Godivaworld Travels, Mexico

Pastimes in Playa del Carmen

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.

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Maya Villa Entrance

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.

Random shenanigans

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.

Events and Activities

Without question on of my best or shall I say favorite moments was parasailing while the gals were doing a myriad of things from lounging on the beach to beach side massages.  By far the best rush EVER!!!  See Fun Friday – Parasailing in Playa del Carmen!

One of the other things we did as a group (minus one) was the Tulum:  Mayan Archaeological Site and Chikin Ha Cenote X-Tabay day trip.

Needless to say the birthday celebration was a success by the birthday girls account.  We came, we saw, we ate, we beached, we played and most importantly we laughed as much as possible!

~ Travel Well ~

Travel Inspirations, Travels Gone by, Worldly Treats & Eats

Where I’ve Stayed, Played, and Layed

*PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT*

Read this post at your own risk as insane envy may arise although it is NOT the intended purpose :-).

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The joy (for me) is in the journey but I admit a small part of me marvels at the places I’ve stayed over the course of my travels (both business and pleasure).  So in the spirit of “lists” and in no particular order might I add, here are some of my favorite accommodations of which I’ve had the pleasure experiencing…..

  • The Mandarin Oriental Tokyo
  • Hotel Sofitel Munich Bayerpost (during my trip to Oktoberfest – see My European Adventure)
  • Grand Hotel Amrâth Amsterdam
  • Four Seasons in San Francisco (it was for business but still….it was AMAZING)
  • Maya Villa/Condos in Playa del Carmen, Mexico (2 story 3 bdrm, 3 bath, living/dining room/kitchen and balcony.  I still have to write the post so more to come)
  • Mahagiri Villas & Spa Dreamland, Bali (3 bedroom, 3 bath, living/dining room/kitchen, private pool/cabana all approx 3000 sq ft – stayed during my birthday celebration in 2014)
  • Barcelo Bavaro Adults Only Resorts Punta Cana DR
  • Ritz Carlton, Charlotte NC
  • The Adolphus, Dallas TX
  • The Fairmont, Seattle WA
  • Sutton Place, Chicago IL
  • The Millenium Hilton – World Trade Center, NYC (before the Twin Towers were constructed, actually during the rebuilding)
  • Protea Hotel Victoria Junction Waterfront, Capetown South Africa
  • The Venetian, Las Vegas NV
  • Dreams Cancun (my balcony overlooked the dolphin school.  This is now a different property now I believe)
  • Hyatt Regency Curacao Old Quarry Golf Course (I think it has changed its name since my stay in 2011)

My memory is giving me a run for my money at the moment so I will stop there while you salivate lol!

Where have you stayed that either gave you excellent service or accommodations that blew you away?

~ Travel Well ~

Travel Inspirations, Wanderlusting & Musings

Go somewhere, ANYWHERE!

There’s a great big world out there so why not explore as much of it as possible?

The best thing anyone can do is just GO!  Somewhere, ANYWHERE!  Go somewhere new even if it’s just a restaurant or neighborhood, street, or locally in your town, city, state, country, continent!  The value is in the exploration and discovery of something new, somewhere new.  The beauty is not in the destination (although some destinations are beyond breathtaking), the beauty is in the journey and most importantly the journey within yourself.

Just Go!!

~ Travel Well ~

Adventures, Godivaworld Travels, The Caribbean

Antics in ANTIGUA

I can’t begin to tell you about the excitement I felt at the thought of all the shenanigans my friend and I would encounter as we embarked upon the beautiful island of Antigua (pronounced An-tee’ga) this past March.  map of antigua and barbuda

Antigua and Barbuda are located in the middle of the Leeward Islands in the Eastern Caribbean, roughly 17 degrees north of the equator. To the south are the islands of Montserrat and Guadaloupe, and to the north and west are Nevis, St. Kitts, St. Barts, and St. Martin.  The current population for the nation is approximately 68,000 and its capital is St. John’s on Antigua.

So the day began with our arrival into Antigua as part of our 5 day island hopping adventures.  The big event of the day was our Catamaran Lobster Lunch adventure which was sorta kinda a birthday treat for my friend that almost didn’t happen because it was apparently a very popular activity.  Nevertheless we almost didn’t make the cut due to scheduling and space availability but in the end Godivaworld wins!!!

Oh to wandering aimlessly along the beaches of Antigua……

Anyhoo, our destination was Jolly Beach which appeared to be pretty isolated and definitely NOT saturated with tourists.  I can’t say enough about non-tourist areas even when I’m being a tourist lol.  I prefer to wander the path less taken and get lost in the streets the locals travel more often than not as that’s where you really find the jewels of any city.

Upon reaching the beautiful Jolly Beach (after sailing the seas around Antigua feasting on grilled lobster, beans n rice, a vegetable medley and rumvodkajack) the comedy and shenanigans really took center stage.  We disembarked from the Catamaran to a cozy little spot on the beach so the luxuriating could begin and shortly thereafter laughter ensued.  Just taking in the scene my partner in crime for this adventure, Norman, spotted what he called his (make-believe) cliff-side property being renovated just in time for him to approve the current progress.

