Cruising, DESTINATIONS, International, Road Trips, TRAVEL, Travel Planning

If This is Wednesday, We’re in Monte Carlo

Celebrity's Newest Ship - The EdgeTRAVEL THERE: GOING TO THE EDGE WITH CELEBRITY

To say Bill’s choice won would not be exactly correct.  We talked though all the options and in the end, it made the most sense.  It wouldn’t have been my first choice, but looking at the ship and the itinerary, I certainly didn’t lose.  And there had been no arguments.  Not even differences of opinion, just a realization that given our options, Celebrity’s Edge was the choice for us.

Horses Before Carts

When we decided to cruise on The Edge, the ship didn’t even exist.  Oh, they were in the process of building it, but we were taking a leap of faith.  On Saturday, March 24, 2018 I sent an email to my travel agent, Sandra Rubio of CTC travel that we’d chosen The Edge’s June 15, 2019 cruise, out of Rome.  The ship would have her maiden voyage in December 2018.  I thought the next step would be the red tape involved with setting up an official “group” with Celebrity.  That meant a selection of rooms would be set aside for us and I’d have some time to recruit people to fill up the rooms.  It might even mean that we’d get a free room ourselves, but even if we didn’t there were a lot of other perks with being a group.

Only that’s not what happened.  Someone at Celebrity made an executive decision.  There would be no “groups” on The Edge – at least not during our cruise.  So, no free room for us or room discounts for our fellow travelers or any of the other perks that come with having a group would ever be ours.  It was just a case of, “We’re going, do you want to join us.”  I wasn’t surprised.  I wouldn’t know what to do if things ever just went my way.

Then I got an email from Jim Bagley.  Jim is the husband of my friend Melanie.  She was my roommate at SFA and we’ve stayed close friends all these years.  Oh, we’re not the talk-to-you-every-day type of close friends.  I don’t have any of those, because I’m not that sort of person.  Even my bestie and I go days without so much as a text.  With Melanie, there have been years where our only correspondence has been Christmas cards.  However, get us together and you’d think we’d been connected at the hip since birth.  Jim and Melanie had booked their cabin.

I have to admit.  Bill and I were still wringing our hands over the loss of our group.  Was Celebrity still the best choice?  Would the Viking cruise be a better deal for us?  Jim’s email defined our dilemma and tightened our focus.  Were we going on The Edge or not?  We took another look at The Edge brochure and called Sandra to book our own cabin. We were going on a cruise for our 25th wedding anniversary.

That Was Then, This Is Now

I promise to share every single detail along the way with you.  If you’ve been following this blog for long, you know I won’t be able to resist it.  However, today I’m in Monte Carlo.  Yesterday, was our Vow Renewal Ceremony.  This morning we’ll be able to take it slow.  It’s a long day at this port of call, but we plan to sleep late and enjoy a sit-down breakfast.  Perhaps we’ll lounge by the pool or stroll around onshore.  At 4 PM we’re joining the CEO of Celebrity Cruises for a Wine Tasting at the Monte Carlo Yacht Club.  (Yeah, I know.  I’m still pinching myself.)  Then we’ll take a special after-hours tour of the Prince’s Palace.  After the tour, some brave souls will be dining with her up on the Magic Carpet, but alas, I can’t imagine enjoying an open air dinner up in the air.  I can’t even endure a wimpy zipline at a Texas roadside attraction.

Next week, I’ll be back home. I’ll pick up this tale up with the giddy moment we got our cabin confirmation and share a few of the disasters we’ve suffered on our way to The Anniversary Cruise.  Please join me.  We’re gonna have fun!

Cruising, DESTINATIONS, International, Road Trips, TRAVEL, Travel Planning

The Twenty-Fifth

The Trip of a Lifetime?

TRAVEL THERE: PLANNING A VACATION TO REMEMBER

I have a very pleasant difficulty.  I’ve had so many wonderful vacations that “the trip of a lifetime” barely has any meaning for me.  Each has been a “trip of a lifetime” in one way or another.  It began with my mom.  That lady knew how to plan a vacation.  I will never forget the American Heritage tour we took that included Washington D.C., Monticello, Mount Vernon, Williamsburg and Lincoln landmarks.  Before I met Bill I had a remarkable trip to England, a visit to Paris and a wonderful tour of Bavaria.  Since Bill came along we have had one memorable trip after another, both in the United States and abroad. Hawaii? Yes!  Caribbean? Yes!  Europe? Yes!  I never thought I’d see the Pyramids and now I have been twice.  So what were we supposed to do to mark a special milestone?

