Asian Adventure: Hội An, Vietnam – VLX (Lindy Exchange)

Xin chao! [sinjao] – Hello!

Ban hay khong? [bahn nay khom?] – Would you like to dance?

Hoi An, Vietnam!

Of all the places on my travel agenda for this trip – this destination was for the shortest stay.  We flew out just for the weekend from KL, Malaysia to Danang, Vietnam ….a 30min drive from Hoi An, specifically for VLX – Vietnam’s Lindyhop Exchange weekend!

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What is a lindy hop exchange you ask?

A lindy exchange is a gathering of lindy hop dancers in one city for several days to do the same dance at other venues, showcase ones own talent to the local community, and to dance with visitors and locals alike.

This was my first time swing dancing outside of Canada!

If you remember from my previous post, there was a pie chart highlighting the various nationalities that would be at this dance exchange – I’m proud to say that me and Dee (my travel mate) added to the 7% Canadian slice who were in attendance 🙂

Where We Stayed

We signed ourselves up for the full weekend – which meant we did’t have to do a thing when it came to booking hotels and transportation to/from airport – VLX took care of us as soon as we landed!

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The glorious Hotel Royal Hoi An, MGallery Collection – we had breakfast around this lovely pool every morning!
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THIS was our fantabulous suite —- These Beds! These Pillows! These amazing fluffy robes!!! This place was divine!!!

The Dances

We were on a tight dance-filled agenda which began with a Welcome dance our first night at the Hoi An Historic Hotel ….

The theme that night was “East Meets West” … here’s what I wore:

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Dee and I found these lovely batik printed skirts from The Central Market in KL, and went twinsy for the evening complete with flower in hair and vintage bangs.

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Batik skirts with fanny prints + tanks + vintage hair flowers + bumper bangs = East Meets West
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Caught in the lindyhop act.  (Thanks Jason & Sheila)

AND we were caught on camera and made the News in Nam!!!  See if you can spot ME in the news clip friends 😉

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While other VLXers woke up super early for a bike ride to explore Hoi An (after dancing ’til 3:30am the night before) …

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me and a few other deep-sleepers chose to enjoy the day in the pool instead – until the next afternoon dance of course 🙂

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Isn’t this a great picture? I borrowed this hat from a VLX Cowboy …and he snapped this photo complete with cartoon Asian sworded companion. 🙂
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Beach Afternoon – An Bang Beach, Hoi An
On Sunday afternoon we were shuttled to An Bang Beach’s Soul Kitchen and took over a lovely little section of sun and shade …in between DANCING, of course!!!
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Day drinking + relax-o in between barefoot lindy hopping = Paradise!
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Me among the beauties representing Malaysia at the VLX 🙂

And then the barefoot Lindy Hopping began!

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The VLXers of 2015…. such a great group of people!!!

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MORE Dancing Nights …

If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you’ve likely already seen a few of these pic and can watch a few vid clips too.

Every evening there was a dinner and a dance planned for us.  Here are a few shots of all the fun:

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Dancing at the Bamboo Buddha

This evening’s dress code was “Extreme Opposites”.  I had no idea what that meant … and so I went as Batman!

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I’M BATMAN! 😉

Our last night in Hoi An, we had a farewell dinner at Green Mango ….with a dress code of “Modern Vintage”

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Dinner our last night there…le sigh.

After dinner our last night of dancing in Hoi An….we took the Lindy Hopping to the streets…

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My dress is from the Canadian designer Cherry Velvet Plus, click here for outfit deets.

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Dancing in the Streets! Loved it!!!

Of all the places I visited this trip, THIS is the city I wish I had spent more time in….sigh.  Guess this just means I’ve gotta make another visit sometime soon ❤

Although much of the trip was spent dancing …. I was able to check out a few sites, ate some amazing meals and even got to visit a tailor to get some custom threads made!!!  7 new pieces came home with me!

