Saturday, January 24, 2015

Arriving in Jamaica...

After an adventurous Thursday evening playing plumber at home, we were up bright and early on Friday morning to catch a flight to Miami.  I still wasn't 100% sure where we were going as we arrived at Dulles Airport.  My best guess was still Montego Bay based on Nick's hints that we were going to a bay, it was beachy, and it would be warm.  

When we checked in at the kiosk at Dulles, it printed out boarding passes to Miami and... to Jamaica!!!  Nick had to admit he didn't think that I would guess it as quickly as I did.  

Our first flight to Miami was quick.  We got to our connecting gate and waited.  Apparently, catering was taking their sweet time loading the soda cans onto our flight to Jamaica.  So, we waited and waited for about 45 extra minutes until the flight started to board.  We got on the plane and settled in as we noticed that no one else was getting on the flight.  Never a good sign.  The news didn't get better when the pilot came on to announce that they had stopped boarding the plane because of a "computer error" and that a maintenance crew was coming out to check out the airplane.

NOOOOOOOOOO!!  Cue Jenn panicking as I made Nick start googling other flight options to Jamaica.  In the worst case scenario, at least we had gotten as far as Miami.  I could lay on their beach all weekend???

However, the panic was short-lived as all of a sudden, more people started boarding the plane again.  We never got an explanation for the delay,  but it must not have been anything significant.  We lifted off about an hour late, but we were finally on our way to Jamaica!!

We loved Jamaica's airport process vs some of the other Caribbean islands that we have visited (I'm looking at you, Bahamas!).  They had lots of kiosks where you could scan your passport, obtain a very scary photo of yourself, and proceed to your luggage.  The whole process from getting off the plane to getting in a taxi took about 20-30 minutes (vs the 90 minutes to 2 hours in the Bahamas).  

The ride to the resort was about 30-40 minutes due to Friday afternoon traffic on the island.  And then we arrived at our resort... Secrets St. James Montego Bay.  The resort included two hotels combined into one large property since we also had access to all the amenities at the neighboring Secrets Wild Orchid Montego Bay.  The location was amazing as the property jetted out on a peninsula into the bay so we were surrounded by water all the time and the views were amazing.  Also amazing - adults only!  

Image courtesy of Secrets Resort website

Check-in at the resort was a tad bit of a pain-in-the-you-know-what as they demanded that Nick find the reservation on his phone and email it to them, even though he had booked the room months ago and they had our room/keys ready for us.  I asked what would happen if he couldn't find the email (as he continued to search and scroll through his phone for several minutes) and I never really got a straight answer.  Thankfully they placated me with a mimosa as I sat there while Nick continued to search his gmail account.  Eventually they admitted that they needed the email because the room was booked through a third party and they needed the confirmation to get something (I'm assuming money!) from that third party vendor.

FINALLY... we got escorted up to our room.  I stepped out on the balcony, spotted the gorgeous beach, the clear blue water, and went right back into the room to unzip the luggage.  Within 4 minutes, I was changed into a bathing suit and ready to go!  Within 5 minutes, I was raiding the all-inclusive mini bar in our room.  Within 6 minutes, I was relaxing on the beach...

Tastes like Jamaica!

From leaving our bed to my lounge chair, total travel time was about 10-11 hours, including cabs, flights, layover in Miami, flight delay, check-in, etc.  It was finally time to RELAX!  Nothing says relaxing like a beach waitress, a lounge chair, and the sound of waves at your feet!

His, hers and our view for the afternoon

I loved the western view of the mountains in the distance.  It actually reminded me a bit of the French Polynesian island of Moorea, where we spent part of our honeymoon back in 2009.  As the sun started to set, we decided to abandon our beach and explore the rest of the resort a bit.  

We quickly found one of our favorite spots to watch the sunset.  The resort placed these double Adirondack chairs all over the property - they were the perfect place to relax!

Gotta love those views!

We kept walking around the property and discovered "our spot."  It instantly became that place that we had to visit every evening at sunset.  It had everything - water views, green grass, the piano bar, the restaurants, palm trees, etc.  The piano bar had both inside and outside seating and live music seemed to be playing all evening long.  We grabbed a drink and watched the sun set over the bay and the mountains.

L - The piano bar
R - Outside seating at the piano bar with the bay/mountains in the backdrop and a live band setting up for the evening entertainment

Nick checking out the sunset

No lie - we were the last people in our bathing suits on the property that evening!  We hung out at "our spot" long after the sun set.  Soon enough, the property came alive again with people heading to dinner at all the surrounding restaurants.  Nick and I agreed that this area of the resort was by far the best place to hang out.  The smells from the restaurants were fabulous.  The bands were great.  The bar mixed up strong drinks and we had amazing views of the water and mountains.  

One of the restaurants to the left and the piano bar to the right

We decided that we needed to head back to the room to clean up and get ready for dinner.  We passed another beautiful seaside/poolside restaurant on our way back to the room...

We had lots of different restaurant options on property, so we decided to check out the the farm-to-table restaurant for night #1.  There's nothing like sitting outside eating dinner on a warm and humid night, especially when it's winter back home.  We most definitely spent some more time at the piano bar for post-dinner cocktails until we called a very long day to an end.  Nick predicted I would be up at dawn to enjoy every minute at the beach...

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