Hello 2020

As we begin a new year with such ambition and limitless opportunities, I would like to reflect on one of my favorite memories from 2019.  That being a girl’s trip which celebrated my sissy’s 30th birthday in Montego Bay, Jamaica.  I could not have asked for a better group of girls to travel with for this special occasion.  I was traveling from LA and was the first of the party to arrive.  We had the pleasure of staying at the all-inclusive Jewel Grande Montego Bay Resort & Spa with butler service included.  I mean could it get any better than this? (Cues Fancy by Drake) I was welcomed by the friendliest staff with a nice rum punch. You cannot come to Jamaica and not indulge in a few good rum punches.  While waiting for the girls to arrive, I decided to have lunch poolside with an infamous Bob Marley daiquiri.  I knew from that moment alone this trip would be one for the books.

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We had a few things on the itinerary for our trip.  On our first night, the hotel hosted a silent headphone party.  This was my introduction to this type of party and I had a blast.  The multiple channel options of different music provided different vibes which was pretty cool.  I would definitely want to attend another one of these. The following day we decided to be more adventurous and joined Jam West Motorsports & Adventure Park for a day filled with a slew of activities including horseback riding and an ATV excursion.  It was an all-day adventure but completely worth it for the experience.

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For our last full day, we decided to hang out at the resort and enjoy what was being offered right there at our fingertips.  Laying out catching a few sun rays, indulging in the full salon and spa service and the unlimited cocktails from the swim-up bar were all ultimately apart of this day of enjoyment and relaxation.  There was also different water sports or beach activities being hosted by the resort as well.  A nice volleyball match in the pool or banana boat ride were just a few things that you could participate in.  Not to mention the mini-bars cooking classic Jamaican dishes fresh to order to satisfy your mid-day cravings.  This was by far the best day spent at the resort.

dcfb2f16-7a17-48bf-8cfe-1ac0a09f994dFor the finale, the birthday girl planned an all-white dinner which we decided to have at the steakhouse at the resort.  To make matters even better, one of the butlers made a special request to the chef to prepare oxtails for our party as well.  I’m still craving these oxtails to this day.  We finished the night with a champagne toast to more life, success, many continued blessings and endless laughs.  I still remember the sounds of the ocean as I sat on the balcony and reflected on the great memories this trip had given me.  From the start, I knew this trip would be special and the group of ladies that traveled to celebrate my sissy’s milestone birthday made it that much more special and memorable to me.  Yea mon!  I wanted to start the year off by sharing a great memory with my readers.  For this year, there’s so much I would like to do and have come into fruition for Lifeofacitygal.  Hence, I am making this a year of action.  Here’s to creating more memories and continued growth.  Stay tuned.

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Palm Springs

Memorial Weekend was approaching rather quickly and my hubby and I still didn’t have travel plans.  Rule of thumb in our household, if you’re off from work this equals vacation time 🙂  I believe that Tuesday or Wednesday before the holiday weekend I found a deal you couldn’t pass up on Hotels.com better known as Old Faithful.  I am the BEST person to find a good deal on hotels if I do say so myself.  Saturday we hit the road a little after 8am and headed for our first adventure in Palm Springs.

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During our stay, we stayed at Musicland Hotel.  It was absolutely perfect.  We had a nicely renovated room which reminded me of a nice studio apartment in NYC for some reason.  Possibly the layout instantly put me back into NYC circa 2014. The feature that got me the most was the cute swimming pool.  This is what sold me in the first place.  Needless to say, upon arrival we changed into swim gear and had a real pool day.  I think I stayed on the watermelon float for at least 2 hours.  The weather was perfect.  We even had chilled wine poolside which was also an instant hit with the other guests staying at the hotel.  During the day, my mother-in-law mentioned a site by Food Network (my fav) that lists places Guy Fieri suggests trying.  You just type the location where you are and his food recommendations appear.  How genius!  One of the recommendations included Frankinbuns which was perfect for a midday snack.  I went with the Chicago-style hot dog and it did not disappoint.  For future reference, I will be using this website all the time because sometimes it does become difficult to make a solid restaurant choice.  Thank you mom and Guy Fieri!

