Our final day of the trip was spent on the beautiful streets of Ensenada.
Definitely not beautiful.
We didn’t get into town until noon or so, we were all watching the docking process from the decks above. Eagerly wanting off of the rocking ship.
This guy here was the best. Alvin was the assistant cruise director and he was a hoot!
We hopped on a bus that took us to the main drag of town. We just wanted lunch and drinks, nothing special on our minds.
Clever name huh?
We were heading to Hussong’s, apparently the oldest bar in Ensenada when we took a wrong turn and was coerced into a bar with free shots, blue shots.
It was a little iffy but the guy promised us that we would be ok and why would he lie to tourists? We really need a sarcasm font.
After our drinks we found our way to Hussong’s, imagine that.
I wanted to pop into this place when I learned that it was established in 1892. It’s also apparently where the margarita originated and it’s still standing. Did I order a margarita? No I did not, but Shawna did and it wasn’t great. Just a basic lime margarita.
I went with the timeless favorite….
The place was a tourist trap, it wasn’t as crowded as the other chain, Papa’s and Beer, that place was PACKED.
The bathrooms were interesting. The toilet paper was meant to be grabbed before going into the stall.
One drink and we were out. Then I found out that there is a Hussong’s in Vegas, WTF. We could have found a way dingier dive bar had we known that, sigh.
Time for lunch. We chose El Corralito for no particular reason than it was there and some people eating, that’s always a safe bet.
(One time long ago I got really sick after a day in Ensenada and I have some major PTSD).
You guys, the food was INCREDIBLE. Probably the best meal of the trip, aside from my Indian dishes. The sad thing is, we ordered what we normally do at our local Mexican places at home, ha. Cheese enchiladas, crispy chicken tacos, rice and beans. Can’t go wrong with those..Oh and mango margaritas…Why are they so good?
After lunch we hit the 7-11 for M&M’s because one can only try so many bad desserts in a row. Then went back to the ship.
Last dinner, last late night of mediocre entertainment.
I don’t think we ate dinner that night, but I could be wrong. I know that we went back to the martini bar for two last espresso martini’s.
We listened to some music and said goodbye to new friends and the best server in the lounge.
Then we played Roulette and probably ordered room service one last time because we didn’t eat dinner.
And that’s it, that’s the end. Well almost. We kept our luggage in our room so Saturday morning we just woke up, got dressed, grabbed our shit and walked off the ship. Our car was waiting for us and we were home by 9:30.
Reflecting on our trip, I don’t think there is any need to sail with Norwegian again. Next time we want to try Princess or Celebrity, advice welcomed. I would also like to hit the Panama Canal or Western Caribbean.
We woke up Tuesday morning to a Royal Caribbean ship docking right next to us in Puerto Vallarta.
Our plan for the day was to get to Los Muertos beach, eat lunch and lay in the sun.
We walked around until we found a place that had some open chairs on the sand and that place ended up being Burros Bar.
We ordered margaritas, I had a Cadillac and my babe got the mango, and apparently it was two for one.
For food we ordered the shrimp aguachile to share, a shrimp quesadilla and a shrimp burrito. Her burrito was the best and I really wish had ordered the snapper, food regrets are the worst.
After lunch we walked down to the beach and laid out for awhile.
After a couple of hours we found ourselves ready to head back to the ship where we could lay by the pool and the drinks were already paid for.
We stopped for some ice cream at one of the ports shops, dropped our stuff in our cabin and situated ourselves by the pool.
Before heading back to our room we watched the Royal Caribbean ship depart port.
After dinner we decided to watch a show called “Rock you Tonight” It was bad, if we were watching a high school performance then it would have been pretty good, but for cruise ship entertainment it was really not good. The entertainment in general was poor. I ended the night not feeling very hot so we went back to the room and said goodnight to Tuesday.
Wednesday was Mazatlan and sadly we were only there from 7:00 to 2:00. We got off the ship around 9:00, took a cab to a beach somewhere, and then we just walked until we found a man who offered us a couple of lounge chairs for a small fee.
As we were lounging in the sun wishing for a drink, a man with a menu appeared. He claimed that him and his mom were from Cabo and that they are making drinks in the alley. Shawna and I glanced at each other questionably and then said “ok, why not?”. My babe was braver than me and she ordered a very large mango margarita…..I ordered a Tecaté, playing it like a wuss. Her drink was really good and once again I had a drink regret because the nice man never came back, sigh.
