My birthday this year was hit by a hurricane! Not literally but emotionally. I had my usual July vacation planned and my birthday weekend. However, I was asked to be a guest by someone I knew to go on a 10 day vaca. YEP 10 WHOLE DAYS. The vacation would begin and end in Miami with a 7 day 6 night cruise sandwhiched in between. WELL, The drama began ON SIGHT and I do mean Jerry Springerish! Even Uncle Steve would have been shaking his head! Lol BUT this is a review so you will have to wait for my 2nd book a NOVEL "Broken and Unbothered" to hit the shelves for the "Jaw dropping, pearl clutching OH-MY-GAWD!" Details.
So first stop was The Marriott @ Biscayne Bay. To say the view was spectacular would be an understatement. Surrounded by the Beautiful water with the Miami skyline as a backdrop was nothing short of FANTASTIC! Breakfast was a combination of buffet style and made to order. The friendly waitress shared her trick of adding apple juice to the orange juice to cut the acidity. Who knew? I would absolutely recommend this Hotel based off of the size of room, view and service. They get a 4.5 rating from me and not 5 ONLY because the bed could have been softer. (INSERT 1ST DOSE OF DRAMA HERE..Wait for the book). Lol
I dined at two restaurants the first was The YardBird which is known for their, yep you guessed it Fried Chicken. I however ordered the Shrimp and Grits. I have had better. As a matter of fact if you ever visit The Inland Empire of Los Angeles check out Beolas in Ontario. They have the best shrimp and grits I have ever had. I have had several. (INSERT 2ND DOSE OF DRAMA HERE, FLIPS HAIR AND CARRIES ON CROWN STILL ON)
Next up was what I thought would be a dose of adventure. If you call riding in a semi speed boat through some swamp with the story of it being filled with alligators adventure...please check your pulse! All of the alligators at the Everglades seemed to be back at the starting point caged and not very active.
Next up is Restaurant #2 Joes Snow Crab. I ordered the lobster mac and cheese. My nerves were so shot that I barely ate my food and had a to go box prepped. I left it behind by accident. To be honest I didnt miss it either. This night ended with a HIGH dose of drama and The New Lion King Movie. The movie was the highlight of this day.
Well its off to enjoy my first cruise. With tensions high, mysterious moves and just complete change of faces/players and games the first night was a complete disaster..but again this is a review wait for the book.
The crew on this particular ship at this particular time deserve every applause that I can muster up!! What they did for me is just unheard of. All of the gut wrenching details will br in thr book.
The ship was well kept, well manned and well...its the bomb! There was so much to do, so much excitement I almost couldnt decide what to do first. There are tons of good options and the food was good! Even for us dieting folk there were options that included sugarfree gourmet desserts. Entertainment you want? Take your pick from casinos, comedy club, multiple dance clubs, lip sync battles, Motown night and I cant forget the All white party! Guess who didnt get the memo? Yep you guessed it! The butterfly was decked out in a red dress. Hey they say Leos like to be the center of attention. WELL?! LOL
I would give the Carnival Horizon ship and staff 10 stars if I could. Today I give them 4.9 out of 5 stars only because they need to screen their guest better. #IamNOTguest LOL #ALLShade
First stop..JAMAICA!!! That's right ya girl made it to jamaica with my new adopted sister and family. (PRAISE BREAK) When you are a believer other believers will SEE you. I thank GOD for leading me not just on social media but in Real life and covering me always. This family truly made my vacation repairable, my spirit lifted and reminded me each day that they saw me that I was protected, loved and supported. It's such a CRAZY story! Even I couldn't have written it! Again wait for the book! I will say this GOD WILL LEAD YOU..you just gotta be spritually grounded enough to hear HIM! Trust me.
I highly recommend taking a local driven tour you will learn more about the history of this country. Yes Dunn River is nice but dangerous, yes the blue hole is nice, yes the bobsled offers you some cool runnings BUT there is just something special that happens when you can get up close and personal with the natives.
2nd Stop Grand Cayman Island. To be honest not much to offer except AMAZING SHOPING! Or if you like slimy stingrays and snippy turtles the island is known for those as well. I had enough drama to last a lifetime and thanks to the Wonderful wonderful staff aboard the Carnival Horizon I was able to exit the cruise. Yes I know what you are thinking ..but I will say this, NOTHING is worth your peace. I thank GOD for my career because it makes me make good decions. My career makes me accountable for my actions. My FAITH however helps me weed out people who mean me no good and only harm. WAIT THERE IS MORE!
