Monday, April 07, 2014

Isla Mujeres: the end

A time it was and what a time it was.  All good things must come to an end.  I truly loved my trip.  In part it was the wonderful people I got to share it with, and in part it was the island itself.  Sometimes when I am travelling, there are things I wish I had done differently, that really didn't happen here.  I would get pesos the first day, but that's about it.

I stayed at Los Archos, The Arches.  It was nice and clean, very simple, but it had AC and wifi, both are musts for me.  It is a five minute walk to the beach, and you can rent a chair and umbrella for the day.  There are nicer, more expensive places right on the beach, where chairs and umbrellas are included and you can charge food to the room.  Another hotel is all inclusive, but I would not want that, as there are so many wonderful places to eat for less right on the street.  It is worth comparing prices.  The beach hotels I saw the inside of were Ixchel and Privilege, both were lovely.  Privilege was the all inclusive one.  Again, I think it is worth comparing prices, how often are you going to be on the beach, etc. 

My last day I got to have breakfast with Christy, Christiane, Deliza, and some of Christiane's family.  It was a perfect ending to a perfect long weekend.

I am so thankful I got to share this moment with them.

My room, sorry it's messy, I was packing up.  But you can see it's nice and big for a couple.

There is a safe to store valuables, which I recommend.  And a closet and shelves.

I also had a TV, fridge and microwave.

Bathroom is clean, just don't drink the water.  This is true for all of Mexico, buy bottled.

My view from the balcony.  I would ask for a street view next time.  Although it was really hot out, so it didn't matter.  I never used it anyway.

A note about sunscreen.  Wear it.  I used this turbo-charged sunscreen, and I never burned.  I also only applied about once a day and I was good.  So I recommend this kind.  It did sting when I got some in my eyes.

This tee shirt made me laugh.

There were all kinds of tee shirts.  I liked them, but I knew I would never wear it, so I took this picture instead.

I was all alone!  I kind of liked it actually.

The ferry ride was delightful.  A nice way to wind down after several hectic days.

I am writing this back home in Boston, and the entire trip feels like a dream.  Yes, getting home was miserable to say the least, but I did learn a few things.  Always, always, always get direct flight coming home with international travel.  I don't care what it costs.  Basically after a lovely ferry ride from the island to Cancun, it was all downhill from there.  My flight was delayed an hour, and when I landed in Ft Lauderdale I had to get my bag, go through the longest customs line ever, then immigration, be rescreened, recheck my bag, run to another building to another terminal and the far side of that terminal.  Since more than half of the Cancun flight was flying to Boston, they held the plane for an hour.  And the best part?  It was the same plane we had just disembarked.  But the plane landed in the international terminal and we had to go to the domestic terminal. 

So like I said, lesson learned, direct flight.  But I made it home.  All is well.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Isla Mujeres Day 3

Saturday I planned to be my play day, anything I wanted to do, I would do it.  I bumped into some of Christy's family (her Dad's side) and we went to the Christy approved breakfast spot, Cafe Mogagua. I was still sore from all the dancing (I think everyone had swollen feet, I heard the party finally broke up around 3 or 4am)  so I treated myself to a waffle, something I never order, I usually get eggs, but this was amazing, and all the fruit!  So fresh!

I wanted to to a little shopping next,  The Island is known for its silver and other crafts, but I knew I wanted a necklace.  The shops were open and vendors kept beckoning me into their space, but I like to stroll and check things out that interest me.  So I said a lot of "no gracias" as I kept walking.  I did find some nice jewlery from a seller named Wiley.  He was really nice, and took my American dollars.  Interesting thing about money here.  It is better to have pesos, you can bargin better.  And American dollars are accepted at many places, but they have to be prestine, no writing, not even a single tear.  Banks give people a very hard time and often won't cash a less than perfect bill.  Now I know why my bank lady kept looking to give me fresh bills, she must have known this.  And pesos have to be ordered in advance at my bank.  Next time I would just go to a bank here and withdraw pesos, you get the best rate that way.

Christy had stopped by my hotel earlier before breakfast and told me that they were going back to the club to relax and get some stuff left over from last night.  So after shopping I headed on over and joined them at the pool.  It was fun seeing the place during the day, dance floor gone.  I relaxed in the pool I had been dancing in the night before.  I still wish that I had brought my bathing suit to the wedding.  I wonder how that would have been written on the invitation?  And this little guy was just chillin' by the steps.  Lizzards are like squirrles here.

And the few things meant all the leftover booze.  If a bottle of hard liquer was unopened, they could sell it back to the resort.  Opened, they saved it and Christiane is giving it to her family.  No tequila was left.

Christy, Daliza and I went to see the Turtles, something I really wanted to do so I was happy I could join in. I had a choice of Aztec ruins or turtles, and I chose turtles.  I believe I chose wisely.  We went at the end of the day, and one of the workers let us hold everything.  He was a sweet old man who simply loved Daliza, adorable!

