Montreal 2014 – Modulation!

So before I jump into perhaps the most EPIC trip of all time, let me first clearly define for you all the meaning of “Modulation”.  This intriguing word hand crafted and delivered to my vocabulary repertoire was gifted from my friend Rio (a real G).  Now that I have given my props, let me explain.

Modulation – the act of moving from place to place with immense, almost intoxicating swag, in which you literally have life by the balls.  

Months ago, I was contacted by my college buddy Mike Berglund about taking about booking a trip to Montreal over the upcoming 4th of July holiday. Mike and I had reconnected over the last year when I had transitioned to the same employer, Target. We had swapped travel stories over the last several months and both thought it would be cool to travel together and do some exploring. His proposal couldn’t have come at a better time. I had very recently been blindsided with a tough reality check and was really in need of an escape. I quickly acted on my gut and asked that he book our flights and within the hour it was finalized.

Over the next several months Mike and I had exchanged several ideas about the sights and experiences that we wanted to actualize during our 5 day trip. It was to be a fair mixture of Old Montreal including the best of Old Port and also the downtown area including Saint Lauraunt and the party district. The trip was fast approaching and we had one last happy hour at the Roasted Pair in BP to nail down our logistics and travel arrangements. In the back of our minds, I am sure we both were wondering what it was going to be like traveling together, but knowing Mike’s personality and style, I knew we would have a very memorable trip. I had no idea what I had really signed up for. The trip that ensued was to be epic!

Let the modulation begin…

Day 1

After a long evening of preparation for the trip, I had successfully packed everything needed. Just before we left the house to go pick up Mike, he text me stating that he couldn’t fit his suit. I told him to man up as we would need to be looking our best and he was so glad that he did, lol.

Kindly my wife drove us early to the airport and with plenty of time, stress was removed from our travel equation. We sat and had a bloodymary and some lunch before our flight. We were officially on vacation and after one last work email, I was officially OOO! We boarded our flight and only a couple hour flight we were in Canada! Getting through customs was a pretty smooth transaction, at least after being grilled with questions by the official.

Let’s modulate! Our next step was to go checkout our suite for the weekend at Le Place d’Armes in Old Montreal. By this time the looks were just rolling in everywhere from all the French-Canadian women, lol and we were only trying to catch a cab. Mike was like, let the games begin.

Upon arrival, we scoped out our pad and both were really pleasantly surprised with how huge the terrace was! Additionally, we were on the top floor and the view was awesome! The bathroom was sweet and came with a vintage style tub moderinized with jets and a separate glassed-in shower, super nice! Quickly we moved in and hung up our suits and were out the door in search of dinner in Old Port. Conveniently the hotel was located only a few blocks from everything, so it was easy for us to enjoy some sight seeing before agree to catch dinner at Pizzadelic.

Taking in some of the new sites that would be our temporary home. Love the cobble stone streets in Old Port, the city truly has a rich history and a significant french influence.  Simply beautiful!

Taking in some of the new sites that would be our temporary home. Love the cobble stone streets in Old Port, the city truly has a rich history and a significant french influence. Simply beautiful!

After sitting at the bar and getting hit on by a middle aged “dance mom”, we were eventually sat on the outside patio. This place seriously served the best tasting pizza and tap beer of my life. It was my first opportunity to see the cobble stone streets and the rich culture of the area. It is something that can only come with age, and Montreal was saturated with history and the beauty was baked into Old Port in a very organic way.

Every night we planned on stepping out, yes even on a Wednesday! So we headed to the suite and got our swag on and modulated to a couple Irish bars that we read about. After they fell short of our expectations we bailed and tried elsewhere. In the beginning we struggled to find a really hoppin spot to get turned-up, but when in doubt you just have to follow the music. Finally after a few taxi rides and some street modulation, we landed a gem, Apartment 200!

The music was on point which made dancing awesome! Mikey B has moves, who woulda thought, hahaha what a pimp! The time flew by and we tore through drink after drink blowing cash on vacation makes you feel like your dealing in Monopoly money, the drained us but we didn’t care it was so worth it. This place was packed with Montreal’s college student population and everyone was super cool, girls and guys… We got so much attention it was stupid! So as the bar closed, my buzz finally kicked in and we somehow got back to the room… To be continued tomorrow!

Day 2

I woke a little groggy but not hungover, surprisingly. Through some street clothes on and dipped out to catch my morning fix. So glad I spotted a Starbucks only a couple short blocks away, sweet! When I returned my boy was ‘Gliding’ a whole new social media inspired video messaging platform. Lol, it became a funny way to document little glimpses of our trip; through it, we may have made his friends a bit jelly of our adventures!