Next up 4 days of amazing relaxation. I have never experienced warm weather mixed with explosive thunder and lightening at the same time. Add some dim light great music and even better company It made for the perfect soundtrack for the most amazing 4 days I have had in a very long time. It was exactly what I needed and when. Nothing like waking up late, being waited on, cared for and most importantly feeling protected. I am usuallly the giver but it was nice to have someone take care of me for once. I was allowed to truly rest. Isnt that what vacations are really for? I am so grateful for the amazing friends that I have. Some for a long time and some brand new. I am living my best life indeed. Hey Mon I dont finish yet there is more!
The two restaurants I was blessed to have eaten at were mom and pops but really great food. The first was Donnas in Miami Beach. Man oh man this was some of the best jerk chicken I have had. The funny thing is I thought LOL Rice and peas LOL was literally white rice and green peas!! I may be the only person on earth who thought that. It was delicious. Next up was The Bamboo shack. Apparently known for its Bahamian foods such as conch. I have a friend who got really sick eating it while visiting the bahamas, so I knew not to try it. Instead I had shrimp and I was SAFE! LOl Well the last place was just the absolute BEST DESSERT EVER!!!!! Layers upon layers of alternating red velvet cake and cheesecake with cream cheese frosting. OH-MY-GAWD!
Yep, there was one stop left on this vacation....THE CRENSHAW DISTRICT! I know you are probably thinking "...but you live in LA!" Not quite. Plus I haven't visited Los Angeles in a very long time. The last time I was there was for the I LOVE ME-Self Love Summitt a few months ago.(You can find that article on the inner glow up page of this site) just scroll up and click the white box in the left corner of your screen. It was finally my turn to show some respect for a man who truly turned his life around and reached back into his community to help change the life of others. Mr. Nipsey Hussle.
I was able to end my vacation with a smile thanks to some amazing friends and I hope that this page inspires you to live a Lit Life and travel like a rock star!
You can find links to the places that I visited below. I also included some that may be of interest.... but first enjoy some pictures from my #BaeTurnedCraCraTurnedJuicyNovelcation
Melanin + Mud= Magic
After a weekend of partying, celebrating the publishing of my book and just reconnecting The Butterfly needed to "take it to the waters!" It was a beautiful day in Corona,, Ca. Not too hot and Not too cold the temperature was perfect. after I found a nice setup location it was time to hit the mineral baths. Then I laid under the sun and took a partial nap I stretched out on a water raft and float. I wanted to do the yoga workout but the class was full. I had a delicious Ginger apple shot...it was delightful. I followed that up with a smoothie that was full of BEETS! EWWW! Lastly I was finally ready to partake in the mud bath. When I tell you I left with my skin feeling like silk. To end this absolutely beautiful day I had lunch on the patio and sipped away at some sangri...I would say that bryan at Glen Ivy was a star.
Being a single mom my vacation plans would always include large crowds, long lines, headaches and funnel cake. Mmmmm funnel cake. Well in 2017 I put my big girl panties on and I set out to travel the world. First step was getting our passports.
Obtaining my birth certificate was a breeze. My sons however not so much. I had to order a replacement as the one I had was tattered. Upon arrival I noticed that my birthplace said IA. IA? IOWA?! After countless emails and phone calls I was finally able to figure out how to fix it. Then we ran into another problem. It was going to take 4-6 weeks for it to arrive and we were already at the end of April. Did I mention we were flying out July 1st? He would still need to get his passport also. Aye Dios Mio!
The amended birth certificate came in and we were off to get our passport photos. MAN we looked good! My curls were flowing makeup flawless Yesss! My son looked like a little male model dipped in butterscotch. Off to the post office we go. "NOPE try again." the clerk said. I asked what the issues was. Really? you have to see both of my ears? I was so mad.
It felt like he Devil was toying with me because almost immediately I got super sick. So guess whose passport photo looks like a mugshot? Yep, you guess it the butterfly herself. It is HORRIBLE! However God was on our side because the passports arrived just in time.
Before heading to the airport we decided to do the one thing in San Francisco we had yet to do in the four years we have lived here ...ride the cable car. We were able to enjoy a dine in movie, a small jazz fest and yes the cable car.
From San Francisco to Guadalaja was a great flight. The action didn't happen until I got off of the plane. I had my first dose of altitude sickness. Thanks Sandra Bullock because if it weren't for you I would not even know a thing like that existed. *her character suffered from it in the movie " Our Brand is Crisis" Great movie by the way. Then off we flew to mexico city and then finally Cancun. I know you are probably thinking oh my gosh three flights? Just wait for it.....
I used bookit.com for my vacation planning. I choose them because in my opinion they showcase destinations you would not think of in comparison to their competitors. While reviewing my itinerary I noticed that I was being charged for 6 days and 5 nights but our flight wasn't getting in until Sunday the 2nd. I called and the representative was a godsend. He apologized and informed me that they only charged me for 5 days and 4 nights but said that if I was willing to change my dates and my nonstop flight to a multi-plane flight I could keep my 1 bedroom presidential diamond club suite I had booked for the same price and he could add an additional day. So I still had my 6 day 5 night prezzie suite. YAH! I didn't want to shorten my trip nor give up that great deal I had. Although she hates to fly and when I say she I mean me! However, Yesssss bookit come through with the upgrade boo!
