Monthly Archives: October 2017

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.

I had read about a little co-op group that had sheds a few blocks away, and we found it! Only a few of the shops were open, and I found my perfect pair of hand made leather Mexican sandals, a wallet and some bracelets. I think all of it was under $20! The area around Valladolid is cattle country, and they are known for their quality leather goods. Many of the shops around the main square also sell leather goods.

Time to head to Tulum and Nah Uxibal, our next destination for the rest of our trip.fullsizeoutput_4186There’s a really nice rest area along the way for the tour buses, so be sure and make your pit stop here! IMG_5832

Here’s a link to our weekend visit to Valladolid in 2012, and loads more pictures of this pretty town:

We arrived at Nah Uxibal on Soliman Bay ready to dip our feet in the water and have a drink after the long day. IMG_5277IMG_5260IMG_8673More to come!

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Merida on Sunday, Progresso: Dec 2016

We slept in after our late night out enjoying “Noche Blanca,” and awoke to a beautiful morning in Merida. Our morning plan was to walk around town and see some of the landmarks, and check out the Sunday market on the Plaza Grande. Our Gran Hotel is very pretty in the daylight with a little park right in front of it.


There were artisans set up around the park when we went out. The jewelry artisans had beautiful intricate designs at super reasonable prices. I ended up buying several pieces from them when we came back for Christmas presents and for me. fullsizeoutput_4128

I bought two necklaces from the artist above, and the lady he is showing a piece bought one too. He had wood burned images onto antler and added wooden beads. I treasure my mermaid and hibiscus necklaces he made, and wear them all the time!

I loved the beaded skulls below – bead work takes so much time and patience, and these were awesome!

I bought two of the turquoise pieces in the below right photo and just love them!

We made our way towards the Plaza Grande, and there’s a really cool store that sells rocks, minerals, fossils and other curiosities.

fullsizeoutput_4145Plaza Grande is just one block from the entrance of the Gran Hotel, so we couldn’t have picked a more central location for the event. fullsizeoutput_40effullsizeoutput_40f1La Catedral de Merida rises elegantly on one side of the Plaza Grandefullsizeoutput_40f0fullsizeoutput_40f7Around the plaza…

A nativity scene was the central focus of the plaza for the holidays.

I love their Yucatan linens – such nice quality and colors. We met this local fellow in front of the church, and he gave us an extensive history lesson on the cathedral. He then led us to his shop in the side street next to the church to show us his merchandise. Of course he wanted us to buy something in exchange for his history knowledge, and his shop had nice items.


And then there’s the food vendors! So many divine smells and tastes! Where to start and end… you can get a snack, a drink or many meals.

The Cathedral of Merida – it was Sunday and the church was open and so beautiful! IMG_0294fullsizeoutput_40eaIMG_0244fullsizeoutput_414bfullsizeoutput_414aWe wanted to see what was in the museum where we had listened to the music in the courtyard the night before. We followed this lady across the street to it.

The Museo Casa Montego of Merida is a 16th century building and now houses a museum and bank. It’s filled with AMAZING antiques and rotating art exhibits, and it’s free to tour so be sure and stop by! Learn more at:

Lunch was next on the agenda, and we had heard that La Chaya Maya was the place for good authentic Yucatan food (the fellow that gave us the cathedral history tour recommended it). It was a short walk from the Plaza Grande, and when we walked inside, we loved their open air dining area and garden.

This lovely lady was making tortillas and the servers would pick up finished ones and put them in gourds to take to tables.

I just love their garden area! Time to decide what to order, and there are so many yummy looking dishes that we’ve never eaten before, so we ordered a variety. We’ve been visiting Tulum, Mexico for around 15 years, but this food is different – and soooo good! Check out their menu on their website and learn more at

Oh my goodness… time to do some more walking to work that off. So good! We’re going to try them for breakfast and maybe dinner next time! There was a little market set up on the Parque Santa Lucia so we browsed the vendors and I bought a few of these tortilla baskets. I discovered when we got home that the tall basket is perfect to keep coffee filters in.

Loved this powder blue building… fullsizeoutput_4154That weekend was also the pilgrimage of the Virgin of Guadalupe, and we saw bikers and runners everywhere during our drives.

We took a late afternoon drive to Progresso to check out the beach there. I have to say this is the first Mexican beach I was disappointed in – not sure if it had been stormy or what, but the water was brown and the beach covered in debris and sea grass. I hope this isn’t the normal, but we’ll skip it next time. A side note – there was a police check point as you leave the town and get back on the main highway, so I would advise a designated driver. They were very nice and polite, and Wally passed his breathalyzer test and they sent us on our way laughing at us.

fullsizeoutput_4149We rounded out the night with dinner at La Tratto Santa Lucia on the Parque Santa Lucia. And oh my, it was like we were back in Italy. I think Wally’s happy smile to have divine pizza in Mexico says it all. Also a winner!

Off to bed for us.. tomorrow we depart Merida, and will travel through Valladolid on our way to Tulum.. Manana!

** We enjoyed Merida so much, we are booked to come back for the 2017 Noche Blanca and bringing friends!

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Noche Blanca, Dec 2016, Merida, Mexico

In 2016 I stumbled across an event that sounded interesting on the calendar for Yucatan events – La Noche Blanca in Merida, Mexico. We had always talked about visiting Merida and decided a fiesta night in December was perfect. We chose the Gran Hotel in the historic center for it’s very reasonable rates and antique accents and architecture.