We had an alarm set to make sure we allowed time for lunch.
We walked back down the beach until we hit Joe’s Oyster bar and popped in there.
Once again we ordered ceviche and shrimp tacos.
The shrimp in the tacos were fried, and they were SO DELICIOUS!
Our time was up so we went back to the ship and to the pool which was already crowded. We spent the afternoon swimming, drinking and meeting new people.
We took that night off, brought dinner down to our room and just watched a couple of movies. Oh, I forgot to mention the food at the buffet. It was set up by different stations, salad, pizza, entrees, desserts etc. But every day one side of the entree station had four or five Indian dishes, plus condiments such as chutney and raita. You guys, it was the best thing on the ship. Every dish, each day was phenomenal. Anyhow, that is what I had dinner that night.
And just like that it was Thursday which was our last day at sea. When we woke up we were rocking and rolling, we peeked out our window and this is what we saw….
Obviously, we wouldn’t be outside so we looked at the daily schedule of events to try and plan an inside day. Norwegian didn’t have as many fun ‘at sea’ activities as Holland America did. I am not sure if it was the actual games, the cruise staff or the guests, maybe all of the above, but it was all just blah.
We wandered around, popping into the bridge.
Played a little basketball in the arcade.
We watched a dance class from the safety of the back of the lounge while sipping Dirty Shirley’s.
Then we saw the sun really making an effort so we bundled up, grabbed our books and went to the pool deck.
It was DELICIOUS!
We both ordered the Escargot Bourguignonne, I got the Coq au Vin and my babe got the Duck de Canard. I guess I only took one photo and it was of the escargot, so voila!
The dinner was pretty good and after we headed to Bliss lounge to watch Karaoke and that was a lot more entertaining than the rock show, that’s for sure. The next day was our final day and we spent it in Ensenada.
We said adios to 2022 while cruising down to Mexico. The cruise deals lately are phenomenal, I highly recommend taking advantage if you can. Most cruise lines are now offering unlimited drink packages which are really hard to beat, if you like that sort of thing. Since flying anywhere lately is not only expensive but also a shit show, we decided to go back down to the Mexican Riviera but on a different cruise line. We were really spoiled with our Holland American cruise last year, very few people, ZERO children and great musical entertainment so there were big shoes to fill. We decided on Norwegian because it was a first for both of us, the dates worked out and the price was really easy on the pocketbook.
The itinerary had us leaving San Diego on New Years eve and hitting Cabo San Lucas, Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan and Ensenada, then back to SD.
We arrived at the port mid day and had a very simple embarkment. Unfortunately, new years eve was a cold and drizzly day, not an ideal way to start the trip. Pool deck activities don’t hit the same when it’s cloudy and cold, but we still gave it our all! Once we found our cabin, we hit the Lido deck for lunch, took a stroll around the ship, grabbed a couple of adult beverages and snagged a couple of pool loungers for people watching.
Norwegian’s selling point seems to focus on freestyle cruising. That means they give you more freedom from the OG of cruises. Instead of fancy dinner attire in the dining room at either the early seating or later seating, they have multiple dining rooms where you can go eat at anytime. While you can’t show up in board shorts and flips, you can wear pants and a t-shirt. However, I feel like most cruise lines offer that now, on Holland we went to dinner when we wanted to not at a certain time each night. Besides the two main dining rooms, there were also a handful of places to eat that were included. A buffet on the pool deck along with a poolside bar and grill. There was also an Asian restaurant and a 24 hour diner type place called O’Sheehans. It looked like a Hennessey’s but the food wasn’t great. The 24 hour part was exciting as we really needed that on our last cruise, but it turns out we didn’t need it on this one.
The view wasn’t bad.
These days the cruise lines have a few extra restaurants that you can dine at but for a price, some may have a fixed price and some are priced by entree. The Jewel, which was the name of our ship, had six to choose from. Italian, French, Sushi, Teppanyaki, a steakhouse and a Churrascaria. When we booked the trip, our package included all beverages $15.00 and under, wifi, one excursion and one alternative dining choice.
