Tuesday, August 31, 2010

News Flash

When I got home, I read an email from my friend Amy and was informed by John that the drug wars have reached Cancun. Really? I can not believe it! I thought we were perfectly fine in the Yucatan. I've been going on and on about how the problem is isolated along the border states and there is no way it will reach the Yucatan. It's such a nice place, the high ways are safe, yada yada yada.

It turns out 8 people were killed by a Molotov cocktail by the Zetas drug cartel. Normally, I wouldn't let something like this hold me back from a trip as it could be an isolated incident. But 28,000 people have died and growing up in Arizona, you learn that the Mexican drug cartels are not to be messed with. I'm going to follow the news closely as I plan our trip and make an educated decision on whether to book a trip based upon whether or not the violence has increased. Maybe Cuba instead.......or Belize.....or anywhere really.

Trip to Mexico

After much deliberation on location, John and I have decided to take a trip to the Yucatan Peninsula, October 29-November 7. I went to Cancun for my high school graduation trip with my three best friends and have always wanted to return and actually see this part of Mexico. I've been to Sonora, Mexico countless times as I grew up in Phoenix. During college we often went to Puerto Penasco, a.k.a. Rocky Point, for Spring Break and weekends. I even went back to the original hotel, the Plaza Las Glorias (now the Penasco del Sol) http://www.penascodelsol.com/ three years ago with some friends. Nothing has changed, it's still shady almost-border-town Mexico but its beaches are pretty and it's a hell of a good time.

We been discussing how we want to actually do this trip. John likes to travel in style to resorts and I like to backpack and stay in small hotels. We have traveled together to Hawaii a few times but stayed in very nice places. This will be our first short trip with a wee bit more adventure. I want to travel, what I like to call The Modified Backpacker. We only have 8 whole usable non-travel days. I want to ride a bus, eat some street food, napping on a beach, see the Chichen Itza Mayan ruins, haggle with someone and meet some randoms. John open to all of the above for a few days of the trip requested for the other days: a nice room with a view, room service, food, drinks, and relaxing on a beach.

I can oblige so we've decided on a sort of hybrid trip. I've bought the Lonely Planet: Cancun, Cozumel and the Yucatan and now we need a plan.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

First post....the hardest post....

I've been agonizing for a week about what to post on my travel blog. What kind of travel blog to make it? What type content? Include a picture or not? Its enough to make a girl crazy. So I thought I would start with my most recent trip to Tahoe.

South Lake Tahoe: May 28-20, 2010

My boyfriend John and I took a trip to South Lake Tahoe for his 32nd birthday. We live in San Francisco and Tahoe is easily accessible by car and only takes an average of 4 hours, depending on weather. We had naively thought that "hey its the end of May its going to be Spring". But no we were shocked to find snow not only on the ground but falling heavily on our drive up. Did we have snow chains? Hell no, its May. We stopped before hitting the pass to pick up snow chains but stupidly never put them on. We were waiting for the highway patrol or one of their signs to signal us to pull over but that never happened. Maybe the power was out or everyone was on vacation because we almost drove off the mountain a few times. At one point, I recall my calm level headed driving boyfriend saying with absolute panic in his voice, "I can't see the road." Luckily we were able to drive 2 mph and managed to find the road again before plunging off the mountain. As we arrived safely in Tahoe, the car in front of us, a 4-door Mitsubishi from the mid-90s started to fishtail out of control on the road. They gained control but that didn't happen until I had a mini heart attack. The roads were wet, icy and in dire need of a good salting.

"I need a drink" was the first word out of my mouth when we finally pulled up to Harrah's Lake Tahoe http://www.harrahslaketahoe.com/ in South Lake Tahoe, NV. I had never really been to the gaming side of Tahoe and was eager to see how this place lined up with Reno, Foxwoods and Vegas. We had pricelined (http://www.priceline.com/) the room and got a banging deal for $100 a night. We were excited as it was advertised as a 4 star, the biggest casino in Tahoe and had the best reviews. The rooms were clearly 3 star and the bathroom maybe a 2 star, pushing it. The TV in the bathroom was from the 80's and deserved to be in a museum. Priceline had lied to us (not the first time). I've since tried to write a review for Harrah's on priceline and the hotel and its sister hotel Harvey's Lake Tahoe have been removed from their site. I am assuming they received enough complaints or their contract ran out. Besides the bathroom, the other downside was the sad sad pool. The pool was advertised as this beautiful enclosed sanctuary but it was really depressing and smelled like the YMCA back in Scranton, PA. I was not looking forward to contracting Cholera from the luke warm stagnant water, so we skipped it. Overall, Harrah's isn't a bad hotel. Its a 3 star casino in a small gambling town. You should expect a little Reno 911 mixed in with some minor Vegas highlights (free cocktails if you gamble). Remember its not the Ritz although it claims to be, the gambling is great and the people watching even better!