What I’ve Learned From My Trip to Napa – January 2018

Zung and I took Nicholas, our oldest son (31) to the Napa Valley right after New Year’s. It was a redo of our trip we were supposed to take there during the week of the fires. I am not going to do a full trip report of it. But I did learn a few things that I wanted to share
1. Don’t make early tasting appointments. That only works on the first day.
2. Drink water, drink water, drink water! Lots of water.
3. No more than two appointments a day. Even if I was able to do this in the past. This can decrease with age. And apparently has.
4. Eat breakfast, eat lunch, and eat at any winery that offers food.
5. There is an inverse proportion to how Disney-esque a winery is with how good the wine will be.
6. The drought is over. When it says it’s going to rain, it really is. Take an umbrella.
7. Be careful, there will be a hole in your pocket at the end of the day. The wines taste better at the end of the testing, when they ask if you want to buy anything.
8. Leave time for a nap at the end of the day.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Time to Go Home

We wake up pretty early. It is our going home day. The going home day is always sad. There’s no denying it. So, I’m sad.

We go to breakfast. I’m not going to tell you where because if you don’t know that by now then you are definitely going to fail the quiz at the end. I’m just kidding. There is no quiz.

We sit in Azael’s section and he asks if I want Chillaquilles. Since it’s my last opportunity to have Grand Chillaquilles, which are the best, I say yes. However, today they are not the best, they are soggy and I don’t eat much. Azael notices and asks what’s wrong. When I tell him that they are soggy, he offers to have them remade, but I say no. It’s ok. I go get some fruit and say goodbye to Olivia.

It is getting cloudy. We walk back to room and pack. The heavens open up and it pours. The heavens are sad that we are leaving too.

9CA4CF68-D987-427C-B02C-5DF85FC49F12870686F6-D0B0-4D84-97DC-B9B6EC0929C2

Eventually the sun comes out and we go out for a bit.  I have two mimosas. I go in the water, well, my feet go in the water. I say goodbye to the ocean and promise to be back soon.

6B7FFF37-2164-4AFE-B35C-16E6A15F9AC5

We go back to shower and get done with everything earlier than we expected to, so we call the bell boys and ask if they can come early. It’s just too sad waiting for them to come, knowing there is nothing we can do to prevent our vacation from ending.

The saddest moment is when I put my watch back on.

06C0AC85-861B-4657-9A48-45B84F499B1A

I leave a tip for butlers. I always tip the butler who checks us in $20, but after that I only tip when they give us a golf cart ride somewhere. There are several that take care of us, and I’m never sure who did what. They really did a great job of helping to make Zung’s birthday celebration memorable and I want to acknowledge that.

We go to La Brisa for lunch. Then we make the sad walk to the lobby.

Lander and Rafael come out of one of the offices just as we are walking by. It was almost like they were watching a secret camera because they came out at exactly the right time. We tell them it was really an amazing visit and we look forward to the next one.

We go to the front desk and check out. Canada Tranfers came at 1:30 and left. I had requested they come at 2:30, so I call and he says he will be back.

We go to bar and drink champagne while we wait. Canada Transfers gets there about 25 minutes later. I show him email confirming 2:30. This is the only time that I have had any problems with them.

We get to the airport in plenty of time and check in. We go to our gate. However they have us get on a bus to go to the plane. They tell us to get on the bus in order because Southwest boards by boarding position and then you choose your seat. When we get to the plane I wait for the people who got on the bus in front of me to get off first. There is a stupid woman who asks me while I’m politely waiting, “are you going to go?” Apparently she wasn’t paying attention or was ignoring the instructions about getting on and off the bus. Whatever.

At the end of the flight, the flight attendants are told to take their seats early, then to take them immediately. That freaks me out a little. Thankfully the turbulence is not bad. Immigration goes really quick with the kiosk check in.

At the end of the day, or in this case, at the end of a vacation, Colorado is not a bad place to come home to.

I have been writing this blog for seven and a half years. I have always been wowed by the number of people that read it and that give me my rock star moments at the Grand. I am so happy that they tell me how helpful it was to their vacation decision and planning.

However,  I think it is time for me to take a bit of a sabbatical. At this point I have a solo trip I took in August that I took really good notes for. I also want to blog about our trip to Napa, that wasn’t because we arrived at the same time that those devastating fires did and how me punted. Finally, we have a mystery trip coming up next month. So, I am certain I will be back. I’m not even sure how long this sabbatical will be. I just know that I’m taking one. Until the next time, I hope you have a great start to 2018!