Stay tuned for the next blogpost highlighting these things specifically!!! Thanks for reading! xo

In case you’ve missed any… PPMeow’s Asian Adventure includes:

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Asian Adventure: Boracay, Philippines – White Sand Beach

For years now, I’ve heard the rumours of how beautiful the beaches of The Philippines are.  So Boracay Island was one of the MUST-SEE spots on my travel agenda while I was in South-East Asia last month.

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Hello, Kalibo – Philippines!

Now, getting to these beautiful beaches takes a bit of effort which included a 35-min LRT ride to Kuala Lumpur Airport, a 4-hour flight to Kalibo, Philippines.

Then a 2-hour bus ride to the edge of the sea to board a questionable mini-ferry boat for a 15-min ride to Boracay Island.

Followed by a 30-min shuttle bus AND a 10-min walk with luggage to our resort bungalow ….

IMG_7164WE finally made it!!!

WHERE WE STAYED

Thus began our 5-night stay at The Boracay Beach Resort!!! 🙂

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The white sand beaches of Boracay is split up into three boat stations: Stn 1 known to be the ‘party spot’, Stn 2 and Stn 3.  Since accommodations can be pricy we chose to stay at a more modest resort for the first 5-nights.

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The jungle-like garden walkway toward the bungalows of The Boracay Island Beach Resort

The  beachfront location of Stn 1 & 2 is always busy and bustling with activity.

Our little bungalow was a welcomed and lovely quiet respite from the island’s bustling party scene, but close enough to its heart for two single gals on vacation who wanted the complete Boracay experience. 😉

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Our private bungalow in the jungle

Added bonus to staying at this resort:  it’s fully WIFI accessible …. even on this little jungle porch!  Which was perfect starting off our day with fresh fruit shakes & delicious breakfasts and for our evenings of impromptu name-that-tune challenges and Facebook updates to make family and friends back home jelly 😉

The only downside to staying in these bungalows was the window AC units were very loud.  So night-time was kept cool and tropical with just the fan mode.  Plus, earplugs make everything better.

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Our quaint relaxing porch ….where we were served delicious breakfasts every morning and enjoyed cheapy beers every evening.   Sigh… how I miss it so 😦

For our last two-nights we checked out of our sweet little bungalow and stayed at this upscale, splurge-o hotel: Henann Garden Resort

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The fancy Henann Garden Resort —- Sadly, the pool was the most noteworthy thing about this hotel.

Sadly, the pool was the most noteworthy thing about this hotel…. which couldn’t be enjoyed as there weren’t any ‘children only areas’.  Which meant children were everywhere running amuck, often without parental supervision!   Sigh….

The other disappointments of Henann Garden Resort:  it cost us nearly DOUBLE what our 5-night stay cost which got us a “deluxe room” ….. which had zero view, no balcony or access to any private outdoor space and no WiFi.  In fact, the entire splashy resort only offered WiFi access in their lobby…which was always crowded for this reason.

“Deluxe” …pfft!!!!

Thank goodness the bulk of our stay was at  The Boracay Beach Resort ... how I miss it so! *sniff sniff*

WHAT WE DID

Both of our hotels were located along the White Beach between Stn 1 and the island’s newest center, D’Mall.  There are tons of shops and restaurants within this area…which we explored daily.

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 Boracay Island is a water sport enthusiasts mecca!

Sadly, as I’m a non-swimmer (for more facts you didn’t know about moi, click here), I spent my days being a beach-bum working on my tan (ha!), eating, drinking and exploring the beach.

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Like the day where we noticed a grouping of rocks off in the distance towards the end of Stn 1.

According to the map this was known as Willy’s Rock.  I thought maybe it had something to do with the classic 80s flick GOONIES one-eyed-Willy … but upon closer inspection turns out this point of interest is actual a Christian shrine – notice the statue.

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Willy’s Rock …. at Stn1 of Boracay White Sand Beach.  My gf/travel mate ventured onto the rock. 🙂

We actually walked to it from shore and you can swim to and around it, as the water was quite shallow around it.

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My Outfit: Dress, Tommy Hilfiger; Sunnies, NineWest; Hat, picked up on my travels from a lil’ shop outside of KLCC

We also came across this giant Gorilla after lunch one day … kinda random, right?

