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Para sailing!

Wednesday was a total beach day…..hung out on the beach reading.  I went para sailing about 40 years ago in Mexico and have never done so since.  One of the main reasons is that Johnny has been a bit apprehensive about about floating in the air.  Not sure how he is fine when we zip-line……well…..all that has changed!  He told me earlier this week that if he was fortified with rum that perhaps I could get him up in the air…..soo….around 3 ish we headed down the beach to a little beach bar, had a couple of rums and then hailed a beach ‘guy’ who arranged a trip….motor boat/panga came to pick us up on shore….took us out to the para sail boat, did the water transfer over……one couple was a head of us on the boat, they went up, we figured out what to do, harnessed up and it was our turn.  Johnny loved it (as I knew he would) and the first question he had was….”I wonder if you can do it for longer” 🙂

So now,  as a couple (not all on this trip) we have para sailed, zip-lined, rappelled, ATV’d, rode a donkey, rode horses, snorkelled, scuba-dived, sailed a mono-hull, sailed a hobie, canoed, kayaked, rode around an island on a golf cart,  flew on a float plane into a mountain lake, cycled, hiked Mt Fuji (johnny all, me a little bit),  hmmmm….wonder what’s next? !!!!  2 more sleeps, again, no plans for today and tomorrow…..

Oh Oh…we have never rented one of those scooter things……we are going to The Corn Islands at the end of February – I think that would be a perfect place to learn to scoot!!!

Living proof:

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Fortification Process

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The Panga

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The para sail boat

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The Brave Man

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They lower us to dip our feet in the water

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It feels a bit chilly 🙂

Beach Walking ……

The Beach in Bavaro (just outside of Punta Cana proper) is incredibly long…..I tried to google exactly how long but can’t seem to find it….at least 10 k and probably much further.  At high tide it’s just minorly soft but most of the time it’s the hard flatter type of beach perfect for walking/running.  The water although beautiful isn’t that clear clear type but for the most part it’s rock and coral free close to shore and the only impediment to swimming is a bit of sea grass in the occasional place.

As you strong along you pass myriads of hotels, condo buildings, beach ‘guys’ trying to get you to take a tour or go visit a local vendor, beach ‘gals’ offering to braid your hair or give you massages.  Unlike Mexico there are very few people selling tourist stuff along this beach.  I think I’ve only seen one fellow who is actually selling selfie sticks….smart guy, huh?  There is also a guy who sells ice cream from a cooler – go figure!

My photos today are ‘things we saw while walking along the beach’….one VERY elaborate sand creation featuring a man and a woman who were being attacked by a shark – amazing detail….done by a true artist…some of it had eroded a bit by the time we saw it.  Another lovely little medieval village, a foot print (not ours).  Unfortunately, the one huge issue with this beach as with many beaches around the word is that with rising sea levels there are areas with massive erosion.  The area called El Cortecito is particularly hard hit with the small stores along the shore being destroyed.  Some of the older hotels were built closer to the water and their beaches have all but disappeared.  I talked to a young local fellow ‘Luigi’ and he pointed about 20 feet out from the current ‘edge’ to where someone was swimming and told me that not so long ago that was the edge of the beach and that in 6 months he thought that where we were sitting would be ‘taken’ by the sea.

As you walk along in some areas you see palm tree roots where once it was solid ground, big palm with their base ‘ball’ partially exposed, in one section there are a series of large covered berms that have been erected to stop the waves from crashing in and further eroding the beach.  This is a serious problem.  The rising sea levels are said to be caused by global warming.  Global warming of course said to be caused by what we are doing to our planet.  How does it stop?  Consumerism at it’s worst 😦   Of course, there is another side to this.  The earth has been moving and shifting forever (I’m assuming almost infinity here 🙂 …..continents always shifting, water levels rising and lowering, ice ages, meteor crashes causing catastrophic conditions ……

The beach also changes from day to day in different sections.  There is sargassum – not huge amounts and most hotels keep it raked up, one day there was all this bright green stuff that I had never seen before, but only one day so far.  Some days there are almost pine needle looking things being washed in.  Mostly, it’s clear and most evident in the early morning or at higher tides.  The sargassum I know is a product of the higher, warmer oceans, the others are just typical of a beach that has winds and surf.