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For the nightcap, we found a burger spot called Johnny’s located downtown.  This was a cute place which was reminiscent of like Johnny Rocket’s.  We decided to stop by Ace Hotel before heading in; this was a great decision by the way.  They have a quaint bar called Amigo Bar with about 3 booth seating areas and standing room only for everyone else.   I did not catch the DJ’s name but he definitely was in tune with music and the flow of the crowd.  What a perfect nightcap.

For this particular trip, we did not plan one single thing which worked in our favor.  Just a “go with the flow” vibe this time around.  For brunch on Sunday, I yelped a few places and decided to try Broken Egg Café.  I’ve gotten kind of hooked on bloody Mary’s as of lately so I started with that and ordered the country chicken steak for my meal. Neither one let me down.  Did I also mention they had $6 mimosa flights and there were like 20 flavors to choose from?  We also tried this and I think the strawberry flavor was my favorite.

Since LA weather has been sort of weird and rather cool temperature wise, we hung out by the pool again for a bit.  This time just to enjoy the sun rays and the book I brought along on the trip.  Nothing like being poolside with a good read.  I found a couple of rooftops that looked very promising and decided to check out High Bar at the Rimowa Hotel.  The ambiance here was unmatched.  They had mini booths, dozens of pool chairs and private cabanas for you to sit back and enjoy cocktails and small bites.  There was also a pool on the roof so if you wanted to take a swim or just be cute and put your fee in like me, that was perfectly alright too J I watched the sunset and became mesmerized by the shades of pink and blue that lined the skies as the sun went down.  I would highly recommend visiting this bar if you take a trip to Palm Springs.  You have to experience this for yourself.  The restaurant 4 Saints is also located in this hotel.  I did not din here this trip but definitely will on the next.  For Sunday’s nightcap, we decided on a good pizza from none other than Pizza Hut.  We enjoyed this right in the comfort of our hotel room and watched TV until we passed out.  I’m leaning everything does not always have to be planned or require an itinerary.  Sometimes it’s just best to go with the flow.  Palm Springs provided just what we needed.  Pure relaxation and chill vibes.  Until next time….

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The Bahamas Edition

I recently traveled back home to surprise my aunt for her 70th birthday.  We came together as a family and threw a surprise party which turned out magnificent.  There were a number of things that went back and forth in my mind up until the day of the party.  I kept wondering how things would turn out overall, the number of guests that would attend, would she enjoy this being a person that doesn’t really like surprises, would the photographer capture the moment, etc.  Well, all in all, I must say we outdid ourselves.  I still cannot believe how phenomenal everything was.  My aunt’s face from the picture below shows pure joy.  I mention this event because my aunt’s birthday is on September 22nd and I was celebrating my 2-year anniversary just 3 days after the fact.  My husband and I decided to vacate to the Bahamas and this anniversary trip was by far one of the best decisions we’ve made in 2018.

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It’s funny to me how you may get a little stressed when event planning but then when the day comes and goes, what do you do next?  In this case, pack up and take on Paradise Island.  We arrived on Monday to our all-inclusive adult only resort, Warwick Paradise Island, and was promptly greeted with a Bahama Mama while checking in.  When we walked in, I knew this was going to be a memorable vacation.  The décor was chic, the staff were super polite and the view from the room put the icing on the cake. I vividly remember feeling like a kid would feel who perhaps were visiting Disneyland for the first time.  I could not wait to tour the resort hotel, see the amenities and plan activities daily for us to enjoy during our stay.

