ART, Attractions, DESTINATIONS, Fashion, Museums, Music, Performing Arts, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, Shopping, TRAVEL, United States

Phoenix Friday Art Walk

TRAVEL THERE: WILD & CRAZY ART EVENT

Still going with the flow, I was ready to sacrifice the Phoenix Friday Art Walk (#phxfridays) for the sake of harmony, but Bill proved he was up for it.  We changed into something more casual and headed for downtown Phoenix.  By the time we arrived, things were going strong.  The Phoenix Museum of Art seemed to be the epicenter of activity, but parking there was an impossibility, so we began to look for something else.  We did find an office building that allowed us to park and it really wasn’t far from the museum, but we were like the only people parking there.  Worse case scenario, it was a rent car and none of our belongings were in it, so if they stole it, fine!

Joining the Hordes

We discovered we were about a block from the museum, which meant we were soon part of the insanity of Art Walk.  We noted most of the participants were decades younger than us, but we did not let that deter us from our opportunity for adventure.  The museum, which has free admission on Fridays and was the focus of my attention, had ridiculous lines, so with little in the way of info, we hopped aboard one of the very full free trolleys and we were off into another world.

Both sides of the street were filled with revelers and the noise level was wild.  Bill pulled me off the trolley and we tried to get our bearings, but it was sort of what I think an acid trip might be similar to.  We were sharing the crowded sidewalk with people who didn’t look like us.  Hair was in every shape and color, except what we might consider normal.  Everyone was tattooed and pierced.  They wore clothes I’d probably throw away if I found them in my closet.  There was pushing and shoving in every direction, but there was no clear indication of which way one should head.

I did mention the noise, right?  It was Bill who pointed out, that in the immediate area where we were standing, five different bands were vying for the crowd’s attention.  While we were standing next to five bands, if we looked in any directions, we could see, not far down the sidewalk, crowds flowed around even more bands.  The result, cacophony. 

Just about that time, we both needed to visit restroom facilities and by some odd piece of luck we got into a nearby restaurant with minimal hassle.  I think the doorman took pity on the senior citizens lost among the millennials.  We took care of business and made our way out to the street, heading away from the five bands.  We found a sort of alley with various booths set up along the way.  The mob seemed less frenetic here and the noise of the various bands was tolerable.  We began to stroll along.

Abandoning the Hordes   

Though spread more thinly, the denizens of this art vendor alley were of the dread-locked, tattooed and pierced variety of the five band locale.  While they looked scary to us, they did seem to be minding their own business, so we entertained ourselves by looking in on the booths.  There were some artists selling their wares – nothing we’d hang on our walls, but interesting.  The most readily available merchandise seemed to be CBD oil, plus everything and anything made out of hemp.  Bill was sure he could smell “hemp”smoke wafting above the crowd.

After about a block, we ran out of booths and it began to look like an area senior citizens would not be welcome or safe, so we made a U-turn and visited the booths on the other side of the alley.  When we returned to the sidewalk, a band made of pre-teenagers and their parents, had begun to play headbanger/punk rock (?) at a remarkable volume.  Bill wondered what the best way back to the car was.  I pointed to a landmark on the skyline and we decided to walk back, instead of trying to find another trolley.

We crossed the street and discovered,what had been an alley on the other side, turned into more of a street.  On the street, vendors only took up one side, but they seemed to have pretty much the same merchandise as the previous guys.  On the other side of the street was a series of restaurants with outdoor seating – only all patrons looked as if they belonged to biker gangs, so we weren’t at all tempted to sit down for a respite, even though sitting down for a drink sounded like the perfect thing to do.

We kept our eye on the red neon sign we’d recognized earlier and when the street made an abrupt left, we headed right through what seemed to be a park.  The art you see on this page was displayed throughout the area and it is huge.  After the park was the library.  We could no longer see our landmark, but I had my bearings and continued that way.

Suddenly, we were back at the art museum and the lines had disappeared.  Our visit was delayed, but I was going to get to take advantage of the free admission.  Come back next week and enjoy the museum with us.

