Dinner at Haiku, and righting a wrong

I dress for dinner. A common question I see is, what is appropriate dress for dinner? I enjoy dressing up, so I do. Some people dress a little more casually, and some people dress way too casually, but that’s pretty rare. These are nice restaurants and you should dress accordingly. The only real rule though is that men need to wear long pants. If you eat at the buffet, you can wear anything. And believe me, people do.

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I mix up the time for dinner and arrive half an hour too early. They say it’s not a problem and seat me right away. I tell her that I don’t want to sit at the Hibachi table and she asks if I want to sit at a regular table or the sushi bar. I choose the sushi bar, because I have never sat there before.

I order a glass of red wine. I order some sashimi. I order the beef filet wok dish and fried rice. Eating by myself goes quickly. I order the mango sushi, but it isn’t made with real mango but rather some kind of jellied stuff that looks nice but has a weird texture and I have texture issues, so I don’t eat it. I am out of there in 45 minutes.

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On my way to the Lobby Bar I stop and chat with a Star Friend. They hang out by the wooden horses and encourage people to go to the shows..

I peek in at the vacation club lounge. It is closed and dark. There must be no club members checked-in.

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I sit at the bar and Daniel/Luis makes me a cucumber martini.

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I see Raphael walking by and I call to him. I tell him I have a complaint. I am sure he is thinking to himself, what now? He comes over and I tell him that Daniel is famous and he has a following. People will read about him on the internet and when they come to the Grand and come to the Lobby Bar and see this guy with the name tag that says Luis, they will think it’s Daniels day off or that he got fired or something.

Raphael talks to Daniel in Spanish. I can tell one thing Raphael asks him is what does his family call him and he replies, “Daniel.” Raphael pulls out one of his business cards and writes something on the back and gives it to Daniel and tells him to go to Human Resources on Monday and get a new name tag. Done! Mission Accomplished! Where’s an aircraft carrier when you need one?

(After I got home, Raphael actually sent me a picture of Daniel with his new name tag!)

Raphael and I chat for a bit. I can’t remember what else I drank, but there were three drunk guys who came in and sat down next to me and they were rowdy. I told Daniel I was leaving. He said it was too early, it was only 10:30 and I should stay at least until 11. I told him I absolutely did not want to be around these drunk guys.  I think part of having a safe, enjoyable time when you are traveling solo is to know when it’s time to leave, for whatever reason. I said good-night and went back to my room, where I pour myself a glass of Siete and go to sleep. Before I turn in I order breakfast to be delivered in the morning.

I took this picture that night because the Nespresso’s are a new addition to the rooms. There are several different types of coffees. However, for us tea drinkers you have to just use the water heating function and use a regular tea bag. They have little expresso cups too.

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Day at the Beach, Solo-style

I wake up reasonably early. I know this because of where the sun is in this picture of an almost, sort of sunrise.

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I head off to breakfast at Bella Vista. I say hello to Olivia and ask how her baby is. She tells me he was sick the night before and neither one of them got any sleep. Poor baby Benjamin. Poor Olivia. Getting no sleep and then having to work a long day is awful. I don’t have a baby who keeps me up, but I am a life long insomniac, so I know what that is like.

I ask her to make me a couple of scrambled eggs and I get some bacon and a croissant and I order some tea.

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I am on vacation, so I must also order a Mimosa. I do as I am supposed to. Tradition is important in keeping the world turning on its axis.

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I don’t linger over breakfast and I get out to the beach as soon as I can. This time of year is busy and it can be hard to find a lounger. I am able to find a decent spot in the second row. Of course, there aren’t a lot of people out that early, just their items claiming the chairs.

I have another Mimosa. Maybe I had two. I wasn’t counting and neither should you.

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The ocean is so beautiful in the morning.

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I took all my pictures on this trip with my iPhone. Phone cameras have come such a long way. One thing my iPhone camera does that a regular camera does not are these cool panoramic shots. In this picture, the palapas are side by side, but it looks like they are across from each other.

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I spend the morning reading some. Mostly I listen to and gaze at the ocean. It fills up my soul. It is a lovely day, sunny and warm. I walk to the area where there is good swimming that is to the right of Building 71, but there is a lot of seaweed. I would say there is more seaweed here than I have ever seen before. As I write this, many months later, the seaweed situation has continued to be an issue at the resorts. It comes and goes, but when it is there, it is bad.

