Random Thoughts on Key West and Life in General

Random Thoughts on Key West and Life in General

If you have been following this blog for a while, and many of you have, I thank you.  Certainly you noticed I have not posted in some time.  I announced recently, with great pride, the acquisition of a Cruise Planners franchise.  Yes, that’s right, Mrs. SirOzzy and I bought a travel agency.  Travel, as you know, has always been one of my many passions and now I do it professionally.  I foresee a lot of “Research & Development Projects” in my future.  For the last two months I have been focused intently on the process of beginning a new business.  Please visit our new website www.sirozzytravel.com  Someone (maybe it was me) once said, “If you find what you love to do, you’ll never have to work again”.

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While we have been celebrating , Sir Ozzy was not particularly fond of seeing us leave on our last trip.

We were patiently waiting for our rental car to be ready for the drive to Key West.  The valet parked it out front and was putting on a finishing shine when we were approached by another gentlemen.  With company shirt and clip board in hand, he smoothly asked if we would like an upgrade.  “How can we get an upgrade when we have the nicest car on the lot?”  We watched him retreat to the 3 Spring-Breakers and read his lips as he said, “no deal.”  And off we went in our convertible Camaro.

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Much has been written on Key West and the drive on the Overseas Highway.  But, after reading the story of a man who walked to Key West all the way from Seattle, Washington, my drive pales in comparison.  He is still there, just look for Darth Vader playing a banjo on Duval Street.

Here are a few suggestions for things to do in Key West:

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First things first, a lunch at Snook’s Bayside Restaurant in Key Largo is a MUST!  Be careful not to miss the turn, it will sneak up on you on the right hand side.  Get the Lobster Reuben and enjoy the amazing view.  The next 100 miles will be the fun part.

BREAKFAST

Island Dogs Bar.  I had the Daily Hair of the Dog Pizza.  This very well may be the most perfect remedy for a hangover I ever had.  And how about the Good Morning Dog?  A bacon wrapped hot dog with fried eggs.  This place has got breakfast figured out right!

Blue Heaven.  This is the most popular breakfast joint in the Keys.  While you are waiting for your table, make sure you belly up to the bar and get a Bloody Mary.  And enjoy the live tunes.

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While we have been celebrating , Sir Ozzy was not particularly fond of seeing us leave on our last trip.

Starbucks.  I know, I know…who the hell goes to Key West to get Starbucks? Well, we got a couple drinks and a breakfast sandwich and walked over to the pier behind Mallory Square.  We enjoyed the peace and quiet while watching pelicans dive for their breakfast.  Hey, don’t knock it.

LUNCH

Here’s the thing about Key West, there are about a million restaurants up and down Duval Street and all around the surrounding area.  Where ever you are, you are within walking distance of everything.  Flip-flops and tank-tops are perfectly appropriate attire at any restaurant.  If you can’t find a good lunch in Key West, well, you ain’t looking.  A good starting point is Sloppy Joe’s.

DINNER

Sure, there are some good, fine dining restaurants in Key West.  But, if I wanted extravagance, I would have stayed in Miami.  Ninety miles from Cuba is all about Happy Hour.

Alonzo’s.  A great view and even better Garlic Oysters.

Kelly’s Caribbean Bar & Grill.  The best chicken wings on the island, and owned by Kelly “You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling” McGillis.

Fogarty’s.  Huge portions of American Comfort Food served in an outside seating area.  Great spot to eat dinner and people watch.

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While we have been celebrating , Sir Ozzy was not particularly fond of seeing us leave on our last trip.

DESSERTS

Better Than Sex.  Need I say more?  Leave the kids at the hotel.

Kermit’s Key West Lime Shoppe.  Self-proclaimed best Key Lime in the world.  Has a few awards to back it up.

ACTIVITIES

Key West Cemetery.  Grab your jogging (or in my case, walking) shoes and head on over to the cemetery first thing in the morning.  Look for the tombstone that says “I told you I was sick”, and  “If you don’t have anything nice to say, you’re a jerk.”  This could be the most fun you’ll ever have in a cemetery.

Take a Trolley.  It’s always the best way to get acclimated to a new area.  And these are especially enjoyable with the fun stories told by the guides.  The night time Ghosts and Gravestones Trolley Tour is one of the best tours I’ve ever had.

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Mallory Square Sunset Celebration.  Loaded with street performers of all types, including acrobats, jugglers, musicians and dog trainers, this is what separates Key West from everywhere else in the world.  Celebrate as another day ends and night begins.

We were sorry to go, but San Juan was calling our name.

Enjoy The Journey…

And please visit my new website Cruise Planners  and LIKE us over at Facebook

 

 

 

 

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How To Prepare For A Caribbean Cruise

How To Prepare For A Caribbean Cruise

Check The Batteries.  Make sure the security and smoke alarms are operating properly in the house.  My trigger-happy, shotgun-wielding, vodka-swilling brother-in-law will be house watching while we’re away.  I do not want him to put a hole through the front door when he hears a low battery chirp coming from the system.

Bring Sunscreen.  I’ve been told the Caribbean Sun is different than regular sun.

Bring Booze.  Think you can’t bring alcohol on a ship?  Try 20 or so shot size bottles mixed in with your cosmetics in each suitcase.  It works every time.

Bring Sunglasses.  Your eyes will be bloodshot.

Bring Chargers.  Don’t forget cellphone, laptop, kindle, ipad, ipod, and game system.  A Caribbean cruise is certainly no time to disconnect from the World Wide Web.

Print Documents.  Make sure you print everything, especially the ones that are already downloaded on your cellphone, you never know when the battery will die.

For The Ladies.  Make sure you have an extra suitcase for your shoes.  You will need 7 pairs of flip-flops, because God forbid anyone sees you wearing the same pair twice at the pool.  Bring your favorite walking shoes for land excursions, and your second favorite, and your old favorite in case they don’t work out.  And bring the new ones you want break in too.  You should bring a different pair of heels for dinner every night, and that really nice pair for the night you just might have dinner near the captain.  And don’t forget your slippers for your stateroom.  All told that’s 19 pairs of shoes, plus the ones you are wearing, 20.  That should do.

Eat.  While most people prepare by going to the gym so they can look great in that new swimsuit, I have reached that age where I really don’t give a shit what I look like.  I practice eating for a couple weeks because I don’t want to look like a lightweight at the buffet.

Make Reservations.  The breakfast, lunch, midday snack, and dinner buffet may not be enough.  Reservations are required early for specialty restaurants.