 

Architecture, ART, Attractions, Decorative Arts, DESTINATIONS, Fashion, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, Shopping, TRAVEL, United States

Breakfast Snooze and Cruise

TRAVEL THERE: SNOOZE, THE QUARTER & MORE

The next morning gave us the chance to try yet another breakfast place recommended by the Phoenix New Times: Snooze, an AM Eatery.  We visited the location at the Kierland Commons.  We totally endorse the New Times choice.  There are multiple locations in Scottsdale and Phoenix so don’t miss it.

Scottsdale Quarter

The Quarter imagines itself to be superior to its “Commons” cousin across the street.  The Commons is upscale.  The Quarter endeavors one ups-manship.

Though the Quarter is just across the street from the Commons, it’s a busy thoroughfare that separates them, so we moved our rental Jeep to a closer position.

One of the anchor stores is a huge, monolithic gray block.  Upon exploration, we discovered it was a Restoration Hardware showroom.  You don’t buy anything there and load it up in your car.  You lounge around on ginormous furniture and let gracious salesladies talk you into letting go of enormous amounts of money.

We confess, we’re not your basic Restoration Hardware customers, so we didn’t realize they had transitioned into this showroom format over the stores we’d visited in the past.  However, we had a lovely time hanging out there.  The restrooms were spectacular!

One of those gracious salesladies chatted us up about their transition to showroom and said some of their showrooms actually included a sort of restaurant, where they hosted dinners.  One imagines exactly how much money you’d have to invest in Restoration Hardware goods to be hosted in their dining room.  For all we know, common people like us might be able to go in there and pay for our meals, but we got the idea that wasn’t the point.   

She also said they had a surprise coming to Dallas.  I don’t know how much of a surprise it is, since a June 2019 edition of The Dallas Morning News announces the location with a restaurant is coming.  However, a quick look at their website doesn’t mention the potential restaurant, so one wonders if it is a victim of Covid.

The Quarter Beyond RH

The RH was lovely and I’m guessing we spent an hour enjoying their store.  It was a lazy sort of morning – a filler before what was to come next.  I was happy as a lark, because later in the day, we had reservations for Afternoon Tea at the Phoenician Resort.  In the meantime, I was perfectly content to wander around the Quarter.

Though the Quarter presented itself as an upgrade to the Commons, I noticed they had more in the way of empty retail spaces than their cousin.  The RH showroom is the only store we actually wandered into, but we did stroll throughout the complex, noting a number of restaurants we’d love to try out.

This is sort of where we started talking about our next trip to AZ and saying things to suggest that while we wouldn’t have time for everything on this particular visit, we’d be back to the Greater Phoenix Area sooner rather than later.

Enjoy the pictures below of the Quarter.  It was a lovely development and I hope it thrives through Covid and will actually be there next time we go to the area.  After taking the pictures, we had to get back to the resort and get all dressed up for the afternoon activity.  Come back next week for tea.

 

 

DESTINATIONS, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, Shopping, TRAVEL, United States

Head to NORTH Hungry Person

TRAVEL THERE: FOODIE FUN

Well, there we were in Scottsdale, running around the Kierland Commons like 9 PM is the usual time we head out to dinner.  Only it’s not.  We’ve just crashed a private party at Anticus and now we’re going to have dinner.  Not our usual travel experience, at all, but I’ll take it.

NORTH Italia

It’s hard to go wrong with us if you are serving Italian.  At NORTH, there were no missteps and we fell in love.

We were greeted at the door by a charming, attractive hostess.  She led us to a table with a great vantage point.  We could see the kitchen peeking through the stacked dishes and hanging pots.  We could see almost the whole restaurant and I could even see the action on the street from my side of the table.

Our waiter was a nice guy who was ready and willing to chat about the menu.  I know we had delicious crusty bread with olive oil, but I forget what the entree was.  We couldn’t have gone wrong if we wanted to.  All around us we saw delightful servings of Italian food and people were obviously thrilled with what they were eating.  However, I can’t remember exactly what we had.  

