Thursday, July 29, 2021

Fort Worth, Texas

Rise and shine!  I decided to take a quick overnight trip to a place that has been on my list forever!  I am trying to beat the Texas summer heat as I explore some of the highlights of Fort Worth, Texas.  I grabbed a quick snack at The Biscuit Bar.  Let me tell you it was amazing!  It was a hard decision but settled on the FABB biscuit with an iced tea.
It might not be a traditional biscuit but the figs, arugula, bacon, and brie were just so F.A.B.B.!  It was just what I needed to get my day started.  It was time to put my boots (okay sneakers) to walking around the Historic Fort Worth Stockyards. 
From 1766-1890 the Fort Worth Stockyards were the last civilized stop on the Chisolm Trail.  Since it was early, I wandered over the visit The Herd. 
It was pretty toasty outside, so went indoors to The Stockyard Museum.  It was packed full of historic artifacts from the days.  I loved all the old photos.  The one fascinating artifact on display is the 2nd oldest burning lightbulb.  It has been burning strong for 110 years and was originally in The Palace Theater.  I mean do they really know it has been burning that long?  What if it flickered?
It was nearing time for the one event that I really came to see, the daily Cattle Drive.  

The Old West comes to life before your eyes during the world's only twice-daily cattle drive presented by the Fort Worth Herd. Real Texas cowhands drive a herd of Texas longhorns down East Exchange Avenue in the Stockyards National Historic District every day.

It was still early so I decided to hop in the car and explore other parts of the city.  My first stop was downtown at The Fort Worth Water Gardens . . .
. . . I was worried it would be crowded and hard to park but found parking across the street.  After a walk around it was back on the road to the Fort Worth Botanical Gardens.  You might be asking yourself how was the weather because it is late July and well it was H-O-T!  But I was hoping there would be good shade since it was a garden and there was.
It was just beautiful even in the Texas summer heat.  I loved the special display of the nature inspired Lego creations.
Just down the street was the Kimbrell Art Museum.  Not that I was into art, but it was free and inside . . . free air conditioning . . . and after all the walking at the botanical garden I needed to cool off.  I must admit it was a very nice museum.  I always try to find one display that is interesting and here it is . . .
The afternoon sun was unbearable so I jumped back in the car and headed to the hotel.  I was hoping that an afternoon swim would cool me off but the pool was rather warm but it was nice.  After a quick swim and short nap, it was time for dinner!  My hotel, Hyatt Place Fort Worth Historic Stockyards, was in the middle of many options for a hearty Texas dinner.  I settled on Horseshoe Hill for a little chicken friend steak cowboy way . . .
. . . yep, I could have shared it if I had a partner with me but well, I ate the whole thing!  Good thing I had to walk back to the hotel!  With a full belly, I called it a night and hoped for a great night sleep.  And just like that my 24 hours in Fort Worth was over.  Well, sort of . . . before I left I did officially wrap up the trip just like it started . . . with a visit to The Biscuit Bar to give their most popular biscuit, The HOSS, a try . . .
. . . southern fried chicken, crispy bacon, jack cheese, house-made gravy, honey butter . . . the honey butter was lick the plate yummy.  Yummy times ten.  

