Dinner, the bar and my new OMG drink

We are hungry when we get back to the room, so we call room service (I love that little room service button on the phone, wish I could find a phone at home that has that) and order chips, guac, and salsa. Yummm!


We do NOT eat it all. I should remember to say it is just for one person. That would be plenty for the both of us.

We shower and dress for dinner. I got this dress from H&M. I love it. Both H&M and the dress.





We are eating at Venecia, the Italian. We get a ride from one of the butlers. Everytime they give us a ride, they always ask if everything is ok, is there anything we need. One of these times I am going to think of something really outrageous to ask for, just to see what happens.

We see Raphael again, outside of Venecia. We say hello and he asks how everything is. We say everything is wonderful. Except for the weather. Where is the good weather I ordered?!

We are seated. We order wine. We order food. We have this routine down. I work hard at getting food and wine ordering perfected.

Zung has the calamari for his app.


I have the salmon carpaccio.


They bring us this platter before they brought the apps, it was accompanied by foccacia. The foccacia is very soft, not in a great way either.


I have the lamb. The lamb itself was well cooked, but I can’t say I loved the sauce.


Zung has the ravioli. He is not wowed by it.


He has the fresh fruit for dessert. He likes this ALOT!


I have the panna cotta. It is just okay. I don’t finish it. I try not to consume calories if they are not awesome.

DSCN3230When we are eating, Alejandra, the PR chef comes over to ask how everything is. I suddenly remember that today is Olivia’s birthday and I forgot to wish her a happy birthday when I saw her earlier. I ask Alejandra to tell her Happy Birthday for me.

They bring us a survey. I fill it out, but even with reading glasses, the print is SO tiny. It is really hard to read it.

I had LASIK in July 2013. I had the mono vision procedure, which means one eye was corrected for distance and the other eye was corrected for close up. My distance vision has been good, but my close up, not so much. They did another procedure in November and told me that was as good as it was going to get. I got reading glasses, but after several months decided it really wasn’t good enough and called up and said, this is not acceptable, (this was at the end of June). They said they could fix it some more. They did, and it is SO much better. Moral of the story? Be a squeaky wheel. After this procedure, I was able to ditch the reading glasses.

Oops! I have digressed again, as I am want to do.

We muddle through the survey.

A gentleman comes over and says his wife reads my blog. She comes over. She seems a little embarrassed. She had actually PM’ed me on Trip Advisor with a couple of questions. They are on their honeymoon. I had noticed her when they came in because she has on really great shoes and a really pretty dress. I ask if they will be in the bar later because I want to get their picture. They say yes, but I never saw them and never did get their picture. They were very nice and very well dressed and really cute.

After dinner, we go to the bar.

We see Jessica and Erik and chat with them for a while. They are leaving early tomorrow morning.

Charly comes by to say hi. Charly is, the best butler ever!

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Daniel makes me a cucumber mojito Then he makes me a chocolate martini.



Zung has his favorite, a margarita or two. He says Daniel makes the best margaritas!

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I tell Daniel I want to try something new. I declare I want to try something new every day. Daniel suggests a cucumber martini. OMG! So good! I drink three.

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I don’t usually like martinis (except for chocolate ones) because the alcohol taste is too strong. But these are so delicious. It might be my new favorite drink.

A lady from Holland comes over to say hi. She reads my blog, she is here with her daughter and daughter’s boyfriend. Her name is Alyona. Such a pretty name.

I am such a freaking rock star!



There was another couple that Daniel introduced me to, but I didn’t write down their names. They are Grand frequent fliers as well.



Then there were these characters (and I mean that in the nicest way), Brian, Sam and Chad. We saw them most nights at the bar. Super nice guys.



We eventually make our way back to our room, where there is a bubble bath waiting.


Hmm, looks like it is time to call it a day and go to sleep.

Tomorrow Ricky is coming to hang with us here at the Grand!


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Lunch and Libations

Zung and I get ready for lunch. He signs off of work. I change my swimsuit because the one I have on is wet from my swim in the ocean. We eat at Las Brisa. This is a truly terrible picture of me, but I think it demonstrates my confidence that I am willing to post such an awful picture.


Take a good, long look at Havana. She didn’t get out much this trip. She started showing her high maintenance side and she got left in the room.