An Anniversary Cruise?

Letting go of the backyard vow renewal ceremony, surrounded by friends and family and solemnized by my pastor, was tough, but it wasn’t just my anniversary, it was Bill’s too.  So I started recreating my vision.  Exchanging the Phoenician for a Back East ramble and my two decade diamond for a pond-side home had both been good decisions.  Third time is the charm, right?

Bill and I daydreamed about the possibilities on our patio as summer became fall.  We’d always wanted to cruise the Mediterranean, but the cost had always scared us away.  We began to understand this splurge was the perfect choice for our Anniversary Cruise, but the Mediterranean is a big place.  What ports of call, what cruise line and which ship would we chose.  We had time, but it was a big decision.

As the year rolled to an end, I realized my favorite travel agency would be having their annual travel show in January.  Since one of the important things about this cruise would be the people who went with us, I spent several days sending out emails to all my friends and family explaining what we were planning, hoping they’d join us on the adventure.  Unfortunately, we were in no position to treat our friends and family to this cruise, so not only would they have to find the time to join us, they’d also need to find the funds.  Our responses ranged from, “Gee, we appreciate you thinking of us, but no,” to “Try and stop me from coming.”  In the middle were a whole lot of maybes.  There were also many, many unanswered emails.  Welcome to the Third Millennial!

My very own travel library

Days of Discovery

On a bright January day, bestie, hubby and I took in CTC’s annual travel show.  I got several bags full of dreams, but my husband only saw one ship.  I did my due diligence, unaware that Bill had already decided what we were going to do.  At that point, he didn’t realize it either.

I was torn between two choices.  I’d always dreamed of enjoying the luxury of an all suite ship, but since our Danube Waltz adventure on the Viking Tor, I’d been craving one of their ocean cruises.  Bill suggested I take a look at the new ship Celebrity was building, the Edge, and he was also interested in a Sailing Yacht Cruise.  I spent a long afternoon in Sandra Rubio’s office as she explored the various choices we were considering.  Then I spent days comparing the prices of the various cruises with the experiences we’d enjoy.

A few things were clear.  Te price of the all-suite luxury cruises would prohibit most of the other people from joining us.  The Sailing Yachts would offer us an amazing ceremony, but the ship we were most interested in would be getting an overhaul in 2019.  Taking the Viking cruise would mean no possibility of my grandnieces and nephews joining us.  The Edge was interesting and would accommodate the kids, but it was at the bottom of my list.

I’ve already let the cat out of the bag, Bill’s choice won the day – but did he choose the Yacht experience or the Edge?  Come back next week!  I’ll spill the beans!

Cruising, DESTINATIONS, International, Road Trips, TRAVEL, Travel Planning

The Next Adventure

TRAVEL THERE: BIG PLANS FOR A BIG DAY

A few years back a friend of mine was getting married and finding a venue stumped her.  I suggested she use my backyard.  She never really took my suggestion seriously, but I began to see how my favorite view would be the perfect spot for a celebration.  Her wedding came and went, but I was never able to eradicate the idea of a celebration in my backyard.  I began to float an idea with my husband – what if we celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary with a vow renewal ceremony by our pond?

Anniversaries We Have and Yet, Have Not, Celebrated

Our wedding anniversary is a special day to us.  Bill doesn’t get very excited about Christmas, birthdays or Valentines, but our anniversary is something he likes to mark.  In our early years, we used to say we were going to spend our 10th wedding anniversary at the Phoenician in Arizona.  We’d visited the resort on some previous trips to the area and we loved fantasizing about splurging on a special celebration there, but it never happened.

When our 10th Anniversary rolled around, our nephew was graduating from Wharton (along with Ivanka Trump).  Bill’s brother had passed away not long before and we felt helping our nephew celebrate his important milestone took precedence over the Phoenician.  Believe me, it was no sacrifice.  We used Philadelphia as the starting point for an amazing tour.  I saw the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Longwood Gardens, Winterthur, Mohonk Mountain House, Springwood, Saranac Lake in the Adirondacks, 1000 Islands and Niagara Falls.  The whole trip was filled with moments I will never forget.

For our 20th Anniversary I started making noise about replacing the diamond in my engagement ring.  Bill had surprised me with his proposal – like really surprised me.  He’d never so much as asked me my favorite shape of diamond!  At the time, he’d said the ring was just a placeholder and I could pick out what I wanted, but what I wanted was what he picked out for me.  After twenty years, though, I thought I might be due an upgrade – such as a carat for each decade.

