The End!

This is the dress I wear for dinner. Looking at it now, I decide it is way to short for a woman of a certain age. It;s just too young overall. I don’t want to want to ear elastic waists and baggy shirts, but I also don’t want to look like I’m trying to dress for the prom.

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Dinner is at the Italian restaurant, Venecia.

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We have brought the bottle of wine that they have put in our room, a Muga Rioja, and Luis decants it for us.

They bring the amuse bouche.

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We both have the salad.

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Zung has the calamari.

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I get the tournedos. I don’t love the cheese on it.

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Zung gets the shrimp speidini, which he always enjoys.

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And of course, I ask for some coconut ice cream for dessert.

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Zung is lower maintenance and just orders the fresh fruit that is on the menu. It is one of his favorite desserts.

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Raphael has paid us a visit and asked when we are leaving tomorrow. He very kindly tells us we can have a late check-out and stay in the room as long as we need. I really appreciate how he has made sure we have had a great experience after the poor experience we had at lunch the first day. He has done an excellent job as GM in my opinion.

After dinner we go and pick out a photo from our romantic dinner. We exchange some money so we can tip tomorrow. We go to the lobby bar. I get a cucumber martini and Zung gets an espresso martini. He’s branching out!

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We chat with the woman who we met on the beach, Lydia, and her husband, Martin. We take a picture. They are from Canada (I think – don’t bet your firstborn on it though).

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Maggie and Det arrive. Yay! We all do chocolate cake shots. We do five. They ar not as much fun as they were the night before. I swear, my liver hurts. We have also been chatting with another couple that is in the picture.

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Raul comes by and says hi. He apparently is dealing with a guest who is in the music bar who is getting unruly. Daniel tells me the progression. Raul is with public relations. If that doesn’t convince the guest to behave or go back to his room to sleep it off, security gets involved. Daniel said if they have to, they call the police, but that very rarely happens. The bartenders can tell when someone has “crossed over” and they keep an eye on them.

It is time to call it a night. My liver just can’t take any more.

I say good-bye to Daniel. Isn’t he just adorable?

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We get a ride back to our room from Jorge, who is working the night shift. Pay attention. This will be relevant later.

The next morning we wake up early. Zung gets some almost sunrise pictures. a

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We are at breakfast by 7. We go to say goodbye to Olivia.

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There are chilaquilles for breakfast.

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I won’t keep you in suspense about what Zung had.

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There are a lot of choices for breakfast. I took the camera and made a photographic tour.

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Trust me, you will not go hungry here.

We go back to the room and pack and then go to the beach. I see the butler and he asks what time we need the bell boy. I say they should come at 12:30. He says we can’t do a late check out and I tell him to check with Raphael. When I see him again he tells me it is no problem.

It is hot and windy. The wind is annoying, but it makes the hot not so hot.

We walk up and down the beach in front of the Grand. IMG_1288 DSCN4230

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Jonatan brings me a couple Mimosas. He has been a super attentive beach waiter. I will be looking for him when I return in January. I am coming back and doing a solo trip. I wanted to do it in 2014 and just never got around to it, so I have decided I will do it first thing in 2015. It doesn’t take much to convince me to come back to this.

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The sad picture.

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We go back to the room, shower and finish packing. The bell boy comes and it is Jorge. The same Jorge who gave us a ride to our room late last night and was working the night shift. When I ask why he is still here he says someone didn’t show up and so he stayed to do a double. I tell him he needs to get some sleep. Having worked nights in the past, I know how hard it can be. Jorge takes our bags. We say good-bye to the concierge. We go to lunch.

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Zung does not get shrimp fajitas.

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There is the very sad walk to the lobby. I was hoping to get to see the Christmas decorations but they were still putting them up when we left.

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We check out and then go to the lobby bar to have one last Havana and coke. Raphael comes by and he tells us about the things they are going to be doing in the future. There are going to be a lot of fitness classes offered at the shopping center. yoga and boot camp type classes. This has happened and I am looking forward to the yoga classes. There is going to be a game room and possibly a bar outside by La Brisa at night. That is not for sure though.

Our ride arrives and we say good-bye.

At the airport we check in and go through security. There is no Havana Siete, so I don’t have one last chance to be a rum runner because next time relations with Cuba will have been normalized and I can bring the Cuban rum back legally. I knew Obama would do it!

I buy a silver ankle bracelet.

We eat at Bubba Gumps. I get the clam chowder.

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Zung get the fried shrimp platter.

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Across from our gate is a place where you can get one of those pedicures where you put your feet in a tank of fish and they nibble the dead skin off of your feet. Can we say GROSS!?

We board the plane. I did not sleep well last night and I am stupid tired. I nap on and off during the flight. Zung naps during most of the flight.

There is a guy sitting in our row and he tells us that he and his wife and kids had a wonderful 2 week stay. However, their kids passports expired while they were down there and when they were checking in to come home they were told the kids couldn’t fly with expired passports. He was outraged. I guess he called US Customs or Immigration and they told Frontier Airlines to go ahead and let them board. He was all indignant, “We’re US citizens!” I told him I was surprised that they let them in to Mexico actually. I had to shake my head and wonder that they didn’t think this might be an issue and check about it before the trip.

