Join Date: Mar 2004
Join Date: Mar 2004
Meeting Up With My Special Men and My Love
Karen and I woke up fairly early. I think it was about 7:30 or 8. It was a cloudy morning. Zung would have been disappointed not to be able to take a Zungrise picture. Karen was going to check out the exercise facilities. I don’t exercise when on vacation (if you’re keeping track, I also don’t cook or clean, wear a watch or carry a purse), so I headed off to the buffet for breakfast. Karen doesn’t generally eat breakfast. She drinks it, but it’s not what you think. She called room service for coffee and juice – orange and mango.
I was excited to go to Bella Vista for the breakfast buffet. Not for the food. I was excited to see Alex, my favorite breakfast and lunch waiter. We’ve seen him for years and it just wouldn’t be a trip to the Grand without seeing him. I asked the hostess if he was working today and she took me to his section. He saw me coming and smiled. We hugged and then he asked where Zung was. I told him it was a girl’s trip, but the other girl didn’t do breakfast. He told me it was his last two days. I gasped and then he said until he was gone for 12 days on vacation. He was going to Vera Cruz to visit family. He had me worried there for a minute.
He remembered I drink English Breakfast tea and brought me a pot of hot water and two tea bags. (I love that. I don’t know why most places expect you to use one measly tea bag for multiple cups of tea. It would be like pouring hot water over used coffee grounds.)
When he came back with my tea he said, “Well, since your husband is not here, that means we can go to Coco Bongo.” I laughed. I am soooo not a Coco Bongo type of girl. He confessed that he had never been there and neither one of us were quite sure what goes on there.
I kept my breakfast simple – croissant, bacon (I’ll work on my high cholesterol when I get home) and fruit. I read the news and emails on my iPad and posted on Trip Advisor. I said good-bye to Alex and told him I would see him at lunch and I would bring Karen.
I went back to the room and slathered on sunscreen and put on my bikini. I figure 50 is pushing it to wear a bikini. But I’ll hold out until they pry it out of my dead, cold hands or I come to my senses. Whichever comes first. (When I was a young mother I thought it was unseemly to wear a bikini, so I’m making up for lost time). Besides, I’d had a request for bikini pictures. I couldn’t disappoint.
The previous night I had asked Eder which beach waiters were working and where they would be. The awesome Humberto was working in front of Building 71, so that is where I headed. I was excited to see Humberto. But there was someone I was more excited to see. Someone I had pined for the three months I had been gone. I thought about him every day. I had missed him terribly. And there he was, waiting for me.
My beloved lounge chair. He was all ready for me.
“Querido, where have you been?”
“I missed you so much. Come here. Lay down on me and never leave again.” I was happy to see my lounge chair had missed me as much as I had missed him. He gave me a big hug and didn’t let go for a long time. Then he whispered in my ear, “Mi amor, have you gained a little weight?”
Excuse me? A gentleman NEVER asks that question. I smacked him and he went back to whispering sweet nothings.
It wasn’t long before that other very important man showed up, the awesome Humberto. I asked him if he remembered me from August and he was honest, “I see so many people.” He gave me some water and took my order for a Coco Loco.
I took what I thought was a picture of it, but I had accidentally turned my camera to the video button. I would love to include the video, but it’s pretty expensive to embed video on wordpress, and the link to photobucket doesn’t seem to work, so for now, take my word for it. I ordered a Coco Loco. (If anyone knows how to do this photobucket link thing, feel free to send me a message or leave a comment).
Humberto is the best beach waiter ever. He comes by about every 30 minutes. He’s just amazing. All day long. It was fairly crowded. But he always checked to see if we needed anything regularly.
Karen and I took some beach photos.
That done, we went back to doing what we do best. We took advantage of having the most awesome beach waiter, Humberto, and ordered drinks. Karen drank champagne.
The weather, in a word, sucked. It was the cloudiest, coldest day I have ever spent on the beach. I doubt it was much warmer than it was back in Colorado (which was 67). I had to huddle under a towel to keep warm later in the afternoon. Drinking was a survival move. We had to drink to keep warm. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Drinking without eating can lead to trouble. We did not want to get into any trouble. At about one o’clock (when I was sure Alex would be there) we headed to Las Brisa for lunch.