To Bill’s credit, he took me shopping and he was willing to spend the obscene amount of money necessary to put a two carat rock into my wedding set.  Only my practical little soul could not countenance it.  I got my ring polished and we built our home on the pond instead.  Of course, the house cost a whole lot more than the new diamond would have, but look at what we got.  Our 20th wedding present was ourselves was the architectural plans for Falcons View Pass.  We moved in not long before our 21st.

Hofburg’s Silver Museum, from our Vienna visit on the Danube Waltz cruise

Looking to Twenty-Five

Though we always mark our anniversary in a special way, we don’t always do it on the special day.  Take the Danube Waltz in 2016.  It marked Anniversary 22, but it was about a month early.  Oregon marked number 18, but it several weeks later.  For number 23, we went to Egypt, but about a month before.  That’s when I started thinking about number 25.

Floating an idea with Bill is a bit of a challenge.  He’s always listens to me, but that doesn’t always mean he hears me.  I’d venture to say I’d been talking about a backyard vow renewal for six months before he figured out I was seriously considering it.  I had the whole thing sketched out in my mind.  When he finally asked me to explain it to him in full, I was on the edge of tears.  Only my vision didn’t resonate with him.

“How about a cruise,” he suggested.  Well, we love cruising and we’ve been on several, but the fact we’d already been on several was what caused my hesitation.  I wanted something very special to mark this milestone.  What’s more, I didn’t want to mark it alone.  Part of what had propelled my vision of the backyard ceremony had been the loss of so many of my loved ones.  So many of the important people who had celebrated our wedding were no longer here to testify to our commitment.  Some people who loomed large in the video of the day are either no longer a part of our lives at all or they have moved to the peripheral edges of our existence.  What’s more, there are those who are very, very special now, that I didn’t even know back then.

What did we decide to do?  Come back next week and find out.

Architecture, ART, Attractions, DESTINATIONS, International, Road Trips, TRAVEL

Whose Fault Is This

Touring Chichen Itza

TRAVEL THERE:  ARE WE ANY DIFFERENT?

Looking back on Mayan society, we might be quick to blame priests or kings, perhaps even warriors or ambassadors. Study history and you will know their sins are legion, but we allow the same sort of characters to control us today, as surely as the Mayans were controlled then.

Parallels I See

Mayans bound the foreheads of infants to achieve a fashionable look and we may wonder why anyone would do that, but don’t we rush out to rearrange anything on our bodies we don’t like?  We may not file our teeth and set jewels in them, but we will pierce the skin under our lip and keep expanding the hole until those around us can see our gum line.  We are perhaps even more greatly ruled by fashion than the Mayans.

Here in the United States we argue about our government, yet we allow the same politicians with their same solutions to dominate our legislating bodies year after year, forcing more and more regulations down our throat. Some of these bureaucrats are hired and appointed by our government, but too many are re-elected and re-elected long after they’ve proven how they fail to keep any promise that they make.

I’m guessing the average Mayan on the street wasn’t so different from me. My sacrificial pyramid is delivered to my house daily on my TV and computer screen and in case that’s not enough, I carry a phone, so I can check in on the mounting atrocities at any time. I listen to what the media tells me, just like the Mayans listened to  their priests and royalty. I hate so much of what I see around me and yet, I feel so powerless to do anything about it.

The Mayans didn’t wake up one morning and say, “Hey, let’s have a society where the rich get richer, the powerful get more powerful and the rest of the population is ground under foot like ashes. And let’s create a religion where thousands upon thousands are murdered in gruesome ceremonies and we can pretend it makes the sun come back.”  Their situation grew out of a series of circumstances. At some point, the tide could have been turned, but they let the opportunity slip away. Their great intellectual capacity and their amazing creativity could have been the foundation of a beautiful utopia, but instead it created a sort of hell.

I pray fervently that we Americans are not making the same sort of mistakes. I hope it is not too late to gain some control over our “priests and royalty.” I hope our religion of self-gratification does not one day demand the egregious sacrifice of our fellow citizens.

Forgive me my doom-saying. Travel is fun and filled with exposure to beautiful things. That’s what I usually focus on. But travel should also expose us to things that make us look at our own lives and think about the way the world is going around us. We should question whether we are doing the right things and promoting the right ideas.

