August 2017
  • Day11

    Peso, Dollar, Peso?

    August 16, 2017 in Mexico ⋅ ⛅ 31 °C

    Eva didn't want to Scuba dive today. She stayed in bed as long as she could. We checked out at 11:00 and headed off 20 minutes down the road to our new hotel The Hard Rock.

    I had booked the Platinum all inclusive package which was a two bedroom suite with our own personal assistant, an upper terrace with hot tub and sun loungers. There are two parts to the hotel. Heaven which is for over 18's only and Hacienda which is for anybody...we stayed in Hacienda...sorry Eva but you don't yet qualify again.

    The service at the hotel was absolutely superb and you couldn't fault it, added to that there was a massive choice of restaurants. We also had a bonus of 1000 Resort points which meant that we could spend $1000 on various exclusions or services at the hotel. Normally this isn't my cup of tea but for three days it was ideal.

    So we went and booked up our beauty treatments for the next 3 days. Eva booked for her nails and a facial. I booked for a detoxification facial and a salt scrub massage...a new man.

    After Eva's sunbath we went for a walk around the resort. I don't think I could do a week here but for 3 days it would be a bit of a giggle. We sat down by the pool in the shade and watched feeding time at the watering hole. It was just like being on safari. All the hippos would congregate in the water at the side of the pool and start to feed. Pizzas, burgers and as much alcohol as possible was brought to them and they happily munched away whilst sun blazed down on their already peeling skin.

    All of this feeding was making us hungry so decided to go for a Brazilian BBQ. It could make your eyes water but fortunately it involved big skewers of meat being carved at your table that you had with different salads. Very nice indeed. In fact I decided to push the boat out and order a bottle of red to go with it.

    Everything is inclusive at The Hard Rock but for the better wines you could pay a premium. What the hell we are on holiday so I chose a Mexican red wine. The waiter looked surprised and went and got the bottle. Then his manager turned up and said what an excellent choice it was. Then the wine turned up almost with it's own armed guard.

    'I don't think they sell much of this Eva'

    'Oh, I don't know anything about wine a just drink anything' said Eva.

    Anyway it really did taste very nice and accompanied the meat very well. When the meal had finished the manager brought us the ticket to sign for the wine. It was then that we realised that the price wasn't Pesos, which is strangely enough shown as $580. This would have equated to around £25. It was in fact US dollars! No wonder it came with its own security. So £450 was hastily utilised on the resort credits leaving just €100 to pay...phew.

    Wednesday nights at Hacienda there is a rock show by the in house band. AC/DC, Kiss, Queen you name it they played it. Well not quite. The drummer was definitely playing and the singer was definitely singing, but the rest of the band just danced around a bit and strummed out of synchs with the backing music. After a while we snook out and went downstairs to the foyer where there was a excellent 3 piece band playing and some old blokes strutting their stuff. Eva went for a boogie.
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  • Day10

    My Life in Eva's Hands

    August 15, 2017 in Mexico ⋅ 🌙 27 °C

    So yesterday's Scuba trading went very well and now today is the next stage. This time it a bit more tricky. We started in the pool again and the first exercise was that we had to take off our masks for 1 minute and then replace it and purge the water so we could see again. Not too bad. The next exercise was that the instructor turns off your air tank so that it simulates an out of oxygen situation, you then have to signal your 'buddy' aka Eva and she has to give your her emergency respirator.

    My daughter can be some what indecisive.

    Like, 'Dad shall I have fried or scrambled eggs for breakfast' or 'Eva where would you like to go today?'...'Not sure Dad'

    So it was a little bit daunting for me to go through this training let alone think about it 11m under the sea!

    However she was brilliant. Immediately I started to signal she got the respirator and handed it to me.

    So we both practiced this and off we headed to try it for real, so to speak, out at sea.

    This time we went to a different reef and headed to the sea bed below. I signalled 'out of air' and as quick as a flash (she must love me) the respirator was there. On Eva's turn I did the same and we then had swim to he surface together on my tank and respirators. Wow...

    We headed back down to the sea bed and Scuba dived along the reef using a quite fast current and saw barracuda, lion fish, and some other fishy things.

    All in all a successful end to our diving qualification...and we lived to tell the tale.

    The evening was quite different and something Eva had been looking forward to...Cirque de Soleil, Joya. I have been to the Cirque de Soleil in Las Vegas a few years ago and it was remarkable. This one was not to disappoint.

    The whole set up is so professional and customer focused...a remarkable experience and well worth the £100 a head.

    Joya is a shorter event than the other Cirque de Soleil but still as good.

    We were delivered there in 25 minutes by our taxi driver all for the princely sum of £15. He waited there 3 hours and delivered us back to the hotel all for the same price! The average wage in Mexico is around $8 per day. No wonder there are so many people that want to go to the USA. However isn't America cutting off it's nose? The Mexicans surely provide cheaper labour for the USA (albeit not at $8 per day) and do jobs that probably a lot of Americans don't or just simply won't good for the economy?