We had flown into Cancun that day and began the drive to Merida. The first problem we ran into was that we hadn’t gotten any pesos yet. We got to the toll booth on the road, and they conveyed to us they only took pesos. They spoke no English. The person waved us to the side of the road and pointed at the guy walking towards us. Turns out he is the toll booth money changer – for a steep fee (stupid tax) of course. (Lesson 1 – ALWAYS have pesos before you drive to Merida). So toll pesos now in hand, we paid and started off again.

We knew we needed gas at some point and I plotted the gas stations ahead. We got off the exit when we were getting low and I directed us to where the Google maps Pemex gas station was. But it wasn’t… There was not Pemex to be found. We stopped and asked, heads shook no. So I googled the next gas station… At this point we’re sitting on E. Onward we go to the next village. We get there and ask directions to the Pemex, which of course is on the other side of town. We get to the Pemex … and wait for it… they’re closed! One man is there and he says they are OUT OF GAS!!! Won’t get another truck in for several DAYS. Can you feel our panic? Also, it’s late afternoon and raining.

We make our way back out to the highway and spot a tour bus and driver on the side of the road. We stop to ask him if he speaks English, which he does. Whew! Wally asked him what we should do and he said go back towards Cancun on the highway and there was a gas station about 25 miles back. (we hadn’t seen that one). The red light has been on for a bit now, but we had no other option except to beg someone to let us siphon some gas. The driver thought we could probably make it, so off we went. Between praying and cursing, we decided if we got stranded at least we had a few bottles of booze, water and snacks so we would be ok til someone helped us.

I guess our prayers worked, because we made it to the gas station and filled up. When Wally went to start the car, it sputtered before starting. We wouldn’t have gotten any farther! I will now keep that phone number to call if you need assistance on the road and was never so glad to see a gas station sign! LESSON TWO: Always top off your gas tank when you see a gas station and think you might get low.

The electric pole was in one of the villages.

We drove the last hour and it was getting dark as we pulled into Merida. Luckily it is relatively small and laid out in a simple grid, so we were able to find our hotel, The Gran Hotel de Merida, It’s on a small park plaza, and there was one little pull off parking spot across the square. We pulled in, and I ran into the hotel to check in. One of the hotel staff came out with me to unload our luggage and then drove with Wally to the parking garage a few blocks away. Time for some booze and food. It’s been a LONG, STRESSFUL DAY.

The hotel is lovely, spacious and filled with antiques. It’s centrally located and easy to walk everywhere in the historic district. Our room is huge and the bathroom is actually about a foot higher than the rest of the room (they had to retrofit to add plumbing), but the bathroom is the size of a living room too.

We showered up and went downstairs and ate at the cafe outside our hotel. Margaritas and food helped fuel us up for the second part of the night – time for Noche Blanca “White Nights” music and arts festival on the Grand Plaza!

We walked around and did a bit of shopping…Wally got a fancy white tailored shirt the locals wear for special occasions, and I got the double hammock.

We then made our way to the Plaza Grande, meandering around the blocks. The event begins at 7 p.m., and people were pouring into the centro area. We walked around a bit and admired their town’s historic architecture.

fullsizeoutput_40c2This is coming up the block next to the Cathedral of Merida onto the Plaza Grande. I loved the bells next to the side door. fullsizeoutput_40c7fullsizeoutput_40c6fullsizeoutput_40c8fullsizeoutput_40c5fullsizeoutput_40c4fullsizeoutput_40c3Looking behind us was this lovely view. fullsizeoutput_40c9And here’s the Plaza Grande and front of the cathedral. We’ll get the history lesson on Sunday. fullsizeoutput_40d4fullsizeoutput_40cdThe stages are set up around the plaza, and feature different music and styles of dance.

We heard familiar music drifting from a building to the side of the plaza, and followed a river of people inside. There are hardly any “tourists” here – this is a beloved local event and the atmosphere is happy and festive! fullsizeoutput_40dffullsizeoutput_40e0Oh my, one of my favorites… he was singing Frank Sinatra in this lovely courtyard! It’s acutally a museum and we’ll tour in tomorrow.  fullsizeoutput_40e2We wandered around the plaza, enjoying the warm December night. What a wonderful way to kick off the holiday season! Merida is lovely!

fullsizeoutput_40cafullsizeoutput_40cbIMG_0181fullsizeoutput_40ccfullsizeoutput_40cefullsizeoutput_40cffullsizeoutput_40d0fullsizeoutput_40d2fullsizeoutput_40d3It’s late and we’re ready for bed – but we’ll be back! We are coming back for the 2017 December Noche Blanca, and bringing friends to this amazing event! There is also a summer event in June, so don’t miss it. Next up is the Sunday market and artisan day on the Plaza Grande, and we’ll explore around Merida.


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Coba Road, the Honey Store, Birthday Dinner: Tulum, Mexico 2016

Another beautiful dawn broke over Soliman Bay with Javier raking our beach at Nah Uxibal while Sookie romped about us.

It’s my birthday, and our destination for the day is the Honey Store on the Coba Road.

I love their vanilla scented shampoos and lotion, and of course their honey!

fullsizeoutput_2ffdDone shopping at the Honey Store, next stop is lunch in Tulum Town at our favorite local restaurant, El Camello Jr., which is also the local fish co-op for fresh fish. There’s lots of fun stores to browse in Tulum.

Time to eat!

Back to Nah Uxibal and time for siesta after our yummy lunch… fullsizeoutput_3066

For my birthday dinner, we went to Oscar & Lalo’s across the highway from Soliman Bay. This is always one of our favorite dinner spots, and it’s making my mouth water looking at the pictures now!

fullsizeoutput_3c91Another wonderful day in paradise… What a way to spend my birthday!

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