This is my trip report for my January 2012 trip to Iberostar Paraiso Grand hotel with my BFF, Karen. It was our 2nd annual girlfriend’s getaway to the Grand. It was my 8th time to the Grand and her third. We were there January 26-30.
I considered several titles for this trip report. “My Eighth Awesome Adventure to the Grand” (I do love a good alliteration), “BFF Grand Getaway”, “Two Drunk Chicas”. However, when I walk through that archway and lay eyes on the ocean, it feels like a spiritual experience. I thought to myself, why do I live by the mountains when it is the ocean that feeds my soul?
The ocean is my religion and the beach is my place of worship. For me, that archway truly is Heaven’s Gate. So, this is my Heaven’s Gate trip report.
While the ocean and the beach is a spiritual place for me, it was a vacation of excesses. Drinking all day, looking forward to each meal with great anticipation, eating rich food and very little fruit and veggies, not exercising, talking until the wee hours of the morning. I did nothing worthwhile other than get a decent tan. Yes, it was the perfect girl’s trip.
It begins the night before I leave. I had not yet packed. I don’t usually leave my packing until the night before. Although, truth be told, I could pack for a trip to the Grand in my sleep. I was doing carry-on, so there was some strategic planning that needed to occur. Strategy is necessary when you are packing 4 pairs of heels, 4 dresses, 2 bathing suits and a few other things. My carry-on bag (a gift from Karen) had been in use just the previous weekend for a trip to Washington DC for my father-in-law’s 100 day memorial service (it’s a Buddhist thing). We had only returned from that Sunday night and then it was work, yoga and laundry. Oh yes, and finishing up my trip report from my last trip for this blog.
Zung (my husband) was kind enough to make dinner. Packing always takes longer than you think it is going to. I was pretty wired from pre-trip excitement. I threw a rum and coke into the mix for good measure. The coke seemed to have a stronger effect than the rum. Bedtime arrived and I didn’t feel sleepy at all. An Ambien helped me fall asleep by 12:30, but I was awake by 4:30. I dozed on and off until 5:30, when I was fully awake. Zung drove me to the airport and we managed to leave a few minutes before our goal time of 8 am.
He dropped me off outside of Frontier Airlines and I left my coat in the car since there were no Welcome Home snowstorms predicted and it was in the 50’s.
I had checked in online the day before. I had upgraded my seat to the first row, since the idea of being in the middle of the plane, in the middle of the row did not appeal to me. It would give me more room, but no free TV. That was okay. I had a book, my iPad (with the most current issue of People on it, plus Angry Birds), my iPhone for music and magazines. I would stay entertained for the 3 1/2 hour flight.
Online check-in means go directly to the security line. Do not stop at the check-in counter. I was through in 10 minutes, start to finish. That meant there was plenty of time for Mimosa’s at Chef Jimmy’s. I had Eggs Benedict too. I knew it would probably be dinner before I ate a real meal again.
I checked in at the gate. I had to show them my passport since I had done the online check-in. Boarding was shortly after that. I had emailed Dave, my favorite Frontier flight attendant a couple of weeks before, so I knew he was not going to be on this flight. Nobody to spoil me this time (sad face).
I didn’t want to drink alone, so instead of my customary rum and cokes, I stuck with water. It was a little bumpy on and off and coming in for landing, but nothing bad.
I decided I didn’t like being in the first row. You are not allowed to have any of your carry on stuff because there’s no seat to stuff it under. I had to put my backpack in the overhead bins and it was several rows back. When I got up to get my pen and passport for the Immigration and Customs forms I had trouble closing the overhead. When we landed I jumped up and maneuvered my way to the overhead that had my bags so I could get them before everyone crowded the aisle. A very nice young man helped me get my freakin’ heavy carry-on down. I thanked him and his mother said with pride, “That’s my son.” I did manage to get off the plane pretty quickly. That’s the point of sitting up front, isn’t it?
It was a fairly long immigration line but it moved pretty quickly. Karen texted me, asking where I was. I just told her “Immigration Line” and didn’t ask where she was. They had warned us on the plane that you are not allowed to use your phone in the Immigration and Customs area and they have been known to confiscate phones. I would be sad if that happened, so I mostly followed that rule.
Karen had already gotten through. When she arrived, just a short time before me, there was no line. We had agreed to meet at Coconuts, the bar right outside as you leave the terminal, but she misunderstood and thought it was inside, so she just hung out, waiting, right outside of Customs. My Customs line was also long, but, it too moved quickly. I got a green light (15 for 16). Karen spots me as soon as I come out. Hugs. We haven’t seen each other for a year, the last time was in Mexico.
We go outside and I find the dude with my name on a sign. He takes us to wait for our Cancun Valet van, which is quickly there and we settle in for the 25 minute ride to the Grand.
Let the talking begin!