a fuller life

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Mexico 2020: The Vacation to End All Vacations… Literally

20200309_123104With no pandemic-related travel advisories to Mexico in place at the time we left, and no international travel advisories for Canadians, we decided to go ahead with our much anticipated lazy asshole trip to Mexico. Uneventful travels with Sunwing, left a few mins early, plane was 3/4 full, and a whole Elite Plus row to myself. I think the travel universe was doing me a solid after the last time I traveled with Sunwing didn’t go so smoothly. A few movies later, we arrived in Cancun (earlier than planned). Customs wasn’t abnormally slow, luggage made the trip, final declaration process took ages, and we were finally to our transfer van (the whole process took over an hour). Another hour or so later, we’d arrived at our digs for the week – Grand Palladium Colonial. Sue and I were in room 1231 (top floor of building 2) with Nicole and Adeline across the hall.

After a long travel day, we didn’t get in to much else. We walked around exploring the property a bit, had some eats, found a tasty beverage, checked out the show, and called it a night.

So normally this is the part where I would start to run down a daily play-by-play of all the fun stuff we did. We landed on Monday and it was obvious already by Tuesday morning this wasn’t going to be the relaxing vacation I had hoped for. Don’t get me wrong, I was in Mexico with good friends, the resort was nice, and the weather was beautiful – I’ve definitely worked from worse places. But spending my holidays cancelling yours hits hard in more ways than you know. My travelers are not a number to me and it’s really been a heartbreaking few weeks. By end of Friday, when Canada announced real travel advisories and the possibility of closing the border, there wasn’t much left I could do for anyone but wait or reply… so I worked from my phone on the beach.

So, onto lighter topics… wanna see the resort?

This is actually a complex of four resorts, so it’s quite a big property and we had access to three of the four. It’s easy to walk around and navigate, but there’s a trolley system if you don’t want to walk quite that much. The buildings are all no more than three floors high, there’s plenty of vegetation (and trails to walk through it), and it’s very well maintained. It’s not ultra modern looking and has more of a traditional feel, but it’s quite lovely. There’s plenty of pool areas and it was mostly just chairs in the shade that were getting claimed first. It definitely wasn’t at capacity when we were there.

With the four resorts together, it gives this property quite a long stretch of beach. TRS has a fairly rocky section, so definitely not well suited for swimming. The beach closest to White Sands is quite rocky as well, but we sometimes saw people snorkeling there. It starts to give way to less rocky entry at Colonial, and then the nicest section is at Kantenah. Our building was near the Colonial lobby and it was about a 10 minute walk down to Kantenah beach. Seawood was removed every morning, but there wasn’t much. I love that there’s a lot of palm trees still along the beach… great for natural shade.

There’s plenty of food options spread across the three resorts. We tried two of the buffets, Italian, Spanish, American, Mexican, and sports bar. There was also Thai, Japanese, steak house, seafood restaurant, beach bar, Brazilian, etc. We avoided some of them strategically with a shellfish allergy in our group. They seem quite good at handling allergies though – in each place, by request, they would show my friend with the shellfish allergy what she could and couldn’t eat, and would prepare her a special meal if needed. Reservations were only required for the seafood restaurant and the teppanyaki section of the Japanese restaurant. Plenty of bars around as well, with a couple of them open 24 hours.

There’s plenty to keep you occupied and it’s quite family friendly. There’s a huge sports area with soccer fields, tennis courts, archery, shooting, mini golf, shuffle board, and more. There’s a big kid’s club area and a small water park. Around the main pool, there looked to be a very active animation team. Most evenings, there was a kid friendly show and then another show that followed (they seemed pretty family friendly as well).

We managed to sneak off the resort for a couple of hours to do a little food and cooking tour in Playa del Carmen. We shopped at the market and a few stores with our guide/chef Angel, and then headed to La Parrilla to turn all our shopping into tasty eats. This was a lot of fun.

Lots of critters around to make friends with. We often ran into some resort cats as we walked around the pathways. We also met some coatis (the ones with the long tails), iguanas, and agoutis (also know as pig rat). The resort also had some flamingos and crocodiles – I’m not a big fan of animals in captivity on display.

I’m not a spa person, but it looked pretty nice. We toured through just before it opened, but I’m not sure how busy it ever got. Good sized gym with lots of equipment.

Sunrises over water are always the best… instead of working, I enjoyed some time with coffee and ocean the last two mornings before we came home.