Thursday, July 8, 2021

Adios Mexico day 6

The last day is always the worst for vacation . . . you don't want it to end but you also just want to be home!  Our flight was not scheduled to leave until early evening so we had the entire morning by the pool!  It is crowded, and I am glad we are leaving!  
We decided to order a light lunch from room service.  There was one feature in the room that they called the magic box . . .
If you needed something, they would put it in the box and turn on a light so you would know to look inside the magic box.  Every restaurant we ate at had small portions so we expected small portions for room service too.  This is what I ordered . . .
. . . it was a lot of food and I felt terrible not eating it all.  We packed up . . . had one last look at our view . . . 
. . . notice the sargassum seaweed was rolling in today . . . and off the the airport!  Now this is where I had a little slip up.  I travel enough to know better but let's be honest, I haven't traveled much in the last 18 months.  For our trip, I prearranged our shuttle transportation but did not want to be tied down on our return shuttle to the airport so figured we would just grab a taxi at the airport.  Never.Ever.Again!  When we got in the driver told us $35 from hotel to airport which was what the bell boy said it would be because it was a fixed price.  However when we arrived at the airport he told us $40.  I was annoyed but what could I do at that point?  So instead of him getting even more I decided to take away the extra tip and gave him exactly $40.  It was not a lot but he was going to get $45 but since he jerked me around I decided he did not need that extra tip.  Jerk!  Also, when we got out of the taxi a man holding a Southwest sign motioned me towards the door . . . my radar sort of went off . . . he ushered me to the computer check ins which I knew we could not use since we had to show proof of the negative covid test.  I brushed him off and headed to the check-in lines . . . he followed us and I started to feel a bit uncomfortable.  We did not make eye contact and he eventually left.  I had forgotten how there can be these types of people just skulking around trying to take advantage!  So we get checked in and to the gate to only find out our flight is delayed!  I have had every flight this summer either canceled or delayed so travel is a bit frustrating still.  We finally board and arrive home.  It was a relaxing few days but not sure I am ready to travel again any time soon with all the delays and hoops one must endure!

Wednesday, July 7, 2021

Mexico day 5

I woke up early to my negative covid test results so now I know I can arrive back in Texas with no problems!  My test was negative!  It was another day of hanging by the pool . . .
I was so glad I went early and enjoyed the emptiness of the pool before all the partiers arrived . . . the resort is not near as quiet as yesterday and an annoying group is camped out in front of our cabana in the pool . . . they are loud and breaking all the rules . . . vaping in the pool, portable speakers, more than 2 people per cabana.  I am a rule follower and when I am on vacation, I like to relax!  Tonight we tried out the Mexican restaurant, Maria Marie.  I liked the small portions so I did not feel so guilty ordering one of almost everything on the menu!
. . . and since it is a Mexican restaurant I did have a margarita or three.  I noticed the table next to us had some red salt on the rim instead of the white salt so I asked to try that one.  It had tajin (chili lime salty seasoning) on the rim and it was tasty!
Oh and we had yet another surprise when we arrived back to our room . . .
Good grief . . . now we had two bottles of champagne!

Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Mexico day 4

It was an early wake up.  My poor aunt was not feeling well so I ventured downstairs to find some pepto bismol.  I noticed peoople were already reserving the free cabanas by the pool so grabbed my bag and went to be one of those people.  Even though they said you could not reserve until 8am, most were already occupied with something by 7am.  I decided to stay at the cabana and hang out so my aunt could rest . . . no one else was around!   
Those who know me know that I am not a reader . . . I am not one to just pick up a book and read but for some reason I brought one on this trip.  I knew there would be a lot of just laying around doing nothing so thought maybe, just maybe I would read.  
I went back to check on my aunt after a few hours and she was feeling better so that is great!  I also did something that I have never done today too, my first covid test!  It has been lingering in the back of my mind since we arrived.  The U.S. required a negative covid test to enter the U.S.  Nonsense in my opinion!  With that behind me, it was time for us to head back to the pool and do a lot of nothing!  Thankfully my aunt was feeling a lot better so must have been something she ate and not food poisioning.  And then to the beach . . .
So pretty and blue . . . even though we spent most of our day at the pool.  We managed to relax in the room for a few hours and then headed to our special dinner at Chef's Plate.  

Chef's Plate is a small group dining experience with a chef cooking multiple course in a kitchen as you watched the food being prepared and plated.  
There were only nine people at the table and it was so fun!  My aunt and I are not the most adventurous eaters but we tried it all and honestly I liked it all.
The experience was usually reserved for those in the higher level rooms but since I was considered a Hyatt Globalist it was free to attend.  
After it was over we walked around the lobby and the sunset was amazing!
After a day of laying around and eating we returned to our room only to find more food!
We were beginning to think the hotel thought we were on the "romance package"!