Clean House.  Make sure your own house is thoroughly cleaned before you leave.  Especially the doghouse, you just might find yourself in it.

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Enjoy The Journey…

Whitewater Rafting in Costa Rica

Whitewater Rafting in Costa Rica

After a 90 minute drive in a bouncy, smelly, and rickety bus, through cane fields and jungle and over wooden bridges, after we paused to let an eight foot long Western Brown Snake pass, we arrived at the raft entrance.   The Tenorio River in Guanacaste, Costa Rica was flowing with strong and intense rapids.  Although I had only met the 3 Americans a day earlier, I was trusting them with my life.  Our guide was called Terminator.  It was the third time in 3 consecutive days I thought I was going to die.  This is Costa Rica, where it is best to just laugh and hold on.  Pura Vida!

 

Enjoy The Journey…

Best Meal Ever

Best Meal Ever

If you have ever been surfing on a longboard, you will know they are not particularly light.  I had just spent hours riding waves with Pilot Don, while Mrs. SirOzzy and Flight Attendant Louise, the Pilot’s wife, soaked up rays.  We were in Tamarindo, Costa Rica, and ready for lunch.

We carried our boards back to the rental shop, down a ways from where we set up for the morning, and across the street, trying not to breathe too heavy from the weight of the boards and sand under our feet.  It was our first day in Tamarindo,  we didn’t have much of a plan.

“Oye, chou people need some help?”

“No. We’re good.”  It’s the universal saying for get the %&$# away from us.  It’s most commonly used when some street urchin is trying to hawk his stolen wares or the ex-pat at the hotel invites you to a timeshare presentation.  This time it was a tall and skinny local surfer.  He was dark skinned and his hair reminded me of seaweed.  His English was good.

“Yeah man, I’m good too.  I Just wanna know if you need some help.   You look like you’re visiting, and my friends have a restaurant down the street.  It’s a real nice place right on the beach.  I’m not looking for anything from you.  I just want to hook my friends up.  And if I bring them guests maybe they will give me a drink.  My name is Chavo, I’m going that way.  Let me show you around.”

Our new friend Chavo walked us through the streets of Tamarindo, waving and saying hola to nearly every person we saw.  He told us the story of Costa Rica, with it’s revolution and new constitution.  He told us Costa Ricans are educated and have dental insurance, that is why they have such great smiles.  And he brought us to his friend’s restaurant, right on the beach, just like he said he would.  We offered him some cash.  He said, “I don’t take money from mi amigos, get the fish.”

The four of us sat at a round table outside, the shade and cold drinks were refreshing. Not far from where we sat was an enormous tree which hosted a family of Howler Monkees.  Someone played guitar.

“Mi amigos from Chavo, welcome to Panga’s.  What can I get for you?”  The waitress was middle aged, barefoot, shorts and a tanktop, weathered from the salt and sun and years of waiting on tables.  But she had a million dollar smile.

“I hear the fish is good.  What’s the catch of the day.”

“Senor, you see that man?  Down there, on the beach.  Walking this way.  He has the catch of the day.  I will not know what it is until he arrives.”

An hour later, a grilled, whole, Red Snapper, was presented to me.  Pilot Don had one too.  Garnished with fresh vegetables and lime, it was, quite simply, heaven on a plate.  We spent the better part of the afternoon at Panga’s, eating and drinking and laughing the time away.  It was a good day.

It is not just the food that makes a great meal, it is the company which you keep.  I’ve not spoken much to Pilot Don and Flight Attendant Louise since then.  And I’ve never seen Chavo again.  But when you share a good meal with good people, you have friends for life.

 

This post was created as part of WordPress’ Daily Prompt.  Seconds!

 

5 Awesome Money-Saving Cruise Tips

5 Awesome Money-Saving Cruise Tips
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The Jewel Of The Seas docked in Labadee, Haiti

Too often we take what we have for granted.  I came across an interesting blog post by a young traveler recently.  She said her goal is to take a 7 day cruise.  I felt a twinge of guilt as I read this because I cruise more frequently than I get dental cleanings.  Here are 5 great tips to make your dream cruise possible.

Always use a travel agent when making a reservation.  Most cruise lines have a fair market booking system.  This means a travel agent pays exactly the same amount you pay.  Then what is the advantage?  Perks.  When booking through an agent you can receive prepaid gratuities, additional shipboard credit, specialty restaurant comps, and maybe even a bottle of champagne in your stateroom.  Additionally, you will receive more personalized service from a single point of sale.

Book early.  The cruise industry is booming and savvy cruisers know what they want and don’t wait for it.  (Don’t believe me?  Check out the buffet line.)  It’s frustrating when you find the exact right itinerary on the exact ship you want, only to learn the accommodations are sold out.

Prices will often come down from the time of your original booking.  Check the policy with your agent in advance.  If the price lowers, you can usually re-book at no charge prior to final payment.  And check the higher level accommodations as well, it could be a no-cost upgrade.

Know your accommodation.  This is another great place to utilize your travel agent.  Some cruisers are perfectly okay with an interior stateroom, they feel they won’t be in their room very much and it is the single largest price saver.  Others want to open doors to a seaside balcony.  We prefer a Grand Suite or above.  Each level of accommodation comes with specific amenities.

Book your excursions early.  The catamaran with drinks and snorkeling at the turtle sanctuary?  It’s sold out.  Especially when you’re on a bigger ship, the excursions sell out well in advance of your sailing.  If there is something specific you want to do, book early. However, you do not have to book an excursion with the ship.  Research the area, find out what you want to do, and book or plan it on your own, you’ll save a ton.  You do not need your agent for this.  But be forewarned, if you choose to go on your own, research the area and culture.  There are places that simply aren’t safe to go on your own.

Avoid the buffet.  Okay, let’s be frank here, everybody and Uncle Charlie will begin their power eating competition the moment they board the ship.  Avoid the buffet for the first few hours.  Find a quiet place to sit and start soaking it all in.

For other information, like how to save more on bookings, avoiding ATM and international credit card fees, and the best itineraries, please send us a message.  We have tons of valuable information, and even more great tips, and will soon be putting them into book form… Enjoy The Journey!

In the concierge lounge on the Rhapsody Of The Seas, somewhere deep in the South Pacific.

