Friday, March 01, 2013

brain vacation

Evidently, a little knowledge is a dangerous thing. After a week spent browsing the MLS listings, I've gone down another track and have been looking at travel sites. Not serious travel, the cultural places that I absolutely must go before I die. Pure vacation and relaxation travel: the sort that has me spending a week on a white sand beach in the sun and coming back with a temporary change in skin tone.

Right now my brain is in St Maarten after I found a resort chain there that just sounds delicious. I've made up a few details in my head, like the swim up bar that I wouldn't really use anyway but I'm also pretty sure doesn't exist. There are days doing nothing but floating on water and falling asleep in the sun, days spent snorkeling, kayaking and visiting tourist areas with Bunny. "Fancy" restaurants whose dress codes state shoes are required. Couples massages and merengue lessons. Visits to a local market. I may be in paradise.  Sunshine that never ends.

In my head I'm lying on a tropical beach. The sun is hot shining down own me, drawing beads of sweat out of my skin. It's lulling me almost to sleep. I have an itty bitty bikini on because if I'm in the Caribbean I'm not going to get all body conscious about enjoying myself, and I've got a big straw had and my sunglasses on. On the horizon I can barely tell the difference between ocean and sky until the sun starts to set and the skies darken. My mind is a beautiful place.

This is actually our target next vacation: tropical beachy and all inclusive. It's not how I'd want all of our vacations to be, or even many, but because my idea of "vacation" in the past has been band trips to Disney World and New Orleans (which are school vacations and only partly count, plus I managed to get terribly sick on both of them), camping, and a couple of trips to visit my grandparents while they were snowbirding in Florida more than two decades ago it seems like a start. It's been almost a decade since I've gotten on a plane and gone somewhere "out there" and I've never had that sheer relaxation vacation. It's the place I want to start.

First, I want to know what it's like to see white sand against deep blue waters, stretching out into the horizon. Even in my dream vacations budget is an issue, and tropical paradises seem strangely accessible. One day.

What's your dream vacation? What have been the best vacations you've had to date? Let me live vicariously, at least for a little while longer!


  1. It can actually be super inexpensive to do an all-inclusive trip. Especially if you're willing to go to Mexico, and book at the last minute. Like, $500 for the week each, including flight. AND TOTALLY WORTH IT.

    1. That's why all inclusive is our next plan. Bunny's currently unwilling to do Mexico, but I've been seeing some things that definitely look affordable. Trying to balance it in with all our other budget priorities is where we keep putting it off, and we've got some slight disagreements going on. We're trying to make it happen in the next year at this point.

      It sounds like you guys have done a few different all inclusives. Are there any particular companies or resorts you'd recommend?

    2. Dreams was lovely - probably my favourite. In Cancun, we went to a low end Rui hotel, and I would NOT recommend them. Maybe if you went up to their 5 star places, but not the 3 star. In fact, aim for at least 4 star, wherever you go. There is a difference and it's worth the upgrade. We went to a Rendezvous in St. Lucia for our honeymoon and it was amazing - it was us and a bunch of Brits - no Americans to be seen. (Which, um, can be nice...) Also, full English breakfast every morning.

      David didn't want to go to Mexico either, but he did enjoy both trips we took there last year. Mexico can get a bad rap, but the resorts are super safe, and if you're in the Yucatan, the pyramids are totally worth it.

      As long as you go for at least 4 stars, you'll be fine anywhere.

    3. Thanks for the tips!

      How did you manage to convince David to get over his issues with Mexico? Bunny's been very adamant, which is frustrating because Mexico has a LOT of different things going for it.

      It's also very worthwhile to know that I should trust the stars. I've always been inclined to think that it would be worth shelling out the little bit extra for the resort rating if I'm doing an all inclusive but I wasn't sure just how much I should concern myself.

  2. Oh, I just read your reply to highdivingboard... I was going to suggest Mexico. Specifically, Holbox, which is an island in the Caribbean, I think you can get there from Playa del Carmen or Cancun either by ferry or a short airplane flight. You can swim with Whale Sharks, there are pelicans, flamingos... It is just one of the few semi-virgin places. Really worth a visit, and they have this really cozy small hotels. Really, a paradise.
    If Bunny's concerns with Mexico are due to security, I would say it is safe to go, specially if you fly directly to Cancun / Vallarta (your destination). Tourism is really protected... and actually as long as you are safe and stay low key, without calling attention to yourself, you should be fine(don't walk around with a Rolex and act all tourist stupid braggy, which I am assuming you would never do anyway) .
    If you do go there, you should also visit Merida (a small colonial town, just to see the "real" Mexico) and don't miss the Mayan archaeological ruins (Chichen Itza, Tulum), and just avoid Cancun (as everything is priced in US dollars and you would not really see Mexico).
    All the info is here, really look it up, my parents went with my sister and it is just absolutely beautiful.

    Another option is the area around Puerto Vallarta / Nuevo Vallarta if you are into resorts (which can be totally bliss every now and then). There is a "los Angeles locos" all inclusive resort at Tenacatita which is not super overpriced, also not super luxurious, but OK... we were there for a 1 day stop on our road-trip honeymoon. And while in the area of Puerto Vallarta you should definitely take a day trip to Islas Marieta(depart from Punta Mita or Puerto Vallarta), one of the few Pacific islands (together with the Galapagos and somewhere else I can't remember now) where you can see Boobie birds, the ones with the Sky Blue feet.

    It would be difficult for me to mention a favorite vacation but I tend to love cities (though beach vacations are also great to just unplug, and it used to be the thing we did growing up: drive or get in the bus to the coast and stay at the beach for a week).

    Barcelona and London are high on my list. Or anywhere in France, really. With Barcelona I had an instant reaction, like I was meant to be there... a really weird feeling I belonged in a place I did not even know or had researched before (it took me by surprise, and I just went there for a day while on my way back from a trip). As a child we went on a family vacation to Hawaii and I still remember its beauty. Back in the day there were this really cheap packages to get there from Mexico.

    1. The lover of culture, history and archeology in me is crazy about the idea of going to cities, particularly some European ones. I'm at the point where it's been so long since I've had any vacation that I just want a getaway next time though. Just quiet, sun and to bliss out a little.

      The combination of getting to explore some very cool historical sights and still getting a beachy getaway is one of the reasons I'd love to go to Mexico ... seems like it would be the best of both worlds.