I ordered some Sauvignon Blanc, my lunch drink of choice. Zung ordered Victoria beer, his lunch drink of choice.



Havana doesn’t drink. She doesn’t have a mouth, duh!

But, as usual, she thinks it’s all about her.



I order 2 lobsters and fries (fresh, hot and crispy – okay, I may be a little high maintenance too, and if you don’t know that, then you haven’t been paying attention). They brought the lobster on two plates. That leads me to think that they thought I was sharing with Zung.

As if.

Either way, both of them were cool. Pretty mediocre today.


Zung gets what he always gets, shrimp fajitas. He says they are delicious, as usual.



It seems like there are a lot of new faces at breakfast and lunch (server-wise). I miss Alex. Alex was an awesome server, but he has been gone for a while. We haven’t bonded with anyone like we did with Alex.

After lunch we return to the beach. We nap. It is cloudy, but bright and warm. And the view is ah-mazing.


The afternoon involved a Coco Loco…



…and a visit to the spa to enjoy the warm water pool and hot tubs.

We returned to the room to get ready for dinner. They had brought another beautiful flower arrangement and put one in the bathroom as well.

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The maid also made a cute little place for Zung’s soap to reside for the week.

Our room was looking spiffy for the week ahead. Even if the weather was not.


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Hitting the beach solo and going for a walk in a group

Tuesday morning arrives and it is overcast. There are no sunrise picture opportunities.


Morning in Mexico means breakfast at Bella Vista, where there are always picture opportunities.

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The second picture is my breakfast. You can see I ate a balanced breakfast, eggs, tater tots, croissant, bacon and a Mimosa. I got all of the important five or six food groups. It just depends on whether a Mimosa covers one food group or two.

I see Heidi and she says she is going to walk down to Catalonia Maroma to find Rick later this morning.

After breakfast we go back to our room and establish our routine. Zung has to work, so he stays in the room and works until lunch. I do not have to work, so I go out to the beach.

The chairs have new pads that hook over the back so they don’t slide down. They are also 2-3x thicker than the old ones. They have also added cabanas by the main pool and now there are about twice as many as there used to be. These are all great improvements. However, the Tranquility pool now has crummy plastic loungers with striped pads like the ones at the Lindo and Maya. What the hell is up with that? I don’t spend time at the Tranquility pool, so it doesn’t affect me but it seems odd, given all the improvements everywhere else.

There are plenty of chairs available at the beach, and I saw plenty at the pool as well. I guess iffy weather will do that.

My special lounge chair and I have our reunion. “You have come to see me alone this time?” he asks when I lay down. I tell him no. Not alone. Just for the moment. Isn’t that the way it always is? They know you are married, yet they are always looking for an opening.

I take out my Kindle and read. As I mentioned before (I think I did anyway), my favorite author is Elin Hildebrand and she comes out with a book each summer. This year Amazon was giving away the first five chapters of her new book, The Matchmaker. I knew I was taking a risk when I started reading it. The complete book is not out until June 10th. It can take me months to get through five chapters of most other books, but I devour her books. True to form, I finish the five chapters I have and feel frustrated that I have to read another book before I find out what happens. I don’t want to read another book. I want to read this book. NOW!

That is just too bad for me. I either pick another book, or I go without.

I have many books on my Kindle that I have not read, but I don’t remember what they are about and the wi-fi does not reach where I am on the beach. I have heard it reaches the back row of chairs, but I am in the front row.

Reyes is doing the early drink service and I ask him if he will bring me a Mimosa. He has one on his tray and gives me that one. Marcelino arrives a little bit later and we chat. He tells me he has looked at my blog. I asked him what he did yesterday when it was raining so much. He said he went to the Lobby Bar and helped out Alex because it was busy there and no one was at the beach. I asked him if they do drink service at the spa pool when the weather is bad because I know it gets busy in there. He said no because it is not safe to drink alcohol and then go in the warm water. I tell him about the time when my kids were here with us and we ordered a bottle of champagne (sparkling wine) on the beach and it started to rain so we took it to the spa pool. We even have pictures of us drinking it IN the water.



Oops! I probably wouldn’t have done it if I’d know it was against the rules. I’m generally a rule abiding kind of girl.