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Same Old Thing

It is our last full day. It is a beautiful one.

6E0DD97D-3315-4D5E-93B9-2F54EC1BEED2

We have no surprises for breakfast. We go to Bella Vista. Azael is back in the Gourmet restaurant, which is where all the sales people take their groups for the sales pitch for The Club. If you are wondering what the Club is about and want to just get a sample then you can purchase a few days of Star Prestige. It is a 3 day minimum, so you don’t have to do it for your entire stay. I believe it is $60 per person per day.

Today there are quite a few people getting the pitch.

I order chillaquilles.

After breakfast we go back to room and get ready for the beach. I spend some time in the water. It is nice and calm.

Today is the same old routine. We go to lunch when we get hungry. Alfredo comes by and wants to know where his picture is. So I take it and post it on the FB Grand page.

I have grilled fish, which is presented all fancy. The Grand has definitely stepped up their game in food presentation.

29DCC6CA-EA6A-4E8C-B1F8-469C7518917B77F477B6-5C8E-4074-A6C3-9567D10DCC5EA9AFF68F-A496-4206-9234-F69BD0EA8B0C

Then it’s back to the beach for awhile. Then back to the room. Then some time in the Jacuzzi.

5359C7FC-05DF-48D8-9C2B-C33165D9998E

Okay, I’m just unabashedly showing off here.

9C4A04FC-E1EC-47E2-9D1B-FDAA2C003623

I have a rock star moment while waiting for a golf cart to go to dinner. We are going to the Italian restaurant.

B28D08EF-C57B-4A5A-B936-E07B19A872DEEE4FEFC7-3088-4C1E-8F41-38A21F4C0A80

This is the dress I wore for Zung’s birthday party. It is a Rent the Runway dress. I really fell in love with it. Just love the color.

I have just a small amount of wine and I am seeing double again. I wonder if it’s the Tylenol I took for my back pain. Lander comes by to say hi and I have a really hard time looking at him. Mayvany also comes by.

470F89BC-541D-4EBB-BDBE-CF7BAB327AF1DEAE18F6-8CFC-41C0-9EE0-F2CB987047395564DDFB-811E-48C2-9522-D6BD4535DA2B

Dinner was really good. The pasta and shrimp really was delicious.

After dinner we go to bar, but just to tell Daniel we’re not staying because my back is hurting again. Then it’s back to the room. We have brought wine with us from diner. I finish it, then have some rum. Then go to sleep. 

Tomorrow is the sad going home day.

Posted in Food/Menu Items, The Grand | 3 Comments

Career Changing Conversation with a Stranger on the Beach

We get up early, 7 am, to meet Chris and Helen for breakfast before they leave. They are sitting in Emilio’s section. Is it my imagination, or does Azael look sad when he sees us sit down? We enjoy a nice breakfast.

I have chilaquiles. This is quickly becoming my favorite breakfast treat.

3C752083-9034-45C2-B359-452E3814F7D1

Zung got the usual.

4C029BB5-935B-45F3-AB2E-8589D662EB49

Chris and Helen have to leave around 9. We say goodbye after breakfast. It was nice getting to share the Grand with them.

We go back to the room and then the beach. I always go down first. My back starts to twinge. It gets worse as the day goes by. I think it may be from moving my beach lounger. They are heavy and not easy to move.

We have a certificate for two 30 minute massages and I schedule them for later this afternoon.A nice gentleman, Derek, stops and says hi. I have learned to ask if someone knows me from my blog or Facebook. He actually knows me from both. He and his wife are here, celebrating their 35th anniversary.

Initially, this appeared to be just a routine Rockstar moment. However, the conversation we had changed the course of my professional path, which pulled me out of a depression I didn’t even know I was in.

He sat down and we got to talking about my blog and he said that his daughter was a very successful professional blogger. I mentioned that my son was always encouraging me to run ads on my blog. Something clicked and I thought, maybe I could be a professional blogger. He told me how to get in touch with his daughter and said he was sure she would be willing to talk to me and give me advice.

