Dinner, Wine and Chicken Dreams

I start getting dressed for dinner. I realize that I forgot my strapless bras. First world problem. But it seriously was needed for his dress.

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I get a golf cart ride to Venecia. Jhony seems to be waiting for me. Wow! He’s good.

The hostess at Venezia always remembers me. The sommelier asks if I want him to suggest something or do I want the wine menu. I ask for the menu please. I know that what he suggests will probably not be on the included list.

I pick Masia Ribot red. It is so good. I ask for the rest of the bottle to be sent to my room.

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They bring the Parmesan, focaccia, etc. I have the grilled baby veggies.

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My entree is glazed lobster with strange white, creamy stuff. It is not pasta. I ask my waiter what it is and he brings out Karen, the chef. She tells me it is creamy leeks. She asks how it was. It was really good. Well done.

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I get the hot chocolate cake, which is chocolate cake with chocolate ice cream and chocolate sauce. Cake is really good and not too sweet, but the sauce is sweet. Next time I would order cake alone. They should call it death by chocolate.

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Dinner doesn’t take long when you’re dining alone. I chat briefly with a father and son who sit at table next to me. They invite me to join them. I decline because they just ordered and I am ready to leave. I’m not sure I would have anyway. I am really conservative when I am traveling alone.

It was a really good meal. Venezia has really fluctuated with their food quality over the years. Tonight it was definitely a win.

Lander and Patricio are outside of restaurant. They really don’t look alike at all. I don’t know what I was thinking. I say hello to Lander and tell him that I brought him a bottle of Zaya rum.

I go to bar. Daniel tells me he was worried because he hadn’t seen me. He called the restaurants to find out where I was. What a good son he is.  We chat for a short bit, then Mayvany comes by and we talk for awhile.

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She’s so nice and interesting, and beautiful.

She leaves. I talk to Daniel about his complicated relationships. I give him advice. The bar so empty.

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I go back to the room at 10. I skipped the pool party again. The butler brings the wine bottle to my room with two glasses. I don’t know why because he knows I’m here alone. I laugh and say I only need one. He must think I’m a lush. I drink two glasses. This wine is so good.

I go to sleep and don’t sleep well. I have a weird chicken dream. Must have been from all that wine I drank.

I am looking forward to a day on the beach.

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Mexico Solo Trip Number 3

I want to do a solo trip.

I really would like to do a road trip. I wish there were more good places to drive to. I think about driving to South Dakota again. I’ve done that twice though. And South Dakota has parts  that are beautiful. The parts that aren’t flat and brown. But it’s still South Dakota. It’s not really meant to be visited multiple times.

Then I hear about good rates for the Grand on Expedia or Travelocity or one of those online bookers. Which, by the way, isn’t everything an online Booker these days?

I check and have a blonde moment when I mistake the daily rate for the rate for four nights. I get very excited about this fantastic rate. Then I have that moment when I realized my blonde moment. (I hope all my blonde friends will forgive me for this reference).

I catch it before I book, but now I am Grand psyched. We have enough southwest points for a free ticket (well, $100 for taxes and fees). I check rates with the hotel  they are reasonable enough, so I go ahead and book and then book my ticket for air.

Yea! I have a countdown.

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I never share my countdowns publicly because I had a stalker type once. I will often say, I have a mystery countdown.

Life is busy because I have started a professional blog. It is about breastfeeding, so if you are breastfeeding or plan to be, or know anyone who is, it’s breastfeedinganswersandsolutions.com. Please do check it out.

Travel day arrives quickly. I get up at 5:30, so I actually leave on time. I have decided to use a regular sized bag and check it this time. My carry on barely holds four days worth of clothes and certainly not with four pairs of heels. Note to self, get new, larger carry-on.

Amazingly, it weighs about the same as when I pack for a week. Probably because I’m carrying my dresses when Zung usually does. I’m also taking a bottle of Zara rum for Lander, the GM.

Fortunately, Southwest let’s you check two bags for no charge. I could bring another bag and be good.

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I check in, it’s all self service kiosks, but there is someone to assist. I drop my bag and go have breakfast at Root Down. It’s blood orange mimosa time.