    After the show I suggested we go out to the beach bar along for the hotel. However Eva was a bit over tired....

    'Good night Eva'

    'Good night Dad. I don't want to party tonight'
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  • Day9

    Dive, Dive, Dive

    August 14, 2017 in Mexico ⋅ ⛅ 29 °C

    The first part of the PADI Scuba Diver certificate is in the swimming pool. So after a hearty breakfast we set up our Scuba gear, donned the wet suits and in we went. All good trading for our excursion to the bottom of the sea bed later in the morning.

    Various exercises included all the safety checks and then underwater filling your mask full of water and then using air to evacuate the water, getting your trim correct with the right amount of air, taking you respirator out and throwing it over your shoulder then recovering it and putting it back in your mouth whilst trying not to inhale water and coming to a premature death.

    At least in the pool one can stand up if in trouble, but under 11m of water things are a bit different...that was for later.

    We headed off on the dive boat to our dive site about 10 minutes away. We checked our gear and flipped backwards into the sea. Our instructor Roman then descended with us onto the bottom of the sea bed and we repeated our training exercises of throwing away our respirators and then recovering it and reinserting it into our mouths, purging the sea water and happily breathing again.

    Off we then popped for a glide around the reef which involved coming al out face to face with a massive moray eel...yikes!...40 minutes later we surfaced for the boat to collect us.

    This my third dive and Eva's first. It really is something special and a whole new experience. She loved it.

    Tomorrow would be a bigger training challenge.
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  • Day8

    Scuba doo

    August 13, 2017 in Mexico ⋅ ⛅ 31 °C

    Our big learning to Scuba Dive day so that we can get our PADI Open Water Certificate.

    The biggest surprise for Eva was getting out of bed earlier, the next surprise was that it was back to school for most of the day and on top of that it involved a bit of maths!

    We spent all morning in class watching videos - PADI not Paddy, the spelling is correct, videos on scuba diving safety, protocol and how to survive if you think you can become the Man from Atlantis.

    A 170 page text book and then a Q&A at the end of the three chapters. All proper stuff.

    Eva's face was a picture. All she wanted to do was go and cuddle some sea turtles and dive with dolphins....she will thank me in the end...hard love.

    She was very protective of her work.

    'Dad stop looking at my answers, do your own!'

    Well that's gratitude for you.

    After lunch we had a further session and a debrief with another Q&A exam...she passed with flying colours...yeah go Eva go!

    Tomorrow we can actually get in the swimming pool to do a dry run, so to speak, and then out to the open water.

    Dinner in the evening involved a band...quite good on the video for a taste of the evening.

    Oh...and here is one of my favourite movie scenes...
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  • Day7

    Where's the Wall(y)?

    August 12, 2017 in Mexico ⋅ ⛅ 30 °C

    Probably in the White House...Mexico should be safe from North Korea as they don't like Trump either...hope we get past the wall to continue our adventure.

    In the morning we just chilled....again! (I don't think my heart can take too much of this inactivity)... and waited to Uber on out to the airport for our 15:00 flight to Cancun.

    A short flight with American Airlines to Cancun and then a dedicated pick up to take us to Mahekal Beach Resort.

    We are here for four nights before we move on to The Hard Rock Hotel. I booked this as it is on the beach and there is a diving school here so Eva can do her PADI Open Water Diver Course. The only thing is that she has to do some studying, which she has never been keen on. So the first thing we were given was the manual and we had to read chapter one (77 pages) for our morning start at 08:30...will she actually be able to get out of bed?

    Just along from the hotel we went to 5th, not quite the same 5th Avenue as previously. We went for a stroll to try to find a bank, but I mucked up the directions and it was to no avail. I couldn't even get an ATM to give me some money. So I rang the bank in the UK that gives 24 hour service and explained the situation. They told me that the cards were on stop due to some unusual activity. Had I bought a few items on Amazon etc?
    'No' I replied. Hang about, I suspect that Fiona has been must be raining in France...and my office in the U.K. will soon be resembling a Royal Mail sorting office.

    So we wandered around getting rather hot and sweaty, with the locals saying hello or Ola every few meters and me replying accordingly. Eva was quite intrigued as to how I could speak Mexican...bless. This wall that Trump is on about building certainly won't have to be that high if the locals are anything to go by. They all seemed very nice and pleasant to me, so perhaps all the bad guys are already in the US in which case the wall will succeed in keeping them there.

    Eva was complaining a lot about how hungry she was. So we returned back to the hotel and went for dinner and did our scuba diving homework.