The New York Times Travel Show, Stay Tuned Folks…

The New York Times Travel Show, Stay Tuned Folks…

The illustrious New York Times Travel Show was held at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City this past rainy weekend.  Vendors representing every region of the world lined row after row of the enormous convention space.   I attacked the floor much the same way I go after food in a Chinese Buffet, hungry for more. I always go for the ribs first, yesterday it was the Caribbean.

As much as I enjoy tasting new things, I go to the familiar first.  We visited and chatted with people from places we’ve been like they were old friends.  I heard interesting first hand news on happenings in Jamaica, Mexico, Costa Rica, St. Thomas, and even Canada.  We’ve been there, done that, and can’t wait to go again.

For the second course, I needed information on places we are visiting in the near future.  Jackie, from St. Croix Department of Tourism, loved my question.  “I am going to St. Croix for one day next month.  I do not want to spend it with 1,000 other cruise passengers, and I also want to keep my money local.  What can I do?” It was a $64,000 question, and I got a million dollar answer from Jackie.  We’ll have a private island tour ready for us.

We had the familiar and tasted some new offerings, but what is life without trying something new?   Meetings with representatives of Africa and Asia got our adventurous juices flowing.  In the not so distant future you may be reading a post about climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.

For dessert we went to the seminars.  A presentation on how to easily score first class airfare was held by Nomadic Matt.  (Thank you Matt for the secret code to score free tickets to the show.)  Mrs. SirOzzy sat in on a lecture regarding family travel locations and secrets.  I went to the writing seminar.    Mr. Max Hartshorne, editor of GoNomad.com, and Mr. Paul Shoul, staff photographer, were speaking.

The two gentlemen presented an introduction to travel writing and photography.  Prior to Mr. Hartshorne taking the podium, my balls grew to the size of grapefruits and I presented him my business card.  I explained I was the pest who had been hounding him with emails and I would like to join his writing staff.  He looked at me like I had 4 heads and abruptly cast my card aside.

Shockingly, I heard from GoNomad this morning.  They are looking forward to my upcoming travels to Key West and Puerto Rico.  They like my stuff.  Stay tuned folks, good things are happening…..

 

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions, And The Evolution Of An Itinerary.

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions, And The Evolution Of An Itinerary.

I find wherever I go people are generally supportive of my endeavours and some even a bit envious.  But,  “I can’t (or wish I could) travel like you,” is what I hear over and over again.

I don’t believe that.  I believe if you want to travel, you can.  But it helps if you follow our formula.  SirOzzy’s aim is to help guide you on your perfect vacation.  We want to help you decide where to stay and eat, and where to relax and play.  We want SirOzzy to become a verb.  “Wow, where did you get all that great information for your trip?”  “I SirOzzy’d it!”

Yes, we have an amazing trip coming soon, but it wasn’t planned overnight.  As with most trips the SirOzzy clan takes, this one took two years in the making.  There is an infinitesimal amount of planning and organization that goes into a successful trip.  The details can be overwhelming.  Here we will begin to spell out and simplify the decision making process that goes into a vacation like this.

There are three key elements to the art of travel.  Each piece has it’s own importance in the puzzle and will affect the outcome of another piece and thus, the trip itself.  These pieces are Time, Location, and Money.

Let’s start first with the time frame.  The busy time at Mrs. SirOzzy’s job ends every year in early February.  The busy time in my career starts in March.  Now we know February is a good time to travel.  Lesson number one is plan ahead, there are way too many decisions to make in a short period of time.

Now begins the process of where do we go?  This is the fun part.  We could go virtually anywhere in the world, so before we decide where we’re going, let’s decide where we are not going.  Europe is out, it’s too cold in February for us.  Australia is out, we went just two years ago.  Hawaii?  No, too long a flight for what we want.  Africa? No.  Asia? Nope. The Caribbean?  The weather is perfect in February and it’s fairly easy to get to from New York. Yes, the Caribbean it is.

The Caribbean.  That’s kind of a big place, a little too big to conquer all at once.  Let’s narrow it down.  There are some amazing all-inclusive resorts and beautiful hotels in the islands.   But for this trip I don’t think I really want to fend for myself too much and I don’t want to sit in one place for too long either.  A cruise?  I love to cruise.  My favorite thing about cruising is that everyday you wake up you’re in an entirely new place, and you’ve done absolutely nothing to get there.  Yes, a cruise it will be.

Our favorite cruise line is Royal Caribbean, for reasons we’ll leave to another post.  Looking through the cruise book can be a bit overwhelming.  The first thing we decide is where do we leave from.  Bayonne, NJ and Baltimore, MD are both within driving distance and have cruises departing from there, but sailing the Atlantic during February can be unpleasant.  We looked to leave from further south and found The Jewel Of The Seas is in Puerto Rico.

The Jewel is the first ship Mrs. SirOzzy and I went on together and has been our favorite ever since.  On that ship was the first of many times I would ask her to marry me.  Yes, The Jewel Of The Seas.  Next, the itinerary.  The Jewel has two different sailings in the month of February, both are 7 nights and both go to the southern Caribbean.  One itinerary happened to also fall on our anniversary.

Simple, right?  No way.  Sure, you can just fly straight to Puerto Rico and jump on a ship, but why do that when you can go a few days in advance and acclimate and enjoy your trip even more?  Besides, we have 2 weeks of vacation time, let’s use it.

We began to look at different hotels and realized, shit, we’re already down there, do we necessarily have to stay in Puerto Rico?  No, we started looking at the surrounding US Virgin Islands.  St. Thomas is not part of the cruise itinerary, and since it is part of the US there is no international flight required.  Sounds good, but, hmmmm, there is one other option.

Key West is only a short flight to San Juan.  One item that has been on my bucket list for a very long time is driving a convertible to Key West.  We can get a direct flight from our local airport to Fort Lauderdale, we’ll rent a car from there.  We’ll use our top secret code to get a deal on a room at the Hyatt next to Mallory Square.

Now we have a cruise and Key West.  Coming off a cruise and going straight home is always a bit of a drag, so let’s stay one more night and take advantage of San Juan before leaving.

This didn’t happen over night.  We began our planning two years ago and solidified the itinerary about 6 months ago.  Here’s what it looks like now:

  • Day 1  Fly to Fort Lauderdale. Drive to Key West.
  • Day 2 Key West
  • Day 3 Key West
  • Day 4 Drive back to Fort Lauderdale
  • Day 5 Fly to San Juan, Puerto Rico.  Cruise
  • Day 6 Sailing on The Jewel Of The Seas
  • Day 7 Bridgetown, Barbados
  • Day 8 Castries, St Lucia
  • Day 9 St. John’s, Antigua
  • Day 10 Philipsburg, St. Maarten
  • Day 11 St Croix, US Virgin Islands
  • Day 12 San Juan, Puerto Rico. Intercontinental Hotel, Isla Verde
  • Day 13 San Juan. Fly home.