After we got ready, it was time to hit the streets. Super glad that he was open minded about hoofing it. So by the order of proximity we started with the Notre-Dame Basilica of Montreal which is less than a block from our hotel.  When fetching my cup of joe, I saw that square in front of it was already packed with visitors (not even 10am), so we had to check it out.  At only $5 entrance fee, this was a steal and the sights were amazing. Here are just a few of the amazing photos that we took.

This was so worth our time and the reasonable entrance fee... just don't try to bring in your Starbucks, lol. The detailed architecture and stained glass was incredible. This deserved a moment of silence as we stood there in awe.

This was so worth our time and the reasonable entrance fee… just don’t try to bring in your Starbucks, lol. The detailed architecture and stained glass was incredible. This deserved a moment of silence as we stood there in awe.

Here is a bigger shot at the main attractions in Notre-Dame.  I cannot believe the time and energy that must have been spent bringing these backdrops to life.

Here is a bigger shot at the main attractions in Notre-Dame. I cannot believe the time and energy that must have been spent bringing these backdrops to life.

Now that we were both feeling like better humans, it was time to roll through Old Port and make our way to the river’s edge to start our real adventure. Upon arrival we could see the Biosphere in the distance and both of us agreed to somehow get there on foot, that would be no small feet as this required serious modulation.  I was really impressed that my travel buddy was up for the challenge.  I am so glad that we decided walk it out as it gave us a chance to talk and catch up on life and share thoughts of the city.  Along the way we did stumble across a cool site, Habitat 67. A unique and modern way of living that offered some great views. Just imagine living in this complex. Check out these pics!

We saw this gem from across the river and finally got a closer look.  The unique design is quite peculiar.  Sustainable living never looked so cool!

We saw this gem from across the river and finally got a closer look. The unique design is quite peculiar. Sustainable living never looked so cool!

Reflecting on our chosen route, we both felt that we had taken the long way around and in total we must have walked seven or eight miles before getting there. I knew that Mike would be feeling it the next day for sure, but he hung in there strong.  Eventually we stood at the food of the Biosphere and were able to capture some really great pictures and checkout the surrounding gardens.  It was just a really cool site to see, enjoy!

After a quick selfie with my boy Mike, we made the acquaintance of a sand mermaid as we 'Modulated to the Biosphere!

After a quick selfie with my boy Mike, we made the acquaintance of a sand mermaid as we ‘Modulated to the Biosphere!

Here is the Biosphere in all its glory.  I think it is cool to have a few unique structures in a city to define its real character. Beautiful gardens surrounding worth a walkthrough.  Mission accomplished, we made it to the cool thing in the distance!

Here is the Biosphere in all its glory. I think it is cool to have a few unique structures in a city to define its real character. Beautiful gardens surrounding worth a walkthrough. Mission accomplished, we made it to the cool thing in the distance!

With our mission accomplished we decided to taxi it back to our digs,  and chill out momentarily.  After all that modulation we were starving and more than interested in trying one of the local dishes.  So we made our way back to old port and found a nice balcony to have dinner on.  We were familiar with this spot and we could see that they had a nice view from the street so we went in and decided to have a go with their local rendition of ‘putine’.  Essentially this dish is a pile of fries with cheese curds on top with gravy poured overtop; it was heaven.  Meanwhile, we met some local tourists also visiting from out of town that were open to stepping out with us later that night.  Things were just happening so fluidly that we were both shocked.  Ha, it made me feel like BMOC (big man on campus) for sure!

Finally I was smart enough to find a liquor store and a local convenience store for mixers, not an easy task when you don’t speak or read much French. But, politely I asked and was pointed in the right direction and familiarized myself with Depanneur.  Glad I did because Montreal had laid claims to most of my cash already and Mike and I joked that each drink in the suite was saving us $10 cash, lol. So we hosted some of our friends for some innocent cocktails on our terrace before stepping out to a cool dance club, Tokyo Bar. I felt like we danced for hours without getting tired. The place was packed and the music and vibe was on point.  Rooftop was too packed and by the end of the night we were feeling the effects of all the partying, somehow we made it back safely, awesome night!

Day 3

Happy Birthday USA! July 4th and though the average Canadian doesn’t recognize it, we decided to gear up and rep our nation hard! Mikey B with his USA hat had me cracking up, gotta love that style! Today was going to be a good day!  After my regular morning pitstop at Starbucks and relaxing on a park bench, I made it back to the suite to get another fantastic day started!

Happy 4th of July! It was a beautiful day and perfect for some much needed celebration, especially sweet when you are away from home on a worry-free vacation!  Check out this beautiful flower garden and the intricate designs we found outside a local government building, pretty sweet!