Amazing what a beach walk can make one think about . . . .it’s not all about pretty sunsets is it?

most of these photos (not all) were taken on our first beach walk of 2017 on New Year’s Day before the workers had come out to rake.

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We like to call this the Great Wall of Steven 🙂

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Careful What You Wish For :) !!!

Now where did I leave off …. ahh yesss….we were in the Porter Lounge at the Ottawa International Airport……our plane arrived…..we winged our way toward Moncton, New Brunswick…..landed pretty much on time – 10:30 p.m. ish…..picked up our rental car and then headed on the 2+ hour drive to our wonderful little room in Prince Edward Island.  We were booked for two nights in PEI at The Trailside Music Cafe & Inn in the Apple Valley Room.  The Inn was going to be closed when we arrived so they left the door open for us and in the dead of night we stole our way up the stairs and into our cute as a button room!

What I haven’t mentioned about this wee trip is that we were going to spend some time with a real estate agent looking at a few cottages.  So….we woke up very early, grabbed breakfast at a place down the road and then met Wayne the real estate guy for a morning of looking at VERY inexpensive cottages.  Yes, I did fall in love with one 🙂

The rest of the day we went a drivin’ familiarizing ourselves with this beautiful little Province, from Cavendish to Rustico, etc etc.  In the evening there was live music in the Cafe downstairs and we ate fine food, drank fine wine (and beer for Johnny) and listened to some really great local performers.  The Proprietor of this fine establishment ‘Pat’ was also our server and I can’t tell you how impressed we were with absolutely everything we encountered at The Trailside Music Cafe & Inn.  Decor was perfection without being overdone…wine selections amazing……I do believe I will go back……probably often 🙂 because . . . . .

Well, the next day we got up early, packed our bags and headed off the other direction this time for the Eastern Coastal Tour…..starting with Greenwich Park, then on to Cable Head and beyond over to East Point then back down the south side finally making our way to Charlottetown where we had dinner.  We have never seen such beautiful beaches.  I can’t believe I have lived within a days drive of this beautiful Province for 58 years and NEVER visited before…..in love in love in love with PEI…..we were flying out of Moncton, so headed back in a big rain storm…managed to actually SEE the Confederation Bridge on the way back!  After 9 by the time we got to the hotel and hit the sack for a 6:30 a.m. flight – landed in Ottawa around 8:15…grabbed a bus and were home just after 9 a.m.

A few photos….

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I would like to get back to the music on Saturday night at The Trailside….Brian Dunn & the band were terrific.  They played a number of songs written by Brian that were absolutely poignant and heart breaking.  His wife passed away a few years ago and the lyrics and music to some of his songs reflect the loss and the challenges he has faced as a single dad who has lost his partner at such a young age.  Listen to some of Brian’s music by clicking HERE!

So yes, we bought ourselves a little PEI cottage…it’s not fancy….but it took my breath away….it’s an old home that was transported I believe from Charlottetown and plopped onto a little piece of property in the Savage Harbour Cottage Subdivision.  A lovely place to spend our summers once we retire….a family cottage….a cottage for friends to visit…..yet another new Chapter in the ever changing lives of J & M …..

p.s. winter vacay booked!  Dominican Republic for two weeks at Christmas and Little & Big Corn Island, Nicaragua  for 2 weeks at the end of February…

 

Mexico/Belize 2016 – Day 8 of 18

February 27, 2016

Accommodation:  Banana Beach Resort, San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, Belize

At Banana Beach February 22nd to February 29th, 2016.

