As much as I love and enjoy creating my own travel adventures and experiences, I must admit there is something so exciting about traveling with a bunch of random strangers especially when there are white sandy beaches involved.
So sitting here, daydreaming in between meetings about where to go next (<–always thinking about this…nearly as much as I think about what to eat *sigh*) and as luck would have it I came across Urban Hangover’s instagram post about their 5 Year Anniversary in Punta Cana.
IMMEDIATELY I said to self: “Self, lookuh here…..”
Now you knooooooooow (if you’ve been following my journey and musings) that I’m all about a beach….see the majority of my pics. So although I’ve been to Punta Cana before, I believe summer 2014, and even had the pleasure of partaking in the Hard Rock Hotel for an evening which is where this event is taking place, I immediately perked up.
I had to investigate further and so I was led to this…..check it out!
Not that I needed convincing but immediately I checked to see if they had a “single” option as I initially was of the mindset of a solo journey which I love. BUT…….the level of good time shenanigans sure to ensue made me reconsider so I started my outreach to see who would be interested (knowing that I was already sold). I mean after all, sharing is caring and I am too often asked about opportunities to wander with me so why not wander with others as part of Urban Hangover.
Soooooo, if you too are interested, just log onto urbanhangover.com for more info and tell ’em GODIVAWORLDTRAVELS sent you.
In case you need more convincing, Raheem DeVaughn will be the guest performer.
It has been quite some time since my last post and sad to say it’s not because I was off gallivanting ’round some distant land….that’s next month (stay tuned). I was actually off “making the donuts” on a project in Jersey for the past 6 weeks. Initially it was a nice change but by the final week I believe we were all kinda over it.
Each week consisted of flying out of Atlanta on Sundays (for me, the others flew out of Charlotte where they were based) into Philly and back home on Fridays. If that wasn’t taxing enough throw in driving to/from the Philly airport to Jersey where we worked and stayed. Luckily the drive was a straight shot and no more than a half hour – hour depending on traffic.
The campus or compound (lol to myself) was probably one of the nicest work sites I’ve seen – not counting the high-rise offices in the various cities across the company’s footprint. One of the best views was during the walk from our building to the building housing the cafeteria.
The view enroute to the cafeteria each day.
We were fortunate in that over the course of the six or so weeks we really had decent weather (for Jersey). Considering it was November/December, we only had to deal with chilly temps and rain, followed by unseasonably warm temps – for Jersey – during our final weeks. The campus pictures above paints the best picture of our various weather situations.
This day I didn’t even require my jacket between buildings and I’m sure anyone who knows me will tell you that I’m ALWAYS cold. I’m the odd bird who rides with her seat warmers on during the warm months.
In any case, it wasn’t all work and no play as we actually laughed as much as we could, stumbled upon a Casino, did our best to enjoy a good meal on most evenings and above all just made the most of our time in Jersey.
This one spot we lucked upon had a nice ambiance and a nice variety of ‘bar’ food. It is where I found my new love: “St. Bubbles” which is St. Germain, Champagne, Soda and lime juice…..I now order it everywhere I go smh. On this night we had the table near the fireplace which would’ve been real cozy with a special someone i.e not your work peeps lol!
All in all it was an interesting six weeks and I’m happy to say I met some really cool folks whom I would gladly welcome the opportunity to partner with again. Additionally the hotel staff and my ‘friends’ at the Philly airport restaurants, bars, stores, etc. always took really good care of me each and every week so for that the weekly jaunt wasn’t half bad.
Where the Eagles Play
On our final work day IN Jersey (for most) as the Charlotte contingency headed to the airport one of our teammates – the youngest in charge (inside joke) – whom we called Day 26 and the CFO – Chief Food Officer – said he and the crew were going to stop over in Philly at Pat’s King of Steaks. I, myself wasn’t leaving until a few hours later due to a much later flight, however another teammate suggested a ‘field trip’ into Philly for lunch to Pat’s with the Charlotte Crew. Off we went in the pouring rain with the Charlotte Connection leading the way determined to introduce our palates to the infamous Pat’s Cheesesteak.
How to Order a Steak
Followed by an order at Geno’s Cheesesteak opposite Pat’s. Caveat…the guys ventured to Geno’s for cheesesteak #2 while I politely stuffed my half-eaten Pat’s cheesesteak in my purse.
As seen on the Food Network
….across from Pat’s
I was waaaay out of my league in the food intake department with this crew…..and I’m perfectly okay with that. At this point I think I was just in disbelief that these guys were going to have a second cheesesteak before the first one had a chance to make it through their digestive track.