A yummy and entertaining lunch it was.
Bring on the Boom Boom!
(I talk a good game, but it would turn out, I’m a wimp).
Boom Booms and Bike Tours
When we arrived at Las Brisa we requested to sit in Alex’s section. I am nothing if not loyal. He was there, right away, with his lovely smile, taking our drink order. I, of course, ordered a Havana and Coke. Karen ordered a Havana Siete with ice. I think the ice dilutes the rum and she thinks the coke dilutes the rum.
I ordered the tournedos with french fries. I told Alex to make sure they were fresh and hot.* I think Karen may have ordered the grilled shrimp or lobster. I didn’t take a picture and it’s been a whole three weeks since then, so I can’t remember (note to self: always take pictures of all food and drink to help with trip reports).
While we waited for our food, we checked out the buffet and chose a few bites to get us in the mood.
My tournedos was delish and the fries were to die for. I must have been too busy eating* to take a picture. That was definitely one of the major downsides of not having Zung there. He’s the prime photographer and I just did not step up the way I needed to. Karen didn’t even have her camera, so she was no help (she wasn’t slacking, it was broken).
We ate and talked and drank and talked. There was no warmth and sun calling us back to our lounge chairs, so we were in no hurry (shhh, don’t tell my lounge chair I said that, he would be crushed).
I asked Alex to bring us* a couple of Tequila Boom Booms.
Karen went first.
(Sorry Karen, that picture is just too funny not to post).
Karen met the challenge.
Me, not so much. I couldn’t handle the whole shot.
Half of it ended up on Alex’s napkin. He was still my friend though.
I was embarrassed at being such a light weight.
We went back to our lounge chairs. The weather still sucked. I was huddled under a towel until we threw in the towel and went to the spa. The big pool was nice and bath water warm and the hot tubs were even warmer.
Karen didn’t want her hair to get wet, so she put her hat on. This is a great picture of her.
Karen decided we should go for the afternoon bike tour. I am sure I whined and complained and stalled. It sounded an awful lot like exercise to me.
And, one more time, I DON’T EXERCISE ON VACATION.
She was going with or without me, so I grudgingly agreed. I had, in fact, said I had always wanted to do the bike tour. I even said it when we arrived the day before and saw other people on the bike tour. What is wrong with me???? Some people take you seriously when you say those things.
The bike tour meets in the port cochere by the lobby. There were three other guests and a Star Friend who would lead us. We had to sign a waiver (which I signed and didn’t read – it can’t have been too legally binding because she let me sign for Karen, whom I have no legal relation to and therefore no legal right to sign away her rights). She took us down to the garage underneath to get the bikes. I had no idea there was a garage underneath.
We all were matched up with bikes. I thought mine was a tad big for me, but I knew more whining was coming, so I kept that complaint to myself. There was a big uphill out of the underground garage to begin with. Oh yea, this is gonna be just buckets of fun. Big groan.
Let the whining begin!
My legs hurt, my hand hurts, oh my god – I’m gonna run into that car, get out of my way, can’t you see I am out of control here?
Amazingly, I managed to do the whole 45 minute bike ride without crashing into anything or anybody. Truth be told, it was a great day to do a bike ride. It was cool and since they weren’t stopping at any bars, that was important. Actually, they did stop at one bar – the health bar at the main spa. The tour takes you by the front of all the hotels and down into the Beach/Del Mar grounds. The Star Friend leader says, ‘This is the Maya hotel, this is the Lindo hotel, this is the..” well, you get the idea.
She stopped at the shopping center and we went into the spa and we got waters from the bar and they gave us a tour of the wet areas. This includes a room with different types of jacuzzi’s (they are all just bubbly tubs to me), different types of therapeutic showers, the big pool with the giant faucets like at the Grand and an outside area that had stone and concrete loungers that look like torture chairs to me and a pebble path that you walk in that has water sprayers that hit your calves and then water to walk through and it’s all supposed to be therapeutic. Karen would check it out another day and said it was awesome.
