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.

Accommodations, DESTINATIONS, International, Road Trips, TRAVEL

Saved by the Balcony

Seadust’s Adult Only Pools

TRAVEL THERE: FINALLY, THE SEADUST DOES US RIGHT

After our breakfast, we explored the hotel a little more, discovering a few spots we’d missed before like the adult pool and the ball courts.  After that we returned to the balcony.

Our Favorite Spot

I’ve said it before, but I will say it again.  Our balcony was our very favorite thing about the Seadust.  We stayed out on the balcony for several hours.  I continued to read my book and Bill browsed the internet with his tablet.

I can’t tell you how much we enjoyed our time there, silently sharing some time of relaxation.  Occasionally Bill would show me some nugget the internet had served up.  There would be movement from time to time, shifting our chaise lounges to avoid the direct sun, stepping in the room to get an item or just putting down what we were reading and standing at the railing.

Eventually, our breakfast faded away and it was time to find our lunch – even though that meant going back to the Buffet.  We made a list of the things we wanted to do else where in the resort.

  • visit the gym
  • fly our kite
  • drink margaritas
  • try out the adult pool

A Quick Visit to the Gym

Before we started eating again, Bill wanted to try out the gym.  We’d taken a self-directed tour of the facilities before.  The gym is on a lower floor near the spa.  The entry area is beautiful and serene.  The spa looked quite inviting, but since I can go to a spa at home, I don’t use my vacation dollars there.

The gym was very clean and well-equipped.  A nice attendant welcomed up and offered to help if we needed him.  We went on into the gym and made ourselves at home.

I was wearing flip-flops, but didn’t intend to workout in them.  As I dug in my bag for my closed shoes, the attendant popped by to let me know I was not allowed to workout in flip flops.  Well, duh!  That’s the reason I’m over here in the corner digging in my bag, but thank you for sharing this very obvious information.  I guess they do have people who think wearing flip flops is appropriate for the gym.  I’ve seen people who thought they were appropriate for funerals, too.

Bill was already on the weight machines when I climbed aboard a stationary bike for some cardio.  I was on vacation, so I didn’t dial in a vigorous workout, but after 10 minutes I realized it was a little warm in the gym to workout in comfort.  After another 5 minutes I was off the bike and ran into Bill, who was coming to tell me he was experiencing the same difficulty.

We’d put it off as long as we could.  We were going to have to go back to the buffet.  It was that or the outdoor snack bar at the pool.  We’d watched other people fight off the aggressive gulls and curious pigeons.  So we went to the buffet – again.  This time it was a little more of an adventure than it had been before.  Come back next week and see what I mean.

Accommodations, DESTINATIONS, International, Road Trips, TRAVEL, WRITING

The Beauty of Our Balcony

TRAVEL THERE: AN EARLY MORNING REVERIE 

Our third day at the Seadust was devoted to enjoying whatever pleasures we could derive from the resort.  The food was horrid and while the recent renovation of the property had been adequate, it didn’t give us the appropriate quality to feel as if we were in a luxury resort.  So what did we do?

First Up!

I woke up early, which is SOP in this family.  I wasn’t quite up to visiting the gym, so I went out to the balcony with my travel journal and my book.  First, I caught up in the journal.  Looking over what I wrote, I see little that hints at the parallels I was beginning to draw between the ancient Mayan culture and our modern state of  devolving affairs.

After getting the journal up to date, I opened up my book and dove into the story.  The narrative was focused on bullfighting at this point.  We’d learned who the characters were and why we were there, but the story line seemed overly devoted to the matadors and their bulls.  I began to wonder if I should have chosen another book to read, which could have given me more insight into the Mayan culture.

I confess the bullfighting story did not hold my attention very well.  I constantly found myself staring off into the beautiful scenery just outside my balcony.  In the serenity I went through my prayer list, thinking of those in need, those I love and some friends who were vacationing together in another part of the Caribbean.  I’d pick up reading where I had left off, but soon I’d been soaking in the green of the palm trees and the blue of the water.

Mr. Lag Abed

Bill slept very late and after a short visit with me, decided to go back to bed for another nap.  I didn’t mind.  I returned to the balcony and continued dividing my time between the outstanding view and the book which was slowly turning its focus to the time period I was most interested in.

Michener rarely tells a tale with gripping speed, but instead slowly binds you in his tale like a python, slipping around an intended victim.  His reputation gets you within proximity and you snuggle up with the book to see what it is like.  You are aware of slowly changing positions, but you wonder why the snake has the reputation it does for devastating its victims.  Then all of a sudden it is too late.  You’d only been reading the book as a distraction and now you have to finish it to find out what happens to these people, who you now care very much about.

