Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Jamaica, Mon!

It is hard to believe this will be my last post in 2014. Wow! I will end it on a warm note. Jim and I went to Couples Negril in Jamaica a couple of weeks ago as a belated anniversary celebration. You certainly do not want to be there in August anyway. We last visited this all-inclusive resort 11 years ago for our 25th anniversary. As a surprise to Jim, I had arranged a ceremony to renew our vows. It is still one of the highlights of our marriage. This resort consistently gets 4-5 star reviews on Tripadvisor, my go-to site for checking hotels, things to do and see, and restaurants when I am traveling.

Our first visit got high praise from us. The staff was warm and welcoming, always greeting us and making sure there was nothing that we needed. The food was very good, and the included activities were exceptional. In fact, this is the only resort we have every stayed at where you can scuba dive, snorkel, go out on glass bottom boat rides and sunset catamaran cruises, water ski, play tennis and golf as much as you like at no additional charge. And that doesn't even take into account things like kayaking, small catamaran sailing, volleyball, horseshoes, pool, ping pong, etc. Upon our return the first time, I gave the resort a 5 star rating. Since that visit they have done a little upgrading of the rooms, free wifi is everywhere on the grounds, all the activities are still offered and the beach still cannot be beat. But we found a big difference in the attitude of the staff. Service was poor in some cases, and several staff members seemed to wish they were elsewhere. There was a problem with our initial room, and the front desk gal was not sympathetic nor did she seem inclined to let us change rooms. For that reason, they have slipped to a 4 star resort in my book.

Having said that, we had a wonderful time, met some fun people from Holland, the United States and Canada, and spent a restful week on the beach. Taking a week off that close to Christmas might not have been the best idea we ever had, but everything got done in the end. No problem, mon.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Soulard Art Market

Soulard Art Market & Contemporary Gallery is, as you might imagine, located in the Soulard district of St. Louis. A variety of local artists display their work here in media ranging from jewelry, painting, photography and sculpture. The gallery holds exhibits displaying the works of local artists. The current exhibit is "Everywhere There's Cake", celebrating the 250th birthday of St. Louis. Artists were invited to submit up to three works in which one of the 250 + cakes was shown with a local landmark. However, they wanted the cake to be small, showcasing instead the St. Louis area landmark. The art could be a photograph, painting or mixed media work. Of course I knew I had to submit some photos, and I am proud that all three of my submissions were accepted. An opening reception was held last Friday, but I was out of town and unable to attend. Jim and I went instead on Sunday. Believe it or not, one last cake is being painted at the art market, and I was lucky enough to catch five of the cake artists putting their mark on this final (?) cake.

Soulard Art Market
The exhibit itself is quite amazing. There are a few paintings and one three dimensional piece made out of stained glass, but most of the submissions were photos. It was so interesting to see the different perspectives people had while photographing the cakes. If you would like to see for yourself, the exhibit runs through January 17th. More information can be found on the Soulard Art Market website.