Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Jamaica mon!

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Got back last weekend from our awesome week in Jamaica. It really felt like a really welcome break for us, escaping the winter weather for a glorious week of sunshine, rum, over-eating, sunburn, rum, warm waters.....ah...bliss! Did I mention the rum?!

We stayed about 35km out of Montego Bay on the north shore of the island. In a large *all-inclusive* resort. There I said it. Yes, all-inclusive. Really not my thing - the whole package holiday thing, but this time the stars really were aligning themselves to point us in this direction. We've had an interesting couple of months over this winter - waaay too many discussions at home revolving around work (or lack of it) and so many uncertainties to face up to. We wanted an zero effort, lazy holiday - I didn't even bother buying a guidebook! (ok so I DID borrow one from the library!) We had no aspirations to explore and travel around much like we would normally and there was also an element of 'we're too old for this shit' when it comes to backpacking and living out of scuzzball cheap rooms. Don't get me wrong - the classic scuzzball room, aka Casa Wretched (Zihautanejo, Mexico) and Turdapec (also Mexico and seriously I mentally blocked it's real name) and the various others served us well at the time. But for this vacation I wanted some indulgent 5 star luxury and ain't afraid to admit it!

Oh yeah baby! I did not know that rum could be served in so many guises. It seemed a trifle boring to order a 'rum & coke' when it could be a punch, a daiquiri, a Bob Marley, pina colada, mojito and coutless others. If one didn't work, move onto the next! Same with restaurants. We had 10 to choose from. Pools - there were 5 of those and 3 different beaches too! Our 1 bed suite had 2 TV's (which I think only got turned on once - I found Glee!! - couldn't miss Glee!). As large hotels go I can't complain and we certainly got our 'luxury'.
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We couldn't give up our independace entirely though. We rented a car for the week so we could head off on our own to explore a couple of spots. We'd already looked into a couple of the popular tours and price-wise the car was as cheap with the added bonus of being able to stop as and when. Perfect!

We followed the masses to Dunnes River Falls on one day. The thing is with these 'tacky tourist traps' - they got that way for a reason right? It's still a beatiful place. Lush green forest all around and the most beautiful cascading falls that just go on and on until they spill out into the warm Carribbean sea. I really didn't think it was all that busy either. We climbed the falls ourselves and on several occasions we found ourselves the only ones in sight so we still had the sense of 'just us'. These days they scrape the rocks to prevent them from getting too slippy. We still found a couple of spots that they'd missed though - heck it would be lethal otherwise! You have to wonder when Jamaica will get up to speed with the health and safety regulations and ban climbing of the falls altogther!
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We also visited the Appleton Rum Estate who have been distilling rum since the 1700's. What was great about the visit there though was the 3 hour drive to get there - through the hills that they call cockpit country. There were no grand vistas (so no photos to share) as the forests were just so dense with little tiny villages appearing out of nowhere and crumbling roads and their own special breed of kamikaze minibus drivers (we may also have got slightly lost due to the lack of road signs)
PhotobucketThe Rum estate itself had a great tour, followed by a complimentary unlimited rum tasting session from their 13 different brands (it was about now that the coin was tossed as to who was driving home!)
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The car also came in handy for a couple of sunset sessions on the far west of the island in Negril. We found a great cliffside pub with Jamaican Jerk chicken to die for (and maybe a rum cocktail or two to wash it down with) A great place to people watch at dusk and a funky little town to boot (if we were to go back to Jamaica it would be Negril we would head for!)
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We also spent a morning diving. The water was gloriously warm and calm, we had an awesome dive master and had an enormous dive boat to just 3 of us! Relaxed and so, so enjoyable for me.
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(Chris getting a beachside mini massage!)

Overall we had an awesome week - one of those weeks that you're just so enormously grateful for. It was everything we wanted this time and I've come home truly refreshed. I love Jamaica and would happily go back. The food, the people, the dancing, the rum....oh my!

I have to say though. Fun as it was all-inclusives are a frightening breed. Large, character-less, bland and terribly, terribly wasteful. And FULL of loud drunken people! (and for once they weren't even English!!) I enjoyed myself for a week this time but I still love our usual independent way of travelling - if we go back to that though I just need to convince Chris to take me to classier joints where I get a toilet seat and I'm only sharing my bed with him (and not an army of ants!)

2 comments:

  1. Sounds like you had a blast! And it sounds like you drank plenty of run for me too! :-)

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  2. Love your photos. Glad you got to go somewhere warm. I am wondering if you stayed at Sandals? My hubby and I went to Jamaica and stayed at Sandals, I was 6 months pregnant at the time so could only have the non-alcoholic drinks - still they were good too. I also could not hike up the falls, just had to watch my hubby do it. Is it still full of crazy drivers over there too?

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