Category Archives: Beaches

Jamaica here we come…

Beaches, I must tell you right away, are not my favorite vacation spots if the trip is in summer. I love beaches. I love oceans. I love all water views. But, I am literally allegic to the sun on hot, humid days. I have what is known as polymorphic light erruption. Look it up. PMLE is a real thing.


I first discovered this condition of mine after my girlfriend Gail had visited me when we had access to a swimming pool. Gail loves the sun, can’t get enough of it, and I love Gail, so I spent many hours sitting by the pool with her, soaking in the sun. unknown

Evidently the most common seasons for PMLE are spring and summer, after winter, and before skin has had much light exposure, especially sudden intense ligh expoure.

This is all to say that maybe, knowing this about myself, February may have been the wrong time to visit Jamaica, for my sun-loving hubby, who after a long winter can’t wait to get to a beach.

I loved the idea of Jamaica. I was thrilled, in fact, to be going to see it for the first time. We had watched Anthony Bourdain’s travel story about Jamaica and the damage being done to the native people by the tourism trend, where vacationers want the all-in-one experience, which really matters little what country they are in, because they’re all pretty much alike.

So we didn’t want that. We have California or Florida for that, at way less expense. (Jamaican holidays aren’t necessarily cheap).

map_of_jamaicaSo after chatting a bit with a friend we met in St. Maarten’s, we decided to book Negril, on the west coast of the island, and far away from touristy places. We wanted to meet the people, see what the real Jamaica, without the high rises was like.

We booked into Crystal Waters, a lovely idea for having a villa with a cook. Knowing we could try out food cooked authentically was one of the main attractions for us.

We had wanted to fly in around the second week of February, but they were filled up (a good sign), so we agreed to the last of Februrary sliding into the first week of March, 2016.

Our Southwest Airlines flight to Montego Bay airport allowed us hours to work up more anticipation for our first week-long exotic beach adventure. We were excited.

images-2.jpeg We landed, and after some navigating of the bustling noisy, airport to find money exchange and the location of our shuttle to Negril, we settled into the van for the two hours it would take to get to our villa, including dropping others off at their destinations along the way.

The ride took us along the coastal road, where we could see the Caribbean most of the time, and we jutted into the resorts for the other passengers just long enough for them to disembark with their luggage.  DSCN2128.JPG

Arriving at Crystal Waters, where I thought we had established a pretty good communicaiton with Nehru, the owner, we were a little surprised that he had to go check his schedule to see who we were. Evidently most of his guests are returning customers, not first-timers.

DSCN2147.JPG   But, after confirming our status, we were warmly welcomed, and were escorted to our villa, a duplex we shared with a couple from the midwest, USA, who turned out to be mildly friendly, but definitely there to kick back on the beach and smoke their pot–a pastime we were to learn was more than common for Negril visitors (if not the rest of the island, which I cannot attest to.

images.jpegWe lost no time donning our beach clothes and making our way through the property to the Crystal Waters beach, which turned out to be next door to Margaritaville, separated only by a fence, and a gaggle of drug dealers and their steady customers.  We saw them disappear from time to time, and asked a local about that. He told us they get arrested, but then they come back because they have to sell some stuff to pay for their bail bonds. We were learning. While we in our country are voting on referendums, this island, and I suspect many islands are welcoming the potheads without hassles. It is very, very available.

images-1.jpeg Our first day, concluded with ordering a whole red snapper fish for the next day’s meal, finding that we would have our breakfast prepared whenever our cook, Denice saw our front door ajar, and that our grocery order would be delivered the next day–paid in advance, in Jamaican dollars, because one Jamaican dollar cost us about $.77 plus the exchange rate, which we found out later is not a good rate at the airport.

Unknown-1.jpeg   We lounged on the beach some more, and turned in for the night, with me, resisting complaints that it was already very hot, and very humid. And, I wasn’t wanting to turn on the air conditioner, since going in and out of air conditioning isn’t usually a good idea either. But, I kept eyeing hubby who was in beach heaven.






Sunny Spain – November and December

Day 10

Happy Anniversary to us!

Time to return home. But, this anniversary trip will be a second honeymoon to remember for the rest of our lives.

We learned to take the train after Mijas, so we dragged our suitcases the mile or so from Carlos V Hotel to the train station, and arrived at Malaga Airport for our trip back to Dublin–we skipped the Guiness this leg–and then Boston, without a hitch.  No wild taxi rides this time. They are so nice and so helpful everywhere here.

We said goodbye as the train pulled out, and enjoyed Aer Lingus hospitality again, and this also had no stress. Of all the air trips we have taken, Aer Lingus made a very good impression.  Unknown-1europe_map

Our return trip from Boston was again on the perk of the Avis one-way rental, and back at Windsor Locks,

we felt we had truly been blessed to have had this amazing European vacation, especially on our 34th wedding anniversary. I guess it’s back to Jamestown, R.I. next year–but that too is sweet.

Sunny Spain – November and December

Day 9

We had pre-booked two tours before leaving the States. The first one was a Hop on Hop Off double-decker bus. We had done this in Montreal and thought it was indispensable for getting to know a city.

Unknown-1Unknown  In Malaga, however, it almost became an interruption, partly because the main part of the city is so walkable a car would be a bother, and the city tour on Hop On, Hop Off, is largely unnecessary for the visit. However, once we found the right HOHO bus stop–a challenge which wasted a whole two hours, we boarded, got a circling tour of even the non-walkable areas up in the hills, and were actually quite pleased to see a part of the city we would have missed–not that any of that part was a part we needed to do anything other than view it. The tour is narrated, and that is also nice, and we got some good pictures. And, you can literally hop on and off, so the length and destinations are completely up to you. For around $20 pp, it is a very good deal. In Montreal, it saved us many hassles and dollars finding parking etc. In Malaga, this was less important, as I said, since we could walk to almost everything we wanted to see–cathedrals, markets, tapas, architecture, so it was more of a city overview this time. Had we gone to the Picasso museums, we may have used our HOHO to get around to them. We ran out of time for that. Another reason to re-visit. You really can’t get too much of Malaga.    Unknown-3Unknown-2

The second tour will always been our most memorable day in Malaga–the cooking class put on by Spain Food Sherpas.


Our guide, Simone, not from Spain, but quite knowledgeable, met us at the designated start point, and our first stop was the farmer’s market, Mercado Central Atarasanas, right in the main part of town by the beach.  The architecture of this place alone is worth the trip.IMG_2680

All I can say about this Mercado, is WOW! There wasn’t anything there I wouldn’t have shopped for if I had had our condo kitchen back at Los Amigos, but alas, we were in Carlos V hotel, a tiny little room without any refrigerator or microwave. But here is one of the most colorful and tempting booths–believe it or not LARD–flavored for any sauces or soups you may want to make. We so wished this were our hometown.  IMG_2661

After picking up a few things for our cooking class, we were whisked back to the Sherpa venue, to be instructed in making some tapas dishes–among which was the Spanish tortilla–a frittata-like egg dish with potatoes and veggies. Hunky

IMG_2699 Hubby did the honors, learned how to make this wonderful food, and has since been showing it off to almost any Sunday guests we have back at the river house. Good investment! The other tapas foods were olives, ham, bread, and some of the fruit from our farmer’s market excursion.

The Spanish-speaking chef did not speak English, but J managed to get the instructions right, and all turned out very well. We then went to table to enjoyed enormously.

Spain Food Sherpas at Plaza de la Merced, offers more than one type of cooking class, and I imagine we will sample another one next time we visit Costa del Sol. staticmap

We return to Boston on Day 10, and expect to live on these memories until the next time we are blessed to visit Spain.