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Usually, I think most people may feel the first day of travel is consumed with all the travel accommodations and noted as the day to just relax.  For me, I still wanted to enjoy our travel in day.  We ate at the restaurant that was considered more upscale, Edgewater Grill.  I planned to eat here for our anniversary the following day as well and just couldn’t wait I guess. This restaurant did not disappoint.  OMG! I’ll give more details in a bit.  They also had a late night bar that stayed opened I believe until midnight, called Chickadee.  The menu had pretty good selections including the sweet and spicy wings, quesadilla, conch fritters and pizza to name just a few that became our favorites.  Afterwards, we hung out at the bar in the lobby which seemed to be the place to be that night as many people had traveled in that same day.  We met quite a few people and enjoyed unlimited drinks at the bar until the nightly entertainment started.  On this particular night, the nightclub on-site was having karaoke night.  Well well well.  Don’t threaten me with a good time.  This was the highlight of the evening.  Something about karaoke and unlimited drinks just made the night that much better.  People sang their little hearts out for hours and I prepared to rock the crowd with my go to karaoke song, This is How We Do It by Montell Jordan.  When there’s karaoke, you have to perform this song!  It gets the crowd every time.  Overall, our first night was one for the books and set the standard pretty high for the rest of our trip.

The most popular place at the resort would have to be The Hog Bar that was outside by the pool/beach area.  At this bar, they played different games everyday like jumbo Uno, Jenga, Name that Tune and poker all while really encouraging you to drink up.  Bartenders would usually pass out specialty shots every hour and if you asked for water, they replied “We serve alcohol at this bar”.  I learned this early on so I started bringing bottled water from the room or grabbed it from the lobby before heading to the pool.  On this trip, I really wanted to focus on relaxation.  That being said, I think Tuesday became pool day.  Occasionally laying out for a bit in the sun and hearing the sound of the beach waves nearby while catching the slight breeze that came through at times and having endless pina coladas made this day perfect.

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I was really impressed by the restaurants and just how good the food was here.  All-inclusive is the best option I would say since your food and drinks are covered throughout your stay.  With that, it really helps when the food is actually good.  Warwick did not disappoint.  Edgewater Grill became our favorite place to dine.  There was a salad bar that you could enjoy and the menu was made to offer like a land and sea option along with any vegetable sides of your choice. As mentioned earlier, we went here on Monday night and doubled back for our anniversary the next day.  My husband had the steak accompanied with shrimp and the truffle mashed potatoes.  I went with the short ribs, mashed potatoes and mushrooms.  Okay, the presentation was by far the best.  The wine reduction sauce that was prepared with the short ribs was simply amazing.  Whew, I knew after our first experience, we were definitely coming back to this place.  I remember saying, “Hey, this is the place I reserved for our anny”.  My husband said “Well, we’ll just be back tomorrow”.  So there we had it.  Dinner for the next two days were already set in stone.  The resort also had a buffet style restaurant that served breakfast, lunch and dinner called the Veranda.  I frequented here for breakfast daily.  There were so many good options.  Cooked to order omelettes, pancakes, French toast, grits, a charcuterie display including meats, cheeses, olives, cornichons, veggies, and pastries just to give you an idea of the many items they had at this buffet for breakfast.  On our last day, they even hosted a BBQ outside by the beach.  Oh man the BBQ, homemade mac and cheese, potato salad, crab salad, rice and peas…the list goes on and on. Warwick did a phenomenal job with their many great food options and the BBQ finale on that Thursday night was just too perfect.

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On that Wednesday, I reserved a sunset dinner cruise for us. The voyage began around 6pm and was scheduled to last about 2 hours.  The tour guide gave interesting facts about celebrities that owned properties along our route and also shared historical facts about the island as well.  The best part however was in fact the sunset.  The view was unmatched.  Something about the sound of the ocean and seeing the sunset just gives you a feeling of serenity.  For dinner, they served Bahamian BBQ, salad, rice and peas, mac and cheese and a slice a cake.  Rum punch was served for the drink of course.  By this time, I think I had reached a good rum punch limit for the day and opted for a coke.  Nonetheless, the dinner was great and the ocean views were picture perfect.  After the cruise, we decided to venture to the Atlantis hotel.  We gambled a bit (no victory here but it was still fun), did a bit of sightseeing of the property and finished the night with a slice of carrot cake from one of their bakeries as a nightcap.