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Chillaquilles Benedict. Really yummy.

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I go buy a People, which I’m enjoying less these days. The celebrity life and their first world problems doesn’t really entertain me the way it used to.

I check in at gate and then wait. Chat with couple in front of me in the boarding line. They are going to Royal Hideaway. I tell them that was my first Mexico experience and it was where I fell in love with Mexico. This is their first time and he’s is SO glad to hear that.

Board. Sit in aisle seat in Row 7. Eventually someone sits in the window seat. Middle seat stays empty.

I go through my ritual of saying. “It’s a seatbelt, just like any other seatbelt, and if you don’t know how to use it, you shouldn’t be out in public unattended.” I read it somewhere and now I HAVE to say it when they go through the safety demonstration. Even if I’m alone, I have to say it. I say it very quietly in those instances.

Although, the person sitting next to me might have thought it odd that I was taking a picture of my seatbelt, or legs. Either way, a little weird. Nobody likes to sit next to a weirdo.

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They do the snack and drink service. I have fritos and vodka cranapple. I prefer rum and coke, but all they have is white Bacardi, and I just can’t anymore.

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I try to nap, but just doze. I read my People. I really think I am over this magazine. Celebrities bore me.

I watch a couple of episodes of Pretty Little Liars. When I bought this series I didn’t realize it was about teenagers. It was just on list of good things to binge watch. 

The flight is a little bumpy. Finally we arrive. There is a really short immigration line. Like really short. There is an average wait for my bag and Customs.

I can’t find Canada Transfers at first. Someone helps me. The Canada guy takes me to van. I chat with driver during the drive.

And then, we arrive!

I see and say hello to Mariana. I am sent to the bar. Do they know me or what? I  see Elizabeth.

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She asks what I want to drink. I say bubbles and she starts to pour me sparkling water. I say no, champagne! You can see, she gave me a generous pour.

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We chat. She likes my nails. The front desk person comes to me, and registers me and exchanges my money.

Patricio, the new asst GM comes and says hello. He acts like we’ve met before and at first I think he is Lander, even though part of me thinks that is not right. He realizes it and says no, I’m confusing him with Lander. That’s embarrassing.

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They take me to my room. I have drank 1/2 of a glass of champagne, and they have a fresh, full glass. I am prepared to do double fisted champagne, but she suggests we switch.

I am taken to Room 7141. I’m surprised they give me a corner suite since I am alone.

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I ask the bellboy to take a picture of the ceremonial removal of the watch. It’s really hard to take that picture as a selfie.

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Jony is the butler who gives me  my bracelet and orders my Havana Club and brings my pillows. I have never had him for a butler before and he is really on the ball.

There are beautiful flowers.

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There are snacks there of meat and cheese, and I’m so hungry. I scarf it down while I unpack.

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Jony brings me more coke and ice and promises to bring me ice each day.

The Havana arrives. The shape of the bottle has changed. It is more genetic now.

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I throw out 1/3 of my champagne and make myself a rum and coke.

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While I hate to waste good alcohol, or even mediocre alcohol,  I always make sure I don’t drink too much when I am here alone. I sit out on balcony with my drink and just enjoy the sight and sound of the ocean until it is time to get ready for dinner.

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It feels good to be home.

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Packing Tips from a Fashionista

I was checking out someone’s else’s blog about packing tips. She’s been to Mexico all of two times. I’ve been thirty… Okay, we don’t need to get into specifics. If you’ve been to Mexico more than 30 times, saying exactly how many is just bragging, and obnoxious. So stop already. 

29654752_UnknownI’ve been to primarily adults only, luxury all inclusives. Twenty-five of those trips have been to my second home, Iberostar Paraiso Grand. And just FYI, they still haven’t put me on the payroll OR upgraded me to the Presidential suite. What is up with that???

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I’m a beach rat. I don’t go to the pool. I don’t go on excursions. I go to the beach. That’s the vacation that works for me. If you’re into other vacations, go read packing tips on another blog. My packing tips are from what I have learned from my trips. And my other, errr, experiences. 

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You’re going to be in the sun and sand. You need these essentials.

