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.

DSCN3197

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

DSCN3191 DSCN3192

 

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

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.

DSCN2470

 

There are a lot more now.

DSCN3313 DSCN3314 DSCN3315

 

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!

Posted in Food/Menu Items, The Grand | Leave a comment

Meeting up with old friends and new

DSCN3173

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.

DSCN3174

 

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.

DSCN3175

 

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.

DSCN3176

Zung has ordered the Bouillabaisse and he likes it.

DSCN3179

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

DSCN3180

 

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

 

DSCN3181

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.

DSCN3182

We see Luis, the sommelier and chat with him.

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

DSCN3183

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.

DSCN3184

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

DSCN3185 DSCN3186

 

DSCN3188

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).

DSCN3189

 

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.

DSCN3190

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.

Posted in Awesome Staff, Bars, Drinks, Food/Menu Items, Restaurant, Shoes, The Grand | 1 Comment

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.

photo 5

 

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.

DSCN3157

 

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.

DSCN3160

 

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.

DSCN3162 DSCN3163

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).

DSCN3165

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.

DSCN3167

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.

DSCN3168

Be generous with the rum.

DSCN3169

 

A splash of Coke.

DSCN3171

 

And enjoy! Ahhhhh!

DSCN3172

 

 

Posted in Check-in/Upgrades, Drinks, Food/Menu Items, The Grand | 1 Comment

Superstitions and Moments of Panic

We arrive at the airport and park in the garage. We are too spoiled to park in the long-term parking anymore, aka the “have to take a shuttle and haul your suitcase up the stairs of the shuttle and they don’t run the shuttle as often as they used to and the driver doesn’t help you with your bags half the time” parking. I tell Zung the carry-on is his responsibility. I wheel my bag through the parking garage and up to the Frontier counter. I decide that it does not wheel as well as the beast. Can you tell that I am missing the beast? However, it redeems itself when it weighs in at the same 45# that it did at home. I inform Zung that in the future, we are NOT taking the carry-on because he has this unreasonable fear of our home scale being inaccurate.

After check-in we head to security. For some reason they are not using the priority lane for priority people (e.g. first class, frequent fliers). They are telling everyone they can use that lane, so we are stuck with the masses. It’s all good though, remember, I am on vacation. I tip-toe through the part where I have to take off my shoes. Did I mention that I’m a bit of a germaphobe? Not an OCD germaphobe, but just grossed out by all the germs on the common surfaces I share with the common masses of humanity. And there is a lot of humanity who has passed through here before me. Yuck. I get my sandals back on as fast as I can.

photo 4

 

I want to try a new place for breakfast. This is a big step for me because in addition to being a germaphobe, I am superstitious, which is not a great trait for a recovering fearful flyer. Geez, as I read this, I am making myself sound rather neurotic.

We go to the Denver Chop House. I order a Mimosa (my “I’m officially on vacation” drink). She brings me a spilt of sparkling wine and a glass of orange juice, so it’s enough for two Mimosa’s. Well, if you insist. It is however, not as good as Chef Jimmy’s Royal Mimosa.

DSCN3152

Zung has coffee.

DSCN3153

 

Zung has an omelette, as I’m sure you all knew he would.

DSCN3154 DSCN3155

 

I order the french toast that is fried with apples and served with maple syrup. It sounded good, but is way too heavy and I don’t eat very much. I also order a side of bacon, my other “I’m officially on vacation” food, as if my cholesterol levels care whether I’m on vacation or not. You can see the bacon in the omelette picture. It is a healthy serving of bacon. Or unhealthy, as the case may be. I finished all my Mimosa but not all of the bacon. I was trying to eat healthy. Yea, right.

I call our credit cards to let them know we will be traveling to Mexico. While we are waiting for our food I go to the store across the way and get a magazine and a bottle of water. It takes a while for our food to arrive and although we had a lot of time when we arrived, we are feeling rushed at the end.

We pay and go to our gate and they are already boarding. This is another thing that drives Zung nuts. As an Ascent/Summit member, he gets priority boarding and he hates having to stand in line with the masses. Geez, now who is sounding neurotic?

Our seats are in the first row, so we have to put all of our bags in the overhead bins. I pull out my People magazine and Kindle and iPad.

They do the safety talk and when they do the part about how to operate the seatbelt I say the same thing I do EVERY time I fly, “It’s a seatbelt, just like any other seatbelt. And if you don’t know how to use it, you probably shouldn’t be out in public unattended.” Did I mention that I’m superstitious? I am pretty sure that if I don’t say that, something bad will happen.

I doze off a bit during take-off (wow, my fear of flying has really improved). I always hate it when the plane does that power down thing, even though I know it is normal. I wish they would say, “We are about to do that power down thing and just remember, it’s totally normal. Nothing to worry about. Carry on.” I just know that would alleviate that momentary feeling of panic I get when that happens.

I read my People magazine. I got it because it is Havana’s guilty pleasure.  She’s all set with her travel pillow and trashy magazine.

photo 3

 

It’s about the Kardasian wedding. Big yawn. I can’t for the life of me figure out the obsession with the Kardasian’s. They don’t do anything except show up to be photographed and do things so the press will write about them and have a reality show and then when they want it, ask for their privacy. I just don’t get it. And for the record, I always buy People when I fly, and that’s the only reason I bought this issue, it’s the one that was in the store.

I get done with my People pretty quickly and next turn on my Kindle. I am reading a sneak preview of Elin Hildebrand’s new novel, the Matchmaker. She is my very favorite novelist and she comes out with a new novel every summer. This summer she has released the first five chapters for free. I am a little hesitant about reading them, because the whole book does not come out until June 10th, the day we will be going back home. I don’t think it is going to take me eight days to read these five chapters and I am afraid I won’t want to read anything else until I can read the rest of her book. Spoiler alert, I was right.

