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, 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.

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

This Is an Italian Restaurant?

TRAVEL THERE: SEADUST’S LIGHTHOUSE RESTAURANT

Hungry, thirsty and exhausted we had no desire to visit the room before having dinner.  Seadust’s website promised an Italian restaurant with a focus on seafood and that sounded good to us, but we couldn’t remember the name of it.  The only restaurant with a lobster tank in it was The Lighthouse, but the pirate-themed decor left us wondering what made it  Italian.

There is a Small Wait

It was about 8:30 and all the restaurants were busy.  The Lighthouse had about a 20 minute wait, so we left our name on the list and made the rounds of the area to see if anything else looked more promising.

  • The Buffet held no interest for us.
  • Big Ben, the steakhouse had an even longer wait than The Lighthouse.
  • Manhattan was the Seadust’s version of a NY Deli, which didn’t sound like what we wanted.
  • Samurai, the Sushi joint was closed for the evening.
  • El Maguey, was a Mexican restaurant and we’d already had a Mexican meal for lunch.
  • The poolside snack bar was closed.
  • We’d been at Maison d’ Michelle the night before and I was afraid of being served another helping of duck chunks, regardless of what I ordered.
  • The only other venue for food was a breakfast place for “Club” members.  It wasn’t breakfast time and we weren’t Club members, whatever that entailed.

That journey ate up about half our waiting time, so we made our way over to the bar we had visited the night before.  We grabbed some wine and cheese to hold us over until the The Lighthouse could seat us.

The Lobster Tank and Other Disappointments

Front and center in The Lighthouse is a lobster tank, announcing the seafood opportunities awaiting its patrons, but like the wines offered by the previous day’s supercilious sommolier, a significant surcharge accompanied the enjoyment of the crustaceans.  First strike!

The menu provided the answer to why the restaurant thought it was an Italian place, but you really had to read between the lines of the  poor translation to figure that out.  Nothing really sounded like what we imagined we might be served, but we settled on some choices.  Bill picked some kind of fish and I went with some fried seafood.  I’ve learned when the menu is a little shaky, go for either the mixed grill or something fried.  My dish was kind of a deep fried mixed grill but it would have to do.  This was more like a foul ball, rather than a strike.

Instead of appetizers, The Lighthouse offers a “salad bar.”  OK.  I went to check it out, because Bill didn’t want a salad.  There was a bowl of greens, but most of the choices on the “salad” bar were cold seafood options – large prawns, crab claws and other selections.  I came back to the table with my prawns and crab, which inspired Bill to try the prawns.  Strike two!  The prawns were overcooked and the meat of the crab claw did not justify the extreme measures required to get to it.  I’ve eaten crab claws my whole life.  I had never faced an enemy claw quite like these.  The shell of the crab was like a concrete casing and after you labored to get to the meat, it wasn’t very good.

The Iberostar

Our entrees arrived and it was another foul ball.  Mine was adequate.  You can get better at the Golden Corral, but I was hungry and it was edible.  I don’t think Bill’s entree could even be called adequate, but he did try to eat it.  All the while, Bill was Googling the Iberostar and the other accommodations in the Hotel Zone.  He decided then and there that all-inclusive would no longer be in his vocabulary!

To finish the meal, there was a dessert bar. Strike three. It did have desserts, but nothing we couldn’t have gotten our hands on in the dreaded buffet.  I chose a few small items, but Bill walked away.  He walked right over to the Maison d’Michelle and arranged for us to have dessert there.  He impatiently waited for me to finish the little tarts I’d picked up and then we revisited the duck chunk restaurant.  They served us two desserts and Bill ate both.

I was exhausted.  I was also sick and tired of hearing about the shortcomings of our resort.  Just because I didn’t waste my energy cataloging the irritants didn’t mean I was oblivious to them, but it also didn’t mean that I had to be disgusted with the whole vacation.  I could still have fun.  We returned to the room and I went directly to bed.  Things did get better the next day, but unfortunately, not in the restaurants.  Come back next week and see what I mean.

