Chichen Itza, lunch at Valladolid, & Arrival at Nah Uxibal ~ Mexico, December 2017

We couldn’t let Monica visit the Yucatan and not see at least one of the amazing Mayan sites. Chichen Itza is one of the new Seven Wonders of the World and a UNESCO World Heritage site, and was along our route to Tulum. The architecture is boggling, and if you are interested in the history, be sure and hire a guide – and if it’s hot, use an umbrella for shade! Photos by Jamie and Monica…

The last time Wally and I had been to Chichen Itza was on our honeymoon in 2000, and we got to climb the pyramid then!

Lunch was our next stop, and I had chosen Hotel El Meson del Marques on the Valladolid Square. We had stayed there in the past, and it’s a charming hotel with the restaurant in the interior courtyard. It was a Colonial mansion dating from the early 17th century, and has been operating as a hotel and restaurant for 40 years.


On the back side of the hotel is a lovely pool and bar area to relax.

Time for food and drink..and yet another amazing meal in the Yucatan! There are many cattle and pork ranches in the area, and their meats are a specialty. The marinated pork melts in your mouth, and is so juicy and flavorful.

I love all the bird cages on the wall and the big metal star… IMG_0433

We walked around the square, and Monica did a bit of quick shopping.

Now onward to Tulum…this is a typical home for the locals…IMG_0405We arrived in Tulum and stopped off at Chedraui to pick up some groceries. It’s always fun to explore groceries in other countries!

We arrived a Nah Uxibal “House of Good Energy”, our favorite beach destination, just before sunset. Soliman Bay is about 15 minutes north of Tulum, and about 15 minutes south of Akumal (an hour and half south of Cancun). This is Monica’s first visit, and she snapped lots of pictures… Visit their fabulous new website to learn all about it.

Drop bags and out to the beach!


We reunite with owners and friends Skip and Jeannette and beach dog Sukie, hav a drink, and it was dark before we knew it. We’re all hungry, and after driving all day, decide on dining at Oscar y Lalo’s just across the highway for dinner. Owner Victoria was there, and she brought out some of their special tequilas to try. Their margaritas are large, tasty and powerful, and I love their chaya margarita. Healthy and not too sweet – just right for me! We ordered a variety of their delicious specialty dishes, and enjoyed a great meal with friends! Check out their great website!

Can’t wait for sunrise in the morning and our first beach day!

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Sunday in Merida, Mexico ~ December 2017

We awoke to a sunny Sunday, and I went next door to the little coffee shop and market called Deli Town for our early morning coffee fix.

We got ready for the morning out, and headed for breakfast in the hotel restaurant, which was delicious! You get to choose from traditional Yucatan dishes or American favorites such as waffles with a local twist.

Time to walk off breakfast and go check out the Sunday Market on the Plaza Grande. There’s vendors selling local products and souvenirs, and tons of food vendors. The churches were open to welcome Sunday worship, so we peeked in each one.

We had attended one of the music events in the courtyard of the Museo Casa Montejo the night before, and I wanted Monica to see the museum and lovely rooms of this 16th century former home. They had an exhibit featuring exquisite Mexican-made clothing.

This is the Public University of the Yucatan, where later in the evening we would discover a Christmas music presentation.

It was time to explore some new territory, so we made the short walk to Paseo de Montejo from our hotel. There are quite a few shops along the way, and even some antique shops.

On Sunday mornings, they close the Paseo de Montejo to car traffic, and residents flock to the famous mansion-lined street to bike, roller blade and congregate. There are bike rental companies along the way too! There are restaurants and boutiques, and many artists set up along the sidewalks working and selling their art. We realized as we saw several other stages along the Paseo that we had missed out on some of the entertainment the night before!

We had walked up an appetite, and La Chaya Maya back by the Parque de Santa Lucia was our lunch destination. We ate here the year before and absolutely loved it! We sampled many different dishes, and everything was so delicious! Dressed in traditional Yucatan style, the staff is courteous and friendly, and the open courtyard and garden make this a delightful dining experience.

Hunger quenched, we stopped in the park, where a stage in the corner was filled with dancing couples swaying to the music. How fun! We watched and listened for a while before going back to the hotel to rest.

Later in the evening, we decided to walk to the Plaza Grande and we were surprised to hear more music, this time coming from the University of Yucatan courtyard! It was a Christmas show with wonderful singing and dancing!

When we reached the Plaza Grande, we realized the festivities were still going on! The market was still set up, and one street had a stage with a mc and dancing girls, and the street was filled with people dancing! From young to old and everywhere in between, they were having a great time. We swayed along and enjoyed people watching for quite a while. IMG_0363And here’s a little video clip so you can enjoy it too!