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Monkeying around on the white sand beach of Boracay

There was a lot of time spend lazing around on the beach and on the hammock of our bungalow’s veranda reading my book: Gone Girl.  (Really, really enjoyed it.  Sadly, it wasn’t one of the movie offerings on any of my flights back…le sigh.)IMG_6834Watching the sailboats at sunset never got old…IMG_6841

Toward the end of the week, I wandered over to the end of Stn 3 and noticed that the clear blue waters were keeping covered in thick green grossness.  Apparently at this time of year this algae seems to take over the shores.  It wasn’t THIS bad by where we staying, thankfully.  And once you’ve managed to walked past all the greenness, the water was perfect!

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The intense algae situation at Stn 3

And People-Watching was always entertaining…

We got pretty chatty with one of the below table of dancers/hireable companions… so much so, that by the end of the evening one asked to touch my boobs 😮

True Story!!!! LOL!!!

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This table of ladies were a combination of dancers and um, hireable companions for the night or week.

Nightly entertainment along the beach included live cover bands and fire-dancers.  Visit my Instagram for vid clips of these performances 🙂

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Fire-Dancers!!!
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Roof-top cover band performing along the white sand beach

Oh! And I even donned my first bikini ever beachside and poolside!  Woot!

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My Outfit: Jellyfish Aqua Bikini from the GabiFresh line by Swimsuitsforall.com

WHAT I BOUGHT

Now y’all know I’m a hardcore shopper.  But this year I’m really focused on spending money on ‘experiences’ rather than things…. and I have to say that there wasn’t anything particularly fabulous that I needed to purchase from Boracay Island.

I did come across this young artist on the beach, who was making personalized jewellery out of surgical steel wire.  Earrings, necklaces and rings.

As you can see, I got myself one …complete with butterfly motif and pink beads…which worked out to be a whopping $6 CAD 🙂

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We also found a caricaturist along the beach – THIS was not at all the pose we picked to be drawn.

LOLOL!!  I’m pretty sure they thought we were apart of a lesbian commune.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that. 😉

Also, seems I’m white in caricature, while my gf is part of the big-titty-committee.  LOLOL!!!  Too funny!

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LOL!   Even the crab on the shores of Boracay knows of our love. 🙂

I have to admit, there wasn’t anything AMAZING that I had to bring home with me from Boracay.  OH!!! I did discover that full body massages along the beach and (if you preferred, in private air-conditioned lofts) worked out to $10 CAD for an hour!!!  Naturally, I had one every day I was there!!!  Paradise just got better!

All that returned to the T-dot with me was a bottle of Red Horse Beer that I couldn’t finish the eve of our departure and these chocolate covered mangos I picked up at the airport.  Both are delicious!

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My only souvenirs from Boracay

So there you have it friends.  Hope you enjoyed reliving destination 1 of 3 in my 22-day  Asian Adventure with me.  Stay tuned for the next instalment.  xo

Thinking about travelling to Asia yourself?

In case you’ve missed any… PPMeow’s Asian Adventure includes:

  • Asia: What to Know Before you Go – click here for blogpost
  • Clothes vs. Backpack – click here for blogpost
  • 30+ hours of Travel – click here for blogpost
  • 22 Days, 3 Countries – click here for blogpost
    • Boracay, Philippines – White Sand Beach – click here for blogpost
    • Hội An, Vietnam – VLX (coming soon)
    • Hội An, Vietnam – The Ancient City (coming soon)
    • Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Food, Fun and Fashion (coming soon)

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Our last sunset of Boracay
Our last sunset of Boracay

Asian Adventure: 30+ hours of Travel

Hey Hey Hey!  I’m back from nearly three weeks travelling South East Asia.  It was a fantastic trip filled with good food, lots of dancing, new friends and shopping galore!

Y’all know I was anxious about doing such a BIG trip travel solo … PLUS, I was determined to fly without checking any luggage what-so-ever there.

IMG_6721Well, on the eve of my departure it turns out that my travel backpack ended up being larger than the allowable carry-on dimensions as per airport regulations.