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There are some dogs there with someone and one of them comes and sits down near me.

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She is so sweet and so friendly. It reminds me of the dog who used to come down to the water at the Lindo. Every day, at the same time, she would come down and turn and look at the people, like she was looking for someone. She was very shy of people though. Not this one, this one came and plopped herself right on my foot.

I have lunch, but forgot to take any pictures of it. I was a bit of a slacker, picture-wise, this trip. I had some lobster and fries and some white wine. I return to the beach and do more of what I did in the morning, read, relax, have some drinks. I had a couple of Siete and coke. Then I felt kind of wired from all the caffeine.

Everyone is asking where Zung is. I honestly think many of them think it is a bit odd that I am here without him. That’s okay. Everyone has their bucket list.  And nobody should judge what is or isn’t on another persons bucket list. I’m kind of loose with my bucket list. I just kind of add to it as I go.

Eventually the shadows chase me off the beach so I go to the spa pool for a while. I go back to my room and make yet another Siete and coke and sit on my balcony and enjoy the view until it gets dark. Then I enjoy the sound of the waves.

The maid had left me a very cute towel sculpture. I take a picture of it and text it to Karen. She always loved when we got these and was always a bit grumpy when we did not get them. I put it on the counter and it stays there the whole trip.

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It has been a lovely day. I am ready for a lovely evening. I am ready to stir things up a little.

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First Solo Dinner

Tonight I have dinner reservations at the Mexican restaurant, La Brisa. During the day, La Brisa is the primary lunch restaurant with a buffet that has a different theme each day and also the option of ordering off the ala carte menu. The lunch buffet has a different theme every day, but I honestly can’t say that I seen much difference in the offerings. Not much of any of it appeals to me most of the time. At night, they dress up the tables and offer a few appetizers at the buffet and the rest is ala carte. The Mexican restaurant is a new dinner option within the last year or so. I have to say, in my opinion, it is one of the best dinner options. They even have a roaming Mariachi band. I wish more of the restaurants had some live music.

I walk over to the restaurant and am seated. My waiter asks me what I would like to drink and I ask for a glass of a Tempranillo. The service is excellent. I notice that Oscar, the head waiter, is not there. I later learn from Rafael that he no longer works there. That is too bad. He was a wealth of information about tequila, and just a generally nice man.

I order the pumpkin soup to start. It is delicious.

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For my main course, I order my favorite, the chicken molé. The chicken is fall off the bone tender and the sauce is delicious.

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I have a tres leche dessert, which is delicious also, but I only eat half because there is a chocolate martini waiting to be made for me at the lobby bar.

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One thing about eating by yourself, you don’t tend to linger. At least I don’t.

I leave a tip and head to the Lobby Bar. I find myself walking very quickly, as I tend to do when I am alone. I stop and take a deep breath and remind myself that I am on vacation, not in a race. I slow down and enjoy being there. It smells wonderful, the slightly humid air feels good against my skin and I enjoy the rest of my walk. I stop first at the Lobby desk to exchange some money.

I go over to the bar and sit down and Daniel asks me what I want to drink. I decide I will start with a cucumber martini.

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Rafael, the GM, comes by to say hello. We talk about the vacation club and other stuff. He tells me they are going to change the time zone, which will mean more sun in the afternoon in the colder months. That sounds awesome!

He leaves and then Eder, the entertainment manager, comes by and we talk a long time. Daniel asks me why I am not drinking my martini, and tells me it is going to get warm. This is one chica who does not want her reputation ruined by letting her drinks go warm, so I drink my martini. I ask for some popcorn and the eat too much of it.  Ugh, why do I always do that? Popcorn must have some kind of addictive agent in it that makes that happen.

I order a chocolate martini. Note the popcorn trying to photobomb the picture.

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I find out why Daniel’s name tag says Luis. He said they got new name tags and they wanted him to use Luis because his name is actually Luis Daniel. This is the first I have ever heard of this. How can we be such good friends and I don’t know what his real name is? I then ask him what his mother calls him and he says, Daniel. Well, there you go! That IS his real name then, and I tell him as much.

This Luis thing is making me crazy.

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He asks me when I am going to have a chocolate cake shot and I tell him that I don’t want to drink too many of those because I am alone and I have to be careful. I go ahead and order one, shoot it and order a cucumber mojito to go.

