Friday, February 21, 2020

Catching up from Christmas

We decided to do a quick catch-up post since writing posts has not been a priority lately.  We've had a few home projects to do and some fun vacation planning occupying our time.

Christmas Time in Chicago:   We spent a weekend doing the Christmas Pop-up bar thing.  We loved Chicago Athletic Club's Pop-up bar last year, but it lost a little charm this year being the first bar of the evening (crowd still sedate at 5pm and we didn't have a few cocktails yet).   Sable's Miracle was as fun and festive as we remembered and we made a new friend with the person next to us, who also got the bartender to get Dave a taste of special bourbon.  Thanks Eric!  Macy's had new window decor this year that was very cute.  Frosty's Pop-up was a great place to kill 90 minutes, but it was smaller than we expected it to be and there really wasn't anywhere to sit.   We were happy it was near a ramem place and Off Color's Mousetrap    The Virgin's Cirese rooftop bar did a horrible job of executing the theme of their pop-up.  We experienced the newish Bamboo Room within Three Dots and a Dash.   The small bar requires a separate reservation and gives you the opportunity to learn more about the special rare liquors they use.  Dave wants an ice brander.  Dinners were at The Smith (great - would be good with a group) and Prime and Provisions (meh).   Stayed at the London House.

Christmas Travels:  While back east visiting our families we added a few new breweries to our list.  In Pennsylvania we took a short trip to Rumspringa in the heart of Amish Country.  Holly's hometown now has a promising new brewery - Raney Cellars    On the way to New York we stopped at Yuengling's in Pottsville to tour America's oldest brewery.  Pottsville has a lot of unique monuments dotting the town that would be interesting to tour around.   In New York Holly had her first visit to Hudson Valley Brewery followed by a stop at Sloop Brewing which is in an old IBM facility.  Of course we visited other favorites such as Spring HouseLancaster BrewingRushing Duck, and Columbia Kettle Works in their Lancaster location.

That's the quick catch-up.   Our next post will still be from the Christmas timeframe, but focus on our fun day with friends in Brooklyn and at the TWA Hotel at JFK Airport.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Never Homevember - Jamaica

Spending time out of the country during Thanksgiving has been our tradition since 1997.  This year we chose to go to visit one of our favorite places - Jamaica.  This was our 18th visit to Jamaica and tenth visit to Sandals Royal Plantation in Ocho Rios.   We’ve visited this small hotel (74 rooms) off-and-on since 2001 and have seen many changes over the years as it converted from the Royal flag, Beaches Flag, and Sandals flag.    We’ve seen staff come-and-go and watched friends move up the corporate ladder over the years.  It’s one of those places they remember you, even after a 5 year absence. 

Our original plans were to go to another Sandals this year, but we landed a sale price cheaper than we paid in 2001.   If only we could say the same about the airfare.

This year we had nearly perfect weather.  Rain interrupted maybe one hour of the whole trip - a first for Ochi this time of year.    Mornings and afternoons were spent on the beach, sunset in the hot tub on the terrace deck, and dinners were spent at 2 of the three restaurants most nights.  Thanksgiving night we dined at the neighboring Sandals Ocho Rios (guest of Royal Plantation can take advantage of all they have to offer but their guests can’t come to Royal) at the Japanese restaurant.   Another evening we attended the Returning Guest Dinner - a weekly affair at Sandals where you dine banquet style with management and other guests.

One fun new activity for this trip was going to the main Sandals newish speakeasy called The Rabbit Hole.   You needed a password to get in (obtained by asking a butler).   The decor inside was a mix of Alice in Wonderland meets Al Capone.  Each night there’s a short cabaret show before the venue turns into a disco.    We saw Mama perform and she did not disappoint. 

We did not take too many pictures since we’ve done this trip many times.   We also had intentions of leaving the resort but ended up lazy and enjoying the rain/cloud free days on the beach.