Now that is what a two week vacation looks like.

As far as the 3rd part to planning a successful trip, Money?  Shit, we’ll have to figure that out too, but we have two years to do it.

Enjoy The Journey.

 

 

The List

Class 5 Whitewater Rafting in Costa Rica.
Class 5 Whitewater Rafting in Costa Rica.

We all have lists.  Shopping lists, to do lists, playlists, best of this, best of that, there are all kinds of lists. When I was a kid, I would come home after school to a list.  Sometimes that list would be 4,5,6 pages long.  Sometimes the list would reference other lists. Whatever it was, I never wanted to do anything on that list, so I started making my own.  Here’s what is on my list:

  • Catch a big fish.  And I mean a REALLY big fish.  I’ve caught beautiful Mahi-Mahi, doormat Fluke, and monster Striped Bass. But I’m talking Old Man And The Sea stuff.  A 1,000 pound Marlin or 500 pound Tuna.  Maybe when I catch the big one, I’ll want to go bigger, or maybe not.  I’ll know when I get there.
  • Climb a mountain.  Why?  Because it’s there.  Kilimanjaro and Denali both come to mind as feats that are clearly in the realm of possibility.  Maybe after one or both of those, Everest could be put on the list.
  • Run with the Bulls.  I’ve been fascinated by this since I first saw a painting of a Matador.  I was probably 5 years old.  And then I heard about this event in Pamplona, Spain.  It’s just something I have to do.
  • Write a book.  Still working on it.
  • Go over Niagara Falls in a barrel.  Will probably never do this, but it sounds like fun to me.  I’ve always joked that my last words on earth will be “Hey, watch this.”
  • Swim with Great Whites.  Jaws is my favorite movie of all time, it scared the shit out of me.  Great Whites are the fiercest, most powerful creatures on earth.  Of course my preference is to be in a steel cage.
  • Surf all 7 continents.  So far I have surfed North America, South America, and Australia.  Asia, Europe, and Africa are all achievable given my rate of travels.  But there is only one person that’s ever done all 7.  I want to be in that group.
  • Take an African Safari.  Camping in the Catskills, watching squirrels run up and down trees, that’s alright.  Watching a black bear catch a fish in a mountain stream in the Adirondacks, yeah, that was cool.  But now I want to go big.  Bring on the lions
  • Eat sushi in Japan.  I like Sushi.  I want to go to Japan.  Simple.
  • Run a marathon.  I’ve done the Big Sur Marathon in California, and the NYC Road Runner’s Marathon.  My desire to run another one is about 2%.
  • Get the lead role in a play.  As a returning adult student, I performed in the Southampton Players performance of The Lion In Winter.  I had the role of Henry II.  Good times.
  • Escape From Alcatraz.  I’ve always had a fascination with escaping from a prison, I have no idea where that came from.  On Father’s Day, 2002, I swam from Alcatraz to San Francisco as part of the Escape From Alcatraz Triathlon.
  • Take a great photo.  I’ll know it when I get it.
  • Explore the Galapagos Islands.  Darwin seemed to enjoy it.
  • Learn another language.  Why can’t we just all get along?
  • Learn to play an instrument.  I’ve always wanted to be a Rockstar.
  • Smoke a fine Cuban cigar.  In Havana.
  • Hike the Appalachian Trail.  All of it.
  • Get high in Amsterdam.  All you goody-two-shoes can just glance past this last one.

Over time, things have been added to and taken away from my list, things change.  Life happens.  Motorcycle across South America, train ride across Europe, and swim across the Long Island Sound are all things that I’d love to do, but at this point make the B list.   A fine French meal in view of the Eiffel Tower, a good glass of wine in Tuscany, and paint a masterpiece also come to mind.  The real beauty of my list is that it is my list.  I get to approach it and check things off as I see fit, in my way.

So what’s on your list?

Nice fish, but not the big one!
Nice fish, but not the big one!

A Week In Riviera Maya, Mexico

A Week In Riviera Maya, Mexico

Mexico.  Is it the image of a barren wasteland of adobe huts and sombrero wearing banditos on permanent siesta, only waking occasionally for a slug of dirty tequila?  Or is it Mexico City, that smog infested, over-populated urban center, littered with stolen cars and orphans playing on landfills?  Is it the Drug Cartel controlled border towns, teeming with illegals jumping the fence?  Is it Tijuana, with it’s sidewalk pharmacies and bestiality shows?  What is it that makes you so God-Damned scared of Mexico?

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Is it because they’re below us and it’s super hot?  Does it actually remind people of Hell?   America as the promised land and Mexico as purgatory for the damned.   I mean, shit, I know tons of bad-ass, tough New Yorkers that crap themselves when they hear “Mexico”.   Oh, the murder rates?  You’re five times more likely to get whacked virtually anywhere in the States than you are in a Mexican resort area.  Check the numbers yourself.

So here’s the deal, don’t go looking for trouble, and trouble won’t find you.  Sure, there are troubles, big troubles, along the border towns and Central Mexico.  But it’s nearly 100% drug related.  Eliminate the drug cartel issues and you have one cool country rich in history and culture.

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The Yucatan Peninsula is the south-eastern region of Mexico that runs along the western portion of the Caribbean Sea.  Cancun, Riviera Maya, and Tulum belong to this region.  This has got to be one of the most magnificent coastlines in the world.  I visited Playa Del Carmen, in the heart of Riviera Maya, in September, 2012.   I wanted to know what everyone is so afraid of.

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The drive from Cancun is just over an hour.  In this time we saw 3 stop points along the highway manned by Mexican Federales.   Military men, dressed completely in black, with flak jackets, riot helmets, machine guns and all sorts of other heavy artillery man the check points.  They let us proceed in our van, barely slowing down.  The second stop point was less intimidating,  more interesting.  By the third sighting I realized these guys are actually just here to protect me.  Any other time I saw them during our trip there was a general feeling of security.  Never once during my time in Mexico did I feel anything less than perfectly safe.

Our drive brought us to the Occidental Grand Xcaret Royal Club.  The hotel has an open air lobby with a truly grand thatched roof.   The only thing warmer than the welcome was the temperature.  Quite frankly, it was hotter than hell.

