Zung’s Birthday – Part I

On Thursday morning the photographic evidence would indicate that we slept well past sunrise. The Zungrise picture he did get makes it look like the sun is floating under the water.


Today is Zung’s 68th birthday. The first time we celebrated his birthday he was 30, but he told me he was 29. That’s what he thought was true. How do you lose track of an entire year? I only mention it because for what I thought was his 30th birthday I bought him 30 presents. Do you know how hard it is to think of 30 presents? Then I found out it was not his 30th, but his 31st. I told him that he owed me 29 presents back and he said I owed him another present. We still haven’t decided that one.

Breakfast is at Bella Vista. I ask Olivia for Chilaquilles. She makes me a huge plate and it is super spicy. Good, but super spicy and I don’t do it justice.


Zung gets his usual, with a side of Mimosa.


After breakfast I go to yoga. I am the only one this time. Afterwards, I go back to the room. Zung was going to work (who works on their birthday when they ar at the beach?), but the internet is down, so he is forced to go out to the beach with me.

It is Gabriel’s day off. He really is an awesome beach waiter.

At some point I go back to the room and they have decorated it for Zung’s birthday. We have spent several birthdays here, between the two of us, and this is the best decorations ever. There is a towel sculpture that looks like a birthday cake, with confetti, and there are balloons all over the room.


We go to lunch, where the usual suspects make their appearance.



I ask them to bring Zung a tequila shot. They bring him a Mexican flag. It went well with his coconut ice cream.IMG_1614

Back at the beach, I had a rum and ginger ale, and Zung had a margarita.


After lunch, I walked down the beach to the new club beach area. The “club” is a vacation club that you can purchase that will give you discounts on rooms and provide you with special amenities, like this special, club members only area on the beach. No one is here today. There was no one here yesterday. It would be nice to have an exclusive area on the beach during busy times. However, I think these loungers look cheap and out of place with the beautiful palapas and wicker furniture on the rest of the beach.


They are setting up for some big function on the beach.


And here is a totally gratuitous bikini shot.








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Too Much Fun

We return to the beach and spend the afternoon napping, reading, talking to Enzo, one of the Starfriends who is from Italy. It is pretty much just another day at the beach.

I have Zung take my picture as I looked at the ocean. I am trying to get one of those awesome beach reflected in my sunglasses photos. What I end up with is several mediocre beach reflected in my sunglasses pictures.


There is also photographic evidence of a chips and guacamole order.


While there is no photographic evidence, I know that we go back to the room and spend some time in the balcony jacuzzi. Then we get showered and dressed for dinner.


Dinner is at the Mexican restaurant. Zung enjoys a shot of tequila with a Sangrita chaser before we sat down. I don’t enjoy tequila at all. Shot, mixed, sipped or chased.


We both have the chicken mole. It is fabulous, as it always is.


Zung has some flan for dessert.


As we walk to the lobby bar we pass a tree with an iberostar pattern in the sand.


It is Wednesday, so there is the party/show by the pool. We have never gone to this. We go instead to the lobby bar because we know it will be quiet and a good time to talk with Daniel.

The decorations are nice.


We have brought a present for Rafael’s new baby and take it to the lobby counter and ask them to give it to him. Daniel makes me a cucumber mojito with champagne instead of club soda. It is very good.


We meet this couple, and I didn’t include it in my notes, so I can’t tell you their names, and I apologize to them for that.


I didn’t take a lot of notes, but we took a lot of pictures and it there is definite photographic evidence of a good time.



Charly comes by to chat. We love catching up with him and finding out how his son and wife are. He is graduating this Sunday and is very excited about that. I’ll jump ahead to the trip we just took in January. Charly was not there. He has moved to another hotel. He’s doing well but he says he misses his friends at the Grand. We miss him too!




After having maybe too much fun, we go back to our room and I take some notes and then go to sleep.

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Meeting Some of my Favorite People

Is this not the most amazing view to wake up to?


Off to Bella Vista for breakfast we went. We sat in Azael’s section. He has a wonderful smile and is super-attentive. We started asking for him every day at breakfast and lunch.

DSCN5246We have Mimosas, and get our usual food.


After breakfast Zung stays in the room to work, and I neither stay in the room, nor work, unless you count working on my tan. Gabriel is our beach waiter most of the week that we are here and he is awesome. He brings me Mimosas.


Zung comes down and orders a Corona. I give Gabriel his tip when we order and say we are going in the water. When we come back he has left the Corona and the water I asked for in a bucket of ice so it doesn’t get warm. It keeps them nice and cold and I don’t know why I don’t ask for this all the time.



Off to lunch we go. I order lobster, but it is mushy. Zung orders lobster fajitas, but that lobster is mushy too.


The french fries are good though, and they have brought a big plate of them.


There is minestrone soup, so Zung has some of that.


He get some desserts. I really like the size of the desserts.


Our waiter asks if we want some coconut ice cream. Indeed I do. Actually, I wasn’t going to, but since they asked, we felt like it would be rude to say no. They bring three big scoops. I’m thinking Azael must have been our waiter today, because he has an amazing memory.


