Sunday, January 22, 2012

One year anniversary in Jamaica

Laure and I celebrated our first year anniversary in Jamaica after visiting Florida for Christmas.

We stayed at Secrets Wild Orchid at Montego Bay for our first all-inclusive experience. We took the opportunity to pamper ourselves with this adults-only resort, which included food, drinks, live music, pools, games, and champagne breakfast delivered to our room. Speaking of our room:

Bedroom with jacuzzi.
View from our bedroom.

The resort is its own little village with different restaurants and entertainment scattered around. At nights they played movies next to an outdoor cafe.

Outdoor cafe.
We pampered ourselves with drinks by the beach and at the pool bar.

When the color of the drink matches the color of the sea.
Sunset over the bay.
Laure enjoying a drink at the pool bar.
There was also a piano bar where the pianist played popular songs including the mandatory Piano Man by Billy Joel. Next door was a dance club with a great DJ playing dance music. I particularly liked this dance club because most couples were there on their honeymoons or anniversaries, minimizing the typical risk of someone hitting on my wife.

For a couple of days, we decided to hire drivers to take us outside the resort walls and explore the real Jamaica. As expected, the resorts are encapsulated away from the realities of the surrounding areas, where locals live a much more modest life style than the one presented at the resorts. That being said, everyone was very respectful and kind.

On the first day out of the resort, we ate at the Pelican Grill, which is a famous spot for locals and foreigners.

Ackee Codfish, Jamaica's national dish served at Pelican Grill.
On the next day, we went to Scotchie's, which is a much more modest outdoor restaurant that is hugely popular amongst locals. Their specialties were jerk pork and chicken, the latter being our favorite as it retained the perfect amount of moisture. These meats are slowly smoked between hot wood and metal lids.

Jerk pork and chicken
Scotchie's open ambiance is great for mingling with other customers.
We also visited Hip Strip, which is the main shopping area in Montego Bay including small shops, cafes, and bars.

Laure at the Hip Strip.
At the Hip Strip, we purchased some of the locally produced items such as Jamaican rum, rum cake, and coffee.

Jamaican rum and rum cake.
The Hip Strip's commerce seemed completely geared towards tourism with most stores selling much of the same things, including a lot of cheap trinkets likely from Asia. My guess is that we'd find more commercial diversity in bigger cities such as Kingston.

Back at the resort, Laure and I ate at the French restaurant Bordeaux for our first year anniversary. At the end of the day, we exchanged gifts following the traditional first year theme of "paper". Laure gave me two amazing books:

Homemade Soda recipes and Banksy: Wall and Piece.

And I gave her a travel kit with information about Istanbul, hinting it as a future trip destination:

Istanbul travel kit.
On new years eve, the resort set up a huge celebration with delicious food and a big outdoor dance floor with live music and a DJ.

Laure and I in front of a tower of champagne glass.
Surf 'n' Turf
Fireworks over the bay.
Ice sculptures in Jamaica are a bad idea even in the winter.

We danced late into the night while everyone was impressed at how gracefully Laure moved with a big protective boot around her ankle.

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