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The final full day always seems to get there much faster than you want.  Although I still wanted to focus on relaxing, I thought it would be a good idea to experience some of the culture outside of the resort too.  We took a taxi to downtown Nassau and enjoyed the Straw Market, souvenir shops and did a little more sightseeing. This day it was extremely hot so I couldn’t wait to get back to the pool.  We decided to take a ferry back to our resort and this was particularly nice because I couldn’t get enough of the crystal blue water the Bahamas has.  Of course we stayed by the pool for hours and finished the night with the BBQ night that I mentioned a bit earlier.  Overall, this trip was very much needed and really appreciated.  The relaxation it gave, the fond memories created and the peace given cannot be matched.  My husband was already mentioning booking the next trip back before we left.  Bahamas, you outdid yourself and I thank you for one of the best trips I’ve experience so far. Until next time….

 

The Jamaica Edition

OMG!  The day was finally here.  May 5, 2018.  No, I’m not referring to Cinco de Mayo.  On this day my best friend of 24 years and counting graduated from college.  I was so happy I was able to take part in this celebratory moment and be there for such a huge accomplishment.  Congrats again bestie!!!  So after the party, there’s an after party right?  That after party for us was in Montego Bay, Jamaica.  A group of 13 family members and friends all came together to help celebrate this special occasion.

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We resided at the Royalton Blue Waters Resort during our stay.  After my first experience with this property in Punta Cana, I was excited to be staying with another Royalton property again.  Upon arrival, the host gave us cool, scented towels to help relieve some of the heat from the sun.  I thought to myself, man this is going to be a great trip after such a great gesture because I was literally dying from the heat on the shuttle over to the resort 😊  After check-in and all the introductory hotel meetings, it was time for some fun.

On the first night of our trip we decided to chill out a bit since this was our travel day and just planned for a nice, late night dinner.  For me, that meant time for a quick swim before dinner!  The best part of the resort for me was the swim-out room we had.  At any given moment I could just go out for swim, no matter the time of day.  Vacations allow me to actually decompress and enjoy the things most people may take for granted on a typical day.  Things such as the calming feeling you get from the sounds of the beach waves or the joy found in watching the pink tresses that line the sky before the sun sets.  With all the things planned on our itinerary, the main thing I wanted to make sure I did was RELAX.  A huge thank you to the lazy river too!

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The following day we had an early start and was able to catch breakfast and spend some much needed time on the beach.  It was then on the beach when I spotted a boat that said “Parasail”.  At that moment, I decided I was finally going to do this.  I have quite a few things on my bucket list and it was time to scratch this one off.  Before the parasailing adventure, we enjoyed the many festivities the resort offered; one of my favorites being the swim-up bar.  Bob Marley’s and mojitos became pretty popular drinks for our vacation crew.  A couple of photo shoots later, it was time to concur my fear and take the ride in the air for lack of better words.  I was so happy a group of us decided to do the parasailing together.  It’s always more comforting when others join along and face a fear together.  I watched my friends parasail first and thought oh man this is going to be a breeze (literally).  It wasn’t until I was hooked on with my sister when I thought  “okay are we really going through with this”.  A few moments later, we were up in the air and thinking that’s it!  While parasailing, it’s really just you and the wind.  No noise, no fears, no worries.  Man, I’m so glad I did this.  Not to forget the jerk hut we found right before going.  OMG, this place did not disappoint.  Not sure of the sauce that they use but man oh man if only I had known about this gem sooner. Great for lunch and just overall some of the best jerk chicken I’ve had!

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The day before we left we decided to visit Chukka Adventure Park.  It offered a handful of activities such as ATVs, ziplining, kayaking, etc.  Boy did we have our day cut out for us!!  This day was definitely a workout.  Another thing on my bucket list was ziplining.  A lot of us had never done this before either so it was nice to see all of us conquer this together as well.  We didn’t know that it was a zipline trail of like 5 ziplines.  Whew!  After the first two I could of called it quits on this adventure but we all made it through!  Of course, we couldn’t come to this park and not partake in an ATV ride.  This was so fun!!  Not that I haven’t rode an ATV before but since it was such a big group I think it made it that much more fun to experience together.  Lunch was provided as well so I was definitely excited about that.  If you haven’t noticed, I love food.  All of the Jamaican cuisine was a hit for me.