As we are leaving, I see two men perusing the buffet. I stop and look. I think I know who they are. One of them sees me looking and he says, Andrea? They are Joe and David, from Florida. They are Grand fans and Joe and I started communicating several years ago, on Trip Advisor. They are also wine fans and Joe has given me lots of good advice when we have gone to Napa. They had just arrived today. I have been really looking forward to meeting them. We got to hang out throughout the rest of our stay and I have to say, they are some of my very favorite people!

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Surprises Galore

We decide to go back to the room and sit in the jacuzzi on the balcony. However, when we get to our room, one of the butlers is drawing a bath for us in the bathroom. So we sit in that bath.


The warm bath makes us sleepy, so we nap again.  It’s always fun to have rose petals, or other flower petals, on the bed. But, you look at it and say, “Oh, that’s pretty,” and then sweep the petals in the trash.


After we are thoroughly napped out, we get ready for dinner. You can see from this picture that my hair looked kind of sad. I struggled with it the entire trip.


We take a picture of Zung with one of the iconic wood horses at the bottom of the grand staircase.


Dinner tonight is at Vencia, the Italian restaurant. Zung gets his favorite, the calimari.


I have the salmon carpaccio, which I always enjoy.


Zung gets the lobster, which he enjoys.


I get the fresh fish of the day in a wrapper.



They say the fish is sea bass. Whatever it was, it is horribly overcooked, fishy and just not good at all. We have also ordered the lobster and shrimp risotto and that is very good and I have plenty to eat. The waiter asks why I’m not eating my fish and I say because it is not good. He asks if I want something else and I say no, the risotto is perfect.


We have dessert, which is fine.



Overall it was a decent dinner. The fish was really the only fail.


When we leave, the hostess asks how dinner was and we give her the mixed review.

After dinner we go to the bar. Of course we do! Daniel makes me a delicious cucumber mojito.



There is a magician who is going around and doing routines and he is pretty amazing. We chat with Alberto and Rafael. We tell them about Secrets, saying nothing happened to change our loyalties. Raul, one of the room service waiters that I keep in touch with between trips, comes by and says hello.

I order a mini-beer, which has no beer in it at all. I see these in people’s pictures all the time. I didn’t like it at all. It was too rich. But at least I can say I’ve tried it.


We go back to our room. There are beautiful chocolates and champagne that Raul brought by, and flower petals all over the bed.



There are petals from the door to the bed.



I insist on opening the champagne, and since it’s open, having a couple glasses. I don’t want to be wasteful!


This was a really amazing trip in this aspect of coming back to surprises, many nights. We just got back from our most recent trip a couple weeks ago, and there was none of this and I really missed it.

Tomorrow would be another wonderful day.





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Everything is better at the Grand

After a good sleep, we wake up to a partly cloudy morning, which kind of screws up the Zungrise picture.


We go to breakfast at Bella Vista. I like the selection better here at the Grand, than at Secrets. Today there are big bins, typical of buffets, but you never see them here. One of them has Chilaquilles. I ask Olivia if she made them, and she wants to know if they are good or not, before she answers. They are good and I go back for more, but they are all gone. I must have thought I was carb loading when I put this plate together.


Zung had, well an omelette of course! He always has a bunch of fruit too. I like the mangos, when they have them. I like the grapefruit, but can’t eat it because of my trigeminal neuralgia medication. The watermelon is good too.


Of course, there is a Mimosa, which tastes better at the Grand. They also have almond milk for my tea.


I also get to meet Diane, the woman I was looking for in the bar yesterday. She is leaving today, but at least we got to say hello. Neither of us took pictures though, to prove it.

After breakfast I go to yoga. There is another woman there. She is young. She says it is her first trip without her kids, grandma is watching them. When she took yoga the other day, her husband came and took it with her so she wouldn’t have to take it alone. I thought that was really sweet. I told her that sounded like the kind of thing a newlywed husband would do and she said they’d been married ten years. I tell her, he’s a keeper.

We do yoga. It is hot, outside in the sun. The instructor tells me it is okay to do the poses the way I’m used to, but then he keeps trying to correct me.

Afterwards, I go back to the room to get ready for the beach.


I go to the beach, while Zung stays in the room and works. The weekend is over, and it is time for him to put in some hours.

Gabriel, a most awesome beach waiter, is there. He brings me a mudslide. Yum. I call it an adult milkshake.


After a few hours Zung comes out. He has a Corona.


We go to lunch at Las Brisa. Azael is our waiter. He is such a good waiter, so attentive. Zung has shrimp fajitas (he is nothing, if not consistent), I have tournedos and fries.



We have coconut ice cream, with Kahlua, which had been recommended on the Facebook page. It was pretty, an absolutely gorgeous presentation. However, I felt like the Kahlua detracted from the deliciousness of the coconut ice cream, which is better here than anywhere else.


After this amazing lunch, we go back to the beach, and take a very long nap.

This wonderful day has yet more wonderful things to come.




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