All posts by Desiwood

Thanksgiving at Majestic (Mirage) Beach

Anyone want to see what I was doing on Thanksgiving? I’ll show you. We just got home from our most recent visit to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic. I will share some more of the videos and photos we took along the way.

We stayed this time at Majestic Mirage. It did not disappoint. On this particular day, the water was a little rougher than usual, but not as rough as is standard the further north you go along the coast. Within a day or two of this video, the waves were calmer, there was not the sand being churned up at the water line, and the seaweed disappeared.

We also visited next door at Majestic Elegance for a bit of time almost every day. We have been there many times and it came to feel like home. The more days we spent at Mirage, the more we could feel it becoming like home away from home.

We could only visit portions of Majestic Colonial because they were closed for renovations. Some of the areas were accessible and it was fun to watch them putting the final touches on the things for the re-opening that was yesterday.

We have stayed at or day toured other resorts in PC, but Majestic seems the right fit for us. The total package of pricing, beaches, pools, service, beauty, food, spaces, etc., keep us going back to Majestic Resorts. I keep researching, but have not found anything that would make me trade our choice.

Enjoy the video!

Wine whine

I love drinking red wine, and it is supposed to be healthy for you.  I am very often asked what brand or type of red wine to drink.  No one can tell you that.  You have to experiment by yourself.  The house, the grape, the year can always vary.  Your tastes will also change over time.

I like dry red wines.  I do not like fruity ones.  Your tastes may be different.  I drink wines from all countries…..always trying out something new, whether high end or low end.  The most expensive bottle of wine I ever drank was $400 per bottle and we had two.  It was an accident…..a big accident.  Maybe someday I’ll tell the story.  It was the best wine I ever drank, but I do not need to pay such prices.

There are many wines for less than $10 that are good.  There are many wine shops that put on sale wines from all over the world.  Try them.  Expect to pay at least double in a restaurant for the same wine.

Today I provide a wine whine.  Hubby and I LOVED the wine the night we opened it.  We did not finish it.  The following night, tonight, we went to finish it and were entirely disappointed.  It did not “save” overnight, despite being corked.  Some wines save well and other do not.  I post a photo of the wine at issue.

wine-whine

 

Spring and Change

I have to laugh at some recent comments to this site that claim that my blogs are not long enough. Those that follow me here, on Trip Advisor, and on Face Book never say that. haha Those that have been following me for years tell me that any sentence with a comma, semi-colon, or colon turn off readers in today’s instant world.

Every year in the climates that have it, Spring brings change. Usually we travel in the Spring. This year we limited our travel to Florida. Most years we go to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic also. In prior years we have travelled to Europe and Asia. We have always loved Spring travel. This year family obligations have prevented us from doing the usual amount of travel. We have in the past traveled for three weeks at a time. Shorter travel time this year.

One of the benefits of not be off and about is to enjoy the yards we have created. Some have been “on purpose” and some have been “accidental”.

My main thought is that, as big or small as your home or your property is, make it “your castle”. Use the inspiration of travel and what you see to make it special.

I post some photos today to show you what I am talking about.

The first is of a Japanese Maple we bought years ago, along with a bench we found on sale at Home Depot. We bought both “cheap” and have nurtured them over the years to be a special place for us to enjoy.

Japanese May 2016

The second photo is of some wild growing honeysuckle and some hosta. We are in the process of moving the honeysuckle to another place, as you will see.

honeysuckle and hosta May 2016

Another photo is showing some “blue” flowers, which ae the most rare, that have come up without our knowledge from other plantings. along with some of the new rows of honeysuckle that we have transported.

What is it May 2016

I almost forgot our most recent garden muse. I heartily suggest that you add some to your garden, whether big or small.

green garden lady

Preserve those memories

tans will fade, memories foreverI find myself constantly suggesting and reminding others to make the effort to preserve your memories. There is no excuse today not to do so. The days of having to buy expensive cameras or video cameras and need the knowledge to know how to get the “right” shot are long gone. Snap and record away……and SAVE those images!

For your old images, the scanners and other reproductive media means, are easy to use. Scanning old photos costs NOTHING if you have a simple color scanner available at low cost. I recommend a laser color multi-unit that scans, faxes, and prints. There are so many out there. I am currently using an OKI unit, but also have an HP unit. They last forever and the drivers are constantly updated. There are so many free photo programs out there, that you don’t need to spend a time to keep your current memories or update your old ones.