We’d had enough free wine to be very relaxed and the service was also VERY relaxed, but that’s not a complaint.  The place was busy and we were having a great time.  

NORTH in Dallas

I interrupt this travelogue to tell you something exciting.  We may have discovered NORTH in Scottsdale, but on a recent ramble through Uptown Dallas, we found out there’s a NORTH here, too.  Our Sunday afternoon goal was to find a rooftop bar and pretend the pandemic wasn’t boring us to death.  Instead, we found a sort of food mall tucked on the second story of a high rise and there it was, a NORTH!  Plan A was ditched and we immediately made our way to their patio seating.  Great afternoon! 

Meanwhile, Back in Scottsdale

Sorry, about that!  I just couldn’t resist.  We loved our Scottsdale visit to NORTH and are so happy it’s available to us here in Dallas.  We also found out there is one in Plano.  So, we’re happy about that, but back to Scottsdale.

At the end of the meal we were happy we had a bit of a stroll back to our parking spot and that was a good thing.  The Commons was still hopping.  Stylishly dressed patrons of all ages strolled back and forth and in and out of local hangouts.  The most popular place was Shake Shake which had a sort of backyard scene as their front yard.  Happy families eating burgers and sipping shakes dominated the area.

We found our car and headed back to the Westin.  In spite of my nap I was seriously ready for bed.  The next day promised to provide the highlight of my travels, but it would be later in the day.  Come next week week and see how we spent the next morning. 

 

ART, Attractions, DESTINATIONS, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, Shopping, TRAVEL, United States

Lucking Into a Good Time

Scotttsdale’s North Italia Restaurant

TRAVEL THERE: AN UNCOMMON EVENING AT KIERLAND COMMONS

So, we’ve had an amazing day.  Early morning travel, fun shopping, spectacular art show and an itsy tiny set-back that was quickly resolved.  The Westin provided us with a brochure called “Local Restaurants” and using what we discovered there, we headed our for round two.

A Confession

It’s hard for a leopard to change it’s spots, but not impossible.  I’d vowed to be easy-going on this vacation and not let the schedule dominate my thoughts, but I had done my homework.  I knew it was Thursday and so Scottsdale Artwalk was happening in Old Town.  I had plotted out the trolley route on my handy dandy map and was ready ready with information to make it a good time. 

However, I also knew we’d spent the best part of the day in the endless studios of the Celebration of Fine Art.  Mr. Bill was ready to eat and trying to coordinate him with the trolley schedule to view more artists’ studios did not seem like a wise thing – even if Artwalk was happening.  I recommend it to you every Thursday evening, but we didn’t make it.  

Heading to the Commons

So, instead we headed to the Kierland Commons, a nearby playground full of restaurants, bars and shopping opportunities.  Parking was a challenge akin to parking at NorthPark on the Saturday before Christmas, but the travel gods were with us, so we did find something.

Next we strolled around to take in the atmosphere and check out the dining options we’d seen in the brochure.  After a little strolling, North, the restaurant chosen most likely to succeed back at the hotel, did win out as our choice.  However, something was definitely happening across the street, so we went there first.  

The Anticus Gallery Re-Opening Party

Describing Anticus challenges traditional categories.  Yes, it’s an art gallery and studio.  Yes, it’s a book store.  Yes, it’s a jewelry store.  Yes, it’s also a gift store.  It’s most similar to a really good gift shop in a great museum, but instead of the museum you’ve got a studio AND they have a bar.  

When we got there, Anticus had outgrown a space two doors down and was hosting their grand re-opening.  We didn’t realize it was a by-invitation-only kind of thing, but the host soon found us and let us know it was cool for us to be there.  I think it should be noted that Anticus has moved again and they are now down in Old Town (where Artwalk was happening), but please put them on your list and tell them I sent you!  Spreading the word about them is the least I can do after they showed us such a good time.

Though we were serendipitous guests, we thoroughly enjoyed the party.  Bill was feeling very artsy after his afternoon at the Celebration of Fine Art.  He chatted up anyone who’d stay still long enough to start a conversation.  We drank a couple of glasses of cheap wine and handled a good portion of the delicious merchandise.  I doubt the folks at Artwalk had anything on us.   