Oh man…..the time is flying……please MAKE IT STOP 🙂 ! We are really liking Ambergris Caye as much for its walkability and for it’s laid back lifestylen as for it’s somewhat off the beaten path location. It’s a very simple place, no fancy places to sell the tourists jewels and designer clothing. To some degree I believe it’s a community before it is a tourist destination. Oh sure, there are a ton of hotels and touristy things to do, but the difference is that the people who come here seem to be real people who want to travel to real places. To say it is totally our type of place would be an understatement. It’s just the right fit! The weather has been far from stellar from a ‘beach’ vacation point of view….but that’s ok with us….we prefer it a bit cooler so that I have the energy to wander about. As much as we mostly vacation in hot places….I don’t actually function well in heat and humidity. Of course, we are going snorkelling tomorrow today (Day 9) so I might be wishing it was sunny and warmer then 🙂

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Day 8…..we wandered south of the hotel….walked for about two hours – more like a mosey (no clue how one spells that 🙂 We went the road for about 50 minutes. There were a few restaurants but all closed. The need to use ‘facilities’ arose and we wandered into a condo hotel where they were quite gracious and allowed the use of their facilities. On the way back we took the beach. You can walk for miles and miles and miles along the beach here. I may have mentioned it’s not traditional beach ….. in order to stop erosion they have man made breakwaters built up with in-filled flat beach. What we really noticed is that it is all very quiet…doesn’t seem like a lot of guests….not all the noisy smoking, drunken touristas you find at an all inclusive….soooooo calm and peaceful sigh of happiness……yet another need to ‘stop’ and again, the condo hotel more than happily allowed the use…..we got a coke and sat at the bar…..all friendly, all welcoming.

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The rest of the afternoon we hung out on the beach sipping sweet drinks and eating amazing chicken nachos. A bit later we walked into town (again, about 3 km away) and headed to the restaurant we had tried to go to the night before – Elvies. It is a nice restaurant on the middle street…..sand floor….nice decor, a guitar player and the food was good….but in the end, I’m thinking it was more touristy than we tend to like. We love hole in the wall not ‘the place you have to be’ places best! So, it was good….there was a degree of ambience….it was the most expensive meal to date (171 BZD) (85.50 US) and I wouldn’t hurry back 🙂 Give me tacos on the beach any day of the week!

By the time dinner was over we were soooo tired we jumped in a cab and headed back to the hotel where our rituals always to read for a while then head off to Belizian slumber land.

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Mexico/Belize 2016 Day 2 of 18

February 21, 2016

Departed Hacienda Morelos via Taxi to Bus Stop at Seven Eleven (711)

Bus from Puerto Morelos to Tulum, Mexico Bus Station

Taxi to the hotel

Accommodation:  Piedra Escondida, Tulum

 

Ola!  Uploading on slow Wifi is best done early in the morning, thus I come to you from Tulum, Mexico in fact on Day 3 but writing about Day 2 commencing at 5:23 a.m.!  Shortly after I woke up this morning it started to rain.  Works well actually, today is a travel day!  So, back to Day 2.