    After which she challenged me to a game of pool (the idea is to pocket your coloured balls into the pockets Eva) and then a game of table tennis (the idea is to hit the ball so it goes over the net and lands on your opponents side of the table Eva), all very exciting and embarrassing.

    'Dad when we go scuba diving tomorrow will I get sea sick?'

    'No darling not in the swimming pool'

    'Night Eva'

    'Night Dad'
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  • Day6

    Urban Art

    August 11, 2017 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 30 °C

    It's all starting to blend into one day...I was up early so I went for a mile swim in the pool, Eva eventually got out of bed and we went onto the beach for an hour. A lazy lunch and a sit down. I booked up the scuba diving for three days for when we hit Mexico and also arranged the pick up from Cancun airport to the Mahekal Beach Resort in Playa Del Carmen.

    Late afternoon we went over to Wynwood in Miami which is at the epicenter of Miami’s thriving arts and culture scene with unique art galleries, studios and more than 200 street murals. Quite amazing some of them, the detail was incredible.

    It is located in what must have been a very run down area but what a way to revive the place. Very urban and very retro.

    We had a couple of drinks in some fairly dodgy looking bars

    and decided to dine at Garcia's again. The drive there from this side of town was quite enlightening...very run down and a total contrast between the have and have nots. Within one block it moves from run down to a run of restaurants that cater for the large motor cruise yachts moored on the river.

    We climbed the stairs up to Garcia's restaurant and sat outside. Ordered exactly the same food as we did a few nights was that good...convinced the waiter that Eva was 21 and had no ID and that our mate Juan was cool with it. We downed a couple of marvellous Mohitos, eat superb seafood and departed back to Soho Beach House.
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  • Day5

    Quack Quack

    August 10, 2017 in the United States ⋅ 🌧 26 °C

    At 09:00 Eva was still in bed...goodness that girl can sleep. I had been up since 06:00 and also had received a call from Fi at 13:30 as she thought we might still be up and out clubbing as Miami has some great clubs...(certainly not with sleeping beauty). Anyway I went off to the gym and eventually she got out of bed and joined me.

    After changing we met in Cecconis, which is the small restaurant at the hotel. It's part of Soho House Group and they are at most of the hotels and also as independent venues. Eva went and got herself a croissant and a boiled egg. When it came to the bill they were charging me $20. Apparently because she got it from the breakfast bar and not from the a la carter then it was $20 and not $4....ahem I think not.

    After the manger arrived, due to me refusing point blank to pay the bill, they reduced the bill to $4 for the croissant and $4 for the egg...hello....I could buy a bloody live chicken for that let alone a boiled egg. The manger also informed me that she would not do that again for us...very kind indeed...I informed her that was very good indeed but not to worry as we wouldn't be dining there again.

    After a non confrontational start to our day we went for a tourist excursion. The weather was very overcast so we thought that now was the day to do it as I was still resembling a half cooked lobster whilst Eva was beautifully tanned.

    We booked with Duck Tours which is one of those amphibious things for $37 each, a very outgoing guide and Captain Cruz the driver and sailor.

    Basically the trip consisted of driving around a bit, putting the thing in the water and then driving past the back gardens of multi million pound homes with enormous yachts. I don't know about you but I would be highly pissed off if I had just spent $30m on a house to park my yacht and this quack quack thing comes around the corner with a load of tourists snapping away at your living room. I would probably spend another few million and hire a mini sub and torpedo it.

    And yet I suppose it may not matter too Trump is about to go to war with North Korea and who knows where we will all end up. Let's see if we can reach the end of the holiday, but anything could happen in the next 16 days....oh, Cuba is on the list to visit...could be quite apt.

    We then drove down Ocean Drive and our gregarious guide started rapping or something and told us to raise our arms just as we passed a poor chap begging on the street with no arms....definitely not pc. After disembarking on shore opposite Burger King we ubered our way back to the hotel and decided to eat out for obvious reasons.

    The venue was Mango's Tropical Cafe at 900 Ocean Drive in the heart of South Beach. Now actually, the Mexican food was really nice, a bit pricey but good. We were on the street as the cabaret venue part of the establishment was sold out. So we watched the cars cruising up and down Ocean Drive doing 5 mph and nothing much else. Don't buy a Mustang they are two a penny and we saw a family in one that looked like the Fockers...not street cred.

    After Eva had finished doing her impression of red faced Chipmunk after drinking too much Coca Cola (she has progressed from water) we paid the bill and headed off from the delightful ladies in leopard skin pants and tops.
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  • Day4

    South Beach Sunshine

    August 9, 2017 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 31 °C

    Eva managed to get out of bed before lunch.

    The way I figured it was that I was paying for the room so there was no point waking her and she may as well get the most use out of it.

    We decided to spend a couple of hours on South Beach. The hotel is right on the beach so we just walked along by the swimming pool and out over the boardwalk to the hotels private beach area, complete with waiter service.