In spite of my interest in the book, my stomach decided it was time to have breakfast.  I roused Bill and suggested we use our breakfast time to plan our day.  Then we could return to the room to dress appropriately and gather up what we might need.

Breakfast of Victims

The only restaurant opened for breakfast was the buffet, so like the sacrificial victims in Chichen Itza we went where we were forced to go.  I hoped over breakfast I’d convince Bill to visit the Mayan museum and archaeological site right next to our hotel, but Bill had put up with all the Mayans he intended to.  Today he was going to get his money’s worth out of the resort.  Our accommodations might have been comped, but we’d paid the airfare, a small daily fee for tips and for the excursion to Chichen Itza.  So far, he felt the account wasn’t quite even and he was going to do something about that.

So after breaking our fast in one of our least favorite places in Cancun, we headed back to our room.  Come back next week and see how we spent the day.

 

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.

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, Road Trips, TRAVEL

Welcome to Cancun

TRAVEL THERE: BROWSING AROUND THE SEADUST

Already our trip had its ups and downs, even though we’d just arrived, but ever the optimists, Bill and I set out to explore our resort.

Beautiful Beach

Escaping the disappointing buffet restaurant, we headed past the main pool to the line of palm trees at the edge of the beach.  OK – now we understood all the fuss!  Here was the epitome of white sugar-sand beach and brilliant turquoise water.  With flip flops in hand, I strolled along, enjoying the sound of splashing water and gleeful kids.

It was not a low flat beach like we’d seen in Punta Cana.  Here, the dry white sand made a quick drop of 6-12 inches where the waves rolled in.  So you had to decide whether to stroll along on the hard wet sand flirting with waves or up the small embankment on the dry sand.  We ended up trudging through the dry sand, because Bill was in sneakers.  We’d already discovered his leather slides had chosen to stay home.

No Visitors Allowed

The Cancun beach belongs to the Mexican government, so you can walk easily from one hotel area to the next without dodging no trespassing areas.  After passing a few smaller hotels we happened upon the Iberostar.  One of Bill’s favorite things to do on holiday is visit all the nearby hotels to compare them to our accommodations.  We headed up the stairs to the Iberostar and were immediately informed by security that we were not welcome.

I wish they would have let us in.  In Bill’s imagination, the Iberostar became the perfect hotel.  Anything that came up short at the Seadust, he believed would have been better at the the Iberostar.  After being turned away there, we headed back to the Seadust to sit by the pool.

Margarita Moment 

We were about to embark on one of our favorite moments at the Seadust.  On our way past the pool, I stopped at a bar and ordered my first Margarita.  We found a pair of lounge chairs and spent an hour enjoying the setting sun as it played among the clouds above the sea.

Every imaginable color danced in the sky as the palm trees swayed.  Nearby families frolicked in the deep blue pool.  AAAAAHHHHH, just what a resort holiday is supposed to be about.  We shared our impressions of the vacation so far and what our hopes were for the days to come.

Then we had a little comic relief.  As the sun faded and the sky began to darken, we noticed the lights around the pool began to change color.  Only it wasn’t the slow calming change of color you might expect around a pool.  Oh no, one color after another flipped past as if they were all frantically and unanimously  trying to decide which color they should be.  I couldn’t resist making a little video.  It gives you a peek at the frenetic lights and the family-oriented nature of the pool, not to mention the gorgeous sky and swaying palms.

A Bit More Poking Around

The flashing lights irritated us enough to pull us out of our loungers.  I had a little more discovering I wanted to do and I needed to talk to the Best Day rep about our return trip to the airport.  We made our way to the Best Day rep and found I would need my paperwork to arrange the pick-up.  We’d just gotten there, so I figured I had time.

We wandered down a few hallways to figure out the lay of the land.  One hallway led to Kid Heaven, which included a delightful looking waterpark.  Bill had no interest in it though, so we never came back down that way.  We also found the Mexican restaurant, but Bill was holding out for French.

Down another hallway was a theater and a convention center.  Nothing gave a clue when the theater would be offering entertainment, so we went back to the lobby and checked out a gift store.  Cute stuff and reasonable prices, but no buying was involved.

In the lobby they were building a Christmas tree.  It was big, but I can’t say it was all that attractive.  Sort of the bargain basement version of giant fake trees.  Time to find that French restaurant.  Come back next week and see how it went.