Bathing suits. I have a lot of them and wear a different one each day. Just like I change my outfit at home in my everyday life. Bikinis, even one piece suits,  don’t take that much room.  If that seems excessive, at least take one for every 3 days. This is humid country and things take a snails pace to dry. If you have a wet suit when coming home, you can use the plastic laundry bag they provide, or sometimes they even provide a wet bag. 

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Cover ups. You don’t need as many of these. But for goodness, and fashions sale, take more than one. For a week, I’ll take three or four. You need these to eat at the indoor restaurants at breakfast and lunch. 

Sunglasses. Good ones. Not those cheap ones they sell at the mall when they are trying to convince you that they are just like Prada for $10. I take 3 or 4 different pairs of sunglasses. What can I say? I get bored easily. I also have to have good eye protection because my eyes tend to be light sensitive. 

Flip flops. Again, if you’re trying to do carry on for an unreasonable amount of time, you can take one pair. You can even wear them when your flying. 

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I take 3 pairs, and then I wear a pair of sandals to the airport. And I don’t wear those rubber things. Even the overpriced brand. Mine are blingy. Are you surprised? I didn’t think so. 

Sunscreen. Don’t scrimp here. If you have to buy it in the hotel gift shop, bring the blood of a virgin. And your first born. The Grand actually has complimentary sunscreen. You have to go over to the pool hut and put some on. Or wait until they bring some around to you. But that doesn’t consistently happen to we neglected beach people. Pool people get all the perks. But I’m not bitter. Not much anyway. 

Think about bringing a hat. As I’ve gotten older, I lay out in the sun less, and in the shade I don’t really need one. In the sun I definitely need one. 

I love a good tan. That leathery skin that will come with it? Not so much. So the shade and I are becoming better friends. 

Ok, those are the beach essentials. 

A few pairs of shorts and t-shirts. This is what I wear for breakfast. I’m not into the beachwear for breakfast look. 

Evening wear – nice resorts call for nice dinner wear. No jeans please. They’re too hot in the first place. In the second place, this isn’t Colorado. I love my home state, but for goodness sake, would it kill you to wear something that’s not denim?

I wear dinner dresses. Nice ones. I enjoy it. You should too. And if you don’t, fake it. 

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Shoes. I wear a different pair of shoes with each dress. Enough said. 

Season dependent – if you go in January, there’s a good chance it will rain. Most high end hotels have umbrellas in the rooms. Of course they do. But you should bring a hoodie for the day and a wrap for evenings. Or something that covers your shoulders and arms. 

Bring some wristlets for day and night to carry your phone, room key card, and tip money. Don’t pretend like you don’t check your phone.  We all know that we all check or phones. Even the people who pretend like they don’t. And tip  even if it says that tips are included. They’re not really. If you don’t tip not only will the staff talk about how cheap you are, the guests who do tip will notice and they’ll talk about you too. 

Take your watch off when you arrive. You’re on vacation, don’t worry about what time it is. Sleep until you wake up. Eat when your hungry. Set up phone alarm for your massage appointment. Look at the ocean and feed your soul.

You’re welcome. 

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Mystery Weekend Conclusion

Sunday we arranged to have brunch with Cousin Dan and his wife, Anastasia at a restaurant called the Country Club. It was in their neighborhood so we took an Uber. We sat at the bar  where the was no wait, and I drank bottomless mimosas. It was one of the best meals we had the whole weekend. Zung and I got Boudin balls for an app. That’s a NOLA sausage that had meat and rice in it. It’s probably not going to be AHA approved but it sure is delicious. We gobbled those up before we remember to take a picture.

We did remember you take pictures of everything else.

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Looking at these pictures is making me hungry. My eggs were delicious, but after the Boudin balls I could only eat half.

We had a really nice visit  with them. After brunch they drove us to the WW2 museum. It was raining again so that seemed like a good way to spend the day.

We saw the movie, Beyond all Boundaries with Tom Hanks. It was one of those experiences where there seats rumble and lots noises with bombs and actual snow comes down. Then we went through an exhibit about one area of the world during the war. There were lots of movies and artifacts. It was interesting but there was so much, it was a little overwhelming. We barely scratched the surface for what the museum had to offer.