Monday, July 5, 2021

Mexico day 3

Today we change hotels . . . we have one last breakfast at Tinta del Pulpo and I am trying to soak up every second at this Andaz Mayakoba.  After seeing the downhill trek it is to the beach area, we knew riding a bike was not an option so we jumped on the cart.  The resort is so diverse to be in the mangrove lagoon area then the beach so quickly.  I loved the diversity and due to the beach issue with sargassum, I was happy our room was in the lagoon area.
I decided to order a local dish for my last breakfast and went with the grilled avocado.
The real unexpected for me was that big green leaf.  It is fried chaya; it was light, crispy, and yummy.  Once last check of the beach area, and it is still awful.
If this is how it looks after so much work of that many people and tractors not seen in the photo, I can not imagine what it would be like if they did nothing?  Honestly, I feel bad for the people trying to rake it as it seemed to be a pointless task.  I am a bit sad to leave Andaz Mayakoba but excited to check out Hyatt Zilara-Cancun too!  
The Hyatt Zilara had a much livelier, louder, party feel compared to the Andaz Mayakoba but we were excited to have the blue water and large pool to hang out by!  Plus the beaches were not nearly as bad as they were at Andaz Mayakoba . . . there is still a little sargassum but not that much!  We enjoyed exploring the resort and getting the lay of the land for the next few days.  The Hyatt Zilara is an all inclusive resort (18+ only) so all food and drink are included.  We grabbed a dessert and coffee to enjoy on the balcony while watching the sun set . . .

Sunday, July 4, 2021

Mexico day 2

It was a great wake up!  We have zero plans for the day which is sort of nice.  My feathered friend was waiting for me to wake up!
We made our way to Cocina Milagro for breakfast which was a bit of a mess with overwhelmed staff!  I literally asked four times for a juice and water . . . I ate my entire breakfast before I had a drink.  I was annoyed that a resort of this caliber could not get me a drink.  I tried to go help myself but there were no glasses or pitchers to get my own.   At least my breakfast was good especially those eggs and chilaquiles! 
I finally got my juice and water and asked for several refills!  I needed to hydrate for our activity and it was already so hot outside!  As we left breakfast we grabbed two bikes for our little adventure . . . 
The entire area of Mayakoba has bikes to use for free.  You just grab them and go.  I love a bike ride on vacation!  We were just going to take a little ride to check out the resort property and see if we could find the cenote!  A cenote is a natural pit, or sinkhole, resulting from the collapse of limestone bedrock that exposes groundwater. The regional term is specifically associated with the Yucat√°n Peninsula of Mexico, where cenotes were commonly used for water supplies by the ancient Maya, and occasionally for sacrificial offerings.  My aunt had a little mishap about 10 feet from the cenote . . . when I looked back I could see her in slow motion falling off the path into a shrub.  I was worried because at that point the path was about 8 inches above the ground.  She was okay with a bloody knee and a few scratches.  We laughed and walked the last few feet to the cenote entrance
There is a guide that takes you down to see the cenote and give a little background information. 
It was pretty neat until the guy flashed his flashlight on the ceiling and showed us hundreds of bats!
I wanted to immediately exit these really amazing steps but stayed to enjoy the views a little bit longer!
It was a cool place and glad we went.  I marked that down as our cultural experience for the trip.  We grabbed our bikes and back to the room to change for some time by the pool and celebrate America!  
Happy 4th of July!  It was a nice day to just relax by the pool . . . and then we saw this . . . 
He minded his own business but we had no idea what it was!  I asked but could not understand what they said but apparently it is a local animal known as kudamundi or a Mexican raccoon.  Then we went back to Cocina Milagro to give it a try for dinner.  
I had the absolute best salad ever, Baked Brie Cheese Salad; spinach, arugula, macadamia nuts, cranberry compote, and baked brie cheese . . . it was sooooo good I almost ordered another one . . . and those squash dumplings were good too.