We came. We ate. They conquered (two cheesesteaks).
Meanwhile I was mostly looking for cool things to photograph and not getting soaked doing so.
So there you have it…..all work, some play in Jersey/Philly and my justification for being MIA on godivaworldtravels.com for the past six weeks. Sometimes you just gotta answer the call of duty but trust me, my next adventure is truly right around this corner called “2015 Holiday Season” so stay tuned for a little parlez-vous oui oui <hint hint>!
Until the next journey, have a joyous 2015 Holiday Season and a Happy New Year! The wait won’t be too long….I promise.
I swear there are sooooo many reasons to celebrate and just as many reasons to travel, although I’m the odd bird who knows neither requires any reason nor excuse merely just the desire to do so.
In any case, this past weekend I celebrated my girlfriend’s BIG birthday milestone in Miami!
Three of the 5 gals (6 gals if you count my car whom everyone knows as “Eva’) made a road trip of it which was a change of pace for sure.
When we arrived on Friday it was a rainy, overcast Miami day but we made the most of it. The first order of business after checking in while awaiting the arrival of the other ladies was some vittles as someone was a little hungry (not I says the #alwayseating chick)! So being that we were on Ocean Drive, there’s no shortage of sidewalk eateries with an acceptable mexican spot right next door to our hotel. Talk about ideal, this enabled us to see the other chick as she arrived and whisk her to our abode.
The Fritz is where we stayed
Jalapeno’s on Ocean Drive
With the rain and all our Friday evening consisted of preparing for our night out, laughing, and rolling around the city until we reached our destination – that which shall remain unnamed.
It’s amazing the things you see in different cities when you’re half paying attention. I came across a dancing billboard on the Intercontinental in Downtown Miami which was quite entertaining. Luckily no one was behind me at the light because I believe I sat there through a full light change.
Intercontinental Building Shenanigans
Friday night was a blast with the birthday girl having a great time for her special day!
Typically, I coordinate for everyone and take care of accommodations and such which I love but admit it can be taxing at times. Given that I told myself I would be on total guest mode and did just that lol with just one request which was to peruse Calle Ocho in Little Havana for some Cuban food and a Cigar Shop to fall into.
The day began with breakfast/brunch on Ocean Drive and a little beach time before we made our way to Little Havana.
South Beach Miami
South Beach, Miami
Brunch on South Beach with my screwdriver!
Brunch on South Beach
Looks like the jungle….just the palm trees next to our hotel and some restaurant next door.
Brunch near the Colony Hotel on South Beach, Miami
Needless to say by the time we were ready for Little Havana I was feeling a little tipsy but ready for whatever lol! So began our journey to Little Havana with my dear Eva leading the way (I even rode in the backseat which I’ve only done maybe once or twice)!
Again, my main goal was puro, street art, and eats/cocktails; the other ladies came along and was hoping for some good eats and whatever they stumbled upon. I’d say we were successful in getting our desires met for this outing. We even saw the restaurant and store front where an episode of “Power” was filmed (the El Pub).
Puro from the Little Cigar Factory
Ball and Chain with live music and bomb drinks!
Ball and Chain live music venue
Calle Ocho Street Shenanigans
Twirrrrrrl on Calle Ocho
Walking the streets of Little Havana
Street art by @Delvs and @Didirok on Calle Ocho in Little Havana
Calle Ocho sign
The gals at Domino Park
After all our walking (my drinking) and whatnot it was time to head back to our suite to prepare for what we hoped would be another night of shenanigans. Before we got our lives together I had to get atleast one cigar moment in while people watching on our balcony!
The view from above – the Fritz Hotel our 4th floor 2 bdrm with a balcony.
Saturday night found us making the most of our final night by taking in the South Beach nightlife, specifically some of the classics. So we set out to stomp the streets in our stilettos ready for whatever….with whatever just so happen to lead us to the Clevelander. As is typical, the streets were packed and so was the Clevelander’s bar, pool area party etc. We were informed of a rooftop party that would offer a great view with a popping atmosphere so we figured we’d head there.
View from the rooftop of the Clevelander Hotel
South Beach, Miami
South Beach Miami
South Beach, Miami
Miami nights, sights, and lights on Ocean Drive
With the exception of the exxtremely overpriced basic cocktail (thought I heard the bartender wrong lol) the DJ, atmosphere, people watching, etc did not disappointment.
….and so our night came to an end – albeit at 4 AM after sitting out on our balcony getting in just a little more people watching.