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At 3:00 in the afternoon, midway through our vacation, we were sitting in a pool.  No matter how many frozen margaritas I tried to wash down, nothing beat the heat.  It was so hot, it felt like the pool water was about to boil over.  Feeling drained and nauseous, we looked at each other, and decided it was time to go inside somewhere and find air conditioning.  It was just too hot in the pool.  Of course, it didn’t help that I outdrank a Scotsman at the swim-up bar the night before.  Tequila, ugh, it’ll be the death of me someday.

Quinta Avenida is 5th Avenue, Playa Del Carmen, and only a short taxi from our hotel.  Lined with hundreds of shops, bars, and restaurants, it’s the main tourist hub in the region.  If you look hard enough, and the locals trust you, anything you think of can be found here.  I was offered prescriptions, weed, heroin, tattoos, and women.  One guy even tried to pawn his sister off on me.  I couldn’t help but wonder how many American fugitives are holed up here.  But again, I never felt in danger.

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Except for the few trips into Playa, most of our dining was at the resort.   Every meal had leftover rice and beans and some sort of mystery meat.  Over-cooked and over-seasoned, we laughed as we tried to figure out what kind of animal our dinner came from.  Much of the food was mostly inedible, but we found enough that was palatable to keep us largely satisfied.

On our last full day we needed to arrange transportation back to the airport.  After asking our concierge to please make arrangements, she got back to us and said, “I’m sorry, JetBlue is no longer in business.”

“Really, is that so?”

“Yes, their phone number is no longer operating.  I’m afraid you will have to make arrangements through our own transportation company.”  I nearly fell over laughing.  This was one of the more creative, yet so simple, scams, that has ever been tried on me.  Miraculously, our transfer to the airport was arranged through JetBlue about 2 minutes later, but not without a few more laughs.

So in the end, I was not sucked into the bowels of Hell or kidnapped by a gang of banditos.  I met some great people, ate some terrible food, drank good tequila, saw some cool stuff, brushed up on my Spanish, and walked away a better person for it.  Mexico, you don’t scare me.  See you again, someday.

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Ces Petites Choses, These Little Things

Ces Petites Choses, These Little Things

I decided long ago, any day that starts at an airport, a bridge, or a ferry is going to be a good day.  This trip had us starting at the Cross Sound Ferry in Port Jefferson.   If you had asked me on the ferry what I thought about Quebec City before this trip, I would have not been able to tell you much.  There is a vague recollection of doing a report on Quebec around fifth grade.  The men were fur trappers, maybe religious, and the winters are brutal.  If you ask most Americans to be honest, I think they would say everybody from “up there” speaks French, are rude, arrogant, and probably hate everybody.  The town is probably dark and cold, and I think there’s a river near by, I guess that’s where they caught beaver and otter.   As with all travel, this stereotype would be blasted right out of the St. Lawrence River in no time at all.

We drove through Connecticut, then Massachusetts, and into Vermont.  Nothing quite like a long drive to open lines of communication and just talk and laugh for hours.  A brief stop in Brattleboro, Vermont found us noshing on sandwiches and fresh juice at a groovy little café on Main Street.  Back on the road, it’s going to be long day.  I love how outside New York, drivers actually use the right lane for cruising, the left for passing.  I’m sure someday I’ll write a long rant on that alone.

The border crossing was a welcome sight, and an opportunity for a new learning lesson.  We had the youngest member of our tribe along with us for this trip.  Of course his Passport has more entries than most adults acquire in a lifetime, and we are always fully prepared to provide proper documentation.  However, this time, the Border Agent, who was otherwise very friendly, asked us for a notarized letter from his birth father, granting permission to leave the country.  We’ve never needed one before, we explained, why now?  Well, apparently there is a rash of international custody battles.  We  spoke it over with her, and after some slight persuading, she obliged and let us pass.  Phew, that was close.  And the kid in the backseat was perfect, never said a word, as we direct him to behave with all Customs and TSA agents.

We stopped in a little town called Magog, not too far from the border.  A tremendous amount of restaurants located along Main St., considering we hadn’t seen any population for the last 100 miles.   With some reluctance to eat unfamiliar food, and all signs and menus in French, it took a little while to decide where we’d eat.  An outdoor seating hamburger joint caught our eye, so we settled on that.  Over an hour later, and after more than a few language related misinterpretations, we left praying that the food and service would be better in the city.

Restaurant. Magog, Canada.
Restaurant. Magog, Canada.

Our final destination brought us to The Fairmont Chateau Le Frontenac, known as the most photographed hotel in the world.   A magnificent 622 room castle, it was built, accordingly, on the highest ground in the city.  The brick façade and mansard copper roof are visible from nearly anywhere in the city, but looks most splendid from the banks of the St. Lawrence River.  We had a suite on the 14th floor, and enjoyed the benefits of the Gold Level Service.  A private breakfast and evening cocktails were just some of the included amenities.

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While the weather was gorgeous in the morning of our first full day, we learned the climate changes faster than anything here.  The cloud cover was a welcome respite from this very hot summer and added ambience to the old European-style city.  From the cobblestone streets, to gas lamps, to the corner butcher, not much has changed through the centuries.

We jumped into the hop-on, hop-off, double decker red bus.  It really is the best way to get your initial bearings in any unfamiliar city.  The 90 minute tour started outside our hotel entrance, in Terrasse Dufferin.  This area has a beautiful boardwalk that overlooks lower city and the river.  The funiculair is located here and it is a popular spot for street performers.  These are not the current type of annoying Times Square, SpongeBob Squarepants, or Minny Mouse characters that look for a picture with you and then aggressively hound you for money.  These are people that play the Harp, or sing beautiful operatic melodies, or they perform magical card tricks. These are trained acrobats, jugglers, and comedians.  They don’t harass and they don’t accost.  In classical French Vaudevillian style, their culture and history come through in all their acts and personalities.  Never a disappointing performance, always worthy of our pocketchange.  The entire time we were in the city, we saw one policeman.  Just one.  And he was just hanging out minding his own business.  No heavy artillery, no attitude.  So in this happy place, we started our tour.

Our guide, with full French-Canadian accent, requested we stay on the bus for the full 90 minute tour.  Afterward we could decide where to get dropped off.  He was an excellent tour guide, very knowledgeable with a sense of humor.  Much focus was pointed toward the roof tops and architecture of the buildings.  Discover the roofs, and you will find the history, was much of the refrain.  Mansard roofs, tincan roofs, the flat roofs of the 1960s.

