The Day After Zung’s Birthday

I woke up…feeling hungover. Ugh. Not again.

This isn’t a great picture, but it was the best one that we took. It looks like the camera was hungover too.


It was clearly humid and the lens was fogging up.

Off to breakfast.

Zung reads the newspaper that is delivered to our room. I take a news vacation when we are in Mexico. It helps my feelings of stress and anxiety about the state of our country.


We don’t vary our routine much. Okay, we don’t vary our routine ever. After breakfast, we went to the beach.

There are still quite a few seaweed piles.


They are working hard to clear them. In the first few days, they have two of these front-loaders hauling them away. One of the drivers is doing it as fast as he can. The other guy drives very slowly and it is because he is looking at his phone while he drives.

They are noisy and smell of exhaust. It has to be done though. It’s either this or big piles of seaweed.


When afternoon rolls around we head to La Brisa for lunch.

I try to take some artistic, drinks reflected in my glasses pictures. Which ine is your facorite?


Zung always gets a Victoria beer, unless he gets a Modelo Especial.


And shrimp fajitas.


I always have white wine, Masia Ribot if they have it. Fortunately this time they have lots of it.

I also always get french fries. Hot, fresh and crispy.

I vary my entree though. Today I am having quesadillas.


Asael tells us that he is going on vacation. He introduces us to Jenny and says that she will take care of us while he is gone.

After lunch, we sit on the beach some more and I have some more wine and read my Kindle.


My favorite author, Elin Hildebrand, writes a new novel every summer and I try to save it to read on vacation if it comes out before I leave.

When we go back to the room there is a plate of fruit and cheeses, with some crackers for us. Mauro, our butler, is taking good care of us.


One of the really nice things about the Presidential Suite is that there are beautiful flowers all over the suite. They replaced them when they started to get tired. I love flowers and like to have them at home. It is a special treat to have them on vacation as well.

Dinner was at La Brisa.


I hadn’t had a good meal at La Brisa, which is the Carribean restaurant, with two attempts in May. If they struck out this time I wouldn’t eat here again.

A lot of people rave about it though, so I thought I should give it another try.

We ordered the appetizer that I had liked so much, the Caneloni with Tamarind sauce.


It was just as yummy.

While we waited for our entrees, Lander (the GM) showed up. He asked how we liked the room and we told him it was amazing and thanked him for the wonderful birthday surprise.

Our entrees arrived.

Zung got the shrimp. He LOVES shrimp. I can’t eat them when they still have their heads on. I can’t even look at them.

I ordered the same thing I had when I ate here for the second time in May, Shrimp Risotto with Sea Bass. That time the risotto had a good flavor but it was crunchy.

This time I tried to order it without the fish, because that had been kind of bland. The waiter didn’t understand and it came with the fish.


The fish was still bland but the risotto was cooked properly and delicious.

Zund decided to try to watermelon and mango sorbet dessert. I’d had this in May and the watermelon was full of seeds, too many to be able to enjoy it.

This time it came with seedless watermelon.


There was a beach dinner going on. With a full moon.


There was also a younger looking male guest who was wandering around, talking to people at other tables. He seemed restless and I suspected he had been overenjoying the unlimited alcohol aspect of the all-inclusive.

He also had a baseball cap on. Seriously, that’s just bad manners to wear a baseball cap in a nice restaurant.

The Grand has a pretty relaxed dress code. With the exception of the buffet (and maybe the Carribean – I’ve gotten conflicting info) the only requirement is long pants for men. Most people dress nice, but a lot of people dress like slobs.

People will often say they are on vacation and they shouldn’t have to dress up. You don’t have to dress up to not look like a slob.

Okay, I’ll step off my soapbox now.

After dinner, we went to the Lobby Bar and hung out with Steve and Janelle and Daniel.

Yes, please!


Daniel’s famous cucumber mojito and marg.


Steve’s mouth is open in almost every picture he is in.


Unless he’s making this face.