Heidi comes by with a whole bunch of people, Luis, Luis’s sister and her friend, Dawn and Steve. They are going to walk down the beach to find Ricky at Catalonia Maroma. I go with them. As we walk, we go past a big pile of rocks that people have been making sculptures out of by stacking the rocks on top of each other. When I was looking through some pictures from our trip in January and we had taken pictures of these sculptures, so this has been going on at least since January. If you can zoom in on the picture below you can see there are two sculptures in the back.



There are a lot more now.

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We arrive at Cat Maroma and find Ricky right away. We all go in the water, which is cool, but feels really good once I’m used to it.

I start thinking about Zung coming out to the beach and not being able to find me so I say I am going to head back. The Grand crew comes with me and we agree to meet Ricky tomorrow in front of my building. He is going to get a day pass and hang out with us and get to experience all the Grand has to offer.

We walk back. Dawn makes a comment about swelling. It turns out that she and Steve got a nasty sunburn. The moral of that story is always wear sunscreen, even when you can’t see the sun.

When we get back to the Grand I go to our room and tell Zung his work day is over. It is lunch time!

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Meeting up with old friends and new


We enjoy our first Havana rum and Cokes of our vacation.

The phone rings and it is Charly (aka the best butler ever). He has just called to say hello. He is working in Building 70, the other ocean front building. I tell him my friends Heidi and Luis are there and to say hello.

I get dressed for dinner. I had taken notes on what I was going to wear, what dress with what shoes and what jewelry. I cannot find it. I am steamed because I spent a lot of time putting it together. It had been on my Notes on my iPad and I just can’t figure out where it disappeared to. I manage to put myself together in spite of not being able to locate my notes.



I am wearing my red patent leather Christian Louboutins. Karen, my BFF said they looked like they came from Payless, so I always refer to them as my Payless shoes. Karen, if you are reading this and wondering if you will ever live that comment down, the answer is no. No you will not.

Dinner tonight is at L’Atelier, the French/Gourmet restaurant. One of the butlers gives us a ride to the restaurant and he gives us towels to cover up with so we don’t get wet. It is not raining as hard but there is still a lot of wet.

He drops us by Bella Vista so we have to walk up the stairs and then across to the stairs that go down to our restaurant. I can’t remember why he didn’t drive around and drop us right outside L’Atelier. I think it was to minimize exposure to the wet. When we are walking down the stairs we see the General Manager, Raphael. We stop and chat briefly.

We are seated and order a bottle of one of our favorite wines, Daimon Rioja. We order, and are first brought an amuse bouche. It is a quarter of a quail egg in a red sauce. It was tasty.



We see Olivia and exchange a warm hug. We ask how baby Benjamin is doing and she says great and he is growing so big.

Our appetizers are brought out. I have ordered the cheese soufflé, which is very good.


Zung has ordered the Bouillabaisse and he likes it.


For his entree he has ordered the Turbot Meuniere. He likes this dish a lot.



I have ordered the Hake filet stuffed with shrimp in champagne sauce. It is just okay. Kind of overcooked.



Zung gets the Tarte Tatin, or rather, their version of it, for dessert. I am going to have a chocolate martini at the Lobby Bar for dessert.


We see Luis, the sommelier and chat with him.

Then we head off to the Lobby bar and see the adorable Daniel.


He makes us cucumber mojitos. I’m not sure which I enjoy more, Daniel’s cucumber mojitos or Daniel’s smile.

Daniel always makes sure to give me a healthy rum floater in my cucumber mojitos. If I can’t actually SEE it, I make him give me another.


After I slurp down my cuke mo, I ask Daniel for on of his delicious chocolate martinis. He does the martini dance.

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They have to put all martinis in these ice filled glasses. I guess to help it stay cold? Honestly, if your martini is getting warm, you aren’t drinking it fast enough.

Dawn and Steve Fuller from the UK come by and say hello. Dawn and I have chatted online for a few years, so it is nice to get to meet her in person.

Eduardo comes by and says hello. I catch up on his love life. It has gotten a little complicated. Too complicated to report on here. (Update: Eduardo is now working over at the Maya and says he’s liking it a lot).