We saw the famed Musee de Civilization, a marketplace, Break Neck Steps Street, government buildings, and the historical Plains of Abraham.   A beautiful, clean city,  I couldn’t help but fall in love during that 90 minute tour.  But we decided the best place to be was right where we were, at Le Chateau.

The next few days were spent sightseeing mostly on foot.  We enjoyed a guided river cruise to Montmorency Falls, a waterfall taller than Niagara.   We spent a lot of time window shopping in Lower Quebec, and people watching on Terrasse Dufferin.  The Changing of the Guard at the Citadel is a drawn out, but interesting, event to see.  But mostly, we ate.  The food is where the French culture is still at it’s strongest.  Sounds of café music and Madeleine Peyroux reverberated around the city.  The constant clanging of wine glasses and the aromas of fresh food were everywhere.  Service was generally impeccable and exceptionally friendly.  This charming old European city gradually came alive to reveal it’s more cosmopolitan side.

Ahh…. which brings me to the Poutines.  How this ridiculous mishmash of cultural cuisine has not taken off in the States amazes me.  French Fries drenched in brown gravy with white cheese curd, I enjoyed mine with pulled pork and bacon.  Washed down with a Moosehead Lager, I could feel my blood thickening as I took it all in.

Our last night brought us to the circus.  Quebec is the home of the original Cirque De Soleil, and to pay homage to it, the city funds a free, outdoor, performance every night.  The 45 minute wait on line for this 2,000 seat amphitheater is well worth it to see these amazing young performers practice their craft.

A rich history.  Fine culture.  Magnificent cuisine and wonderful music.  An extraordinarily low unemployment rate.  Virtually zero crime.  The government is the largest employer, followed by tourism.  I do believe this area of the world has got it figured out.  We left all the wiser for our experiences, and I’ve been listening to French Café music ever since.

Restaurant. Lower Quebec
Restaurant. Lower Quebec
Mesmerized by the songs of Evita.
Mesmerized by the songs of Evita.
Street Performers
Street Performers.

The drive home had us stopover for lobster in Freeport, Maine.  That was followed the next day with lunch at Mystic Pizza and another ferry ride.  SirOzzy was happy to have us home, but as always, we look forward to our next adventure.

“Ces petites choses” translates to “these little things.”  We should all strive to learn a new phrase in our host country’s language.

The First Cruise

The First Cruise

The Love Boat.  Old people.  Over-crowding.  Spring breakers.  Elvis impersonators.  The flu bug.  The Titanic.  These are just some of the things that came to mind when first thinking about cruise ships.  I’ve even thought of a cruise as the cheap give away on Wheel of Fortune.  And let’s not even talk about inside cabins.

Prior to my first cruise, I never gave much thought, if any, to luxury travel.  My prior vacations had consisted of such trips as waking up under Redwood trees in a tent in Big Sur, California.  I crashed in a hostel in San Francisco and took an Amtrak from New York to Newport News, Virginia.  I’ve done some nice rafting on The Delaware Water Gap, winter surfing in Montauk, and triathlons in the Chesapeake region and the White Mountains of New Hampshire.  While these trips provided much enjoyment, there was never much thought or planning to them.  It was a period of adventure, rebellion, and border line poverty.

My idea of travel was spontaneity and adventure.  My accommodation was typically a tent, an upgrade meant I had a cot.  An amenity was an ashtray.   I wasn’t equipped with a Sandra Brown leather suitcase with 360* wheels.  I lived out of duffel bags and backpacks.   I had never even seen a cruise ship, let alone thought of going on one.   Was it as big as the Staten Island Ferry, I wondered.

SirOzzy’s first great adventure began on March 18, 2011.  We took an early morning flight from NY to Fort Lauderdale, and then, much to my surprise, hopped into a limousine for the drive over to the cruise terminal.   Royal Caribbean’s Jewel of the Seas was the largest and most beautiful ship I’d ever seen.  Never could I have imagined such majesty and grandeur.   I was blown away.

   My first awestruck impression quickly changed as I saw the sheer number of passengers boarding.  Sure, this ship is big, but how can it possibly fit 3,000 passengers and crew on board?  Well, not to worry, as soon as we walked through the terminal doors, a little old Floridian introduced himself.  We showed him our reservation paperwork, and he rushed us over to a spot with no line.  He said, “Folks, you’re in the Grand Suite, you won’t be waiting on any lines this week.”  And boy, was he right.  That was our first experience using the benefit of our upgrade.  While all passengers received a white Seapass card, ours was gold.

     I’ve heard many cabins on these megaships are tiny.  So tiny you can reach out and touch both sidewalls at the same time.  They have stand up showers and most do not have windows, let alone a balcony.  After a brief exploration around the ship, we found the cabin we would spend the next 10 nights in, and this is what we discovered:

   

   

 His and her closets are located behind the bar.  The bathroom is magnificent, larger than most staterooms, complete with a marble bathtub.  Behind the curtains is a double length balcony.  A fresh fruit platter, caviar, and cheese and crackers, greeted us in the room.  Isn’t this how everybody travels?

Our first full day on the ship was spent cruising the open water of the Caribbean Sea.  More fears were put to rest that day.  I thought I’d get claustrophobic.  I thought the ship would be filled with leftovers from the golden age of the Catskills.  I was wrong on both accounts.  I spent the day poolside, playing mini golf, basketball, at 7 different bars, in an art gallery, a theatre, restaurants, a library, and the Casino Royale.  This ship has more to do than the entire county I live in.

Despite the great discovery of the Casino on the first night, my favorite discovery came on the second night.  The Concierge Lounge.  This room is reserved for passengers staying in Grand Suites and above, which means it’s limited to about 25-30 people.  This is where I learned for the first time what service really is.  My two favorite crew members operated from this room.  Mario would be my personal bartender in the evening hours for the next 10 days.  And Nedere was our personal go-to Concierge .   A tough, Jamaican rock-star, whatever we needed, we went to Nedere.

On this first night in the Concierge lounge, Nedere asked what our plans were for our first stop in Labadee, Haiti.  We explained an excursion was booked involving a short boat ride, some beach time, and a BBQ lunch.   “No, no, no, my Dears.  Listen to me.  We are going to cancel that reservation.  You will spend the day in a private over-water cabana with your own butler service.  We have a private lunch with lobster, steaks, and anything else you want.  This will be in an area reserved only for those passengers with a Gold Seapass.”  Well, ok then.

