Wanderlust

Our Costa Rican SOFT Adventure

Posted by on Feb 13, 2016 in Costa Rica, Travel, Wanderlust | 0 comments

Our Costa Rican SOFT Adventure

We’ve been before. Quite a few years ago and loved it except for the fact that I almost drowned when I was thrown out of a raft on the Pacuere River. But other than that, we had a great time decided we’d give it another go. Our itinerary was: 4 days on the Osa Peninsula in an eco-lodge called El Remanso and then 3 days on the beach in Santa Teresa at a small boutique inn called Latitude 10 Beach Resort.

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Anti-Cabo

Posted by on Jun 4, 2015 in Mexico, Travel, Wanderlust | 0 comments

Anti-Cabo

This is a story about going to Baja and bypassing Cabo San Lucas completely.  It all started with a trip to Cabo and a 3 night stay at the super luxurious Las Ventanas .  Las Ventanas was for 3 nights so we decided to combine it with something else in the Baja.  Shortly after we booked our trip, the hurricane blew in devastating the area and destroying Las Ventanas.  So, we changed our reservations to mid-April which is when we were told the hotel would reopen.   April turned into a reopening in July but July is not a good time to go to Baja and since we’d already changed our flights once we decided to look for something to combine with the other destination that we’d booked…Rancho Pescadero in Pescadero, a few miles south of Todos Santos.

After doing some research on I-Escape, which I highly recommend, we came upon a small luxury eco-inn called Villa del Faro, on the Sea of Cortez, the East Cape.  It sounded great.  One hour on a dirt road, watch out for cows and goats, turn left at the basketball court.  Could been fun.  But the piece de resistence at Villa del Faro was something called “The Stone Cottage”.  A thatched roof cottage on the beach that had solar powered electricity, an outdoor shower and bano, fire pit and grill for cooking.  Sounded good and very adventurous, so we booked it.

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Yah Mon!

Posted by on Mar 1, 2015 in Travel, Wanderlust | 0 comments

Yah Mon!

Love it or hate it.

That’s Jamaica.  You’re either all in or all out.  There’s no middle ground.

Case in point.  We no sooner hopped into our rental car and headed out of the airport on our way to Negril, than we got a little lost.  Signage is practically non-existent even though everyone says “no problem mon”.  So, we’re waiting at a light deciding which way to turn and a guy on a bicycle comes up to us and says “hey mon, I just saw you at the airport-are you lost?  Where are you going?  Follow me.” So he pedaled ahead of us ON A BIKE  and directed us through downtown Mo Bay.  And, at another light a guy walks past our car and says “hey- I just saw you at the airport-where are you going?”  Guy #1 stopped to buy a paper and then said “let me hop in and I’ll get you on the highway” to which we politely said “no thanks we’ll find our way”.  And we did.  That’s Jamaica.  Some people would be completely intimidated.  For us, it was just a little scam which is played because of course they know we’re tourists, in a rental car, trying to find our way! And hey, everyone has to make a living!

So began our trip to Jamaica.  We couldn’t wait to get out of Snowmaggedon also known as Boston.  We’ve been all over the island. Yea mon,  No Problem is the mantra.  That, and Respect.  Turn off your clock.  Forget about time.  If you don’t like waiting,  if you have no patience, don’t go to Jamaica. But,  If you love Jerk chicken and pork, white sand beaches, a cool vibe, a cold Red Stripe or a Ting, Bob Marley, Rasta culture, Blue Mountain Coffee, beautiful people, then Jamaica is for you!

Our destination this time was Negril.  We rented a car which we now look at as not probably a great idea.  Roy was a little bit challenged with right hand drive.  Pot holes that could swallow a car- well maybe not swallow a car but definitely blow a tire, people walking on the road, no speed limit – I was screaming about potholes and was totally white knuckled for the entire trip.  It was almost a divorce. But a great trip.

Arriving in Negril you have a choice – the beach or the cliffs.  We’re cliff people.  Past the all inclusives, the funky beach hotels on 7 mile beach, going around the roundabout in a direction you think is wrong which actually was the first time and then we had to go around again but that road takes you up to the West End and the cliffs and The Rock House.