Some of these turtles are deformed, and this center rescues them.  I got to hold big and baby turtles, sea urchines, star fish, I was less adventurous about the crabs.  Since I'm allergic, I know I probably would be just fine, but I didn't want to risk it.  Plus, they were REALLY creepy looking.  Turtles are cute.

Daliza has no fear!

And she was really concerned about the giant snail falling out.

Everyone loved the baby turtles, damaged ones and all.

         Chris is a great driver.  She let me do slow donuts in the parking lot, but the roads can be a bit crazy.
                                                          I was content to let her drive.

We had one last dip in the ocean, and I had tacos on the beach since I was really hungry.  The water and food are what I will miss most, so I made sure to get my fill of them.  Then I was told we were all meeting for a late dinner, oh well.  The tacos were still good.

The Island had a blackout, it was only for an hour or so.  So many people lit the streets with candles and flashlights.  One musician on top of a restaurant played "free falling" in Spanish on his guitar.  It was delightful.  

Another table bought us champagne.  So the girls had a nice toast.

A friend ordered the salted fish, that only comes for two, so a bunch of us shared.  It had to be cracked open and the fish was baked in this salt block, the skin fell off and delicious red snapper, a white fish, was left.  Amazing, not salty at all!  So fresh, so good!

I ordered the simple salad to share, since I had the tacos earlier I really was not hungry.  But salad and fish soon disappeared with everyone at the table.

We were all exhausted, it was a long perfect day.  Daliza did what all of us wished we could have done.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Chris and Chris Wedding

The day is finally here! Chris and Chris are getting married!  I went to the beach in the am, because why wouldn't I?  The water here is quite amazing, to say the least.  Warm, refreshing, and perfect for these hot, humid days.  I then had to do my bridesmaid duty and get primped and painted, all gussied up for the big day.  I was fun to get ready with the brides.

Since the wedding was taking place at the other end of the island, several of us cabbed it there, we nearly ran over a guy on a bike, reaffirming my wise decision to NOT rent a scooter or golf cart.

Zama Beach club is quite amazing.  Simple, elegant and breathtaking.  The ceremony was lovely, and I don't think there was a dry eye to be found (thank goodness for the magic myst they spray to keep makeup on!)

There is a nice long pier lit by candles and you can get a good idea of the reception.

The canopy for the ceremony, with the waves, and sunset, it couldn't be more picture perfect.

See?  See? So simple and amazing.

There are two pools, one on top of the stone wall and this one.  I danced for a while on the top one.  I was really hot!  The dance floor changed colors, and the party went on till 2am,  I lasted to 1.  My feet are still killing me.  But oh boy did we have fun!

Dinner was delicious, chips, dip, cerviche (this green one was amazing with basil and grouper fish, salad, chicken, pork, everything delicious!

Ok, so I was supposed to sit at table 4, but I sat at 5.  I'm a rebel.

Pretty wedding cake.  I was asked to perform one last bridesmaid duty and paint the toppers a few hours before the ceremony.  I'm still suffering post-traumatic artistic disorder.

A rainbow cake!

Lots to choose for dessert, I opted for the bannas and whipped cream.  Yum!
Big Haired Bitches!  Someone called it Mad Men Hair.  I guess I need to watch that show now.

The calm before the storm, pre-ceremony and party hydration.

Funny faces!!!

My Best Friend's Wedding!  25 years of friendship, I was so honored to be a part of this day.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Isla Mujeres Day 1

Traveling to Isla Mujeres requires a plane, a taxi, and a ferry ride. My flight was delayed by 45 min, and then in the Cancun airport the computers at immigration were down. So we had to wait, and wait, and wait. I offered to take a look at their computers, or have them do the check-in old school, I had a pen I was willing to share. After almost an hour  they did just that, not the me helping with computers, but they began doing check-in old school. Right before I got to my agent the computers were up and running.

I found my luggage and went outside to meet my prebooked cab. Miracle beyond miracle, they were still there, about 2 hours after I was supposed to land. I was so thankful they were still there.

It's a pleasant half hour drive to the ferry, and once at the dock I had a moment to take in the beautiful water, while eating a burrito, may it be the first of many. I highly recommend the bar that is part of the dock, delicious food, friendly service. The ferry is small, not what I am used to for ferries, nothing like the Cape Island ferries. So be prepared for a bumpy ride. I stayed inside as I had not put on sunscreen. The weather is glorious, sunny and high 80's. A sweet breeze keeps the humidity way down. 

I bumped into other attendees of the wedding when asking directions to my hotel, the man said we had to take a cab, but I knew it was close, only a few blocks, so I insisted on walking. I'm glad I did as it only took us about 15 minutes, and asking two more times where to go.

I am staying on Hidalgo Street, there are tons of vendors and restaurants, and my little hotel is tucked in.  Los Arcos is clean, quiet, has a fridge, microwave and wi-fi.  Really I don't need more than the fridge and wi-fi.  I was so happy to arrive, that after a little relaxing I was refreshed (and hungry) and went exploring.  When I was having a drink, I bumped into Chris, who was heading in the direction of my hotel.  I was the last of the wedding party to arrive, most have been here for days, but I'm here! 