Chichen Itza made me stop and think about my world. I promise to get back to the fun and the beautiful, but I will always try to see something more when I travel than mere entertainment.  One more post about Chichen Itza and I am done.

Architecture, ART, Attractions, DESTINATIONS, International, TRAVEL

On My Way Home

Spanish Colonial Architecture from Bill’s 2011 mission trip to Guatemala.

TRAVEL TALK: SUMMING IT ALL UP

Our return to Dallas was blissfully uneventful.  I’ll spare you the details.  I entertained myself with Michener’s Mexico, but as I read, another part of my brain was sorting out what I’d observed on this short vacation.  My initial impressions required a lot of thought and my arrival in Dallas did not end my meditations.  

Capturing My Travel Thoughts

I’ll start with the relationship between Mexicans and Spaniards. I’m actually amazed at how good their current relations are considering the history of the natives and the invaders.  Spanish architecture is appreciated just as much as the ancient native sites.  There doesn’t seem to be a resentment between the Mexicans and their Spanish heritage.  Spain’s Catholicism has been embraced and there doesn’t seem to be any factions hoping to reignite the worship of gods who demand human sacrifice, which were the Mayans gods.

Granted the Mexicans overthrew Spanish rule during an ugly period that lasted more than a decade, but they got over it.  They didn’t reject Christianity along with the rulers they ousted or tear down Spanish cathedrals.  Though I am sure there was a lot of burning and looting during the war, since its been over, they seem to have developed a great working relationship.  The Mexicans I have observed seem just as proud of the beauties of Spanish colonial architecture as they are of their own pyramids.  Even when I visited Mexico back in the Seventies and Eighties, this seemed to be so.  Most specifically, there is not the tension over monuments and flags we Americans seem to harbor in relation to our own Civil War and slavery.

I Wouldn’t Be Quite as Nice

Personally, as a Christian, I resent the Spanish for the brand of Christianity they forced down the throats of the Mexican Indians.  They made most of them slaves and threatened to kill them if they didn’t convert.  Not that the Europeans did a much better job anywhere else, but the Spanish Conquest of Mexico seems particularly repugnant, in both their hunger for gold and their forcible spread of Catholicism.

My guide on the Chichen Itza excursion pointed out something I’d never quite noticed before.  He showed us a church decorated with serpents.  According to the guide, killing those who were unwilling to convert did not seem to be all that effective with some groups of natives.  So, instead the friars invited the natives to come to the Catholic Church to worship their own snake god.  Though this is more humane than murder, it’s still a trick and I didn’t like to hear of it. 

The Question of Christianity

Had I not mulled over the question of religion for several days, this post might have turned into a rant against the Roman Catholic Church.  They’ve done a lot of things wrong from the inception of formalized religion, but in truth, little about Christianity is attractive to many outsiders today.  In some places, like Central Asia for example, people are turning to Christianity in droves.  They are hungry for the hope it offers, but the concept of hope is alien to Americans who see Christianity the enemy.  They pull verses out of the context of the rest of the Bible and try to hold them up as messages of contempt.  I fear these people miss the point.

Christianity fails any time it gains an official capacity in government. It’s one thing to have a Christian king or president, quite another to have that leader promote his faith with his power.  Lead as a servant, sure.  Wield your power to grow your religion – NO!  Christians have made a lot of mistakes in America.  They have judged others based on a faulty understanding of what they think God wants.  They also took advantage of their majority and wrote laws favorable to themselves.  Now we are paying the price for that power.

During the Byzantine era, the Roman government encouraged its citizens to be Christians.  The emperor was Christian and he promoted Christianity in many ways, including paying bishops.  Many of the subjects of the emperor joined the church, not because they embraced Christianity, but because they wanted access to their ruler.  Others joined the clergy, not out of piety, but because it was a steady paycheck.  The Church may have prospered under these circumstances, but true Christianity has not.  The intentions may have been good, but the results were not.

Conversions which are coerced or forced in any manner are just wrong, period. A conversion to Christianity should be about faith, relationship and hope.  I do blame the Roman Catholic Church for much of the antipathy felt towards Christians.  It would take me thousands of words to discuss the atrocities of history, the distractions of Mariology and the veneration of saints, indulgences, Apolstolic Succession, the inerrancy of the pope, the practice of confession and absolution, transubstantiation, and so many other Catholic traditions which make me crazy.  However, all Christians are human first and we all screw up really badly.  Unfortunately, people judge God based on us, rather than judging us by God’s standards – and we all fall short of those.