La Negrita Cantina was our next stop, so we walked back down Calle 60 and past the hotel a few blocks. This small building is deceptive as to how many people they can fit! The bar area was small and packed, and then you go back through a few rooms and it opens up into a large seating area with a stage for their live music and another big bar. The music was getting ready to start and we couldn’t find a table, so we had a beer and moved on. We were hungry again and those pizzas at La Tratto were calling again.

Eating at La Tratto is like being in Italy!

IMG_0208And we’re done… tired, full, and time for bed across the street to Hotel Casa Lucia!  Tomorrow we’re off to drive across the Yucatan to Tulum, and we’ll be making a quick stop at Chichen Itza for Monica to see the famous Mayan city. She’s been helping with the photography too!


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Casa Lucia Hotel Boutique & Lunch at Apoala ~ Merida, Mexico, December 2017

We had such a great time in 2016 visiting Merida and their La Noche Blanca “White Night” music and arts event, that we decided to go back again this past December. The first Saturday night in December, the centro comes alive with music and dance. Stages are set up around the historic centro in the main streets of the Grande Plaza, as well as venues here, there and everywhere it seems as you walk around. You’ll hear music coming from the university courtyard, the museum courtyard, and down an arcade. And it’s all FREE! There are very few tourists in town, as this is for the local people. You can’t find much about the event online – we happened to luck upon it in 2016!

Wally’s sister Monica had never been to Mexico, and we convinced her to come with us for a quick immersion to our favorite spots in the Yucatan. We flew into Merida, and it was a short cab ride to our hotel in the historic centro and Hotel Casa Lucia Hotel, across the street from Parque de Santa Lucia.

We arrived at Casa Lucia Hotel and immediately loved our choice in this charming boutique hotel. They have a small restaurant at the front of the hotel, and offer complimentary breakfast for guests. Just next door is a great coffee shop and little market for early birds, snacks and drinks.

We had reserved through, and everything was in order for easy check-in. The rooms were lovely, spacious, spotless and the air conditioning worked great – very important in hot Merida! We loved all the outdoor seating, and especially the nice sitting areas on the stairwell landings. This became our lounge and gathering area. The pool area is also a great space to hang out (literally with hammocks) and comfortable seating.

Checked in and refreshed, it was time for lunch! This is a great location, as there are numerous restaurants surrounding the Parque de Santa Lucia, as well as many other options in surrounding blocks.

After surveying the menus, we chose Apoala with nice outdoor seating on the park. We ordered drinks, and I think they were some of the prettiest I’ve ever seen and delicious too!


When our food arrived, we were impressed with the presentation, and it was soooo good! Merida is definitely a town for foodies, and this was just our first stop!

We wandered around a bit, had a few drinks and got ready for our night on the town. As we walked towards the Plaza Grande there were street performers, artists creating murals and people everywhere enjoying the evening.

La Noche Blanca is held during the Pilgrimage of  Our Lady of Guadalupe, and the churches are amazingly bedecked with flowers for the weekend. Brides and grooms take advantage of this, and there are weddings held all evening in the churches! It’s such a touching event to be able to sit down and watch, and cheer for the newly wed couples – every 20 minutes or so! It’s a community celebration night!

We reached the Plaza Grande and there was music coming from all directions its seemed, and hordes of people waiting in line – especially young girls! We discovered later they had been waiting hours for the Mario Bautista concert – or Justin Beiber of the Yucatan! It was a full moon that night, and so beautiful to watch it rising over the Merida Cathedral.

IMG_0177IMG_0364IMG_0147Here’s a minute video on the Plaza Grande and the moon over the Cathedral of Merida.

IMG_0325We decided on La Tratto Italian Restaurant on the Parque de Lucia and just across from our hotel for dinner… LOVE this restaurant! Great food and service every time!

IMG_0138And home across the street to Hotel Casa Lucia…  What a wonderful day in Merida!

IMG_0167Stay tuned for Sunday in Merida with more great food, places to see and dancing!

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30A Florida ~ An Amazing Day: Seagrove & Rosemary Beach

When we looked out the window the next morning, there was an eerie red glow shrouding the Gulf. This was our view from our balcony at Beachcrest Condos at Seagrove Beach, looking towards Panama City Beach. IMG_9431That’s One Seagrove Place in the foreground. IMG_9428The sun-fog lifted and revealed another amazing day on the Emerald Coast. The crystal clear water and sparkling white sand is really so special and if you’ve never been, it’s time to book your trip! Morning view from our balcony and a walk on the beach.