The captain pulled anchor at 4:00 and… we were off like a prom dress. Then the wind kicked in, so we bid a farewell to the pool deck and went to see how the casino was doing. Maybe we played some Roulette, and then we went to get ready for dinner and some dancing.
There were two dining rooms to choose from and honestly neither of them were anything grand and sadly, either was the food.
After dinner we chose to go to the Spinnaker lounge where the house band was playing top hits and then a DJ was going to count down the night. This would be the place we went to end each night, sadly it wasn’t anything great either.
We woke up to a new year but the weather was still in 2022.
Knowing that the sun was in our future, we spent the day playing Battle of the Sexes, Majority Rules and Bingo.
We tried the other dining room for dinner and this was a clear look into Norwegian’s “free-style” dining. Some guests did not care about what they wore, ordered or acted at the dining room. Classy is the opposite of what we saw. The night ended the same but we ordered room service and watched whatever we could find on the tv until we fell asleep.
We woke to sunny skies in Cabo San Lucas.
We were excited to head back to Medano beach and just lounge with food and drinks with our toes in the sand. That was all we wanted to do in each port. We walked around the marina, stopping for a couple of margaritas.
Then we walked through town to Medano beach seeking out The Sand Bar.
The beach was packed so we weren’t going to be able to lounge on the beach, the holiday brought ALL of the people. We were lucky enough to find a seat at the Sand Bar but then we proceeded to wait forever to be served. Sadly they were out of the octopus so we ordered a spicy shrimp ceviche, fish and shrimp tacos. Nothing was memorable aside from the view and the weather.
When we were finally able to wrap up our meal, we hit the street and got a cab to take us back to the main drag. We were going to pop into Cabo Wabo (don’t be judgy) for a drink but with three cruise ships in port, that was a HELL NO. So we asked around for a place with a good margarita and we were sent to The Monkey Bar.
This place was literally just an outside bar with about eight bar stools and a handful of tables. We chatted up a couple who just moved to Cabo and met a man who was a tour guide. We got his card for when we head back in June, hopefully he can hook us up with some fun activities.
The margs were pretty good.
When our glasses were empty we hopped on the tender and went back to the boat. We soaked up some sun at the pool, had dinner and then tried our luck at the martini bar.
Two days into the trip we knew that this cruise wasn’t going to live up to our Holland American cruise, sadly.
Why do I feel like this title has a sexual undertone?
Two nuns were riding their bicycles through the back streets and alleys of Rome.
One turns to the other and says, “I’ve never come this way before”.
the other nun says, “It’s the cobblestones”.
It’s a Roman ending.
The alarm went off on our last day in Rome. We still had things to see, places to eat at and hands to shake. We strolled to the hotel breakfast which was quite good. Plenty of options and good coffee.
Originally we planned on packing some rapid Covid tests but totally forgot. We had a connecting flight in Canada which is still quite strict on their policies. We thought better safe than sorry, so after breakfast we took an Uber to a testing site. And, it was closed…so we hopped back in the Uber and went ahead with our day, silently hoping we wouldn’t need the tests.
We arrived at Vatican city pretty early, but there were already loads of people lined up to go inside, hard pass.
We continued our self tour and walked towards the Tiber river, heading towards Piazza Navona.
This is when we were sure that the only people who order Aperol Spritz’ are Americans, because it’s not a good drink and the Italian’s know this.
I had a place in mind for lunch near the Pantheon but it wasn’t opening for awhile and the crowds were already crazy. So we chose another restaurant and that is the one thing I hate about myself. I need to stick to my instinct, sigh. We weren’t disappointed with where we ended up, but I know the wait would have been worth it.
We wandered the streets heading back to our hotel.
Taking a little siesta before heading back out.
Italy was playing in England and I thought what fun it would to be watch an Italian match in Italy. So we found a pub that was televising all of the matches and hung around that area until kick off. We had a snack and did a little window shopping.
A recommended wine bar wasn’t too far away, so we popped in for a glass. Their wine list was obnoxious, The Cheesecake Factory should be jealous.
Finally we ended up at the pub with some drinks and a very uneventful fútbol match, we finished our drinks and left at half time.
Stopping off for one more sweet before bed. We had a ride scheduled to take us to the airport in the morning. We have a 5th grade promotion to catch, or so we thought….