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

Many Refreshing Experiences

TRAVEL THERE: A BUFFET AND A SWIM

For lunch we returned to our shopping experience venue, but this time we only had enough time to take advantage of a delightful buffet.  The buffet offered both Mexican and International selections.

Yummy for Your Tummy

We hit the Mexican buffet first and it was delicious.  Rice, refried beans, tacos and other favorites from the native cuisine.  It beat the Seadust all to heck.  Bill in particular loved a chicken-rich soup they served.  The international-ness of the International offerings was somewhat questionable.  They had tortilla chips covered in Cheez-Whiz, a sort of Mexican casserole and fajitas.  They also offered hamburgers, which I guess is what made it international.  I found it amusing and enjoyed the irony of ballpark nachos in the middle of the Yucatan peninsula.  They also had Huevos Ranchero, which I didn’t try, because I don’t do eggs, but Bill did and he said they were good.

As we ate our generous lunch a trio of ladies, dressed in the gorgeous embroidered dresses of the region, performed traditional dances for us, including the dance with the tray of beer bottles on their head.  It was a nice touch to a day which had already been wonderful.

There was a beautiful presentation of fruit, a refrigerator of gelatin and other chilled desserts, as well as hand-scooped ice cream cones.  Bill sampled the fruit and we both tried the watermelon ice cream.  Time for a quick potty stop was the only other thing we had time for.

Swimming in the Cenote

Our next stop was the Il Kill Cenote. I confess I am not much of a swimmer.  There was a time in my life when I had passed a Red Cross life-saving course and taught swim lessons.  That was a very long time ago.  Nowadays, I lounge by the pool and occasionally take a stroll through the shallow end.  I am almost embarrassed to confess I usually don’t even care that I have completely forgotten my swimming skills.  I am perfectly happy on the side of the pool.  However, on this particular day, I was somewhat envious of those who climbed down to the water’s edge and swam in the cenote.

Bill was one of those people. After we took a cursory stroll around the grounds, he changed into his swim trunks in the dressing room and showered off to protect the pristine waters of the cenote.  I climbed part of the way down to the cenote with him, so I would have a good vantage point from which to observe his brave swim in the virtually bottomless pool. 

When he reached the pool, he had three choices for entering the water: terrifying, less terrifying and sedate.  One glance at the terrifying height of the cliff from which many people dove told him that was not where he wanted to go.  It was quite a drop from where he was standing and he’s past proving anything to anyone.  The sedate route was set of wooden stairs, near a rope across the water.  Many people slipped into the water from the relative safety of the stairs and grabbed the line rather than actually swimming in the cenote.  That was a little bit too tame.

So Bill watched a few people dive into the cenote to see how they fared.  When they cleared the area in front of him, he dove in.  Seconds passed between his brave dive and the moment his head bobbed above the water.  I was sure he’d reappear, but I held my breath with him nonetheless.  He swam over to the rope and looked for me at the level above, but he chose the wrong me.

I smirked from the corner I’d chosen for observation, as he waved in vain to a woman who did not know him.  When we reunited after his swim he confessed he’d been disappointed his greeting had not been returned and he was glad to know I’d watched him in the water.

Almost as soon as Bill had back on his street clothes, it was time to get on the bus.  It was late afternoon as we headed back to Cancun.  I settled down in my seat and pulled out my book.  Come back next week as we re-enter to city of Cancun and return to our hotel.

Architecture, ART, Attractions, DESTINATIONS, International, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, Shopping, TRAVEL

Visiting Chichen Itza

The Famous Pyramid of Chichen Itza

TRAVEL THERE: A VERY LONG DAY

Our visit to Chichen Itza was a very long day and there is no way I can cover all of it in one post, so I’ll start with the logistics of the day and we’ll work from there.

Finally Chichen Itza

Though Chichen Itza has always been at the top of my Yucatan Wish List, I didn’t make it either of the other two times we visited the area.  Both of our previous visits have been via cruise ship to the port of Progresso and Chichen Itza is significantly inland from there, so we chose more accessible Mayan sites.