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Daniel knows I like a generous rum floater on my cucumber mojito.

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I say good-night and get a ride back to my room.

I open the door and there is a nice warm bubble bath waiting for me. No selfies of me in the bath.

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My first day of my first solo vacation to Mexico has come to an end. My conclusion is that traveling solo at the Grand rocks!

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Who is Luis? And what has he done with my Daniel?

I get in line at Immigration. It doesn’t seem bad at first. Seems like there are four rows of people in line. But, even as we are moving, it still seems like there are four rows of people. That must defy some kind of law, physics or algebra or something. I eventually make it through. Customs is a breeze. I don’t have to collect any bags and I get the green light. I walk purposefully through the gauntlet. I have that, don’t even TRY to fuck with me, expression. It works. I am outside and looking for my name on a sign from Canada Transfers. I find it. That gentleman leads me to my van and very charming driver, Octavio. He quickly transports me to the Grand.

The bellboy obviously does not recognize me, which is weird, because I recognize him immediately. He asks for my passport and zip code (?), and sends me off to the bar. Alex is the bartender and I ask for some sparkling wine – let’s get real, this is NOT champagne. Whatever it is, I have two glasses while I wait.

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My hair vs Mexico – Mexico is winning. My curl is hanging on though.

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Daniel comes out. Except, he has a name tag that says “Luis.” He tells me he has just arrived. I ask if he forgot his name tag and just picked one in the back to wear. He just smiles. He goes in the back and then comes out and people are coming up to the bar and asking him for drinks and they are calling him Luis. Not in a way like they looked at his name tag and then said it. It is like that’s what they know him as. What. The. Hell? I say to one couple, his name isn’t Luis, you know. They look at me like I maybe needed to knock off the sparkling wine. I am very puzzled.

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Raul comes over to welcome me and we chat a bit. He says he will let Raphael and Gabriel know I had arrived. It isn’t too long before Daniel is telling me he is going for his dinner break (but, you just arrived?) and I am going to my room. The bellboy takes me to Building 71 in a golf cart. Victor is there! He tells me that Charly will be up to check me in. Charly is my favorite butler. I always like to catch up with him and find out how his son is doing.

My room has beautiful flowers.

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There is a meat and cheese plate, a fruit basket and a bottle of red wine.

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I am a bit challenged by the CROTW (ceremonial removal of the watch), but I do manage a picture. It wouldn’t be a Mexico vacation without it. I only have my iPhone to take pictures and this one was tricky.

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I start unpacking. Charly arrives and we spend a good amount of time catching  up. It’s always a joy to see him. He is in school and is doing his internship right now and is not sure what he is going to do after this.

I ask him to bring me two down pillows and a bottle of Havana Siete. I give him a tip and he doesn’t want to take it. It is an awkward moment and I tell him to buy something for his baby or flowers for his wife.

He quickly brings the pillows and Raul brings the Siete. I is a different Raul from the one who I saw at the lobby bar earlier. This Raul I have seen many times over the years. He is with room service. Whenever room service comes they always ask permission to come into the room.

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It is already time to dress, quickly, for dinner at the Mexican restaurant. I pull out my curling iron and I am able to revive my hair.

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Good to go!

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Andrea’s First Solo Adventure to Mexico

It was in Mexico,three years ago, that I first started to consider my very first solo vacation. I in fact did go on that solo vacation, to South Dakota to see Mt. Rsuhmore. It was, okay, I’m going to use a word that is overused, but it describes how it felt, empowering. So many women said to me afterwards that they could never do something like that. I replied, EVERY woman should at some point. Then I thought, why stop at just one trip? The next year I went to Wyoming. That trip was a bust. Nothing bad happened, it just wasn’t very exciting and the food was a huge disappointment. I don’t even think I blogged that trip because there was nothing to say.

One of my 2014 New Year’s resolutions was to do a solo trip to Mexico. Although I did not manage to do a solo trip, Zung and I did manage to do three trips together. At our last Mexico trip of 2014, we sat in the lobby bar at the Grand in December and I said, oh well, I failed at that resolution. I really hate to fail at New year’s resolutions. I decide I need to make it happen, and I need to do it right away or the year would pass and I would not have done it again. I’m a graduate student and I am working on an epic big project at work (google “Baby Friendly”). Both of those things consume a lot of my time and that would only ramp up as the year progressed.