No alarm Friday. Our hotel had breakfast available but we decided to sleep in and then go. Making our way through the streets of Rome heading to the Colosseum. It took us about an hour to tootle the 1.7 miles.
We were hungry and for whatever reason, all I wanted was pizza. We stopped and did just that.
Cheese pull number two wasn’t as grand, but the pizza’s were really good.
We strolled by the Victor Emmanuel monument.
Our end game was Campo de Fiori and it did not disappoint.
We chose a place to sit for cold cocktails and some people watching all while mentally making a shopping list.
We grabbed some fun pasta for the girls, meloncello, and the BEST apricots I have ever had.
Then we strolled through the Piazza Navona and the Pantheon to plan Saturday’s lunch.
Before we new it, it was time to head back to our room and get ready for dinner.
Our room. We stayed at the Hotel Mozart but our room wasn’t in the hotel, it was around the corner, in another building. I filmed the experience, you are welcome.
It was perfect.
Dinner….. we planned this dinner weeks before our trip.
Hotel Eden’s rooftop restaurant is where Michelin-star Chef Fabio Ciervo works his magic. I’ll be transparent and admit that the dinner started off with some anxiety. I left my phone in the Uber that dropped us off and even though the driver said he would bring it back in an hour, I had a hard time relaxing because, what the f*ck? I don’t even know why I had my phone in my hand or why it didn’t exit the car with me. I blame my cold for brain fog because that’s all I have for an excuse.
The menu featured a handful of tasting menu choices. We decided on three courses and dessert.
Which ended up being a very good decision because the chef added some amazing bites to our meal.
I have to say that I have never experienced this type of service before, it’s something that I could easily become accustomed to.
We started off with a goat cheese mousse cannoli with tomato dust. A tomato anchovy tartlet. Grape riesling foie gras and a wheat grass spritz.
Truly incredible and we haven’t even started.
Bread with three flavors of compound butter. My memory fails me but I know there was parsley butter, anchovy butter and one other flavor. The one thing I noticed this time in Europe was that the butter has been unsalted. That never was the case before. I may need to consult a chef about this.
Next up, White asparagus, Amalfi lemon and Mazara red shrimp.
Buffalo mozzarella, scallops and dried tomatoes. The first picture is with the tomato lattice on and then with it off.
Gran Riserva risotto with Franciacorta wine, oyster and rocket.
Let me pause here and talk about this dish.
Veal broth ravioli and horseradish my way.
Never have I ever experienced anything like this before. I can’t even begin to describe it but it was incredible. The ravioli was perfectly simple and the broth, the broth was so complex and in that one bite it was magic. One of the best things I have ever eaten.
Eel with mixed herbs and Pigeon breast with raspberry and foie gras. I did not love the pigeon, probably wont do that again. The eel was good.
Palate cleanser of mango and coconut dried ice cream.
Deconstructed Tiramisu and a view.
We thought this was the end but it wasn’t.
A box of chocolates and these amazing sweets.
We were absolutely blown away by this experience.
Thank you Rome.
Completely stuffed we walked it off, pausing at the top of the Spanish steps. We thought about a wine bar but we were done, so we went back to the room.
We had the entire previous morning to reschedule our breakfast for later on our last day in Greece. More like move it to the PM (if we were smart), but it didn’t even cross our minds. So after only a few hours of sleep, we were woken by a knock the door along with a chipper “good morrrrning!” Then we stumbled outside to another amazing breakfast on the patio. It’s hard to describe this hotel because it’s unlike anything we’ve ever experienced. But it’s very quiet and you rarely see anyone other than the porters carrying luggage up and down loads of stairs. So when Shawna was all “come here, hiiiiiii” in her cute voice, I was like what is happening? But then, she arrived.
I nicknamed her Evil Eyes only because that is what she had, but she was super sweet, a nursing mama in search for food. She liked, eggs and bacon, disliked, Greek yogurt.
Our transfer to the airport didn’t arrive until 1:15 so we wandered back into the village grabbing souvenirs and a last lunch.
We had no problems getting to the airport, getting on the airplane, getting to Rome and then getting to our hotel. We booked a stay at the Hotel Mozart. It checked the boxes of walking distance to certain landmarks, had a lift, breakfast included and a cafe next door.
We were right around the corner from the Spanish Steps. Once we checked in, that is where we headed.