We’ve been there 3 times.  Starting back when the “villas”  or bungalow’s were $160/night.  Now we’re talking 3 times that.  But, worth every penny.  Once upon a time it was a well kept secret, now not so much.  They’ve added villas, a pool, the spa, and have two great restaurants.  The hotel restaurant overlooks the water and its a great way to see the sunset in a civilized manner.  By that I mean you don’t have to go to Ricks.  The other restaurant is The Pushcart.  Very casual with music most nights, the food is outstanding.  We stayed in three different villas.  #12 because we arrived a day early due to a snow storm in Boston (surprise, surprise!); then we moved to #16 which I love.  Hidden by vegetation which you look out on from your outdoor shower, a beautiful ocean view in front of you, individual sunbathing platforms – simple and perfect.  There’s nothing better than listening to the ocean crashing on the rocks which it did because of a storm that came through one night.  Our last night we stayed in a premium villa – #1.  New, larger but close to the road and not as private.  Still it was all good.

And this is where we parked ourselves for the week.  Snow be damned.  We couldn’t care less!  Great food, drink, music, lots of sun and Scrabble, a great book and oh, a little ganja for someone.  What else do you need in life?   We totally vegged out.  Something we don’t ordinarily do.

But that’s not to say we didn’t venture out; we did.  We had a check list:

Spend a day on 7 mile beach – check: One day, down to the famous 7 mile beach for the day with it’s parade of people and vendors on the beach.  A little music which I had to join, walking down the beach to Niah’s for a great handmade pattie for lunch with a Ting and a Red Stripe.  An awesome day.

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The best pattie in Negril-check: A pattie from Niah’s on the beach.  Totally hand made including the pastry.  How good does that look?

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Supposedly the best jerk in Negril-check: everyone said it’s Ossie’s so that’s where we went for lunch one day.  Simple and good but not great.

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One night we went to 3 Dives, a funky outdoor restaurant down the road from the hotel.  As I said if you have a problem waiting for your food, forget Jamaica.  At 3 Dives, it was probably an hour before our food arrived.  And don’t ask me how they found us.  There seems to be no system but apparently there is because our food miraculously arrived! And, there was supposed to be music that night but there wasn’t.  No problem, mon!

And, Roy needed to learn how to make Jamaican curry.  So one day, chef Warren from The Rock House restaurant brought Roy into the kitchen and taught him how to make shrimp curry which was then served to us in a papaya for lunch.  Yea Mon!!

One evening we were picked up late in the afternoon and driven to Zimbali, a retreat off the beaten path.  Zimbali is the creation of Mark Swainback who is actually from Vermont.  He was a commodities trader, got fed up and left for Jamaica where he had a vision and started a new life.  Zimbali has 7 rooms, it’s a working farm and every evening he entertains abuot 20 people for dinner.  Two chefs entertain and cook, wine is poured, there is drumming and it’s a generally great evening.  Mark’s created something special, his wife runs the show and he has a precocious little girl named “Sol”.  There’s no way you could find Zimbali by yourself, in the daylight or in the dark.  Going back to civilization after dinner, thank god for the driver because we would have been lost in sugar cane fields forever!

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So basically, that was our trip.  Laid back.  Until we heard that another storm was heading toward Boston.  Well, that threw me right back into the real world.  Everyone from Boston worrying about flights, storms, whether we would get home and me worried about Romeo and if he would have to stay at camp for another night.  But, the plane took off.  And right outside Boston the pilot came on over the loudspeaker and told us we’d be landing on “auto pilot” so please turn off all your electronics.  And “Don’t Worry” , we’re right there and the auto pilot is better than we are!  Okay then!  That’s a good way of taking that laid back vibe away!

But we landed – all is well.  Romeo is home and we’re looking forward to our next vacation – Cabo!

Here are a few more pictures from Jamaica:

We took an early morning walk one day and came upon this guy.  I asked him if I could take his picture and he asked if I would take the picutre with his “product”.  I said sure.  So he fixed his hair, arranged his product and here’s the result.  One of my favorite pictures of all times.

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This is Barbara.  She owns one of the little shops across from the hotel. She’s been there for over 20 years.  I love her!!

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View from The Rock House.  What can I say!