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Overall, Jamaica was everything I imagined.  I had only been here once as a teenager so it was nice to travel here as an adult. The resort gave me some of the best views, food and memories of a lifetime.  I really enjoyed the fact that this resort was all-inclusive.  All you can eat and drink sounds like a good combo to me.  Oh and let me not forget to mention the other hidden gem we stumbled upon that had the braised oxtails.  I doubled back twice because they were that good!!!  We definitely made great memories and I’m so glad I was able to share this experience with my best friend and family.  Here’s to more success and a bright future with endless opportunities.  Until next time…..

The Barbados Edition


Barbados provided the best weather, the most beautiful scenic views, perfect sunsets and pure relaxation.  Everything a woman could ever ask for from a vacation.  I visited here with a dear friend who just so happens to be a native and proved to be the best tour guide for this Caribbean gem.  Before visiting, I did not have many recommendations on places to go or see; I left it all in her hands and she outdid herself for sure.


We visited Oistins on that Friday night and had a blast hearing the live music, enjoying performances from locals and the best of all, having the local favorites, flying fish and the macaroni pie for dinner.  Anyone that knows me would know how much I love food and Barbados did not disappoint.  Let me not forget to mention the $5 homemade rum punches.  Oh what a delight.  The spices in it were so dominant yet not overpowering.  Rum punch became a must for each day of the trip 🙂


Let’s discuss the food.  I had the pleasure of visiting the Crane Resort in St. Philip and a country club, the Apes Hill Club in St. James for brunch. Both places offered the best experience one could ask for while enjoying a meal.  At Crane, you could get the best ocean view and almost instantly gain calmness from the sounds of the Atlantic ocean waves; pure serenity.  At Apes Hill, you could dine right outside and overlook the island of Barbados.  For the Bajan dishes, we visited a number of places including Fisherman’s Pub in Speightstown, Marina Bar & Restaurant in the heart of downtown Bridgetown,  The Beach House in Holetown and the infamous Chefette.  We had dishes like the beef stew, macaroni pie, jerk chicken wings, chicken roti and fish cakes just to name a few.  To say these places were good would be an understatement.  Everything was cooked to perfection.  I made sure to try as much Bajan cuisine as possible.  The only thing I didn’t recall having was a Bajan dessert but I did have the rum raisin ice cream one day which was a nice refreshing treat.  Also when I left to head back to the states, I grabbed a rum cake made by Tortuga. Now this by far has to be the best cake I’ve had and they definitely didn’t take it light with the infused rum.

While visiting places foreign to me, I love to see things regarding the culture or history.  We visited Cherry Tree Hill, which provides a beautiful snapshot of the entire island of Barbados.  I was able to have a fresh coconut with a splash of rum thanks to the locals and even snag handmade jewelry pieces and souvenirs to bring back home with me.  The next place we visited was the Animal Flower Cave in Saint Lucy.  Unfortunately, the cave was closed due to high tide but to see the landscape of the cave and have lunch by the ocean worked just fine for me.    We traveled to Bathsheba in the parish St. Joseph and enjoyed the scenic views here as well.  The drive itself to some of these places created wonderful memories for me. The small narrow dirt roads which often had cattle alongside them, or wild monkeys that peeped out here and there or mongoose that scurried across the roads from time to time made the ride an experience as well.  Once you get along the coast, I instantly became mesmerized by the crystal blue waters.  The joys of being a passenger includes getting tons of pics and asking for frequent stop requests to capture just a piece of the beauty you witnessed in that moment.


The best feature of Barbados to me would have to be the beaches.  I was obsessed with the idea of seeing the sunset and my friend decided to make a trip to the beach to go a swim and have rum cocktails afterwards to wait for the sunset.  Brilliant plan my friend and what a sight to see.  Simply beautiful and breathtaking.  We visited Mullins beach but there are so many others and while driving along the roads there are many public access areas designated for their beaches.  We often take things for granted but I literally tried to appreciate every detail involved with this vacation.  The beauty of this island is indescribable and I would definitely love to visit here again.  Until next time Barbados…

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