Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Tuesday Travel Day!

Today I ventured out of the resort and went down the island to Negril, about 4 hours away.  The drive down is slow and full of many things to see, and the area itself is definitely recommended if you are ever in the area.  In Negril, there is a 7 mile beach of super soft white sand set against the bright green-turquoise water of the Carribean.  It is breathtaking.  Along this beach are several resorts, and it's obvious the main industry here is absolutely hospitality.  The resorts range from small cottage properties with a few cottages to the huge Sandals all-inclusive resorts that take over large portions of the beach.

I went snorkeling in the sea, whisked out by an expert in a glass bottom boat and encountered a thriving reef with so many different fish out there I lost count.  I took my new cheaper version of the "go-pro" camera out with me and I hope I got some great footage.  I'll upload it to my youtube account in case you'd like to take a look :).

I enjoyed a little souvenir shopping in town, finding my ring for the trip, Larimar and crystal beauty in white gold.  Then we stopped at Ricks Cafe, a popular destination from land and sea where the locals jump off high cliffs, and tourists jump off of the shorter cliffs into the stunning green sea.  The cafe features unprecedented views of the ocean.  I enjoyed watching the dolphins playing not far from us, and watching the party catamarans sail near the cliffs and people jumping off to swim to the stairs so they can enjoy dinner on the cliffs and drinks.

Need more??? Follow this link for more pictures...

Monday, May 30, 2016

Hi... I'm Monday....

Today was spent in the water pretty much all day after the morning rain... I don't have many photos to share today.  The beach along both St. James and Wild Orchid is marked off for swimming and has differences depending on where you are.  Along the Wild Orchid Preferred area, there is a Getty that often holds candlelight dinners in the evening, and the feeling of being out in the water.  Toward the middle, there is a very sandy area and then an area full of sea grass.  Along the St. James area, this is popular for people to just stand in the water with their drinks and talk for hours and hours.  To the far right is the St. James Preferred side, and it is largely empty without anyone swimming in it.  Today I spent most of my time in the middle, swimming around with my snorkeling gear (minus the fins).  The water is a perfect temperature, and there were a few interesting fish and plants to check out.  It was a nice relaxing day :)

Dinner tonight was at the Seaside Grill, overlooking the pool and Ocean beyond at sunset.  It was simply stunning.  I went out into Montego Bay this evening and visited a local bar for a short while which was fun, then on to bed so that I could be up early for my travel day tomorrow!

Sunday, May 29, 2016

First full day in Jamaica ~ Sunday

I woke up at the glorious time of 11:46am this morning and felt oh so much better.  I slept for more than 12 hours but needed every second.  Oh how I loved not having a darn thing to do and to enjoy the day with whatever I feel like doing.  That's the single best thing about this trip :)  It rained very hard all morning, so it wasn't like I missed much by sleeping in today.  After 1pm the rain clouds went away so we were blessed with partly cloudy 80 degree weather.

My Room
I forgot to mention yesterday that they upgraded me from the room I had reserved to the next level section of the resort, with supposedly more comfy beds and better quality rooms.  Since I never actually saw the rooms on the St. James side, I cannot confirm that is true.  I can only say that my Wild Orchid room is a beautiful suite with a nice deep tub, a big two person shower, wonderful tile floors, a sitting area with a couch and a table.  The mini bar is fully stocked with water, juice and soda and did I mention free since this resort is all-inclusive???

Resort Exploring
This resort is so big, with two main sides to it - St. James and Wild Orchid.  The St. James side is a full scale resort in itself, has a pool, a luxury "Preferred" section with a full bar and food almost around the clock, as well as ocean swimming right in front.  The Wild Orchid side is the "upgraded" side, with fancier rooms, a bit fancier "Preferred" section also with a full bar and food, pool, spa and some of the rooms have a swim out pool right in front.  There are 10 restaurants, 8 bars shared between the two resorts, a shopping village, dance lounge, piano bar and both an indoor theater and an outdoor stage for concerts by the water.

I enjoyed lunch overlooking the pool and full view of the gorgeous Caribbean ocean.  The lunch itself was very nice - a nice cocktail of Vodka and pineapple, along with a jerk chicken wrap, salad bar and a few fries.  Dinner this evening was at the Jamaican restaurant "Blue Mountain", where my waiter introduced himself as "James Bond".  I cannot remember what I had for dinner, but I do remember I enjoyed some white wine - how many glasses I cannot be sure, since Mr. Bond was refilling the glass every time I was halfway done.  In any case, it was a very nice wine and dinner was good :)

Observations Today:

  • The sunsets here are phenomenal
  • All the hotel & resort staff are great at Secrets
  • Rain in the morning, beautiful lush green sunny day in the afternoon
  • This is the life :)

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Well Hellooooooo Jamaica!

Yesterday I left sunny California for even sunnier Jamaica.  I flew out of SFO and my route was to take me through Houston and then on to Montego Bay after a layover of a few hours.  Everything was going great until we got about 100 miles away from Houston.  We were rerouted to Austin because they shut down the Houston airport due to thunder and lightening storms in the area.  We were all automatically rebooked on a flight the next day at 1pm - 15 hours later.  Unfortunately, that would make me miss my connection to Montego Bay so I had to wait in line to get a new route to my destination.  After a slew of moves from one gate to another trying to catch other flights, I finally was moved successfully onto a flight to Miami the this morning at 10:30am, and then from Miami to Montego Bay - the layover in Miami juuust long enough for me to dash clear across the airport to the connecting flight gate.  I made it just in time!

Customs in Jamaica is actually a bit more organized than in the US, surprisingly.  We had over 300 people coming in at once and we got through customs in about 45 minutes.  I was very glad :)  After getting through all the steps, I then got to my driver and was off to my all inclusive destination!

I arrived at Secrets Resort and Spa right about 8pm Saturday night, almost 30 hours from when I left but it didn't matter.  I was at a beautiful resort starting my amazing vacation and it was all good from here :)  I learned that they upgraded me to the Wild Orchid side of the resort, I'm not sure how much different the rooms are compared to the St. James side, but I'll take it.  After I checked in, I got to my room and sank into my gorgeous four poster king bed for much needed sleep.

Observations from today:

  • Austin bills itself as the place for live music.  Who knew??
  • United Airlines is not really great at handling unexpected reroutes and is horribly unorganized
  • The UA rep that was in charge of bringing us cots to sleep in for the night was very entertaining how she was so animated about how utterly difficult it was to bring so many cots in for all of the people stranded for the night
  • AA airlines is on my bad list for making me pay again for luggage because of the switch due to the connection from UA to AA
  • My driver Warren is funny and made the drive to the resort super easy
  • Shelly-Ann, my concierge is very very tiny but very sweet
  • Jamaican accents vary quite a bit, but one thing is for sure - when they get going talking to each other they might as well be speaking another language - the slang is crazy!