As I stood in the plaza of Chichen Itza and considered the awful human sacrifices which were made there, it seemed to me anyone in that city should have been thrilled to learn of the God of the Bible. Instead of a stone god who expected sacrifices, the Spanish could have offered a Creator God, who sacrificed His own Son.  But the message was garbled, threats were made, abuses were committed and today many Mexicans are still caught up in a religion of works, rather than a joyful relationship with the Most High God.

These misconceptions about God, Jesus and the Bible still abound.  God is seen as the big killjoy of the world, because the message is still garbled.  The code of conduct outlined in the Bible is seen as a list of criteria to get into heaven, but that’s a total misrepresentation of Truth.  Shame on the religious people who promote this heresy.

I could go on and on, but I won’t.  Next week I will leave religion and move on to politics.

Accommodations, Attractions, DESTINATIONS, International, Road Trips, TRAVEL

Are You Kidding Me Right Now?

people at theater
Photo by Monica Silvestre on Pexels.com

TRAVEL THERE: THAT’S ENTERTAINMENT?

We arrived at the Seadust’s theater in time to score some pretty good seats and the show started promptly at the given time.  Things were looking up.

Audience Participation

Many of the live shows we attend when we’re traveling include audience participation.  It was probably most enjoyable when we were on our Nile cruise a few years before I started blogging.  There was a hysterical game with potatoes and I won a belly dancing contest on Gallabeya Night.  Bill is always the guy they choose out of the audience when belly dancers are involved and he frequently ends up on stage for other performances, too, like one of the shows on the Danube cruise.  Thankfully, the participants for this particular show had to volunteer.  Bill never volunteers.

Toto, we weren’t in Kansas anymore.  The MC did a silly skit where he and an assistant taught four guys a series of four schticks and then the MC called out the names of the schticks in quick succession, trying to catch the contestants performing the wrong schtick.  I was little surprised at the skit, because one of the schticks emulated a series of effeminate gestures.  I’ve seen things like that before, but in politically-correct America, it’s been a very long time ago.

The audience enjoyed the antics and would laugh particularly hard when the four burly guys would wave limp-wrist-ed at the audience and turn around with simpering steps to waggle their behind at us.  Apparently, politically incorrect is funny in Mexico.

Let’s Start the Show

After the Audience Participation skit was over, a series of Broadway songs were performed. The only song I actually remember was from Beauty and the Beast.  I remember it, because the costumes were beyond shopworn.  The yellow ballgown was thinner than cheap toilet paper and the Beast looked like he’d been roused out of bed for the scene.

Our favorite part of the show was a dance performed by a guy in, what I can only describe as a multi-limb-ed fabric-enclosed Slinky.  The Slinky costume was brightly colored and the dance very entertaining.

Then, yet another opportunity for audience participation came along and yes, another gay-bashing schtick was involved. At that point we had seen enough.  I sort of hate most political correctness, but obviously I don’t like gay-bashing.

Time to Call It a Night

Though it had been much more relaxing than the previous 24-hours, I’d had a pretty full schedule.  We’d be leaving the following day, but I’d have plenty of time to do my packing before our transportation showed up.  I’d stopped by the Best Day desk in the lobby right after breakfast and had made the arrangements.  We wouldn’t be leaving until almost one.

I did take the time to be sure our towels and swimsuits were hung up to dry, but soon I had on my jammies and was reading more of my novel about Mexico.  It was really beginning to get good.  However, I didn’t get very far, because I was soon drifting off to sleep.

Packing It All In

I woke up early and went to the large bathroom and dressing area to pack up our things.  It actually took longer than I expected, because Bill was up before I was through.  We went downstairs for breakfast at the buffet and I had one more errand I wanted to take care of.  I’d been shopping for a gift for my bestie throughout the trip and to my amazement, the best combination of selection, quality of merchandise and pricing was actually in the gift shop of the Seadust’s lobby.  I selected the item I thought she’d like and use most.  Then we returned upstairs to finish packing.

I felt like I was playing some sort of game, as usual.  Our big suitcase can hold an amazing amount of stuff, but if I filled it up, we’d need a crane to move it and we couldn’t afford the surcharge the airline would levy for overweight items.  On this trip, American allowed us each a carry-on.  So, I juggled our stuff, hoping to balance just the right amount of clothing and shoes with the toiletries to put the big bag under 50 pounds.  Then I had to make everything else fit into carry-ons.  I couldn’t use exactly the same formula as I had on the way to Cancun, because all of our swimming gear was still damp and couldn’t be packed in the big bag.  Eventually I was ready to go.