Janelle and I compare nails.


Oh yea, and Steve tries to get in on the action. Mine are stick-ons.


Zung and I compare shoes.


I have no idea what I was doing here.



We went back to the room and remembered that we had asked Daniel, the butler, to draw a bubble bath for us. It was all ready.


Zung poured us some of the Atlantico rum.




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

Zung’s Birthday Dinner at Toni’s

We showered. Surprisingly, the shower in this room, the same room that the owner stays in, had the same problem if it changing from freezing to scalding throughout the shower. (Update: I was just at the Grand and they have started to change the control faucets on the showers and it has eliminated this problem. The showers are now just as awesome as everything else at the Grand.)

There are an abundance of towels. But they are the same towels in all the other rooms. They remind me of the thin towels that you might get at a Motel 6. I think they are trying to be fancy with them but I’d rather have plain towels that are plush and soft.


We waited for a golf cart ride. The restaurants are not that far away…unless you are wearing 4” stilettos, as I usually am and was tonight.

The birthday dinner was at Toni’s Surf and Turf.

Luis, the manager came over with a bottle of the Masia Ribot white and announced that he had my favorite wine.

This whole thing with the wine was very amusing to me. I hated breaking it to him that I usually drink red at dinner. He said, “But you can start with some of this, right?” I said, “Of course, yes, that sounds like a wonderful idea.”

So we had some white wine with out salads.

We both started out with salads. The apple salad is my favorite.


The pear salad is good when the pears are good. For obvious reasons.


I almost always have the ribeye. Tonight was no exception. Zung had it as well.

Steak must be eaten accompanied by a red wine, so we switched at this point. We drank the Masia Ribot red, which is quite good too.


Olivia came by and talked to us for a bit. We ask how her son, Benjamin, is doing.

We are enjoying our wine when they come up with a cake and several waiters come to sing a birthday song. Olivia joined them.


They put a birthday hat on Zung. This isn’t a great picture but is the only one we have that shows the hat.


It had been a lovely birthday meal.

We are quite full by the time we got the cake so we eat a couple of small pieces and then ask them to take the rest of the cake and the rest of the wine to our room.

Off to the lobby bar!

Daniel makes Zung a birthday Margerita. Zung says Daniel makes the best Margeritas.


I have a chocolate cake shot.


With a cucumber mojito chaser.

Daniel looks extra handsome in this picture.


At some point the band in the lobby played Zung Happy Birthday.

When we’d had enough to drink we went back to the room, where there were more birthday surprises.


The birthday cake and wine from dinner were there as well.

Another picture that is not very good, but I love Zung’s expression.

It has been a very good birthday indeed. And we had a week more of vacation in front of us.

This vacation has certainly gotten off to a wonderful start.


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

Happy 71st birthday Zung

Rise and shine sunshine! There was plenty of sunshine this morning.


We headed off to Bella Vista for the birthday breakfast. It was only fitting to start the day with mimosas.


I ordered chillaquilles with chicken, no onion and no crema.


Bella Vista usually has a very good selection of fruit.


After my chillaquilles I had some fruit and bacon. I needed that bacon to balance the healthy effects of the fruit, especially because I was having uber-healthy green juice.


If yo0u’ve been reading my blog for any length of time then you know that Zung is fairly predictable with his breakfast and lunch choices. At breakfast it’s an omelet.


Steve and Janelle came in and came over to say hello.


After we finished with breakfast we followed our usual routine and went to the beach. I welcomed our first day on the beach with a Havana Siete and coke.


There are always lots of parasailers.



Someone we met a few years ago and have seen a few times at the Grand, had left Zung a birthday present when he and his wife had been here a few weeks ago.

Erik has a sense of humor because he buried the present and then sent me a map. It was buried by the flag that tells you the water conditions. That was yellow by the way.

We asked some of the Star Friends if they had a shovel. They did not but they brought a ping pong paddle.

Zung set to work.