We ate dinner not far from Piazza de Spagna.
Wine, pizza and pasta.
Cheese pull number one! Dinner was delicious.
We decided to head over to the Trevi fountain because, why not? And it’s more majestic at night, well I think so.
We headed back towards our hotel when we ran into Giolitto. I mean by the amount of people in line, we couldn’t pass it up.
I ordered way more than I could handle. Dark chocolate, coffee and pistachio…in a cone, sigh….
She ordered almost the same but in a cup.
Verdict; the dark chocolate was too much (who am I?) the pistachio was amazing, the coffee was good.
Why the line of people? No idea, but I also don’t understand ordering an Aperol Spritz on purpose, so maybe I am getting old and it’s lost on me.
Full and tired, we headed back to our room.
Oh, I can’t wait to show you the walk to our room!! Andpictures of the Colosseum and our spectacular dinner at a multi Michelin star restaurant, swooon!!
My coughing has been making my nights really sucky.
So when we woke up to our breakfast being delivered, I made it outside with barely open eyes.
But if there is anywhere to just sit and soak it up, this is the place.
We had no agenda for the day except making our way to my brothers hotel for his wedding. So we ate, napped and read until it was time to get ready. A very nice lazy start to a fantastic day.
All of us that were in Santorini for the wedding arrived on Monday, Casey and Aileen were also supposed to arrive on Monday however their travel plans came to a halt in Munich. Their flight was delayed and then canceled, forcing them to stay the night in Germany. After a lot of shuffling and money, they were able to catch a morning flight on Tuesday getting them into Santorini by the afternoon. They made it, however their luggage did not. Can you imagine? A day before your wedding and you have nothing.There was no ETA on when they would get their luggage either, but luckily they were able to go shopping and expense what they bought. Santorini isn’t a terrible place to shop, they had a lot of options. A day later Casey had new wedding attire and they had bought beachwear, luckily Aileen’s dress was brought there by a friend who’s luggage did make it.
We walked with our wedding shit, in the sun, up hill to their hotel but not after getting lost…of course. We really have become accustomed to getting a ride when we want it, and I will not take it for granted again. Sweaty and sunburned we climbed up and down more stairs until we were in their hotel room and laying on the air conditioner.
Then we popped some Champagne and toasted to the soon to be husband.
When summoned, we made our way to the ceremony.
Have you seen a more dramatic back drop for a wedding? I haven’t.
Casey looked mighty fine for shopping that morning for an outfit, his friends did good. And Aileen was a stunning bride. It was a beautiful wedding.
While the bride and groom went off for photos we made our way down to the bar for some adult bevarages.
Then they did the cake cutting before the sun set.
Followed by the most incredible wedding dinner. I can see how the rich and famous get used to this type of lifestyle, it’s not too bad.
We were served a seven course meal over 3 maybe 3.5 hours. Every bite of food was phenomenal. I terribly regret not taking pictures but I wanted to be in the moment.
Once we finished the dessert course we all got in a transfer back to the Oia village to the Hassapiko bar.
I know what you are thinking, I thought the same thing… it’s for a vacation, that’s exciting right? Well, we all had a bad cold leading up to this, and sleeping wasn’t what I was getting much of at the time, so ya, 3 in the morning hurt. But, we got to the airport, on the first flight without any hiccups or coughing fits, thankfully. I literally had to have a cough drop in my mouth at all times.
We left San Diego early and got to NYC on time as the picture suggests. The layover in NYC was simple and then we were on our second leg to Athens. This leg was a good 9 hours and I started out by playing a game.
But after this rude comment, I switched to my book. (which is Book Lovers and as good as I imagined it would be.)
Finally we made it to Athens.
(If you don’t see this video because I am in a different country and my computer doesn’t comprehend.)
Once we reached Athens, we hit the ground running, until we weren’t. The Santorini airport was unlike anything else I have experienced. We should have had over 2 hours to play around at the airport, however that didn’t happen. Long story short, an hour was spent getting our luggage checked, and then we had to wait for a bus, yes a shuttle bus to take us out to our plane. The bus was a few hour late meanwhile we were only in the air for 26 minutes. However, we made it and was pleasantly surprised that our luggage made it as well.