Ode to departure day which meant looking for things, organizing, packing, and making use of the last little bit of time before we headed out. It’s so hard to say goodbye sometimes especially when you know you’re leaving 70-80 degree weather for 40-55 degree.
Alas we prepared for the farewell and headed out once again for brunch and cocktails along Ocean Drive. We stumbled upon the Columbus Restaurant and when I say we were gifted not just complimentary Mimosas but shots as well….unfortunately I had to remind myself that I was road tripping it .
Preparing to leave but wait just a little more people watching from our balcony at the Fritz
Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all. ~Helen Keller
When I tell you these past couple years have been full of adventures, both the traveling, exploring, and living on the edge kind. From my long awaited trip to Bali for my birthday last year which included me partaking in Fly Fish (The ultimate in speed and exhilaration the Flying Fish is the newest water sports toy on the market! Fly Fish is a great adventure where you fly like fish jumping on the seawater with high speed boat); to parasailing in Mexico last October; followed by Ziplining in Barbados this past March.
Even after all that I just needed to quench my thrill seeking thirst by adding to the list – SKYDIVING!!!
A few months ago during an “Island Hopping Milestone Birthday celebration” for a good friend of mine, we stopped on the beautiful island St. Lucia. The extent of our shenanigans and comedy show-worthy antics needed to be televised because it was a day of never-ending laughs.
It is NO secret that I enjoy a journey, exploring new lands, experiencing new things. So it should come as no surprise that every now and again I try to drag bring others along with me. Rewind to October 2014. Well actually it was some time prior to that but October is when the actual journey began.
Picture this: my good girlfriend and sister share the same birthday and neither had been out of the country since returning from Germany where our parents were both stationed (military brats we all are). I told them I wanted to do something special for their birthdays – just because – and all they needed to do was renew their long-expired passports and secure their flights as accommodations and such would be on me.
So began my planning. Now sometimes I will travel on the fly and on the offchance I actually do pre-planning it’s never much farther than a month or so in advance (with the exception of my birthday celebration to Bali but again that involved other people accompanying me so I try to be more mindful of schedules, pockets, etc). In this case, I gave the gals a good 6 months or so to ensure everyone had plenty time to get themselves together for this birthday celebration (to include the 2 birthday girls securing their passport renewals). A small part of me wasn’t sure they would meet my our deadline but lo and behold they came through. Now of course I made it no secret that I was going with or without them lol but I played cheerleader every step of their passport renewal process because I really wanted them to experience this adventure.
So check: Passports completed; check: flights secured; check: accommodations booked and paid for; check: meet up and transportation details finalized. Off we were for Playa del Carmen. Why here? Well I didn’t wanna totally take them out of their comfort zones by going somewhere exotic or say with a much longer flight. I knew that we wanted beach time, a little partying, an easy breezy and free kinda place that wasn’t gonna break the bank. Mexico is always a good place for easy breezy or atleast has been to me on my various voyages there so I figured what better place than here!
My goal was to find accommodations more along the lines of a condo, house, or villa of sorts so we could all be under one roof and to enable less of a vacation feel and more of a “I live here part time” feel lol! Looking around on one of my favorite sites – Booking.com – I came across a few digs I thought would be sufficient but still weren’t sure they fit the bill. I also did a few random “Villa” searches on Google to see what I could come up with as well. Sidebar: People are often shocked that I don’t use a travel agent until I tell them how easy and much more flexible I find it to do my research, booking, etc. myself. I realize there are “levels” to this travel thing and those who explore seem to be more free than those who just ‘vacation’ if you will.
Anyhoo, I settled on a property that had 2 sister sites and on sight (virtually that is) appeared to be THE perfect digs for us and so I booked it. – Maya Villa & Condos right there in Playa del Carmen, near 5th Avenue, the beaches, restaurants, clubs, etc.
So our adventure began. Three of us were on the same flight coming from Atlanta while my sister was flying in from Orlando. Once we landed we just posted up at the airport sipping cocktails waiting for my sister to arrive so that we could make the most of the same transportation.
It drizzled a little bit enroute which almost put a damper on my spirits but as is customary, it didn’t last too long. By the time we reached Maya Villas any concerns of rain I had quickly dissipated. I recall pulling up to what looked like a random building with these steep steps only to find out that the check-in office was just up the street in a totally different building. Being the responsible party I made my way over to complete the check-in and obtain any information necessary to aid in making this trip that much more special for my birthday girls.