The one thing I have not yet found to be inexpensive, yet not expensive, is old fashioned video 8 from decades ago. Some family members have passed on some old ones to me and I am still researching the economical way of doing that. Some deals seem great until you look at the fine print. Some family members have had them reproduced to CD or DVD only to find they are copyright protected and can’t be shared with others.

Anything newer has no such problems as you can do it on your own computer with ease…..for free! I do suggest that you have a real desktop computer to do advanced stuff. You can take the photos with phones, pads, or laptops, but to do editing and saving, you should have a desktop. Too many people are avoiding them these days…..just my personal opinion. The storage on desktops these days are amazing for cheap. I also use more modern external hard drives for photo and video history. You can also save to “the Cloud”. There are so many choices and no reason not to record and save your memories.

I leave you with a photo today that looks vintage and was not taken by me to remind you of the thoughts expressed above. There will come a day when you want to remember a certain special something…..in the digital age there is no reason not be able to see it too!

Whether or not to Go to a New Resort

I’ve previously written about going to a Grand Dame hotel shortly before they are going to do major renovations as a way to experience something well known at a discounted price. Once those renovations are completed, prices usually soar. Although you can get some good prices during renovations, that is often an unpleasant experience. It can also bring a bargain, but you really have to research what those renovations will be and how much it will affect your stay.

What about staying at a newly opened resort? Some say to stay away until all of the bugs are worked out. The prices can be wonderful! In Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, there are several new hotels opening this year. Many people who are familiar with travel there are flocking to book for the openings or shortly thereafter. One of the reasons is that the new resorts already have existing resorts, so people know what to expect and know that there is backup around if everything doesn’t go quite as planned.

Most reputable new resorts will go out of their way to make your stay special. If there are a few kinks not yet worked out, they will usually be pretty generous with extra perks for the guests to make up for that that is not yet perfect. Let’s face it, nothing is ever perfect, so it’s a win-win situation in many cases.

With great confidence, we are going to take the plunge this December and book for the opening of a new resort. I show here an artists rendering of the new Majestic Mirage which is located next to the existing Majestic Elegance, which is located next to the existing Majestic Colonial.Majestic Mirage rendering

This will be the first all suite resort, all inclusive, resort in Punta Cana. All except for 2 buildings will be Adults Only Club Level. There are so many restaurants and pools, it is amazing. It will not be a large resort, so it will be very intimate, yet still full of fun. I’m excited! They have already started selling suites starting on January 15, 2017, but the resort will be open by mid December 2016. Soon those opening dates will be available.

We have previously stayed at both Majestic Colonial and Majestic Elegance many times, so we have no fears of trying the new even more upscale Majestic Mirage. I don’t usually post advertisement videos, but to give you an idea of the already existing Majestic Resorts in Punta Cana, I provide a video from GoGo Travels. We have used them before for international travel. They don’t sell directly to the public. You have to contact a travel agent to book through them. We’ve always had great luck with them.

Happy and safe travels to all!

#DesiWorlds #desiwood

Sandy still affecting NJ and Ode to a family dockhouse

My grandparents had a home on the Manasquan River overlooking the Pt. Pleasant inlet at the Jersey Shore. It is not the “south” Jersey Shore. Those not familiar with NJ will probably laugh thinking that the state is too small to be “divided” into different areas, but if you’ve ever lived or visited there, you will find much diversification. I’ll leave the geography lesson for another time.

It was the center of family for my childhood. There was a main house and two separate cottages. There were two docks for boats. There was a private beach and a huge grassy area overlooking marvelous views. Then there was the dockhouse. It wasn’t big, but it seemed to symbolize all of the great family memories. These get togethers weren’t just in the summer. They were all year round. The ducks would have babies in the Spring and would walk right up to you. The entire family of all generations would play football on Thanksgiving and Christmas. There were also those fishing trips that had our Dads getting us up at 4:00 a.m. I have to admit, I thought that was a little bit of overkill.

Things have changed over time, but those memories will last forever. My first photo here is from my Grandma’s 90th birthday party. That was over 7 years ago. She’s still with us and as feisty as ever. Since that time the family has only gotten bigger with siblings and cousins having more kids and recently a first: the child of a cousin had a baby. That means Grandma is now Great Great Grandma!

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This particular photo was taken after Grandma subdivided the property, keeping the smaller part and the two cottages, instead of the main house. Part of the reason was that that half of the property had the dockhouse. Very shortly before Hurricane Sandy, Grandma finally sold the second half of the property. I enclose a photo from around that time so that you can see what a little gem gave so many memories to so many.