The first time we visited the ruins at Dzibilchaltan and it was a particularly enjoyable shore excursion, complete with lunch and a rodeo.  The archaeological site was interesting and there was a wonderful museum.  Last time we went to Xcampo.  It was a smaller site, but still interesting.  So, we’re getting pretty knowledgeable about the Mayans, but nothing can prepare you for Chichen ItzaIt is both marvelous and horrid.

Up Early  & Out Late

The first thing the guidebook I bought warned me about Chichen Itza was to avoid excursions from Cancun, because so much time is spent in transit.  Well, I appreciated the advice and understood the reasoning, but this was it.  If I didn’t go this time, chances are I might never again get the opportunity.

As we shopped excursions I saw two versions of the trip over and over.  Either you had to be on a bus by 4 AM or you left between 7 and 8.  The problem I discovered however, was that when you took later tours, you were in Chichen Itza during the hottest part of the afternoon, because all the tours stopped for lunch before going to the site.

Then Sandra Rubio, my travel agent at CTC Travel turned me on to ShoreTrips.com and they had a package called the Chichen Itza Plus.  This version of the trip would pick us up between 7 and 8, but we’d go to the site before lunch.  SOLD!

Since we were among the first to be picked up, we had to be in the lobby at 7:10.  When we got there after a quick visit to the breakfast buffet, they were waiting for us.  It was quite the ordeal to get out of town though.  The bus they picked us up in was bigger than the airport transport vans, but not as big as the full-sized tour buses.  We stopped at several hotels in the smaller bus and then traded to the big bus, but even then we had many more stops to make.

All that driving took a long time, but it was interesting to drive around and see other parts of Cancun.  I’d say it was about nine when we finally headed to Cancun.  They served a small breakfast – pastries, coffee and orange juice.  We were glad we’d hit the resort’s buffet.

The drive to Chichen Itza was about an hour and a half.  They stopped off at a shopping opportunity to use the restroom.  I was focused on sightseeing, not shopping, so they didn’t get to sell me anything.  Another short drive took us to the archaeological site – which I’ll go into in detail later.

After a couple of hours at the site, we went back to the shopping opportunity to have a very nice buffet lunch.  In my opinion, they would have gotten a lot more shopping out of me if they’d have let me use the restroom at Chichen Itza and given me shopping time after lunch.

Then, after lunch we made another short drive to Ik Kil Cenote.  I’ll also tell you more about that in a later blog, but it was a great way to end the day.  Well, the day wasn’t quite over.  We still had to drive back to Cancun, which seemed to take forever in the dark.

As we neared Cancun, the lights inside the bus switched on, a recorded version of “Tequila” was played on the loudspeaker and one of our guides had donned a wild get-up that I supposed was intended to be Mayan.  They served shots of tequila to anyone who wanted one, but right then it didn’t even sound good to me.  I was whupped.

It seemed like midnight when we got to the hotel, but I think it was only about 8:30.  Come back next week and I’ll tell you about our time in Chichen Itza.

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

Late Night at the SeaDust

TRAVEL THERE: AFTER DINNER ACTIVITIES

Dinner at the Maison de Michelle had been a little disappointing.  We were still a tad bit hungry and one more glass of wine seemed like just the ticket.  We were able to take care of both those problems.

Wine and Cheese Delight

Right outside Michelle’s was a bar and voila, they had a buffet with cheese and baguettes.  While I chose an assortment of cheeses to top off the meal, Bill ordered another round of drinks.  Yes, they served Savignon Blanc and Merlot in champagne flutes, but who are we to complain?

While we weren’t thrilled with everything we were experiencing, we weren’t suffering too much either.  At this point of the trip we chose to giggle about the chunks of duck and made plans to try another restaurant the following evening.  They had eleven after all!