We’re almost through, except for the thoughts I’d been mulling over since the visit to Chichen Itza.  if you come back next week, I’ll try to make my meditations coherent.

Accommodations, DESTINATIONS, International, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, TRAVEL

The Big Ben Blues

Medium Rare Prime Rib?

TRAVEL THERE: DINNER AT THE SEADUST STEAKHOUSE

In the three days we were at the Seadust Cancun Family Resort, we didn’t have the opportunity to visit all the restaurants, but that’s OK.  You can tell us about them if you go.  Here’s what happened at the steakhouse.

Getting a Table Before the Show

I had finally discovered a spot in the lobby where a monitor showed the activities of the day.  Too bad I didn’t find it until our stay was almost over.  I learned the evening’s entertainment would be at 8:30 in the theater we’d discovered on the first day – a theater with no information anywhere about when it opened or what was playing.

That night’s show was a Broadway Revue, which could be bad or good.  The Broadway-themed show on the Vision of the Seas had been pretty awful.  Still, we didn’t want to miss it, so we went down fairly early to catch dinner before the show.

Bill suggested the Maison d’ Michelle, which might have been a better choice, but I wanted to try something new.  The Mexican food and the Sushi at the Buffet indicated those wouldn’t be the best options, so we gave the Big Ben Steakhouse a try.  According to the information I had been able to locate, it was supposed to be even more popular than the French Restaurant.

The restaurant was full when we arrived, so we put our names on the list.  Almost immediately a crowd of other patrons showed up to also get on the list.  Maybe this was going to be OK.  As the crowds grew, Bill began showing signs of antsy-ness.  Thankfully, called our name before he wandered off.

Here We Go

We were welcomed into the restaurant, shown a table in the center of the room and handed a couple of menus.  Tonight the only white wine available was a Chardonnay, so I opted for a Margarita. Foul ball!  Bill was thrilled to discover he could have a Cabernet Savignon.  When the waiter returned with the bottle, Bill encouraged him to go ahead and fill it up a little more.  Then he took his first sip.  Strike One!

If there were appetizers, I don’t remember them.  I ordered a cut of medium rare prime rib.  Bill chose bbq ribs.  Bill loves ribs.  He usually orders them when they are on the menu, even when steak is another option.  I would not have ordered ribs in an English-themed restaurant in Cancun, Mexico. 

Dinner was served.  Strike Two!  Did you see what they were calling a medium rare cut of prime rib.  It was more like an overcooked round steak.  I admit, I started giggling.  I would have preferred the duck chunks or the mediocre fried seafood, but I didn’t say a word.  I didn’t want to set Bill off on his catalog of disappointments.

Bill attacked his ribs and claimed they were pretty good.  He just didn’t like the sauce.  I thought it was funny that there was a sauce at all.  Sauces, gravy and condiments seemed to be in short supply.  The fact they’d prepared a sauce was amazing.  We’ll just call this a foul ball.

Dessert was paraded by in a glass-enclosed cart and I was disappointed to discover the coconut pie, which had been listed on the menu, was not among the available selections.  However, there was chocolate and I like chocolate.  The dessert was delivered.  I liked it well enough, but Bill called it a strike and wanted to go to the buffet to check out the selections there.

At the dreaded buffet Bill scored some acceptable dessert bites and once he’d topped off his meal with them,  we headed off for the theater.  Come back next week and enjoy the show.

Accommodations, Attractions, DESTINATIONS, International, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, TRAVEL

Acting Like Adults

TRAVEL THERE: ADULTS ONLY AT THE SEADUST

So, the food wasn’t great, but we were having a pretty good day at the Seadust Cancun Family Resort thanks to our friends at CTC Travel, especially Sandra Rubio.  Hanging out on our balcony, going to the gym, enjoying the beach and playing in the pool.  What’s not to like?  I could have happily gotten another margarita and stayed at the Main Pool, but I feel like I have a responsibility to my readers.  I couldn’t just leave the Seadust without reporting on the Adult Only Pools.  So off we went.

First You Have to Find It

If there is a map of the Seadust property, it’s not posted anywhere, there’s not one in the room and no one gave me one.  We were able to follow our noses and discover most of the attractions around the resort, but some we had to ask about and as for the casino, we didn’t care enough to bother asking.