Dockhouse

Thank goodness Grandma sold. The property is still nowhere near what it was before the storm. I had many relatives affected. One cousin got to move her family back into her house 2 years after Sandy. There are people that are still not back in their homes or may never be. I just recently went to see the current state of the property. The private beach is gone with a retaining wall and new dock built as reinforcement. The land has all be re-graded and brought higher, but the grass is just beginning to come back. There is no loner a dockhouse on the dock. I show you a photo.

VID00146

You might ask what happened to the dockhouse. I don’t know what the new owner intends, but it is now way up near the street and the cottages. I show you a photo of that sad sight also.

VID00145

Lesson of the day…..preserve your memories by photos and videos. You never know when you won’t see a place, thing, or person again.

#DesiWorlds #desiwood

Food is a major joy of travel….how to choose how to go

I am a “foodie” in one source of the expression. I love good food. That doesn’t mean I like to gorge myself. It means I appreciate great flavors and variety.

One of the biggest joys of travel, whether you’ve done a lot of it or not, is to enjoy foods and good times sharing them bring. There’s an undeniable exposure to culture when you experience different foods. I like to take those memories with me and expand my eating horizons at home by incorporating the flavors into things I can cook myself.

I could write a book on this subject, but that is not the purpose of a blog. Today I discuss the different travel choices for experiencing good food.

“Escorted Group Tours” are usually the worst for good food. It’s not bad food, but the per day price is usually higher than if you did it yourself another way. On the other hand, if you are going to a very foreign place to your comfort level or if you have not done much traveling, this is a “safe” way to go. We have only done two such tours. One was to Egypt and included top notch hotels and a Nile River cruise as well as most meals. It was expensive, but we chose it for the safety factor. Those who ate the local foods got sick. We did not. From a food perspective, it was not an expanding view. From a cultural perspective, it was fantastic.

The second escorted group tour we did was in Russia, right after the collapse of the Soviet Union. It included high end hotels and a river cruise from St. Petersburg to Moscow along the Volga River. The food was not very good. We often referred to it as “mystery meat” and we were on one of the better ships. Our outside the group dining that we did on our own was much better. Chicken Kiev squirting at you and real Russian caviar were treats.

Then there are cruise ships. It so varies by ship and line that it is hard to generalize. We have had great meals on many of them, but you don’t get the “local” flavor since all of your meals on board ship and you don’t experience the local culture. We have found it a total waste of money to be paying for food on the ship and then eat in the local places. Instead, we will often find a local place to have cocktails to enjoy the local ambience.

Do it yourself by land travel! That is the way to truly enjoy local foods. But, don’t eat at street carts. You are asking for trouble. If you are nervous about totally planning you own trip, do a combination of escorted or cruise with add ons for yourself in at the beginning and/or end of your trip.

Finally, there are an increasing number of all inclusive resorts all over the world. You’d be surprised at how good the food is with total safety. I attach one photo today of my joy at eating Caribbean Lobster in Punta Cana at Majestic Elegance. I grew up at the Jersey Shore with cold water local lobsters and Maine lobster. Here I learned the joy of trying something different at a fraction of the cost.

I welcome comments and questions here. Check out my other posts on DesiWorlds.com, my DesiWorlds Facebook page, and my very numerous posts on Trip Advisor under the name Desiwood.

ME lobster

A year and a half of blogging

It’s been a over a year and half of blogging officially for me. It was many years before that that I posted on other social media sites. I have learned a lot and am still learning. One of the suggestions to me upon beginning was that I try blogging on FB first. I have done that. Before I did that, I watched and studied for years on Trip Advisor and then began participating in the Punta Cana Forum under the name Desiwood. I finally got up the courage to actually start posting reviews. Then I moved on to FB.

During the time I have had my own website blog, I became shy. haha I posted daily elsewhere, but could not bring myself to post here. I’m finally over that now, but still have a lot of adjustments to make. I’m still not happy with the look of this webpage, but it is my own procrastination that has prevented me from improving it. Both Go Daddy and WordPress have offered free advice that I have not taken advantage of.

I have been working on making sure that no comments to this site are just ads for other sites. So, if comments just post a site, I do not allow them. Now I have been deleting previously approved posts that contain other sites in the post. It is time consuming. I want to share with my readers life’s journeys. Believe me it hurts to delete compliments in the comments, but this site is not for advertisement. You will see that I do not promote individual products. I should, I will eventually share some of my favorites, but not just yet.

I have been told to do UTube videos. Not yet for me. I have many to share and I will do so directly. I have been told to use hashtags. Not yet for me. I have been told to use Instagram. I am not in a business of selling. If you want to be, then use these things.