A guy comes over and asks if we have been here before. His name is Erik and he and his wife have been here fourteen times. He remembers talking to us before and he remembers Zung races cars. Zung shows him a picture of his new race car. Erik is a state trooper and they talk about driving and fast cars.

Heidi and Luis arrive and sit with us and Luis and Zung talk fast cars. Heidi and I talk, well about the things women talk about. Heidi and I have been in a group conversation on Facebook for a couple of years, so meeting her is merely a formality. We are now just actually saying the words in stead of typing them.

They live in North Carolina, but Luis grew up in Mexico.


It gets late and we all get tired. We go back to our room and go to sleep. I sleep well.  The cucumber mojitos and chocolate martinis may have helped. I go to sleep wishing for clear weather tomorrow, but I know the forecast does not support that wish.

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First Rock Star Moment with a Touch of Deja Vu

Havana has a rum and Pepsi. She is such a lush! Zung has a beer, Fat Tire.

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As I mentioned previously, we are in the first row. People hang out there waiting for the rest room. A dude comes up to wait and turns and looks at me and says, You’re not the woman from that Iberostarrocks blog are you?” I laugh and confess, yes, yes I am THE woman from the Iberostarrocks blog. He then tells me we have met before. He was actually my very first rock star moment ever. October 2010, Zung and I were walking through the Beach and Del Mar and we passed a family and I hear, “Andrea and Zung.” I stopped. I turned and looked at them and he said, “I read your blog.”

Small world. It is a different time of year and he is headed to a different resort, Barcelo. I didn’t know he was from the Denver area. He asks if I still write the blog.

Yes. Yes I do.

We wish each other good vacations. I think, how cool was that?

I ask the flight attendant for more ice and another tiny bottle of rum. She brings the ice and spills it. All over. It goes on the floor, on my table, in my purse. I tell her it’s okay. Hey, I’m headed for my happy place. Everything is okay.

We land. Immigration is quick. It seems that it is either super quick or super long. I am grateful for super quick today. Our immigration agent does not smile. She doesn’t even make eye contact. This is the norm.

We get our bags. Customs is quick. We get the green light. The people before us got the red light. It does happen. We have gotten the red light twice in our over 20 trips. I stopped counting after twenty.

We cruise throughout the gauntlet and go outside. It is humid. I look at all the dudes holding signs with names and can’t find mine.

And then Carlos is there. He found me. And then our van is there.



Carlos rides with us to the Grand. He shows us pictures of his girlfriend (cute) and his dog, a chihuahua puppy (cute) and his lunch in Tulum. Shrimp ceviche (yum). We chat with the driver.

It is wet. It is very wet.



It is really raining.

We arrive at the Grand. And then it really starts to rain hard. It is like the heavens have opened up.

Jorge greets us. We go inside and check in and pay and get banded. We are brought a rose sparkling wine. It is nice, but a little sweet.

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We exchange money for tips. We check the bar, but Daniel is not there. We are waiting for a ride to our room when the front desk clerk comes over and says we have been upgraded from a standard room to an oceanfront room and she needs us to sign for it. I sign for it and think, well that’s a good thing, since I asked for an ocean front room when I booked it.

Fanny from PR comes out and gives us a certificate for a couples 50 minute massage. This is an upgrade from previous visits when they have given us 30 minute massages.

We take a rainy ride to our room. It is so wet. The concierge says welcome back and the butler says someone will be up to our room soon.  The bellboy takes us to our room.

There are beautiful flowers. I do the ceremonial removal of the watch (aka CROW).


There is a fruit basket and a cheese and meat platter with crackers. We are always happy to see this because it has always been awhile since we have eaten. There is wine also. We wait to drink this at dinner later in the week.


The butler arrives and we ask for foam pillows, down pillows and a bottle of Siete. This is not a complaint, just an observation: I am surprised that they don’t know these requests because they are the same EVERY time. We ask for Wifi passwords and we ask them to lower the temperature in the room.

Zung takes a nap. We unpack. We eat some meat and cheese. The Siete arrives and I make rum and Cokes. They brought us limes this time, which is a nice touch.

To make a proper rum and coke, start out with quality ingredients.


Be generous with the rum.



A splash of Coke.



And enjoy! Ahhhhh!




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