Thursday, 30 January 2014

Playa Norte, Isla Mujeres, Mexico

This is the beautiful beach of Playa Norte on Isla Mujeres, we fell in love with this beach when we visited this island for one day last year.  The warm water and white sand reminded us of the islands in the Bahamas.  Nothing but soft white sand under your feet as far as you can walk in the water.  Angel fish swimming around your ankles, so amazing!  

This is the nicest beach on the whole Island of Isla Mujeres (which is quite small only 7KM long), so if gets quite crowded on a sunny weekend.  Obviously, there are many wealthy yacht owners that like to visit!

It is amazing how one beach can look so different day to day.  We have had some days of wind and some with a bit or rain, today we had large waves which is quite unusual for this side of the island, but fun for folks who like to play in the waves.

We have been here for over a week now and we never tire of the view or the sunset!

We have had 5 days of great weather in a row now, it did rain for about an hour today, but under the beach umbrella it was still warm and not worth leaving the beach for a few raindrops!  (although most people did leave)  The weather has not been as good as last year, but when it is, you forget all about the chilly nights and the sweater I had to wear last week!

Friday, 24 January 2014

Today in Isla Mujeres

Hola Amigos,
We have now been in Mexico for 9 nights out of the 7 weeks we plan to be here.  We started out on the Riviera Maya, and arrived on the Beautiful Island of "Isla Mujeres" 2 days ago.

I don't want to complain about the weather, but I want you to know it is not as warm as last year.....and I packed for last year's weather!  One sweater, (that I don't really like), all of my large wraps/scarfs are in a drawer at home (cause I didn't need them last year).  I don't like shopping in Mexico so I just keep hoping that tomorrow will be warmer, but today is cloudy & really windy(35-40Km), not cold (21C) but tonight I will be wearing that sweater again!

I am inside on my computer because I can't find a sheltered place to sit outside right now.  We did go for a 2 hour walk this morning, and I am sure we burned some extra calories taking into account, the wind resistance.  
Yes, enough about the weather, I know it is so much colder at home!

Isla Mujeres is a small Mexican fishing village, friendly people, many who only speak spanish, but so far no problemo!  There are many great restaurants here, and not as many tourists as last year(that could be due to the weather) so competition is fierce to entice customers into their restaurants.  The main "Pedestrian only" road, is called Hidalgo, it is a really nice stroll, through stores and restaurants, all with the usual salesman trying to get you into their establishment.

Prices for food are a bit higher than we remember from Playa Del Carmen last year, because the island is so small and everything except fish is imported.  We have had to increase our daily budget for meals, but we still look for the places off the main road.  

We found a great little place last night, with fresh tuna steak and red snapper fillets, our dinner cost $330 pesos,(about $30 Cdn) they had promised one drink included with each dinner, but gave us 2!  Gotta like that!  We also had shrimp tacos and Chicken Fajitas today at lunch, at a sandy beach restaurant, 280 pesos (Including 2 cervesas and really good guacamole)  My only complaint was the 4 mosquito bites I got (again cause of the lousy weather).

Hope we all have a sunny day tomorrow!

Why are Adult's Only Resorts so expensive?

We just spent 7 nights at the Lovely All inclusive Excellence Riviera Cancun Resort, near Puerto Morales, Mexico.  There really is not much to complain about at this resort, the grounds, rooms, buildings are all very clean, the nicest I have ever seen. No musty smells anywhere. The food & service was always good, sometimes really good. 
view to ocean from one of the many pools

View from our room
There was just something missing though, I think we were expecting "WOW",(because of the price and reviews) and we never felt the "WOW"
We like a happy hour bar, with a view, a fun place to meet new people & enjoy a cocktail before dinner. The only bar like that was the Martini Bar, no view, no music, and a big divider in the center so you could not see people on the other side. The bartenders were slow and often forgot what you ordered, it was just sad. (No Myers Rum or Grey Goose Vodka unless you pay more to be part of the Excellence club)

We like long walks on the Beach, and this was the perfect place for it, walking in the powdery white sand everyday, no need for shoes!  We walked to Puerto Morales one day, about 90mins round trip, but you could go even farther if you wanted.