Happy B-Day USA! We enjoyed great weather as we had a morning walk and started our day… Check out this beautiful flower garden and the intricate designs we found outside a local government building, pretty sweet!

Today we took a different approach and instead of running around, we chose to find our relax and swap stories over several well spent hours of drinking. It had been quite a while since we had been able to catch up beyond the normal pleasantries that might be shared at the occasional happy hour.  Instead we dove a bit deeper and shared more about our family dynamics and some of our unique life experiences since our college days. It was really nice bonding with another guy that is as motivated and hungry for life.

Happy 4th of July... Reppin USA on the terrace and having an "Absolute"ly good time!

Happy 4th of July… Reppin USA on the terrace and having an “Absolute”ly good time!

After we got good and tight and snapped a few pics of celebrating we decided to get cleaned up and make our way to the rooftop patio for some more adventure.  This time however, we were getting fully suited and looking sharp.  Dressed to impress, even the fashion forward Montreal natives were impressed and quite open to getting to know more about Mike and myself.  Men and women alike were quite reachable with even the average conversation. This is quite different if your used to standoffish Minnesotan locals.

Suited up, we are looking good.  With a slight buzz we were off to enjoy more libations at the rooftop bar! #thegoodlife

Suited up, we are looking good. With a slight buzz we were off to enjoy more libations at the rooftop bar! #thegoodlife

Having not been up there long we were quickly meeting new friendly locals more than willing to share in ‘witty banter’ and libations.  Especially a group of girls that had traveled all the way from Scotland.  Meeting them ended up being a real treat and they were great fun in chatting and swapping stories. Like musical chairs professionals, we made our rounds at the bar and managed to rack up quite the tab, go figure.

The terrace party lasted for several hours and after fully breaking in the bar, and having the tab to prove it, we pushed off with a few locals that promised to show us a great time at a sheik local club. They promised and delivered, next stop was Joverse aka the “Rooster Bar”. After bypassing a long line, thanks to our newly made friendships, we were walked right in and were immediately surrounded by great music and drinks. Fortunately for us, the club was right next to our suite, so I was able to modulate (stumble) home with one eye open, good times!

Party, Party, Party... lasted all night long. We met some of the coolest locals imaginable. The night was great and Mikey and I both had a blast tearing it up with some new friends.  Jean-Mark and his friends showed us how to party in the classiest way possible, a big thanks to them!

Party, Party, Party… lasted all night long. We met some of the coolest locals imaginable. The night was great and Mikey and I both had a blast tearing it up with some new friends. Jean-Mark and his friends showed us how to party in the classiest way possible, a big thanks to them!

Day 4

This morning found us to be a bit on the rough side and as our last full day in Montreal we still had a lot we wanted to do. After a quick Starbucks recovery, Mike and I were ready to get out and adventure the rest of the city.  We had decided to try and trek to the top of Mont Royal and so we started out on foot. Soon thereafter, we walked several blocks from our hotel and found ourself walking into the annual Montreal Jazz Festival. We enjoyed a few live songs and took a moment to enjoy ourselves.

As we ventured on, Mike and I passed a few cathedrals and took our time at paying our respects and enjoying the maculate architecture and design features.  It really is impressing the amount of detail and time that was put into each of these incredible buildings; what better way to feel the presence of  the Lord that being in a place like this.

Some of the majestic sites that we discovered as we continued on our journey towards Mont Royal. Nothing like taking a moment for prayer.

Some of the majestic sites that we discovered as we continued on our journey towards Mont Royal. Nothing like taking a moment for prayer.

Only a few blocks further we came to a bank of bike rentals and having huffed it for over an hour now we felt that this would be a fun way to get to the top of Mont Royal. For a small fee we were happily now modulating on 2-wheels.  Quickly we ran into the “Harvard” of Canada, McGill University and toured the campus. I was happily taking some bike-selfies and a few short videos while riding the bike, so much FUN!

Eventually we climbed all the way to the top of Mont Royal, which took us about another hour of aggressive biking. With Mikey’s legs burning we arrived at the top, dismounted and took a breather.  Feeling a bit fatigued we took our time at the overpass and drank in the city’s breathtaking skyline. Here is an awesome panorama!

What a beautiful city skyline, no wonder why it was so crowded, who wouldn't want to come see this!

What a beautiful city skyline, no wonder why it was so crowded, who wouldn’t want to come see this!

Mikey B. and I getting our photo snapped at the overpass.  Looking down on the city provided a much needed moment to rest. Biking to the top was a beast!

Mikey B. and I getting our photo snapped at the overpass. Taking some time to look down on the city provided a much needed moment to rest. Biking to the top was a beast!