As if this wasn’t enough comedy, we just so happen to catch a glimpse of a lady with very colorful scarves/wraps approaching our “friends” from the Catamaran for a sale (who were attempting to lounge and luxuriate on the beach).  Luckily we were already basking in the warm water of the sea to miss this “pop-up” beach sale.  However, since my “look away” reflex is a little sluggish I made eye contact with “JjAHkeey” <–said just like that.  Please check out the video below to see how Norman adds color and comedy to this scene.  Ms. Jackie just wanted to know if I were interested in her wears to which I kindly responded – “I don’t have any cash on me” (my go-to response).  Well honey, Ms. Jackie told me  to let her know if I change my mind (she throwing shade?)!

See why this is titled “Antics in Antigua”……are you still hollering because I was there and STILL can’t watch this without cracking up.  Gotta love your friends I tell you!

Needless to say, after our Jolly Beach shenanigans and Norman’s comedy show, the rest of the afternoon was filled with basking in the glow of the aftermath.

Although I didn’t see much of St. John’s (capital of Antigua), I know without question that I WILL be making a return visit with atleast 5 days of leisure, wandering, and luxuriating to satisfy my wanderlust soul.  Honestly what more does one need to be convinced to see this beautiful island?

~ Travel Well ~

Godivaworld Travels, The Caribbean

Curious in Curacao

Curaçao is the main island of the Netherlands Antilles in the southern Caribbean Sea, northwest  of the Venezuelan coast (173 sq. mi./ 448 sq. km)., that forms part of the Dutch Caribbean.  It makes up the ABC Islands which includes Aruba and Bonaire.
Capital: Willemstad.

If I had a passport stamp for each time I was asked “where IS Cur-ah-co” *blank stare* I would have 2 50-page passport books full of stamps lol!

Curaçao Pronounced Koo r-uh-sou, soh; kyoo r-

Anyhoooo, if I told you I’d been waiting most of my adult life to visit Curacao it would be an understatement.  Although I can’t recall the first time I decided that it was a must-see destination, I do know that from whensonever that moment was I knew the very FIRST opportunity to present itself to explore Curacao I would give up a limb to do it.

True story:  Soooooo while going through my inbox for the day (anal about the # of unread emails in my inbox), I opened the CheapCaribbean.com email and voila there was Curacao for a superfantastical deal so of COURSE I had to snag it!  Found out it was such a good deal because the hotel at the time was having their grand opening and because of it there doing a number of promotions.  In any case, I did a lil outreach to see who would be down for a quick getaway (I think we had about 7 days til departure) just taking care of their initial flight to MIA and the trip was BOOKED!!! (See my upcoming commentary on my travel process, resources, and such).

 

The hotel was a brand spanking new Hyatt property which meant – not very many guests – but we didn’t care lol!  Our accommodations were wonderful, the staff was super attentive and service was great.  We had a nice selection of restaurants at our exposure and given the newness of the staff, no request was out of the question.  Because the hotel was somewhat isolated (with a private beach) I even rented a car to get around and reaaaaaallly explore which we did as much as possible.   We even stumbled upon a dance party on Mambo beach where we stomped and popped well into the night. It was EVERYTHING for me!

Curacao has a little bit of everything for a little bit of everybody.  There’s the casino, scuba diving and snorkeling, dolphin academy, flyboard, ATV, caves, etc. As you can see there’s no short of things to get into or nothing at all if you prefer to just wander around the island.

All in all it was a great adventure and satisfied my curiosity and lust for Curacao.  Need more convincing….see below.

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Now you know HOW to pronounce Curacao (if you didn’t already), perhaps you will also add it to you list of must-see destinations.

~ Travel Well ~

Godivaworld Travels, North America

Puerto Rico (Remixed)

IMG-20120404-00325 PUERTO RICO!!!

Puerto Rico, officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, is a United States territory located in the northeastern Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic, and west of both the United States Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands.

One of my favorite stress free cities to visit.  Rich in history, culture, flavor, sights and sounds.  I’ve been to this lovely slice of heaven I’m guessing 4 times (2 of which were with my offspring with the first time being atleast 12 years ago with my immediate family).

This is my Puerto Rico “Remix” showcasing one of my adventures with my offspring (a.k.a the teenagers).

Just so happens this was their Spring Break so it was less about me and more all about them lol!  I chose Puerto Rico because it was a quick getaway with some familiarity and most importantly LA PLAYA!!!  By now I think most know that I am all about a beach and I don’t care much about where said beach is located.  This adventure was so low-key it was by far one of the most relaxing trips I’ve taken since I had absolutely no plans for my days.

My days were pretty much all leisure, no pressure, no stress. Just waking, lounging, eating, some exploring, shopping, drinking, happy hour in the hotel, and people watching.  There was one moment while shopping where an elderly lady needed to get across the street and I escorted her while waiting on my girlfriend who was busy in one of the stores.  Thinking back I’m not sure where this lady came frome….almost like she was a ghost (*home alone face*).

Although this was a repeat destination, I admit even now there are still many parts I’ve yet to discover.  This means of course that a return trip is in store at some point.

Puerto Rico would make for a great girls trip, family trip, solo adventure, relaxacation, couples adventure and pretty much any other reason one can come up with to visit Puerto Rico!

So what are YOU waiting for?

~ Travel Well ~