December 07, 2007
Lilikoi Ale at Waimea Brewing Company
Late tomorrow night, Shirley and I will catch a red-eye flight from Lihue Kauai back to the mainland of the USA. But today and tomorrow it's still vacation. Typically on Thursday evenings, we get together with several friends for our local gathering of Drinking Liberally. We couldn't be with them in body today, but we were with them in spirits. Here I am enjoying a Lilikoi Ale at Waimea Brewing Company - the westernmost brew pub in the USA. This is a lighter brew than I usually order (I'm a fan of brown ale, mostly), but it was quite good, with a definite and very pleasant passionfruit flavor. Yum!
Yesterday we had lunch at a little pizza and pasta joint in Koloa and I had a pint of Longboard Lager from Kona Brewing Company on the Big Island. That was also a tasty brew - tho' I think the Lilikoi Ale is the one I'd buy on the mainland ...if one could find it anywhere. I do truly enjoy sampling the local beer, wine, and coffee whenever any of those are produced locally. Gosh, one could kind of build a whole vacation around that, huh?
December 03, 2007
Aloha from Kauai
Shirley and I arrived late last night to one of our favorite places on earth - the beautiful Hawaiian island of Kauai. This evening we went to Beaches Restaurant (click the thumbnail pic to see the full-size pic). The pic shows Shirley with a Mai Tai, and me with a mojito ...sitting overlooking the ocean as the sunset drew nearer (with the sliding doors open behind us, it is too bright to see the water; look a bit to the right where the glass is cutting the glare, and you'll see the water).
It's a little weird being here without Ben - we've been here 2 other times and always with Ben. Ahhhh... Kauai. The Garden Island. Beautiful and peaceful. Peaceful is the main thing. We're planning to spend some serious time this week doing ...well, pretty much nothing :) .....the main plan is to just relax. And, with that ...I do believe I've already spent too much time online.
June 05, 2007
Spain was incredible
We just returned from 2 weeks in Spain -- 9 nights in Barcelona (with a day trip to Gerona and Figueres ...very cool!), and 4 nights in Madrid (with a day trip down to Toledo). Madrid is a larger city, but I think we did it right by devoting more time in Barcelona. There is so much of architectural interest in/near Barcelona, and Picasso and Dali museums nearby ...and of course there would be FC Barcelona! (the real reason we stayed some extra nights in Barcelona was to be able to attend a match ...and it was incredible)
Pictured here (click the thumbnail for full image) is the Sagrada Familia - designed by Antoni Gaudí, and in a perpetual state of construction :) ...A big part of our attraction to Barcelona is the influence that Gaudí had on the city's architecture.
So a few observations for now, and many pics and videos and info to be posted later:
- While octopus sushi is way too chewy, properly prepared octopus tapas is fantastic
- Garlic shrimp tapas and vino tinto cannot be beat
- It seems that simply ordering cerveza anywhere in Spain results in a glass of decent beer. No need to designate brand (although I did also have a pint of Guiness a couple of times :)
- The Metro in Barcelona and in Madrid is great. I rank Barcelona's a little better than Madrid in terms of ease of use. We used the Metro to go everywhere
- I know several folks from Ireland. They each have a different accent. None is as thick as that of the Irish gent with whom I was chatting at the FC Barcelona match. I had to tell him quite honestly, "I'm sorry, but I didn't understand a word of that". His buddy, from elsewhere in the UK, had to translate for us :)
- Cars in the city are much smaller than we see in the US (we've noticed that elsewhere in Europe as well). But we were surprised to note that as we got further out from the city (on the way to Gerona) the cars got larger, looking much more like the oversized vehicles in the US
- Voter frustration is not confined to the US. I was chatting one evening with a buddy from Barcelona who lamented about the dearth of real choices
- No matter how much we enjoy seeing other places and cultures, it's always good to get home to one's own bed :)
January 29, 2006
Pics from Mexico vacation are posted
We spent an incredible week at Aventura Spa Palace - about an hour south of Cancun - earlier this month. Now that I'm back from the Lotusphere conference (which was also incredible, btw :) ...I've finally had time to post the pics.