I arose early on the third day of this sailing.  I peaked through a crack in the curtains to see if the sun had even come up yet.  What I found was so much greater.  Through the mist and early morning haze, the low mountains of Haiti were nearby and getting closer.  I wanted to shout “Land ‘Ho!”  How must the Columbus crew have felt after 2 months on the ocean?  I fell in love with the Caribbean on first sight.  This is what we discovered:

My first glimpse of a Caribbean beach.

I had never  seen trees on a beach before.

While everyone went to the public beach, we turned right…

  

And this is where we would spend our day.  We used most of our time snorkeling, bathing in the sun, eating, drinking, and just enjoying spending time with each other.  We did, however, also see the darker side of Caribbean life.  Out on one of our explorations we discovered an artist’s village.  Magnificent oil paintings hung crowded and hodgepodge on makeshift walls of wooden pallets.  The level of poverty is so severe on this island nation, we witnessed to 2 locals preparing to kill each other with machetes over 1 dollar.  That’s when we went back to our sanctuary for more fresh pineapple.

       

Day number four was spent nursing a sunburn and eating more food than I previously thought humanly possible.  Isn’t that what cruise ships are for?  It was a full day of sailing, we cruised the entire length of the sea to reach Cartagena, Columbia.  It was also the day I first asked Gail to marry me.  Of course she told me no.  She said I was just drunk.  So I asked her again the next day.  And every day again after that for two years, until she would finally say yes.  I was falling in love in and with The Caribbean.

Cartagena is a walled Spanish city on the northern coast of Columbia.  Prior to this cruise I knew very little, if anything at all,  about the area.   We’ve all heard stories of the drug cartel and Columbian coffee, that day I learned so much more.  We booked a bus tour that would take us all through the city.  We had the most amazing man guide us and bring this old city to life for us.  I never thought I’d enjoy a city tour,  I’m the guy that’s always made fun of those people.  Since that day, I try to take a bus tour of every new city I visit.  It’s really the best way to get your initial bearings.

My absolute favorite part of cruising is that every morning you wake up in a new place, and you’ve done nothing to get there.  The next morning found us in Colon, Panama.  After yet another huge breakfast we left the ship early and boarded a small van headed to Gatun Lake.  Colon is the port city closest to the Panama Canal and Gatun Lake borders the locks.  An hour and a half drive through lush jungle brought us to a small river boat.  Myself, Gail, 2 Midwesterners, and 2 Panamanian men spent half a day fishing.  The lake was teeming with Peacock Bass and Oscar Fish.  While I had the time of my life, I’m pretty sure it was the last time I’ll ever see Gail fish.  She’d much rather rest poolside or in a spa.

 

We even had a little visitor join us for a snack.   There was no shortage of wildlife, we saw crocodiles, sloths, monkeys, turtles, red iguanas, and countless tropical birds.  And our guides were kind enough to bring plenty of local beer on board.

Another great aspect of cruising is that you can add places to visit to your list, or eliminate them.  I’ve only heard wonderful things about Costa Rica and greatly anticipated our visit to Puerto Limon.  This was another day of adventure.  The Pacuare River has some of the most intense whitewater rafting in the entire world.  We opted for the lower portion which consists mostly of flat water up to Class-2 rapids.  It was another long drive through a jungle to reach the river opening in Tortuguero National Park.  Although it was mostly lazy water, I know Gail was terrified the whole time.  I wasn’t much of a help paddling, or retrieving swimmers, as I was still only six weeks removed from complete shoulder surgery.

The people of Costa Rica are fantastic.  The country has no military, it was abolished during the re-writing of their constitution in 1949.  Their reasoning was with their proximity to the Panama Canal, they knew if anything happened to them, the Americans would quickly come to the rescue.  In exchange for the military, each Costa Rican citizen receives free education, medical, and dental benefits.  Their greatest source of revenue comes from tourism, specifically American tourism.  Therefore, for the most part, Costa Ricans are happy, healthy, educated, have GREAT smiles, and love Americans.  They are an amazing group of people.

We decided at the end of the day we would most certainly return in the future to Costa Rica.  In fact, we did.  Two years later we returned to a resort on the Pacific Coast.  I rafted the upper portion of the Pacuare River, which consisted unclassified and Class-5 whitewater rapids.  Though I thought I was going to die during a 14 foot vertical drop, I had a blast.  Stay tuned for that post.

After 3 days of adventure in South and Central America, a day of rest was in order.  This was the day of belly flop contests in the pool, karaoke in the lounge, a cooking demonstration, and trivia in a bar.  As part of our Grand Suite package, we also received a private tour of the Bridge, hosted by the Captain himself, just another perk.  I also won a slot tournament in the Casino, so we ate, yet again, in a specialty restaurant.  Dinner was accompanied by a $200 bottle of wine.  This trip got better every day, and it created a monster traveler.

Grand Cayman was the next stop on our itinerary.  The day started with an early morning Catamaran sailing to Stingray City.  We sailed on the crystal clear turquoise blue water of the Caribbean until land was no longer in sight.  Bob Marley tunes were played and local beers flowed.  We set anchor on a sandbar and jumped into 4 feet deep water.   From all angles slow dark clouds in the water emerged.  For the next few hours I played in the water with the most amazing stingrays.  It was heaven.

With a late departure, there was still time left for further exploration.  From the dock we decided to taxi over to a populated spot on 7 Mile Beach.  Midway through the trip, our driver, with a heavy Caribbean accent, turned around and asked us to pray with him while he drives.  Voodoo.  I said, “Thanks, we’re good, you can drop us off here.”  So we spent the remainder of the afternoon at a quiet, unpopulated beach.  I asked Gail to marry me again, and you know how that story goes.

Day 10 had us sailing for another full day as our journey would soon come to a conclusion in Fort Lauderdale.  An odyssey that transformed me from a backpacker to a luxury traveler,  I made great new friends, learned about different cultures, ingrained wonderful memories, and came away a better person for it.  Sure, these are the same things you can do on the cheap backpacking or what ever other means of travel you choose, but I did it in style.  I hope you enjoyed my journey with me.  If you have any questions about this cruise, other cruises, or travel in general, please leave a comment.

 

About Me

About Me

I’d be a stand-up comedian, but I’m not very funny.  I’m an author that’s never written a book.  A chef with no kitchen.  An artist without a brush.  An athlete without a sport.  I’m in a mid-life crisis, but can’t afford a Corvette.  I’ve taken classes in four different colleges, and have no degree hanging on a wall.  What I do have though, is a story to tell.