Once our appetite for the sites had been quenched we hopped back on our pedal bikes and made our way down the hill in search for Saint Joseph’s Oratory, one of the most iconic buildings in Montreal. It also had the view to match.  As soon as you walk in, you become overwhelmed at the massively tall ceilings and beautiful archways. It was extremely impressive!

Very unique experience it was to walk into this massive structure.  Sitting atop a hill, getting to the top meant overcoming many steps, but it was well worth it!

Very unique experience it was to walk into this massive structure. Sitting atop a hill, getting to the top meant overcoming many steps, but it was well worth it!

The inside of the Oratory was amazing and gave me a surreal feeling.  It had one of the most beautiful organs I have ever heard or seen!

The inside of the Oratory was amazing and gave me a surreal feeling. It had one of the most beautiful organs I have ever heard or seen! This is a very cool place and a must see tourist site!

After a long day of exhausting biking we grabbed some grub at Planet Poutine and relaxed before heading back. We racked our bikes and picked up some more spirits to enjoy that night before getting to our hotel. It was go-time to smash our last night in Montreal.  It was about to be another epic, gangbusters type of night. Looking quite dapper we strapped on our suit coats and kept things classy. The rooftop was our first destination and the world was our oyster!

Looking good and feeling great! We are going hard on our last night in the new Las Vegas of North America!

Looking good and feeling great! We are going hard on our last night in the new Las Vegas of North America!

Merik, a super cool bartender was making me a signature drink (whisky, smooth and smokey infused with orange peel), meanwhile Mikey B. had worked his charm on a few gals and soon we were at a different table. Knowing my boundaries, I avoided any primal tendencies and was a gentleman to everyone, while respecting what really mattered to me, my wife Nellie.

Day 5

Sadly, in the morning, I woke for the last time to once again rise and hit the streets for my Starbucks fix and to drink in the beautiful surroundings that Old Port had to offer.  I was going to miss the cobble stone streets, the incredible food, open and friendly conversations with strangers, the french influence and of course just living carefree.

As I packed my bags and counted my blessings, I knew that this was what life was really all about, happy memories!  I thought to myself, this is exactly why I travel.  MarathonJake and Mikey B. had one of the most epic trips of our lives and together, we hope to have many more!

I didn't want to say goodbye and hugged the wall of our suite one last time! Take care and God bless Montreal!

I didn’t want to say goodbye and hugged the wall of our suite one last time! Take care and God bless Montreal!

Finally after a long trip home, I was just happy to see my Nell.

God is Great! Amen!

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Honeymoon @ Sunscape – Ixtapa Mexico

Months before exchanging wedding vows with my now wife Nellie Carroll, we decided that delaying our honeymoon until our one year anniversary would best allow the dust to settle and us to budget accordingly. The first few months seemed to fly and I thought it was cute when we would call out our ‘monthly anniversary’. We had been batting ideas around about exactly when and where but we needed to get our financial ducks in a row and make a decision.

Months prior to the wedding, while stopping at my local StateFarm agent’s office, I was recommended to contact Ketti Menne (see her site here), an experienced travel agent that had assisted. She had assisted my agent and got a good review so I gave it a shot. After an initial consult we began narrowing our travel scope and available budget. Eventually we booked a trip to Sunscape Dorado Pacifico in Ixtapa, Mexico.

This was to be an all-inclusive getaway that offered a beautiful getaway on the pacific side of Mexico. The price was very reasonable and our package included flights and ground transportation which can greatly reduce stress when in a foreign destination. With the arrangements made, the excitement began to build and soon we were counting down the days in till our trip.

We booked for a full 7 days and were both looking forward to that extended getaway. It was going to be a trip focused on celebration. Nellie had just converted to a FTE in her career at Prime Therapeutics, and I had just completed all my course work for graduate school and studied for and passed my CISSP (a gold standard exam for those in the IT Security profession). Let’s not forget that this was also about reconnecting with one another and sharing time discussing our first year of marriage.  No marriage is perfect and we are not invincible from the harmful realities of demanding jobs, financial bumps, and daily temptations. But, we weathered the storm and deserved a celebration and it was now upon us. After a long weekend Saturday of shopping, thank you Macy’s, we had fresh new clothes for our getaway. We were ready; it was go time.

Once we had surpassed the Herculean task of packing, we departed early the morning of May 17th. Together and as a team we traveled from Minneapolis to Phoenix and eventually to Zihuatanejo/ Ixtapa, MX. Once we had finally arrived, we were escorted down a ramp of stairs from the plane onto the Tarmac and quickly into customs. At that moment we finally were able to get our first taste of the hot and humid weather that was to be our new paradise for the next week. Love it!