I did not sleep well at all on night 1 – in fact I woke up at about 3:30 a.m…..finally got dressed and sat outside to write my Day 1 blog.  When I finally decided to start my day around 6 am the water in our room was off….wandered over to the front desk and they were waiting for someone to come in and fix.  In the meantime, we organized our gear, went for a short walk, had breakfast and finally the water was back on to complete our morning rituals, just in time to grab a taxi to the bus stop up near the 711 at the highway.  Taking ADO buses is a fairly simple thing.  If you do it yourself you need to realize they assign you seat numbers when you purchase – but don’t expect to actually get the seat you ordered.  So far on the two buses we have taken we have ended up at the back by the washroom.  Might I suggest that location is NOT optimum…..*sniff*…….so…..my suggestion and future actin will be to move forward when seats closer to the front open up 🙂  While waiting for the bus a few buses came through, they weren’t marked so you had to go up and ask the driver where he was going.  Finally the Tulum bus arrived!  We arre carrying packs and stow our luggage in the overhead, not recommended to put it underneath ‘just in case’.  The bus was filled with Mexican families heading off to the beautiful parks and cenotes between Cancun and Tulum.  The bus stapped about 4 x between Puerto Morelos and Tulum.  Once arrived at Tulum Centro we grabbed a cab and within 10 minutes were at our hotel.  This time we struck gold!  Piedras Escondida is beautiful, the beach nestled between two large rock formation.  The decor with a clean and modern old world Mexico feel.  Check in wasn’t until 3 so we had a few hours to wander down the Tulum beach, grab some lunch at an open air ocean front restaurant and really get a feel for the area.  The beach was beautiful.  The hotels keep the sargassum at bay.  However, later in the day on a walk through less developed areas there was a lot more sargassum.  Sargassum has recently become a major problem in the Caribbean, read a little about it here.

Our day was pretty typical, hit the beach, bounced around in the surf – there were some GREAT waves to jump.  Reading on our patio, cocktails at 4 pm (dark rum) then a walk for about 1.5 hours.  Tulum beach area is beautiful, lots of really interesting little hotels.  No high rise hotels.  Lots of little shops and restaurants.  The street along the beach is very busy and no side walks in a lot of places.  Bicycle rental is a big thing, but not for us on the busy narrow street.  It was a great walk though!  Once back at the hotel we changed and headed off for dinner on the out door patio.  The wind was still strong but they have wind screens to protect you from the gusts.  Johnny had a great chicken/rice meal and Ihad shrimp.  Although tasty, my shrimp had that chlorine taste that you often find with seafood in the Caribbean.  It was a bit stronger than usual.  To read more about this problem click here.

After dinner we head to our room, windows open and went to sleep with the sound of the  surf and a gentle breeze to keep us cool.

If coming to Tulum and staying in a smaller eco friendly resort such as Piedra Escondada you need to understand that these hotels provide their own electricity often through solar, small windmills, generators etc.  They  have septic rather than local sewer systems.  Access to AC happens only at certain times of the night.  We don’t actually use AC so not an issue for us.  However, if you are one to demand your creature comforts, this style of accommodation might not be for you.  However, just in case I haven’t made it perfectly clear, we had an awesome day in Tulum and would absolutely come back to both Tulum and this hotel.  We really did feel like we were in paradise!

6:49 a.m….time to prepare for the next great bus, taxi, water taxi adventure!  My next post will be from Ambergris Caye in Belize!!

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Long Weekend Mini-Get Away!

What a weekend!  As posted previously, Friday was surprise birthday, Saturday Escape Manor – then the girls headed off!  Johnny & I decided the weather was perfect for a trip to the Toronto Zoo!  Toronto was a 5 hour car trip on a beautiful sunny day!  We arrived at 1:30 and spent the next 3.5 hours wandering about in the drop dead gorgeous weather snapping photos of all of our favourite animals!  The draw back to this time of day is that a lot of the animals have been fed and then head off for a siesta after lunch…we didn’t get as up close and personal as I’ve been in the past!  Overall, it was a really great afternoon and we had fun!  From there we headed off to the small town of Cobourg, Ontario!  I haven’t been in Cobourg for years and forgot just how pretty it is.  Nestled along the shores of Lake Ontario with a great harbour front featuring a beautiful marina and a big sandy swimming beach makes it a perfect retirement type of town!  We stayed at The Woodlawn Inn on Division Street, head a great impromptu Turkey Dinner and a bottle of bubbly then retired to our well appointed room with a little balcony!

Next day we did the scenic route home, a little along Lake Ontario then crossed over around Napanee to head toward our next destination Hell Holes near Roblin/Centreville.  The hike is only 3.5 km long but the scenery is beautiful!  Incredible rock formations, a 22′ deep cave to climb into, an ethereal valley to walk through, loved it!  After that we wandered back through Westport, stopped for ice-cream and then reluctantly headed back home with the knowledge that this was probably going to be the last warm weather weekend we would experience in Ontario until Spring (although, we will get a couple of hot weekends in Mexico & Belize in February/Marh)!!