Most of my bucket list involves travel and danger.  Run with the bulls in Pamplona.  Climb a Mountain.  Surf six continents.  Write a book.  I’ve been fortunate enough the last few years to cross a few things off the list.  I’ve explored the Great Barrier Reef, ran a marathon, and surfed on 3 continents.

The list, as with everything else, has evolved over time.  I no longer desire to bicycle a stage of the Tour De France.  Wrestling a crocodile is also no longer very high on the list.  These things have been replaced with dinner in view of the Eiffel Tower, and a guided Four Seasons Safari in Africa.

The internet is filled with travel blogs from Girls Flying Solo to Dudes With Backpacks.  I’m not either of those.  I’m just a regular guy with a lifetime of bad decisions.  I spent my first 40 years trying to become somebody, and mostly screwed it up.  I plan to spend the next 40 years making good decisions and enjoying the person I’ve become.   I’ve settled down.  I’d rather have a Martini than an Irish Car Bomb.  Though at the end of the day, if my last words are “Hey, watch this!”, I won’t be disappointed.

I love to travel and I love to write.  Before now I’ve not had the discipline, means, nor occasion to write a book.  But, with the advent of the internet, I can now tell about my travels one page at a time.   Occasionally, I’ll go back and relive some stuff from earlier times.  Currently, I travel around 4, 5, or maybe 6 times a year, and it’s those adventures that I’ll publish first.

About SirOzzy:  Sir Ozzy Schnitzel is Bernese Mountain Dog bred in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.  He currently resides on Long Island, New York.  He’s a homebody.

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Set the day right, Mon.

Set the day right, Mon.

I always thought if I got to Jamaica it would be to live in a tree-house in the hills.  I would smoke ganja all day, study the flowers, and listen to nothing but Bob Marley.  I would grow dreadlocks and live on a fish diet.  But, oh, how different this trip would be.

The winter was brutal.  While every winter is harder on my aging body, this one was particularly bad.  I needed a vacation.

King Of The Mountain!

My winter blues dissipated as the dark North Atlantic water turned to Caribbean Blue.

We reached the Sandals Arrival Lounge at the airport.  We changed into shorts, had a quick washroom visit, got wi-fi passwords, and had my first 3 Red Stripes (in clear plastic cups), then escorted to our ride.  The driver and I tried to decipher each other’s accents; he reassured me Jamaicans have the greatest accent in the world.

On the two lane highway cars work together, pulling to one side or another as they pass haphazardly.  Jamaicans use car horns to say hello.  We heard dozens of horns, not one in anger.  No worries, Mon.

Sandals Royal Plantation.

Through the open air lobby blue Caribbean water was immediately visible.  We left winter behind and the warm breeze could not have been more welcoming.  I took a deep breathe and realized everything will be okay.  “Don’t worry ’bout a thing, Mon.  Welcome home.”

Sandals Royal Plantation is the smallest of their resorts.  The property is made up of 74 suites, each with personal butlers.  Our butler for the week, Ashford, escorted us to our digs, handed me an I-pod, and said “check yourself in, Mon.”  I got confused and promptly erased our entire reservation.  I needed another Red Stripe.  “No worries Mon”, he fixed it for us later.

The beach view from our balcony.

The warm, salty, humid air of the Caribbean is medicinal.  Bones and joints become flexible, aches and pains go away.  I rose early every morning and treked to a gazebo for a personal yoga and meditation session.  “Set the day right, Mon,” my new Rasta friend Maji said to me.  I did.

Maji in the morning.
My new friend Maji.
Acoustic reggae tunes filled the air.

The main entertainment was an ostentation of peacocks (yes, that is the right word) that strut around the property.   At last count there were 19, only two of which are adult males, and both are named George.

This is a small resort, with not many dining choices.  Ashford took it upon himself to reserve dinner for us at the specialty restaurant.   The food here is better than any other all-inclusive.

When not eating, we lounged on the beach, enjoying the blue sky and clear water.  And watching the sand crabs.  They blend perfectly with the white sand, noticed only when scurrying along the beach.   The days were lazy, with no shortage of beverages, and the occasional aroma of weed.  Like all resorts in Jamaica, for safety concerns we were told not to leave without a plan.

I went fishing.  After trolling for hours without a bite, I had the chair when the big one hit.  The big Mahi-Mahi was one of the coolest fish I ever caught!

Mahi-mahi Mon!

During dinner on our last evening, I had the pleasure of speaking with the Executive Chef.  A laid back European, he wanted to know what we thought of his restaurants.  I raved about the great time I had, and how good the food was, but explained we rarely, if ever, return to the same place twice.  There are just too many wonderful places in the world.  Chef looked us straight in the eyes, and said with all sincerity, “What specifically is it that we have to do to ensure your return?”

Sandals Royal Plantation, we’ll be back again someday, but we have other places to visit first.

Set the day right Mon.

 

Featured

Enjoy The Journey

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At one time or another we have all said, “I want to travel the world.”  Maybe we were talking about retirement, or that year before we go to college, or just a childhood dream.  Or maybe we just want to run away.  Whatever it is, so few of us are ever so fortunate to actually “travel the world.”

What does it really mean, to “travel the world”?  I suppose it means something different to us all.  When I first began to think of it, I thought of a backpack trip across Ireland and running with the bulls in Pamplona.  “Travel the world” was something to be crossed off my bucket list, like climb a mountain, catch a really big fish, and write a book.

With every trip I take, the world gets bigger, not smaller.  Travel leads to new discoveries, new places, new people.  You are more likely these days to find me sipping drinks in the concierge lounge of a five star city hotel than backpacking across Europe.  It’s taken a tremendous amount of mistakes and bad decisions to accomplish what I have.  I have no regrets, but many lessons learned.

Traveling is not easy.  That’s the first lesson to learn.  There was a time when I could throw a toothbrush, extra t-shirt, and a pack of smokes into a satchel, walk out the front door, and go on my way without a care in the world.  That no longer works for this adult.  What’s the best bag to bring? What goes in the bag? Airlines? Resort fees? Passports? Visas?  Who’s going to watch Sir Ozzy?

This site will be a place to write about my vacations, journeys, excursions, adventures, daytrips, and some funny stories.  I’ll review hotels, cruises, and restaurants.    Tips, tricks, advice, suggestions, hopefully over time you’ll be able to find it all here.

Enjoy the journey…