The four of us took a transfer from the airport to Oia, pronounced Eeee-Uh. Our hotel was located at the beginning of the Oia(n)? village. This is the area you see in all of the movies. White buildings that look like sugar cubes perched on the rugged cliffs over looking the Aegean sea. There are blue domed churches dotted along the way, the landscape is breathtakingly beautiful.
There are cats and dogs happily sun bathing all over the village.
Once we got settled into our amazing room at Thirea Suites and Studios, and took a much needed shower, we met up with my parents for dinner.
Amazing right? Everything about this hotel is wonderful, except these.
Doesn’t look too terrible but I assure you this isn’t all of them. We counted and there are 139 steps. Let me tell you, after a week of coughing and the Mediterranean sun, 139 steps is no small feat. But it’s worth it when you reach the top.
We planned on walking through the village and down the 300 steps to Ammoudi bay however I didn’t have it in me. Not enough sleep and still fighting my cold, I wasn’t confident I would make it back up. So we stopped into a little restaurant that served traditional Greek dishes and had a nice dinner.
I ordered the Mussels Saganaki and a dry white wine (I can’t remember the varietal) and it was all really good. After dinner we popped into a little market by our hotel for some wine, water and snacks because no one wants to be left without options on vacation.
We poured a glass of wine and soaked in our jacuzzi, winding down from a couple of long travel days.
The one thing we didn’t prepare for was how difficult it is to find rides on the island. So if you come here, come prepared. There are very few taxis and even less Uber’s and transfers need to be reserved ahead of time or you’re left waiting.
I had made reservations at a winery a few weeks before we arrived. We forget to arrange our ride the day we got in so after climbing all of the stairs and coughing for a good 10 minutes in the sun, we finally managed to get a ride, although we ended up being an hour late to our reservations, but we made it.
We had four wines paired with two courses. The food was really good, the wine was just ok.
From the winery which was located in the middle of the island, we wanted to catch a ride on the bus down to Perrisa beach which is on the bottom of the island. We had to hike a ways back up the road to get to the bus stop. The bus is really convenient and a cheaper option to get around but it takes time to get from one side of the island to the other. We hopped off the bus in the town of Perrisa and walked seaside until we picked a beach bar to pop a squat. I don’t know why all the countries have amazing beach bars and we live in California and we have nothing like this.
The beaches were lined with shops and bars and they all offered chairs and umbrellas, all of them.
We changed into our suits, ordered a drink and soaked up the Mediterranean sun, literally, for hours.
The beaches are all black sand (rock beaches) thanks to the volcanic lava and ash. Hot as hell is what is was, like it literally did just came out of a volcano.
The water was chilly but it felt good. It was crystal clear and so refreshing to float in. I wish I could walk right into it right now.
We called our transfer for a pricey ride back to our hotel because we didn’t want an hour long bus ride.
The rest of the crew were all going to do a wine tour/dinner that evening, we were the only two losers that didn’t go. We had already done the wine thing and wanted to have a nice quiet dinner, but I did feel slightly guilty for not going. But they all had a good time, the didn’t miss us, I’m sure.
We tootled through the village, stopping for a couple of adult beverages and people/sight watching.
First up, two espresso martinis with a sea view.
We found a pharmacy and got some more cold meds because my cold is hanging on for dear life. Then we ran into this cute place with an amazing drink menu.
We found a bench and just soaked up the fact that we were in Greece.
Back to dinner, you guys, this meal was incredible.
We started off with grilled octopus with fava bean puree.
Then we both ordered risotto.
Me, pistachio risotto with sea bass. Her, wild mushroom with smoked bacon risotto with truffle oil.
Again, so so good.
For dessert, creme brûlée.
Completely satisfied, we walked back up more f*cking stairs.
And made our way back to our room, where we once again soaked in the jacuzzi until sleep beckoned us.
Tomorrow I hear there is a wedding. Although, it didn’t start of very pleasant for the happy couple. More on that next time.
About four months into the midst of Covid we were itching to isolate somewhere warm and with a pool. Obviously hotels weren’t allowing guests and even AirBnB’s were scarce. I found a place in Desert Hot Springs called The Getaway, it was a seven unit apartment complex turned vacation rental. The owner was kind enough to let us stay for a few nights so we could have a change of scenery. Luckily, out of all the units, only a few were occupied because uh, isolation right?