Once I finished the check-in process I returned to where I left the girls who had already been let into our “temporary home” only to be met with approvals on the digs. Upon entry I, too, was pleasantly pleased with my selection. For more on the Maya Villa & Condos check out my Where I’ve Stayed, Played, and Layed! We were all pretty stoked about the digs considering I once again made a reservation based solely on my personal research and not an actual referral.
For the 3.5 days of our stay I left the schedule pretty open as to not overwhelm anyone and really because I prefer to not be held down to a schedule so I can explore and wander. The only thing I planned in advance was the birthday dinner which happen to be the very night we arrived.
Arrival and Birthday Dinner
After arriving and getting settled into our digs it wasn’t long before we began to get ourselves together for our dinner reservations. I chose a lovely spot solely based on its menu and it did NOT disappoint – Plank – which was right down the block from our digs. We hit the cobblestone walkway and made our way to Plank.
There was lobster and prawns and sole (fish) and mac n cheese (with more lobster) and cocktails and pure gluttony. Need more proof? Check out “Plank not Planking in Playa del Carmen” and bring a napkin to help catch the drool lol! Not only was this a great meal it was a wonderful way to kick-start our trip while celebrating the 2 birthdays! Afterwards we headed out for a little club hopping.
By leaving our time pretty free, it enabled us to just stumble upon things which we largely did especially once our 5th guest arrived. By then I’d made my rounds to the supermercado and fell upon a cigar shop where I copped a few to include some Cohibas. The rest of the day we basically wandered around which was an adventure in itself.
T – G – I – F!!!!! Not to mention somewhere, right this moment it’s 5 o’clock…..er uh cocktail time!!
Happy Friday to everyone! In the spirit of the beautiful weather I’m currently experiencing, I wanted to share my sunshine and vibrant disposition in a post from an adventure in my notso distant past wherein I went parasailing while in Playa del Carmen. Let me set the scene…..
While chillaxing on the beach in Playa del Carmen during a birthday celebration I gifted to my sister and my really good friend-like-sister for their twin birthdays (plus 2 others) last October, I was checking out the various activities from the comforts of my cabana and my refreshing cocktail. Up above I see just a little dot of a thing and immediately thought “oooh that looks like fun” saying to myself “I need to sign up” so began my research.
As you can imagine, in this touristy area there was no shortage of “beach promoters” offering up everything from jet skis to boat rides to parasailing. So no more than 5.256 seconds after thinking to myself how I wanted to go parasailing, I was walking up to one of the “promoters” to find out how. After getting the process, cost, and availability of a single parasail I was internally stoked! I tore up the sand to get back to my sister and ask if she could capture some images of me from the ground when it was my turn.
Now all I had to do was wait and hush the voices inside who were getting me so riled up and excited.
Then my time finally came and I was beyond excited!! So my jet-ski arrived to take out to the boat from which I would take off from (or atleast that’s what I made up in my head because honestly I didn’t have a clue how this was gonna take place).
I arrived at the boat for takeout and said farewell to my jet-ski driver. Once on the boat there was a family of 5 kinda staring at me which was weird but not weird, I’m a shapely dark-skinned woman with big eyes and full feature and wild hair – that day lol. Well they were from Iowa somewhere and was curious as to whom I was taking to the skies with. I replied, “no one, just me” and followed with my friends are here and there on the beach somewhere but I wanted to do this and they were chicken so I told them I’d see em later. The family smiled and said “you go girl” and offered to take my pic as I was getting in position to lift off. See the pic below.
So I was off……in this harness thingy watching the ocean drift farther and farther from me. Now let me explain something. This was before I ventured into the world of GoPro so I had with me my smartphone AND my regular Olympus Tough – Shockproof/Waterproof camera in hand, not strapped onto anything. As I watched everyday beneath me get smaller and smaller I just kept thinking “if I drop this camera how will I get my pictures” not to mention trying to figure out how to keep my movements to a minimum as I positioned the phone then the camera for the best random shots. Dammit mannn if I had my GoPro, this would’ve been amazing!!! All things considered, I think I did pretty good holding on, steadying my hand and holding BOTH cameras.
My eyes look HUUUUUUUGE lol!
My feet dangling while Parasailling
Dangling above the ocean parasailing
So high only the tether is showing
The boat I’m attached to while parasailing
From the beach, my adventure looked like this (courtesy of my sister)
ME waaaay up there parasailing
Me i the distance parasailing
So there you have it….me parasailing by myself while trying NOT to drop my camera and phone in the ocean or somehow disconnect myself from the harness. All in all it was a superfantastic experience and one I hope to do again on one of my future journeys.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve done mid-adventure?