Travel home was mostly eventful – transfer on time, chilled in the airport, flew home with a fuller plane than we came down on (some of the other Maritime gateways had travelers coming home early), and watched some movies. When we landed in Halifax, apparently a few people at the front of the plane had a fever, so we had to wait for EMTs to come and take them off (after they figured out how to hook some stairs up to our plane), and then the EMT talked to everyone on the plane. Then we were missing paperwork. Then we had to de-ice. Another quick flight and we were home a few hours late. At customs, we had to read a statement that we agreed to quarantine for 2 weeks, then they unloaded luggage one piece at a time into a tent and we couldn’t get our luggage until all bags were in. Finally, we could meet our people outside (they weren’t allowed in the airport). Strange times.

So that’s a wrap on Mexico. Hope you enjoyed the pics.

Ange out.
(but not out of my house, because quarantine :P)

 

 


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Southern Caribbean on the Carnival Horizon

First adventure of 2020, Miami-bound. See you later snow! Good-bye socks and jackets! Hello sandals! Uneventful travels. Mid-evening arrival in Miami, complete with entertaining taxi ride to the hotel with Steven – the human GPS. Nothing more was done than checking into the hotel (Holiday Inn Express Miami Airport Doral Area) and finding snacks.

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NYC for the Holidays

Admittedly, I’m not a big fan of Christmas… it’s so rushed and busy and exhausting. So obviously heading to NYC on Boxing Day was the perfect solution – there’s nothing rushed or exhausting about NYC, right? I’ve always wanted to see it lit up for the holidays and I was feeling the need for a show or two… so we did. NYC really lights things up for the holidays, so it’s definitely worth a visit… despite the crowds (and there really are crowds… especially around Times Square).

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England and Scotland 2019: Happy Stops, Speed Touring, Brews, and Coos

20190908_172719Someday we will learn that booking an overnight transatlantic flight for after Market on Saturday is a terrible idea – but we haven’t yet. So, market day, hurricane that shut down pretty much all the other Maritime airports but ours, Big Stop supper, and getting super drenched – and the adventure was underway. Our flight was off to Toronto without delay and it was smooth sailing once we got up above the storm. Had several hours in Toronto before our midnight-ish flight to London… so since we were already exhausted, we found beer. And walked around.

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Alaska 2019: On the Hunt for Unicorns

Seventeen hours, three flights, four airports, and six movies after having left our house, we arrived in sunny Alaska. The view from the plane of the snow-capped mountains was worth the crick in the neck… when will I learn to stop looking out the window so much? The Anchorage airport, what little we saw of it en route to getting our luggage, was really nice. Maybe 20 minutes to our hotel (Westmark Anchorage) in the heart of downtown. A quick change of clothes (it was nearly 30C!!) and off we went to explore… and to try and stay awake, since it was already about 9pm for us with the five hour time change.

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Adventures in Travel Agenting – Mexico Edition

There’s a little something awesome about heading to Mexico for two weeks for work when there’s still snow on the ground… and while I wasn’t getting paid to be there (that’s just not how it works as an independent agent), we do get agent discounts and it was an invaluable chance to see many resorts at once.  

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Ireland 2019: Forty Shades of Green

When the universe throws you an opportunity for a second trip to Ireland in a six-month period, you say “thank you universe”, buy a plane ticket, and go with the flow.

 

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Panama Canal on the Caribbean Princess

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Four hours into the new year and we were at the airport, starting the process of heading to Fort Lauderdale. Sounds like a great way to start the new year to me. First flight left a bit late as it was snowing and we needed to de-ice, but we had plenty of time in Montreal to connect due to a schedule change. We arrived through to US Customs before America was even open in the airport for the day (but it was only a brief wait). Had some breakfast, drank all the coffee and tea in the airport (because sleeping was just not happening with all the subdivision fireworks for NYE), and then we were on our way to Fort Lauderdale (with, ugh, Air Canada Rouge). Luggage arrived and we were finally off to the hotel (Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina – really close to the port). It was a mad house at the hotel when we arrived (after check in time), but our room was ready, so we dumped our bags, changed out of winter clothes, and headed off to find some craft beer at Tarpon River Brewing. It wasn’t a late night after that… too sleepy. Continue reading


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Ireland 2018: Craic and Hookers, All Around

A trip that starts with an empty seat in an exit row on a shiny new plane, with TVs that work and show free movies from this year – how could it be anything but amazing?20181006_215355And so after a crazy busy Thanksgiving market, we dumped things at the house and headed immediately to the airport… the usual boring flight to Montreal, some blah airport eats, another ice shortage at the Montreal airport (every frigging time I want an iced coffee at that airport!!!), and an overnight flight with little to no sleeping, and we arrived in Dublin early Sunday morning (our flight even got in 40 minutes early)… taxi to the hotel, dump the bags until the room is ready, and off to wander the city. Breakfast, a short walk, and a coffee… and the lovely people from the Gresham hotel call to say our room is ready – 5 hours before check in! Yay for showering! Continue reading