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Local color:

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So, see you at the bar……

 

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Back to Turkey

Posted by on Sep 28, 2014 in Travel, Turkey, Wanderlust | 0 comments

Back to Turkey

What draws us to Turkey.  This latest trip is our third time.  Could it be the people?  The food?  The amazing coastline with turquoise blue waters that run from the Aegean down to the Mediterranean.  It’s the cradle of civilization.  Archeological sites galore if that’s what you like.  Us, we like the beach clubs, the food, the shopping, the walking, meeting the people, taking in all the local action.  We ddidn’t see one archeological site even though we weren’t too far from one big one.

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Shhh…can you keep a secret?

Posted by on Mar 16, 2014 in Panama, Travel, Wanderlust | 4 comments

Shhh…can you keep a secret?

I’m not a religious person but I think I found heaven.  In fact, Peter one of the exceptional guides at Isla Palenque told me that he thinks he knows that if there is a God, he’s on Isla Palenque.

 

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Oaxaca…The Markets and everything else!

Posted by on Jan 5, 2014 in Mexico, Travel, Wanderlust | 2 comments

Oaxaca…The Markets and everything else!

If you read my blogs you know we love markets.  They’re the heartbeat of a city.  So we had to go to the Mercado 20 de Noviembre (named for the anniversary of the movement which led to the overthrow of dictator Jose de la Cruz Porfirio Diaz Mori (who was from Oaxaca).  It’s all about food and is the original take on a food court. There’s no Sbarro or Subway here.  Everything is fresh and made to order and it’s almost impossible to get a seat at a counter.  They are arranged by type of food.  You just pick one food stall that looks good and grab a seat.  It’s some of the best food experiences you could have in Oaxaca.  Each one is individually owned and they are called a fonda.  No one speaks English but I use my best high school Spanish to place our order.  Roy orders his breakfast in French.

I had to have a famous Oaxaca breakfast consisting of hot chocolate and pan which is a big sweet roll.  The hot chocolate is hand mixed and poured into a ceramic bowl.  It’s hot and frothy.  It tastes like chocolate and cinnamon and it’s the best hot chocolate I’ve ever had.

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Roy wanted an orange juice so someone from our food stall ran to another food stall that specializes in juices and brought back a hand squeezed tall glass of juice.  Roy had a quesidilla with Oaxaca cheese.  Some other traditional breakfast foods at our counter were bowls of the most delicious looking chicken soup with cheese, avocado, chunks of chicken and rice and it looked so good.

After breakfast we walked around the market.  It was a jumble of vendors from surrounding villages selling their wares, roving musicians and this family playing the marimba.  The young boy was playing with three sticks – 2 in one hand.  They were fantastic.

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Skirt Steak is the meat of choice, along with chorizo; pick your choice of meats and have them barbecued on a hibachi.  Add a little guacamole or pico de gallo.

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One of the favorite snacks in Oaxaca is Chapulines.  Do you know what that is?  Grasshoppers!  There are two kinds.  One comes from corn and one comes from alfalfa.  They are fried with garlic, onion and with chili and are sold everywhere.  You can order them as snacks in the best restaurants.  I had to pass.

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Here are some more market scenes:

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After breakfast we had to do a little shopping.  Some of the best shops are cooperatives selling the crafts from artists of surrounding villages.  We bought this frog and coincidentally the artist was in the courtyard working so we were introduced to him!

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My last purchase.  A handbag with a tapestry handwoven by a craftsperson from the town of Itsmo.  You see variations of this design all over Oaxaca.   But this shop sells only original designs and the handbag has a different design on each side.  There are no others like it.  I couldn’t resist!

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Italian food in Oaxaca?  Yes!  The best actually.  The owner of Mexita is from Napoli! We had an excellent carbonera and veal scaloppine!  After dinner glasses of homemade limoncello and amaretto!  Who’d think??

On our way back to the hotel, this is what was happening on the street.  Street food with cars double parked and people waiting in line for tacos.

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Oaxaca at night:

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Our hotel, because of it’s historical significance and beauty, seems to be the site where every girl having a quineanera has her formal pictures taken.  There were probably 5 or 6 photo shoots while we were at the hotel.  I took a picture of this girl.  She was stunning and so was her dress.  Just one of two that were worn for her photo shoot.  The other dress had a similar design as my handbag!

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Our last day had to be cut short.  Roy came down with a 24 hour bug and that ended our plans.  But we did everything we wanted.  We loved Oaxaca.  Would we go back?  Probably not.  Not because we didn’t love it but because there are so many places to visit.

Where are we going next?  Panama!!

See you at the bar……

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