Like our stroll on the beach and the poolside sunset, our after dinner drinks with cheese were very enjoyable.  We really only had one concern.  When we’d gone upstairs to change clothes, we discovered our balcony was lit up like Alcatraz.  The huge balcony had a big hot tub and we were hoping to enjoy it, but who wanted to relax under such a bright light and none of the switches in the room turned off the exterior lights.

Bill had stopped by the guest services desk to ask about the lights and they assured us the lights would be automatically turned off sometime between 10 and 11.  We also asked what time they were turned back on.  That was something no one knew.  We decided we were tired and even though it wasn’t 11 yet, we were going to go back to the room.

Hitting the Hot Tub

Our absolute favorite thing at the Seadust was the balcony.  When we first arrived, the curtains were closed, which was a mistake on their part.  They were hiding the best part!

The Cancun Hotel Zone is on a thin strip of land just east of Cancun proper.  From our room, we had a great view.  We could see the adult pool area (which we hadn’t figured out how to get to, yet) the main road connecting all the hotels, a golf course, the body of water which separated the hotel strip from the mainland and yes, the city of Cancun.  Yep, it was a pretty marvelous view.

When we got to the room after dinner, the balcony lights were still bright.  I suggested I get our things stowed away, while he filled the hot tub.  When we finished our chores the lights were still bright, but Bill was eager for a little hot tub action.  So, he rigged up a wall with some towels and assured me that since the hot tub was in the corner we’d have plenty of privacy.  Thankfully, that’s just about when the lights decided to go out, so we were able to fully enjoy our time in the hot tub.

Thoroughly relaxed, we drained the hot tub and headed to bed.  We had to be on our way to Chichen Itza just after seven the next morning.  Please come back next week and join us.

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

La Maison de Michelle

TRAVEL THERE: A LITTLE BIT OF FRANCE AT THE SEADUST

We capped off our discovery tour of the resort by making our way to the gallery of restaurants just off the lobby.  Most of the culinary options line this mall and La Maison de Michelle is a headliner.  We strolled over and a very distressed lady let us know there was a dress code.  We were fine with that and she was much relieved.  We changed clothes and were soon presenting ourselves again for entry.

We Could Have Done Without the Sales Pitch

When we were seated, a very self-important little man came to inform us he was the manager and sommelier.  He quickly engaged Bill in a conversation about the wine for dinner.  I probably had the same look on my face I had when the hustler at the airport was trying to get us to his timeshare.  I think they were brothers.  Both were soon disappointed.  Bill when he saw the prices on the wine list and the sommelier when he figured out we wanted the free stuff.

For free, the red was merlot and white was savignon blanc.  Neither was outstanding, but they would have tasted much better without the swarmy sales pitch.  Once we opted for the house wine, we never saw our sommelier again.

What we did get was this very strange rack to hang my purse on.  That was a real first!  I had a teeny bag I would have happily hung on the back of the chair  or thrown on the floor, but not at the Maison de Michelle, apparently

So What to Eat

The place was losing points fast when the menus appeared.  Get this, the menus were tablet based, complete with pictures of each entree.  I’ve seen this before and it’s not my favorite type of menu, but like the light show around the pool, I gave them points for trying.

For starters, Bill chose an asparagus salad and I opted for escargot.  We weren’t blown away by our choices.  Bill said the asparagus was good, but really needed some sort of dressing.  The cute dots didn’t exactly count.  I knew my escargot was not going to be the classic presentation I love so much, but I had high hopes that I would like it.  I didn’t hate it, but the escargot was tough and should have been sauteed in something, not just heated up.  Not up to our hopes, but fair enough to hope the entree would be better.

Our entrees didn’t improve the situation.  Bill had a steak and it was OK.  I had ordered lamb chops, which somehow became duck.  There was such a stew when I pointed out their mistake I decided to go ahead and eat the darned duck chunks.  They offered to replace it, but I had a sneaky suspicion that they didn’t have any lamb or it was sub-par and they didn’t want to serve it.  Even if there was some language issues, lamb doesn’t sound much like duck.  Like Bill’s, mine was OK, but just OK.