We could see the Adult Only Pools, the ball courts and a tip of the Water Park from our room.  We found the Water Park our first night.  The pool and the courts we had to ask about.  With a little perseverance, we found the pools earlier in the day, but they were abandoned and we didn’t have on our swimwear.  After our kite and Main Pool adventures, we were properly dressed and interested in what we would find.

The adults only pools are actually one pool and two huge hot tubs.  One of those sit-in-the-water bars graces one end of the pool.  There is a sizable kiosk in the center of the section, which seems as if it would be a great place for a snack bar and grill or a place to sell excursions, but it was empty.  They had some of those double bed-like chaise lounges we enjoyed at Punta Cana, but there was no awning over them.

Then You Have to Overcome Your Inhibitions

Not to worry!  You don’t have to take off your clothes to enjoy the hot tubs, but if you have any germ phobias you might have a problem.  The first thing I noticed was a ring around the hot tub.  It didn’t look like it had been there since the last Ice Age or anything, but it did show a certain level of neglect on the part of the resort. 

When we arrived in the Adult area, the bartender was absent and a couple was trying to pour themselves a beer.  Bill was ready for a beer so he went over to help them.  I went ahead to test the waters and found them to be a very comfortable temperature.  As I went down the steps the bathtub ring caught my eye, but I decided to overlook it.  While I sat there, the bartender returned and caught Bill in the act.  How much trouble can you get for pouring yourself a drink at an all-inclusive hotel?  Apparently not much, because soon Bill and the couple returned.

As we enjoyed the hot tub we shared some conversation with the other couple.  They were Russian, but lived in America.  The woman had started her American residency in Oklahoma, but had moved further north when she married.  I don’t remember what state.

Along with a lot of stuff about their business, we discovered they were in their second week of vacation at the Seadust.  They were having a great time.  They thought the food was fine. They loved their room. They had kids, so they loved being able to abandon the young ones to the kids clubs and have some private vacation time. We told them how beautiful the beach was, how much we loved our balcony and pretty much smiled through their happy description of their time at the resort.  No use tarnishing their vacation with our culinary and architectural complaints.

So like beauty, enjoyment means different things to different people.  The other couple had to go get their kids and the sun was going down, so we headed back to the room to get cleaned up for dinner.  Yes, there are a couple of more meals before our time at the Seadust is over.  Come back next week and we’ll go try out the Big Ben Steakhouse.

Accommodations, Attractions, DESTINATIONS, International, Road Trips, TRAVEL

Aw, Go Fly a Kite!

TRAVEL THERE: SAND, WATER AND A BRIGHT BLUE SKY

So, pretty much anytime Bill and I head to a destination with a beach, I say, “Bill, don’t forget to pack your kite.”  His kite is a Windsurf Trainer he picked up when we lived in Pismo Beach, CA.  Flying kites was a popular pastime in Pismo and after destroying a more conventional kite, Bill graduated to the large training kite.  On some trips the wind is too strong or not strong enough or there’s really not enough room to fly the kite, but in Cancun, we flew our kite.

A Two Person Job

If the wind is forceful enough to fly the huge kite, then the flier is going to need someone to help them get it into the air.  When we flew the kite almost weekly in Pismo,  we had the logistics down pat and could get the kite up in a very short period of time.

In Cancun, we were rusty, so it took a little longer than usual for us to get the kite into the air.  We had one false start and then fumbled around so much, a hotel employee pitched in to help.  Bill was very frustrated with our efforts until he realized while we’d been fumbling around, the wind had changed direction.  We hadn’t been helping him wrong, we were just in the wrong place once the wind changed.

Bill was almost too frustrated to continue, but as we folded up our gear, a breath of wind teased the kite.  Bill speculated that just a little further down the beach might provide a better wind, because instead of tall hotels, the beach was lined with two-story condos.

Up in the Air

We trudged further down the beach and fairly soon the kite was in the air.  I’m so glad we gave it one more try.  Bill loves flying the kite, but not as much as I enjoy him doing one of the few truly carefree things he likes to do.  Bill has many things he enjoys.  Golf, for instance, but he’s serious about his game, so he’s not carefree.  When his kite goes up, Bill is transformed into this joyful boy I especially adore.  Oh how I wish he enjoyed more things with such gusto and abandon.

We kept the kite in the air for quite a long time.  We didn’t get the kind of audiences we usually end up with in American venues, but the hotel employee assigned to beach duty enjoyed our antics, as did a lady who stopped to video us.  She gave me the idea to get a video of Bill as he handled the kite.  I hope you like it!