Couldn't be more excited for our honeymoon! Officially on our way to Ixtapa, MX.

Couldn’t be more excited for our honeymoon! Officially on our way to Ixtapa, MX.

Once through customs, Nellie and I were quickly identified by an Apple Vacations representative that squared away our travel to Sunscape. As we began our travels through Zihuatanejo to the tourist sister city Ixtapa, it was obvious we were in a third world country. Things were visually much less developed; the city itself was nestled in a large valley and most houses were built into the steep sloping countryside. While the living conditions are at a much reduced convenience for most, our taxi driver assured us that the city offers electricity and large water-tank trucks would deliver water for a reasonable fee. Overall, it was a change of pace, but to the inhabitants this was home and they were very happy to share it with tourists like us.

Finally we arrived at our stacation destination, Sunscape Dorado Pacifico and were greeted with smiles from the concierge. We quickly checked in and were then requested to attend an informational meeting regarding all the available experiences available to us. There were several other Americans that had just arrived, initially we exchanged common salutations but didn’t realize we would end up experiencing much of our vacation with them as new friends. That was really great!

Note – Travelers beware, Emilio at the front desk will try to convince you into attending a two-hour meeting for $50-100 worth of pesos; however, he downplays that it is a really a pitch to sell time shares and pressure travelers.  This definitely took away a bit of the ‘warm welcome’ that we received, but we didn’t fall for it.

While attending, our fantastic consultant, Roberto, explained what excursions were available for booking and what times throughout our stay that they would be available, which was very helpful. Once we had that foundation, Nell and I began tossing around comments on which we would both like to attend. By the end we were well-informed and able to knowingly have a minimal sight-seeing agenda that still allowed for enough poolside relaxing! Loving it even more! When we made it to our room we were welcomed with a ‘Honeymoon’ banner and a desert made specially for us. It was okay, but it was really the view that captured us, WOW!

After a warm welcome, we made it to our room and got to look out as our new view from the 10th floor, not bad!

After a warm welcome, we made it to our room and got to look out as our new view from the 10th floor, not bad!

The temperature outside was a steamy 93 degrees and sunny; we could not ask for better weather. Having barely survived a hellacious Minnesota winter, the tropical weather was more than welcomed. That said, while on this trip we were in swim attire the vast majority of the time. Prior to the trip, the wifey decided to take a chance and try out braids which were super cute and very functional. I loved them and she was instantly received as a model amongst the guests staying at the resort. We made our way downstairs and got a little time in at the poolside enjoying a drink and scoping out the resort. On our first night we kept things pretty casual and decided to do dinner at the Bluewater Grill which was quite good!

Night 1: So much fun taking in all that the resort has to offer. Great evening with such a beautiful woman!

Night 1: So much fun taking in all that the resort has to offer. Great evening with such a beautiful woman!

The next day we slept in and eventually made our way down to breakfast and enjoyed the buffet, Nellie especially liked their sugar doughnuts and decided to spoiled herself. We found everyone from the resort staff to the other vacationers to be extremely pleasant and more than willing to teach you spanish. Buenos Diaz! There was little to no language barrier at this destination which made things very convenient, and you could tell that the locals appreciated your attempts. It seemed that everyone enjoyed getting to know us and had curious questions to ask, like where we were from and whether we like Ixtapa very pleasant atmosphere!

After getting our fill, the whole day was dedicated to relaxing and spending time poolside lounging and swimming in the ocean.  Often Nellie would be resting from shore as I would battle the strong waves along the ocean’s shore. They may have only been 6-8 feet waves but they were quite powerful. I am thankful that swimming is one of my strengths because the ocean current can be very formidable. Beyond being a total vegetable, there were several volleyball games hosted by the resorts entertainment crew (which were fantastic) that I was able to participate in. Actually during one of the games is when I ran back into one of the Americans we had met the day before, Jason, which was cool. I really started to absorb a lot of the Mexican sun and added a few shades to my complexion.  Luckily, Nellie was great about keeping me covered in active sunscreen.

To cool off, we waded through the pool to the swim-up bar and ordered another round of drinks. I think we enjoyed a piña colada and a Bahama Momma as we chatted. Before we knew it the entertainment crew had sprung back into action, but this time it was an adults only drinking game. Essentially, they showed us some of their favorite Mexican shots and how to make them, of course they had to cap it off with a tequila shot at the end, yikes!  The libations were all fantastic and it really opened up the group of us Americans into conversation and getting to know one another.  From there we had many laughs and decided to all coordinate dinner.

Nothing better than having shots and changing complete strangers into new vacation friends! Can you say "Tequila"?