 Thank Goodness for Dessert

The meal did have a redeeming event called dessert.  I had something with chocolate mousse in the description and Bill has no idea what his was called, but they were great.  We relished every bite of the meal topper.

As we finished up the meal, we looked around the restaurant and were mostly pleased by what we saw, even if the meal had been somewhat disappointing.  The waiting area was too dark and then there was an odd empty spot that made no sense, but the carpet, lighting furniture and decor were lovely.

 

Accommodations, DESTINATIONS, International, Restaurants & Bars, TRAVEL

A Difference of Opinion

TRAVEL THERE: TRAVEL FROM TWO DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES

I’m home from Cancun.  My friends at CTC Travel gave me a stay at Seadust Cancun Family Resort.  Not like they sent me there on an assignment, more like a favor.  Someone else had won the trip at the CTC Travel Show in January and had never gone.  The trip needed to be used by the end of the year or it would be forfeited.  Bill and I are fortunate to have some flexibility in our schedule and our budget, so flying off to Cancun on short notice was not a hardship.  After we got there a difference of opinion arose.  Let me tell you about it.

How Do You Look at Life?

I believe, sincerely, that how much you enjoy life depends on how you look at it.  Do you start at zero and enjoy grading up or do you start at 100% and nitpick your way down? That philosophy extends to travel, but a problem arises, because Bill and I look at travel from opposite ends of the scale.

I want to go anywhere at anytime.  For the pleasure of going, seeing and experiencing, I’m perfectly willing to be inconvenienced.  I start at zero and am pleasantly surprised by what’s good.  Quite frankly, Bill likes the comforts of home.  A trip needs to give him a compelling reason to be there.  He hates to be captured by mediocrity. He starts with high expectations and grieves over the loss of every point.

We lived through mediocrity in February with the Royal Caribbean Cruise out of Galveston.  We were there to have a good time, but everywhere we turned it was like they were trying to keep us from enjoying ourselves.  Bad embarkation buffet, bad sail-away, bad internet, bad service, really bad dinner, even worse entertainment and then bad food the entire rest of the trip.   We managed to avoid being miserable through our own efforts, but barely.  Bill, bless his heart couldn’t keep from pointing out every disappointment, while I tried to ignore them.

Club Med Punta Cana saved us.  If it hadn’t been good, Bill might have given up traveling altogether.  Punta Cana wasn’t perfect, but it was good enough and Bill had a blast.  So, when we had a chance to do another all-inclusive in Cancun.  Why not?  Bill was ready to re-live the Club Med experience.

How This Trip Played Out

Bill arrived in Cancun happy as a clam at high tide.  I had purposely avoided begging him to pack, which meant he’d gotten around to it at about 10 PM the night before we left.  Better me crazy than him, right?  The whole air travel experience went well.  No $120 Spirit surprises at check-in.  No hassles at security.  Chik-fi-la for breakfast.  Comfortable flight.  The luggage arrived when we did and customs was a breeze.  So far so good.  Thank you American Airlines.

Then it started.  I’d warned him of the hustlers in the airport.  I’d read him the notice from Best Day, which was providing our transportation.  Still, the hustlers managed to drag him over to a kiosk and tried to get him to visit a time share.  We left the area unscathed, but disgusted.

Due to some misinformation from the “helpful” hustler, we had a little problem finding Best Day, but that was our fault not Best Day’s.  They’d warned us.  We hadn’t been fed on the plane, so Bill was getting hungry.  Standing in the hot sun to get on our shared ride, Mr. Bill was peckish, but cooperative. 

We were lucky enough to be some of the first folks out of the van, but then there was the whole tipping thing.  The arrival lobby was open-air, making Mr. Bill hotter and hungrier, but he did get a room upgrade, so that made him happy.

He wanted to go directly to the buffet, but I suggested we at least find our room and freshen up.  The elevator was a sauna and slower than molasses.  I should have let him go to the buffet.  The elevator-disguised-as-an-oven dumped us on the 6th floor where the light fixtures, which had the room numbers on them, were so creative was impossible to tell which room was 606.  We had to figure it out by a process of elimination.

