’s been a while since AA has flown and I knew she was itching to look out the window, I offered her the window seat. She may have squealed like a kid and pulled out her camera for a few (million) pictures. Did I mention that she was also transporting the bride’s wedding ring? Yes, AA had to play “fetch the wedding band” Mission-Impossible-style from Big Baldy’s house the weekend before we left.
We arrive in Baltimore and have just enough time to grab something to eat/drink before we’re ready to board our flight to Cancun. We were quite excited to find ourselves with Row 2 all to ourselves! AA again snagged the window seat and set herself up to get another few (million) pictures. About halfway through our flight to Cancun, I went to take a drink of my Dr. Pepper that I had carried on in my water bottle. Not thinking about cabin pressure, I flipped up the straw and the Dr. Pepper came ejaculating out of straw – all over me, in my hair, running down the side of my face, and had spurted so high it was on the overhead bulkhead! After 10 minutes of giggling and cleaning myself up, we still couldn’t figure out if it hit the guy sitting in the seat behind me. So much for me saving this outfit for the trip home!
We arrive in Cancun, breeze through immigration, and then customs. We had heard that there could be a two-hour wait. Thank goodness the airport was empty on a Monday afternoon! As we try to make our way through the airport to find our transportation to the resort, we are stopped by a woman who appears that she can direct us to our transportation. She welcomes us to Cancun and leads us to her counter where we think she’s part of our resort/transportation. Instead, she starts the sell on excursions while we’re here. She can offer us an ATV tour for half the published price. As she’s obtaining information from us for our “free breakfast” at a different resort, she asks if we’re girlfriends. We aren’t quiiiiiite sure what she’s getting at (not that’s there’s ANYTHING wrong with that) and both reply “we came for a friend’s wedding.” Then she asks if we’re “legally single.” Um, what? Like you’ll admit if you’re ILLEGALLY single? Is that even a thing???? In any case, she has our personal information, that we’re “legally single,” and is offering us “free” breakfast and a “free” taxi ride to the other resort. She just needs a $20 deposit from each of us to hold our spot. Um, no thank you. We state that we’ve just arrived and are meeting a group of people. We don’t know what any of the plans are so we’re hesitant to book anything until we talk with everyone else. Her face clearly shows disappointment and she finally directs us outside to where we can find our shuttle driver to the resort. It was comforting to learn later that half the wedding guests also got suckered in for the sales pitch….although NONE of them were asked if they were “legally single”.
As we head outside, the thickness of the air and the heat smacks us in the face. AA notices that the airport tower is sponsored by Corona. We track down our Apple transportation representative who tells us our shuttle should be ready in a few minutes. It turns out that we are the only two passengers on the shuttle……The Shuttle of Death. Our shuttle driver did not seem to notice other cars on the road and it felt like we were travelling at the speed of light. At one spot, we thought we were turning (hey, that guardrail looks close!) but our driver was just trying to push his way into another lane, almost taking out a small car in doing so!
We finally arrive at the resort and it is absolutely PARADISE! Sunshine, blue skies, clear water, palm trees, 125% humidity, and a 90* day – BEAUTIFUL! We are able to check in fairly quickly and ask for directions on where to find lunch. The front desk gives us directions to the lunch buffet, and of course, we got lost immediately! A kind employee escorted us to the elevator to find the buffet and we immediately head over to fill up our plates with lunch. We both ordered sodas and they also filled our water glasses. Do we drink the water? Other tables are drinking their water. Does that mean it’s OK? What about the ice in our sodas? We weren’t prepared for this kind of pressure! We don’t want to get sick on our first day here!
Following our late lunch, we head to check our room. We quickly unpack, AA already starts losing her belongings (an ongoing theme all week), and we change into our swim suits. We made it as far as the adult pool, and it was heavenly. The water was still warm after 7p, but they were already turning off fountains and clearing up the area. Since the sun was setting, we decided to head down to the beach. Fortunately, there was a decent wind so we were (I was!) hoping that the wind would keep any bugs (zika mosquitos!) away. Is there anything more calming that sitting next to the ocean (sorry AA, Caribbean Sea!) and listening to the surf in the dark?
Since we had had a long travel day, we headed back to the room and laughed that we may have gotten Montezuma’s Revenge AND Zika all in the first few hours of our adventure. I grabbed a shower, and then I crawled into my freshly made bed. We could get used to living in this paradise!
To be continued …
Note: AA co-authored and contributed pictures for this post.