I also like to swim, but the po
ols are not heated, apparently this is not a problem when it is hot out, but it was very chilly the week we were there, so the pools were very cold, I could not get into that water, too bad because the pools look so inviting. The ocean was warmer, but walking into the water you had to walk through weeds, I hate the icky feeling of weeds around your ankles, it was like that all around this area.

We have been to many AI (All Inclusive) resorts in Mexico, and love the "Adults only" ones, but always wonder why they are so much more expensive? A 5 star AI that has kids at it has to provide extra activities, kid food, and the kids often stay for free, so why wouldn't it be cheaper NOT to have kids at the resort?

The prices online for Excellence start at $500+ US a night, we booked early and paid $348US, seemed like a great deal, but without a fun bar, heated pools, and the "WOW" we were expecting, I think it was overpriced.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Why I write Trip Advisor reviews

A couple days ago I wrote a negative review about a restaurant, on Trip Advisor & Yelp and I mentioned it on my Facebook page.  I did wait until the day after to write it, but my daughter is now questioning why I would so this at all.  She works as a waitress, so that may be part of the reason why she doesn't like to hear about negative restaurant reviews.  She also said "I just don't want people to think you are a grumpy old Hag!" (or words to that effect)

Her point was only that I should not post negative things on Facebook, or on the internet period, she believes we should only post happy, positive stuff on Facebook.  OK, I do agree with this for the most part, I often scroll over negative, or complaining comments, so I will try to remember not to post negative things on Facebook anymore.  In my defence I would never criticize or say anything negative about a friend or specific person on Facebook, I am not a bully or "a grumpy old Hag".

However I don't think I will stop writing reviews.

Years ago, before trip advisor or maybe before I had a computer, (no, I was not alive when the dinosaurs roamed the earth) I used to write letters if I had a complaint about a service or product.  I often received coupons, refunds or discounts and always some kind of written acknowledgement of my concern.  I don't write letters anymore, I send emails or write reviews, often without a response.  I am not a big complainer, I just don't let things slide when I think I have been treated incorrectly, or charged too much money.  (Really I don't complain about everything!)

I believe I am doing this to inform others, as I am always searching the internet for information that others may have to inform me.  So I guess writing reviews is like giving back, I share information with you and you with me.  I find it very helpful when I am searching for a hotel, or a great beach etc.

I truly appreciate the time most people take to share information, it would be great if we could all say only positive things, but nothing is perfect all the time.  All I can do is share my honest opinions and hope others are doing the same.

It is really unfortunate that there are many people writing fake reviews about competitors or just to be mean (who knows). 

This makes reading reviews is a big job, some people go out of their way to find the negative, (Really, I try not to do that)  and some write their reviews before they have had a chance to calm down, or maybe sober up.

So I  weed through all the reviews and find some like minded people, I look at the reviewer's history, and discount all reviews by people who have only written one review.  These are most likely to be fake.  If a reviewer has a long history with many reviews I read several of their reviews, to see if they think like me.  These are the ones I use to help me make my travel decisions.   This can be time consuming, makes you wonder how we managed to take vacations, or find a good restaurant before the internet.......(OMG I'm sounding like a dinosaur again)

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

I still love Blue Rodeo, but......

Last night we saw Blue Rodeo live at Prospera Place in Kelowna.  I have seen them before live, in Malkin Bowl, in Stanley Park, that was so good, that we jumped at the chance to see them again here in Kelowna.

Tickets were a very reasonable $69 and that included a copy of their new CD which was mailed to us before Christmas.  There are some good songs on there so we were looking forward to seeing them in concert again.