There was one benefit to waiting on the luggage.  Mr. Hot and Hungry was able to change into a cooler outfit.  As soon as that happened we were off to the buffet, which unfortunately was about to close.  One trip around the buffet restaurant told us everything we needed to know and it wasn’t good news.

The Seadust Cancun Family Resort ain’t no Club Med Punta.  I think Bill might have turned around and left right that minute if it weren’t for me.  Sure, he would have had to pay a fee for changing his flight, but he could have gone home.  However,  I was excited about getting to see Chichen Itza the next day – and he loves me.  Maybe dinner would be better – right?

Well, come back next week and find out!

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

Frances is Found

TRAVEL BUG TALES: AN ANTI-CLIMATIC REUNION

So the phone rings and it’s Frances.  She was so nonchalant you would have thought she was calling from the lobby.  She’d gotten word in town that someone was missing out at the resort and she figured out it was her.  She was headed back now and we were to be sure the boat didn’t leave with out her.  We were taking a sail on a catamaran and having lunch on a deserted island.

Best Activity of the Trip

Yep, Frances is the one adjusting her sunglasses.  She sashayed into the resort and onto the boat like she’d been with us all the time.  Most of us know that feeling of never having wanted to see someone quite so much and also wanting to kill them at the same time.

The catamaran sail was lovely.  The water was beautiful and the weather perfect.  We sailed to an abandoned beach and hung out on the sand while locals barbecued fish for us.  I avoided baby oil and there wasn’t much wind.  The meal was good and soon we were headed back to the resort.

A little change in itinerary would have improved my opinion of this trip.  The first night should have been the Live Show, with dancers, swords and flame.  That would have gotten us off on the right foot.  Then we should have taken the catamaran and had our picnic.  What a great introduction to the Bahamas!  My salt water showers would have been much more bearable.

Farewell Party

I have no idea whether our final evening was an official event or just something cooked up among us.  The bar was serving conch balls for appetizers and we never made it to the buffet.

And remember the all-inclusive thing?  Well, all that was included on that evening was the first drink.  Even though we were in the bar for hours on end, we could never get a second one.  Instead we made trips out to the pool and communed with the coconut rum crowd or poured our coins in the Heineken beer vending machines.  The rumor existed that someone in the crowd had found a machine that would dispense the beer without the coin, but I can’t say for sure.

I was ready to go.  Though we’d all come to the party together, when I’d finally had enough, both Frances and Debbie were missing.  Someone invited me out for a walk on the beach, but fresh air was not what they wanted.  No love connection was made.

Instead, I went to my room, but I couldn’t get in.  Someone else had made a love connection and they were using the chain lock to keep me out.  Now I was just mad.  This had been no tropical paradise for me and I just wanted to go to to bed, which was currently being used by someone else.

While $219 hadn’t been a lot of money, even in those days, I felt as if it were money down the drain – money I could have used for something else.  I even resented the quarters I’d put into the slot machine.  Someone offered me the opportunity to sleep on their couch, but I wanted my pjs and my toothbrush and I wanted to take out my contacts.

There had been fun moments, but they’d all been overshadowed by disappointment.  The memory of the night at the local club had been compromised by the trick the limo drivers pulled on us.  The sandy beach experience had sidelined me.  The casino had been a bore.  My almost love connection had been washed out by a storm.  The delicious planter-punch-drenched meal was marred by my friend’s disappearance, that went on for entirely too long.  The only really entertaining time had been the sail and picnic, but just a few hours later I was sitting alone fighting tears.

I went back to my room and banged on the door.  I negotiated a pass-through to our room’s balcony.  Soon my friend and her latest romantic interest joined me there – as if I wanted their company.  Then my other roommate showed up.  I’ll leave the identities vague to protect the guilty.  Thank goodness we were leaving the next day.  I couldn’t wait to get out of there.

I’ll head home next week.  Don’t miss the flight!  I’ll see you then.