The Star Friend walked us around the shopping center, pointing out the disco and restaurants. There is a shop there that makes cowboy boots of all different kinds and Karen tried hard to convince me that I need an authentic pair of cowboy boots. I don’t know. I told her I would consider it. I have some pink, suede slouchy cowboy boots, but no authentic ones. Anyone want to weigh in on whether my shoe closet needs a pair?
We finally arrived back at the Grand, much to me and my legs relief.
It was time to go back to our room and get ready for dinner.
But wait! What’s that? Why, it’s the jewelry store. There are sparkly things in there. I like sparkly things. And there is my friend, the guy who works there, who has sold me a couple lovely pieces of jewelry at decent prices. Why, it would be rude not to go in and say hi.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Join Date: Mar 2004
Join Date: Oct 2008
Join Date: Sep 2005
You are one of the best TR writers, and though I may flip through some of them, I rarely write a comment.
I love the way you write
Plus, I hope to look as great as you do when I reach 50
Now show some damn shoes so Uno can get his fix. He's getting on my nerves
Join Date: Mar 2004
Here are some gratuitous shoe shots for UMM
(the last one for sure is a repeat from my last TR, but, damn, I love those shoes).
Join Date: Mar 2004
Finding Jewelry and Losing Cameras
In to the jewelry store we went. “Just to take a look.” I said hello to the guy who works there. I seriously need to learn his name, I mean, with the relationship we have developed, it’s just not appropriate to keep referring to him as “the guy who works there.” I asked him if he remembered me. He thought for a minute and said, “Yes! You bought tanzanite earrings and a bracelet.” Good memory. It would get even better later.
I looked around. Almost immediately a gold bracelet caught my eye. They don’t have a lot of gold. It’s mostly silver. I asked what kind of stones were in it and he said white topaz. White topaz is diamond looking but not nearly as expensive. I looked at the rest of the store and then went back to the gold bracelet and asked what the price was, “just out of curiosity.” He took the bracelet down and put it on my wrist and then took out his calculator and came up with $220. I thought about it and said I’d like to pay $150. He thought about it and said he’d have to ask his boss, who was in the other store. He said I should take the bracelet with me and come back later and see what she said. He said, “If you don’t come back this time, I know you’ll be back to the Grand again.” I said, “No, no. I can’t do that.” But he was taking out the scissors and clipping off the tag and sending me out the door with the bracelet on.
Karen was floored. My theory is that he thought if I lived with it for a while I would pay a higher price than I’d ask when I came back. Spoiler alert! I was wrong.
This picture doesn’t really do it justice. It was taken when I got home.
Karen and I went back to the room. There was a bucket of ice waiting for us. Karen had seen our butler earlier and asked that there be ice there at 5 o’clock. He came by to make sure everything was okay and she asked for mint (she was still working on her infused vodka). Now, I bet that’s not a request they get every day. He went off to the bar and brought her back some mint. They had also brought us more down pillows. We were feeling very attended to by our butlers.
Karen and I proceeded to get dolled up for another “girls without their husbands not quite going wild” night. As I was packing my purse (it’s actually just a wristlet and does not qualify as a true bag, hence staying within the rules of not carrying a purse while on vacation) I looked for the camera.
I looked in the beach bag. Not there. I looked on the counter. Not there. I looked in my other wristlet. Not there (and would never fit, but I was getting panicky). I looked in the safe. Not there. I looked everywhere, again. “Karen, have you seen the camera?” She had not seen it since we had used it at the spa.
We stopped at the concierge desk to see if anyone had turned it in and she called the spa. They couldn’t find it, so the concierge had me fill out a report. We went over to the spa to look, but it wasn’t there. I was seriously bumming because it had all our pictures. I have a camera on my phone, but it’s an iPhone 4 and I didn’t really want to be carrying it around at the beach and everywhere.