January 10, 2006
Palace Resorts rocks
As we landed in Miami on the way to Cancun, Mr Garcia called my cell. I told him it was fine with us to stay at either place, and we just needed to have transportation confirmed to and from the airport. Mr Garcia called back in a few minutes with the confirmation number for our airport transfer to Aventura Spa Palace. So here we are, and it's wonderful. This is, without a doubt, the nicest place we've ever stayed. There was a bit of stress as we were checking in, when they were telling us that we needed to pay an additional US$500 ...but that was soon cleared up. The confusion was because we'd originally booked at Beach Palace, which is not as high-end as Aventura Spa Palace. Beach Palace is closed until Dec 2006 for reconstruction due to hurricane damage. Palace Resorts had assured me when we agreed to stay at a different facility that there would be no additional charge, and the local check-in desk needed a little time to confirm that.
So ....holy cow. The facility and location are beautiful, the food and drinks incredible, the staff is incredibly friendly and attentive. Yup, we're in paradise. Man, it's going to be hard to leave this and go back to work next week!
January 08, 2006
Palace Resorts in Cancun Mexico: after the hurricanes
Update 10-Jan-2006 - Things worked out very well. See 10Jan posting.
Palace Resorts includes a number of properties in the Cancun area: Beach Palace , Cancun Palace , Sun Palace , Moon Palace , Playacar Palace , Aventura Spa Palace , Xpu-Ha Palace , and Cozumel Palace .
In October, we booked a vacation. This was to be at Beach Palace, from 08Jan2006 until 15Jan2006. Due to hurricane damage, Beach Palace is closed. I received a call from Mr Garcia at Palace Resorts on 06Dec2006, asking if we would like to change our reservation to Moon Palace. The only difference would be that we would need to pay the all-inclusive fee immediately, rather than at check-in. I provided my credit card number, and received a confirmation email and a voucher (in PDF format) from Mr Garcia on 06Dec2006, confirming our reservation at Moon Palace.
We had a problem with our air transport, and so we won't be leaving for Cancun until tomorrow (09Jan2006).
HERE IS THE PROBLEM:
I called Moon Palace to let them know that we will arrive one day late. They told me that they do not show a reservation for us at Moon Palace; they DO show a reservation for us at Aventura Spa Palace. I asked the date on which that reservation was made, and they said 12Dec2006 ...almost a week after I received confirmation of our reservation at Moon Palace.
I have left a phone message at Palace Resorts (their main reservations office is only open Monday through Friday), and have emailed Mr Garcia. I have read several online reviews from guests who stayed at the Palace Resorts during the past couple of weeks. Some were very happy and some felt that they had not received the arrangements that they had been promised.
The Palace Resorts are known for exceptional customer service. We have paid a lot of money expecting this service. My hope is that when I post an update tomorrow or Tuesday that I will be able to report that this was a simple mix-up and that our reservation at Moon Palace has been straightened out.
December 17, 2005
Dominican Republic visit
To celebrate Shirley reaching the big Five-OH birthday, we popped down to the Domincan Republic for a long weekend (one of the benefits of living in Florida is being so close to awesome tropical locations). I've posted a number of pictures (culled it down to 72 pics) up on Flickr.
November 14, 2005
Rhode Island weekend
Friday morning we popped up to Providence, Rhode Island (well, Charlestown, actually) to visit with Matt and Jess. This shot is of Jess' mom, Jess, Matt, Shirley, and me ...getting set for some outrageous sushi (and sake bombs :) at Peking Tokyo. A bunch more pics are posted up on Flickr. Lots of good times, great food, awesome company, cool crisp air ....and then back down to Tampa on Sunday afternoon to prep for another work week :)
June 19, 2005
Sunset from Mars
Clicking the thumbnail image on the left will display a larger version of a photo of a sunset, taken from Mars on 19 May 2005. No, I did not take this pic, although I do enjoy visiting new places. The image was taken by NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Spirit. Spaceflight Now has posted a story and also a link to a high-res image from NASA's photojournal site. Too cool!
December 25, 2004
Mobissimo for good travel deals
We've got family up in Washington and Oregon - about 3,000 miles away from us down here in Tampa (and some more family up in North Dakota). It'd be great to be able to all be together for Christmas, but that's just a bit more airfare than we can afford right now. We did, however, decide to spring for Ben to pop up to the northwest in January to visit family and friends. But we wanted to do this as economically as possible. Mobissimo to the rescue. This site allows the user to enter the search criteria once (where you want to fly from and to and on what dates) and it then searches 86 sites for you and returns results that you can sort various ways. I typically will hit several airline and travel sites and try to find the best deal, but Mobissimo found a better deal than I was able to! Ben's round trip airfare from Tampa to Portland Oregon next month totals out at US$305. Given that we had some restrictions on dates and times, that is incredible. The best deal I'd found before checking Mobissimo was US$463! Very cool.