Closing time rolled around and even though no one was exactly running us off, I felt we’d more than worn out our non-existent invitation.  Besides, we’d headed out to get dinner and hadn’t ticked that off our list, yet.  With some resistance on his part, I dragged Bill out of the shop.  I was afraid he was going to head back to the bar for his third glass!

North waited for us across the street.  Come back next week for that delicious conclusion to an uncommon evening at the Commons.

Attractions, Cruising, DESTINATIONS, International, Restaurants & Bars, Road Trips, Shopping, Shore Excursions, TRAVEL

It’s Nice in Nice!

Travel There: Lunch and Shopping in Nice

Life on a cruise:  another bus ride, another meeting point and another meal.  That about sums it up, but come on with me and enjoy Nice.  While I’d still take Cap d’Antibes over Nice, there nothing not to enjoy about the city.

An Dining Opportunity

One thing I can easily say about this trip is that we bought more food onshore than we usually do on cruises.  Some of that may have been because our shore excursions were such marathons and not all of them included a meal.  However, I think it also had a lot to do with Jim and Melanie.  One of their primary interests at every stop was where to eat and drink, while Bill and me on our own tend to find other things to do.  I’m not complaining though.  It was fun.

Though it seemed as if we’d just left the sidewalk cafe in Cap d’Antibes, the first order of business in Nice was to find another sidewalk cafe.  This time it was Le Gande Balcon and we were getting more than a snack. 

Bill and I both had prawns and oh my goodness, I have rarely seen such big ones.  Mine came with pasta and Bill’s came with risotto.   Glasses of wines and adult beverages were enjoyed by all.

A Shopping Opportunity

Le Grande Balcon was in the middle of a shopping area.  Nearby shops filled the sidewalks with their wares and a little further down was an open air market.  We’d all been so busy being tourists, very little shopping had been happening, in spite of all the shopping opportunities the guides had forced on us.  Those opportunities usually came with a pretty heft price tag.  Though there was one more day of touring left, no one wanted to get home without the requisite souvenirs, so after our wonderful meal, we hit the shops.

The shop closest to the restaurant had laminated place-mats and for some reason Bill was all over them.  He picked out four odd place-mats – two with roosters and two with cartoon cats.  They were the absolute last thing I would have chosen as a souvenir of this trip, but hey, Bill rarely shows any interest in any souvenirs.  So, if he wanted plastic place-mats, by golly, I thought he should get plastic place-mats.

Further down I found a shop of linen goods.  They had a darling dress I knew my sweet next door neighbor would love, so I had to get that.  Continuing down the street we wandered into the open air market.  I found a delightful vendor offering gifts of lavender sachets in the printed cotton which Provence is known for.  That’s where I bought my souvenirs.

Visiting the Beach

There wasn’t much time left, but we wanted to get a few pictures of the gorgeous beach.  We headed back to the meeting point, which had been across from the beach.  We wished for a few more hours to explore the area, but we had minutes, not hours.  Another reason for us to head back to the French Rivera someday.

After having time for just a few photos, it was time to get on the bus and ride back to the ship. We had a quiet afternoon in our cabin.  Bill napped.  I caught up on my journal and did some reading.

That evening the rest of the gang had decided to fork out big bucks to eat at Eden.  They say it was fabulous and for the first time in his life, Bill actually admitted that he wished he’d had any idea it would have been so good.  He actually wished that he had spent the money.

Instead, we had dinner at the Cosmopolitan, which was actually the third time we ate there.  I was surprised Bill didn’t want to go back to the Italian or French restaurant, but I think it may have had more to do with proximity than anything else.  We enjoyed the downtime.

After dinner we took in a show called Gilly and Girl in the Theater.  It fit the easy-going mood of the day – just a couple doing love songs and ballads.  We strolled the shopping area where various events were supposed to be happening, but it was all just a come on to get passengers shopping.