Once he dug it out we went back to our palapa and he opened it.

After all that exhausting work in the heat, we decided it was time for lunch.

We ran into Steve and Janelle on our way to lunch.


Zung is just as predictable for lunch as he is for breakfast. He has a Victoria beer and shrimp fajitas.


I always have white wine, Masia Ribot Catalunya. This was the wine they had been out of when I was here in May and that Margerito had tried to give me last night. I do drink it at lunch. Quite a lot actually.

I had lobster and french fries. Fresh, hot and crispy.


I was still hungry after the lobster so I went and got a piece of cheese and made a little sandwich.


I told Zung that he needed to do a shot. Azael brought him a tequila boom boom, which was enhanced with some chocolate syrup on the bottom.


And we finished off the meal with some coconut ice cream. That didn’t taste as coconutty as usual. It was more sweet.

Boo. Their coconut ice cream was one of my favorite Grand things.


Then it was back to the beach for reading and naps.


We went to the quiet pool where José, the pool concierge, asked us if everything was ok. I mentioned it was Zung’s birthday and he came back with a special towel sculpture.


We also saw Mar and chatted with her a bit.

Everyone knew that it was Zung’s birthday and wished him a happy one.

We chatted with a woman from Germany who knew me from the Facebook group. She was there for four weeks!!!

We went back to the room where Mauro, our butler had made a birthday surprise for Zung.


The maid had left him a birthday surprise also.


As we got ready for dinner I wondered if there were going to be any more birthday surprises.


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Birthday Surprise

We got to the end of the hall and the bellboy turned to the room next to the presidential suite and said, “Here is your room.” I said, “Ok.”

Then he grinned and said, “I’m only kidding, this is your room” and he turned to the presidential suite.


He opened the door and we walked in. The first thing you come into is an entryway room.


You go through the door and there is a huge dining table.

It had lots of goodies for us.


The living room is huge with two big, deep, comfy couches.


There is a small kitchen right off the dining room.


One time when we had a beach dinner scheduled they moved it to the balcony of this room because it was too windy. Now seeing this kitchen impressed me because they cooked the dinner in here. The stove is just two burners.

The fridge was stocked with all the things that are in the mini fridge in the regular rooms, just more of everything. There was lots and lots of water.

The bedroom was large.


I didn’t take a picture but there was a chest with a doll sitting on it that looked like a creepy clown. I would be able to see it from bed. I asked the butler to take it out of the room because that thing would have given me nightmares.

The bellboy was giving us a tour and the next room was the bathroom. It was my favorite part of the suite.


I saw the bathtub and said it was like a swimming pool.


In case you are wondering, the shower still had the issue with the water getting suddenly hot or cold.


There were lots and lots of towels.

I turned to the bellboy and said, “Do we get to stay here the whole ten days?” I was thinking they might only let us stay in here for a few days and I was not excited about the thought of possibly having to pack up and move.

However, he had this big grin on his face and confirmed that yes, it was our room for the whole stay.

I could tell that he really enjoyed surprising people like this.

We were enjoying the surprise too.

The butler came and finished checking us in and gave us our wristbands and got us our pillows. We always get pillows from the pillow menu. I get a couple of down pillows and Zung gets what is called the anatomical pillow which is a firm foam.

We made some rum and cokes and napped for a bit on the sofas.


Zung showered and had his “I’m on vacation” moment when he put on the robe.


I got dressed and realized in all the excitement  I had forgotten to do the CROTW – ceremonial removal of the watch.

I rectified that.




We headed off to dinner at Vencia.

The manager/captain (I’m never sure what their titles are) came and introduced himself to us. His name was Margerito and he said they had my favorite wine, Masia Ribot white.

This was the white wine that they didn’t have in May that had everyone thinking I was so unhappy with the wine.

I told him that I usually drink red at dinner.

He looked so disappointed.

He was exceptionally attentive throughout the meal.

Zung had the calamari.