Los Arcos on the busy street.

My first guac and chips, may it be the first of many!

The view from Christy's hotel.  Mine is of a back alley, so I won't show that.  Christy's is beautiful.

Two goofballs

The water and sunset here is spectacular.

I had to put on my suit and go swimming at night.  It was so beautiful and warm, I'm so glad I did.

Fish tacos.  I love the food here!

The street I am staying on.  My hotel is the orange building.

Stray dogs and cats are everywhere,  People put collars on them, but they still are strays.
They are very friendly and are used to tourists feeding them.  

Friday, March 28, 2014

Disneyland 2014

Many people told me Disneyland is not as good as Disney World because it's smaller, older, etc.  Well, it's been years (more than I will admit) since I have been to Disney World, and Disneyland suits me just fine.  I went with a couple of friends, and one is an expert, she knows this park like the back of her hand.  I can't wait to go back just to visit the park with her.

Wendy and I went to the park the night before and we tackled Main Street, which has shops, food, and musicians.  I heard the first of many variations of the song "Let it go" from Frozen.  I have no choice but to like it now.  Try the pizza at Naples, it's delish! We stayed for the fireworks, which were nice, I especially like the Mickey shaped one that I got a picture of.

The next day, bright and early, Wendy and I were joined by Ashley, the Disneyland expert.  Making our way into the park I got my button for my first visit, and then we hit a hat shop.  Since I knit hats, I love to see hat shops, and the Mad Hatter is all about characters with Mickey ears, you've seen them.  The most curious one was the R2D2 hat, since Disney bought Star Wars.  That is still strange to me.

Meeting characters is one of the fun parts of Disney parks.  And the best ones stay in character.  There was over a two hour wait to see the characters from Frozen.  I got to meet Mary Poppins, way cooler (pun intended)

We went left after this to Adventureland.  I was sad to see that the Indiana Jones ride was closed, since I love Indiana, but we took the Jungle Cruise instead, which had animatronic animals and guides who tell horrible jokes.  Then Ashley nicely ran to get fast passes for a ride and I climbed Tarzan's treehouse.  One of the best views of the park can be seen from here.

Next up was New Orleans Square for Mickey shaped beignets, which are simply awesome.  Since there was no line, I ran off to do Splash Mountain.  Wendy and Ashley skipped this one since they didn't want to get wet.  There was a maybe 10 minute wait, which is unheard of, and a chivalrous man in front of me gave me his plastic cover, so I was dry after.  It was awesome! 

Then we walked right into The Haunted Mansion, which was delightfully creepy, and then we got right on the Pirates of the Caribbean.  Odd I got more wet on Pirates than I did on Splash Mountain.  But I loved seeing Jack Sparrow.  It was also pretty amazing how quickly we were getting on these rides.

Ashley and I rode Big Thunder Mountain in
Frontierland, the fast pass was the key, we only had to wait a few minutes. Ashley was excited because this ride had been closed for over a year for upgrades, so she wanted to see the changes. I loved it, I have no idea what they changed, but whatever they did, it works. It's a great ride. Get the fast pass for busy times. Wendy and I then went into Fantasyland and rode Snow Whites Scary Adventure. It's not that scary for adults, but I can see it scaring my 5 year-old self.

In Tomorrowland we rode the cars in Autopia via fast pass.  And we all wanted our own car.  I'm suprised this ride still exists, the cars run on gasoline, and go about 5 miles and hour.  But it is a nostalgic favorite for many visitors. Disney now owns Star Wars, and there are rides that reflect this in the park. The lines for the rides were so long, but we were treated to watch the Jedi Training Academy, and let me tell you, there are some bad ass kids out there who can wallop Darth Vader and Darth Maul.  I am a huge Toy Story fan, so I was excited to try the Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters ride. But I am terrible at videogames, so needless to say my level 2 score is nothing to brag about.

We were joined by another friend, so Wendy chose to go with her and do the Buzz ride again, Ashley and I headed off to the Matterhorn Bobsleds.  We chose the single rider line because the general line was over an hour long, and we got on the ride in minutes.  Apparently the Matterhorn ride is only at Disneyland, and it's a blast.  I actually got to ride twice, I'm not sure why, but the staff asked us if we wanted to go again, and who is going to say no?  The abominable snowman was great.

To end our evening we had dinner at the Blue Bayou restaurant.  You have to make reservations far in advance, and you pay for the ambiance, it's in the Pirates ride. The food is so-so.  I liked my chicken, the cornbread rolls are addicting, and the Mickey mousse is amazing, they gave it to us free since it was my first visit.  I love how the park makes a big deal out of a first visit.

There were a number of rides I would have loved to try, but the lines got soo long, that I will save them for next time.  There are also apps for a map of the park and ride times, I recommend these, it really helps to plan out your day.  I can't wait to go back!