When we get home I immediately book the last weekend in January. Well, not immediately, it was a ew days after we got home. January was a busy month. The holidays wound down and we went to visit Nicholas in San Francisco.  Before I knew it, I was leaving for the airport for my first solo trip to Mexico. I had mentioned to a woman I work with that I was going on this trip, and she said she would be too afraid to do a trip like that alone. What makes that really sad is the she is my age and got divorced a few years ago. I decided then and there that I was not going to be that kind of woman, and I was going to go to the places I liked to go with my husband, without him. Let’s face it, women usually outlive their spouses and I am quite a bit younger than him, so chances are good that I will have a few years to take solo trips that are no longer by choice. I needed to get accomplished at it now.

It was COLD the day I left Colorado. The S trifecta – seven degrees, sunny and snowy. This is how I looked when I left the house.

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I didn’t want to take all that cold weather wear to Mexico though, so I did a quick change in the car when we got to the airport. I had packed a hoody and in retrospect, I should have just put on the hoody instead of the leather jacket. However, if the plane crashed on take-off, I would be glad for the leather jacket. Being a recovering fearful flyer, I think about these things.

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I had my new carry-on. I wanted something super-light so that I would have a good chance of being able to haul that sucker up into the overhead bin by myself. It is super-light, but it is also smaller than my old carry-on. The old one handled 4 days worth of clothes, no problem.  This bag just barely fit all my clothes for a four night trip,and I packed lite, for a beach vacation. I even had to cut back on shoes! Just sayin’.

I had checked in online, so I go directly to security,which is quick. In addition to being a recovering fearful flyer I am also a germaphobe. If I don’t have socks on, I go up on my tip toes to minimize contact with germs. The flu has been rampant this season so I’m of the opinion that you can’t be too careful.

After I get through security I go and buy a People magazine (my guilty pleasure) and then I proceed to Chef Jimmy’s for my ritual Royal Mimosa (or two, I’m pretty sure it was two).

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This is the first of many selfies on this trip. Please make note of the curl in my hair. It will make an appearance later. Actually, not so much.

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I order the Eggs Benedict and ask for extra hollandaise. The english muffins are nice and crispy, just the way I like them.

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After I finish eating (and drinking) I go to the gate. I get there 20 minutes before boarding because I have to show them my passport. When it came time to board I was in Zone 4, even though I was in Row 6. Zone 4 is the last to board. When I fly with Zung we get to board first, since he is a Summit member. When it is my turn I give her my boarding pass and she scans it and it beeps. The other people who that happened to had to go over to the podium. I remind her that she checked my passport, so she fixes whatever made it beep and lets me get on the plane.

I am able to get my bag into the overhead bin all by myself. However, in the interests of full disclosure, there are only two pairs of heels in there. There are two solo travelers in my row, a man and a lady,and she tells me she is a flight attendant. Then they are leaving so some other people can sit together. As the flight attendant lady is leaving I say, I hope it is not a kid. The lady says, “We were all kids once.” Uh oh. That means it’s a kid. And indeed it is. A mom (also a flight attendant) and her ten month old, who she has safely secured in a car seat. She puts the baby in the window seat and she attends to her constantly. The baby has some periods of happy and some of not happy. Basically, your typical ten month old. I felt bad for all three of us, the baby, mom and ME, when she wasn’t happy.

I order my usual rum and coke, and asked for two bottles of rum and this time I order an extra cup of ice. The rum they have is white Bacardi. Can we say GAG? It would have to do though. I was good to go.

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I remembered to bring my Dré Beats headphones which help when the baby was not happy. I got them for a steal at Target on Black Friday and I love the bright blue color. I watch TV and when we lose the signal, I play Candy Crush.

It is a smooth flight. A young thing comes out of the cockpit, who I guess is the first captain. She didn’t look old enough to drive a car, let alone fly a plane. We landed OK, so I guess it was all good. When we land, the mom next to me, who I’d seen her back 99% of the flight, all of a sudden starts talking about how Frontier is going to add another row of seats. I agree, that will be tight. I am not sure how that is going to work (I find out during my trip in June – to be blogged at a later date).

I get my bag down and hoof it to Immigration. Just as quick as my excited little tootsies can get me there.

Posted in Drinks, Food/Menu Items, The Grand | 2 Comments