    As it was by now lunch time Eva ordered a wood fired pizza, as you do, and promptly scoffed on that whilst applying suntan cream.

    I had to give up after a while as even in the shade the sun manages to turn me a cooked lobster pink. We ubered ourselves over to Monty's Sunset bar and restaurant in South Beach for our early evening dinner of one of Eva's favourites, Nachos, which was enough to feed a large family.

    After such a hard day she obviously felt exhausted so we left early and retired our rooms for the night.
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  • Day3

    South Beach Here We Come

    August 8, 2017 in the United States ⋅ ⛅ 32 °C

    After a good 12 hours kip and Eva's 15 hours we met up at Soho House ready to embark upon the next leg of our journey to Miami.

    We checked out of the hotel and thanked Elijah for his wonderful hospitality and informing him that there may be a few packages being delivered to me to collect on our return journey.

    I always know if it has been raining in France, where Fiona spends a lot of time, as I end up with lots of packages from eBay. For some reason Fiona seems to have this compulsion to shop, even when the shops are not open, so I have packages following me all over the world. It wouldn't surprise when I return back to my office in Blueberry Wave that it will resemble a Royal Mail sorting office...I pray for sunshine and Eva not to copy.

    We are flying from La Guardia and Eva can't understand why we now have to queue for our check in. I explained to her that not all of the holiday is going to be first class travel.

    To say the seats are a bit cramped is an understatement. The lady in front of me with dyed red hair who was follicly challenged almost end up in my lap when her seat reclined. I could have given her a head massage. Never mind only a four hour flight.

    Time soon passed as I was able to write some of this blog, much to Eva's enjoyment, as she said I looked like a dinosaur with short arms as I attempted to type in a cramped space.

    We were an hour late but we're just a short hop to Soho Beach House and arrived at just after 19:00

    A quick change and a cheeky Grey Goose vodka from the mi I bar we headed out for something to eat. We asked the front desk to book us a restaurant where the locals dine. However you can't book where they recommended and we were told it was a bit rustic.

    None the less our intrepid adventurers headed away from Miami Beach down into Miami. A suppose rustic it was. You climb up a flight of stairs into what looks like a bar and then outside on the terrace are the high tables overlooking a river.

    A marvellous fish restaurant called Garcia's Seafood Grille and Fish Restaurant.

    We ordered some grilled squid, octopus and prawns and a couple of glasses of Chardonnay. I explained that Eva was only 17 but technically as she was with a responsible adult (the waiter looked around) she could have a glass...he disagreed but gave up. Absolutely delightful food.

    The owner, Juan Garcia, introduced himself after we had eaten and insisted on us trying on the house, another glass of wine, the best Mohitos in Miami and another 6 grilled prawns.

    Juan was from Peru and when he was a younger man his parents had sent him away from Peru to avoid the civil war with little else than a smile. He ended up in Miami and worked on the fishing boats to then eventually set up his own establishment. What a lovely man. He does look a bit worried in the photo.

    After find farewells and a promise to return we then Ubered our way back to Soho Beach House, a cheeky night cap and off to bed.
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  • Day2

    Shop & Rain

    August 7, 2017 in the United States ⋅ 🌧 19 °C

    Eva was still in bed asleep at 05:30...I don't know the youth of today just can't seem to get out of bed.

    After much coaxing I managed to get her to agree to meet me in the foyer at 09:00 and we headed off to...5th Avenue. The weather was like an October day with constant rain and drizzle.

    We invested, after some hard negotiation, in two umbrellas for $10...half price...a good start.

    This shopping thing is definitely Fiona's domain but I tried my best and after 30 minutes lost the will to live and sat down on a display whilst Eva continued to find the items she absolutely had to have. I received a couple of facetime calls off Fi who found it highly amusing.

    I think Eva must have been the only person to buy sunglasses on a rainy day at Sunglass Hut but that is what we did...

    Finally by 14:00 she was shopped out and we went for a much earned lunch to Gallaghers steak restaurant. If it's one thing with Eva that can be guaranteed it is that in any restaurant we go to she orders steak. Mind you, it always takes her half an hour to go through the menu, asking what everything is and what do you think...only to come back to lets narrow down the choice and go to a famous steak restaurant.

    There is a loop hole in the US regarding anybody being able have an alcoholic drink under 21 years of age. Apparently if you are under 18 and dining with a responsible adult then that adult can give you a drink. However if you are 18 or over then you can't. Which all seems a bit strange as young people can go to war and kill for their country but not have a beer. Oh well, we couldn't find a responsible adult so Eva drowned in water again.

    It was a very good choice and the food and service was I tipped a whole dollar and we moved on.

    By five we were back at the hotels and decided to have bit of a ziz to rendezvous a couple of hours later...oh well, the sleep was very nice and the rendezvous never happened as we slept through until the morning.
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