The place was mid-century, had everything we needed, a pool and a hot tub, and it was just what the doctor ordered. However, driving into the town of Desert Hot Springs was not what we imagined.
This is the property.
Nice and quaint with lots of available sun.
This you guys, is what it looks like on the outside of that building.
Desert Hot Springs is like Palm Springs’ seedy cousin. Neglected, poor and you probably shouldn’t leave your cash lying around. But, we had a great time and became fast friends with a lady that was also staying long term there while her man, an essential worker, was working in Santa Monica.
Fast forward two years, we wanted another sun soaked few days but Coachella and Stagecoach had all of the desert hotels bumped up to ridiculous prices. So we decided to try another place in Desert Hot Springs but this time chose an actual hotel that had some security and indoor room entrances. Miracle Springs Resort and Spa’s website said they had the above, but also had seven natural hot mineral pools, an outdoor pool and a restaurant. That checked all of our boxes so off we went.
We drove through a sand storm on the way in. Not smog or haze just sand.
When the map told us we had “arrived at our destination” this is what we pulled up to.
Uh nope, nope, not staying here.
We knew or I should say we really really hoped that this wasn’t the place, so we drove around the lot and into another parking lot and then things looked a bit better. Not great but better.
We checked in around seven in the evening as their restaurant Capri was closing. We asked the receptionist if there was a place to eat nearby that she would recommend. On her advice we drove a few blocks to a Mexican place called Casa Blanca. What do you know, the parking lot was packed, phew! We had a margarita and some really, really good food. Surprised and satisfied, we headed back to the hotel stopping off at a 7/11 for some pool snacks and a Snickers to stick in the freezer (for late night snacking).
We woke up and headed to Capri for breakfast.
We both ordered the eggs Benedict, and it was exactly as you’d expect from this place. Basic, no frills, egg bennies but totally satisfying. Let’s be honest, this place was not Italian, something tells me that their sauces come from jars.
The waiter/bartender Adam, was super attentive (maybe with the help of a substance or two) and very nice. He was our server both days.
This place claims that their hot pools are mineral hot springs, I mean, maybe they are, however….
They looked like condo hot tubs.
The grounds were nice, loads of greenery, beautiful flowers, and palm trees that were play houses for all types of birds. The pool water was perfect for the 90 degree weather. Enjoying some adult beverages in the sun was all we needed.
We spent the day reading in and out of the sun. With snow capped mountains in the distance.
The deco is straight out of the 90’s and it could use a facelift or two. But if you want a no frills place to lay in the sun with really no rules to abide by, then Miracle Springs resort is just fine.
We woke up in Puerto Vallarta, and after some coffee we hit the ground running. Familiar enough with the city, we hopped in a cab and headed to Playa Los Muertos. The plan was to walk along the beach until we found a place to lay out, swim without dying, and have some adult beverages.
We didn’t have a hard time.
It wasn’t the prettiest beach, and to safely swim we had to walk south a bit, otherwise the undertow would’ve taken us to the Bermuda Triangle. Nonetheless, it was exactly what we were looking for.
We had fish taco’s and coconut shrimp, both were delish.
Oh, can we talk about the beach vendors for a second? If you’ve been down to the Mexican Riviera beach towns then you’re familiar that the beaches have vendors that sell everything from sunglasses and jewelry to basically junk. However, this time we were offered cocaine, you guys is this a new thing? It wasn’t just at this beach either, it also happened a couple of times in Cabo. So anyways, if you’re looking, I know a guy.
After a couple of hours of floating in the ocean and soaking up the Mexican sun, we gathered our stuff (no, not cocaine, I bought sunnies) and walked up the beach to the Malecón. I really, really, really wanted to get another passion fruit margarita at the Devil’s Bar. I guess the secret got out because every seat was taken and it was only a Thursday, ugh. Having seen all the shops and bars already, we dragged our feet back to the ship.
Look who greeted us.
For dinner we went to Tamarind, Asian cuisine. The shrimp dumplings were incredible. We also shared a pork belly char siu, along with crispy duck and panang curry. The waitress talked us into a ginger wasabi martini that didn’t taste at all like wasabi but Shawna enjoyed it.
That night we requested a couple of songs from Colin and Clara, the pianists. They were so great, they both sang our requests, songs they have never performed before.