For today, I include one photo of two of four men that have encouraged me to pursue my dream of writing a blog. There are many others that have supported me, both male and female. I remember decades ago a Sr. Partner of the law firm I worked at asking me over coffee what I would like to do if I had a choice. I said I’d like to be a writer. He told me to do that. I said I could not because it was too personal and I was a lawyer. I have finally given up the lawyer part and hope to be the writer I always wanted to be. Jordi, Alan, & me

Gardening, Meditation, & Exercise

You are wondering what gardening, meditation, and exercise have in common. I’m here to tell you. Those who enjoy gardening can tell you…..if they do it correctly. Too many people think of gardening as a “chore”, just another stress. This is the wrong approach. You first have to think of creativity, beauty, and enjoyment. Both the beautiful sights and smells. It doesn’t matter how small or large an area you have to work with.

I was never one that could get into meditation. It just seemed to boring to me. I knew there are great benefits to reduce stress and I led a stressful life. I first “got into it” when faced with a half acre of backyard baron land except for grass. Some people think a big grass area is a sign of achievement. I found it boring. Hubby hated cutting it and we hated paying someone stupid money to show up when they wanted to do it. They either waited too long and it looked overgrown or cut too often and it looked half dead. We consulted with a true landscape designer and decided we did not want to pay tens of thousands of dollars for an ultimately uninspiring look.

We were forced to do something when we put in a pool and the entire backyard ended up being just dirt. Designing and created our own gardens continues to bring us constant joy. I’ll do a series of blogs about the process. For now, I’ll get back to the title of this piece.

In thinking and planning, then in doing, then changing and maintaining, and then just looking and walking, I found that in fact I was getting the benefits of meditation without being bored or having to study a method. Whether it be sitting or planting, in pots or in the earth, there is a serenity that is tough to find in one’s own home doing other activities. The sense of accomplishment is a big bonus. It is a combination of instant gratification and patience in seeing a transformation.

Then the bonus came…….you burn so many calories gardening that it is better than a diet. I’m not talking about farm hand hard work. In fact, I had spinal injury problems that prevented me from doing too strenuous work and found the slow and easy still was easy great exercise that kept me healthy and thin.

For this first post on this topic, I am not showing any photos of what I’ve done, but show one of what NOT to aspire to. We’ve experimented with topiary, but it’s not an easy things to do and damage to the bush can ruin years of work in an instant. We have gone with a mixture of hardscape and small area outdoor “rooms”. It’s been exciting to do it all ourselves. We’ve made changes and had some failures. We adjust. You have to. Your land and climate are not the same as anyone else’s. Big hint here…….try to avoid annuals. You will have to keep planting and removing. Perennials are the way to go.

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Photos, Videos, Memories

This has been a year of learning new things when it comes to posting on social media, especially when it comes to photos and videos. Every place that one posts is different. The last one that I am learning about is my own website. I guess I’m shy. haha

One thing I can’t stress enough is to take photos and videos of your experiences…..whether they are on vacation or in everyday life. You will cherish them! You can always delete them, but you can’t go back and take that which you didn’t. In today’s digital age, there is no cost to snapping or recording away.

I have decades of photos and videos in all sorts of formats. Here are some suggestions for you. Use the equipment that you feel most comfortable with, but find a place to store that which you take……a hard drive, an eternal hard drive, a thumb drive, a zip drive, the cloud, and so many other choices. Don’t leave things you want to save on an individual device. They break; they get lost or stolen; they become obsolete.

Buy an all in one color printer, fax, scanner. It is so easy to convert one form to another to save things forever and there is free software/apps all around for editing, cropping, special effects, rotating, you name it.

I have old fashioned photos, VCR videos, old Polaroids, High 8 videos, digital photos, digital videos, purchased photos, CD photos, you name it. I wouldn’t trade any of them for the memories. Don’t give up on desktop computers. The software and apps for free are amazing to play with you memories and make it so easy to share where you want.

I’ve even been playing recently with converting color videos to individual black and white photos. I attach today the oldest photo I currently have of myself as baby taken by a professional photographer. It’s odd in that I was a true blonde, but the shadows in the old days didn’t show that. I may play with the photo some more to bring it back to reality. I also attach a recent photo on a visit to Punta Cana. This is one taken from a color video that I turned into a black and white photo just for the fun of it.

I hope you enjoy the photos. One thing I’ve learned is that our hairlines seem to be consistent from birth to middle age. Lois Anne baby photo

jordi may 2015 assadito (2)