Canada is an awesome country and if you dig a little you can find the some amazing things to do (especially if you are a nature lover)!  We have committed ourselves to enjoying our weekends and this is evidenced in our silly little blog posts of our summer filled with camping, hiking, road trips and the like!  Honestly, this was my best summer ever!  Of course, the fact that I had committed myself up front to losing weight (58 pounds altogether this year), and exercising (hiking counts) as often as I could helped me to thoroughly enjoy everything!  The big challenge now will be winter….I’m not a fan of winter……need to find fun indoor things in Ottawa to do to make my winter go by as quickly as our idyllic summer went!  Any suggestions people?? 🙂 !!

Road Trip 2015 – Halifax, Nova Scotia

What can I say about Halifax, Nova Scotia other than that it is a VERY special city and I loved it!  It has a very relaxed atmosphere with a cosmopolitan flare!!!  Johnny & I arrived on Thursday afternoon and checked in at Homewood Suites on Brunswick (beside The Citadel).  Awesome hotel in a lot of ways, only one year old, nice sized rooms all with kitchenettes.  Our room had a view of the Harbour.  The only downside to this hotel was that the elevators were crazy busy and although the breakfast wasn’t bad for included buffet, there were just way too many people there and it was difficult to move around and find a place to sit.  In spite of that I would certainly recommend it.  We hurriedly got settled and then headed down to the Pier for a nice long walk – all the way down to Pier 21.  The weather wasn’t wonderful – overcast with a cool wind and it was pretty quiet but it was great to stretch our legs after our drive from Saint John, NB.  After much deliberation we decided to have dinner on the patio of Waterfront Warehouse where we feasted on Nova Scotia, New Brunswick & PEI oysters to start followed by lovely big lobsters!  We were actually freezing to death, so ordered hot toddies after dinner and took them inside to warm up!  We then headed off and found ourselves at a great little dessert & cocktail place called The Middle Spoon – YUM 🙂  A friend had recommended that while in Halifax we should stop by the Split Crow for a little music and that we did!  We were a bit on the tired side by then so only stayed one set, then headed back up the hill to our hotel.

Next day I had lunch with friends (one of whom wahhh had just broken her foot)….we ate at a great little restaurant called The Stubborn Goat – yum again, I had Lobster Mac n’ Cheese!  The weather was great so Hilary, Andrew & I sat on the patio!  After lunch Johnny & I found each other again and we headed off to a nearby beach at  Crystal Crescent Beach Provincial Park, took a walk and caught a few rays!  After that we went for a drive, crossed over to Dartmouth & headed out to Lawrencetown Beach/Park where we watched some kite surfers!  Chloe & Kyle arrived from Saint John around 8 pm and we immediately headed out for dinner at Durty Nelly’s Irish pub where we managed to nab a patio table.  Food was great and the place was jammed with people having a great time on a Friday night.  After that we headed off to  yet another Halifax music experience and spent the rest of the evening at The Old Triangle where we danced & enjoyed the entertainment!  After that we made our way back up the hill to the hotel.  Admittedly, our Saturday was somewhat sluggish *blush*, Halifax had offered us much too good a time for two nights running.  Once breakfast was over we again walked the Harbourfront and the weather was much warmer.  My English Mum had arrived in Canada aboard the Queen Mary at Pier 21 in Halifax in 1946, so we went to the Pier 21 Museum and I was able to get a copy of her arrival documents.  Later that day we went back out for more lobster and had a pretty early evening 🙂  The next morning we headed off bright and early to our next destination.

All in all, I loved Halifax, really didn’t take many photos that didn’t involve food or cocktails and know for sure this is one city I will visit again!!

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