Knowing that it isn’t easy finding larger clothes in the cities I’d be visiting … with all my many connections, the possibility of losing my luggage filled with PLUS SIZE clothing was terrifying.

And so last min, I transferred all my items into my trusty roller-bag and mini-backpack instead!

I was determined to get myself to the airport WITHOUT my winter coat.

So I dressed in the following layers for the 30+ hour journey to get to my first destination of my Adventure – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

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Pearson Travel Outfit: Black zip from Reitmans; Fox scarf from Suzy Sheer; Printed pants from Forever21+; Batman Tee from Ardene; Black sneaks from Payless

The long flights there (with layovers of waiting in-between) weren’t so terrible.  It was all pretty low stress until I arrived in Frankfurt Airport – my longest layover and last leg of my journey there.  So I decided to treat myself to German schnitzel and beer, and was approached by two Indian pilots (one more handsome than the other) who asked if they could join me. Seems mama still gots it even after 20+ hours of travel grime – must be those sexy compression socks, makes pilots crazy friendly 😉

Did you know that there’s now a new 15-hour flight direct from Toronto to New Delhi, India?  True story.

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Moi … 20+ hours of straight travel and those sexy compression socks Pilots can’t get enough of 😉

After I drank my beer and said farewell to my new pilot friends, I made my way to get my boarding pass and was given misdirections by TWO different Lufthansa desk clerks one telling me my gate was Z-something …. only to get there and be sent back where I began. Grrrrr   And then was issued a Stand By ticket …dun dun dun.

Luckily the third desk clerk I spoke to managed to secure me a proper seat with my ORIGINAL booking.  **phew**

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After 20-hours of continuous travel…the last thing you want to see on your airline ticket is the dreaded words: STANDBY~ akkk!

FLYING HOME

The journey home was pretty smooth……just ridiculously long.  (That’s what you get when you fly across the globe on points friends.)

I woke up at 4:45am to take a 10min cab ride to the KL Airport Express Train (35min ride) to catch my morning connection from KL to Bangkok.  Once I arrived there, I had a little over an hour to make my way through Bangkok customs and find my gate for my next connection to Beijing.

Cutting it super tight, right?  I finally arrived at my departure gate to see that FINAL CALL all-red flashing sign — maybe the most terrifying feeling when you know you have yet another connect to make.  This was the first time I flew Thai Airways and I have to say their airplane food was delicious!

The last leg of my journey in Beijing (who’s airport was completely nuts – zero signs written in English  + No one lines up for anything!  Just a mass of people mashing their bodies and luggage into each other until they get to a clerk at a desk – nuts!!!!)  An elderly gentleman – a professor in Hong Kong on his way to his father’s funeral in Hamilton, Ontario, struck up a conversation with me.  Seems I look most approachable and friendly in the last hours of lengthy travel days. Sigh…

Confucius says: “Man going through airport turnstile sideways is going to Bangkok.”🎊

Kuala Lampur. Bangkok. Beijing. Toronto. 4 countries, 30+ hours of time-travelling travel.  It was the LONGEST Friday ever!!!

Ditching the giant travel backpack for a roller-bag was definitely the right decision!  With all the swing dancing nights and visits to multiple airports to get to the various destinations we had planned, having a roller-bag totally saved my back!

Funny story… just as I arrived to the doorstep of my gf’s place in KL, I was praising how great my lil’ roller-bag has been these past 3-years it’s been with me…and just as those words utter on my lips – the handle broke!  Leaving me to have to pull this mofo bag by the straps for the remainder of the trip. LOL!

Not to fear, I bought myself a lovely new roller-carryon for my return home (and checked my broken bag on my flight home…since I ended up buying a ton of things from all three cities – Kuala Lampur – Boracay – Hoi An).

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Isn’t she a beauty? Looking forward to taking her on many more adventures in the near future 😉

I’m still working on my recap blogposts for each city I visited.  So stay tuned for those in the upcoming weeks friends.