We went back to the hotel and had drinks in the lounge. Best. Hurrican. Ever. The bartenders name was Erick. Yes, he spelled it with a C and a K. He seemed kind of non friendly initially but then he handed me my drink and  said it wasn’t really fair because it would ruin out for any other hurricane I had. He was right.

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It was not any kind of a pre made mix. He added all the different juices so you actually taste them. It was not too sweet like a lot of them are. It was so good that I had two, but ended up taking most of the second one in a to go cup. He chatted with us quite a bit.

I love the concept of the to-go cup.

We claimed our bags and took an Uber to the airport. We had plenty of time before our flight so we got some sandwiches to eat.

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They were terribly average and disappointing after all the great food we’d had all weekend.  We had lots of time so got something to eat. Denver is definitely the best airport for food and shopping  that I’ve ever been to. It did give us a place to sit until our flight took off.

The flight was a little bumpy. Nothing terrifying though. 

It had been a fun, fun weekend. We were pleased with the destination, although it would have been fun too see what it was like to go somewhere we really knew nothing about an had to go off the itinerary suggestions and recommendations.

We loved the experience, but overall it was very expensive. We could have gone to Mexico for a week for what this cost. I would like to try them again, and may with a girlfriend.

Zung thinks we can do something along the lines of a mystery trip for each other for a much lower cost. But that will be another trip report. 

If you decide to try Pack Up and Go, please mention my name. And then let me know how your weekend went!

My next trip report will be about my solo trip to the Grand back in August. Until then, happy and safe travels!

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Saturday was sunny and warm, thankfully. We slept late, 8:30. But we had things to do, food to eat, people to see. Especially food to eat. Breakfast in this foodie town was calling to us.  I did not linger in bed. I got up and showered. We looked at the breakfast recommendations from PUAG. I had seen a Ruby Slipper nearby and while I was getting ready (hey, it’s a process, ok?), told Zung to put our name in there while I got ready, but he didn’t want to. I thought we had walked right by the RubySlipper yesterday, but we went out and walked and didn’t pass it, so we decided to go to the Stanley instead. This was a really good breakfast restaurant I had eaten at twice when I was here about a year and a half ago with a girlfriend.

As we were walking we passed the Old Coffee Pot. We had eaten here on our first NOLA trip.It had been really good, and we were hungry, so we stopped and ate there. No almond milk for my tea though. The food was good. He got an omelette and I got a Benedict. It had ham and tomato. They called it eggs Jonathan. It was supposed to come with shrimp and grits, but she asked if I wanted grits or potatoes and I ordered potatoes. So the shrimp were laying there all by their lonely selves. I didn’t think they went well with the Benedict so only ate one, but when Zung finished it for me, he ate all the shrimp.

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I didn’t take a picture of his omelette.j9eRwNYvRsiKmOwceo282Q

After breakfast, we wanted to look into a Riverboat tour. We headed to the dock but it looked like they were all about three hours and we’d have to take one that left in the afternoon and then we wouldn’t get back in time to have drinks with the cousins.

We stopped in a store that had all these beautiful bronze sculptures and asked how much one that we liked cost. It was $4000, and that wasn’t in our budget. We stopped at a restaurant that had to-go cocktails and I got a double mimosa.

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One of the really unique, awesome, and amazing things about NOLA is the bands on the streets. They just set up and play. Many of them are so good. I’m not talking about some guy playing the guitar. I’m talking about a full jazz band.

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Since we didn’t have time for the riverboat tour, we decided to have a mule-drawn carriage ride. The driver said they have to use mules because the horses get too hot in the summer heat. He gave us a tour of the French Quarter and talked about the history and architecture. We passed a cooking school that our driver had said does nice demonstrations.  I wanted to go check that out.

We asked about the menu and she said there would be a dairy-free alternative for me. The class was starting shortly. We signed up. It was $30/per person, and would basically be our lunch.

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They call them classes but it really was more of a demonstration,  where they feed you. She spent the first half hour giving us the history of NOLA. She made shrimp artichoke soup. It had heavy cream in it so I was given a bowl of gumbo. I wouldn’t consider that dairy free because I’m sure it had a bucket of butter in it. Mine does when I make it. Fortunately, butter is not a problem for me. It was delicious.