Nothing better than having shots and changing complete strangers into new vacation friends! Can you say “Tequila”?

For this night we were going to be checking out Da Mario, an Italian influenced restaurant. We got dressed up and were looking the part of a couple relaxed honeymooners and headed down.  As always we are usually operating about twenty minutes behind schedule but oh well, its vacation and we didn’t take things too seriously. Afterwards we made our way outside where they had music playing and people were dancing and drinking well into the late hours! It was cool that each night offered a different music theme.  Once we had our nightcap we went back to our air-conditioned room for some much-needed rest!

Great dinner with new friends and of course, my best friend! Looking cute in our vaca threads we just had to snap a few!

Great dinner with new friends and of course, my best friend! Looking cute in our vaca threads we just had to snap a few!

The next morning we woke up and headed down for a breakfast.  I had finally gained my barring now as to the different accommodations and found that Coco Cafe made a really good Americano so I grabbed one on my way into Windows for a bite. We found our group and immediately were sat and served some tasty mimosas to get the day started. To that I say cheers!

Breakfast mimosas and yummy food, must be rough living like this everyday, lol! Loving our all inclusive getaway!

Breakfast mimosas and yummy food, must be rough living like this everyday, lol! Loving our all-inclusive getaway so far!

Soon there after we were back into our swim attire and out enjoying the day. We had no difficulty finding different activities to get involved with. After having a couple of drinks we were feeling comfortable and really enjoying the weather I got intrigued by all of the vendors on the beach offering parasailing.  I knew that it was something that I wanted to do and for only $20, I had to give it a chance!

Awesome rush all the way up parasailing.  I had the best view of all Ixtapa; what a cool experience!

Awesome rush all the way up parasailing. I had the best view of all Ixtapa! What a cool experience!

When I returned, I found my wife being entertained by Gabriel who was leading a group of about fifteen people in water aerobics. It was so silly some of the things that they did, I was laughing so hard when I saw Nellie try to carry Gayle through the water in a buddy exercise.

Note – probably the most memorable experiences were only attainable with the fun and energy that the Entertainment Team brought to the table.  You had 1) Carlos – a really great guy that was eager to play a game of volleyball, 2) Gabriel – this guy is probably the best dancer at the entire resort and knew how to make people smile, and 3) Blanca – a very outgoing woman who knew how to charm the crowd with her coconut bowling expertise and smile. They were so polite and gracious, I consider all of them to be my friends!

Earlier that day, I had checked the schedule and Carlos was scheduled to lead those interested on bike ride around the surrounding neighborhood.  So we suited up and went for a nice hour-long bike ride and history lesson of the surrounding area. Lol, I recall the bikes being quite uncomfortable and squeaky, but we managed and I snapped a couple of bike selfies as we rode along.

Fun bike ride around Ixtapa had us sightseeing and sweating... HOT! Such a fun time, Carlos was a great guide!

Fun bike ride around Ixtapa had us sightseeing and sweating… HOT! Such a fun time! Carlos was a great guide!

It was a cool experience but by the time we got back we were a bit worn out and in need of more beverages. We got back grabbed some refreshments and made sure to meet up with Roberto so that we could finally book the excursions that interested us the most.  Nellie wanted to do horseback riding and I wanted to go snorkeling and zipplining through the rain forest.  She was much more open to adventure than I thought, which was really awesome! We booked them all and found that the rates were fairly reasonable. Overall we only had to spend about $300 on everything that we wanted to do including a day trip to Zihuatanejo to do some additional shopping on our last full day.

That night we once again got dressed up for another fantastic dinner with the group and even were able to enjoy some dancing afterwards. This was the first night that we really got it in and cut a rug until 2AM! It was a lot of fun dancing with Nellie and just letting go.  There is no judgement when no one will remember you tomorrow or tell the stories back home, lol!

Night number 2 done right... Dinner and dancing couldn't have been more fun. Pretty sure I easily burned dinner off!

Night number 2 done right… Dinner and dancing couldn’t have been more fun. Pretty sure I easily burned dinner off!

The next morning we had to wake up a bit earlier as we had scheduled a fun morning of horseback riding.  So we enjoyed breakfast and rehydrated after a long night of drinking and partying. Thank you Coco Cafe for the caffeine; I quickly grabbed something to perk me up as we exited and hoped into a suburban that drove us to the horse ranch about 20 minutes away from the resort.

When we arrived we saw the horses and were quickly designated a suitable stallion. We mounted up and were escorted by a guide down a long road before heading onto the horse path that led out to the ocean. My horse liked to linger towards the rear of the posse which was okay with me as it allowed me to take some good pictures of Nellie and of the surrounding area. It was exciting to have the both of us experience something like this for the first time. It was great.