When I tell you that suite was off the mickey fickey chain! I do declare it so!
The first bathroom #Lit
Full service in room fully stocked with full bottles of adult beverages daily #Lit
Over sized pullout sectional with 55 inch flat screen in the living room #Lit
Even the dining area was.... #Lit
Stepping into the bedroom I was floored. Comfy King sized bed another 55 inch flat screen tv #Lit
The bathroom had a warming bench, two sink vanity, full sized walk in closet, two overhead rain shower heads in the separate shower AND a oversized jetted tub with a mock fireplace and view of the ocean. #Lit
The balcony wrapped around the suite from the bathroom window around the master bedroom with our own table and chairs around to the living room with yet another jetted tub outside on the balcony over looking the ocean.
This is an all inclusive hotel so everything from lobster to Japanese is at your disposal 24/7. Room service was so off the chain that I had steak and eggs everyday. Why? because it was the best steak ever!
I was on vacation with my son so I didn't party the way I would have if I had gone with girlfriends but it was what I needed. RELAXATION! I was told by a psychic on my previous vacation in Palm Springs *post coming soon. She told me that I really didn't want to come to Palm Springs and that I needed to go Tulum and swim in the cenote. She went on to say that God would release my hurt,anger, pain and fear.
I know that sounds weird and to be honest I am not sure what to think of psychics but the truth is my plan was to go to Tulum not Palm Springs in the first place. Crazy right? I mean I had never heard of Tulum until I saw it on bookit.com *She was right I swam in the cenote and went into the cave and prayed I just talked to GOD. Next thing I knew I was flying above the ocean despite my ex-fear of falling.
Everyday I had at least one outing planned for us. we visited Xenses park which it would take an entire blog post to describe that place but there is a video below. We rode ATVs, zip-lined, Kayaking and too my surprise Parasailing. I took in the sunrise every morning and just thanked GOD for blessing me to be able to take my youngest baby on a trip of a lifetime.
I have a truck load of pictures for you to see but first please enjoy these videos.
Its called the windy city but it really wasn't. Yes it was cold and yes there was snow on the ground for awhile. Windy it was not. I stayed at the Warwick Allerton Hotel located on the Magnificent Mile. This is the cutest boutique hotel ever. The bar area had a jazzy kind of vibe to it. The staff was very accommodating. Although the rooms are small in my opinion they are decorated beautifully. I was given the corner room facing the world famous magnificent mile. I would definitely stay here again. I was there for a week which included Black Friday and it was a shoppers paradise.
Outside of my snow framed window was the perfect view of Tiffany & Co. What a kawinkydink right? On my laundry list of things to do was having breakfast at Tiffany's. I did just that . I stood outside with my doughnut, banana and coffee wearing the Return to Tiffany's Bracelet that my mom gave me.
I visited the Chicago children's museum, the museum of contemporary art, the giant bead better known as cloud gate, the famous ccrown fountain that I dubbed the spit wall, navy pier, Wrigley building, Sears tower(I was too afraid to go up but maybe next time.)
I also road a double-Decker bus and sat up top in the cold like a crazy person. I finally got to hold up my sign at the McDonald's Thanksgiving Day Parade. No, my mom didn't see my sign or me on tv too bad because my sign said "Hi Grandma" as we lovingly called her just to get on her nerves.
One of the highlights was figure skating at millennium park. This was the year we witnessed an historical event. Senator Barrack H Obama was elected President of The United States of America and became The First Black President. There I was standing in the same spot He did. It was overwhelming. As I left the park I ran into what I thought was the Lion from the hit movie from the 70's The Wiz starring Diana Ross and the late great Michael Jackson. I wanted to punch its lights out for what he tried to do to Toto. I then realized that lion was in New York and slowly put my fist down.
I had some of the most delicious yet bad for me food. Ginos Pizza, and A real chicago dog to name a few. The highlight of the food tour was dinner at Gejas Cafe. I love CHEESE so this was the perfect way to end my week long trip to chicago. Not to mention that they entertained us with LIVE flamenco music.
After stuffing my face I got my theater itch scratched by seeing THE BLUE MAN GROUP! This was the best show ever and I highly recommend it to EVERYONE!!! I have provided some links to the attractions I visited for you to check out. FYI yes that is me next to the blue guy. The Glow Up is real ya'll!
Join my monthly fitness challenge click on the page Its a Lifestyle and then the glow up challenges page.