She made crawfish etoufee and pralines. I think she used at least 5 # of butter! I asked if the pralines had milk in them and she said yes and I said I wouldn’t be able to eat them. She said, but the milk is cooked! I didn’t point out that the cream in the soup was cooked too. In the end, because it was such a small amount of milk,, I ate my praline. It was better than any other I’d had, probably because it was so fresh.

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There were pitchers of water on the tables and when they served the jambalaya they brought out pitchers of beer. Zung had some beer but I stuck with water.

After the class, we bought some seasoning mix that she’d used. Then we walked around Jackson Square. There are artists there and I saw a mother and baby picture that I liked. The original was $600, so I made do with the $60 print

It was getting late so we went back to the hotel, dropped off the things we’d bought. We were supposed to meet the cousins for drinks at a wine bar. Zung’s cousin has two sons who live in NOLA. We always try to meet up with them when we are here.

I called an Uber and then we waited about 10 minutes for it and right before it was supposed to arrive it got cancelled. I’m not sure why that happens, but it pissed me off. We took a taxi instead. I was worried we’d be kind of late but it turned out we were the first ones there.

The wine bar was an interesting concept. It was a wine store and you bought your wine, and they had a crate of glasses, and you could get a bucket and fill it with ice if you wanted to cool something. Then you found a place to sit. Most of the tables were outside. They had music too. It was packed and all the outside tables were taken, so we found a table inside. There was food to that you could order and they’d bring that to you.

When we arrived we weren’t quite sure how it all worked and waited until Dan got there to get wine. Desiree and Imbrie had to wait in line when they arrived even though we had a table because it was so crowded by that time that it was “one in one out.” They arrived and got some bubbles and found us. We got to catch up. The time passed too quickly and we had to leave a little after 7 so we could get back to the hotel and change for dinner and get to our restaurant for dinner. We said our goodbyes and totally forgot to take any pictures.

It was Restaurant August. When Nicholas heard we were in NOLA he said we should go there. I think his text said, “You have to eat at August.” When I checked Open Table it said the only res were at 9:45&10. Too late for us.

The night before I had asked the concierge if he could get us an earlier res. He went on a rant about how the restaurants aren’t run well anymore and they just work of their computers and they don’t save tables for the concierges. He took my number and said he’d call them tomorrow and see if they had any cancellations. He called when we were at breakfast and said our res was at 8:15. I gave him a$20 tip for his efforts.

It was a nice, old school French restaurant. The food was very good.

They sent out an amuse bouche that was in an egg.

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Appetizers came. I had to send back my salad because I neglected to mention my dietary restrictions and I never expected the roasted beet salad to come with creme fraich. They remade it for me and other than dessert, that was the only thing that caused an issue. I’m spoiled because I’m used to restaurants in Colorado and California asking if there are any dietary restrictions.

This was Zung’s app and I cannot tell from the pic what it is. He liked it though.

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Beet salad sans créme fraiche.

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My delicious duck.

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Zung’s scallops. Zung loves scallops. If it’s on the menu, he will probably get it. You can imagine that at 70 years old, he has had A LOT of scallops. He said these may have been the BEST scallops he has ever had. Win!

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Dessert was the same old song. They had delightful selections. Zung had Pineapple Souffle.

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Our Waiter told me that I could have sorbet.

I DON’T WANT SORBET!!!

I WANT SOME DELICIOUS, DELECTABLE DESSERT, JUST LIKE EVERYONE ELSE. IS THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK???

I am over it! Really? There are not a bunch of us out there? Enough to put, I don’t know, maybe ONE thing on the menu that doesn’t have milk or cream in it?

I am over sorbet, so I asked about their rum selection and they had Zacapa XO.And I had some.

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I love dessert. Love it. But if you can’t be with the one you love, love the rum that they have that’s really awesome.

It goes like that, doesn’t it?

It was pretty late, for us, when we got back to the hotel. so we skipped the lounge when we got back. We still had a half bottle of the wine so we finished that. Then it was time to go to sleep and figure out what to do with the rainy day we were expecting tomorrow, our going home day.

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