Probably my favorite moment here is when my horse decided to gallop on the beach. It was truly remarkable how strong they were and they made it seem effortless. We eventually turned off and made a loop through the rainforest before heading back. It was well worth it and we would love to do it again.

Horseback riding on the beach was a total blast! One of the most memorable experiences while on my honeymoon!

Horseback riding on the beach was a total blast! One of the most memorable experiences while on my honeymoon!

With our adventure over by no later than noon (to avoid the hottest part of the day), we were back in our swim wear and enjoying more of the resort. The rest of the day we enjoyed a wine tasting event put on by our favorite entertainment team and relaxed poolside. That night there were to be more dinner stories and dancing. This was a long and fun day and I couldn’t have had a better time swinging my girl around on the dance floor.

Another amazing evening with Nellie and our travel friends Jason, Tara, Kia and Gayle

Another amazing evening with Nellie and our travel friends Jason, Tara, Kia, Gayle, Victoria and Mike. It was a wild night of dancing and drinks!

The next day we had planned an exciting day trip to Ixtapa Island where we would be able to enjoy their three main beaches. I was especially eager to go snorkeling as they have some of the better coral reef in the area to swim over and investigate.  My wife Nellie was onboard for this adventure but also quite terrified as she cannot swim. I have to commend her on her bravery, because with only minor hesitation did she willingly strap on a life jacket and flippers and make our way to the ocean’s edge. Thankfully, my mom had provided us her set of snorkeling masks.  The ‘tube’ or breathing apparatus with her set did a really great job at blocking water from accidentally going too far under and made expelling extra water really easy.

Nell got a bit more comfortable, she was able to participate and really enjoy herself and see all the beautiful fish and coral. Keep in mind that when she would panic she would grab my vest push down to get her head fully out of the water.  This means that she essentially almost drown me like three or four times, but I was very understanding. It was also extremely cool of my brother Justin to borrow me his waterproof camera for this trip, which I wanted specifically for these pictures, enjoy!

What a perfect day to go snorkeling and to swim with the fishies! Way to go to my sweetie Nellie for being so adventurous and brave!

What a perfect day to go snorkeling and to swim with the fishies! Way to go to my sweetie Nellie for being so adventurous and brave!

After about 30 minutes of snorkeling we felt like it would be best to wade back into shore and enjoy some refreshments and partake in our group lunch.  So funny, the folks that ordered the spicy fish didn’t know what they got themselves into… it was insanely spicy even for Nellie! We transitioned to the beach and enjoyed some fresh coconut water and caught some rays. While nellie was prancing around and hanging with the girls I was able to capture a few pics of her looking cute; she is a 10!

Pretty sure that this is the definition of vacation.  Sunshine, coconut water and relaxation!

Pretty sure that this is the definition of vacation. Sunshine, coconut water and relaxation!

Before I had left on vacation I had also promised my little Peanut Butter (Madison) that I would bring her some sea shells back. Once again I grabbed my scuba gear and accomplished my mission and pocketed several nice ones and gave a few others to some of our travel companions. With our time nearing an end on the beach, I was able to successfully negotiate us a wave runner jet ski for about a half hour, costing us only $25. Having never been on one before, Nellie was overly cautious but I had a little fun opening her up on the straight aways.  For some ominous reason I was always worried of falling off and having a shark take a nibble, yikes.  Safely back we caught a couple of pics and said goodbye to the fantastic Ixtapa Island. I would not hesitate to recommend this place to travelers.

A first for the both of us, wave running out there on open ocean was a real treat! I am sure that I terrified Nellie a few times, sorry honey!

A first for the both of us, wave running out there on open ocean was a real treat! I am sure that I terrified Nellie a few times, sorry honey!

Later that night we got back and decided to catch dinner together at Gohan. This was a real treat as it was the first night that it was open since arriving and they served sushi. If you know my taste buds then you know that I am a sucker for sushi. I think it is just because you can eat as much as you want and never feel too full. So we smashed and then wandered over for a nightcap and dancing once again. Super fun!

Another nice dinner with friends! We each had someone to share a special moment with and collectively we felt connected and in good company.  Great dancing followed a wonderful meal!

Another nice dinner with friends! We each had someone to share a special moment with and collectively we felt connected and in good company. Great dancing followed a wonderful meal!

The next day we woke up and enjoyed a wonderful breakfast, Nellie and her sugar doughnut and me with my Americano. Are you beginning to see a pattern happening here, lol? We had to get our energy up as we were about to embark on our last major excursion, zipplining through the Ixtapa jungle. Not really knowing what to expect, we kept an open mind and dressed comfortably. Soon our driver arrived and took us to a remote residential area on a hillside outside of the tourist city. Having been a little early we were able to jump right into our harnesses and get through a minor ropes course before we got onto the big stuff.