We cruised down to Rosemary Beach and walked around a bit. It feels like we’re in Europe!

fullsizeoutput_4219The Rosemary Farmer’s Market was in full swing, so we browsed the vendors and saw lots of appealing products.

Then back to the beach… those sparkling waters are like a siren’s song… fullsizeoutput_41b9fullsizeoutput_41b8fullsizeoutput_41b7Fall is butterfly migration along the coast, and Monarchs, Gulf Fritallaries and Buckeyes  drift along the dunes, lighting on flowers along the way.

fullsizeoutput_41d0fullsizeoutput_41d1I love this series of bird pictures

Such amazing views from high up on our balcony at Beachcrest Condos! Look at this sweet couple walking on the sand bars!

We could see the rays skimming past, and it was so funny to see the unsuspecting people walking in the water near them!

fullsizeoutput_420efullsizeoutput_420ffullsizeoutput_41daWe heard a buzzing and looked up to see vintage planes cavorting along the beach! They put on a great show, diving and weaving in harmony, and finally laying down smoke as a finale to their show.

Give me that ball – no, it’s mine, go find your own!

fullsizeoutput_41e8Wally watching a big ray pass by just six feet away. His blue linen shirt from Positano, Italy has actually lasted through two years of beach wear so far – amazing!

While I was snapping pictures of Wally, this big fellow came striding up for his photo shoot.

Stalking Wally – “Hey man, you got some fish for me?? Please??”

fullsizeoutput_41cbfullsizeoutput_41d6We are just in awe of the sunsets here – you never know if the show will come as the sun’s descending or afterward with an colorful afterglow. fullsizeoutput_4213fullsizeoutput_4214That’s all for this trip! Stay tuned.. I’ll have lots more on 30A to come in the future.


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Seagrove Beach, Florida ~ Hurricane Oyster Bar

We had been looking up and down the Florida coast for several years in search of a warm winter retreat from our cold and dreary Tennessee winters. We had seen a few communities on the west side of PCB to the Inlet Beach area online that looked interesting, so wanted to check them out. I found a reasonable rate at the Beachcrest Condos on Seagrove Beach, and we took off down I-65. We arrived to vibrant blue skies and turquoise waters… here’s the view from our condo balcony. These condos were nice, clean and had excellent views onto the Gulf.

When we were leaving Nashville, there was a weird sunspot rainbow in the sky. Eight hours later when we arrived at Seagrove Beach and looked out from our balcony, where this weird rainbow spot and circle greeted us. Weird huh?

We were craving fresh seafood and oysters, so picked Hurricane Oyster Bar, Grayton Beach, for lunch. The outdoor patio overlooks a pond covered in lily pads, and the interior is plastered with dollar bills. It’s casual, laid back, and you can shop the cute shops next door. We ordered a dozen oysters, Shock Tops, a fried basket and fish tacos. Everything was good and our server sweet and attentive.

After lunch, we explored the area a bit, then went back to the condo to enjoy the beach and another amazing sunset. fullsizeoutput_41a4fullsizeoutput_41a3fullsizeoutput_41a1fullsizeoutput_419bfullsizeoutput_419efullsizeoutput_419c###

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Nah Uxibal on Soliman Bay ~ Tulum, Mexico


The morning at Nah Uxibal and the vacation rentals along Soliman Bay begins with the caretakers raking their stretch of the beach. “Hola Javier”, “Buenos Dias” is our morning greeting. Mimi watches, then trots across the freshly raked sand to her favorite chaise lounge to survey her territory.

So what do we want to do today?? How about lie about and enjoy this tropical paradise a while? (Mimi has the right idea.) IMG_8675The neighbors to the right of Nah Uxibal, Casa Canciones and Casa del CorazonIMG_5142Around Nah UxibalIMG_8637IMG_8661IMG_8664Nile liliesIMG_8680My happy place…IMG_5187The “big house” of Nah UxibalIMG_8673IMG_5363IMG_5211IMG_5212IMG_8691For those feeling like a bit of exercise… you can kayak, swim, snorkel or walk in either direction to the points of the bay (wear sturdy shoes, put on sun screen and take water!).fullsizeoutput_3f96DSCF2783IMG_0644Tidal pools on the point to the north of the bay.

IMG_0644Sometimes the black birds rule the top of Uxibal, sometimes the buzzards… They’re airing out their wings! IMG_8698IMG_8700Mimi loves chasing kites and the kiteboarders, and will swim all over the bay after them! And if she catches them down she will SHRED THEM!