There is a lot of background that I won’t go into here because this is basically a travel blog and my professional career doesn’t have anything to do with traveling. I did make the leap to beginning a career as a professional blogger in August. I haven’t gotten to the point where I am making money. I love it though. I chose breastfeeding advice as my niche since other than vacationing at the Grand, that is what I’m an expert at. I still have a day job. Well, part of the day, part-time day job. And I never feel like I’m putting enough time towards my blog. But it gives me something to look forward to doing. It makes me happy and crazy and all of those things that make us fulfilled professionally.

So, Derek, our little brief conversation on the beach that day was a really pivotal moment in my life. Thanks.

His daughter did talk to me. She was incredibly kind and generous with her time and information.

Back to your regularly scheduled blog.

Zung eventually comes down and soon we go to lunch.

My back is hurting quite a bit by now.

I have salad,  lobster, fries, and flan.

77600086-B4FF-42EA-8A0D-C3121B7AC5C4494BB05B-9020-40D0-8452-52ED5E6068EDB9687DAE-F4CE-4224-8AFD-8A5A12090F9F32A2B60C-32C3-4065-AC7B-5F6218D481A2Zung has the usual.

0B3E741E-4AA7-4089-906E-A13991BD41A0

After lunch, we rest until our massages. I ask him to focus on my lower back. It doesn’t help. I tell Zung I’m going to go sit in the Jacuzzi on the balcony. But when I get up to the room there is a bubble bath, tea light candles, rose petals. It is very nice.

BA9BB2C5-C671-40B2-8E61-4FEB7012EB3CCA934274-A566-44AD-86F0-56C3CD45B29EF7E73CB1-D949-4C8C-B0EA-B553FD6EA5423FC4ADDA-293C-4047-AEE9-425319C0AE9D

I get in the bath. Zung comes up. Gets in too. We still have the champagne from last night and after the bath we have some of that on the balcony.

C05E04C1-B5FB-4B2B-AA1C-B16BA4B6619AF96F8322-4C80-4015-90A8-DD9082EFBC81534DF4B2-4248-48D0-86F8-2689E552B6445CA84BF4-CB04-4ABE-A398-57C2B4492EB249DDFF4E-7F26-438C-8019-5DB0945161D4F1D40A39-5589-4CBC-ADD9-78A521B82727

We get ready to go to dinner. This was a Rent the Runway dress and I didn’t love it. But I had so much going on right before this trip that I didn’t have the time to order the dresses and send them back until I got only ones I loved. So I settled.

861C7A97-98DD-4151-8D2C-770824547559

Dinner is at Haiku. We ask for a regular table and have to wait because they have us down for hibachi. I’m not sure why because I didn’t ask for the hibachi. The moral of that is to confirm when you make your dinner reservations whether it is for a regular table or the hibachi.

After just one glass of wine, my vision is double, but I’m not drunk. And no, this is not the alcohol tampering you may have read in the sensationalized articles published earlier in the year. I have been on a new medication for my trigeminal neuralgia. I think it is from that.

Raul comes by to say hi. He says he has a birthday present for Zung. He’ll give it to him tomorrow.

Zung, the official photographer, has definitely been slacking on the food photographs.

He has some tempura.

43745F6F-B69A-4D9F-A6F2-F3BB0A1E6F3D

I have some sushi, which actually isn’t exactly the right name for this. I think it’s nigiri. The salmon was especially good.

19DA8375-7DC9-4884-A0C6-D523ED5902353E508022-89AE-414F-A638-FB59BF58DF4B950BC4BE-0F99-40DA-8FC9-729FF358BCC8B0283A6F-85A8-4FE9-80F9-7D459DD19636

After dinner, we skip the bar and go back to the room. We drink champagne. I can barely keep my eyes open. So I don’t.

Zzzzzzz.

 

Posted in Food/Menu Items, Restaurant, The Grand | 1 Comment

Helen and Chris’s Last Full Day- Can You Say Jewelry Shopping?

We have breakfast at Bella Vista.

1A43668F-7F46-442C-80F6-576A9BD6F40C

We enjoy the beautiful day. The beautiful view. We are entertained by the cute kitties, hangin out, waiting for someone to feed them. Which they do. These kitties don’t go hungry. They get some very good food.

6F1D4EEA-A142-4E27-B763-03E3C4B5C9F701AB5560-21E5-408D-93FE-D8FB06A5FBD8184F6BB2-B5AB-49E6-9362-9ECFBA6060C3

Afterwards Helen and I go to the shopping center to shop for jewelry. I see earrings I like that would go with my pink necklace, even before I walk in the door. The salesman smells a sale. He’ll give me a discounted price, the best price. What price do I want to pay? We go back and forth for awhile. Then we come to an agreement. We go to another store, Helen finds two pendants with one chain. We go back to the guys.