Even the shopkeepers didn’t want to participate, so we just went back to our cabin.  Guess what!  We’d both left our keycards in the room and had to go back to guest services.  We giggled all the way there and all the way back to the room.  We’ve traveled entirely too much to have both made that mistake on the same evening – but that’s just what we’d done!

One day of touring left.  Come back next week for Palma de Mallorca.

 

 

Architecture, ART, Attractions, Cruising, DESTINATIONS, International, Museums, Shopping, Shore Excursions, TRAVEL

Back to Naples

Happy nappers on the way back to Naples

TRAVEL THERE: WRAPPING UP THE DAY

Our ten and a half hour baptism by tourism was drawing to and end.  We were treated to one more shopping opportunity.  This one had to do with Limoncello liquor and came with another restroom visit, but this restroom required an entry fee.  Bill didn’t realize that when he he headed up the stairs.  A small personal drama ensued.

Lost in Pompeii

So, we heard all about the wonders of Limoncello and several people bellied up to the bar to take some home.  Bill headed to the restroom, but I didn’t need to go, so I browsed around the little shop near the bottom of the stairs.  Bill was supposed to get me on his way out, but somehow a restroom that required euros damaged his thought process.  He headed out of the place and forgot all about me.

After I’d looked at everything in the store about 75 times I started to wander around a bit.  I had someone check the restroom to see if Bill was inside.  I walked every inch of the building several times.  I kept telling myself that he wouldn’t have left without me, but it became apparent that he actually had.

The ‘being lost’ rule in my family had always been, stay where you last saw someone, because if you start wandering around you’ll never be found.  The lesson had stuck with me and even though it was apparent Bill was nowhere in the building I kept walking around looking for him.  Problem was, Bill was not in my family of origin, so he didn’t know the rules.

I finally worked up my nerve and wandered outside to look for him.  He was nowhere in sight.  I finally saw some people from our bus, but no one that I knew.  I strolled over to chat them up, hoping my desperation didn’t show.  Before too long other people from our own little group began to show up, but none of them was Bill.  I was relieved, because others had seen him since I had, but I still wanted my husband.

He showed up happy as a clam unaware that I was on the edge of being distraught.  He hadn’t missed me, didn’t realize he’d abandoned me in the shop and he felt no remorse about the terror I had been dealing with.  It was all well and good to tell me everything was alright, but it wasn’t doing anything for the adrenaline pumping through my veins.

We climbed back on the bus to go back to Naples and I tried to get back into the rhythm of having fun, but it had been pretty upsetting. I did eventually get over it, but if you’ve had a similar experience, you know that you really, really want to be mad at someone for something, even though you know there’s really no need for your angst.

Back on Board

Once back on board the ship, some of our group visited the always-open Oceanside Buffet for an afternoon snack, but food didn’t even sound good to me.  I went back to the cabin and got gussied up for the evening.

Bill and I love on board entertainment, so we caught an evening performance in the theater called Kaleidoscope.  It was much better than the Whitney Houston thing – very Cirque de Soleil.  I know the Bagleys were still very much involved in the whole Art Gallery scene.  They were always showing up at the last minute saying they’d been there picking out frames or arranging shipment or whatever.  I’m not sure what the girls got up to, but they really liked having drinks and people-watching.

Dinner was at the Tuscan Restaurant, which meant we ate Italian.  Exhaustion had set in and I couldn’t tell you what I ate or whether I liked it or not.  My journal says we had a perfectly lovely evening, so I’ll have to leave it at that.  After the meal, some of us went to Eden to see something called Revelation, but it was late and we were tired, so we didn’t stay long.

The next morning was our day at sea, the one in which we’d celebrate our 25th Anniversary with a Vow Renewal.  Come back next week for that for sure!

 

Attractions, Cruising, DESTINATIONS, International, Restaurants & Bars, Shopping, Shore Excursions, TRAVEL

Sojourn in Sorrento

TRAVEL THERE: PIZZA IN THE PIAZZA

Though I deemed it worth the visit, Capri had been very hot and very crowded.  Now, we had ferry ride back to the mainland.  That’s OK, we all needed a nap.