Coming Back Down

Flying the kite is the fun part.  Getting it in the air and packing it up to go represent the price you pay for fun.  While the kite was in the air, Bill tried, as he has before, to get me to pilot the kite.  Just as in previous attempts, all I did was down the kite.  The fun was over.  It was Margarita time.  We packed up and headed back to the Seadust.

As we climbed the stairs to the resort’s main pool, I stopped by the bar for a Margarita, while Bill found a pair of chaise lounges.  The water was great and we had fun.  Once out, I sipped on my Margarita and Bill opted for a tequila shot with a beer.

We had one more area we wanted to enjoy before the sun was down. so we headed off to adult pool we’d found earlier in the day.  Come back next week and take a dip with us.

Accommodations, DESTINATIONS, International, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, TRAVEL

Back to the Seadust Buffet

The Infamous Buffet

TRAVEL THERE: THE RUDEST WOMAN IN MEXICO

As If We Didn’t Already Hate the Buffet

So why did we hate the Seadust buffet?  Well, it had a myriad of choices for every meal, but somehow few of them were anything we were interested in.  What’s more when we finally did pick out something to eat, it was at best mediocre.  The way some people filled up there plates, cleaned them and then went back for more and more and more, we know there were people who like the food, but we didn’t.

We also resented the tiny plastic cups provided for cold beverages – we’re talking juice glasses.  By the time you got a little ice, there was barely room for three good sups of soda.  There was also a tap for beer, but the glass barely held the head of foam, much less providing enough room for a reasonable serving.

Locating a salt shaker was a true challenge and pepper?  HA!  What pepper!

In an effort to be efficient, they whipped up your plate the moment you hesitated in the consumption of your food.  Therefore, one of us had to stay at the table at all times or the food we’d gone to so much trouble to pick out would be picked up.  Since you had to keep going back and forth to get more soda or beer, we didn’t spend much time actually eating together.

How Rude!

The final nail in the buffet coffin was the grill chef at this particular meal.  I decided to try a hamburger, freshly cooked at the grill.  At the grill window, there was a selection of entrees in pans from which to serve yourself, as well as a small refrigerated case with options you could order.

The grill chef was involved with grilling what looked like a couple of large pork loins, so I waited patiently, hoping I could catch her eye.  As I waited, I looked at the small cards defining the offerings in the case, which were in both Spanish and English.  In case you didn’t know, “hamburguesa” is Spanish for “hamburger” and “hot dog” is Spanish for “hot dog.” 

You know how it is when someone is trying to ignore you and hoping you will go away.  I can’t say that I blame the woman.  It’s not like she was the only outlet for food in the room and she was busy flipping the pork.  However, I really wanted that burger.

When she finally gave up and darted a glance at me, I smiled and said, “Hamburger, please?”  A fire flew into her eyes and disgust landed on her pursed lips.  “Espanol,” she demanded with a sneer.  I’m sure I looked a bit gobsmacked as I glanced at the card in the case to remind myself of the syllable which would make my request Spanish rather than English.  I made an effort to wrap my mouth around the Spanish, which she responded to with a snarky correction of my pitiful pronunciation.  She was absolutely gleeful to have the opportunity to do that.

I want you to know this rude lady was the only person who treated me this way throughout the entire trip.  I possess a very pitiful Spanish vocabulary for someone who lives in Texas and passed two semesters of high school Spanish.  I’m pretty good with signage and menus, but conversationally I’m a mess.  Still, I try to communicate in Spanish as much as I can.  I ask for cerveza and mantiquilla, instead of beer and butter.  I say por favor and gracias, instead of your welcome and thank you.  I greet people with hola que tal and if they respond with bueno y tu, then I struggle to come up with a word like magnifico.

This woman thought she was having one up on a stupid Americano.  She didn’t realize I was a blogger with over 2500 followers on various social sites or over 200,000 readers on Trip Advisor.  If you work in the public eye, you don’t know either.  That pain in the neck you’re waiting on might just be a social media maven who can ruin your online reputation.  As it is, I won’t be giving Trip Advisor a glowing report about the Seadust, but I’m also not going pick out this lady and make a big deal about her.  Who knows?  Maybe she was just having a bad day and too many of her other fellow employees worked really hard to make me have a good time.

Besides, I was about to go out to the beach and have a good time.  Come along with me next week.