After the piano bar, I’m pretty sure we danced for 2 straight hours. Sweaty and barefoot is how the night ended.
You know it’s a good night when the shoes come off.
Friday and Saturday we were at sea, and it seems like they went by in a flash.
Friday we were still far enough south that the weather was quite warm, meaning a pool day. Hopping from hot tub to pool is how the afternoon went, stopping for pizza and a ping pong break. While sitting in the pool we met this couple from Arizona. Interesting folks, a little TMI but friendly. Sitting on the steps of the pool, we talked to them for a good 45 minutes. As we talked the wife steadily became more and more intoxicated. Gradually getting more inebriated with each minute that passed, but she wasn’t intaking anything. Anyhow, that was a topic of conversation for the rest of the day.
It was our second gala night but before we hit the dining room for dinner, we popped by the pool bar for a martini happy hour.
It wasn’t a ‘choose your own martini’ type of situation, we got a trio of martini’s, that we shared and they tasted like, well, exactly as they look…fruity.
Sure enough, the Arizona couple from the pool was there. He was eager to talk and she was still upright. However, rumor has it, she passed out later at the dinner table.
Our dinner wasn’t terribly exciting, I think this was the one evening that I was actually disappointed in everything that I ordered. Luckily, we had stashed Parisian sandwiches in our fridge for late night dining.
We met two brothers early on the trip who were traveling together, and they were from La Mesa (East San Diego). Turned out that they grew up just a street away from where Shawna did, small world. Nice men, we called them our guard dog pit bulls. However, one of them fell asleep on the job.
This wasn’t like a nod of the head. You guys, he was OUT. Nowhere-ville, it was amazing…and then a little scary, but he was fine, just completely knocked the f*ck out. He slept through the bands set, he slept through cowbell, he slept through more cowbell and he slept through slaps on the cheek.
That’s the doing of tequila shots, or so they said.
We dusted off our Macarena dance moves on the dance floor ending another great day.
Is there anything sadder than waking up on the last day of a vacation? No, the answer is no.
We reached Saturday, the last day of our cruise. Somewhere near Baja California, because when we stepped outside, ready to soak up the sun, we were slapped with November San Diego weather. Meaning it was not quite warm enough to get wet.
So we played some ping pong and wandered along the outside of the ship.
I wanted to play the music trivia at the pool later in the afternoon, so we went to the Lido Market for lunch. It was delicious, I piled my plate with poke sushi rolls and crispy pork belly. Oh, so so good. After we ate, we went back to the room to change into warmer clothes and then headed to sit out for a bit at the stern of the ship.
Somehow we ended up scoring poolside lounge chairs right before trivia started. The sun came out, of course, and then it was time for a quick wardrobe change back into swimwear.
I love trivia, and I felt confident with music trivia. But you would think that I have learned my lesson by now. These ships are full of people that have lived decades longer than me. The first five questions were about classical music so there went that win. Then it was songs from the 1950’s, so unfair. I guess I don’t need to tell you that we didn’t win.
Even though it wasn’t hot outside, we knew we had gotten some sun. We took the next hour to pack our luggage, leaving out only what we needed to disembark. Then we made our way to the casino. That was a bust for me, although Shawna won some money on a slot machine. We ran into our besties, Cliff and Gail and we sat at the casino bar for a drink. Why does time fly when you’re having fun? Before we knew it, it was time to get ready for dinner. That was the one thing that I got tired of doing, getting ready. Having to do it every night is just so much to ask of me.
After a dinner of braised lamb, pasta and pavlova, we went straight to the rock room, no time to spare.
Clara was performing in the theater, before she hit the ivory keys.
Once the music was over, we all stayed in the Billboard Onboard lounge and hung out with the crew. Talking and laughing.
Laughing and talking, we stayed up past last call, which means quite late, or quite early.
Since we had packed earlier in the day, once we got to back our room, all we needed to do was set the alarm and hit the sack. Welp, the alarm didn’t go off, so we woke to the sound of the hall intercom calling disembarkation numbers. That put a pep in our step, and in minutes we were dressed and heading down to the gangway. The only good thing about running behind was that our car was already at the port waiting for us, so we were home in no time.
That’s it, that is the end of our fantastic trip. It reminded me of why I have always loved cruising and we are looking forward to another one soon, someplace new and warm.