I tell Zung, honey, look what I got me for your birthday.

The view from the open part fo the dome is beautiful too.

EE1455F0-745E-47F0-B550-2A0C6B27C650

As is the beach.

6DDD621A-891B-4FA0-B7D1-64D9583F797E

It is a grueling morning. We lay on beach. Go in water. Go to lunch. Azael is our waiter.

Zung doesn’t have shrimp fajitas.  He has the grilled fish.

Who are you, and what have you done with my husband?

555E6C92-3A40-4053-87F6-902373572CE3AA8850CF-40C6-45F1-852E-1752C18EB668E373FAB7-9CC6-4D47-93A5-F59C8B5C1C2F

 

My french fries not hot. I do something I rarely do. I send them back. Azael brings me new ones that are blazing hot. I can just imagine the chefs saying, she wants hot? I’ll give her hot!

A picture with my favorite manager. LOL.

F729A956-72C0-46E2-9C72-136175C20D2C

Bet you can’t guess what I had for dessert. I’ll give you a hint.

477034CE-EB59-4F9E-8D1E-2F2685CA629C

Back to the beach. Rest. I don’t really nap. Back to the room and get ready for dinner.

The front of the dress is nice.

477C98E8-6418-4116-BC30-D26D89EBB331

But the back is really what makes this dress special.

01809753-87E8-4D08-A95E-3CB5F9F954AC

It is Helen and Chris’s last dinner, so we eat together at Toni’s. There are some loud people. Really, really loud. Annoyingly loud.

Chris has chicken and says it is the best chicken he has ever had.

The food is really good all around.

I have the pear salad, which I thought was pretty bland the first time I had it but it’s really tasty this time.

701EF772-97C5-4993-A265-13BAC8868C13EFA24070-0FA6-4EBD-83D0-B5D7C37A344640878A48-741B-48A4-BCE3-2D6278857D3D0F71FFBD-8FA2-48E8-93AB-AD44A530568FE6FAA390-23A8-4313-983A-1EBBEDBAE4134255CD8C-9EC6-451C-BCF9-5E12561702BB1EB3EB59-51B5-40C8-B7B1-B0415A35A21F0EAAAABD-C661-4FC7-9A8E-0D17171BF174DBA98DBE-F2DD-43A7-9C75-ECF69DAFCDCF7CB4CD52-EC0D-4D2D-B3FB-FECA739773D0

I have been talking to Olivia about a cake for Zung. The first day we had breakfast, whe was telling him happy birthday and her boss overhead and told her they should make him a cake for dinner one night and she asked me which night would be best. I figured it would be a big enough cake that we would want to share it with Helen and Chris, so I said their last night. I told her he liked chocolate cake and fruit. It was white cake with chocolate on it and with LOTS of whipped cream, and fruit. He was surprised. They really went above and beyond to make this special birthday memorable.

3A020B85-5835-4D84-B89F-AAD2F76F66794FB71704-15E6-460F-936D-BDFDAE22BEC8

After dinner we go to the Lobby Bar. I exchange money first. Gustavo tells me what Daniels gf looks like and Daniel intimates she was at Toni’s. But I think they might be leading me on.

We take a group picture.

6F29E5A4-5CCD-4C28-987E-5FE02BA6BD4D

The four of us take a golf cart back to room, where there are strawberries and a bubble bath. They put a bottle of champagne in fridge. I guess they ran out of ice buckets. They did leave glasses. We didn’t notice until after we have already poured rum. Oh well.

DCEE406B-904E-48DE-B284-AE0D23D6A24A2402FD12-EABE-4607-BC4F-D345E223751A6FD94F06-6025-49CD-99A5-CEB95E1DC5820EC6BC0C-E4A1-4548-8756-596DB8CDF1994F3BEB57-4240-4B0D-9A72-02FD56E23EF969416656-8080-4F79-9024-B9B70832BA54F5BD0802-7DCD-47BD-887D-CE4D5042A5FC

What can I say? Another great day.

Helen and Chris leave tomorrow. We have a breakfast date arranged with them. It feels like the end of our trip will be here too soon.

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