Getting home was uneventful. Other than the fact that I have decided this is not a good time of year to travel. It’s awesome getting away right before the holidays, but I had the holidays to prepare for when I got home and a major paper to write for school. Not doing this again, at least until I finish school.

I did thoroughly enjoy meeting Suzanne and John, and Janette and Ian, and Maggie and Det. It was also great to meet Sheila and George, Levy and Reba, Lydia and Martin, and Kenneth. I hope I didn’t forget anyone.

In a few days we are returning to Mexico. Spending a few days with friends at the new Secrets Playa Mujeres and then home to the Grand, to meet up with more friends. As always, thank you for reading! I hope you enjoyed it, and maybe found something that was useful. Or if not useful, then funny.

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Final full day

Our last full day is a beautiful one. With the exception of the day that we moved rooms when it rained, the weather has been really nice. Even that day, it was nice in the morning. Questions about the weather are some  of the most common on Trip Advisor and Facebook and all of the forums, really. They usually go like this: I’m coming down next week and it shows rain every day and this worries me. First of all, it may show rain every day when in fact there is only the chance of showers. Showers are those things that only last a short period of time. Those are common, but they shouldn’t ruin your day, or your vacation. The other question that I see a lot is: What’s the weather like? I’m coming down in two weeks. Well, I hate to tell you, but two weeks is a long time to be able to link today’s weather to what it will be like in two weeks.

I have been to the Riviera Maya well over twenty times. I have been here in January, February, the very end of April (really, I think it may have only been the last day of April, May, June, July, August, October, November (again, only the very end) and December, I have had good weather most of the time. January has not been great. I’ve always had some warm sunny days, but I’ve also almost always had some really cloudy, cold (relatively) days. I think I probably won’t go back in January. But I said that two years ago and then went back again last year.

I’ve tracked weather and worried about it and I’ve not worried about it. What I can tell you is that neither makes a difference. The weather is what it is. Unless you’re going to cancel, don’t worry about it. I can tell you October is when my birthday is and once I considered going and didn’t, and Hurricane Wilma hit, on my birthday. For my 50th birthday we were going and Hurricane Paula was due to arrive at the very same time our flight was. We came “that” close to canceling, but then she turned east and we went and the weather was really nice except for a little rain the day we arrived. We also went for my 51st birthday…hey, it was so good for my 50th, I thought we could make a tradition out of it…and as we were leaving a hurricane was headed for the area. The rain started just as our plane took off. But three times convinced me to take October out of consideration.

My point is, don’t worry about the weather. In fact, don’t even check it! And don’t ask what the weather is like. If you really need to know, check weather underground or accuweather. Or, if you really want to drive yourself crazy, check both!

We now return to our regularly scheduled blog.

As far as today’s weather, it was pretty fantastic.

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We went to Bella Vista for breakfast. Which was just like breakfast most other days. Just like the weather, it doesn’t change much.

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Zung is taking the whole day off from work and comes down with me to the beach. I celebrate with a Mimosa.

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Then he insists we go for a walk right away, and I say, “Don’t you have some work to do?”

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We take a short walk and then go back. You can barely see me in this picture, but I am pointing at our room, which is on the second floor.

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Jonatan is back from his day off. I ask him if we can take his picture and he agrees. He seems to be enjoying it even. He was an awesome beach waiter. I didn’t see him on my next trip in January. I hope it was just because he was working in a different area. He did a good job and he was easy on the eyes.

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The ocean was nice and clear. They have been having issues with seaweed more recently. Which is another thing that nobody can do anything about.

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As happens so often, before we knew it, it was time for lunch.

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We didn’t take any pictures of the food. But we did take some pictures of a bride and groom outside.

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After lunch we go back to the beach and I have a rockstar moment. I’m walking back from the ocean and I pass a woman and she asks if I’m Andrea. Her name is Lydia. She’s on the Facebook group. I love rockstar moments. And I hope you know that it totally tongue in cheek when I call my self a rockstar. Sorta.

When the shadows chase us back to our room, we finish what has been a wonderful day with a last soak in the jacuzzi.

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It truly does not get any better than this.

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How many shots?

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We return to the beach after lunch and are visited by a Star Friend.

There was resting and reading and people watching. There was time in the jacuzzi back at our room.

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We get ready for dinner.

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We are having dinner at the Mexican restaurant again. Zung is happy to see his new friend, Oscar. Oscar pours him some 1800.

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Bottoms up!

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Wo order a bottle of the Damon wine. We both have the Lima soup.

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Zung has the chicken mole.

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I have the Tacos el Pastor.

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We ask for coconut ice cream and they get us some.

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After dinner we go to our favorite hang out, the Lobby Bar. The Lobby Bar actually has a name, Mirador. But nobody calls it that. Everyone just calls it the Lobby Bar.

Ian and Janette are there. This is their last evening here as they have to leave tomorrow. It has been so great getting to meet them in person. I hope we get to do it again.