We made it through our low ropes course portion and surprisingly Nellie never lost a flipflop! Oh and Polly was able to say 'hola', hahaha!

We made it through our low ropes course portion and surprisingly Nellie never lost a flipflop! Oh and Polly was able to say ‘hola’, super adorable, but dang with a beak-like that I wasn’t about to get too close!

 

The guide took his time teaching us how to attach and detach to each safety wire and how to ensure that we always had a safety latch attached just incase.  Now the equipment and wood planks and wiring at times looked a little suspect, we still continued on and enjoyed pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones. Nellie really took on this challenge and beat her fear of heights one step at a time. What transpired over the next hour was an amazing adventure of self exploration and daredevil adrenaline packed thrills weaving through the jungle trees. Here are some of my favorite pictures!

Swinging by a teathered wire and catching a thrill doing it. Spending time in the trees definitely qualifies this as an adventurous honeymoon!

Swinging by a tethered wire and catching a thrill doing it. Spending time in the trees definitely qualifies this as an adventurous honeymoon!

Generously we tipped our driver as we arrived back at the resort and bid our farewells. It was now time to relax by the pool, drink perhaps a bit too much rum and fall deeply asleep for a few hours, well at least I did. Nellie also found her R&R and after she woke me it was time for another dinner and dancing session. So we took a few pictures and made the most of the night. Gosh I love me some linen pants, so comfy!

She looked so good, I just had to sweep my queen off her feet. I love this woman! You have to love the diva pose too, lol!

She looked so good, I just had to sweep my queen off her feet. I love this woman! You have to love the diva pose too, lol!

With our trip nearing its completion, we had only one full day left to do some serious shopping.  The next morning we embarked on a day trip to the main shoppes of Zihuatanejo  During our shuttle ride we were given great insights by our driver as to what stores were the best places to buy goods. When we arrive we saw different types of textiles and wares for sale that were all so colorful. Quickly you realize that everything has a negotiable price, but the people were very friendly and wanted to do business. Together Nellie and I set out to buy a few dresses for Madison, some shot glasses for my neighbor Marcus, a decent picture frame for our home to remind us of this trip and of course a refrigerator magnet.

Our shopping didn’t stop until they drug us out at the last moment before our shuttle was about to leave to head back to our resort. All of the items we had desired to get were readily acquired at a fair price and I was also able to purchase a legit silver chain. With our bags in hand we boarded and left happily with lighter wallets; after all, we had little desire to bring any pesos back to the States with us!

The remainder of our stay was really about rest, relaxation and some one on one time with Mrs. Carroll.  Though we decided to do a group dinner on our last evening, it really was all about us enjoying ourselves and watching our last Mexican sunset (at least for a while anyway). Happily our dinner host took some photos of us just prior to being seated. The night was perfect and allowed for some really great pics, take a look!

 

A beautiful evening with my gorgeous wife Nellie. As our honeymoon comes to its final dusk, we absorb as much as we possibly can. Feeling blessed!

A beautiful evening with my gorgeous wife Nellie. As our honeymoon comes to its final dusk, we absorb as much as we possibly can. Feeling blessed!

The next morning we finally have to wake up and pack our bags for our final departure.  Thankfully our flight is not until later in the afternoon so there was no need to rush. We had one last resort breakfast and in the meantime I made sure to cash my last $50 into pesos and thankfully walked around and said my sincerest thankyous to the kind staff for their service and hospitality.  A special thanks goes out to all those that were on the Entertainment Team (Carlos, Gabriel and Blanca), to our personal room attendant (Gloria), all the bar and restaurant staff, and the hotel concierge staff.  It never felt better to give a little extra when nothing was expected, super thankful!

I took one last stroll on the beachfront and enjoyed my toes in the sand before having to return to the resort for our final departure. I was glad that all of our new comrades were leaving at the same time, it gave us a great opportunity to say our final farewells and to grab a couple of group selfies.

A farewell salut to all of our new found friends! It was a total blast and we were so thankful to be able to come and visit your paradise.  It really has been a slice of heaven! Adios!

A farewell salute to all of our new-found friends! It was a total blast and we were so thankful to be able to come and visit your paradise. It really has been a slice of heaven! Adios!

This concludes our most amazing and adventurous trip together ever.  What a great way to mark our 1 year anniversary and honeymoon! May there be many more of years of happiness and trips such as this one! Thanks for joining us as I did my best to recapture this profound and exciting trip, god bless!