Better Than Before

It wasn’t a jet foil we took to Sorrento.  It was much larger and all the seating was downstairs. It was pretty much superior in every way you can imagine.  The hordes of Asian tourists we’d had with us on the way to Capri were nowhere in sight and no one, including Bill, was sea sick.  He didn’t take any chances, though.  He closed his eyes as soon as he boarded, so he was the first of us to fall asleep.

Though Bill fell asleep first and stayed that way longer than any of us, he was not alone.  We were all snoozing.  Bill just happened to be the only one I caught with my camera.

Sorrento

Welcome to Sorrento

Like Capri, Sorrento was a bit of a logistical challenge.  There was a small part of the village down by the shore, but the part we wanted, the Old Town was up a pretty steep road.  So, we trotted from the dock to a small square, where we waited while Paolo went for our transportation.  We climbed the hill in a small van and minutes later we were on another small square.

We were whisked from the van to a shopping opportunity, disguised as a craft demonstration, only everyone saw through the ruse.  It was a woodworking shop where they did elaborate wood mosaics.  We stood politely through the demonstration and appreciated the lovely merchandise, but no one in our group had come prepared to purchase a convert-able gaming table or a huge grandfather clock.  The establishment did offer restroom facilities, but our group took care of that on the ferry.

It seemed Paolo was impatient with these “shopping opportunities” he forced on us, but it’s all part of the tourist game and we appreciated access to nice toilets.  Once we were released from the shop, we were given free time for eating and shopping.

The Value of Proximity

Right next to the shop was a restaurant with a nice patio.  We were thrilled to take a seat under it’s awning and relax on dry land.  We ordered up cold Bierra Morettis and hot Napoli pizza.  They served french fries with the pizza, which we thought was weird.  However, we were hungry after our long hot morning and nap, so it didn’t matter.  We compared notes about the cruise so far and had some of the best moments we’d had yet.  I’ve included a video to prove it.

Soon it was time to load up on our bus again.  Our next destination was Pompeii.  I longed for one of those private early morning tours of the site, which avoid the heat of the day and the crush of tourists, but we only had one day in Naples and I was glad I had not missed Capri or my piazza-side pizza in Sorrento.

Enjoy the short video and get a feel for the enjoyable time we were having.  Then come back next week and we’ll look at the ancient ruins of Pompeii.

 

DESTINATIONS, International, Shopping, TRAVEL, Travel Planning

Let’s Go Gown Shopping

Wedding Toast 25 Years Ago
The First Time Around

TRAVEL THERE: WHAT DO YOU WEAR FOR A VOW RENEWAL

From the day we decided to go on this cruise and have a vow renewal ceremony, the thing my friend Deb seemed the most excited about was shopping for my gown.  That’s not that big of a surprise.  We love shopping and we don’t even need a reason to do it, but this was somewhat of an occasion.

Setting My Expectations

While Bill thought I should probably wear a lace sundress I’ve had in my closet for several years, Deb and I were determined I would have a proper gown for the big day.  She started asking early on what I wanted and I actually had no idea.  I did run on to several photos that had a sort of flapper feel to them that I liked.

I’d done the big , heavily-beaded satin gown with long sleeves the first time around.  I was looking for something more simple, more mature and perhaps a little sexier.  What I didn’t want was strapless, with a sweetheart neckline.  I’d seen one too many of those on Say Yes to the Dress.

During our discussions about this singular article of clothing, Deb warned me that I’d need to spend about $5000.  I knew that wasn’t happening.  My original wedding dress had been a sample I found at a consignment store and it had only cost me a few hundred dollars.  I’d seen it elsewhere for several thousand, but that’s not what I’d paid for it.  I didn’t see why the renewal gown should cost more than the wedding gown – even with inflation.

The top dollar I had in my mind was $500 and it would have had to be some kind of gown for me to pay that much, but that was my ceiling.  Deb thought I was in for an education.

Shopping Day

The first place we visited on a slightly dreary February day was David’s Bridal.  I actually didn’t see anything I wanted to try on in the regular stock.  Over on the clearance rack I found two likely suspects.  One I adored and I adored the price tag even more, but I wasn’t going to end our shopping fun quite so quickly.  If it was meant to be, then it would be there when I came back to get it.