In the meantime, feel free to follow my INSTAGRAM and catchup with a few snaps I took while I was on my Asian Adventure… as they happened.  xo

Asian Adventure includes:

Boracay, Philippines – White Sand Beach – click here for blogpost

Hội An, Vietnam – VLX

Hội An, Vietnam – The Ancient City

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Food, Fun and Fashion

KL Boracay HoiAn

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2014 Vacation: Grenada

With project deliverables and timelines being pushed back, October was the first time I’ve been able to schedule a vacation all year!

The biggest pain with travelling solo is the ‘single supplement fee” many vacation destinations and travel packages charge travellers simply because they’re travelling solo.  I had no real plans to go away this year, but not taking any time off since last November was starting to take its toll on me.

Luckily, a gf of mine was also looking to get away for some R&R…and we were able to snag a fabulous Air Canada Vacation deal at a 4-stars ALL INCLUSIVE 7-night stay at a beautiful resort in Grenada!  TripAdvisor scored it pretty well, the dates worked and the price was right!

If you’ve been following me on Instagram, you’ve likely already seen a few of these pics…

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Our 1st day in Grenada – complete with rainbows, drinks, sand & sunset!



The last few years of trips and travel have been more bucket-list-adventure focused (click here to see what I mean).

For this trip, I truly was a beach bum!  There was a lot of lounging around the pool, drink in hand, reading my book while falling in & out of naps in the sun.  Screen Shot 2014-11-06 at 9.27.12 PMTo be honest friends, there weren’t too many outfit pictures taken on this week away.   It was a SOLID rest and relaxation for the first time in a long time (vacation-wise).IMG_5042

 

Having said all that, this blogpost will be focus more on ‘What I Did”, rather than “What I Wore”.

Here we go….

Packing for the Trip

Seems that whenever I travel, somehow a pair of sunglasses goes missing.  No matter what.  So, I’ve gotten into the routine of buying a few ‘cheapy vacation pairs’ to combat my forgetfulness.

I picked up these three below:  Heart shaped polka-dots from Clare’s Accessories ($5) and the other two from Forever21 ($7 each)

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Packing outfits for this trip was pretty simple:  I just looked back to the blog to see what Summertime looks I rocked and shoved those items into my suitcase.  I’ve linked each image below with their respective blogpost if you’re curious about the specific outfit deets 😉

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Grenada is an island country consisting of the island of Grenada and six smaller islands at the southern end of the Grenadines in the southeastern Caribbean Sea.  Known as the Spice Isle for the nutmeg and cinnamon, clove, ginger, vanilla, lemongrass, bay leaf, thyme, and turmeric that grow so abundantly here, Grenada is a wonderfully green peaceful place, that feels off the beaten tourist track.  Which totally works for me!

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The Vacation Package (Flight + Hotel)

As I said above, we found a last-min deal with Air Canada Vacation — advertised as a  4-star resort in Grenada:  Grenadian by Rex Resorts.  

Let me start by asking … when YOU hear 4-stars, what do you expect out of an ALL INCLUSIVE resort?

The ‘Garden View’ Rooms weren’t anything special. They were clean and the view really wasn’t a garden so much as it was a hilly batch of grass.  But who cares about that stuff.  My biggest disappointment was the fact that the bathroom was teeny-tiny and did not have a tub.  Now, I realize that a tub isn’t essential….however the standup shower was soooo small that if you were to drop the soap, your bare ass would be completely out of the shower!  Shaving ones legs all week in there was not easy friends.

Seriously!? 4-stars and I have to ASK for a four-piece bathroom – really?  Just saying’…

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This was the width of the shower. Zero place to put your toiletries, soap, shampoo, etc. It was Ridiculous!
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The width of this shower … it was tight. 4-stars…I think NOT!

 

Outside of that bathroom disappointment, there weren’t any a la cart restaurants voucher included with our stay.  The single restaurant on the resort grounds would give us a $40 credit, which didn’t mean much as each entrée started at the $80+ mark.

Lucky for us the buffet for breakfast, lunch and dinners were delicious!  Super flavourful and authentic, which I appreciated.  Hate it when resorts make their foods more “tourist friendly”.