The beverage cart comes around and I order a rum and Pepsi. I am not sure if we will have to pay for my drink. Zung gets his for free and sometimes they will give me mine for free since I am traveling with him. I look for my wallet. Crap! I can’t find it. I think I must have left it at the restaurant. It has $500 cash and all my credit cards. I am in a panic. Then I realize, I didn’t bring my wallet. My awesome travel bag has places built-in for all those things. I have my credit cards and my cash right there in my awesome travel bag. They don’t charge me anyway. All that panic for a double nothing.

Oh man, I really need a vacation.

 

Posted in Food/Menu Items, Restaurant, Shoes, The Grand | 5 Comments

Luggage, and departing home twice is not twice the fun

After my Mexico trip in January I decided it was time to retire the beast. The beast is my big, red suitcase. I bought it five years ago when we did our vow renewal and I wanted a large bag for my dress so there would be minimal folding. I immediately was seduced by its enormous capacity for all my stuff. It has served me well, but as in many long-term relationships, it’s size had become an issue. It was constantly a worry about whether it would make weight. It was so large that it is easy to over-pack. It was getting to be that every time we weighed it, right before we left for the airport, I had to take things out. It was time for some ultralight luggage.

As soon as I returned home from Mexico in January, I started looking. It had to be ultralight and it had to have spinners. I bought a bag online from High Sierra. I measured the beast, because I wanted the same dimensions, just made of ultralight materials. When the bag arrived I saw right away that it was not as large. When I was determining the measurements I was looking for I measured the beast’s suitcase dimensions. When they give measurements for luggage, they measure everything, even the wheels and handle. I had known about this and thought I had it covered, but I apparently did not. And size does matter when you are packing for vacation.

I decided to just suck it up and see if I could make do with the space that it had. It was a full 5 pounds lighter than the beast. The fabric seemed sturdy. It had a trial run when we went to Napa in March (an unblogged trip). It did well, but that trip was only for five nights, and this trip was for eight. Or, an additional 3 pairs of high heels and 3 more dresses trip.

Zung suggested we take a carry-on bag as well as our two checked bags. I was not sure it was necessary, but once he gets an idea about luggage in his mind, he will not be deterred. I also bought a new travel bag for the airplane. Since I don’t carry a purse when I’m on vacation, I prefer to take a large bag that can handle everything I need on the plane and at the airport. This includes not just my usual purse stuff, but my iPad, a few magazines, a bottle of water…you get the idea. I found this one on sale at a luggage store at the Cherry Creek Mall. I have used it a couple of times now and it is perfect.

The weather forecast has been pretty awful. It shows rain and thunderstorms every day. In the past when I stress out about the weather, it turns out fine. I stared Hurricane Paula down when I went for my 50th birthday, and she blinked.

The times I didn’t think about weather, it has been bad. I decide I should pre-emptively stress out about the weather and start checking Weather Underground and Accuweather obsessively. There is even a thread about it on the Iberostar Grand board on Facebook (which I am now the administrator for – go check it out).  The forecast continues to suck.

I am meeting up with lots of people this trip. As previously mentioned, Tami and Tom, and Steph and Dan are going to be at Now Jade, as well as some other people I don’t really know yet. We plan to go over there on Tami’s birthday, the 25th anniversary of her 25th birthday, which is June 8th. Heidi and Ricky, my buds from Trip Advisor and Facebook are going to be around. Heidi is staying at the Grand with her husband and sister-in-law and SIL’s friend. Ricky is staying at Catalonia Maroma, which is just down the beach from the Grand. He is on a solo trip and is going to come hang with us at the Grand on Wednesday. There are also lots of other people from Trip Advisor and Facebook that I’m looking forward to meeting.

In the days preceding I get manicured and pedicured and a new hair cut.

photo 1 photo 2 photo 3

I wake up early on Monday morning. My alarm is set for 5:30. I wake at 5 and am too excited to fall back to sleep. I pick up my iPad to check the weather. The forecast is still not great, but Heidi has posted on Facebook that it rained yesterday, but is better today. I check my email and have received a really nice private message on Trip Advisor from someone thanking me for my blog. No question, just a thank-you. How nice is that?

My suitcase can handle everything I need, and it is 5# under the weight limit of 50#. Zung declares that is too close and we must take the carry-on. Like I said, once he gets an idea in his head about luggage, there is no talking him out of it. I throw my work-out gear in. I figure I might as well. I might need it if it rains as much as the forecast is predicting.

We are ready to go, and it is a full 15 minute before our targeted time of departure. The blue suitcase is the new one. The red bag is my new, perfect, travel bag. Did I mention that I love it?

DSCN3150

Someone on Facebook has requested I bring Havana, the starfish, in the hopes she will bring good weather luck. I agree, even though she is pretty high maintenance. After the pictures I put her inside my travel bag. As expected she complains she is squished.

photo 1

We leave at 7:45, which is 15 minutes before we really need to. This turns out to be a good thing because 15 minutes into our drive I realize I have forgotten my Trigeminal Neuralgia meds, which I have just had to start taking again after having a year’s remission. Having Trigeminal Neuralgia can be difficult to describe in terms of how it feels. I think the best descriptions are that it feels like someone is sticking a hot, electrified poker into my jaw or when it affects me when I eat, it is like chewing glass. Not having these meds was not an option. We drive back and traffic going towards Boulder is heavy and slow.

We finally get back home, I get my meds and tell Zung to turn on his radar detector and put the pedal to the metal. He is a speed demon and happily agrees.

It works. We make good time.And it is now time to get my vacation on.

Posted in The Grand | 4 Comments