On the most positive note, I must say that Jim Cuddy's voice is still GREAT!, just love to hear him sing, and we wished they would have just let him sing more.  Instead, they continually added in long instrumental solos, featuring a pianist, an electric guitarist, drummer....and on and on....this is fine to show off each members talent, but in every song?  It was just getting too boring, the music on their albums is not like this, so yes I was disappointed.   The crowd may not have felt the same way as me, they cheered and clapped politely, I guess I just don't appreciate long, ad lib, instrumental solos.  I'd rather hear the song they it was recorded.

The Very best part was the Encore, when Jim Cuddy sang "Trust yourself" and then the group (including his son's band, The Devin Cuddy Band" who were the opening act) sang "Lost Together" ...that was the music I was expecting.   It was obvious, by the reaction of the crowd, that is what everyone wanted to hear.

The worst part was the new songs written by Greg Keelor, all inspired by heartbreak and sadness (yes he told the audience this), this guy really needs some happiness pills!  I am not saying the whole new album is sad but the songs Keelor choose to sing last night were all very sad in too many ways!

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Have you heard of this "Dukan Diet"?

Ok, I have few pounds of cookies to loose after Christmas.  Yes, I am blaming my extras pounds on cookies, although I am sure red wine, cheese and a few other goodies could take some blame as well.

So, as usual, I sign back on to and log in my current weight and start recording everything I eat.  This always works for me, something I learned from weight watchers, 15 years ago.  myfitnesspal is free, and easy to use.

I came across this Dukan diet from an ad somewhere, and being curious I had to read about it (you know, maybe hoping it was the next best thing ever!)  It seems a lot like the Atkins diet, high protein, low carbs.  I did try the Atkins diet years ago, I couldn't do it, I just could not function without carbs.  What really caught my eye, is this Dukan Diet mentions your "True Weight" as a goal.
 So aren't you curious what your "True weight" is?

There is a simple online calculator 
They do ask for your email address, but so far they have not sent me anything, hoping no junk mail follows.

So you put in some info, height, weight, gender, goal weight, wrist size, pregnancies etc.  Then they give you a figure for "True Weight".  Mine was .8 lb over my goal weight. I did it again and changed my goal weight to 10 lbs less than my first entry.  Now my "True weight" was less, by 3 lbs.  So, I did it a few more times, and each time my "True Weight" changed with whatever goal weight entered.  What good is that?

I am sticking with myfitnesspal, obviously my "true weight" is whatever goal weight I choose.

Do whatever works for you, set an achievable goal, and don't spend any money on a weight loss plan without some research and a reasonable expectation that you can follow the plan you choose.

It's a New Year, it must be time to............

Do you make resolutions each New Year?  I never have, but I often think I can improve something each year, maybe lose some weight (but that is an ongoing process of life, so no point just resolving that at New Years),  maybe a new hobby, or sport or maybe just practice the ones I know.

So here's my plan, (or wish list but I am not calling it a resolution)

  1.  to blog more than last year, (which should be easy, looking at the short list of my 2013 blogs) 
  2.  be a better golfer this year, I look forward to practicing.  
  3.  swim more, I'd like to get back to swimming 20 lengths at a time, I used to be able to do that in 30 minutes (of course that was over 20 years ago), much more practicing required!
  4. sew more, I made a few shirts and dresses this year and I enjoy it, so why don't I do it more often!
  5. paint something, like a big picture for my wall.  I used to paint animals on rocks, and I took painting courses for folk art painting, which is acrylics, and copying someone else's designs.  I am not good at drawing my own stuff, but I am hoping I can come up with a simple painting of my own.  More practice.
  6. continue with bootcamp 2X a week, walking at least 3 times a week.  Maybe do more hiking, up hills instead of just a walk.
  7. volunteer somewhere near home
  8. go kayaking, and paddle boarding 

Apparently, the common theme in my plan involves exercise &"practice", .......I better add in more napping ..........and you were wondering what retired people so with their time!