We spent the day going all over the place, but I actually only found one other gown that even competed with that downright bargain I’d seen at David’s Bridal.  We went to special occasion dress stores, bridal salons, a designer outlet, consignment stores and even a few department stores, but nada.  With the field narrowed down it was time for Bill’s input.  People are aghast that I have no problem allowing him to see the dress.  He picked out the first one and it worked out OK, so why wouldn’t he do the same for the vow renewal.

Two Choices

The David Bridal dress would be best described as old Hollywood.  Halter styled in ivory chiffon with a great big bow at the neckline – you’ve seen Marilyn Monroe in dresses like it.  I found the other dress at Terry Costa and it was more Aubrey Hepburn than Marilyn Monroe.  Demure, with a high-neck, lace bodice and chiffon skirt, it was in white.  I couldn’t lose.

In neither of my stores was I going to get the Kleinfield’s treatment.  Bill and I visited David’s first.  He had the requisite tears, but he wanted to see the other dress, too.  There was no comparison.  He couldn’t wait to get back to David’s.

Remember my $500 budget?  Well subtract $375 from that, because when I’m telling you I got a bargain, I mean it.  What?  You want to see it? Well, just because I let the groom see it doesn’t mean you get a peek at it before the big day.  Come back next week and we’ll talk about shore excursions.

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.

Attractions, DESTINATIONS, International, Road Trips, Shopping, TRAVEL

Let’s Go Shopping!

TRAVEL BUG TALES: SOMETHING I WAS GOOD AT

Three days into my tropical vacation I was finally excited about something.  We pooled our resources for a limo (one way only) and headed to Freeport.  I was happy to finally be on familiar ground.

We Hit the Sidewalk Shopping

Our limo dropped us off at a shopping area near the casino.  Each of us had a list of people to buy for and some cash to spend.  This one wanted a watch, someone else was looking for jewelry and I’d heard you could get good deals on porcelain and crystal.  My list really just consisted of Mom and Aunt Edie, so I took an interest in what everyone else was looking for and helped them in their search.

When it came to understanding what was a bargain among the luxury items we saw, my friend Debbie actually had a better grasp, but I was the one with a good sense of direction.  I was able to maneuver us around the shopping maze with ease.  We browsed around all morning and at the end of it, I was able to direct everyone back to the place they’d seen their favorite thing for the best price.  I got some Wedgewood pieces for Mom and Aunt Edie.  I was going to get my dad a golf cap from the resort.  That just about did it.

What’s for Lunch? 

We’d heard from somewhere that the best place for lunch was at the Freeport Princess snack bar.  Like the shopping area, the Princess was near the casino.  I have to confess that when I got there I wished we were staying there rather than out in the boonies.  This place was happening.  The clientele was very different from the families with 2.5 kids and the college students we had out at the Grand Bahama Hotel.

That’s where we made the love connection.  The guy in the solid yellow shirt and bell bottomed jeans was Michael and he was a hunk.  It was one of those across a crowded room sort of things.  He had a crew of friends and they sorted themselves out among my friends, but Michael and I had energy.

The guy in the white jeans and hat was the organizer of the group.  He pointed the conversation towards the guys coming out to see us on our end of the island.  Michael and I were happy to go along with whatever anybody else dreamed up as long as it meant our chance encounter would get an opportunity to develop into something.

It was nearing the time we’d arranged for our limo to return and pick us up.  The guys planned to borrow a car from somewhere and drive to our end of the island.  It seemed like a great plan.  After all the disappointments I’d endured so far, it seemed as if my vacation prospects were picking up.

There was giggly girl talk all the way back to the hotel.  While Michael and I had been an item from the get-go, the other connections were still pretty loose, so there was a whole lot of bargaining going on.  We all agreed on one thing, Michael was the hunk of the bunch and he was all about me.

We had dinner at the buffet and started watching for the guys.  Come back next week and see how that went.