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I have had a cucumber martini, and then Maggie and Det show up, and it’s CHOCOLATE CAKE SHOT TIME!

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Maggie and I had a few more.

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Okay! Five! We had five Chocolate Cake shots. It was Daniel’s fault. We’d ask for one and he was pouring us two. He’s such a bad boy.

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Patrick shows up and calls for chocolate cake shots and I say, I am outta here! I have had enough.

We get a ride back to the room and I most certainly was not drunk because I was able to take this picture of Zung, showing our room number.

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That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it

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Rocks and Rockstars

There are quite a few clouds when we wake up, but the day ends up being very nice.

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We go to breakfast.

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Even Zung has a Mimosa this morning.

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He goes back to the room and works and I go to the beach and don’t work. Seriously, we are on vacation, one of us has to not work. He does contribute to the vacation by taking some awesome pictures.

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Our regular beach waiter, Jonatan, is off today. I miss him, because he is so darn cute, but our beach service is still pretty excellent. Zung joined me after a couple of hours. I’d just ordered a Mudslide, and he ordered a Margherita. I can tell from this picture that I must have had a hang-over from all those chocolate cake shots. I will drink plain coke the morning after and it seems to make me feel so much better. There is a half-drank (drunk?) glass of coke on the table here.

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I refer to the Mudslides as milkshakes for grown ups.

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When we are finished with our drinks, we decide to take a walk. It’s always important to take water with you on your walks. There is lots of seaweed, which has been an ongoing problem along the Riviera Maya beaches for the last several months. This was December and I am still hearing about it now, in May.

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We came to the rock sculpture garden, where people have stacked rocks. I decide to make one, which is easier than it sounds, since I didn’t have shoes with me. Some people recommend wearing shoes when you take this walk, but I never do and generally it is not a problem. My sculpture is not very elaborate, but I am proud of it.

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Phew! That was hard work. I need to sit down and have a drink of water.

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Zung is wondering why there is so little walking on this walk.

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As we are walking back there is a couple standing there and they are looking at us rather expectantly. I am thinking they are going to ask us to take their picture. Instead, it is a rock star moment. He says something like, “You don’t know who we are, but we know who you are.” They are a very lovely couple from Louisiana named Levy and Reba. He had actually sent me a message before this trip telling me they chose the Grand because of me. We talked with them a couple of times and they liked the Grand a lot.

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After our walk, we are hungry and thirsty, and we head right for lunch. The usual suspects of sauvignon blanc, Victoria beer, and shrimp fajitas make their appearance.

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Another Awesome Day in Paradise

After lunch we head back out to the beach. We stop at the pool bar to say hello to Humberto.

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We settle in for a relaxing afternoon, enjoying the view. Enjoying the sound of the ocean. I’m sure there were drinks involved too.

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There is some more photography of the pretend brides.

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When the shade chases us away, we go to our room and realize how awesome that corner suite is.

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It’s so nice to sit outside and enjoy the view and sit in that big jacuzzi. If you can get one of these rooms, it is worth the investment. When the hotel first opened they wouldn’t let you book these rooms. You had to just wait and see if one was available when you checked in. I don’t think they charged extra for them either. I can’t remember how long it took them to realize there was a demand for them and they started charging extra. They have also realized the upper floors have a high demand, and now these have a surcharge too. These are just sound business decisions in my opinion.

We dress for dinner.

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Tonight is our Romantic Dinner on the beach. Except it is very windy and they call us and say it is too windy to do it on the beach, and is it okay to do it inside La Brisa? I say okay, because I don’t know what else to say. I know this is what they do when the weather is not good, but La Brisa used to be empty when they did the dinners at night, but now it is open as the Mexican restaurant and will be full of people.

We arrive and they have set up our table down where it is out of the way of the other tables. They have decorated the table and set up candles around it and tried to make it nice.

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But, it just is not the same as being outside. Of course, it isn’t windy either! Almost any time of year it is windy at this time of the evening.

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Oscar comes over and talks to Zung for a long time about tequila. He knows so much about it. It’s very interesting. He brings Zung a bottle of 1800 to take home. Rafael comes by to see how our dinner is going.

They bring the different courses.

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The fettucine is delicious. I eat a lot of it, but it is so rich I cannot eat all of it.

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My entree is the spinach covered potato thing I had the last time we had a Romantic dinner, except this time they made it with cream cheese and it’s just weird. I don’t eat it but I am full from the fettucine and I tell our waiter it is fine.

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It is a good dinner, but really not the same as being outside, just the two of us. So, we don’t linger. When we are finished eating we leave. We stop at the room, where the maid has done this…

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And this.

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Which is very sweet, but we are headed to the lobby bar, so it goes unused.

Daniel is waiting for us. Or ready for us. One of the two. Maybe both.

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We make some new friends, Maggie and Det. We really like them. Maggie and I hit it off and we do A LOT of chocolate cake shots.

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Maybe six. I can’t remember. Which shouldn’t be surprising in light of the fact that I did six shots.

And so ends another awesome day in paradise.

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