Friday, April 14, 2017

Mexico, An Afternoon In Guadalajara


A visit to birthplace of “The Nectar Of The Gods” shows there's a lot more to see and discover in Jalisco, Mexico than “Tequila”.  


IMG_20170403_172154On a beautiful afternoon with temperatures in the mid 70’s, I hop on a Tapatio Tours “Big Red Bus” and for less than US$7 (120MXN) I get an excellent overview of Guadalajara.




GDL Cathedral

Catedral Metropolitana


GDL SandwichFrom seeing many of the city highlights then afterwards enjoying a popular “Torta Ahogada”, this tour turns out to be a pleasant surprise.





IMG_20170403_165503I am looking forward to returning to Guadalajara and enjoying more of it’s “Mexican Delights” and maybe even a few more sips of... Tequila!






GDL SquareCentral Historic District

Tapatio Tours Guadalajara

Monday, April 3, 2017

Cruising, Jewel Of The Seas


IMG_0001An early afternoon boarding and we get to enjoy a nice view of Old San Juan from our balcony





With an 8pm departure sailing, night has already fallen and the twinkling lights of Old San Juan are soon becoming distant as we head south for hopefully seven days of fun. Our first “After Dark Sail Away Party” is underway as the Jewel Of The Seas navigates to our first port of call.



A planned late disembarkation has us roaming around the quaint cruise port city of Frederiksted. With only three cruise ships calling here a month it seems that many of the businesses here have “closed shop” and the town has almost an abandoned feel to it.




We are told by a “Tourism” information representative that Christiansted which according to her was only a half an hour away by local bus had a lot more to see and do. After waiting about 45 minutes for the bus a group of us are on our way after paying a $1 fare. Turns out it is an hour and a half bus ride.


Clear WatersClear waters of Christiansted






While for us it was an adventure seeing and experiencing the island on a hot and crowded bus. I think for most others the $8 per person taxi shuttle is probably a better option which we chose for the return trip.


IMG_20170320_145221 Christiansted definitely warrants a return visit especially for another slice of ”Pistachio Rum Cake”.





Back in Frederiksted just outside of the cruise terminal we have some beach time to enjoy the clear and refreshing waters of St Croix. At 4:30pm we are back onboard the Jewel Of The Seas for a second night of fun. It starts of in 60 Seconds Or Less then we are “Rolling On The River” before ending the night with push ups on the dance floor.  



Although we have previously visited St Maarten and Maho Beach, a return trip is always fun. A last minute car rental for $83 which now includes a $15 “Cruise Terminal Tax” and we are off to Maho. On a warm afternoon this makes a $1 ice cream cone at McDonald's seems like such a bargain as we drive to Princess Juliana Airport.



IMG_20170321_122109Release The Kraken


Our next bargain courtesy of “The Driftwood Boatyard Bar” is $6 rum punches made with 5 different rums including “The Kraken” a black spiced rum. At Maho we enjoy the beach as airplanes pass less than a hundred feet above us then I join a few others and get blasted my Jet Blue. Not the same as when I held onto the fence a few years ago but still fun having hurricane force winds slapping you in the face. Next it is some other St Maarten sightseeing with a stop at Friar's Bay.

A Guavaberry Colada then BINGO it's time for the always revealing Love & Marriage Show followed by “Shots,Shots, (Almost) Everybody” at The White Party.



A beautiful day under the tropical sun and it is time to make a splash at the pool. Fortunately, not any splash will do and only those with a “24 Pack” should attempt this feat. The International Belly-Flop Competition draws a tough field of competitors who for the most pleases the crowd except for one. To his apparent disappointment sagging “Speedo's” and shallow flops are just not that appealing.




However, a crazy Brazilian disappoints no one in Dancing With The Stripes neither does three guys from Las Vegas as they hit the high notes in The Coral Theater.



It is less than a 45 minute walk (or a $5 per person one-way cab fare) from the cruise terminal to a nice beach. Our walk gives a chance to stop at the local fish market and chat a few minutes with a friendly local vendor.

Across a small bridge in town and we are now less than 15 minutes from The Boatyard. A $20 fee gets us private beach access, a welcome drink, a free shuttle ride back to the ship and use of their facilities including beach chairs, umbrellas and Wi-Fi.


The BoatYardNot long after we arrive a loud siren goes off with a wail then we are told to evacuate the beach and head to the bar.

“Shots, Shots, Shots”... and this time it's “Everybody”.


Another great day at the beach and I am in the swing of it especially when it comes to a 70's Party!



A quick walk by Sendall Tunnel (1894) then we climb a steep set of stairs towards Fort George where we get an offer to consider. Outside of Fort George where the entrance fee is $2 person I make a quick calculation and a case. Coming to an agreement on our plans for the day in light of the offer we got a few moments ago we define our roles in the negotiations. I am going to be the “Good Cop”.


Grenada WaterfallAnnandale Waterfalls.


It does not take long and a deal is made. For $35 plus a tip we are going to get a 2-3 hour tour with a visit to Annandale Waterfalls. Anthony turns out to be a pleasant guide and gives us some insights about this tropical paradise. Unlike some of its neighbors, Grenada produces a majority of its own food supply. With over 160 inches of rainfall a year a huge part of the landscape is filled with vibrant green vegetation.

I pass on the option to dive at Annandale Waterfalls but a swim is very refreshing.


Grenada Thank YouOn the road we pass an appreciation mural for the US liberation of Grenada in 1983.

Just prior to this time Grenada was under a curfew with the possibility of it becoming a communist nation. Anyone found on the streets was shot on sight, no questions asked.


From Prisoner's View we get one of the best views of the island then Anthony drives us to the school he attended some maybe 60 plus years ago. He still has memories of standing in front of it waving a flag as Queen Elizabeth's motorcade drove by.

Our next stop is at the largest and best known distillery in Grenada. At the producers of Clarke's Court Rum along with sampling the products and purchasing a few of them I make an attempt to get one of the employee's mother secret “Rum Punch” recipe.

We say goodbye to Anthony at Coconut Beach as we all honored our deal.

A swim offshore from Coconut Beach presents a multi-spike threat beneath the warm waters. Lying on a grass bed are multiple sea urchins waiting to inflict some pain on the unaware. I know from personal experience.



Coconut BeachCoconut Beach


A $5 person water taxi and we are soon about to begin our journey back north to San Juan. Just past 5pm the Jewel Of The Seas begins its separation from Grenada. Soon it is The Battle Of The Sexes which turned out to be no battle at all as the stronger sex won. However, The Quest is never over until the tables are turned...and “Man!... I Feel Like A Woman”.



Beautiful weather along with another sea day provides the opportunity for more fun outdoor activities. From “The World's Sexiest Man” competition which turns out to be too much for one judge to handle, to “Pool Volleyball”, a “Mini-Golf Tournament”, a “ 3-on-3 Basketball Tournament” won by the “Old Guys” and “Dodge-ball” our last sea day is filled with FUN.

A Farewell Show along with laughs at The Late Night Comedy Show and it seems like another cruise vacation is ending too quickly.


Jewel Of The SeasThe Jewel Of The Seas


However, this cruise on The Jewel Of The Seas will be one of our most memorable thanks in part to a great Cruiser Director Simona and her entertainment staff especially "Erika, From America".

RCL Jewel Of The Seas