Screen Shot 2014-11-06 at 9.27.30 PMThe grounds of the resort were beautiful.  There was only one pool, but since it was a off-season, there weren’t too many people there in general, and even fewer children.  There seemed to be a lot of travellers from the UK there, but mostly honeymooning couples or retirees with tons of vacay time (upwards of 5-weeks).  We did meet and hang with three Brit dudes that week – let’s call them Alvin, Simon and Theodore.  And by mid-week there was an invasion of Caribbean Tennis Pros who happened to be conference at our resort.  So there were plenty of friends to be made for drinking and dining with, all week-long 🙂

 

Things To Do in Grenada:

Coincidentally, earlier in the month I met a light-eyed, broad, tall, handsome stranger at a networking event who happened to be from Grenada.   My immediate thoughts were…”If THAT’S how they grow their men in that country, then I need to get to there!’ 😉

He shared the following list of things I HAD to do while visiting (those listed in blue consider them completed off the list):

  • Eat Oil Down – traditional dish of Grenada, its delicious!
  • Try to visit Cariacou (one of Grenada’s sister Islands, the other is Petite Martinique). I believe there is a ferry service daily
  • Grenada Chocolate Factory Co-Op (best chocolate ever! completely organic)
  • Nutmeg processing plant on one of the estates
  • Annadale Falls
  • Fort Fredrick (and old Fort built by the French in the 1790s i believe). One of the best views on the island!
  • Concord Falls
  • BEACHES – Grand Anse (Grenada’s “top” beach), BBC (nice and secluded. this is my favourite), Bathway (stay within the retaining wall area, the sea is very rough but manageable as long as you stay within that area), Levera (very rough water where the Caribbean Sea meets the Atlantic. Also where the Leatherback Turtles come to lay their eggs. you might just want to take a walk along that beach if you’re not a strong swimmer. Bathway is around the corner, so you can always take a dip there), Pink Gin Beach (pinkish colour sand), Magazine Beach (I think my hotel was on might this beach)
  • River Antoine Distillery (organic white rum, Full Strength!! lol) 
  • Sulphur Springs (great mud bath, close to Levera and Bathway)
  • Fish Friday in Gouyave 

 

Things I DID in Grenada:

Great beaches, excellent Caribbean food and wonderful people.  I’m told there is really good scuba diving (I’m a non-swimmer, but an excellent wader! I did manage to convince one of the wait staff to procure a noodle just for me to use ALL week for both the pool & beach.  Seems I’m an excellent sweet-talker … especially in my bathing suit 😉

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Leapers CliffLeapers Cliff in Grenada

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Concord Falls

Concord Falls, Grenada
Check out this Jumper!! I tried capturing his jump shot-by-shot until the SPLASH!

Concord Falls, Grenada

Nutmeg Processing Plant

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Crater LakeIMG_5500

Rum Factory  

River Antoine Distillery (organic white rum, Full Strength!!)   One of the last places if not the last, that uses a water wheel in the distilling process, a system that goes back to the 1700’s and I believe the wheel they have running there is the original one from that time.

Rum factory in Grenada

Fish Friday

Fish Friday in Gouyave – a weekly street party with lots of FRESH fish and seafood cooked up in a variety of ways plus music and other entertainment.

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And one morning I even woke up bright and early for Bird Watching (yup…you heard me right).

I was surprised by how much I actually enjoyed it too. 🙂

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Things I BOUGHT in Grenada

I did very little shopping while I was there.  I did bring back with me bars of Grenada’s finest dark chocolate from both Jouvay and The Grenada Chocolate Company.  AND a bottle of the fantastic West Indian hot sauce. As you can see I’ve used much of it already since being home. I’m a fan – the spicier the better 😉

Oh! And I bought a bottle of Rum Punch from the factory too…no pictures of that…. **hiccup**

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There it is … my 2014 vacay summary recap.  With Winter weather upon us, some of you may be looking for a sunny vacation destination to get away to.  Having read my post,  would Grenada be on your shortlist?

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