I had the grilled baby vegetables.


I had the roasted lamb loin, which was pretty delicious.


Zung had the glazed lobster with mustard sauce.


After dinner Margerito asked if we wanted dessert and we asked if we could have something sent to our room. We thought dessert sounded nice but we were really tired and the thought of eating it back at the room sounded even nicer.

He asked if we’d like some port with our dessert because they had some that was very nice. We said sure, even though we are not big dessert wine drinkers.

We also asked that the rest of our wine be sent to the room as well.

When we got back to the room another surpris awaited us.


We poured some rum and enjoyed the bath.


Afterwards when we went to get something on the dining table we saw that they had brought our dessert.


I can’t say we were fans of the port.

We took some night pictures of the room and the pool area. There are windows in the bathroom that look out over the pool.

All the orange decor gives the room an orange glow at night.


There had been turn down service.


In the past we haven’t always gotten turn down service. I started putting out the “Make Up Room” sign on the door when we’d go to dinner and now we always get it.

They prepare the bed, give you new towels and take away the used towels, and leave water at the bedside.

There may or may not have been another glass of wine.

There may or may not have been a hangover the next morning.

It had been a long travel day with a wonderful birthday surprise. We were looking forward to the actual birthday tomorrow.

Posted in Awesome Staff, Check-in/Upgrades, Food/Menu Items, Restaurant, The Grand | 4 Comments

New Trip to the Grand – Zung’s 71st

This trip has been planned for a while.

June has been rough though. I got a garden variety cold at the beginning of the month. It knocked me on my butt Friday afternoon. I went to bed for the weekend, thinking this would knock it out.

It did not.

I would feel like I was getting better, then feel worse again. It progressed to a sinus infection so I went to the doctor.

I usually only go to the doctor if I am pretty sure what is wrong with me and what I want her to do for me.

I left with my antibiotics, feeling like my mission was accomplished. When I felt much better the next day I believed that I had been right.

The next day I felt like crap again.

Back and forth, back and forth. I went back to see the doctor the following week. I was on an upswing that day, but I’d been to this rodeo before, only to get thrown off my horse again.

She did some lab work and discovered I had low sodium levels. Very low. She said if they were much lower she’d be sending me to the ER.

Her instructions were to drink less water and eat more salt.

I went out and got two bags of potato chips. Doctor’s orders!

Two days later I had another level drawn and waited nervously for the results. Both she and I had decided going to Mexico made us nervous if my levels didn’t improve significantly.

Fortunately, they did. So I picked out shoes and got a pedicure.

On June 24th we got our early start and arrived in time to have breakfast, which meant Mimosas.


I wore cute shoes that I have had for a very long time.


The flight was not memorable.

We found our transfer. Before we knew it we were on our way to the Grand.


And then we were there.


It was a Sunday so Daniel was not there. His son, Matthew, was graduating from 5th grade. We had been invited to the dinner that they were having that night. However, the graduation ran really late and he said dinner would be very late.

I hadn’t slept well and I was so tired that I felt like I was going to fall over. I told him I didn’t think we’d make it. We said we’d have dinner together the following week.

We were at the bar and Laura and Phillip, the asst GM’s came over to say hello. They wished Zung a happy birthday and asked if we knew what Lander’s surprise was for Zung’s birthday.

We didn’t know, so they said they wouldn’t tell us. I thought maybe it would be something at dinner on his birthday which was the next day.

I exchanged some money and they helped us make dinner reservations for that night at the Italian restaurant.

The bellboy took us to Building 71. We were greeted with champagne and Steve was there. He caught me red-handed double fisting my champagne.



Then the bellboy took us upstairs to the third floor.

We got off the elevator and he made a left. We usually stay in the corner suite, but to get to that room we would have made a right. I thought it must not have been available.

We walked down the hall.

We were about to find out what Zung’s birthday surprise from Lander was.


Posted in Check-in/Upgrades, Drinks, The Grand | 3 Comments