You never know what you might see from your hammock… IMG_5247


How about a bottle of mid-day prosecco? Salut!  IMG_5259IMG_5260Hmm. Getting hungry and need a few supplies from Tulum. Off to Mezzanine for our favorite afternoon 2 x 1 margaritas and best Thai on the beach (anywhere I’ve been so far). Divine food and drinks, amazing view, attentive service, and you can take your beach gear and go crash on the beach afterwards – what more could you ask from a beach front restaurant?

Back to the bay… low tide… you never know what you’ll see skimming along beneath the surface of the water. Below is a trunk fish, spotted eagle ray and stingray. Sometimes you can see the eagle rays leaping out of the bay – it’s absolutely astounding! And if you watch closely you can see the turtles poking their noses up for air!

Do a bit of kayaking or have a “Massage by Lucia”, with our Italian masseuse Lucia right on the beach. It’s best to email her for an appointment at: luciasi90@hotmail.comIMG_0654

Those ghost crabs keep skittering around teasing Sookie.


My project for this trip is to make some driftwood and beach find mobiles. I brought string with me, and Javier let me borrow his drill. We walked around the point and collected driftwood, sea fans and seed pods that had drifted in from the Caribbean.


The day is drawing to a close…


For dinner, we chose Cetli, located a few blocks off the main Tulum Pueblo strip. It’s located in a cozy home type setting and has been there for years. It’s cash only and closed Wednesdays. This was our first time dining here, and the food was beautifully presented and delicious, and I loved our cocktails. The menus are hand made and so unique, and the restaurant is decorated with handmade Mexican artwork and local accents. Be sure and try the fried grasshoppers!

Back to the bay and the full moon is rising… we love to lie on the beach and watch the stars at night.

Another day begins and is pretty much a repeat of the day before… Why not? IMG_0639

fullsizeoutput_301eToday we went to have massages at Maya Tulum Spa down on Tulum Beach Road. I really like the hot stone massages and you can choose some of their Mayan treatments. You go into the reception lobby and choose your masseuse and treatment and make your reservation.

You never know what you’ll see on the Tulum Beach Road!

After our massages, we were starving and craving a burger and fish tacos, so decided to try Mateo’s, whose slogan is “Best Fish Tacos on Earth”. What have we been thinking not eating here before??? They’re on the new favorite list for great food and drinks, and you can watch sports here too! Their sunset deck is the happening place for cocktails in the evening.

This talented artist was set up in the restaurant and painting magnets, cards and pictures, and selling them at very reasonable prices. I picked out a magnet with a beach sunset. He was very funny and nice, joking and laughing as I tried to pick my souvenir!

fullsizeoutput_418cSadly, it’s our last day on the Bay, so we soak up the afternoon’s sun on the beach. fullsizeoutput_3067We say Hasta Luego to our friends, dogs and the bay, and head off to the Cancun airport for an early dinner at Guy Fieri’s in the airport before our flight. As you can tell by the portions, they don’t aim for you to leave hungry!! Beautiful presentation and delicious food. If you’re counting calories, avoid the burger and fries! They have an outdoor patio you can smoke on or just be outside, but you have to pay for the privilege (deducted with food purchase).

If you feel the need to get your feet nibbled on and cleaned by fish, you can do that too while waiting for your flight. Check out this trend in Mexico – I tried it, and it seems to work but tickles!

Winging north to NashvilleIMG_5944IMG_5945We’ll be back soon!

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Merida to Valladolid to Tulum

We needed a shot of coffee to get us going for our do on the road and I wanted to check out Cafe La Habana just a block from our hotel. We got these delicious frothy coffees and one of the servers showed me their coffee room. You can buy their coffee and we got some to take with us for the rest of our visit. I definitely want to try them for a meal next time! fullsizeoutput_415b

There were people all along the roads on their Virgin of Guadalupe pilgrimages. We felt like we were part of a moving festival! fullsizeoutput_4185fullsizeoutput_4183We arrived in Valladolid, walking past Casa de los Venados, which houses one of the best collections of Mexican folk art in the country. We had toured it before on a previous visit, so you can check out that link at end of this blog and their website to learn more at:

Having read up on restaurant reviews, we wanted to try a new one so chose El Atrio del Mayab on the main central park in town, Parque La Mestiza. We arrived late and there were just a few other tables, so we enjoyed their quiet garden.

IMG_0446It was time for a mid-day cocktail refresher and these were delicious!

Yummy, everything was delicious! I love fried plantains! fullsizeoutput_4172fullsizeoutput_4173fullsizeoutput_4174Next door was Yalat, a nice art gallery with high quality hand crafted Mexican folk art, linens and more.