There was nothing that could be done about it, so we went to dinner. We had reservations at the Gourmet restaurant. Karen was wearing a really beautiful silver dress with excellent complementing shoes. I was wearing a flowered skirt and black lacy top and my amazing Christian Dior black cage shoes. But there are no pictures, so you will have to take my word for how hot we looked.
We were seated by the window. Actually, they tried to seat us not by the window and Karen told the hostess we wanted to be by the window. We were given water and they tried to give us bread. The little rolls they give are not that good and not worth the calories, so I passed. Our waiter came by and asked what we wanted to drink. I believe Karen got champagne.
I was supposed to be investigating the wine situation, so I asked what kind of red wine they had. He said they had a Cabernet from somewhere (somewhere being a country), a Merlot from somewhere, another Cabernet from somewhere else. I chose the Cabernet from somewhere else. It was decent, as most of the all-inclusive wines are. I usually buy decent wines at home, so I don’t need to have really high-end wines. When I get to have a high-end wine I usually quite enjoy it, but decent is fine too.
Previously the Grand has had an extensive wine list. There had been some buzz on some of the forums that it no longer existed and they no longer had the same selection of wines. This experience seemed to confirm that. Spoiler alert – this was not the case. How many wines were offered varied by waiter. As for the wine list, I emailed the Grand about this before our trip and was told they were changing the selection and were working on a new wine list. As it turned out, we were at one point given the old wine list. But that’s for another post.
Karen got the lobster and asparagus salad and the onion soup for appetizers and I got the “Bresse Style Pheasant Turnover with port and wine cream” which was quite good and rather rich. I think Karen got the duck. I got the veal. Both were good. My veal was more like tenderloin than scallopine. But it was tender and tasty. Can’t remember if we got dessert.
Karen asked for a Mayan coffee. She got it, but it didn’t come with the totally awesome show we got in August, and she said it didn’t taste as good without the show.
We finished and headed to the Lobby bar. But first I had to settle up with the jewelry store dude. I had checked my cash, and I only had $100. I bought it with me. When we went in he said he remembered more about us. He remembered I was a nurse, my husband was a teacher for college (close, he’s a professor but strictly does research now) and that, “Your daughter is beautiful.” Well, yes, yes she is and everyone remembers her.
Here she is with me and Zung back in August.
Jewelry store dude asks if I can pay the $150 in cash. I say I only have $100 in cash. He says fine, $100 in cash and $50 on the credit card. We have a deal. I know some would say if he agreed to my price that quickly I could have gotten him to go lower, but I don’t need to do that cutthroat, about to walk out the door negotiation thing. I liked the bracelet. $150 seemed reasonable. I was happy, he was happy. My husband likes me to have sparkly things, so I was sure he’d be happy too.
On to the bar! Daniel was waiting for us. I sat down and realized I was cheating on Lounge Chair with Bar Stool. Fortunately, the two never crossed paths.
Cucumber mojitos were the drink of choice for me. I had three! Karen enjoyed her Havana Siete on ice. We chatted with Daniel, Ahleli and whoever happened to be sitting around us that evening.
We stayed pretty late, maybe close to 11. When we got back to the room Karen discovered my camera! She had put it in her bag, thinking it was her flip (a video camera). Now I could take pictures again and have some way to remember what we did on our vacation so I could write about it on my blog weeks later.
We put on our robes and went out on the balcony with some drinks.
It had been quite awhile since dinner (our reservations had been at 7), those cucumber mojitos are amazingly lo-cal (having cucumbers in them cancels out the rum) and I’d always wanted to order room service late at night. I love that room service button. I ordered the Chocolate tart with hazelnuts and Karen ordered chips and guacamole. It was there quickly and they also brought a plate of chips with neon orange cheese sauce. We did quite a job on it.
Our first full day had come to an end. Although the weather had sucked, we’d gone on a bike ride, I’d bought a beautiful bracelet, we’d had lots to eat and drink and were having a great girl’s getaway.
Tomorrow we would learn that even 50-year-old women can attract a pack of guys and we would do something I have never done before.