I’ve had tickets to go see my favorite band Red Wanting Blue at the House of Blues in Cleveland since they announced a weekend of shows last October. I didn’t plan to go to both nights of shows (Fri and Sat), but definitely purchased tickets for me and Vampire Boy for Saturday night.
I reserved a room at the The Arcade, a hotel right across the street from the House of Blues. I wasn’t confident about my car making the drive from Pittsburgh to Cleveland so I also reserved a car at the airport.
We were a little late in getting started to the airport to pick up our rental, but we were finally on the road by 1:00. Since I was heading to Cleveland and Vampire Boy loves food, I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to take him to Melt Bar and Grilled.
An added bonus of my trip to Cleveland was to FINALLY meet in person someone I “virtually” met a number of years ago. J was able to meet and join me for lunch at Melt, and then gave me a quick driving tour of the frozen lake while showing me the way back to my hotel.
This was my awesome lunch. I was only able to eat about half of the one half!
We had less than an hour to drop off our bags at our room before the doors opened at the venue. I didn’t have time to explore the hotel, but they were setting up for a wedding.
It was really nice to just walk across the street to the venue (and would have been awesome had I been imbibing in adult beverages).
After dropping off our bags, laying down for a disco nap (but too excited to sleep), and refreshing my makeup, it was time to head over to the House of Blues. J was able to find a ticket (it was a sold out show) to join us. (Sadly, he wasn’t able to stay too long after officiating most of the morning.)
After two opening bands (who I didn’t care for), it was time!
These guys played for over 90 minutes and had TWO encores! I loved how they threw in some really old stuff (that I haven’t seen performed live) as well as one of their new songs (new album coming out soon!). They’re also going to be on The Rock Boat (but sadly, Vampire Boy doesn’t get to go this year which is why I took him to Cleveland to see them).
I spent a lot of time driving this weekend, but it was totally worth it! A great lunch, meeting a virtual friend in real life, a great show, and getting to spend some quality time with my son! I’m an exhausted but happy gal.
Looks like we planned our trip pretty well. The weather today in NOLA was warming up and it was getting pretty humid!
Check out at the hotel was 11 AM, so we woke up, packed our bags, and headed out for breakfast. After breakfast at Café Fleur de Lis, we headed back up to the French Market area to hit the gift shops one last time. We had to shop quickly to make it back to the hotel to retrieve out bags before 11 AM. Once our bags were safely secured with the hotel’s bell hop, we headed back out to explore a few different streets.
We found a wedding chapel!
Does anyone remember these?
Jackson Square was filled with artists selling their wares. Royal Street also had artists performing.
Looks like a remote controlled car, right?
We stumbled upon a quaint little coffee shop. (A favorite of Grenalda’s husband.)
The Fleurty Girl shop was busy this morning. We popped in to look around. (It’s also where the bubbles were coming from.)
One of my favorite types of performers was found near the French Market.
Our flights home were uneventful. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it home in time to go see the Stephen Kellogg show at the Rex, but I’m sure my feet with appreciate that more in the morning!
It was a great trip. Grenalda and her husband were great traveling partners. The countdown for The Rock Boat is now 98 days!
It’s our third day in New Orleans. The conference I was working was early this morning (5 AM alarm!). The business lunch finished up around 1:30. After a quick change of clothes, Grenalda and I (and her husband) hit the streets of NOLA again. We didn’t have any particular location in mind this afternoon, but we ended up at the trail along the Mississippi (ippississiM) and headed toward the French Market.
Since we were in the French Market area, we stopped into Cafe Dumont for beignets. It’s a required stop if you’re visiting.
We wandered through some of the actual stores along the way, but I was on a mission. I wanted to walk through the French Market Flea Market to search for presents for Social Diva to give her friends for Christmas. As I got closer to the end of the market, I found the guy! Mission accomplished!
It’s a good that that we had dinner plans with one of our former physicians, or I may have crawled into my bed at 6 PM (don’t forget, I’ve been up since 5 and walked around all afternoon). Dinner was very good. It was nice to hang out and catch up with everyone. After dinner, we all walked back to our hotel together.
On our last night in NOLA, I, however, am lame and sitting in my hotel room with my throbbing feet propped up on the bed. I seriously considered (TWICE) stopping at one of the creepy foot massage places because my feet are SO sore!
Bonus sight today — a rainbow!
While most of Pittsburgh is busy scraping frost of their windshields, I’m running around in flip flops soaking in as much of The Big Easy as I can in the two days prior to my conference on Friday.
I wish I had planned a little better to have a travel partner to enjoy the city with me, but I’m not going to let that affect my trip!
I’m probably drinking in the streets right now. Try not to be too jealous.